Geopolitical Fears Send Dow Jones Industrial Average Lower

Sell Premium on Qualcomm, Buy It on Herbalife

Apr 12, 2017 at 4:29 PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) spent the entire session in the red, as geopolitical tensions continued to stoke a risk-off backdrop. Specifically, stocks reacted to a highly anticipated meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and several Kremlin leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, following last week's U.S. airstrikes on Russia-supported Syria. Amid this uncertainty, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) continued to surge, with the VIX now sporting its second-strongest year-to-date lead in a decade.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

  • Breaking down a bear put spread on record-setting PepsiCo stock.
  • Options traders may want to sell premium on Qualcomm stock, and buy it on Herbalife.
  • Wells Fargo stock was slapped with a pre-earnings downgrade.
  • Plus, how stocks perform around Easter; good news for Whole Foods bulls; and a big win for BlackBerry.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA - 20,591.83) was down 98 points at its intraday low, before settling with a 59.4-point, or 0.3%, loss. Seventeen of the 30 Dow stocks closed lower, led by Caterpillar's 2.3% decline. Nike stock paced the 12 advancers with its 1.2% gain, while Chevron finished flat.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,344.93) surrendered its perch atop 2,350, to close down 8.9 points, or 0.4%. This marked the SPX's first settlement south of its 50-day moving average since Nov. 8. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 5,836.16) fell 30.6 points, or 0.5%.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 15.77) jumped 0.7 point, or 4.6%, for its highest close since Nov. 8.

closing indexes summary april 12
nyse and nasdaq stats april 12

5 Items on Our Radar Today

  1. President Donald Trump suggested the door may be open to reappoint Fed Chair Janet Yellen when her term is up next year, saying he likes "a low-interest rate policy." Additionally, Trump claimed some responsibility for the strength in the U.S. dollar, saying, "I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that's my fault because people have confidence in me." (The Wall Street Journal) (subscription required)
  2. Greenlight Capital's David Einhorn has nominated three members to General Motors' board of directors in order to "re-energize the board and bring additional focus to closing the valuation gap in GM's stock," according to a public filing. This latest move increases pressure by the activitist investor for GM to split its common stock into two separate classes.  (MarketWatch)
  3. Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White broke down historical S&P returns around the Easter holiday.
  4. Given its recent surge, Whole Foods stock could be ripe for a short-squeeze.
  5. BlackBerry stock jumped to its highest perch since January 2016 following an estimated $815 million legal win against Qualcomm.

corporate earnings april 12
unusual options activity april 12
Data courtesy of Trade-Alert


Oil snapped its six-session winning streak, as anxiety over rising domestic oil production overshadowed the sharpest weekly decline in U.S. crude inventories of 2017. At the close, May-dated crude was down 29 cents, or 0.5%, at $53.11 per barrel.

Gold gained ground, as traders turned their attention to assets deemed less risky than stocks. Gold scheduled for June delivery closed up $3.90, or 0.3%, at $1,278.10 an ounce.

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