UnitedHealth Pulls Dow Out of the Red

Morgan Stanley waxed optimistic on UNH's risk/reward profile

by Karee Venema

Published on Mar 15, 2018 at 12:03 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) briefly fell into negative territory shortly after the open, pressured by another drop for blue chip Boeing (BA). However, the Dow has since swung to a triple-digit lead -- on track to snap its three-day losing streak -- boosted by a round of relatively positive economic data and a big analyst-induced pop for UnitedHealth (UNH). Traders may also be reacting to news the Treasury Department has sanctioned several Russians over their involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as White House Trade Council Director Peter Navarro's attempts to ease concerns about a global trade war.

  • Leerink: It could be time to buy this drug stock that's down 60% today.
  • Another upgrade rolled in for this surging tech stock.
  • Plus, ALXN options bulls cash out; the retail stock that's doubled so far; and J.Jill slumps.

midday market stats march 15

Among the list of stocks with unusual options volume today is Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALXN), with nearly 21,000 contracts traded -- 11 times the expected intraday rate. Most active is the May 130 call, where it looks like bulls could be closing out their now in-the-money positions. ALXN stock is up 9.8% at $134.67, after the drugmaker posted positive late-stage study results for its rare blood disorder treatment.

Stein Mart, Inc. (NASDAQ:SMRT) is at the top of the Nasdaq, after the retailer reported a smaller fourth-quarter loss than it did at this time last year, while adjusted earnings came in at 8 cents per share. At last check, SMRT stock was up 97.4% to trade at $1.52, and on track to close north of its 200-day moving average for the first time since September 2016.

smrt stock daily chart march 15

Shares of fellow retailer J.Jill Inc (NYSE:JILL), meanwhile, are at the bottom of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), after the company's dismal current-quarter forecast overshadowed a fourth-quarter beat. A price-target cut to $5 from $11 from Wells Fargo is only pouring salt on the proverbial wound, with JILL stock down 32.8% at $5.01.


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