Stocks Pull Back as Trade Tensions Reignite

Gold futures are flirting with annual lows

Managing Editor
Jul 19, 2018 at 12:04 PM
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Stocks are sliding today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) down 66 points and on track to snap its five-day winning streak. Renewed trade tensions have put markets on edge, with China disputing recent comments from the Trump administration, and the European Union (EU) readying a list of possible retaliatory tariffs if the U.S. imposes tariffs on EU cars. In addition, lackluster earnings showings from Travelers (TRV) and American Express (AXP) are overshadowing an earnings beat for fellow blue chip IBM (IBM).

The S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) are also in the red, as earnings season claims eBay (EBAY) as a notable loser. Elsewhere, a stronger dollar is weighing on metals, with August-dated gold futures down 1% to trade at $1,216.20 an ounce -- a new annual low -- and silver eyeing its lowest close since 2016. 

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

  • Analyst: Scoop up this low-dollar social media stock.
  • Tesla's Model 3 concerns prompted another bear note.
  • Plus, Citron sparks bearish betting on AbbVie stock; Comcast stock gets a boost after nixing Fox bid; and FCX stock sinks with metals.

Midday Market Stats July 19

One name seeing notable options trading today is AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV), where more than 36,000 puts have traded -- 12 times what's typically seen at this point, and volume pacing for the 99th percentile of its annual range. Leading the charge today is the July 85 put, with over 9,500 contracts exchanged, and new positions being opened.  ABBV is down 4.9% to trade at $89.71 today, after short seller Citron Research said the shares are worth $60, and called AbbVie the "next great drug short."

Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is one of the best S&P 500 (SPX) stocks so far today, up 3.2% to trade at $35.09, after the media giant abandoned its $66 billion bid for 21st Century Fox (FOXA) assets. Instead, Comcast said it will turn its attention to its $34 billion offer for British TV entity Sky. Since bottoming at an annual low of $30.43 on May 9, CMCSA stock has fought back to gain almost 16%. Nevertheless, the shares are still staring up at potential resistance in the form of their 160-day moving average.

MMC Daily Chart CMCSA

On the other end of the spectrum is Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX), one of the worst stocks on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) today, down 5.5% to trade at $16.16. The mining giant is part of a broader metal stock sell-off, after concerns about demand arose out of China following an exchange of trade-related comments with the U.S. FCX stock is on track for its worst day since April 24, and has now shed 15% in 2018.

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