Stocks Give Up Morning Gains, Pivot Lower

The Dow is down triple digits, but the Nasdaq remains higher

by Patrick Martin

Published on Oct 22, 2018 at 11:51 AM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) is down at midday, pivoting lower to surrender modest early gains. Despite optimism stemming from a rally in Chinese markets, the volatility that has come to define this month has flared up once again, with the blue-chip index exploring a 280-point trading range on both sides of breakeven today. The S&P 500 Index (SPX) is lower with the Dow, though the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) is in the black at last check, on track to snap a three-day losing streak. While the earnings schedule is light today, investors are bracing for an onslaught of corporate reports set to hit later this week. 

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

  • The chip stock soaring on pre-earnings price-target hikes.
  • An FDA decision dropping this drug stock
  • Plus, options bulls eye Mattel; Alibaba stock rallies with China stocks; and Nektar Therapeutics stock continues to struggle.

Midday Market Stats Oct 22

Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT) is seeing unusual options volume today. Nearly 7,000 calls are on the tape -- seven times the average intraday volume, and arriving in the 95th percentile of its annual range. Most active is the weekly 11/9 15-strike call, where Trade-Alert suggests new positions are being purchased. MAT was last seen down 1.7% at $13.98, swooning in sympathy with Hasbro (HAS), and the toymaker will report earnings after the close on Thursday, Oct 25.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) stock is up 4% to trade at $149.08, rallying with Chinese stocks while shaking off yet another bear note, this time from Benchmark. BABA fell to an annual low of $135.14 on Oct. 11, and has encountered stiff resistance from its 30-day moving average since late June. 

MMC Daily Chart BABA

Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) is down 17.4% to trade at $39.82 -- one of the worst stocks on the S&P 500 today -- despite a discernible catalyst. NKTR moved lower at the start of October following a scathing short seller review of its primary drug NKTR-214. The biotech stock has now shed nearly 34% this month, and has racked up three straight weekly losses going into today. 

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