Stocks, Oil Rise as Global Trade Tensions Ease

Auto and tech stocks are enjoying the trade-related tailwinds today

by Patrick Martin

Published on Dec 3, 2018 at 12:08 PM

The stock market is starting December off strong, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) up 441 points at its intraday peak. The Dow has since pared these gains, but is still enjoying a triple-digit lead thanks to a trade truce between the U.S. and China. The S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) are boasting large gains, as well, as auto and tech stocks -- two sectors with heavy exposure to China -- soar.

Elsewhere, oil prices continue to climb, with January-dated crude futures up 2.4% at $52.14 per barrel. And amid this broad rally, Wall Street's "fear gauge," the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), is heading for its lowest close in nearly four weeks.

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

  • Cooling trade tensions with China sparked an upgrade for this Dow stock.
  • Why D.A. Davidson is buying this Amazon rival.
  • Plus, HRB options bears bet on a post-earnings slump; Advanced Micro Devices stock rallies; and Take-Two Interactive stock sinks.

Midday Market Stats Dec 3

H & R Block Inc (NYSE:HRB) is seeing unusual options activity today, with roughly 2,200 puts on the tape -- 11 times what's typically seen, and nearly five times the number of calls traded. Almost all of the action has centered at the December 26 put, where it looks like new positions are being purchased. At last check, HRB was up 2.5% to trade at $27.65. The tax preparation concern will report earnings after the close this Wednesday, Dec. 5, so it appears options traders are bracing for a post-earnings pullback. 

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) is near the top of the S&P 500 today, up 9.3% to trade at $23.23, as chip stocks in general get a boost from the U.S.-China trade truce. The burst today has AMD shares on track to close above their 40-day moving average for the first time since early October. Overall, the chip stock has more than doubled in 2018. 

MMC Daily Chart AMD

On the other end of the spectrum, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) is among the worst stocks on the S&P 500 today. Though the catalyst is unknown, ATVI stock is down 5.3% to trade at $103.91, extending its history of weak December price action.

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