Stocks Little Changed as Wall Street Weighs Vaccine Deal, China Tensions

New COVID-19 vaccine updates are keeping stocks from completely collapsing

Assistant Editor
Jul 22, 2020 at 12:28 PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) is up just over 80 points at last check, as Wall Street eyes growing tensions between the United States and China after U.S. State Department ordered China to close its consulate in Houston. Some positive coronavirus vaccine news has helped keep stocks from completely collapsing, though. At the midway mark, both S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) are clinging to modest gains. 

Meanwhile, oil prices have pivoted lower as traders fret over a larger-than-expected buildup in U.S. inventory. Pairing that with the surge in COVID-19 cases, which could further impact fuel demand, crude for August delivery is off 1.2% at $41.40, at last check.

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

  • These two retail stocks just got hit with downgrades from UBS. 
  • A bull note sent Applied Materials stock higher.
  • Plus, AMD calls are all the rage; U.S. Energy Corp stock is a top performer; and FE is sinking on $60 million scandal. 

Midday Market Stats 2 July 22

One stock seeing notable activity in its options pits is Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD).Over 532,000 calls and 163,000 puts have exchanged hands so far today -- three times the intraday average. Most popular are the weekly 7/24 60- and 62-strike calls, with new positions being opened at both. Advanced Micro Devices stock just brushed a new all-time high of $61.50, and is now up 31.5% year-to-date. The security was last seen 6.8% higher to trade at $61.37. 

One of the best performing stocks on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) today is independent energy company U.S. Energy Corp. (NYSE:USEG), last seen up 56.1% at $7.82. Though the catalyst is unclear, USEG now boats an impressive 144.2% year-to-date lead, and earlier made another run at its June 8, annual high of $9. Meanwhile, the equity looks set to close above the 40-day moving average for the first time in nearly a month.

USEG Chart July 22

Meanwhile, another energy company is sitting at the bottom of the NYSE. FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE:FE) is down 29.2%, last seen trading at $24.24, after the company was served subpoenas in connection with a $60 million racketeering and federal bribery investigation, one of the largest public corruption cases in Ohio history, involving two of the company's nuclear power plants. In response, the equity has received no less than four price-target cuts, contributing to FE's 49.8% year-to-date deficit.

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