Stocks Climb as S&P 500, Nasdaq Nab Record Highs

The Dow has pivoted into the black midday

Digital Content Manager
Jul 12, 2021 at 12:01 PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) is sporting a 93-point lead midday, paring this morning's triple-digit losses. The S&P 500 Index (SPX) is also firmly in the black, after nabbing an intraday high earlier in the session. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) is marginally higher, but still scored an intraday record high this morning thanks to outsized gains from Big Tech names such as Tesla (TSLA).

Investors are taking a wait-and-see approach today, it seems, ahead of earnings season kicking off unofficially Tuesday morning. Blue-chip bank names JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) will step into the earnings confessional before the bell tomorrow. 

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

  • Cheesecake Factory stock picked up a lofty upgrade.
  • A joint venture has this retail stock in the spotlight.
  • Plus, options bulls blast HIG; finance stock pops on acquisition news; and checking in with a plummeting Nasdaq newbie.

MMC Stats 712

One stock seeing a surge in options activity today is Hartford Financial Services Group Inc (NYSE:HIG), up 1.7% at $62.62 at last check, after earning a price-target hike from Deutsche Bank to $73 from $60. So far, 20,000 calls have crossed the tape, which is 62 times the intraday average, as opposed to just 233 puts. Most popular is the December 70 call, followed by the 80 call in the same series, with new positions being opened at both. HIG has been cooling off from its April 27, 13-year high of $69.93, and is up 67.1% year-over-year.

At the top of the Nasdaq today is State Auto Financial Corp (NASDAQ:STFC), last seen up 189.1% at $49.90 and earlier hitting an all-time high of $50.23. Today's bull gap came after Liberty Mutual Insurance bolstered an independent agent network with an agreement to acquire State Auto Financial for $52 per share. The news attracted a price-target hike from Piper Sandler to $52 from $18, as shares nearly doubled in the aftermath. The security is now pacing for its fourth-straight win and its highest-ever percentage jump on record. In the last nine months, HIG has added 261.2%.


Meanwhile, towards the bottom of the Nasdaq is AgriFORCE Growing Systems Ltd (NASDAQ: AGRI)down 17.9% to trade at $4.60 this afternoon. Though a catalyst for this negative price action was not immediately clear, the dip comes mere days after the security's market debut on July 8 with an initial public offering (IPO) of 2.7 million shares priced at $5 per share for gross proceeds of roughly $13.6 million. Week-to-date, AGRI is down 18.1%.


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