Stock Markets Prove Resilient After Harvey, North Korea

Hurricane Harvey sent gasoline futures soaring, while dragging down insurance stocks

Andrea Kramer
Sep 1, 2017 at 1:53 PM
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Stocks got off to a slow start this week, with all eyes on Hurricane Harvey. However, despite the devastating storm and re-emerging tensions with North Korea, the major market indexes proved resilient. In fact, the Dow on Tuesday enjoyed its biggest intraday comeback in more than a year. Further, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) is aiming for its longest win streak since May, and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) notched a record-high close, as tame inflation and jobs data diminished expectations for a Fed rate hike in December.

Harvey Moves Markets, Gasoline Prices

Hurricane Harvey ravaged the oil-rich Gulf Coast and sent gasoline futures soaring to two-year highs. Home Depot and Lowe's stocks also jumped, amid rising expectations for home-improvement supplies following massive flooding in Texas. On the flip side, what's expected to be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history sent insurance stocks into the red -- and Dow stock Travelers could be in for another rough week, if history is any indicator. Crude oil prices, meanwhile, fell, and these energy ETFs could be in for more downside this month.

Geopolitical Tensions Ramp Up 

North Korea  launched a missile test that flew over Japan, prompting President Trump to warn that "all options are on the table," and "talking is not the answer." The renewed geopolitical tensions sparked a rush to so-called "safe havens" like gold, with the malleable metal wrapping up its biggest monthly gain since January. In addition, several gold stocks attracted the attention of options traders. Outside of North Korea, options traders also flocked to this Russia ETF amid tensions with the Soviet nation.

Retail Earnings Remain in Focus

Although earnings season is still winding down, a handful of retail names were in the spotlight this week. Genesco stock hit a seven-year low after an earnings miss, and Dollar General stock fell on a margin shock. A Finish Line profit warning weighed on athletic apparel stocks early in the week, but Lululemon bucked the trend after a strong earnings showing on Friday -- much to the delight of recent options traders.

FDA Moves Drug Stocks

It was a busy week for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The regulatory body rejected Acorda's Parkinson's drug, sending the shares lower, and an FDA letter sank Steadymed stock. On the other hand, an FDA decision lifted Abeona Therapeutics stock, and a landmark FDA nod for Novartis also lifted Gilead Sciences. And speaking of Gilead, the company's purchase of Kite Pharma made major noise in the biotech sphere, translating into a boon for sector peer for Juno Therapeutics.

Meanwhile, a key drug trial fail sent Otonomy stock reeling, Paratek Pharmaceuticals continues to crush shorts, and a C-Suite shakeup had Tenet Healthcare stock among the many pharma stocks in the black on Friday. Looking ahead, a handful of drug stocks are among the best to own in September.

Best/Worst Stocks In the Short Term

Next week, the holiday-shortened week is dominated by a slew of speeches from regional Fed presidents, including four on Thursday alone. Meanwhile, Kroger is among the companies in the earnings confessional. For traders looking for Labor Day week stocks to buy, a couple of FAANG stocks made the list.

Looking beyond next week to the month of September, though, Apple stock is among the worst stocks to own, historically. Apple will be in focus mid-month, especially, after confirming its Sept. 12 iPhone event. Meanwhile, speculators may also want to avoid this pair of retailers, and beware banks, as this finance ETF tends to underperform in September. On the flip side, these software stocks could rally, if past is prologue, and Schaeffer's founder and CEO Bernie Schaeffer recently reiterated the case for tech over small-caps.

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