U.S. Stocks Soar Again as Energy and Retail Lead

Many retail stocks hit new highs thanks to upbeat sales data

by Josh Selway

Published on Jan 12, 2018 at 3:30 PM
Updated on Jan 12, 2018 at 3:54 PM

While the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI), S&P 500 Index (SPX), and Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) all got a taste of defeat this week, with the Dow suffering -- gasp! -- two losing sessions, U.S. stocks once again cruised to an impressive weekly win and fresh record highs, extending their historic start to the year. There was again some Trump-related turbulence, with reports suggesting the president is considering exiting NAFTA. Buzz that China could quit buying U.S. bonds also dinged stocks, though this was later labeled "fake news." Ultimately, a big week from the energy and retail sectors, a strong start to fourth-quarter earnings season, and ongoing tailwinds from tax reform was all more than enough to keep bulls buying.

Energy Stocks Follow Oil Prices Higher

Front-month crude futures closed each day higher this week, as oil prices climbed to three-year highs, bringing crude's weekly win streak to four. This resulted in huge moves from energy stocks. Dow component Chevron (CVX) traded at multi-year highs, and analysts are growing bullish, but options traders may want to consider this pair of energy stocks instead. Meanwhile, alternative energy names like SunPower (SPWR) jumped, too.

Gold and copper also shined in the commodity space. A number of analysts are now upwardly revising their price target on gold stocks, after a number of investors missed out on the precious metal's surge. Copper miners, on the other hand, are still waiting for Wall Street bulls to come their way.

Sales Data Keeps Retail Rally Alive

Retail was the other big story this week. This group saw major tailwinds from December sales data, helping guide Target (TGT) and these two sector peers to annual highs. Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) raising the minimum wage for its workers likely added to the momentum. Of course, they're all trying to keep up with Amazon.com (AMZN), as the FAANG stock notched fresh highs on its quest for a trillion-dollar market cap.

Social Media Stocks, Chipmakers In Focus

In the tech space, the focus landed on a number of usual names. Analysts were again adjusting their ratings on social media stocks, but this time it was Twitter stock getting the edge, as rival Facebook (FB) retreated after a rare downgrade. Then there was Snapchat owner Snap (SNAP), which continues to be beaten down by brokerage firms.

Staying with the millennial theme, video game stocks were also making headlines, after Activision Blizzard (ATVI) launched its first Overwatch e-sports league, much to the delight of analysts. On the flip side, rival Electronic Arts (EA) struggled for upside. And while it wasn't due to gaming tailwinds, NVIDIA (NVDA) again managed all-time highs, this time thanks to an Uber partnership.

It could be fellow semiconductor stock Micron Technology (MU), however, that surges into February, while these Apple suppliers could be worth a look, too. It'll be hard for anyone to replicate Seagate Technology's (STX) weekly wins, after the shares surged on cryptocurrency speculation. Speaking of which, we had two new blockchain winners this week -- not even including Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY) -- as the bitcoin craze continues. 

Other Weekly Winners

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) strong showing, with the blue chip lifting the Dow to record highs early in the week. Shares of Universal Display (OLED), Deere (DE), and Tesla (TSLA) also pushed higher, while Oprah for president rumors had Weight Watchers (WTW) making another huge move. For notable losers, GoPro (GPRO) had a miserable week after cutting its sales forecast. IMAX stock and Cirrus Logic (CRUS) took a seat at the losers' table, as well.

Stocks Go Up Against Rising Optimism

Fourth-quarter earnings season is set to continue next week, with bank stocks like Citigroup (C) highlighting the slate once again, as it tries to follow the footsteps of peer JPMorgan (JPM). Also due up are blue chips American Express (EXPR) and UnitedHealth (UNH). But before buying anything, traders should note investor sentiment is getting quite bullish, and some stock signals are flashing "sell." Of course, there are options trading strategies for no matter what the market does.

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