Stocks at Risk of Rare Monthly Loss

The VIX held above a key technical level this week

Feb 23, 2018 at 1:54 PM
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The holiday-shortened trading week saw mixed price action on Wall Street, with a post-earnings slump for big-cap retailer Walmart (WMT) pressuring the Dow and S&P 500 Index (SPX) toward a third weekly loss out of four -- and putting the indexes comfortably on track to snap their 10-month winning streaks. And while the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) appears ready to end the week higher as a Friday surge has the index on track to break its four-day losing streak, it's also headed for its first monthly loss since June.

VIX On Track for Best Month Since 2015

Conversely, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is holding above key technical support, and pacing for its biggest monthly gain since August 2015 -- a breakout echoed in the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX). And while the market's "fear gauge" remains well off the elevated 50.30 mark it hit earlier this month, we couldn't help but notice this pair of VIX extremes that recently sounded for the first time since 2016, while this volatility signal points to short-term trouble for stocks.

Walmart Earnings Bring Retail Into Focus

In addition to dragging the Dow and SPX lower on the week, Walmart earnings -- in addition to big Rite Aid buyout buzz -- brought retail stocks into focus ahead of a historically bullish period for the sector. In fact, previous WMT pullbacks have been a buy signal for the blue-chip stock in the past, while it might be time to join Gap (GPS) on its next leg north.

Elsewhere, D.A. Davidson set lofty expectations for Etsy (ETSY) ahead of next week's earnings report, and Advance Auto Parts (AAP) gapped higher after earnings -- catching bearish options traders off guard. IMAX (IMAX) shares also jumped thanks to a strong debut for "Black Panther," though Tile Shop (TTS) stock spiraled to a record low after earnings.

M&A Buzz Boosts Chip Stocks

Chip stocks, meanwhile, were one of the main catalysts for tech sector tailwinds -- sparked by Qualcomm's (QCOM) boosted buyout bid for NXP Semiconductors (NXPI), while Broadcom (AVGO) subsequently lowered its bid for QCOM. Plus, Bernstein said to buy Analog Devices (ADI) on its attractive valuation, and software name Zendesk (ZEN) sent up a signal that's had bullish implications in the past.

MKM Partners, meanwhile, said this FAANG stock had the " best growth story," and Craig-Hallum said to "sell" this Facebook supplier. And while Pandora Media (P) options bulls cheered the stock's initial reaction to earnings, the shares swung lower by the close. Fellow streaming name Roku (ROKU) also plunged after earnings, but analysts weren't too concerned.

Analysts Chime In On Bank Stocks

Financial stocks also got their fair share of attention this week. While Instinet said it's more bullish on Discover Financial (DFS) than Capital One (COF), Berenberg listed these three big-cap bank stocks as its preferred shorts. Oil stocks were on the radar, too, with options traders nailing a rare Chesapeake Energy (CHK) post-earnings pop -- and lifting its fellow energy shares higher.

Fed, Retail Earnings On Tap Next Week

Looking ahead, Wall Street will be keeping a close eye on the Fed next week, after this week's rate-hike speculation -- with new Fed Chair Jerome Powell giving his inaugural testimony to Congress. Retailers will continue to be in the limelight, too, with Macy's (M) and J.C. Penney (JCP) among the many names set to report earnings. And for those looking to gain exposure outside of the U.S. stock market, consider buying these foreign ETFs right now, considering they all historically outperform over the next several months.

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