Stocks Struggle as Wall Street Turns from Trump to Earnings

Caterpillar earnings and rising yields pressured the Dow

Karee Venema
Apr 27, 2018 at 2:48 PM
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Traders turned their attention away from President Donald Trump's Twitter feed this week in order to focus on an onslaught of corporate earnings reports and the 10-year Treasury yield -- which topped the key 3% level for the first time in four years on Tuesday. This and a sharp earnings reversal for Caterpillar (CAT) had the Dow notching its longest daily losing streak in more than a year -- though this has historically been a buy signal -- with the blue-chip index now pacing for its first weekly loss in three. The S&P and Nasdaq are on track for weekly losses, too, with the former churning below a key under-the-radar technical level.

Dow Earnings Round-Up

Caterpillar (CAT) seemed destined for a post-earnings win -- with Citigroup calling the construction stock a "buy" ahead of the event -- but swung to its biggest one-day loss since June 2016 on Tuesday, on concerns over rising material costs. Several other blue chips reported earnings this week, too, with a positive earnings reaction helping Verizon (VZ) barrel through recent congestion, while Travelers (TRV) breached technical support after earnings.

And while options traders were rewarded by Boeing's (BA) earnings reaction, the aerospace giant also gave a lift to durable goods orders in the first quarter. Microsoft (MSFT) is also pacing toward a post-earnings win, thanks to strong demand for the company's Azure cloud service. Fellow blue-chip tech stock Intel (INTC) is also higher after earnings -- though a much lower move than the options market was expecting -- while oil majors Chevron (CVX) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) trade in drastically different directions.

Alphabet Sits Out FAANG Earnings Rally

Facebook's (FB) first-quarter earnings came in strong -- and helped the shares shake off an early week slump to resume the recent rally that helped call buyers bank a big profit. But even as FB heads toward its best week since the start of the year, a pair of pundits are saying the FAANG stock is still cheap. Amazon (AMZN) also surged after the company's results, topping out at a record high in early action Friday -- though this rumored takeover target has failed to capitalize on the tailwinds. Alphabet (GOOGL), however, slumped nearly 5% as the Google parent's increased expenses concerned Wall Street -- but Stifel isn't concerned.

Drug Stocks See Volatile Trading

Merck (MRK) is headed higher for a third straight week, after Goldman Sachs upgraded the Dow stock on Keytruda optimism. Canaccord Genuity said to buy this drug stock -- sending it into record-high territory -- while Prothena (PRTA) earned some well-deserved downgrades after spiraling to a four-year low on Monday. FDA decisions sent these two drug stocks spiraling, as well.

Ford Stock Eyes Best Week Since Late 2016

Retail stocks received mixed analyst attention this week. While Raymond James said it's time to sell Pier 1 Imports (PIR), Wells Fargo took the bullish route toward this pair of home improvement retailers. And while Half Sky Capital targeted 55% upside for GrubHub (GRUB), analysts rushed to raise their outlooks on Chipotle (CMG) as the embattled stock had its best day ever after earnings.

Automakers were also in focus, with Ford (F) driving toward its best week since December 2016, after the automaker snapped an ugly earnings trend. Plus, Tesla (TSLA) shrugged off a Chanos swipe to hold on to weekly gains.

Apple Earnings, Fed, Oil in Focus Next Week

Tech earnings will continue to be in focus next week, with traders watching Apple (AAPL) earnings for signs of a slowdown in smartphone demand. Following this week's results from its sector peers, social media firm Snap (SNAP) is also on the radar, with the stock's put options remarkably cheap ahead of next Tuesday's earnings event, while blue-chip McDonald's (MCD) could be a buy before earnings. A Fed meeting and jobs data are on tap, too, while crude futures will be closely watched following their recent run higher -- especially considering this USO options signal that has preceded oil tops just flashed.

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