First Week of December a Brutal One for Stocks

The arrest of Huawei's CFO threw a wrench in U.S.-China trade relations

by Patrick Martin

Published on Dec 7, 2018 at 3:11 PM

It was a brutal start to December for the stock market, as icy trade relations with China were once again at the forefront of market activity. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI), S&P 500 Index (SPX), and Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) are all heading toward steep weekly losses, despite starting the week off hot amid the U.S.-China trade truce. The market took a break on Wednesday for a national day of mourning in observance of late President George H.W. Bush, and a mid-week high-profile arrest of Huawei's Chief Financial Officer sent shock waves through Wall Street. Meanwhile, a Fed report and November jobs data did little to limit losses later in the week.

FAANG Stocks Resume Sell-Off

Facebook (FB) and Netflix (NFLX) both found themselves lower this week thanks to some bearish analyst attention. The former also faced more public pressure after a Wall Street Journal report detailed the company's use of shared data. Amazon.com (AMZN) and Alphabet (GOOGL) were both hit by the sell-off as well, while Amazon Air shook up some competitors. And continuing a recent trend, more negative analyst estimates for the iPhone dragged Apple (AAPL) into the red for the week.

China Drama, Treasury Yields, and Weed Stocks Make Waves

All was bright on the trade front just five days ago when the stock market was fueled by optimism over the U.S.-China tariff truce. Options traders piled on Chinese stocks Alibaba (BABA) and JD.com (JD), both of which were pointed higher to start the week. But after the positive vibes vanished, trade tensions remained, and were ultimately exacerbated by the Huawei scandal. As a result, options bears piled on struggling Ford stock, given its heavy exposure to China.

Also adding to the gloomy sentiment on the Street was the flattening 10-year Treasury yield, which sent bank stocks sliding. Amid the volatility, weed stocks remained a hot-button item, thanks to Cronos Group's (CRON) Altria partnership, which yielded a bullish note for one weed stock from notorious short seller Citron Research.

Drug Stocks Make Big Moves

Per the usual, there was a lot of movement from biotech stocks. RBC set a lofty goal for red-hot BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX), representing 73% upside from its current perch. On the other end of the spectrum, Conatus Pharmaceuticals (CNAT) received a flurry of bear notes following subpar data for its fatty liver disease drug. But if there's one drug stock to target, it's animal drug maker Zoetis (ZTS), which just flashed several bullish signals.

Best Oil Stocks; Inflation Data On Tap Next Week

Following the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) decision to cut its crude production, these oil stocks could rebound in the coming months. Looking ahead, inflation data will be a big talking point next week, as the last Fed meeting of 2018 looms, and the Brexit vote should also make headlines.
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