Best Stock Market Stories of 2018

Articles about the VIX -- or Wall Street's "fear index" -- were popular this year

Dec 31, 2018 at 2:27 PM
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After enjoying a slow burn higher through 2016 and 2017, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) turned on the volatility switch in 2018, amid concerns about U.S.-China trade relations, a raw Brexit, gridlock in Washington, D.C., a global oil glut, and more. It's been a roller-coaster year for the stock market index, powering to record highs in September, only to plummet in the fourth quarter and flirt with bear-market territory. As such, the SPX is on pace for its worst year since the 2008 financial crisis. Below are some of the most read Schaeffer's Research stories of the past year, with FAANG, weed, and chip stocks -- and, of course, Wall Streets "fear gauge" -- garnering notable attention.

Analysts Flock to Facebook

Our top story by pageviews (nearly 9,000) was Jefferies Cuts Facebook Price Target Ahead of Earnings, posted ahead of Facebook Inc's (NASDAQ:FB) October earnings release. Along those same lines, 3 Major Price Targets for Facebook Stock and Rare Downgrade Sends Facebook Stock Spiraling were also big draws in July and September, respectively, while Morgan Stanley Backs 3 FAANG Stocks for 2019 -- posted earlier this month -- was also widely read.

Meanwhile, shortly after Citron highlighted a "major Facebook problem" for Shopify Inc (NYSE:SHOP), Options Trader Bets 2 Million on Shopify Stock Sell-Off wracked up more than 6,500 pageviews, making it one of our most read options-focused stories of the year.

FB shares have plummeted 40% since touching an all-time high on July 25, a day before the social media titan issued a profit margin warning. The security is now set to end 2018 with a 26% deficit -- its only annual loss since going public. On the other hand, SHOP is still set to wrap up 2018 with a gain of nearly 37%.

Weed Stocks Make Noise Amid New Pot Laws

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada and several U.S. states had pot stocks in the spotlight in 2018. Citron: This Weed Stock Could Surge 80% -- posted earlier this month -- was among our most read stories of the year, as was Citron: This Weed Stock Could Double from Oct. 8 -- roughly a week before Canada's new law went into effect.

Pot stocks like Canopy Growth Corp (NYSE:CGC), Tilray Inc (NASDAQ:TLRY), and Cronos Group Inc (NASDAQ:CRON) attracted attention in the options pits, too, resulting in solid pageviews for articles like Options Bulls Are Lighting Up These Weed Stocks, Option Bear Predicts October Slide for Canopy Growth, and Call Trading Hot on Cronos Group Stock.

Chip Stocks Popular Among Schaeffer's Readers

Concerns about Apple's (AAPL) iPhone demand weighed on several suppliers in the fourth quarter. However, chip titans Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) and Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) were popular even before that -- among our readers, at least. Among some of the most read Schaeffer's Research articles this year were Time to Buy Nvidia Options and Calls Hot Before Nvidia Earnings; Ford Traders See Big Bounce, from January and February, respectively. The Sept. 10 article New AMD Stock Price Target Sparks Heavy Options Trading also generated more than 5,000 pageviews.

Despite a rough fourth quarter, AMD shares are set to end 2018 with a gain of more than 76%. On the other hand, NVDA is pacing for a 2018 loss of 31%, its first year-over-year decline since 2012.

"Fear Index" Features a Hot Topic in 2018

Outside of individual stocks, the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) -- also known as Wall Street's "fear barometer" -- was a popular topic among SchaeffersResearch.com devotees. The VIX is pacing for a 2018 gain of more than 140% -- its biggest annual gain ever.

As VIX Hysteria Rises, One Signal That's Worthy of Attention was the most popular article from our founder and CEO, Bernie Schaeffer, this year, while Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White's What It Means When VIX and Stocks Both Rise generated almost 4,000 pageviews. In the same vein, April's Stock Market 'Fear Index' Just Did This for First Time Ever was well-received by readers. Read This Before You Try to Buy the Dip from early February -- back when the VIX was putting in multi-year highs -- was the most popular Monday Morning Outlook from Schaeffer's Senior V.P. of Research Todd Salamone

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