Stocks Strengthen At Close; Wal-Mart, Alphabet Stir The Advance | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

Stocks wrapped up Wednesday’s session with slender gains, leaving the Dow and the Nasdaq Composite tracking toward their fifth straight weekly advance.

Minutes from the September FOMC meeting released mid-afternoon had little impact on trade, but investors responded strongly to analyst actions and earnings news, as well as the small number of early third quarter earnings reports.

The Dow Jones industrial average managed to scratch off a new closing high, rising 0.2% as Wal-Mart (WMT) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) each soared to gains of better than 2%.

The Nasdaq Composite ticked up 0.3%, also to a new closing high, as PayPal (PYPL), Liberty Global (LBTYK) and Dollar Tree (DLTR) headed the Nasdaq 100.  Apple (AAPL) rose 0.4% and Alphabet (GOOGL) led the FANG stocks, jumping 1.8% after Credit Suisse boosted is price target on the stock to 1350, from 1100. TGhe stock ended a dime below a 1005.10 buy point in a three-month flat base.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.2%, seizing its own new closing high. The index’s biggest gains came from drug maker Endo International (ENDP) and steelmaker Nucor (NUE), up 4% each. Target (TGT) was also in the mix, rising 3% as it caught some updraft from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart Up 9% For Week, PayPal Leads IBD 50

Wal-Mart surged 2.5% in a third straight advance that left shares up more than 9% so far for the week and extended 5% above an 82.09 buy point in a flat base. The stock saw handful of price target increase this week, following its increase to 2018 earnings guidance and launch of a $20 bil. stock buyback plan on Monday.

Johnson & Johnson rose 2.2% to end the session just a whisker below a 137.10 buy point in a four-month flat base. The medical products brand scored its second analyst upgrade of the week, a lift from Jefferies & Co. to buy, from hold, with a price target increase to 157 from 145. The stock is up 3% since Monday as its second straight weekly advance put shares 6% above a September 29 low.

General Electric (GE) dropped 1.6%, notching the worst loss among Dow stocks during Wednesday’s session. News reports said the company was negotiating a possible takeover of U.K.-based underwater engineering firm, Subsea 7 (SUBCY), while investors continued to react to changes in the company’s top management announced on Monday.

Airlines posted a mixed session after Delta Air Lines (DAL) topped analysts projections in its third-quarter report. Shares jumped more than 2% in opening trade, then pared gains to less than 1%. The stock is climbing the right side of a three-month cup base with a potential buy point at 55.85.

One of the day’s biggest gains went to MoviePass owner Helios & Matheson Analytics (HMNY). The stock spiked 22% at the open, putting it ahead more than 115% so far for the week. The information technology consultant in August bought a majority share in MoviePass, and revamped the internet-based subscription service pricing. MoviePass now provides customers tickets to one movie per day in a theater for $9.95 per month.  No purchase amount was announced in the Helios’ deal.

Helios shares are up more than 1,000% from a mid-September low.

IBD 50 stock PayPal jumped 2%, boosted by an upgrade from Morgan Stanley to overweight, from equal weight and a 23% price target hike, to 76, from 62. PayPal shares are extended, up more than 20% since a breakout from a flat base in July.

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