Stock Market Today: A Trio of Buys; Tech Ramps Ahead of Earnings

Equities got off to a sluggish start in the stock market today. While the S&P 500 and Dow Jones didn’t put up robust gains, climbing just 0.23% and 0.06% respectively, it was a decent showing compared to Friday’s late-day selloff. The Nasdaq did much better, climbing 0.71% as investors regain some confidence ahead of a key week for earnings.

Earnings on the Move

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) put up good numbers last week, but a whole slew of mega-cap tech will report this week.

That includes Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) on Wednesday. It also includes Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL, NASDAQ:GOOG), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) on Thursday.

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), Snap (NYSE:SNAP) and other tech plays will also report this week as well.

As far as earnings go on Monday, shares of Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) were surging, up almost 10% on the day. The company delivered a non-GAAP earnings beat, generating 35 cents per share vs. expectations of 30 cents per share. However, revenue of $5.93 billion declined 3.6% year-over-year and missed estimates by $40 million.

Obviously investors are willing to overlook the sales miss, as shares of Halliburton threaten to breakout over $24. However, it may be due to management’s commentary that the second half is looking better for its international unit, much like Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) said on Friday.

At the end of the day, look for earnings to fuel the move this week. It’s not just tech, but the sector plays a huge role over the next few sessions. Positive reactions very well could drive stocks to new highs. A negative reaction could further the current pullback.

Major Moves on the Stock Market Today

Shares of memory and memory equipment makers got a huge shot in the arm on Monday. Last week, we pointed out that Micron (NASDAQ:MU) was breaking out and on Monday the stock erased any doubt about its intentions to race higher.

The stock climbed 3.67%, while Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) and Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) jumped 4.4% and 6.1%, respectively. Goldman Sachs analysts were the catalyst, as the firm upgraded all three of the stocks to a “buy” rating from “neutral.” For AMAT, they added it to their conviction buy list.

The move came with a $56 price target for Micron (from $40) and a $231 target for LRCX (from $197). For the conviction buy, the analysts assigned a $56 price target for AMAT (up from $48).

Boeing (NYSE:BA) continues to hold above the key $360 to $362 area, but shares slipped 1% on Monday. The decline comes as credit rating agency Fitch cut its outlook on Boeing to “negative.” That’s down from a “stable” rating as Fitch worries about regulatory issues and when the 737 MAX will come into service. It could remain an issue into 2020 and hurt operating margins for several years, the firm argued.

Poking Around Wall Street

Blackstone (NYSE:BX) pulled back nicely ahead of earnings last week. However, despite a solid report, the stock was relatively muted. On Monday though, BX stock jumped 4.85% on news that it may sell its stake in Cheniere Energy Partners (NYSE:CQP).

In 2012, Blackstone invested $1.5 billion in the asset and is now looking to get a premium for the 203.4 million shares it owns. That stake is currently valued at $8.8 billion as of Monday’s trading price. The report sent shares of Blackstone to new 52-week highs.

Both Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) finished higher on the day, but fell considerably based on where they traded throughout the morning. Investors were optimistic on the merger between the two, after a weekend report said it’s all but squared away with the Department of Justice. AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) both took it on the chin Monday, down about 2%, on the news.

While the deal still seems imminent, S and TMUS stocks tumbled from their highs on a report that they may be renegotiating the merger price. The hope is that it won’t drag out too much longer, with Dish Networks (NASDAQ:DISH) there to buy the divested assets.

Bret Kenwell is the manager and author of Future Blue Chips and is on Twitter @BretKenwell. As of this writing, Bret Kenwell is long AMZN, GOOGL and T. 

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