At the halfway point through the week, what did the stock market do today?
Major indices were not so fortunate on Wednesday.
- The S&P 500 closed lower by 0.18%
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed lower by 0.44%
- The Nasdaq Composite closed lower by 0.09%
So what else did the stock market do today? Here are some of the top stories to catch up on.
What Did the Stock Market Do Today? Squeeze IVR.
r/WallStreetBets is moving at an unusually quick pace these days.
This morning, the chatter on Wall Street was all about natural gas play Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ:CLNE), a bet on short interest, cow jokes, and renewable energy. GEO Group (NYSE:GEO), a private prison operator, similarly captivated retail investors.
By the afternoon, a new theme was dominant. Retail investors were rallying behind mortgage REITs, betting on a short squeeze to lift names like Invesco Mortgage (NYSE:IVR). For those unfamiliar, Invesco and its mortgage REIT (mREIT) peers primarily invest in mortgage-backed securities and other mortgage-related assets. Importantly, Invesco in particular stands out because it holds residential mortgage-backed securities that do not have government agency backing. More simply put, it dabbles in a riskier segment of these assets.
So how did Reddit get into the mortgage REIT business?
Importantly, short interest in IVR stock and its peers has been growing in recent weeks. A key investment thesis in the last several months has centered on sky-high housing demand. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve set interest rates at near-zero levels. This has trickled down to mortgage rates, prompting buyers to enter the market. With the reopening story underway and talk of tapering growing, many fear that rates are about to pick up. One Seeking Alpha contributor has been encouraging investors to short IVR stock considering this.
Well, we all know how Redditors feel about short-sellers. Today saw the retail investor crowd come out in full support of IVR, sending shares up nearly 18%.
GameStop Just Wants to Be Amazon
Ryan Cohen really was clear when he first became an activist investor in GameStop (NYSE:GME).
At the time, Cohen said he had a bold vision for the brick-and-mortar video game retailer. If only it could embrace e-commerce, it could one day rival Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Leveraging his own experience launching Chewy (NYSE:CHWY), Cohen promised to deliver just that for shareholders. In the months that have followed, an entire army of retail investors has climbed on board. Former tech-company execs have joined the board, and GameStop is now dabbling in non-fungible tokens and closing stores.
Today, Cohen officially became chairman. He also announced that GameStop was hiring Matt Furlong to serve in the chief executive role. Most notably, Furlong comes from a long career at Amazon.
For investors then, the new CEO news speaks to the broader turnaround plan at play. With Cohen officially at helm, and a new CEO on the way, perhaps the company can finally shed light on its strategy.
But not everything about the news today was good. GameStop also announced that it intends to sell as many as 5 million shares at the market. All proceeds will go toward future growth and shoring up its balance sheet, genuine causes. However, as these meme stocks look to leverage retail interest, they must wage a battle against dilution fears. As we saw with AMC last week, even the most devoted Redditors can stumble at the thought of significant shareholder dilution.
China Is Cracking Down on Crypto… Again
Today, the crypto world was solidly focused on news that El Salvador has approved Bitcoin (CCC:BTC-USD) as legal tender, making it the first country to do so. Fully leaning into the laser-eye hype, lawmakers are requiring all merchants to accept BTC as a form of payment. They are also offering anyone who invests 3 BTC in the Salvadorian economy permanent residency.
For bulls, this is a huge endorsement of the largest cryptocurrency, highlighting the currency component. El Salvador says it will create jobs and help reach citizens who are currently unbanked. The country has also inspired similar conversations in Paraguay and Panama.
While rejoicing, bulls may have missed something happening in a different region of the world. Following up on rumors of crypto mining bans, Chinese officials in a third province cracked down today. As a result, miners in the province of Qinghai will be forced out of operation. InvestorPlace contributor Chris MacDonald cites worries over coal-based energy consumption as a reason for this ban. Investors should also note, however, that Chinese officials have taken issue with the price volatility present in crypto.
On the date of publication, Sarah Smith did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Sarah Smith is the Editor of Today’s Market with InvestorPlace.com.