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Stock Market Today: Biotech in Focus, Trade Talks Steady Stocks

Bret Kenwell

Friday was a brutal session and Monday looked like it was going to be more of the same. Trade tensions flared heading into the weekend and investors were tripping over themselves to sell. Sunday night futures were looking like another tough day was coming. But as we’ve said plenty of times before, all it takes is one tweet to turn things around.

After putting China on blast just a few days ago, President Donald Trump was far more upbeat about working out a trade deal. That left investors optimistic on the stock market today, bidding equities higher.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA:SPY) and SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) each jumped 1.1%, while the PowerShares QQQ ETF (NASDAQ:QQQ) climbed 1.5% on the day.

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The CBOE Volatility Index (the VIX), gold and bonds were unable to hold onto their initial gains. While the latter two faded, the fact that they were on the rise alongside equities suggests investors are still uncertain about the trade war. Further, equities aren’t even reclaiming half the losses they incurred on Friday.

The Trade Wars

The U.S.-China trade war gets all the headlines, but other countries matter too. The U.S. does a lot of business with Japan, and it was reported over the weekend that the two countries have all but hammered out a new trade deal. That’s great news for companies, and it’s a positive step for investors as well.

In regards to China, Trump says he’s optimistic about making a deal. However, the two sides have constantly been in a passive aggressive stance. It ranges from intensifying actions to talking about getting a deal done.

With that in mind, investors may not want to place too much optimism in finalizing a deal, nor too much pessimism in total fallout. While some may find that suggestion unhelpful, it’s an accurate translation from the charts.

chart of the stock market today

Above is a year-to-date look of the SPY ETF. Range-bound for a month now, investors haven’t had the confidence to bid the SPY up over resistance, nor have they gotten bearish enough to allow it to break below support.

Range resistance has come into play between $292.50 and $295. Support has stepped up near $283, while a short-term uptrend line has also formed. Until one of these range levels gives way, it’s hard to have too much conviction on either side simply because headlines are driving the price action.

Above resistance could send the S&P 500 back to 3,000, while a move below support likely brings up a test of the 200-day moving average.

Movers in the Stock Market Today

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) and Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) were all in the news Monday. That’s because Amgen has reportedly agreed to buy Celgene’s Otezla for $13.4 billion. Amgen is getting a great asset, while Celgene (and thus BMY) is getting an excellent price for it.

More than just getting a good price though, the sale is expected to help gain the Federal Trade Commission’s blessing for BMY’s acquisition of Celgene. That’s why AMGN rallied 3% on the day, while BMY and CELG rallied similar amounts.

Philip Morris (NYSE:PM) rallied off its lows, but still fell more than 4% on Monday. Some linked the decline to a vape-related death. Others connected it to another merger rumor with Altria (NYSE:MO). Given their size though — with PM’s market cap at $121 billion and MO at $88 billion — and given their place among the tobacco industry, it may seem unlikely for a deal to emerge that will get approved.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) will be in the spotlight on Monday evening, with a ruling out for its opioid case in the state of Oklahoma. There were talks about a fine ranging between $500 million to $5 billion. Many investors were expecting something closer to the former, with the figure coming in at $572 million.

Some investors are annoyed that JNJ is involved in the suit at all. That’s due to its limited role compared to some other players in the field. Shares are rallying 4% on the headlines. With a roughly in-line fine, investors will be happy to have the air cleared.

Finally, momentum names remain strong. Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) hit new all-time highs on Monday, rallying to $145 at one point in the session. Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) didn’t quite make it to new high territory, but did rally more than 3% on the day.

Bret Kenwell is the manager and author of Future Blue Chips and is on Twitter @BretKenwell. As of this writing, Bret Kenwell is long JNJ, ROKU, CELG and SHOP. 

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