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Major U.S. indexes faced pressure Monday morning as sentiment soured around the Chinese economy. Still, upgrades helped lift shares of Dow, AstraZeneca, and other individual names during premarket trading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%, the S&P 500 dipped 0.3%, and the tech-focused Nasdaq shed 0.4% ahead of the opening bell. Further losses for Chinese internet firms weighed on tech stocks.

AstraZeneca Rises on Upgrade, Trial Success

Shares of AstraZeneca plc gained 1.4% in premarket after Jefferies upgraded the stock to Buy from Hold. Analysts cited the company’s promising oncology pipeline following positive late-stage trial results announced Friday.

AstraZeneca’s breast cancer treatment Enhertu met its primary endpoint in a Phase 3 study when combined with chemotherapy, reducing disease progression or death by 50% versus chemo alone. With peak sales estimates around $7 billion, Enhertu could become one of AstraZeneca’s top drugs.

Jefferies also pointed to AstraZeneca’s strong track record of achieving regulatory approvals as a key factor in their upgrade. The U.K. drugmaker has launched six new medicines since 2017.

Dow Gains on Upgrade Citing Oil Price Upside

Shares of materials manufacturer Dow Inc. climbed 1.6% after JPMorgan upgraded the stock to Overweight from Neutral.

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Analyst Jeffrey Zekauskas sees potential for higher profits at Dow if global oil prices remain elevated. Crude oil is a key raw material for Dow’s petrochemicals and plastics production.

JPMorgan raised its price target for Dow shares to $60 from $50, representing 36% upside from Friday’s close. Dow produces chemicals, polymers, and other industrial materials used in packaging, infrastructure, and consumer goods.

Nike, Retailers Slide As Analysts Highlight Headwinds

Athletic apparel giant Nike Inc. slipped 1.6% following a downgrade by Jefferies to Hold from Buy. Analysts pointed to inventory issues hurting Nike’s wholesalers along with macroeconomic challenges in China.

Jefferies also downgraded shares of Urban Outfitters Inc. and Foot Locker Inc., which shed 4% and 2.9% respectively. Analyst Janine Stichter predicted declining discretionary spending will disproportionately impact apparel and accessories companies.

The downbeat calls come as U.S. consumer confidence hits multi-year lows amid high inflation and rising borrowing costs. Retailers also face excess inventory after pandemic-related shifts.

Hollywood Strike Deal Lifts Media Stocks

Media firms saw shares rise after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) reached a tentative deal with producers, potentially ending the industry’s months-long labor stoppage.

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Paramount Global stock climbed 2% while Warner Bros. Discovery gained 1.9%. Amazon and Disney also ticked higher, up 0.8% and 0.6% respectively. Terms of the WGA agreement were not disclosed but will be presented to union members for approval.

The writers’ strike since early March has hampered production of TV shows and films, forcing delays at major Hollywood studios and streaming platforms. An end to the walkout could restart projects across the media sector.

Chinese Internet Stocks Sink As Recession Fears Mount

U.S.-listed shares of Chinese internet companies fell sharply amid growing concerns over China’s economic outlook. Search provider Baidu Inc. dropped 5% while e-commerce leaders Inc. and Pinduoduo Inc. shed 3.1% and 2.3%.

The losses came after People’s Bank of China committee member Wang Yiming said monetary policy has limited room for further easing. Yiming called for difficult structural reforms to energize growth.

Analysts increasingly warn that lockdowns, property woes, and weak global demand are pushing China toward recession. August manufacturing output hit a two-year low while home prices have fallen for 12 months straight.

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Other Stocks on the Move

HP Inc. shares sank 3% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed the sale of 4.8 million HP shares worth around $130 million.

Packaging leader Sealed Air Corp. jumped 2.7% following an upgrade to Buy from Neutral by Citi analysts citing the stock’s discounted valuation.

Real estate firm Opendoor Technologies Inc. fell over 6% after Citi cut its price target to $2.70 from $3.90 per share due to low housing inventory levels.

Electric vehicle maker Nio Inc. lost nearly 6% on reports it is weighing plans to raise $3 billion from investors.

The Outlook for Stocks

Markets face ongoing volatility as the Fed keeps raising interest rates and recession warnings persist. While stocks search for direction, traders will be watching fresh economic data, corporate earnings, and policy hints for clues about the road ahead.

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