S&P 500 Tops 4,000;  These 5 Stocks Flash Buy Signals

Dow Jones futures edged higher early Wednesday, along with S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures. US domestic flights were grounded, while WWE, Wells Fargo, Axcelis Technologies and Impinj also were in focus before the open.


The stock market rally was indecisive for much of Tuesday, but the major indexes gained steam, with the S&P 500 moving its 50-day moving average. Investors await the December CPI inflation report on Thursday morning.

Medpace (MEDP) rose solidly Tuesday, flashing a new buy signal after a similar move fizzled at the end of 2022. FirstSolar (FSLR) rebounded from its 50-day line, also providing an early entry. But ELF Beauty (ELF) and Super Micro Computer (SMCI) tumbled after Monday’s reversals.

MEDP stock and ELF Beauty are on IBD Leaderboard. SMCI stock is on the IBD 50. Medpace was Tuesday’s IBD Stock Of The Day.

Tesla (TSLA) and UnitedHealth (UNH) edged lower, as many big caps continue to struggle.

Investors should remain cautious, especially with the CPI inflation report looming.

Business News

The FAA halted all domestic flights until 9 am ET due to a significant systems outage. Flights had been disrupted since early Wednesday morning. The FAA expects to “repopulate” the system soon, but airlines will have to scramble to get back on schedule. Airline stocks including Delta Airlines (DAL) and United Airlines (UAL) were down slightly.

Vince McMahon is once again chairman at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), after his daughter Stephanie stepped down as chairwoman and co-CEO Tuesday evening. mr. McMahon, a major shareholder, resigned last year over payments related to sexual misconduct claims. WWE stock rose solidly in premarket trading, after soaring in recent days on reports of his expected return to lead a sale of the company.

meanwhile, Wells Fargo (WFC) will largely exit the mortgage business amid regulatory pressure, CNBC reported late Tuesday. It’ll only offer home loans to existing bank and wealth management customers and borrowers in minority communities. WFC stock was little changed in extended trade.

Axcelis Technologies (ACLS), which made a strong move over the last several sessions, said revenue for the December-ending fourth quarter topped $250 million vs. the chip equipment maker’s prior guidance of $232 million to $240 million. ACLS stock edged higher after hours.

Impinj (PI) says Q4 sales exceeded $76 million vs. the RFID chip maker’s prior guidance of $71.5 million-$73.5 million. PI stock, already slightly above the 50-day line, rose solidly overnight. That could offer an early entry or come close to Impinj stock’s flat base buy point. PI stock also is on Leaderboard.

Earnings season also begins to pick up late in the week. Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) reports on Thursday morning. Friday, JPMorgan Chase (J.P.M.), Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo all report before the open, along with Delta Air and UnitedHealth.

Dow Jones Futures Today

Dow Jones futures rose 0.15% vs. fair value. S&P 500 futures climbed 0.2% and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 0.1%.

The 10-year Treasury yield fell 4 basis points to 3.58%.

Crude oil futures edged higher despite the American Petroleum Institute estimating a huge weekly jump in US inventories. The Energy Information Administration will release US crude and petroleum products data at 10:30 am ET.

Remember that overnight action in Dow futures and elsewhere doesn’t necessarily translate into actual trading in the next regular stock market session.

Join IBD experts as they analyze actionable stocks in the stock market rally on IBD Live

Stock Market rally

After Monday’s disappointing fade, the stock market rally strengthened Tuesday afternoon, closing near session highs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6% in Tuesday’s stock market trading. The S&P 500 index climbed 0.7%. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1%. The small cap Russell 2000 popped 1.5%

Tesla stock edged down 0.8% Tuesday after bouncing 5.9% on Monday. Shares reversed higher Friday after setting a bear market low of 101.06 after the EV giant announced big price cuts in China and other key Asian markets. TSLA stock needs a lot of repair.

Shares rose 2% before Wednesday’s open. Tesla has applied to Texas for a big expansion of its Austin assembly plant, the Austin Business Journal reported late Tuesday. Tesla Austin is still ramping up to its existing capacity.

UNH stock dipped 0.8%, hitting its worst levels since last June. The Dow Jones health insurer has tumbled 8.3% already in 2023, after ending 2022 in reasonably good shape. UnitedHealth earnings and guidance Friday will be important for the suddenly embattled sector.

US crude oil prices rose 0.7% to $75.12 a barrel. Natural gas prices tumbled 6.9%.

The 10-year Treasury yield jumped 10 basis points to 3.62% after skidding 20 basis points in the prior two sessions.

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Among growth ETFs, the Innovator IBD 50 ETF (FFTY) rose 1.1%, while the Innovator IBD Breakout Opportunities ETF (BOUT) edged up 0.15%. The iShares Expanded Tech-Software Sector ETF (IGV) eked out a 0.1% gain. The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) advanced 1.3%, just topping the 200-day line after clearing the 50-day on Friday. TSM stock is a big SMH holding.

Reflecting more-speculative story stocks, ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) jumped 2.5% and ARK Genomics ETF (ARKG) 3.6%. Tesla stock is still a major holding company at Ark Invest, with Cathie Wood bolstering her position in recent weeks.

SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF (XME) ran up 2.5% and the Global X US Infrastructure Development ETF (PAVE) climbed 1.6%. US Global Jets ETF (JETS) ascended 2.4%, with DAL stock among the notable holdings. SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) rose 1%. The Energy Select SPDR ETF (XLE) advanced 0.7% and the Financial Select SPDR ETF (XLF) gained 0.6%. The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV) closed up 0.8%, with UNH stock a top XLV holding.

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Market Rally Analysis

The stock market rally spent much of the morning around break-even, but finished Tuesday with a relatively strong performance.

The S&P 500 rose above the 50-day line. The 200-day average is modestly above that.

The Dow Jones rebounded from a test of its 50-day line after moving above that key level on Friday. The Nasdaq rose from its 21-day line with the 50-day line not far away.

The Russell 2000 is back above its 50-day line, just below its 200-day.

The S&P MidCap 400 rose on Tuesday after finding support at the 50-day. That’s after jumping above its 21-day, 50-day and 200-day lines on Friday. Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF (RSP) looks very similar.

RSP and the MidCap 400 highlight how big caps such as Apple (AAPL), Tesla and UNH stock have weighed on the market.

A sustained stock market rally may not take hold until there is clarity on when the Federal Reserve will stop hiking rates. Markets strongly expect just a quarter-point hike at the Feb. 1 policy meeting and again in late March.

Thursday’s CPI inflation report could lock in expectations for a quarter-point hike. Inflation should continue to trend lower in the coming months, if only because the year-over-year comparisons are so steep.

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Leading Stocks Mixed

A number of leading stocks have flashed buy signals in recent days and weeks. But most have quickly failed. In some cases, such as MEDP stock, they bounce back a few days later.

Medpace jumped 5.9% to 223.29 in heavy volume, rebounding from the 50-day line and clearing its Dec. 29 high, when MEDP tried to move out.

First Solar soared 7.4% to 171.01, continuing a mini-win streak. The move from the 50-day line offered an early entry within a new base, but is now looking a little extended. But the 173.78 official buy point isn’t far away.

Other names keep tumbling.

ELF stock had a promising breakout Friday, but gave up most of those gains Monday and plunged 8.3% on Tuesday to 51.15, knifing below the 50-day line and undercutting the low of its flat base.

SMCI stock soared Monday morning, offering an early entry, but closed only fractionally higher. On Tuesday, shares gapped down 7.55%, below the 50-day line, after a short-seller report.

Many other stocks are hovering right around potential buy points.

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What To Do Now

The stock market rally is still in force, but the major indexes, sectors and especially leading stocks are prone to reversals. Thursday’s CPI inflation report could trigger big gains, with the major indexes pushing decisively above some key levels. But it could also go the other way.

Investors should be cautious about their exposure and be wary of new buys, especially before the CPI report.

If you do make new buys, know your exit strategy before going in. Consider taking partial profits quickly to lock in some gains.

This is still a window shopping market. But there are a lot of intriguing stocks to watch from a variety of sectors. Get those watchlists ready.

Read The Big Picture every day to stay in sync with the market direction and leading stocks and sectors.

Please follow Ed Carson on Twitter at @IBD_ECarson for stock market updates and more.


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