Midday Market Losses Continue Shrinking

In the noon hour Thursday, U.S. markets had recovered a good bit of their early morning losses. At their intraday highs, the S&P 500 traded lower by about 0.99%, the Dow Jones industrials were down about 1.96% and the Nasdaq traded up by about 0.1%. The Nasdaq 100 traded up by about 0.4% at its high point in the late morning.

The United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson supports Ukraine’s call to cut Russia out of the Swift international payments system and that may be one of the issues U.S. President Joe Biden addresses in an announcement currently scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET.

Reuters is reporting that Russian forces have captured the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site, giving them a location from which they can stage further action without fear of being shelled.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices came down from early morning highs to trade at around $97.40 a barrel. Brent crude traded at $99.53. WTI rose above $100 a barrel early in the morning and Brent rose to more than $102 before falling back.

The biggest winner among energy stocks so far Thursday appears to be Cheniere Energy Inc. (NYSEAMERICAN: LNG), which traded up about 7.3% recently at $127.62. Shares of the liquefied natural gas producer posted a new 52-week high of $139.40 earlier in the morning.

Cheniere’s sister company, Cheniere Energy Partners L.P. (NYSEAMERICAN: CQP), traded up 7.2% at $51.25. Shares came within pennies of matching the 52-week high of $51.78 earlier in the day. Both companies are expected to prosper from a bigger market opportunity in Europe if Russian natural gas supplies are cut off.

Losers outnumbered winners by about three to one among S&P 500 stocks. Among the winners are two solar stocks, Enphase Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: ENPH) and SolarEdge Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SEDG), which were up 8.6% and 9.0%, respectively.

Among tech stocks, Fortinet Inc. (NASDAQ: FTNT) was up 7.2%, at $305.12 in a 52-week range of $161.13 to $371.77. Fortinet, along with other cybersecurity players like CrowdStrike (up 7.1%) and Palo Alto Networks (up 8.7%) got a boost from expectations of new spending on keeping government and the financial system running.

Mega-banks Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) and Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) traded down 7.0% and 5.7%, respectively. Banks may be a target of Russian cyberattacks anywhere in the world.

Weirdly, cigarette makers Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) and Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) both traded lower by 6.1% and 5.8%, respectively. Seems like people would smoke more in nervous times, rather than less. The decline is probably due to the lukewarm guidance from Altria earlier in the week.

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