Before the Bell: Tesla's Price War and Ryan Cohen's Swipe at Alibaba

Premarket action on Tuesday had the three major U.S. indexes trading lower. The Dow Jones industrials were down 0.19%, the S&P 500 down 0.27% and the Nasdaq 0.35% lower. U.S. markets were closed Monday.

Eight of 11 market sectors closed higher Friday, with consumer cyclical (0.97%) and financials (0.71%) leading the gainers. Real estate (−0.61%) and utilities (−0.44%) lagged. The Dow closed up 0.33%, the S&P 500 up 0.4% and the Nasdaq closed up 0.71%.

Trading volume was up slightly Friday, and New York Stock Exchange winners led losers by 1,925 to 1,167, while Nasdaq advancers led decliners by nearly 4 to 3. Among S&P 500 stocks, Illumina Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) added 3.6% after dropping 6% on Thursday. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) lost 5.44% and 5.29%, respectively.

Economic data out this week includes the producer price index and retail sales (Wednesday), new claims for jobless benefits and housing starts (Thursday) and existing home sales (Friday).

When Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) announced price cuts last Friday that would make two of the company’s cars eligible for the federal tax credit of $7,500, investors worried that Ford, General Motors and Rivian would be forced into a price war.

And how are those cuts working out for Tesla? In China, where price cuts were also implemented, the number of Tesla vehicles insured for the week ending January 15 was 12,654, an increase of 500% week over week. If that can happen in the United States and Europe, Tesla’s brain trust will look like geniuses.

Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) got a boost of more than 3% to its share price on Friday following a report that Ryan Cohen, board chair of GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME), has taken a stake valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In case you don’t remember, Cohen invested heavily in both GameStop and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY). When he later sold his entire stake in Bed Bath & Beyond, the retailer’s share price collapsed and has never recovered.

Cohen wants Alibaba to buy back more stock. Alibaba, with a valuation of around $300 billion, may not be as easy to manipulate as Cohen’s previous meme stock plays. But he could inspire his legions to mess with Alibaba’s stock. Still, it is hard to see how he comes out ahead by slugging it out with the Chinese government.

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