The futures traded lower as we get set to wrap up a wild trading week that saw some big follow-through tech buying after Meta Platforms posted strong earnings, while announcing a big stock buyback and cost-cutting initiatives. Though the Nasdaq was up almost 3% and the S&P 500 posted over a 1% gain on Thursday, the Dow Jones industrials lagged, closing down on weakness in United Health and insurance giant Travelers.
Yields across the Treasury curve were lower again on Thursday, as bond traders snapped up more government debt. The yield on the benchmark note has dropped a stunning 53 basis points in just over a month and closed at 3.40%. While the two-year yield has fallen as well, the short paper ended Thursday at 4.07%, the inversion remaining firmly in place. Bond traders view the anomaly as a recession sign.
Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude both finished the day modestly higher, as OPEC’s January production dropped after Saudi Arabia reportedly cut production by 100,000 barrels per day. Natural gas was the big winner, closing up almost 4% as frigid temperatures continued across much of the United States. Gold finished the day down almost 2% at $1,917, while Bitcoin was last seen up and closing in on the $24,000 level.
24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week with a goal of finding fresh ideas for investors and traders alike. Some of these daily analyst calls cover stocks to buy. Other calls cover stocks to sell or avoid. Remember that no single analyst call should ever be used as a basis to buy or sell a stock. Consensus analyst target data is from Refinitiv.
These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Friday, February 3, 2023.
Align Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: ALGN): As Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to Neutral from Sell, its $165 price target jumped all the way to $307. The consensus target is just $233.22, much lower than Thursday’s $359.88 close, which was almost 28% higher on the day in the wake of stellar results.
Ashland Inc. (NYSE: ASH): Though J.P. Morgan lowered its Neutral rating to Underweight, the analyst nudged the $104 target price up to $105. The shares closed Thursday’s session at $107.62.
Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI): Guggenheim initiated coverage on the stock with a Buy rating and a $170 target price. The consensus target is $155.24. The stock closed on Thursday at $147.92.
ELF Beauty Inc. (NYSE: ELF): J.P. Morgan reiterated an Overweight rating and raised its $65 target price to $70. D.A. Davidson maintained a Buy rating, but its $54 price target jumped to $77. The stock was the Zacks Bull of the Day as well. The consensus target is $58.90. Thursday’s $67.29 close was a one-day gain of 15% in the wake of an outstanding quarterly report.
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