Major indexes open broadly higher; GameStop, AMC crumble

FILE - Pedestrians pass the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in New York. Stocks remained mixed in early trading on Friday, Feb. 12, following the highs the market set the day before. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) PHOTO CREDIT: John Minchillo

Stocks were broadly higher in early trading today, but shares of closely watched companies like GameStop and AMC Entertainment were trading sharply lower.

The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average each rose 1.7% as of 9:25 a.m. Central. The Nasdaq rose 1.2%. Big Tech companies were among the early winners, as were several energy companies including Exxon Mobil and Marathon Petroleum, both of which reported better results than analysts were expecting. UPS rose after reporting record revenue. Treasury yields rose, as did crude oil prices.

While the broader market was solidly higher, most of Wall Street’s attention is on a set of beaten-down companies who have seen their shares surge due to intense online interest.

GameStop dropped 50% to roughly $105 a share, and AMC Entertainment lost 40% to $7.83 as share. Both companies have been in the spotlight for more than two weeks as an online community of investors pushed the stocks to astronomical levels.

Trading in those and several other stocks have been restricted by the popular online trading platform Robinhood since last last week following the bouts of extreme volatility. Robinhood needed to secure funding in order to meet deposit thresholds required by organizations that handle the trading orders placed by investors on its platform.

An online army of traders using the online site Reddit banded together for the past two weeks to snap up shares of GameStop, AMC and other struggling chains, stocks that have been heavily shorted (bets that the stock will fall) by a number of hedge funds. In the process, they’ve done heavy damage to those hedge funds in a stunning reversal of financial power on Wall Street.

But it’s not clear how much longer the Reddit traders can hold the line. Intense media and Wall Street interest pushed many traders into these stocks late last week, with GameStop shares striking a price of $500 a share briefly. Those traders are now looking at losses north of 60%-65%. Those who got into the GameStop trade at the beginning of the year, when GameStop shares were less than $20 each, are still up significantly.

Uber rose 7% after the company said it would buy liquor delivery service Drizly for $1.1 billion in cash and stock.

Investors continue to focus on Washington. President Biden invited 10 moderate Republicans to the White House to discuss his proposed $1.9 trillion economic aid plan. Republicans earlier countered with an offer of $600 billion, or less than one-third of Biden’s proposed amount.

Investors bid up stocks heading into 2021 in expectation the rollout of coronavirus vaccines would allow global business and travel to return to normal. That optimism has been dented by infection spikes and disruptions in vaccine deliveries.

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