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3 Stocks Leading The Omicron Rebound

Jacob Scott

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If investors have learned one thing since the start of the pandemic it is to buy the dips. The major stock market plunge of last year and every minor one since has turned out be a chance to scoop up some ‘bound to rebound’ shares. The latest market recovery may be the most unlikely of the bunch.

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A week ago, fears about the spreading Omicron variant caused an abrupt reversal in the S&P 500 as volatility returned with a vengeance. Fast forward to this week and easing virus concerns and the fears of earlier than expected Fed action suddenly has equity markets in celebration mode. Through Tuesday, the S&P was up almost 200 points, or 4.3%, from its December 3rd low in a stunning reversal of fortunes.

The rally has been broad-based with economically sensitive names and reopening plays leading the way. With Friday morning’s inflation reading looming, it remains to be seen if investors stay in the holiday spirit. But for now, these are the three stocks leading the S&P sleigh higher in a possible push to yet another record high.

What is the Best Performing Stock This Week?

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NYSE: NCLH) stock advanced 10% in the first two trading days of the week, the best performance among S&P 500 constituents. Since climbing as high as $34.49 in March 2021, the cruise line operator has faced lingering concerns about the impact of the pandemic—and Omicron developments didn’t help matters.

But with seemingly more to gain than lose compared to most stocks, Norwegian has been a popular way to play the reopening theme this week. Not even reports of 10 Norwegian crew members and guests testing positive for Omicron could deter investors from buying. Instead, news that the variant, while more transmissible, has less damaging health effects, caused a sigh of relief rally in cruise line stocks and all things travel.

Norwegian still has its work cut out for it if its going to sail anywhere near its pre-pandemic peak near $60. Not only do travel restrictions need to subside, but the company’s financials need stark improvement to attract the big institutional money. Pending pandemic developments, there may be smoother waters ahead, but in the near-term expect Norwegian to remain a volatile reopening trade mainly boarded by retail traders.

Why is MarketAxess Stock Going Up?

MarketAxess (NASDAQ: MKTX) is rather quietly the second-best performing name thus far in the still-nascent Omicron recovery up 9% since Friday. Aside from the trading platform provider’s general association with upward trending capital markets, the stock got a boost from a bullish report from Rosenblatt Securities over the weekend. The analyst there reiterated his buy rating and set a $505 price target which implied 45% upside from Friday’s close. Investors took notice and MarketAxess shares rose 4% and 5% on back-to-back days.

The stock also got a boost from news that European liquidity provider Flow Traders is brining its services to the MarketAxess platform for a range of fixed income asset classes including U.S. high yield bonds. The deal will expand the company’s relationship with Flow Traders and bring added liquidity and transparency to Market Axess’s global network of institutional investors. Through the end of the third quarter, more than $2 trillion of global bond securities were traded on MarketAxess.

Is Diamondback Energy Undervalued?

Diamondback Energy (NASDAQ: FANG) is off to a strong start this week, up 9% through Tuesday. That’s because subsiding Omicron concerns have sparked a major relief rally in the price of WTI crude oil which has surged from $66.26 on Friday to approximately $72. Oil producers have enjoyed a similar rally with higher beta names like Diamondback benefitting the most.

Adding fuel to Diamondback’s 139% year-to-date run was favorable commentary from sell-side research firm Truist Financial on Monday. The analyst bumped his price target $2 to $150. He also reiterated his buy rating lauding Diamondback’s moderating spending levels and low-cost production. Last quarter the company’s cash operating costs were $9.97 per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE), which confirmed its status as one of the highest margin oil producers in the Permian Basin.

Diamondback’s above peer financial health has made it a popular way to play the energy market recovery this year. Through the end of the third quarter, it had a $457 million cash position and manageable 36% debt-to-capital ratio. As the company continues to generate strong cash flow in a rising oil environment, it noted plans to distribute half of the cash flow to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks. Despite its meteoric rise in 2021, at 7x next year’s earnings Diamondback remains one of the biggest values in the large cap energy sector.

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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