Who said the stock market is a docile beast over the holiday period? Certainly not this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) shed 653 points or 2.91% on Monday, suffering its worst Christmas Eve trading session on record. The same index spectacularly reversed course just one trading day later, adding over 1,000 points – its biggest point gain in history.
The market rollercoaster didn't end there. The DJIA's more inclusive counterpart, the S&P 500 Index, fell as much as 2.8% in early Thursday trading before staging a late afternoon comeback to post a 0.9% gain at the close. As for what will happen Friday – well, that's anyone's guess.
Market commentators cite everything from trading algorithms to thin holiday volume to psychological factors for the heightened volatility this week. "The market is right now in a psychological frenzy, both good and bad," said David Katz, chief investment officer at Matrix Asset Advisors in New York. "There's fear of the market going down; there's fear of missing the rebound," he told Reuters.
Traders can use high-beta stocks – issues that display higher volatility relative to a benchmark index – to help exploit profit opportunities during wild market swings. Here are three stocks to consider trading.
Weibo Corporation (WB)
Headquartered in Beijing, China, Weibo Corporation (WB) operates a Chinese-language social media platform for users to create, share and discover content. The company, with a market capitalization of $13.11 billion, has 446 million active users, up from 70 million users from a year ago. Weibo's third quarter earnings surged 63%, while revenue jumped 44% over the same period. Weibo stock, with a beta of 2.34, has returned -43.11% year to date (YTD) as of Dec. 28, 2018.
Weibo's share price trended steadily lower between March and October before trading mostly sideways throughout November and December. Traders can utilize range-bound strategies to capture the stock's recent oscillating moves. Consider going long on retracements to the $55 level, where the price finds support from a horizontal line connecting several swing lows. Alternatively, look to short rallies on moves back up to $70 – the top of the current trading range. Think about locking in profits at the range's opposing side and placing stops about five points below the entry price.
Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO)
Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO) engages in the exploration and production of crude oil, natural gas and other similar commodities. The Texas-based company has reserves of roughly 1.4 million barrels of oil and produces roughly 400,000 barrels per day. As of Dec. 28, 2018, Marathon Oil stock, with a market cap of $11.88 billion and offering a 1.41% forward dividend yield, is down 14.41% on the year, outperforming the oil and gas industry average return by nearly 6.5%. The stock has a beta of over 3, making it particularly volatile in the current market environment.
Marathon shares have given investors a wild ride in 2018, mainly because of the commodity that significantly affects its price – oil. Since October, the stock has tumbled 38.43%, tracking the oil price sharply lower. During the decline, the share price has traded within a descending channel that now provides swing traders with clear support and resistance levels. Keep things simple – buy or cover on pullbacks to the channel's lower trendline and sell or go short on retracements to the channel's upper trendline. Set stop-loss orders slightly outside the channel pattern to protect trading capital.
Align Technology, Inc. (ALGN)
Align Technology, Inc. (ALGN) designs, manufactures and markets health-related technology products, such as clear aligner therapy systems and intra-oral scanners used in dentistry and orthodontics. The company, with a beta of 2.92 and $16.9 billion market cap, announced a $600 million stock buyback plan in May. Align Technology stock has a YTD return of -4.89%, outperforming the S&P 500 by 2% but underperforming the medical devices industry average return by nearly 20% as of Dec. 28, 2018.
Align Technology's chart formed a topping pattern between June and September and has since surrendered the year's gains due to weaker-than-expected fourth quarter earnings guidance and a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of shareholders that relates to an alleged failure to disclose material information. The share price has traded in a loosely constructed 30-point descending channel since gapping lower on Oct. 25, which provides excellent risk/reward trading opportunities. Consider opening a long position on dips to support at the lower channel trendline and shorting rallies to resistance at the upper channel trendline. Aim to use a $10 stop with a $30 profit target, which provides a risk/reward ratio of 1:3.