The markets finished last week on a strong note, even if a six week streak of gains was broken thanks to some mid-week downside volatility. Friday's spike was born thanks to encouraging comments from Europe indicating possibilities of additional stimulus to sure-up banks in the weaker economies, such as Spain and Portugal and further commentary from European officials that were aimed at ensuring investors that Greece will certainly remain in the euro zone (EZ). Such statements boosted the confidence of investors who have yet to become whole-heartedly convinced that a solution to the woes of the EZ will exclude the possibility of a Greek exit.
In the United States, meanwhile, mid-week comments from the fed were taken with mixed reaction by investors - which is likely partly to blame for the mid-week volatility - but more encouraging comments by Mr. Bernanke on Friday hinted that the fed may have a few more tricks in the bag to spark the US economy with additional stimulus.
The July housing data was also released mid-week and provided investors a somewhat encouraging take on July's modest reversal. The market reacted ho-hum to the numbers, but next month will be key as investors look for building momentum. Unfortunately the buzz surrounding the numbers release was not supplied by the numbers themselves. The most exciting part of the story appeared when Bloomberg published the data before the expected 10AM show time. The National Association of Realtors inadvertently made the data public earlier than expected, leading a forward-looking reporter to catch them quick, confirm that they were real and get them on the street. With the economic recovery inching along at the pace of New York Met victories, we'll take the buzz any way we can get it, even if it's just an early jump on expected data.
The main economic highlight presented during the coming week may be comments by central bankers on Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is there where Bernanke could provide some clarity on last week's hints at additional stimulus measures. That sets us up for another volatile week ahead, with a key catalyst provided for Friday.
As always, there are sure to be plenty of stocks and stories to keep an eye on. Here's just a few of them...
Apple Inc. (AAPL): Maybe the biggest news heading into the weekend was provided by the jury who decided that Samsung infringed on numerous of Apple's patents in creating its own smart phones and tablet devices with Google's (GOOG) Android software. The initial verdict calls for Samsung to pay a billion dollar fine, but the story is far from over as Apple may ask the judge to bump the fine to be more in line with its original number of $2.5 billion. Samsung has also promised to challenge the verdict and demand the judge overturn it. Should the verdict stand, then it could lead to a ban of Samsung products in the US, but headlines are debating how that will effect the consumer market. Some believe choice in variety will be reduced as a result of the ruling, while others predict that competition will actually grow. We're still in the early stages of this story that began with litigation in early 2011, but this will be a development worth keeping an eye on, if only for the potential implications in the consumer market where Apple may, as a result, face less-stiff competition in the US...
Amarin Corporation (AMRN): While the broad markets were rallying on Friday, so were shares of Amarin Corporation. As we already know, AMRN shares quickly dropped following the FDA approval of Vascepa in the treatment of very high triglycerides last month, despite healthy predictions for the drug on the open market and continued positive coverage by analysts. Also given the fact that many big money makers are coming off-label for large pharmaceutical companies these days, it's also highly speculated that Amarin will eventually be bought out. Such rumors sparked a run to nearly twenty dollars in the past and could again reignite a rally should they circulate with force...
Synergy Pharmaceuticals (SGYP): Shares of Synergy Pharmaceuticals had already been moving higher for the duration of August after the company announced a merger with Callisto Pharmaceuticals (CLSP) late last month and followed that up with confirmatory news that previously-expected end-of-year milestone events were still on track. Shares rose even higher last Friday, however, after Synergy announced an Asset Purchase Agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY) that would add another product to the pipeline, FV-100 for the treatment of Shingles. The full financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but it was revealed that Synergy paid an up-front sum of $1 million. SGYP shares spiked by five percent on the news.
Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation (ADMD): Having set a new 52-week high just weeks ago after tripling in price since the closing days of May, Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation may be one to keep an eye on. Through a determined strategy of growth that keys in on the production and distribution of medical isotopes and medical isotope technologies, Advanced Medical Isotope has managed to become a relevant name in the rapidly-growing field of nuclear medicine. It was, however, the recent acquisition of a key license to an exclusive technology that may have positioned the company to become the US leader in the field of medical isotopes.
OncoSec Medical Incorporated (ONCS): OncoSec Medical is another one in the cancer sector that is worth keeping an eye on. ONCS shares are down heavily from their 52-week high, but have leveled off in both volume and price since dropping by about 25% in July following the announcement of Phase III results testing the company's technology in the treatment of head and neck cancer. The reason for the post-results sell-off is likely due to the fact that the trial - while improving quality of life and "functional outcomes" for the patients - did not improve disease control or survival when compared to surgery. While investors were likely counting on data that improved survivability, the company has emphasized the improved quality of life for patients and the safety of the treatment - valid indications when considering the potential benefits of OncoSec's less-intrusive - and therefore less costly - procedures, especially when compared to surgery.
Implant Sciences (IMSC): Like Amarin, it's tough to pull Implant Sciences off the radar screen with so much share price volatility, catalyst speculation and pending news surrounding this story. As described last week, the company updated investors with validated time frames surrounding the expected approval decision by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for its Quantum Sniffer (QS) B220 benchtop explosive trace detection (ETD) device.
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