Category Archives: Wall Street

SEC Suspends Trading in Multiple Issuers Based on Social Media and Trading Activity

As part of its continuing effort to respond to potential attempts to exploit investors during the recent market volatility, the Securities and Exchange Commission today suspended trading in the securities of 15 companies because of questionable trading and social media activity.

Today’s action follows the recent suspensions of the securities of numerous other issuers, many of which may also have been targets of apparent social media attempts to artificially inflate their stock price. The SEC continues to review market and trading data to identify other securities where the public interest and the protection of investors require trading suspensions.

“The SEC’s recent suspensions of trading in nearly two dozen securities – including 15 today – are one facet of our ongoing efforts to police the market and protect investors,” said Melissa Hodgman, Acting Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “We proactively monitor for suspicious trading activity tied to stock promotions on social media, and act quickly to stop that trading when appropriate to safeguard the public interest. We also remind investors to exercise caution and do their diligence before investing generally, including in companies promoted on social media.”

Today’s order states that trading is being suspended because of questions about recent increased activity and volatility in the trading of these issuers, as well as the influence of certain social media accounts on that trading activity. The order also states that none of the issuers has filed any information with the SEC or OTC Markets, where the companies’ securities are quoted, for over a year. As a result, the SEC suspended trading in the securities of: Bebida Beverage Co. (BBDA); Blue Sphere Corporation (BLSP); Ehouse Global Inc. (EHOS); Eventure Interactive Inc. (EVTI); Eyes on the Go Inc. (AXCG); Green Energy Enterprises Inc. (GYOG); Helix Wind Corp. (HLXW); International Power Group Ltd. (IPWG); Marani Brands Inc. (MRIB); MediaTechnics Corp. (MEDT); Net Talk.com Inc. (NTLK); Patten Energy Solutions Group Inc. (PTTN); PTA Holdings Inc. (PTAH); Universal Apparel & Textile Company (DKGR); and Wisdom Homes of America Inc. (WOFA).

The SEC also recently issued orders temporarily suspending trading in: Bangi Inc. (BNGI)Sylios Corp. (UNGS)Marathon Group Corp. (PDPR)Affinity Beverage Group Inc. (ABVG)All Grade Mining Inc. (HYII); and SpectraScience Inc. (SCIE). Each of these orders stated that the suspensions were due at least in part to questions about whether social media accounts have been attempting to artificially increase the companies’ share price.

Under the federal securities laws, the SEC can suspend trading in a stock for 10 days and generally prohibit a broker-dealer from soliciting investors to buy or sell the stock again until certain reporting requirements are met.

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy recently alerted investors to the significant risks of making investment decisions based on social media.

BlackSky is going public through a merger with Osprey Technology

Satellite imagery specialist BlackSky and Osprey Technology Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), announced they have entered into an agreement for a business combination that would result in BlackSky becoming a publicly listed company on the NYSE with the ticker symbol ‘BKSY’.

BlackSky is a pioneer in real-time Earth observation leveraging the innovative performance and economics of small satellite constellations to deliver high revisit global monitoring solutions. BlackSky’s Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI) powered analytics platform derives unique insights from its constellation as well as a variety of space, and terrestrial-based sensors and data feed.

Osprey is led by investors Edward Cohen and Jonathan Cohen alongside JANA Partners’ David DiDomenico.

The merger’s value will reach $1.5 billion. The company’s plans to use the funds to enhance it’s network to 30 imaging satellites, and to capture imagery of anywhere on earth almost every 30 minutes. Now BlackSky has five satellites in operation and will add about nine more satellites in orbit around earth in 2021.

News That Move the Markets Today

Get the latest top market news and financial headlines. Stay updated with the market moving news for stocks, commodities, forex and cryptocurrencies.

FDA panel unanimously recommends Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.

SEC Suspends Trading in Multiple Issuers Based on Social Media and Trading Activity $BNGI $UNGS $PDPR $ABVG $HYII $SCIE

Airbnb (ABNB)

Airbnb (ABNB) reported $3.89 billion loss. Revenue came up to $859 million topping the expectations of $748 million. Check out the Airbnb stock price target from Wall Street analysts.

Beyond Meat (BYND) Results

Beyond Meat (BYND) Jumps 7.13% after-market as the company announced that it has struck deals with McDonald’s (MCD) and Yum Brands (YUM). The company reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss of $0.34 per share below the expectations of a loss of $0.13 Revenue reported at $101.9 million below the expectations of $103.2.

FAA fines Boeing (BA) $6.6 million for failing to comply with 2015 settlement, safety issues.

Tesla trades below the 50 day moving average for the first time since November 16.

Tesla Slumps 6.43% hitting the lowest level since January 5.

FT: Apple $AAPL Back On Top In Global Smartphone Sales

Germany IFO Business Climate came in at 92.4 toppings the forecasts of 90.5 in February.

Germany IFO Business Climate registered in at 92.4 above the expectations of 90.5 in February.

2-19-2021

Bitcoin Hits Fresh Record High at $53870! Market Value Tops $1Trillion

Canada Retail Sales (MoM) came in at -3.4% below the expectations (-2.5%) in December

Binance has temporarily suspended withdrawals of ETH and Ethereum-based tokens in order to address a congestion issue

BoE’s Vlieghe: Negative Interest Rates Could Be Needed Later This Year Or Into Next Year

British court rules Uber drivers are workers and not self-employed

Copper Price Hits 9-year Highs

Michelle W. Bowman: My Perspective on Bank Regulation and Supervision

At the Conference for Community Bankers sponsored by the American Bankers Association (via prerecorded video)

Good morning. I want to thank the American Bankers Association for inviting me to speak to you today. Two years ago, I gave my first speech as a Federal Reserve governor at this conference in San Diego, and it is always great to be with you—even if remotely from our recording studio at the Board.

It’s fair to say that a lot has happened over the past two years. It is an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges inside and outside the banking sector. Bankers significantly adapted operations to continue serving their communities and customers. You overcame staffing challenges and other hurdles, kept the virtual doors open, worked with your customers, and provided assistance to workers and businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. Those efforts have made, and continue to make, a huge difference in the lives of many people affected by the pandemic, and I thank you.

Since becoming a member of the Federal Reserve Board, I have made it a priority to enhance the Federal Reserve’s dialogue with community bankers. I have embarked on an effort to meet with the leaders of every community bank and regional bank supervised by the Federal Reserve. This valuable interaction helps build an understanding of issues affecting small and regional banks, support supervisory decision-making, and shape some of my perspective. It has also helped the Federal Reserve identify initiatives to support the vital role of community banks in serving the financial needs of communities.

Today, I would like to share my approach to supervision and regulation, which has helped guide the Fed’s efforts to improve oversight of community banks over the past few years and shaped our priorities for 2021 and beyond. In most cases, my points about banking regulation also apply to supervision. I will then focus on several Federal Reserve initiatives that are underway to support community banks during the pandemic and into the future.

The first principle is fundamental to regulation but sometimes bears repeating—regulation should always strike the right balance. For banking regulation, that means a balance between actions that promote safety and soundness and actions that promote an acceptable and manageable level of risk-taking. The challenge is doing neither too little to be effective to achieve the public benefit of government oversight, nor too much to prevent the regulated businesses from meeting their customers’ needs. Some regulation is appropriate and necessary but striking the right balance means that at some point regulation can go too far and end up reducing the public’s welfare. In recent years, the Federal Reserve and other agencies have made oversight more effective by better differentiating prudential regulation and supervision based on the asset size of banks, the complexity of their activities, and the related risks they pose to the financial system. This is especially important for community banks, most of which managed risks well before and during the 2008 financial crisis and have managed their risks well since. Achieving these principles also requires following consumer protection laws and regulations, including fair lending laws, to ensure fairness and broad access to credit and financial services that enable economic opportunity for individuals and communities.

The second principle is that the regulatory framework should be effective, but also efficient, and that means assessing the impact of the requirements. For the Federal Reserve, it means that we consider both a rule’s benefit to safety and soundness and any potential negative effect, including limiting the availability of credit and services to the public, and the implications of compliance costs on banks. The wisdom in this approach is evident when considering the effect of a regulation on community banks and their role in providing financial services to their communities. Community banks have often been one of the few or only sources of credit and financial services to their customers. Their smaller operational scale relies on fewer staff to reach a more disbursed customer base with limited resources for compliance activities. Regulations should consider the potential impact on the availability of services in a community, as well as the costs to the bank of implementing a rule, particularly in more rural locations. It is necessary that a full and careful practical analysis of costs and benefits be a part of every rulemaking.

The third principle is that regulation and supervision should be consistent, transparent, and fair. Regulators are obligated by law to act in this manner, and it also makes good practical sense. These principles enhance safety and soundness and consumer compliance by making sure supervisory expectations are clear and that banks understand and respect the regulatory requirements. Supervisors should not and cannot be everywhere at every moment. But they should be available to provide clarification or answer questions when needed. A clear understanding of the rules and our expectations and a respect for the reasonable application of them is an effective approach to ensure effective compliance. By promoting respect and trust between regulators and the supervised institution, banks are more likely to communicate throughout the examination cycle to inform supervisors of changes they may be considering or challenges they may be facing and how best to resolve or approach them from a regulatory perspective.

A final principle that flows from consistency, transparency, and fairness is that rules and supervisory judgments must have a legitimate prudential purpose, and in the majority of cases must not be solely punitive. The goal should be to encourage sound business practices and activities by supervised institutions. By clearly communicating our objectives, we build respect for the rules and make it more likely that any remedial actions against an institution will not be necessary because we encourage compliance through our supervisory approach. When a supervisory action or formal enforcement action is required to address violations at an institution, those actions should be framed in a way that seeks to promote safe, sound, and fair practices and not simply as punishment.

These principles that guide my approach to regulation and supervision are consistent with many of the major steps that the Federal Reserve has taken to improve community bank oversight since the implementation of the rules following the 2008 financial crisis. Some predate my arrival at the Fed, and some I have played a significant role in achieving. Most of these actions involve tailoring rules that treated community banks in the same way as larger, more complex institutions. For example, the Volcker rule was aimed at curbing proprietary trading by large banks, but it ended up creating significant compliance costs for community banks, which are not involved in this type of trading.

Many of the most important improvements to the Federal Reserve’s regulatory framework involve tailoring rules to fit to the size, business model, and risk profiles of community banks. For example, we raised the asset threshold for small banks to qualify for an 18-month exam cycle and similarly raised the threshold for small bank holding companies to be exempted from consolidated risk-based capital rules. The concept of tailoring is also expressed in our community bank supervisory framework, which has been updated to implement the Bank Exams Tailored to Risk (BETR) program. The BETR program allows examiners to identify higher and lower risk activities and, in turn, streamline the examination process for lower risk community banks, thereby reducing burden. In fact, Federal Reserve examiners have tailored examinations by spending approximately 65 percent less time on low/moderate risk state member bank exams than they do on high-risk exams. We also implemented the community bank leverage ratio that allows institutions to opt out of risk-based capital requirements. The Federal Reserve and the other agencies also raised the threshold for when an appraisal is required for residential real estate loans and tailored safety-and-soundness examinations of community and regional state member banks to reflect the levels of risk present and minimize regulatory burden for banks.

These improvements in regulation and supervision have helped right the balance I spoke of earlier between safety and soundness and consumer protection, on the one hand, and the ability to provide financial services and best meet the needs of their customers. We have also considered the impact of our actions, seeking to revise rules that impose significant costs to community banks but provide limited benefit to safety and soundness, consumer protection, or financial stability.

As a part of this approach, I have also prioritized efforts to improve the consistency, transparency, and reasonableness of regulation and supervision. One of those efforts is promoting greater consistency in supervisory practices across the Federal Reserve System. For example, we are actively working to improve the timeliness of providing banks with consumer compliance exam findings. Further, we are exploring ways to strengthen our ability to understand, monitor, and analyze the risks that are affecting community banks. A key aspect of consistency is ensuring the same supervisory approach and outcomes for similarly situated institutions, with the goal of ensuring, for example, that a “one” composite or component rating in a particular region would be the same for an institution with similar activities and practices in another region. This applies to all areas of our supervisory responsibility, whether safety and soundness, consumer compliance, or analyses of financial stability risk.

I’d like to expand on one important area of focus, which is essential to the future success of the community banking sector: accessible innovation and technology integration. This subject is one that I speak about frequently with stakeholders and our staff at the Board. We are committed to developing a range of tools that will create pathways for banks to develop and pursue potential partnerships with fintech companies. This includes clearer guidance on third-party risk management, a guide on sound due diligence practices, and a paper on fintech-community bank partnerships and related considerations. These tools will serve as a resource for banks looking to innovate through fintech partnerships.

Technological developments and financial market evolution are quickly escalating competition in the banking industry, and our approach to analyzing the competitive effects of mergers and acquisitions needs to keep pace. The Board’s framework for banking antitrust analysis hasn’t changed substantially over the past couple of decades. I believe we should consider revisions to that framework that would better reflect the competition that smaller banks face in an industry quickly being transformed by technology and non-bank financial companies. As part of this effort, we have engaged in conversations and received feedback from community banks about the Board’s competitive analysis framework and its impact on their business strategies and long-term growth plans. We are in the process of reviewing our approach, and we are specifically considering the unique market dynamics faced by small community banks in rural and underserved areas.

Soon after the pandemic began early last year, the Federal Reserve took several actions to support community banks and their ability to help affected customers. We paused examinations and issued supervisory guidance that made it clear that we would not criticize or take public enforcement actions against a bank that was taking prudent steps to help customers and making good faith efforts to comply with regulations. This certainty of regulatory treatment created an environment that built trust between regulators and bankers. It enabled banks to continue to meet the needs of their customers who were struggling with circumstances through no fault of their own.

Let me conclude by again commending the important role that community banks have played in providing financial services during these challenging times. You responded quickly to the needs of your customers and communities to provide financial services with limited, if any, interruption. You persevered to implement the largest proportion of Paycheck Protection Program funds to small businesses, whether they were your existing customers or new customers. These relationships are the hallmark of community banking, and as we look toward the future, community banks will continue to play an essential role in supporting customers, delivering financial services, and providing resources to their communities and customers.

Let me stop here and thank the organizers for another opportunity to speak to you at this important conference. I look forward to your questions, Rob.

Citi Clears CDS Index Option Trades Through ICE Clear Credit

Options activity builds on record year at ICE Clear Credit in 2020

Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of mortgage technology, data and listings services, today announced that Citi has traded and cleared the first client-executed Credit Default Swap (CDS) Index Option trades in the U.S. through ICE Clear Credit.

“We’re excited to work with ICE Clear Credit as they introduce and build an innovative solution for clearing of CDS Index Options,” said Mariam Rafi, Americas Head of OTC Clearing and FXPB at Citi. “With portfolio margining opportunities across Single Name, Index and Option instruments, this is an important step that will help drive capital efficiencies and improve risk management for all market participants.”

ICE Clear Credit launched clearing services for CDS Index Options in late 2020. It currently offers clearing of Index Options on the CDX North American Investment Grade and High Yield Index underlyings. Options on iTraxx Index instruments are expected to be added in 2021.

“ICE Clear Credit’s new clearing services, designed in close collaboration with the trading community, deliver market evolution and effective execution and risk management tools,” said Samuel Page Head of North American Macro Credit and IG CDS Trading at Citi. “We expect this will help lead to increased adoption of CDS Index Options by end-users and overall elevated trading activity and market depth.”

“During the last year, we saw tremendous momentum across our CDS complex as customers accessed our services to execute macro strategies and manage risk during times of unprecedented market volatility,” said Stan Ivanov, President of ICE Clear Credit. “Our CDS Index Options clearing services, based on a robust and capital efficient portfolio risk management approach, will help bring additional standardization, transparency and depth to the CDS market.”

ICE Clear Credit’s Index Options solution provides a number of innovations including portfolio margining and a common exercise-and-assignment platform where all market participants, dealers and buy-side firms, can perform time-critical decision making in a centralized, risk-managed and technologically advanced fashion.

ICE Clear Credit recorded its best year in 2020, in terms of both dealer and client volumes. It cleared over $30 trillion in combined client/dealer notional amount, with 78% originating from client-related transactions. ICE Clear Credit also set a new record in March for both the highest ever monthly combined client/dealer Index volume at $6.8 trillion notional amount, and the highest ever monthly client Index volume at $2.9 trillion notional amount, in both cases more than doubling the previous monthly volume.

Launched in 2009, ICE Clear Credit and ICE Clear Europe CDS clearing solutions offer clearing for more than 500 Single Name and Index CDS instruments based on corporate and sovereign debt and have reduced counterparty risk exposure by clearing over $283 trillion in two-sided notional amount, with combined open interest of approximately $2.0 trillion.

For more information about ICE Clear Credit, please visit: https://www.theice.com/credit-derivatives/options.

About Intercontinental Exchange

Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE) is a Fortune 500 company and provider of marketplace infrastructure, data services and technology solutions to a broad range of customers including financial institutions, corporations and government entities. We operate regulated marketplaces, including the New York Stock Exchange, for the listing, trading and clearing of a broad array of derivatives contracts and financial securities across major asset classes. Our comprehensive data services offering supports the trading, investment, risk management and connectivity needs of customers around the world and across asset classes. As a leading technology provider for the U.S. residential mortgage industry, ICE Mortgage Technology provides the technology and infrastructure to transform and digitize U.S. residential mortgages, from application and loan origination through to final settlement.

Trademarks of ICE and/or its affiliates include Intercontinental Exchange, ICE, ICE block design, NYSE and New York Stock Exchange. Information regarding additional trademarks and intellectual property rights of Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. and/or its affiliates is located here. Key Information Documents for certain products covered by the EU Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products Regulation can be accessed on the relevant exchange website under the heading “Key Information Documents (KIDS).”

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 — Statements in this press release regarding ICE’s business that are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of additional risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see ICE’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, including, but not limited to, the risk factors in ICE’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, as filed with the SEC on February 4, 2021.

Stock upgrades and downgrades January 2021

Check out the stock rating and stocks upgrades and downgrades.

1-29-2021

Stifel Upgraded Biogen (BIIB) from Hold to Buy | Price Tgt: $258 » $358

Daiwa Capital Markets raises target price for Tesla (TSLA) to $845 from $430.

Baird raises Tesla TSLA target price to $736 from $728.

JP Morgan Upgraded Spire (SR) from Neutral to Overweight with a price target at $67.

Evercore ISI Upgraded Western Digital (WDC) from In-line to Outperform and increased the Price Target from $52 to $80.

Cantor Fitzgerald initiated coverage of iCAD (ICAD) with an Overweight rating and a price target $19.

Morgan Stanley Upgraded Boeing (BA) from Underweight to Overweight with a price target at $230.

1-28-2021 DA Davidson Keeps the Buy Rating on Apple and raised the Price Target to $167   Wedbush Morgan Securities Inc. have an Outperform rating on Alphabet A (GOOGL) with a price target at $ 2,150.   Dan Levy of Credit Suisse reiterated Tesla (TSLA) a Neutral rating and set the price target at $800.     RBC Capital analyst Joseph Spak maintained a Hold rating on Tesla (TSLA), with a price target of $725.   JMP Securities analyst Joseph Osha downgraded Tesla (TSLA) to Market Perform from Outperform.

UBS Maintains Buy on Facebook (FB) and increased the Price Target to $350.

Morgan Stanley keeps the Overweight rating on Facebook and increased the FB Price Target to $345.

Deutsche Bank reiterates the Buy rating on Facebook and increased the Price Target to $355.

Raymond James reiterated Facebook with a buy rating and increased the Price Target to $360.

KeyBanc keeps the Overweight rating on Facebook (FB) and Raised the Price Target to $360.

Analyst Kevin Rippey of Evercore ISI keeps the Outperform rating on Facebook (FB) and increased the price target to $360 from $355.

Daniel Salmon analyst at BMO Capital increased FB price target to $335 from $325 with an Outperform rating.

MKM Partners Reiterates the Buy Rating on Facebook’s and raised the Price Target to $340 From $330.

Credit Suisse Adjusts Facebook’s (FB) Target From $325 to $330 and Keeps the Outperform Rating. Morgan Stanley Maintains the Overweight rating on Apple AAPL and increased the Price Target.   KeyBanc Capital Markets Upgraded Twitter (TWTR) from Sector Weight to Overweight and a Price Target at $65.   Joseph Feldman of Telsey Advisory downgraded Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) to Market Perform from Outperform and raised the price target to $40 from $27.  

1-27-2021

BofA Securities Reiterated GameStop (GME) at Underperform but raised the Price Target from $1.60 to $10.

Bernstein Initiated DraftKings (DKNG) at Outperform and a price target at $71.

Citigroup Downgraded Under Armour (UAA) from Buy to Neutral and cut the Price Target to $16 from $19.

Cowen Reiterated Advanced Micro (AMD) at Outperform and raised the price target from $110 to $120.

Citigroup Upgraded Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS)  from Neutral to Buy and increased the price target from $66 to $90.

Robert W. Baird Downgraded Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) from Outperform to Neutral and raised the Price Target $30 to $37.

Bernstein Resumed PayPal (PYPL) at Outperform with a price target at $297.

1-26-2021

Cascend Securities Reiterated Apple (AAPL) at Buy rating and increased the price target from $125 to $140.

Raymond James Resumed Microsoft (MSFT) at Strong Buy with a Price Target at $235.

Analyst Stephen Grambling (Goldman Sachs) upgraded DraftKings (DKNG) to Buy from Neutral and raised the target to $65 from $45.

RBC Capital Mkts Downgraded BlackBerry (BB) from Sector Perform to Underperform with a Price Target at $7.50.

Raymond James Downgraded Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) from Strong Buy to Market Perform.

1-25-2020

Loop Capital Upgraded Salesforce (CRM) from Sell to Hold and a price target at $225.

Telsey advisory group raised GameStop (GME) price target from $33 to $22.

Canaccord Genuity Reiterated Alphabet A (GOOGL) at Buy and increased the Price Target from $2050 to $2250.

Wedbush increased Apple (AAPL) price target from $160 to $175.

Robert W. Baird Reiterated Tesla (TSLA) at Outperform but increased the Price Target from $488 to $728.

Credit Suisse Upgraded Wells Fargo (WFC) from Neutral to Outperform and raised the Price Target from $35 to $40.

Goldman Sachs analyst Michael Ng downgraded Imax (IMAX) to Neutral from Buy but raised the target to $17.90 from $15.60.

JPMorgan analyst Luke Nelson upgraded ArcelorMittal  (MT) to Overweight from Neutral and sets the price target at EUR 26.50.

Goldman Sachs analyst Michael Ng downgraded Glu Mobile (GLUU) to Neutral from Buy and cut the price target to $10.40 from $10.90.

1-22-2021

Cowen Reiterated Intel (INTC) at Outperform and raised the Price Target from $75 to $79.

Cowen Reiterated Apple (AAPL) at Outperform but raised the Price Target from $133 to $153.

Goldman Initiated Oracle (ORCL) with a Sell rating and price target at $60.

Goldman Initiated Microsoft (MSFT)  at Buy with a Price Target at $285.

JP Morgan Upgrade Ford Motor (F)  from Neutral to Overweight with a Price Target at $14.

Goldman Initiated VMware (VMW) at Neutral and a Price Target at $150.

UBS analyst J. Hodulik upgraded Disney DIS to Buy from Neutral and increased the price target to $200 from $155.

Credit Suisse Raised Alphabet GOOGL Price Target  To $2,000 From $1,950.

Amazon AMZN price target raised To $3,860 from $3,750 at Credit Suisse.

Credit Suisse cut Facebook FB Price Target To $325 from $330.

1-21-2021

Morgan Stanley Reiterated Apple (AAPL) at Overweight and increased the Price Target from $144 to $152.

Barrington Research Initiated fuboTV (FUBO) at Outperform with a Price Target at $40

Piper Sandler Initiated Twitter (TWTR)  at Neutral with a  Price Target at  $45.

KeyBanc Capital Markets Downgraded VMware (VMW)  from Overweight to Sector Weight.

DZ Bank analyst Manuel Muehl upgraded Netflix NFLX to Buy from Hold with a price target $650.

Piper Sandler Resumed Alphabet A (GOOGL) to Overweight rating and a price target at $2056.

BTIG Research UpgradeD PayPal (PYPL) from Neutral to Buy  and a price target at $300

Berenberg Downgraded Citigroup (C) from Buy to Hold but raised the price target from $55 to $70.

Piper Sandler Resumed Facebook (FB) at Neutral rating and price target at $275

1-20-2021

Morgan Stanley Maintains Underweight rating on Goldman Sachs Group (GS) but Raised the Price Target to $304

William Blair Initiated Palantir Technologies (PLTR) at Market Perform

Berenberg Upgraded Boeing (BA) from Sell to Hold and increased the Price Target from $150 to $215.

Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch raised Tesla TSLA price target to $1,036 from $486 and keeps the Outperform rating.

Credit Suisse Downgraded GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) from Neutral to Underperform.

Morgan Stanley Downgraded Kroger (KR)  from Equal-Weight to Underweight with a Price Target at $28.

JP Morgan Upgraded NuStar Energy (NS) from Underweight to Neutral and increased the Price Target from $14 to $17.

UBS analyst Eric Sheridan upgraded Netflix NFLX to Buy from Neutral and raised the target from $540 to $650.

Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall upgraded Netflix (NFLX) to Overweight from Equal Weight and increased the price target to $700, from $510.

Bernstein Initiated PepsiCo (PEP) at Underperform rating with a price target at $136.

1-19-2021

UBS Downgraded Peloton (PTON) from Neutral to Sell and raised the Price Target from $115 to $124.

JP Morgan Upgraded American Express (AXP) from Underweight to Overweight and a Price Target at $148.

BMO Capital analyst Daniel Salmon upgraded Facebook (FB) stock to Outperform from Market Perform and raised the price target to $325, up from $270.

Keefe Bruyette Upgraded Carlyle Group (CG) from Market Perform to Outperform with the price target at $40.

Mizuho Upgraded Eli Lilly (LLY) from Neutral to Buy and raised the Price Target from $164 to $222.

Goldman Upgraded XP (XP) from Neutral to Buy and a price target at $50.

Goldman Initiated Chipotle Mexican Grill $CMG with a Buy rating and the Price Target at $1650.

Goldman Initiated Yum! Brands (YUM) with a Sell rating and a Price Target  $103.

UBS Downgraded Fiverr (FVRR) from Neutral to Sell and increased the price target from $148 to $190.

Jefferies Reiterated Tesla (TSLA)  at Hold but raised the Price Target from $650 to $775.

1-18-2021

MoffettNathanson Upgraded Snap (SNAP) from Neutral to Buy and increased the Price Target from $39 to $57.

Wedbush Reiterated Tesla (TSLA) at Neutral but raised the Price Target from $715 to $950.

Vertical Research Upgraded Delta Air Lines (DAL) from Hold to Buy.

B. Riley Securities Upgraded Foot Locker (FL) from Neutral to Buy and a Price Target at $58.

DZ Bank Upgraded Intel (INTC)  from Sell to Hold with a Price Target at $62.

1-15-2021

Morgan Stanley Upgraded Axon (AAXN) from Equal-Weight to Overweight and a Price Target at $185.

DZ Bank Upgraded Intel (INTC)  from Sell to Hold with a Price Target at $62

RBC Capital Mkts Upgraded Ralph Lauren (RL) from Sector Perform to Outperform and raised the Price Target from $77 to $138.

MoffettNathanson Upgraded Snap (SNAP) from Neutral to Buy and increased the Price Target from $39 to $57.

JP Morgan Downgraded Stratasys (SSYS) from Neutral to Underweight and a Price Target at $23.

Truist initiated coverage of Airbnb (ABNB) with a Hold rating and set the price target at $154.

1-14-2021

BMO Capital Markets Downgraded Advanced Micro (AMD) from Market Perform to Underperform and cut the Price Target to $75 from $80.

Morgan Stanley Upgraded Intel (INTC)  from Equal-Weight to Overweight and a Price Target at $70.

Needham Upgraded Intel (INTC)  from Hold to Buy with a Price Target at $70.

Atlantic Equities Upgraded Intel (INTC)  from Underweight to Neutral and increased the Price Target from $36 to $55.

BMO Capital Markets Upgraded Intel (INTC) from Market Perform to Outperform and raised the Price Target from $50 to $70.

JP Morgan Downgraded DuPont (DD) to Neutral from Overweight with a Price target at $70.

HSBC Securities Upgraded Chevron (CVX) from Hold to Buy and a Price Target at $103 to $105.

Stifel Resumed Adobe (ADBE) with a Buy rating and a Price Target at $550.

RBC Capital Mkts Upgraded Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) from Sector Perform to Outperform and raised the Price Target from $1320 to $1650.

Citigroup Raises Netflix (NFLX) Price Target To $580 From $450.

1-13-2021

Edward Jones Initiated Tesla (TSLA) with a Hold rating.

JP Morgan Upgraded Exxon Mobil (XOM) from Neutral to Overweight and raised the Price Target from $50 to $56.

Nomura Upgraded General Motors (GM) from Neutral to Buy and increased the Price Target from $27 to $60.

Guggenheim Upgraded Home Depot (HD ) from Neutral to Buy and a Price Target at $310.

Jefferies Raises Mastercard (MA) To Buy From Hold and Raises the Price Target To $415 From $315.

UBS Initiated Int’l Paper (IP) with a Sell and a Price Target at $40.

Citigroup Raises Price Target On Whitbread to 3500P From 3400P.

Deutsche Bank Cuts Rio Tinto To Hold From Buy but Raised the Price Target To 6000P From 5100P.

1-12-2021

JP Morgan Upgraded Office Depot (ODP) from Underweight to Neutral and a Price Target at $40.

Citigroup Upgraded Upwork (UPWK) to Buy from Neutral and raised the Price Target from $32 to $48.

Citigroup Downgraded NIO (NIO) from Buy to Neutral but raised the price target from|$46.40 to $68.30.

Mizuho Initiated BP (BP) with a Neutral rating and a Price Target at $27.

Citigroup Reiterated Fiverr (FVRR)  at Buy and raised Price Target from $185 to $270.

1-11-2021

Morgan Stanley Upgraded Exxon Mobil (XOM) to Overweight from Equal weight and raised the Price Target to $57 from $49.

Citigroup Upgraded Bank of America (BAC) from Neutral to Buy and increased the Price Target from $31 to $37.

Baird analyst Eric Coldwell upgraded the Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) to Outperform from Neutral and $55 price target.

Jefferies analyst Brent Thill upgraded Zillow Group (Z) to Buy from Hold and raised the price target to $175, from $120.

Credit Suisse analyst Levy raised the target price for Tesla to $800 from $400.

Boot Barn Holdings Upgraded at JP Morgan to overweight and a price target at $60.

Piper Sandler analyst Brent Bracelin downgraded salesforce.com (CRM) to Neutral and a price target at $242.

Airbnb (ABNB) Initiated at Tigress Financial with a Buy rating.

1-8-2021

Citi analyst Lowe initiated coverage of First Solar FSLR with a Neutral rating and $106 price target.

Evercore Upgraded Tesla (TSLA) to In-line from Underperform and a Price Target at $650.

Piper Sandler Upgraded Chevron (CVX) from Neutral to Overweight and raised the Price Target from $108 to $113.

MKM Partners Upgraded Constellation Brands (STZ) from Sell to Neutral and increased the price target from $154 to $210.

Summit Insights Upgraded Micron (MU) from Hold to Buy.

Deutsche Bank Upgraded U.S. Steel (X) to Sell from Buy and a price target at $28.

Deutsche Bank Downgraded CME Group (CME) from Buy to Hold and a price target at $196.

BofA Securities Downgraded United Airlines (UAL) from Neutral to Underperform.

SVB Leerink Downgraded Myovant Sciences (MYOV)  from Outperform to  Market Perform and a Price Target at $28.

1-7-2021

RBC Capital Upgraded Tesla (TSLA) from Underperform to Sector Perform and raised the Price Target from $339 to $700.

JP Morgan Downgraded Coca-Cola (KO) to Neutral from Overweight and a price target at $55.

Cowen Upgraded Foot Locker (FL) from Market Perform to Outperform and raised the Price Target from $38 to $55.

Jefferies Upgraded Wells Fargo (WFC) to Buy from Hold and increased the Price Target to $38 from $26.

1-6-2021

Morgan Stanley raised the Tesla Stock Price Target from $540 to $810.

BofA Securities Upgraded Accenture (ACN) to Neutral from Underperform and a Price Target at $261.

BofA Securities Upgraded MasterCard (MA) from Neutral to Buy and a Price Target at $400.

Cowen Upgraded NanoString Technologies (NSTG) to Outperform from Market Perform and a Price Target at $75.

Piper Sandler Downgraded Beyond Meat (BYND) to Neutral from Overweight and reduced the Price Tgt from $144 to $125.

Evercore ISI Downgraded PepsiCo (PEP) to In-line from Outperform.

1-5-2021

Wolfe Research Downgraded Charles Schwab (SCHW) to Underperform from Peer Perform but increased the price target from $39 to $56.

Citigroup Upgraded Micron (MU) from Sell to Buy and raised the Price Target from $35 to $100.

Goldman Downgraded First Solar (FSLR) from Buy to Sell and cut the Price Target from $101 to $81.

Exane BNP Paribas analyst Stuart Pearson downgraded Tesla $TSLA to Underperform from Neutral with a price target at $340.

Wells Fargo Upgraded HubSpot (HUBS) to Overweight from Equal Weight and increased the Price Target from $345 to $450.

JP Morgan Downgraded Cree (CREE) to Neutral from Overweight and a Price Target at $108.

Stifel Upgraded  JD.com (JD) from Hold to Buy and has a Price Target at $105

Atlantic Equities Downgraded Airbnb (ABNB) to Neutral Rating from Overweight and a Price Target at $120

1-4-2021

Deutsche Bank raised Tesla price target to $705 from $500.

Pivotal Research Group Upgraded Under Armour (UAA) to Buy from Hold and raised the Price Target from $15 to $20.

JPMorgan Raised Tesla Target Price To $105 From $90

BofA Securities Initiated Airbnb (ABNB) with Neutral rating at a Price Target at $158.

Goldman Sachs analyst Heath Terry initiated coverage of Airbnb (ABNB) with a Neutral rating and price target at $143.

JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey initiated Airbnb (ABNB) with an Outperform rating and Airbnb Stock Price Target at $180. Ronald Josey sees the company being in a strong position to take advantage of changing demand in the global travel landscape.

RBC Capital analyst Nik Modi downgraded Coca-Cola (KO) to Sector Perform from Outperform but kept the price target at $55.

Barclays Downgraded Citigroup (C) to Equal-Weight from Overweight.

RBC Capital Mkts Downgraded PepsiCo (PEP) to Sector Perform from Outperform with Price Target at $153.

12-30-2020

BTIG Research Initiated Dynatrace (DT) with a Buy Rating and a $56 Price Target.

Opendoor Technologies (OPEN) Initiated at BTIG Research with a Neutral Rating.

12-29-2020

Continental Resources (CLR) Upgraded to Overweight from Weight at KeyBanc Capital Markets with price target at $20.

Robert W. Baird Downgraded Arcturus Therapeutics (ARCT) to Neutral from and cut the price target to $69 from $79.

Daiwa Securities Initiated Amgen (AMGN)  with a Buy rating and $300 price target.

12-23-2020

fuboTV (FUBO) Downgraded at BMO Capital Markets to Market Perform from Outperform and new price target at $50 from $33.

Goldman Resumed Alphabet A (GOOGL) with a buy rating and new Price Target at $2250.

Goldman Resumed Facebook (FB) at Buy and the Price Target at $330.

Qualcomm (QCOM) Initiated at Robert W. Baird with an Outperform Rating and $200 Price Target.

12-18-2020

CFRA downgrades Tesla to Hold from “Strong Buy”

Credit Suisse Downgraded Palantir Technologies (PLTR)  to Neutral from Underperform and cut the Price Target to $13 from $17.

Wells Fargo resumed coverage on Paychex (PAYX)  with Overweight Rating and a Price Target of $105.

Susquehanna Initiated Airbnb (ABNB) with a Price Target at $180.

Check out the price target for Tesla

12-17-2020

Wells Fargo Upgraded Yum! Brands (YUM) to Overweight from Equal Weight and raised the price target at $125 from $109.

Morgan Stanley Downgraded AT&T (T) to Equal-Weight from Overweight and has a Price Target at $34

Morgan Stanley upgraded Five9 (FIVN) to Overweight from Equal-Weight and with a price target at $190

12-16-2020

Raymond James Financial stock price target raised to $106 from $92 at JMP Securities

Si-Bone stock price target raised to $35 from $28 at Needham

Aptiv downgraded to sector weight from overweight at KeyBanc Capital

PayPal stock price target raised to $235 from $215 at KeyBanc Capital

12-15-2020

Wells Fargo upgrades Exxon Mobil XOM from Equal Weight to Overweight and a price target of $53.

Hilton HLT upgraded to Buy from Neutral and raised the price target from $92 to $130

TMX Group Closes Private Placement Offering of C$250 Million 2.016% Senior Unsecured Debentures Due 2031

TMX Group Limited (“TMX Group”) today announced that it has closed a Canadian private placement offering (the “Offering”) of C$250 million aggregate principal amount of 2.016% Series F Senior Unsecured Debentures due February 12, 2031 (the “Debentures”) to accredited investors in Canada. The Debentures are direct senior unsecured and unsubordinated obligations of TMX Group and rank pari passu with all other senior unsecured and unsubordinated indebtedness of TMX Group.

The Debentures received a credit rating of A (high) with a Stable trend from DBRS Limited.

The net proceeds from the Offering will be used to repay a portion of outstanding indebtedness, including TMX Group’s commercial paper program, and for general corporate purposes.

The Offering was made exclusively to persons resident in a Canadian province through a syndicate of agents led by National Bank Financial Inc. and TD Securities Inc. and including Scotia Capital Inc., BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc., CIBC World Markets Inc., RBC Dominion Securities Inc., Canaccord Genuity Corp., Casgrain & Company Limited, Stifel Nicolaus Canada Inc. and Barclays Capital Canada Inc. on a private placement basis in reliance upon exemptions from the prospectus requirements under applicable securities laws in those provinces. The Debentures have not been qualified for sale to the public under such securities laws.

This news release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the Debentures or any other securities of TMX Group in any jurisdiction, and is not an offer for sale within the United States of any securities of TMX Group. Securities of TMX Group, including any debt securities, may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration under U.S. securities laws or unless exempt from registration under such laws. The Offering described in this news release is not being made in the United States and has not been and will not be registered under U.S. securities laws. Accordingly, the Debentures may not be offered or sold in the United States except in certain transactions exempt from the registration requirements under applicable U.S. securities laws.

Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Information

This press release of TMX Group contains “forward-looking information” (as defined in applicable Canadian securities legislation) that is based on expectations, assumptions, estimates, projections and other factors that management believes to be relevant as of the date of this press release. Often, but not always, such forward-looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking words such as “plans”, “expects”, “is expected”, “budget”, “scheduled”, “targeted”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates”, “believes”, or variations or the negatives of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might”, or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved or not be taken, occur or be achieved. Forward-looking information, by its nature, requires us to make assumptions and is subject to significant risks and uncertainties which may give rise to the possibility that our expectations or conclusions will not prove to be accurate and that our assumptions may not be correct.

Examples of forward-looking information in this press release include, but are not limited to, the expected use of the net proceeds of the Offering and the anticipated benefits of the Offering, which are subject to significant risks and uncertainties.

These risks include, but are not limited to: competition from other exchanges or marketplaces, including alternative trading systems and new technologies, on a national and international basis; dependence on the economy of Canada; adverse effects on our results caused by global economic conditions (including COVID-19) or uncertainties including changes in business cycles that impact our sector; failure to retain and attract qualified personnel; geopolitical and other factors which could cause business interruption (including COVID -19); dependence on information technology; vulnerability of our networks and third party service providers to security risks, including cyber-attacks; failure to properly identify or implement our strategies; regulatory constraints; constraints imposed by our level of indebtedness, risks of litigation or other proceedings; dependence on adequate numbers of customers; failure to develop, market or gain acceptance of new products; failure to close and effectively integrate acquisitions, to achieve planned economics, or divest under-performing businesses; currency risk; adverse effect of new business activities; adverse effects from business divestitures; not being able to meet cash requirements because of our holding company structure and restrictions on paying dividends; dependence on third-party suppliers and service providers; dependence of trading operations on a small number of clients; risks associated with our clearing operations; challenges related to international expansion; restrictions on ownership of TMX Group common shares; inability to protect our intellectual property; adverse effect of a systemic market event on certain of our businesses; risks associated with the credit of customers; cost structures being largely fixed; the failure to realize cost reductions in the amount or the time frame anticipated; dependence on market activity that cannot be controlled; the regulatory constraints that apply to the business of TMX Group and its regulated subsidiaries, costs of on exchange clearing and depository services, trading volumes (which could be higher or lower than estimated) and revenues; future levels of revenues being lower than expected or costs being higher than expected.

Forward-looking information is based on a number of assumptions which may prove to be incorrect, including, but not limited to, assumptions in connection with the ability of TMX Group to successfully compete against global and regional marketplaces; business and economic conditions generally; exchange rates (including estimates of exchange rates from Canadian dollars to the U.S. dollar or British pound sterling), commodities prices, the level of trading and activity on markets, and particularly the level of trading in TMX Group’s key products; business development and marketing and sales activity; the continued availability of financing on appropriate terms for future projects; productivity at TMX Group, as well as that of TMX Group’s competitors; market competition; research and development activities; the successful introduction and client acceptance of new products; successful introduction of various technology assets and capabilities; the impact on TMX Group and its customers of various regulations; TMX Group’s ongoing relations with its employees; and the extent of any labour, equipment or other disruptions at any of its operations of any significance other than any planned maintenance or similar shutdowns.

While we anticipate that subsequent events and developments may cause our views to change, we have no intention to update this forward-looking information, except as required by applicable securities law. This forward-looking information should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date of this press release. We have attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those current expectations described in forward-looking information. However, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended and that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from current expectations. There can be no assurance that forward-looking information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. These factors are not intended to represent a complete list of the factors that could affect us. A description of the above-mentioned items is contained under the heading ENTERPRISE RISK MANAGEMENT in the 2020 Annual MD&A.

About TMX Group (TSX:X)

TMX Group operates global markets, and builds digital communities and analytic solutions that facilitate the funding, growth and success of businesses, traders and investors. TMX Group’s key operations include Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX Venture Exchange, TSX Alpha Exchange, The Canadian Depository for Securities, Montréal Exchange, Canadian Derivatives Clearing Corporation, and Trayport which provide listing markets, trading markets, clearing facilities, depository services, technology solutions, data products and other services to the global financial community. TMX Group is headquartered in Toronto and operates offices across North America (Montréal, Calgary, Vancouver and New York), as well as in key international markets including London and Singapore. For more information about TMX Group, visit our website at www.tmx.com. Follow TMX Group on Twitter: @TMXGroup.

SEC Suspends Trading in Inactive Issuer Touted SpectraScience on Social Media

The Securities and Exchange Commission today suspended trading in an inactive company (SpectraScience) amid questions surrounding online promotion of the company’s securities and recent trading activity.

The SEC’s trading suspension order states that since late January 2021, certain social media accounts may be engaged in a coordinated attempt to artificially influence the share price of SpectraScience Inc. (OTC: SCIE), an inactive Minnesota-based corporation. The order further states that during the same period, the share price and trading volume of SpectraScience shares increased even though there was no publicly available news from the company.

The SEC’s order also states that SpectraScience is delinquent in its reporting, having not filed any periodic reports since 2017, and that its most recent website and phone number are non-functional.

On January 30, the SEC issued an alert warning investors to understand the significant risks of trading based on social media, noting that discussions on social media can tempt investors to “jump on the bandwagon,” leading to significant investment losses.

“This is a reminder that investors should exercise tremendous caution when investing based on social media or a sudden surge of enthusiasm for a particular security, especially where that interest does not appear tied to any news about the company or industry,” said Melissa Hodgman, Acting Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

Under the federal securities laws, the SEC can suspend trading in a stock for 10 days and generally prohibit a broker-dealer from soliciting investors to buy or sell the stock again until certain reporting requirements are met.

SEC Charges Investment Adviser and Others With Defrauding Over 17,000 Retail Investors

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged three individuals and their affiliated entities with running a Ponzi-like scheme that raised over $1.7 billion from securities issued by a New York-based asset management firm and registered investment adviser, GPB Capital.  The SEC also charged GPB Capital with violating the whistleblower protection laws. 

The SEC’s complaint alleges that David Gentile, the owner and CEO of GPB Capital, and Jeffry Schneider, the owner of GPB Capital’s placement agent Ascendant Capital, lied to investors about the source of money used to make an 8% annualized distribution payment to investors.  According to the complaint, these defendants along with Ascendant Alternative Strategies, which marketed GPB Capital’s investments, told investors that the distribution payments were paid exclusively with monies generated by GPB Capital’s portfolio companies.  As alleged, GPB Capital actually used investor money to pay portions of the annualized 8% distribution payments.  GPB Capital and Gentile with assistance from Jeffrey Lash, a former managing partner at GPB Capital, also allegedly manipulated the financial statements of certain limited partnership funds managed by GPB Capital to perpetuate the deception by giving the false appearance that the funds’ income was closer to generating sufficient income to cover the distribution payments than it actually was.

The SEC’s complaint further alleges that GPB Capital and Ascendant Capital made misrepresentations to investors about millions of dollars in fees and other compensation received by Gentile and Schneider.  As alleged, the fraudulent scheme continued for more than four years in part because GPB Capital kept investors in the dark about the limited partnership funds’ true financial condition, failing to deliver audited financial statements and register two of its funds with the SEC.  GPB Capital allegedly violated the whistleblower provisions of the securities laws by including language in termination and separation agreements that impeded individuals from coming forward to the SEC, and by retaliating against a known whistleblower.

“As alleged in our complaint, the defendants told investors that they would be paid distributions from profits of the portfolio companies when, in reality, many of the payments were being made from the investors’ own funds,” said Richard Best, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.  “This action shows our continued pursuit of those who deceive investors and conceal their misconduct to reap profits for themselves.”

Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, added, “Whistleblower protections are a cornerstone of the SEC’s whistleblower program.  The charges filed today reinforce the Commission’s commitment to protecting whistleblowers from retaliation and attempts to stifle the free flow of information to the Commission about possible securities law violations.”

The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal court for the Eastern District of New York, charges Gentile, Schneider, GPB Capital, Ascendant Alternative Strategies, and Ascendant Capital with violating the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Lash with aiding and abetting certain of those violations.  The complaint also charges GPB Capital and Gentile with violating the antifraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and charges GPB Capital with violating the registration and whistleblower provisions of the Exchange Act and the Advisers Act’s custody and compliance rules.  The complaint seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest and penalties.

The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Alabama Securities Commission, Illinois Securities Department, South Carolina Office of the Attorney General’s Securities Division, Office of the Georgia Secretary of State’s Securities Division, Missouri Securities Division, New Jersey Bureau of Securities, New York State Office of the Attorney General, and Texas State Securities Board.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Kristin M. Pauley, Lindsay S. Moilanen, Kerri L. Palen, David Stoelting, Neal Jacobson, Melissa A. Coppola, Alistaire Bambach, and Sheldon L. Pollock, and supervised by Lara S. Mehraban.  The SEC’s examination that led to the investigation was conducted by Anthony P. Fiduccia, Kristine E. Geissler, Todd Naznitsky, Amritpal Sidhu, Merryl Hoffman, and Thomas J. Butler. The litigation will be led by Mr. Stoelting, Ms. Pauley, and Ms. Moilanen. 

New Research: Global Pandemic Brings Surge of New and Experienced Retail Investors Into the Stock Market

In a year when a pandemic gripped the world, beginning and experienced retail investors flocked to the stock market using taxable, non-retirement investment accounts, according to new research by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) and NORC at the University of Chicago.

The study, Investing 2020: New Accounts and the People Who Opened Them, found that market dips that made stocks cheaper to buy and the ability to invest with small amounts were among the top reasons younger and inexperienced investors reported entering the stock market. For respondents who opened new accounts in 2020, investing for retirement was the most frequently cited reason for opening the account, despite the study’s focus on taxable investing.

Researchers further found that the majority of new investors—meaning those who opened a non-retirement investment account for the first time during 2020—were under the age of 45 and had lower incomes than investors who already owned taxable investment accounts prior to 2020. New investors were also more likely to be racially or ethnically diverse.

“The spike in new investors demonstrates that people, given access and opportunity, will take steps to participate in the equity markets, potentially benefiting from the historically higher long-term returns these markets offer,” said FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh. “On the one hand, this research offers the investment industry, investor advocates and policymakers critical insights about pathways to financial inclusion for all Americans and presents a roadmap to help inexperienced investors, women and people of color close the wealth gap. On the other, low levels of investment knowledge among all types of investors in the sample—new and experienced—underscore the importance of educating investors about risk and reward, costs and fees, tax consequences of investing and other key concepts.”

“In early 2020, we began seeing media narratives about an influx of investors into the market. This research moves past the anecdotes and helps to separate fact from fiction, highlighting what is actually prompting investors to open a new account,” said Mark Lush, manager and behavioral scientist in the Behavioral and Economic Analysis and Decision-Making (BEAD) team at NORC. “The reality is that investors who opened their first taxable investment account during 2020 were more racially/ethnically diverse when compared to investors already in the market. Our study also found that many of these new investors were prompted to open their account because of the ability to invest with a small amount of money. Taken together, we may be witnessing a shift towards more equitable investment participation.”

Researchers surveyed nearly 1,300 households in 2020. Respondents were grouped into one of three categories: New Investors who opened one or more non-retirement investment account(s) during 2020, and did not own a taxable investment account at any time before 2020 (38 percent); Experienced Entrants who opened a taxable investment account during 2020, and also owned an existing taxable investment account opened before 2020 (19 percent); and Holdover Account Owners who maintained a taxable investment account that was opened before 2020 but did not open a new account during 2020 (43 percent).

Across investor categories, a number of differences emerged. Key findings from the report include:

  • The largest portion of African American investors (17 percent) were New Investors, and the largest share of Hispanic/Latino investors were concentrated in both the New Investors (15 percent) and Experienced Entrants (17 percent) groups.
  • New Investors held smaller balances in their taxable accounts when compared to other investors. Also, 23 percent of female investors reported balances under $500, compared to 15 percent of male investors.
  • Across all categories, a large number of investors reported not knowing whether their investment account charged commissions on trades or whether their account allowed purchasing on margin.
  • While all investors reported relying on a variety of information sources when making financial decisions, Holdover Account Owners more frequently relied upon financial professionals, while Experienced Entrants more frequently conducted their own personal research, and New Investors more frequently relied on the advice of friends and family.

Investment knowledge was low for all groups, though particularly low for New Investors. On average, New Investors could only answer 1.4 out of 5 investment knowledge questions correctly. FINRA offers an array of resources, including mini-modules on Smart Investing, to help investors build essential investment knowledge and skills.

Differences also emerged among new investors by age and race/ethnicity when survey respondents were asked what prompted them to open a new account in 2020. And across all categories of investors, there were stark contrasts surrounding investment goals, risk taking, trading behaviors and investment decision-making.

About NORC at the University of Chicago

NORC at the University of Chicago is an objective, non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. www.norc.org

About the FINRA Investor Education Foundation

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools to make sound financial decisions throughout life. For more information about FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit www.finrafoundation.org.