Dow, S&P Fall From Highs As COVID-19 Numbers Weigh

The rising number of COVID-19 cases across the globe continues to weigh heavy on investors' minds, regardless of the new year. Stocks are slipping this afternoon, despite an upbeat start to the day, after Johns Hopkins University data showed the U.S. reached the grim milestone of 20 million infections, while the world has surpassed the 85 million mark. As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) is down over 600 points at last check, after hitting fresh record highs earlier in the session. Similarly, the S&P 500 Index (SPXalso slipped into the red from new all-time highs, while the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) is considerably lower as well. Elsewhere, investors are looking ahead to Georgia's Senate runoff election, which happens tomorrow and could flip the Senate in favor of a Democratic majority.

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One stock seeing notable options activity today is American Eagle Outfitters Inc (NYSE: AEO), last seen up 1.2% to trade at $20.31 after the apparel retailer received an upgrade from J.P. Morgan Securities to $24 from $22. So far today, 34,000 calls have already crossed the tape, which is seven times the average intraday amount. Most popular by far is the weekly 1/22 20.50-strike call, followed by the 1/8 20.50-strike call, with new positions currently being opened at both. AEO is up 146.7% in the past nine months.

Meanwhile, one stock near the top of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) today is U.S. Silica Holdings Inc (NYSE: SLCA), last seen up 17.8% at $8.28. The positive price action came after the company earned an upgrade from Evercore to "outperform" from "in line," as well as a price-target hike to $10 from $4. Today's bull note pushed the security to a fresh annual high of $8.60, while the ascending 20-day moving average remains as a consistent source of support. In the last nine months, SLCA has gained 442.3%.

SLCA 20 Day

Near the bottom of the NYSE today is Quantumscape Corp (NYSE: QS), last seen down 36.4% to trade at $53.56. Today's bear gap came after the company filed to offer 306 million shares of common stock. Also driving the shares lower are concerns from some investors over viability of the company's batteries, which have yet to be tested outside of a laboratory setting. Nonetheless, shares just hit a Dec. 22 all-time-high of 132.73%, and the security has tacked on no less than 263.1% in the last three months.

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