Manufacturing Data Sends Stocks Higher Midday

Stocks are pivoting higher midday, as Wall Street pays close to attention to Georgia's runoff elections. The market experienced a boost from better-than-expected manufacturing data, with the U.S. manufacturing index rising slightly in December. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) is attempting to recover from last night's steep losses, up roughly 75 points at the midway mark, while the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) and S&P 500 Index (SPX) are modestly in the black as well. In other news, U.S. oil futures broke above $50 per barrel for the first time since February, after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) decided to hold oil output at a steady rate in February.

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One stock seeing notable options activity on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) today is AES Corporation (NYSE: AES), up 1.5% at $23.59 at last check, just below yesterday's 12-year high of $23.99. The utility company has just agreed to sell its 2 coal-fired plant in Vietnam, and options bulls are chiming in. So far today, 17,000 calls have crossed the tape, which is 15 times what's typically seen at this point. The January 2021 24-strike call is the most popular by far, with new positions being opened here. 

Peck Company Holdings Inc (Nasdaq: PECK) is soaring near the top of the Nasdaq today, up 72.8% at $10.62 at last check. This bull gap comes after the company's all-stock deal to acquire iSun Energy, after which Peck will change its name to iSun Energy and plans to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker ISUN. Now trading at its highest level since October, the stock is up 344% year-over-year. 

Meanwhile, China-based Ebang International Holdings Inc (Nasdaq: EBON) is down 9.2% at $6.48 at last check, likely a correction from yesterday's surge amid the buzz around the launch of its cryptocurrency campaign in the first quarter of 2021. The equity is testing its footing at the 20-day moving average after dipping below the trendline in early November. Since going public back in September, EBON is up over 46%. 

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