Stocks making the biggest moves midday: Microsoft, Applied Materials, Moderna and more

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Internet company Microsoft’s China office building is seen in Shanghai, China, Dec. 8, 2020.
Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

Check out the companies making headlines in midday trading.

Tech stocks — Tech stocks dropped as the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield touched a high of 1.567% Tuesday. Twitter fell 4.7%, Microsoft and Google lost more than 3%, Salesforce slipped by 2.6%. Rising bond yields hurt growth stocks like tech stocks because they lower the relative value of future earnings. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is on pace for its 10th down day in the past 15 sessions.

Applied Materials — Shares of the semiconductor stock dropped 6.8% after New Street downgraded the stock to neutral from buy. The Wall Street firm cited Applied Material’s sky-high valuation for the downgrade. Other semis fell as well, with Advanced Micro Devices over 5% lower and Micron Technology, which will report earnings after the bell, down more than 2%. 

BioNTech, Moderna — Vaccine makers BioNTech and Moderna fell 8.6% and 5.4%, respectively, after the French drugmaker Sanofi announced positive results from a study of its MRNA-based Covid vaccine. Sanofi said it would halt further development because the market is so already so well dominated by Pfizer and Moderna. Instead, it’ll focus on using MRNA technology for other vaccines and developing a protein-based Covid vaccine with GlaxoSmithKline. 

Wells Fargo — Shares of Wells Fargo fell 4.2% after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to equal weight from overweight, citing persistent regulatory challenges. The call comes after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last week the central bank would maintain its $1.95 trillion asset cap on Wells Fargo “until the firm has comprehensively fixed its problems.” Morgan Stanley predicts overcoming these regulatory issues will hike Wells Fargo’s expenses.

Huntsman Corp. — The chemical maker’s stock gained over 7% after the activist hedge fund Starboard Value took an 8.4% stake in the company, according to the Wall Street Journal. Starboard said the shares were undervalued and that it will push for changes to improve its stock performance, the Journal reported.

United Natural Foods — The food distributor surged more than 20% after the company reported quarterly earnings of $1.18 per share, which beat the consensus estimate of 80 cents per share. Revenue came in below consensus estimates. The company saw strong pandemic-driven demand by customers from the same quarter a year ago, it reported.

Thor Industries — The vehicle maker’s stock jumped 7.6% after the company reported quarterly earnings of $4.12 per share that beat analysts’ estimates of of $2.92 a share. Revenue also topped Wall Street forecasts. Thor cited continued demand for RVs and said backlogs are at a record high.

FactSet — Shares of the financial data and software company ticked more than 4% higher after beating on the top and bottom lines of its quarterly results. FactSet reported earnings per share of $2.88 on revenue of nearly $412 million. Wall Street expected earnings of $2.72 on revenue of $405 million, according to Refinitiv.

Energy stocks — Energy stocks continued their rally as the international oil benchmark Brent crude and the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed on Tuesday before retreating. Cabot Oil & Gas and Cimarex each added more than 1%. Halliburton rose nearly 2%.

 — CNBC’s Maggie Fitzgerald and Yun Li contributed reporting

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