The stock market continued to see volatility on Wednesday morning, as investors continued to second-guess the big rally on Monday. Long-term interest rates kept moving higher, and although that's potentially good news for some parts of the market, it rained on the parade of high-flying growth stocks that have benefited greatly from cheap access to capital in recent years. As of 11 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 93 points to 31,485. However, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) fell 12 points to 3,858, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) lost another 113 points to 13,245.
Even though the markets were choppy, some stocks moved sharply higher. Ocugen (NASDAQ:OCGN) got some good news in its efforts to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, while UWM Holdings (NYSE:UWMC) kept moving higher as it sustained momentum from strong performance earlier in the week.
Ocugen weighs in
Shares of Ocugen were up 35% on Wednesday morning. As we've seen from the small biotech stock in recent weeks, Ocugen's fortunes are now almost entirely tied to those of its partner and their COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Earlier this year, Ocugen entered into a strategic partnership with Indian biopharmaceutical peer Bharat Biotech. Bharat had developed its Covaxin vaccine for COVID-19, and the partnership had Ocugen responsible for commercializing Covaxin in the U.S. market. If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration eventually approves Covaxin for emergency use authorization, Ocugen could get a 45% share of the proceeds.
On Wednesday, Ocugen got good news from Bharat's phase 3 trial of Covaxin. Interim results showed that the vaccine candidate had an efficacy rate of 81%. That doesn't match up to some of the higher efficacies of two-dose vaccines currently in use, but it's high enough to support further study and could play a vital role in eventually ensuring that vaccines are available to all, both in the U.S. and around the world.
Ocugen is in a race against time, as the White House recently expressed confidence that it could get enough vaccines for everyone in the U.S. by May. Nevertheless, Ocugen investors are pleased to see Bharat making progress and have high hopes that the phase 3 trial can warrant FDA action sooner rather than later.
UWM keeps climbing on Russell nod
Elsewhere, shares of UWM Holdings were up another 5%, building on gains from Tuesday. The holding company of the United Wholesale Mortgage home lending specialist got recognition of its success earlier this week, and that should give it some more visibility in an area that's poised for big changes in the near future.
UWM's stock will likely get added to the Russell 1000 large-cap index in the near future, as well as the broader Russell 3000 index. Those moves come shortly after UWM closed on its merger with special purpose acquisition company Gores Holdings IV in late January. UWM became the biggest company yet to go public through a SPAC, with a market cap currently exceeding $15 billion.
UWM's share price had recently sunk below the original $10 per share SPAC price, declining by as much as half from its peak immediately after the merger announcement. Fears of rising mortgage rates could have been partially to blame, as the company relies on independent brokers using its services to lend money. Spiking rates could depress homebuying activity and lead to lower mortgage volume.
Any index-related bump for the stock wouldn't change anything fundamental about UWM's business. The company has proven highly effective in generating growth from its business model, but anything that hurts future mortgage activity will be bad for UWM as well as the rest of the industry.