Today: Tesla and Twitter record huge gains in shortened Christmas Eve trading session.
The Lead: Tesla leaps after NHTSA reaffirms five-star safety rating
Tesla stock catapulted higher Tuesday, after the Palo Alto electric car-maker's five-star safety rating was reaffirmed Monday by the same federal agency that is investigating a pair of fires involving the company's Model S.
Tesla shares gained 5.5 percent Tuesday to $151.41, only the second time the stock has closed higher than $150 since the price cratered in the wake of Tesla's November earnings report and the most recent fire involving the first car fully designed and manufactured by CEO Elon Musk's company.
That fire sparked an inquiry by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which awarded the Model S its highest safety ratings in every category possible after testing the sedan earlier this year. On Monday, the federal agency reaffirmed the five-star ratings for 2014, according to a news release the company sent out after trading had ceased for the day.
"Over the course of more than 100 million miles driven in almost every possible terrain, weather and crash conditions, the Tesla Model S has consistently protected its driver and passengers, achieving the best safety track record of any car on the road,"the company noted in its announcement, mirroring the vigorous defense put up by Musk after the NHTSA's inquiry was announced.
Wall Street seems to be watching closely for signs that the cloud that formed over the high-flying company in the wake of the Model S fires is lifting: Shares also received a healthy bump earlier this month, after a German investigation into the fires found "no manufacturer-related defects."
"Any good news is going to send this stock higher," Keeneonthemarket.com strategist James Ramelli told Bloomberg News. "In the last couple of days of the year, a lot of fund managers are going to want to buy Tesla at these lower levels."
Tesla ended 2012 with a stock price of $33.87, but that price has grown by as much as 474 percent in 2013 as the company has showed off its first quarterly profit and paid off a federal loan much earlier than expected. The company's recent struggles have sent shares plunging by as much as 40 percent from its all-time high of $194.50, reached on Sept. 30.
SV150 market report: Twitter's skyrocketing price keeps growing
While Tesla rebounded and stock indexes gained slightly in Tuesday's shortened trading session, Twitter's stock curve continued to head in the same direction: Straight up.
The San Francisco microblogging company saw its shares balloon to higher than $70 for the first time Tuesday while gaining 8.4 percent to a record closing price of $69.96. Twitter shares have now gained more than 169 percent from the $26 price set in its initial public offering less than two months ago, including a sharp increase of 68.3 percent so far in December. At Tuesday's closing price, Twitter would have the 11th largest market capitalization on the SV150, an index of the 150 largest public technology companies in Silicon Valley that Twitter will join in 2014 after going public: Twitter's total stock value of $38.8 billion surpassed VMware on Tuesday and trails No. 10 Yahoo (YHOO) by less than $3 billion. The quick rise is leading to warnings from stock analysts -- Wunderlich Securities analyst Blake Harper wrote Tuesday morning that Twitter's current valuation is likely propped up by a combination of the small percentage of Twitter shares available on the open market and the number of those shares that are the target of short sellers, traders who bet on a stock declining in price. Harper noted that 22 percent of available Twitter shares are held short, while only 11 percent of Twitter stock is available on the public markets, which Harper noted is likely "creating a significant leveraging effect on the market value of the company."
Facebook also rose to record prices for the second straight day Tuesday, with Twitter's Menlo Park-based rival gaining 0.3 percent to $57.96 while seeing gains in the number of users from so-called Generation X, according to an eMarketer study. Apple's (AAPL) strong gains after the announcement of its deal with China Mobile came to a halt Tuesday, with the Cupertino tech giant's shares falling 0.4 percent to $567.67 as analysts debated how much of a subsidy the Chinese wireless network would pay for Apple's iPhones. Google (GOOG) fell 0.3 percent to $1,111.84 while taking a look at the search-engine tactics of startup Rap Genius, and Cisco (CSCO) gained 0.6 percent to $$21.69 as a report showed it was still atop the video infrastructure market.
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 0.55, or 0.04 percent, to 1,504.28
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 6.51, or 0.16 percent, to 4,155.42
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 62.94, or 0.39 percent, to 16,357.55
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 5.33, or 0.29 percent, to 1,833.32
60-Second Business Break will take Christmas Day off along with Wall Street and return Thursday.
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.