Dow component Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) could trade lower on Monday after a cybersecurity firm revealed at least 30,000 U.S. organizations, including local governments and small businesses, have been hacked by an aggressive Chinese cyber espionage unit. According to KrebsOnSecurity, the hack exploits “four newly-discovered flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server email software, and has seeded hundreds of thousands of victim organizations worldwide with tools that give the attackers total remote control over affected systems.”
Microsoft Testing Breakout Support
Mr. Softee has sold off with other big tech names since posting an all-time high in February but has traded better the majority of its mega-cap peers, holding steadfastly to new support generated by a January triangle breakout. It bounced strongly at that price level and the 50-day moving average on Friday, in a perfect position to attract fresh buying interest. However, the post-market bombshell could have the final say on short-term price direction.
The Chinese hacking crew, dubbed “Hafnium”, is believed to be conducting “targeted attacks on email systems used by a range of industry sectors, including infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks, and NGOs”. Microsoft responded by releasing an emergency update on Mar. 2, plugging security holes in Exchange Server versions 2013 through 2019.
Wall Street and Technical Outlook
Wall Street consensus has been pristine in the last year, with a ‘Buy’ rating based upon 30 ‘Buy’, 3 ‘Overweight’, and 2 ‘Hold’ recommendations. No analysts are recommending that shareholders close positions and move to the sidelines. Price targets currently range from a low of $245 to a Street-high $315 while the stock ended the week more than $12 below the low target. This weak placement highlights Main Street caution after years of outsized share gains.
Microsoft entered a powerful uptrend in 2016 and hasn’t traded below the 20-month moving average in the last five years. It broke out above the February 2020 high in June, posting strong gains into the September peak at 232.86. Price action then eased into a symmetrical triangle, ahead of a January 2021 breakout that hit an all-time high at 246.13 in February. The stock has been testing new support since that time, with a decline through 224 signaling a failed breakout.
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Disclosure: the author held no positions in aforementioned securities at the time of publication.