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Data: Factset, Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

For millions of traders and CNBC addicts, the word "Tesla" doesn't mean cars — it means TSLA, one of the wildest large-cap stocks the world has ever seen.

Driving the news: On Monday alone, Tesla opened $114 higher than its previous close, then gained another $136 within 15 minutes, then dropped by $324 before the market closed. (Even during the drop there was a half-hour period where the stock rose another $100.)

  • Each dollar of Tesla's share price corresponds to a market capitalization of $185 million, which means that Tesla lost more than $60 billion of value intraday. That's more than the market cap of Ford and Fiat Chrysler combined.

Large-caps aren't supposed to be this volatile. Tesla's Monday peak was 89% higher than the low point two weeks earlier — on no real news.

  • The rise was partly due to small retail investors rushing in, and partly due to short sellers getting squeezed. But ultimately looking for reasons is a fool's errand. (Can a short squeeze really last seven years?)
  • The one known known is that Tesla stock is highly volatile. Looking at the implied volatility suggested by options pricing, there's roughly a 15% chance that in three weeks time, Tesla stock will either be trading below $900 or above $4,000.

By the numbers: Tesla stock is popular among day-traders who don't like to hold any kind of position overnight. Partly as a result, it opened higher than its previous close every day this month up to yesterday.

  • If you bought one share of Tesla at the closing price each day in July and sold it immediately at the open the following morning, you would have made more than $450 between July 1 and July 15.*

Don't look to Wall Street analysts for clarity. Their price targets range from $87 (Gordon Johnson of GLJ Research) to $2,322 (Alex Potter of Piper Sandler).

  • Coming up: Tesla's second-quarter earnings arrive on July 22. If Musk can manage to eke out a profit, no matter how small, then that will mean four successive quarters of profitability — which in turn means that Tesla will be eligible to join the S&P 500, and index funds with trillions of dollars under management will be forced to buy the stock.

The bottom line: Cars and carmakers have had mythic status for decades. But for the time being it often seems that there's only one game in town.

Go deeper: Breaking down the Tesla obsession

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Aug 27, 2020 - Economy & Business

How the Dow masquerades as a stock-market index

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

For all its weakness as a stock-market gauge, the Dow Jones Industrial Average continues to tell us a lot about the state of corporate America, as opposed to the state of the equity market.

Why it matters: The Dow is a slice of America masquerading as a stock-market index.

36 mins ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.