Pops & Drops: Prudential, Intel...

Following are the day’s biggest winners and losers. Find out why shares of Prudential and Discover Financial Services popped while Intel and US Steel dropped.

POPS (stocks that jumped higher)

Discover Financial Services (DFS) popped 8%. The credit-card posted a higher that expected quarterly profit and applied to become a bank holding company in order to receive TARP funds. – That’s good funding money, says Karen Finerman.

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) popped 8%. The world’s largest soft-drink distributor boosted its full-year profit forecast on increased sales volume. – That was a good place to be, says Karen Finerman.

Prudential Financial (PRU) popped 5%. This stock along with the insurance industry benefited from renewed optimism that government programs will provide a solid backstop. – The stock is up 135% since November 20th and it’s still down 65% since September, explains Guy Adami.

DROPS (stocks that slid lower)

Intel (INTC) dropped 7%. Jefferies cut the world’s largest computer-chip maker to “underperform” from “buy.” – The dollar had something to do with that, muses Guy Adami.

US Steel (X) dropped 12%. Goldman downgraded the company to “neutral” from “buy,” citing its fixed cost structure, and an expected increase in coking coal costs. – The move is a correction, says Joe Terranova. Nothing more.

Caterpillar (CAT) dropped 5%. The maker of bulldozers said global machinery sales fell 6% as demand from emerging markets slowed. – Morgan has a $31 price target on the stock, says Pete Najarian.

Joy Global (JOYG) dropped 10%. JPMorgan lowered the stock’s rating to “underweight” due to a longer-than-expected slowdown in orders. – On a valuation basis it looks cheap to me, says Guy Adami.

Exxon Mobil (XOM) dropped 6%. The oil company lost value as crude prices slipped to their lowest levels in more than four years. – I took my position off today, says Joe Terranova.

MEMC Electronic (WFR) dropped 13%. The maker of silicon wafers reduced its sales forecast. – Stay away from this stock for now, says Pete Najarian.

Scholastic Corp. (SCHL) dropped 13%. The publisher of Harry Potter novels reported full-year profits will come in below expectations. – They need another Harry Potter, muses Joe Terranova.

Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) dropped 26%. The publisher of “Grand Theft Auto” projected a loss for the quarter and they also fell short on 2009 profit expectations.

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Trader disclosure: On Dec. 18th, 2008, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders Adami Owns (AGU), (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE); Pete Najarian Owns (RIMM) Call Spread; Pete Najarian Owns (UYG) And Is Short (UYG) Calls; Pete Najarian Owns (HIG) Calls And Is Short (HIG); Pete Najarian Owns (PCLN) Call Spread; Finerman's Firm Owns (IBB), (MSFT), (UNH), (WLP), (AET); Finerman's Firm Owns (ROH) Calls; Finerman's Firm Owns (OIH) Puts; Finerman's Firm Is Short (IYR), (IJR), (MDY), (SPY), (IWM), (BBT), (USO)

Terranova Is Co-Portfolio Manager Of The Virtus Diversifier PHOLIO: Virtus Diversifier PHOLIO Owns (IGE), (DBC), (DBV)

Terranova Is Chief Alternatives Strategist Of Virtus Investment Partners, Ltd.: Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (ABD), (ARE), (BIG), (OFC), (DLR), (EXR), (IGE), (MAC), (DBC), (DBV), (SKT), (UA), (CLB); Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of Seagate Tax Refund Rights

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