WINDERMERE, Fla. (Stockpickr) -- U.S. stocks remain under volatility pressure Friday as traders brace for the economic fallout caused by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan and triggered a huge tsunami with 12-foot waves that crashed onto the shores of the northern coastal region. The earthquake has already caused ripples throughout the currency markets, with the yen gaining sharply vs. the dollar and euro, as nervous Japanese traders took risk off the table.
As of midday, parts of the U.S., including the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii, are under a tsunami alert. Investors are clearly on edge over the potential fallout on the West Coast if a major tsunami does indeed come ashore.
At the same time, traders are also monitoring Saudi Arabia very closely. Rumors have been swirling for weeks that a "Day of Rage" could bring social unrest to the Oil Kingdom today.
The flight to safety has brought traders into U.S. stocks as of midday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average higher by around 60 points and the S&P 500 up by around 8 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has advanced by around 15 points. This action is quite the contrast to how stocks reacted in European and Asia, with both regions being hit with notable selling.Related: 3 Inflation-Beating Stocks to Watch Considering all of these events, one sector looks poised to benefit big off of the Japanese earthquake: U.S. oil refinery stocks. CNBC reported that 18% of Japan's oil refining capacity was knocked offline by the earthquake. This loss of refining infrastructure means that Japan is going to have to turn towards outside energy firms to meet their domestic demand. Keep in mind that Japan is the world's third largest oil consuming nation, so this is not a country that can be offline for long and maintain its economy. This news has set up a number of U.S. refinery stocks that look poised to break out. A breakout occurs when a stock makes a move through a significant level of support or resistance, which is usually followed by heavy volume and increased volatility. Wall Street players love to see an upside breakout because it demonstrates strength in the underlying asset as the price breaks above a level of previous resistance. An upside breakout can also take a stock to new highs, which will generate a lot of interest as the stock shows up on sophisticated software that scans for this type of action. Here's a look at a number stocks, including some U.S. refinery stocks, that look poised to breakout and could have some big upside potential from current levels.
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