Day Traders Diary
9/19/12Equities began today's session on a slightly higher note after the Bank of Japan raised its asset purchase target in an attempt to inject additional liquidity into the market and to weaken the yen. Stocks were also boosted slightly by positive economic data which indicated an uptick in existing home sales as well as building permits. However, late day selling pushed the major averages off their best levels of the session as the S&P 500 settled higher by 0.1%.
Consumer discretionary stocks were the top performer of the day. Two names within the group advanced after reporting earnings. AutoZone (AZO 369.95, +12.11) added 3.4% after delivering a mixed quarterly report. The auto parts retailer beat on earnings, but missed on revenues and reported an increase in inventory. General Mills (GIS 40.02, +0.71) advanced 1.8% after beating on earnings and missing on revenues. The company issued in-line guidance and the management sees "a slow improvement in price and volume trends across [the company's] retail food categories."
Elsewhere within the sector, Chiquita Brands (CQB 7.32, +0.87) and Del Monte (FDP 25.40, +1.37) jumped 13.5% and 5.7%, respectively. The two listings rallied after BB&T upgraded shares of both companies from 'hold' to 'buy.'
The energy sector underperformed the broader market with oil sliding another 3.6% to continue its recent weakness. The energy component has fallen nearly 9.0% since last week. In addition, the Department of Energy reported that during the past week oil inventories saw a build of 8.534 million barrels against expectations of a build of 1.4 million. Northern Oil and Gas (NOG 17.91, -0.66) shed 3.6% and increased options activity was spotted in the stock. The October 19 puts have traded 1310 contracts against an open interest of just 100.
Meanwhile, PDC Energy (PDCE 30.99, -1.93) slumped 5.9% after announcing it is no longer looking to develop its Utica Shale as part of a joint venture. Instead, the company will continue to work independently on the southeast Ohio property. Approach Resources (AREX 30.77, -1.88) was another notable laggard which slid 5.8% after announcing an offering of five million shares of its common stock in an underwritten public offering.
Groupon (GRPN 5.34, +0.65) surged 13.9% after the company launched a mobile payment service which it claims is "the lowest-cost option" available to merchants. According to reports, merchants who have active deals with Groupon will pay 1.8% of the total transaction price plus a 15 cent surcharge when using Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. Payments made with American Express will be subject to a 15 cent surcharge as well as 3.0% of the total transaction. In addition, Groupon Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Mason appeared on CNBC where he said the company is growing 50% year-over-year and described Groupon as "more than just a coupon company."
Questcor (QCOR 26.35, -24.17) plunged 47.8% after reports indicated insurer Aetna denied coverage of the company's Acthar gel. The rejection was followed by a negative research report released by Citron. Shares of Questcor responded to the comments with an initial drop of nearly 56.0%. Following a trading halt, the stock has been able to recover some of its losses after Piper Jaffray suggested Aetna's comments are not a blanket statement of 'no coverage.' Instead, coverage may be available after a patient is subject to a steroid treatment first.
Existing home sales for August hit an annualized rate of 4.82 million units, which was stronger than the rate of 4.58 million units that had been generally expected among economists surveyed by Briefing.com. The pace for August is up from the prior month rate of 4.47 million units.
Housing starts hit an annualized rate of 750,000 units during August. Economists polled by Briefing.com had expected for housing starts to hit an annual rate closer to 770,000. Prior month figures were revised downward to reflect an annual rate of 733,000 housing starts.
As for building permits, they slipped from the prior month's downwardly revised rate of 811,000 to 803,000 for August. That is above the pace of 800,000 building permits that had been expected among economists polled by Briefing.com.
In tomorrow's economic data, weekly initial and continuing claims will be reported at 8:30 ET. Also of note, the September Philadelphia Fed Survey and leading indicators will be released at 10:00 ET
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