Day Traders Diary
9/24/12Stocks began the week on a down note after Germany's Ifo Business Climate Index missed expectations. The major averages marked their session lows during the opening minutes before setting on a day-long climb towards the unchanged line. Due to weakness in Apple, the tech-heavy Nasdaq underperformed with a loss of 0.6%. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 shed 0.2%.
The Nasdaq trailed other indices after Apple (AAPL 690.79, -9.30) reported selling just five million iPhone 5s over the weekend, while some expected sales to reach as much as 10 million units. As a result, Apple ended lower by 1.3%.
Utility stocks were the top performer as the risk-off trade took hold. Natural gas producer Questar (STR 20.10, +0.73) added 3.8% after shares of the company were upgraded from 'neutral' to 'buy' at UBS. Other utility names which benefited from rotation into safer sectors included AES Corporation (AES 11.24, +0.12), Exelon (EXC 35.87, +0.49), and Pinnacle West (PNW 53.40, +0.84). The three stocks all gained between 1.0% and 1.6%.
The Dow Jones Transportation Average rose by 1.0% as it broke its recent streak of underperformance. Within the group, railroad stocks rebounded after Norfolk Southern (NSC 66.28, +1.28) cut its guidance last week. Norfolk Southern ended higher by 2.0% while other railroad names also advanced. CSX (CSX 21.36, +0.23), Kansas City Southern (KSU 77.08, +1.08), and Union Pacific (UNP 121.11, +1.74) all posted gains between 1.0% and 1.5%.
In the materials sector, steel stocks were under pressure after Citigroup downgraded a pair of steelmakers. United States Steel (X 19.59, -0.35) shed 1.8% after being downgraded from 'buy' to 'neutral,' while AK Steel (AKS 5.01, -0.24) settled lower by 4.6% after its rating was cut from 'neutral' to 'sell.' The weakness spilled over to other steel names as AM Castle (CAS 12.20, -0.25) and Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF 40.77, -0.16) lost 0.4% and 2.0%, respectively.
Paper and packaging stocks traded higher after Credit Suisse raised their targets on select stocks within the group. The firm raised their target on International Paper (IP 36.78, +1.27) from $40 to $44, Packaging Corp of America (PKG 34.95, +1.20) from $36 to $41, and Rock-Tenn (RKT 73.75, +5.03) from $73 to $82. The three stocks all gained between 3.5% and 7.3% following the positive commentary. Elsewhere, KapStone (KS 21.80, +1.19) advanced 5.8% after Stephens upgraded the shares from 'equal weight' to 'overweight.'
Questcor (QCOR 19.08, -11.05) slumped 36.7% after disclosing that the U.S. government is investigating the company for its promotional practices. In addition, Leerink Swank downgraded the shares of the company from 'outperform' to 'market perform. Note that Questcor fell 40.0% last week amid concerns around insurance coverage for the company's Acthar gel.
Peregrine Pharma (PPHM 1.16, -4.23) plunged 78.5% after announcing discrepancies in its data from its Phase IIb trial of bavituximab in patients with second-line non-small cell lung cancer. The company said that investors should not rely on clinical data that was disclosed on or before September 7, 2012. Since September 7, Peregrine has rallied more than 75.0% on what was previously thought to be encouraging trial data.
The Case-Shiller 20-city Index will be reported at 9:00 ET, while consumer confidence and the FHFA Housing Price Index will be released at 10:00 ET.
The U.S. Treasury will auction off 2-yr notes.
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