Day Traders Diary


Equities began the day on a higher note, but the early strength did not hold past the opening minutes. The S&P 500 marked its session best shortly after the open, and headed lower. The morning slide was accompanied by headlines out of the Middle East, which indicated Israeli forces have killed two top Hamas officials in an operation dubbed "Pillar of Defense." After the first-hour slide, the benchmark average held near the 1,365 level until President Obama held a press conference to further discuss the fiscal cliff. During his remarks, the commander-in-chief said he is "hoping for compromise and hoping for new ideas." The president's statements failed to inspire investor confidence, thus resulting in an afternoon sell-off which saw the S&P 500 settle lower by 1.4%.

Earlier, the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its October meeting. The Committee discussed economic and policy implications from implementing various thresholds that would need to be triggered before the target Federal Funds Rate is increased. Meeting participants deliberated whether such thresholds might usefully replace, or augment the date-based guidance that had been provided in the policy statements since August 2011. Participants generally favored the use of economic variables, in place of, or in conjunction with a calendar date. However, they offered different views on whether quantitative or qualitative thresholds would be most effective. The minutes also indicated that a number of committee members believe the current asset purchasing program will need to be expanded once operation twist ends.

Technology stocks saw narrower losses than the broader market. The relative strength was largely due to a positive quarterly report from Cisco Systems (CSCO 17.66, +0.81), which beat on the bottom line, and reported revenue in-line with expectations. After reporting earnings, Cisco was upgraded at Pacific Crest to 'outperform' from 'sector perform.' Other networking shares also benefited from the upbeat earnings. F5 Networks (FFIV 87.50, +0.96), JDS Uniphase (JDSU 11.13, +0.18), and Juniper Networks (JNPR 17.55, +0.20) all gained between 1.1% and 1.6%.

Elsewhere in tech, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD 1.93, -0.16) slid 7.7% after Reuters reported the company has hired JPMorgan Chase to explore its options, which include a possible sale.

Also of note, LinkedIn (LNKD 98.77, -0.49) fell to session lows after Facebook (FB 22.36, +2.50) announced the launch of a jobs page. The move was partially retraced and LinkedIn finished lower by 0.5%. Meanwhile, Facebook settled near its session highs on the day when another 700 million shares held by insiders became available for public trade.

Consumer discretionary stocks traded mostly in-line with the broader market. However, apparel retailers saw strength after Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF 41.92, +10.74) reported strong quarterly results. The company's shares gained 34.5% after beating earnings estimates by $0.27. In addition, the retailer's $1.17 billion in revenue also exceeded expectations. The company topped off the strong report by raising its full-year 2013 earnings guidance above consensus. Abercrombie & Fitch is now above its 200-day moving average, trading at levels last seen in the middle of May.

In the energy sector, coal stocks continued their recent weakness and the Market Vectors Coal ETF (KOL 23.30, -0.48) slid 2.0%. Arch Coal (ACI 6.59, -0.44) lost 6.3% and was a notable laggard. The stock traded at its worst level in a month after testing, and being rejected by its 200-day moving average. Looking at other coal names, Alpha Natural Resources (ANR 7.27, -0.31) slid 4.1% and Peabody Energy (BTU 25.38, -0.84) fell 3.2%.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average underperformed the remaining industrials and lost 2.6%. Airlines saw considerable weakness as Delta Air Lines (DAL 9.56, -0.65) and JetBlue Airways (JBLU 4.97, -0.30) fell 6.4% and 5.8%, respectively.

In today's economic news, the weekly MBA Mortgage Index showed a 12.6% increase in new mortgage applications. This follows the prior week's 5.0% decline.

During September, inventories rose by 0.7%, which was slightly above the 0.6% increase that had been expected by the consensus. This follows prior month's reading of a 0.6% increase.

October retail sales declined by 0.3%, which was slightly worse than the 0.2% decrease that had been broadly expected. The prior month's reading was revised up to show an increase of 1.3%. Excluding autos, retail sales were unchanged, which was below the consensus, which called for a rise of 0.1%.

October producer prices declined by 0.2%, which was cooler than the 0.1% increase that had been widely forecast. Core producer prices slipped 0.2% which was lower than the consensus call of a 0.1% increase.

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