Day Traders Diary


Equities began the week on a cautious note as uncertainty crept back into the markets. Overseas, the Eurogroup continues to discuss the next tranche of Greek aid. Reports from the talks indicate lawmakers remain split over whether or not haircuts should be applied to the outstanding Greek debt. Additionally, elections in the Spanish region of Catalonia resulted in two-thirds of the vote going to parties which support a referendum on independence. The European news combined with some profit-taking following Friday's rally translated into a downbeat session which saw the S&P 500 slip 0.2%.

The telecom space was the biggest laggard as traders rotated out of high-dividend stocks. The sector is likely to see further weakness until a fiscal cliff resolution is agreed upon. Even if a timely compromise is reached, it remains to be seen what impact the agreement will have on high-yielding stocks. Today, AT&T (T 33.97, -0.39) and Verizon (VZ 43.30, -0.36), which generate respective yields of 5.2% and 4.7%, both lost near 1.1%.

Retailers succumbed to the broad market pressure, and the SPDR S&P 500 Retail ETF (XRT 62.59, -0.61) slid 1.0%. An earlier story by MarketWatch pointed to a 1.8% decrease in Black Friday sales despite a 3.5% uptick in foot traffic. However, it should be noted that two major retailers, Target (TGT 62.77, -1.70) and Wal-Mart (WMT 69.91, -0.29) were closed last year, but opened on Thursday evening this year. Because of this, a portion of sales which would have counted towards Friday's total, were registered on Thursday evening.

The weakness was visible across all retailers as no particular group bore sole responsibility for the decline. Grocery store operators SUPERVALU (SVU 2.63, -0.08) and Safeway (SWY 16.41, -0.55) saw seeing respective losses of 3.0% and 3.2%. Looking at apparel retailers, Macy's (M 39.86, -1.87) lost 4.5% and Aeropostale (ARO 13.77, -0.68) ended lower by 4.7% after Janney Montgomery Scott downgraded the stock to 'neutral' from 'buy.'

Last week, the SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF (XLF 15.78, -0.06) gained over 4.0% after a brief test of its 200-day moving average in the $15.08 area. Today, the ETF proxy for financial stocks shed 0.4% and most majors underperformed. Wells Fargo (WFC 32.90, -0.30) and Citigroup (C 35.57, -0.46) were among the biggest laggards as the two lost 0.9% and 1.3%, respectively. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs (GS 120.94, +0.63) and Morgan Stanley (MS 16.61, +0.18) registered gains and outperformed their peers.

Elsewhere, European financials also saw relative weakness. Deutsche Bank (DB 43.30, -0.57) and Barclays (BCS 15.51, -0.77) lost 1.3% and 4.7%, respectively. Barclays slumped after Qatar Holdings, LLC sold the remainder of the bank's warrants held since the onset of the financial crisis. As a result of the sale, a $1.19 billion Barclays stock offering was triggered. In addition, the Financial Times indicated some investors are calling on management to split up the company.

The utilities sector fell over 7.0% in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Today, the space led the broader market with a gain of 1.3%. Exelon (EXC 29.32, +0.75) gained 2.6% after Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock to 'buy' from 'hold.' Looking at other electric utilities, FirstEnergy (FE 41.77, +0.70) rose by 1.7% and PPL Corporation (PPL 28.44, +0.36) added 1.3%.

Technology stocks also managed close in the black. Shares of Apple (AAPL 589.53, +18.03) settled higher by 3.2% as the stock remains in focus after tumbling nearly 20% from its all-time high of $705.07. Earlier, Citigroup initiated coverage of the stock with a 'buy' rating and a $675 price target.

In other analyst action, Facebook (FB 25.94, +1.94) surged 8.1% after BTIG upgraded the stock to 'neutral' from 'sell.'

Also of note, 3D Systems (DDD 46.55, +4.81) spiked 11.5% after unveiling the next generation of its ProJet 3D printers.

All comments contained herein are for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as a solicitation to buy or sell any security. The firm does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information or make any warranties regarding results from it's usage.