Day Traders Diary
12/19/12Stocks began the day on a slightly higher note as yesterday's optimism regarding a fiscal cliff resolution lingered. However, the initial strength quickly faded, and the S&P 500 slipped below its flat line where it spent the remainder of the session. A recurring theme played out in Washington where lawmakers held another round of press conferences with both sides pushing back against the other. Most notably, Speaker Boehner said the House of Representatives will vote on his 'plan B' tomorrow. The remarks kept the S&P 500 near its lows before a final round of selling dropped the benchmark index to a loss of 0.8%. The technology sector outperformed the broader market, and Oracle (ORCL 34.09, +1.21) contributed to the relative strength. The software company gained 3.7% after beating on earnings and revenue. Elsewhere, Apple (AAPL 526.31, -7.59) lost 1.4% with today's declined causing the company's market cap to slip below $500 billion. Hard drive makers have seen recent strength, and major manufacturers once again outperformed. Seagate Technology (STX 30.32, +0.96) and Western Digital (WDC 41.20, +1.60) settled higher by 3.3% and 4.0%, respectively. Prior to the open, both stocks were upgraded to 'Buy' from 'Neutral' at Craig Hallum. However, Cleveland Research made cautious comments regarding both names. General Motors (GM 27.18, +1.69) surged 6.6% after the U.S. Treasury announced plans to sell its remaining shares of the company. Of the 500 million shares to be sold, 200 million will be bought by General Motors at $27.50 per share. The remaining 300 million shares will be sold in an orderly fashion over the next 12-15 months. Peer Ford Motor (F 11.73, +0.06) rose by 0.5%. The Dow Jones Transportation Average advanced 0.2% on the strength of airlines. Delta Air Lines (DAL 11.83, +0.30) and United Continental (UAL 23.96, +0.39) finished higher by 2.6% and 1.7%, respectively. It should be noted the two stocks have added nearly 20% since the beginning of December. Elsewhere, FedEx (FDX 93.20, +0.84) settled higher by 0.9% after beating on earnings and revenue. While the company's second quarter result exceeded expectations, forward guidance was a point of concern. The provider of package delivery services expects its third quarter earnings to fall below consensus estimates while full-year earnings are forecast in-line with analyst forecasts. On the downside, railroads underperformed. CSX (CSX 20.01, -0.23) and Union Pacific (UNP 125.77, -1.39) both lost near 1.1%. Today's economic data focused on housing and painted a mixed picture. November housing starts hit an annualized rate of 861,000 units, and were below the 875,000 expected by the Briefing.com consensus. Meanwhile, building permits came in at 899,000, which were ahead of the Briefing.com consensus forecast of 876,000. Homebuilders ended the session on a lower note. Lennar (LEN 39.27, -0.44), PulteGroup (PHM 18.46, -0.15), and Toll Brothers (TOL 32.08, -0.43) all lost between 0.8% and 1.3%.European markets registered gains across the board. Germany's DAX added 0.2% while France's CAC and United Kingdom's FTSE rose by 0.4% each. On the periphery, Greek ASE surged 4.8%. In Germany, HeidelbergCement led the way with a 4.6% gain. The strength followed comments from MainFirst Bank, which expects the producer of building materials to receive a credit rating upgrade next year. Among the decliners, drug maker Merck lost 2.3% after its cancer treatment trial returned disappointing results. France's CAC was supported by financials. BNP Paribas advanced 1.6% and Credit Agricole gained 2.3%. It is worth noting that French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has proposed a bill aimed at separating proprietary trading from traditional banking. As part of the legislation, a EUR10 billion resolution fund would also be set up. In the United Kingdom, producer of building materials, CRH, led all shares with a 4.9% surge. The outperformance followed optimistic comments from Deutsche Bank, which upgraded CRH to 'Buy' from 'Neutral.' On the downside, distributor Bunzl lost 4.3% after JPMorgan lowered the 2013 earnings expectations for Bunzl. Greek financials soared after the European Central Bank announced it will once again accept Greek Government Bonds as eligible collateral. Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, and National Bank of Greece all surged between 10.0% and 12.5%.
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