Day Traders Diary


Equities spent the duration of today's session in the red. The S&P 500 lost 0.9% after House Speaker John Boehner cancelled Thursday's vote on his 'Plan B' due to a lack of support from his party. In a morning press conference, the Speaker said he is not walking away from negotiations with President Obama. However, an agreement remains distant and the House of Representatives has adjourned until December 27. Upon returning to work, lawmakers will be left with just two business days before the calendar year ends.

The financial sector led yesterday's advance as market participants showed optimism ahead of the scheduled vote on 'Plan B.' However, the vote never took place, and legislators will be left with just a couple business days when they return to work next Thursday. After adding nearly 4.0% between Monday's open and Thursday's close, The SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF (XLF 16.40, -0.19) lost 1.2%. Among the majors, Bank of America (BAC 11.29, -0.23) and Citigroup (C 39.49, -0.68) were two of the weakest performers as they finished with respective losses of 2.0% and 1.7%.

Looking at tech stocks, the SPDR Technology Select Sector ETF (XLK 28.95, -0.25) settled lower by 1.2% and major sector components registered comparable losses. Apple (AAPL 519.33, -2.40), Google (GOOG 715.63, -6.73), and International Business Machines (IBM 193.42, -1.35) all lost between 0.5% and 0.9%.

In notable earnings, Research In Motion (RIMM 10.91, -3.21) slumped 22.7% after reporting its quarterly results. Although the smartphone maker beat on earnings and revenue, the company's subscriber growth was a point of concern.

Elsewhere, Micron Technology (MU 6.32, -0.47) slid 6.9% after reporting disappointing earnings and revenue.

Utilities traded largely in-line during the first half of the session. However, mid-afternoon buying lifted the SPDR Utilities Select Sector ETF (XLU 35.31, -0.12) well off its lows. The ETF ended with a loss of 0.3% and companies specializing in production of industrial gasses were among the sector leaders. Piedmont (PNY 32.42, +0.25) added 0.8% after reporting earnings and reaffirming guidance in-line with the Capital IQ consensus. Among electricity providers, Entergy (ETR 64.52, +0.11) and FirstEnergy (FE 41.61, +0.07) registered gains following early-session weakness.

Defensive stocks have seen strength throughout the year. As a result, the PHLX Defense Sector Index has gained over 15.0% since January 3. Today, the space shed 0.3%, and registered narrower losses than the broader market. This came after the House of Representatives passed the defense budget bill, which would spare the sector from drastic cuts in the event the country goes over the fiscal cliff. In addition, a late-afternoon report from Reuters indicated the bill was also passed by the Senate, and sent to the President for approval. Looking into the 17-stock defense index, GenCorp (GY 9.00, -0.22) lost 2.4% and was the weakest performer. On the upside, Embraer (ERJ 27.70, +0.15) and Lockheed Martin (LMT 93.13, +0.63) added 0.5% and 0.7%, respectively.

In M&A news, Ameristar Casinos (ASCA 26.50, +4.43) was bought by Pinnacle (PNK 16.20, +2.85) for $26.50 per share, which represents a 20.0% premium to Ameristar's Thursday close. The deal was received well by investors as ASCA and PNK both gained near 20.0%. The strength in shares of Pinnacle was due to expectations of synergies and an improvement in margins.

Today's economic data was plentiful and most figures were reported ahead of expectations. November durable goods orders increased by 0.7%, which was better than the 0.2% increase that had been expected among economists polled by This comes after the prior month's reading was revised up to reflect an increase of 1.1%. Excluding transportation related items, durable goods orders increased in November by 1.6%, which was better than the 0.2% decrease that had been broadly anticipated. Prior month's reading was revised from +1.8% to +1.9%.

Personal income increased by 0.6% in November, which was ahead of the 0.3% increase expected by the consensus. Personal spending increased by 0.4%, which was ahead of the expected uptick of 0.3%. Core personal consumption expenditures were unchanged, which fell short of the broadly expected reading of +0.1%.

The University of Michigan's final December Consumer Sentiment Survey fell to 72.9 from the 74.5 that was posted in the preliminary Survey. The consensus expected the reading to rise to 74.8.

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