Day Traders Diary


Today's session began on a slightly lower note after the weekend failed to advance the budget negotiations. The talks are now entering the 11th hour, but the likelihood of a timely, comprehensive agreement has become dim. However, recent reports from Washington have indicated the two sides may be nearing a deal on revenues.

The materials sector is the top performer as steelmakers display relative strength. Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF 37.96, +2.38) is rising by 6.7% and the Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX 48.41, +0.98) is adding 2.1%. The metal producers are enjoying an upbeat session after last night's Chinese HSBC Manufacturing PMI report beat expectations. The strong PMI reading was received as a positive sign for the country's economy, which in turn would be a positive for future steel demand.

Technology stocks are outperforming, and the SPDR Technology Select Sector ETF (XLK 28.66, +0.30) is adding 1.1%. The notable strength among tech names comes as Apple (AAPL 526.87, +17.28) trades higher by 3.3%.

Elsewhere, Intel (INTC 20.45, +0.22) is firmer by 1.1% after earlier reports indicated the company is readying the launch of a set-top box which would allow consumers to stream video and access additional digital content.

Also of note, Facebook (FB 26.53, +0.61) is higher by 2.4% after Stifel Nicolaus reiterated its 'Buy' rating on the stock. In addition, the investment bank raised the price target for Facebook to $31.

Financials saw an uptick in recent trade after reports indicated the president is scheduled to speak at 13:30 ET. Bank of America (BAC 11.49, +0.13) and Morgan Stanley (MS 18.81, +0.18) are seeing respective gains of 1.2% and 1.0%. On balance, the financial sector saw notable strength in 2012, and the SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF (XLF 16.26, +0.08) is poised to register a 22% gain for the year.

Into the close, fittingly, the major averages ended on a high note. Up 7.3% from a year ago, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 166.03 points, or 1.3%, to 13,104.14. The S&P 500 index climbed 23.76 points, or 1.7%, to 1,426.19, leaving it up 13% for 2012. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 59.2 points, or 2%, to 3,019.51, rising almost 16% for the year.

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