Day Traders Diary


Stocks saw broad gains during today's session and the S&P 500 ended higher by 1.0%. Meanwhile, the Dow climbed 1.1% and settled above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007. The day was busy with economic data, most of which surprised to the upside. Overseas, China's HSBC manufacturing PMI signaled continued expansion while readings in Europe were better-than-feared.

Domestically, investors received a full slate of data with the headline report coming in the form of January nonfarm payrolls. During the first month of 2013, the economy added 157,000 nonfarm jobs, which fell short of the 180,000 expected by the consensus. In addition, the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9%. The immediate reaction sent equity futures higher as the rise in unemployment signals the Federal Reserve will not be removing its support from the markets in the near future.

The morning sentiment was aided by a strong January ISM index, upbeat December construction spending, as well as the positive revision to the final January Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey.

All ten S&P 500 sectors ended in the black and five added at least 1.0%.

Financials rallied broadly and the SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF (XLF 17.61, +0.23) notched a fresh 52-week high. Bank of America (BAC 11.71, +0.39) and Morgan Stanley (MS 23.51, +0.71) outperformed their peers and settled with respective gains of 3.5% and 3.1%.

Elsewhere, the materials sector rallied on the strength of steel producers. The industry tends to show elevated sensitivity to Chinese economic data, and today's manufacturing PMI beat suggested Chinese steel demand will remain strong. The Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX 49.61, +0.77) advanced 1.6%.

The tech sector underperformed earlier in the week, but did its best to catch up to the broader market today. Interestingly, technology stocks rallied without the participation of Apple (AAPL 453.62, -1.87). However, microprocessor manufacturers picked up the slack and the PHLX Semiconductor Index gained 1.9%.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 12.92, -1.36) fell almost 10.0%, and ended near its 52-week low of 12.29.

Today's volume was strong with more than 750 million shares changing hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Next week shapes up to be pretty light in terms of economic data. On Monday, December factory orders will be reported at 10:00 ET.

Week in Review: Equities Book Solid January Gains

On Monday, the major averages ended the session largely where they began. The S&P 500 and Dow registered modest losses, while the Nasdaq added 0.2%, seeing relative outperformance from Apple (AAPL 453.62). The largest tech stock ended higher by 2.3% after disappointing earnings caused it to lose nearly 13.0% last week. The materials sector was the weakest performer. The observed weakness resulted from a Goldman Sachs downgrade of the U.S. steel sector. Following the downgrade, steel stocks saw broad selling and the Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX 49.62) shed 1.4%.

Equities finished Tuesday's session on a mixed note. The Dow and S&P 500 gained 0.5% each, while the Nasdaq underperformed and ended flat. However, looking below the surface revealed the sector rotation which took place today. Health care, telecoms, and utilities were among the day's top performers as investors rotated into defensive-oriented stocks. Seagate (STX 33.67, -0.31) fell 9.4% after issuing guidance which disappointed investors. The sell-off occurred after Seagate rallied nearly 50.0% in the eight weeks leading up to its quarterly report.

On Wednesday, equities started the day on a mixed note, but the slightly bearish bias which persisted throughout the session caused the major averages to end near their lows. The S&P 500 slipped 0.4%, and was the weakest performing index. (AMZN 265.00, -0.50) jumped 4.8% after the online merchant reported its operating income well ahead of analyst expectations.

Thursday did not bring much change to the market as the S&P 500 slipped 0.3% and Nasdaq ended flat. Mixed trade unfolded amid economic data which was largely in-line with expectations. The personal income report stood out as the December increase of 2.6% was well ahead of the 0.7% rise expected by the consensus. However, the notable rise in personal income was due to a surge in personal income on assets as investors chose to lock in a lower capital gains tax rate ahead of the New Year. In addition to economic data, investors received several notable earnings reports. Ryder System (R 57.90, +1.12), MasterCard (MA 518.71, +0.31), and Qualcomm (QCOM 66.73, +0.71) gained between 0.5% and 4.6% after beating on earnings.
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