Day Traders Diary


Today began with all eyes turned to the Dow Jones Industrial Average after the blue chip index ended yesterday's session just 37 points below its all-time closing high. However, the anticipation was promptly removed after the bell when equities jumped higher and the Dow marked its fresh all-time best at 14,286.37.

Following the steady climb of the first hour, they key indices leveled off and held the bulk of their gains throughout the afternoon.

In addition to the Dow, the Dow Jones Transportation Average marked an all-time high of its own. The bellwether complex settled higher by 1.5% thanks to outperformance from freight carriers and shipping services. Con-way (CNW 36.07, +1.36) and FedEx (FDX 107.91, +2.11) finished with respective gains of 3.9% and 2.0%.

The notable strength among transportation stocks also contributed to the outperformance of the industrial sector. The SPDR Industrial Select Sector ETF (XLI 41.40, +0.58) settled higher by 1.4% after finishing among yesterday's biggest laggards.

Similarly, the technology sector underperformed yesterday, but finished as today's leader. Applied Materials (AMAT 13.74, +0.17) and Qualcomm (QCOM 67.97, +1.34) both hiked their quarterly dividends which helped support other chipmakers. The broader PHLX Semiconductor Index gained 2.0%.

Although the market finished with broad gains, some pockets of weakness could be spotted.

J.C. Penney (JCP 14.96, -1.78) has been in the news since reporting downbeat quarterly earnings on February 27. Today, shares of the retailer fell 10.6% after reports indicated recent weakness has prompted major investors from exiting the stock. In addition, the New York Post reported the company is facing delays in its court case against Macy's (M 41.72, +0.18).

Though J.C. Penney finished firmly lower, the weakness appeared to have no effect on other retailers. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 68.68, +0.76) gained 1.1%.

Walgreen (WAG 40.72, -1.05) was another retailer which missed out on today's rally. The weakness followed disappointing second quarter revenue guidance as well as February comparable store sales which missed expectations.

The relative weakness in Walgreen contributed to the underperformance of consumer staples, which registered the slimmest gains of all 10 sectors.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 13.47, -0.54) fell 3.9% and slid back to levels last seen two weeks ago.

Looking back at the final S&P 500 sector alignment, technology (+1.5%), industrial (+1.4%), and consumer discretionary (+1.0%) stocks outperformed. On the downside, consumer staple (+0.3%), utilities (+0.6%), and materials (+0.6%) trailed behind the broader market.

Trading volume was once again below average as 683 million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Today's economic data was limited to the February ISM Services Index, which increased from 55.2 in January to 56.0 in February. Today's reading was ahead of the consensus, and put the index at its highest level since February 2012.

Business activity growth was essentially flat as the respective index increased a modest 0.5 points to 56.9 in February. However, the report did not signal impending weakness in the services sector.

Tomorrow, the weekly MBA Mortgage Index will be reported at 7:00 ET. At 8:15 ET, the February ADP Employment Change will cross the wires with January factory orders scheduled for a 10:00 ET release. Lastly, the Federal Reserve will release its March Beige Book at 14:00 ET.

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