Day Traders Diary


Equities finished today's quiet session near their highs and the S&P 500 gained 0.3%. Including today's advance, the S&P 500 is now less than 10 points away from its highest close of all-time.

The major averages began the day with slim losses. The cautious early trade followed downbeat overseas action where investors responded to disappointing industrial production news out of France and a series of below-consensus data points from China.

The Middle Kingdom reported hotter-than-expected February CPI while the country's industrial production and retail sales growth failed to meet expectations.

The disappointing global data contributed to a lower open in U.S. equities. However, the S&P 500 notched its session low 15 minutes into the day before climbing back into positive territory.

The benchmark index then continued higher as financials, health care, and materials, paced the advance.

The financial sector saw considerable strength from large components. Citigroup (C 47.60, +0.92) was the top performer among the majors while the broader SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF (XLF 18.38, +0.14) gained 0.8%.

Stocks in the materials space also contributed to today's gains. Chemical producers supported the cyclical space and the SPDR Materials Select Sector ETF (XLB 39.81, +0.22) added 0.6%.

Although two growth-oriented sectors led the broader market, the defensive-minded health care stocks also finished among the leaders. Drug makers were some of the strongest components and Merck (MRK 43.66, +0.69) advanced 1.6%.

While the three sectors led the way for the bulk of the session, technology stocks saw some volatility. The tech sector underperformed into the afternoon until Apple (AAPL 437.87, +6.15) spiked to fresh highs on no apparent news. The largest tech stock settled higher by 1.4% after being down as much as 1.5% intraday.

Elsewhere in tech, Dell (DELL 14.37, +0.21) and Icahn Enterprises (IEP 61.20, +0.40) entered into a confidentiality agreement which will give Carl Icahn insight into Dell's books.

On the earnings front, Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS 45.11, -5.49) fell 10.9% after its earnings and revenue fell short of the Capital IQ consensus. Additionally, guidance issued by the company was also below analyst expectations. Investors will gain further insight into recent retail sales when the February retail sales report is released on Wednesday at 8:30 ET.

Today's volume was well below average as 599 million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Today's activityor lack thereofput the final tally more than 20% below its 50-day moving average.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 11.78, -0.81) slid below 12.00, and ended at levels not seen since early 2007. With the S&P 500 eyeing fresh all-time highs, the steady decline in VIX suggests complacency is on the rise.

Reviewing S&P 500 sector performance, financials (+0.8%), health care (+0.5%), and materials (+0.4%) led the way. Meanwhile, telecom (-0.2%), energy (UNCH), and consumer staples (+0.1%) rounded out the bottom of the rankings.

Tomorrow's economic data will be limited to the February U.S. Budget with the report set to cross the wires at 14:00 ET. Among earnings of note, Costco (COST 102.44, -0.60) is scheduled to report its quarterly results ahead of the opening bell. All comments contained herein are for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as a solicitation to buy or sell any security. The firm does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information or make any warranties regarding results from it's usage.