Day Traders Diary


The major averages ended today's session with modest gains. The S&P 500 advanced 0.6%, and settled within two points of a record close. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average registered its 10th consecutive gain.

After the previous three sessions adhered to the script of early weakness resulting in steady dip buying, today's trade began on the opposite note. The S&P 500 jumped out of the gate and remained in the black for the duration of the day.

While today's start was opposite of that observed in recent days, the result was not. The benchmark index notched session highs shortly before the close, and settled near that level.

The gains were paced by two cyclical sectors. Energy and technology were the top two performers at the start, and they ended in the lead as well.

The energy sector saw broad strength and the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF (XLE 80.02, +1.08) advanced 1.4% to end at its best level since July 2011. The space outperformed notably even as crude oil registered lesser gains. The energy component ended higher by 0.6%, at $93.08 per barrel.

The technology sector was the other driver of today's action. Major sector components contributed to the outperformance as Apple (AAPL 432.50, +4.15) and International Business Machines (IBM 215.80, +3.74) ended with respective gains of 1.0% and 1.8%.

In addition, chipmakers, which comprise a significant portion of the tech sector, traded ahead of the broader market. The PHLX Semiconductor Index settled higher by 0.5%.

Although growth-oriented sectors ended in the lead, this was not the case with consumer discretionary shares. The group underperformed due to the relative weakness of (AMZN 265.74, -9.36). The online retailer fell 3.4% after JPMorgan Chase downgraded the stock to 'Neutral' from 'Overweight.'

Outside of, remaining discretionary stocks traded in-line with the broader market. Other retailers were unaffected by the stock-specific downgrade and the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 70.64, +0.45) rose 0.6%.

Today's trade saw all ten S&P 500 sectors end with gains as health care and utilities rounded out the bottom of the rankings.

Health care lagged amid weakness in drug makers after the Food and Drug Administration announced an investigation into several drugs linked to previously-unknown potential side effects. The SPDR Health Care Select Sector ETF (XLV 45.02, +0.04) settled higher by 0.1%.

Trading volume was below average once again as 677 million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Thus far, the average of this week's volume has tracked almost 14% below the 50-day average volume.

With the S&P 500 inching towards record highs, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 11.29, -0.54) fell to multi-year lows. Including today's decline, the short-term volatility measure has sunk back to levels last seen in March 2007.

Reviewing today's economic news, weekly initial claims declined 10,000 to 332,000. This was received as a positive sign of life from the labor market after initial claims spent much of last year confined to a range between 350,000-400,000. Today's report marked the third consecutive week which saw a figure outside of that range.

Producer prices rose 0.7% in February. That was up from a 0.2% gain in January and was the strongest monthly increase since rising 1.0% in September 2012. The consensus expected the PPI to increase 0.6%.

Excluding food and energy, core PPI prices rose 0.2% for a second consecutive month. That was exactly what the consensus expected. A large part of the increase in core prices was the result of a strong gain in pharmaceutical preparations.

The current account deficit for the fourth quarter totaled $110.4 billion, which was narrower than the $112.3 billion deficit that had been broadly anticipated.

In tomorrow's economic data, February CPI, core CPI, and the March Empire Manufacturing Index will all be reported at 8:30 ET. Net long-term TIC flows will be announced at 9:00 ET with February industrial production and capacity utilization set for a 9:15 ET release. Lastly, preliminary March Michigan Sentiment will be reported at 9:55 ET. 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.