Day Traders Diary


The major averages ended today's session on a mixed note. The Dow registered a slim gain of 3.76 points while S&P 500 shed 0.2%.

Stocks began the day with slim gains, but the early strength lacked conviction as uncertainty continued to surround Cyprus and the terms of its proposed bailout. As the morning progressed, the S&P 500 slid to its lows amid multiple reports suggesting the country's parliament is likely to vote down the controversial "stability levy."

The late morning selloff was notable as it coincided with strength in the U.S. dollar, the Treasury market, and German bunds. In addition, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 14.36, +1.00) ended at its highest level since March 4.

Elsewhere, the Dollar Index climbed to its best level since August of last year, and ended just below the key 83.00 area. Meanwhile, a safe haven bid across the Treasury complex pushed the 10-yr yield down five basis points to 1.91%. Overseas, the German 10-yr yield declined seven basis points, and ended at 1.35%.

The expectation of a failed vote was confirmed during the afternoon when the Cypriot parliament voted down the deposit tax with 36 'No' votes and 19 abstentions. At this point, it is unknown what the next step for Cyprus will be after its unprecedented rejection of bailout conditions.

Following the vote, the European Central Bank said it will provide liquidity to Cyprus within the existing rules.

As the Cypriot uncertainty weighed on the market, cyclical sectors underperformed while defensive groups ended in the lead.

The energy sector was the biggest laggard with a decline in the price of crude contributing to the weakness. The energy component slid 1.8% to $92.46. Meanwhile, the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF (XLE 78.09, -0.87) settled lower by 1.1%.

In addition to energy stocks, the financial space trailed behind the broader market. Major financials finished lower as banks tend to show most sensitivity when uncertainty strikes. However, Bank of America (BAC 12.71, +0.15) outperformed its peers after Meredith Whitney shared her bullish outlook on the bank.

Also of note, the consumer discretionary group ended in the red amid weakness in retail stocks. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 69.35, -0.70) fell 1.0%.

Although the discretionary sector endured broad weakness, homebuilders resisted the pressure and finished with modest gains after February housing starts were reported ahead of expectations.

In February, housing starts increased 0.8% in February to 917,000 after falling 7.3% to 910,000 in January. The consensus expected housing starts to increase to 911,000.

The recent volatility in housing starts is the result of normal fluctuations in the multi-family sector. Single-family construction, which tends to grow on a very stable path, increased slightly from 615,000 in January to 618,000 in February. Over the last three months, single-family starts have averaged 617,000. Multi-family starts increased from 295,000 in January to 299,000 in February.

Tomorrow, the weekly MBA Mortgage Index will be reported at 7:00 ET. In addition, the Federal Open Market Committee will conclude its two day meeting with its interest rate decision and policy statement scheduled for a 14:00 ET release. The Fed's economic projections will also be released at 14:00 ET and Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a press conference at 14:30 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.