Day Traders Diary
3/22/13Equity indices finished today's session firmly higher and the S&P 500 settled with a gain of 0.7%.
Stocks began the final session of the week on a positive note with notable strength in consumer stocks. The consumer discretionary sector paced today's advance from the opening bell after Nike (NKE 59.53, +5.93) and Tiffany (TIF 69.23, +1.32) reported bottom line beats and contributed to the relative strength of retailers. In addition, quick service restaurant operators outperformed after Darden Restaurants (DRI 49.62, +0.66) beat on earnings.
The growth-oriented discretionary sector was followed by its defensively-minded cousin, consumer staples. Food and beverage producers saw relative strength after reports indicated investor Nelson Peltz has built stakes in both Mondelez International (MDLZ 29.73, +1.17) and Pepsico (PEP 78.64, +2.49). The two stocks settled with respective gains of 4.1% and 3.3%.
The mixed sector leadership reflected a certain degree of uncertainty, which remains in the market. Going into the weekend, the situation in Cyprus remains unresolved with the latest reports indicating the Cypriot parliament has made some headway, but considerable funding needs remain unaddressed.
Although equities finished higher and appeared unconcerned by potential negative fallout from the inability to reach agreement, financials did not share that optimism. Bank of America (BAC 12.56, -0.01) and Citigroup (C 45.23, 0.00) ended little changed while the SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF (XLF 18.18, +0.11) underperformed the broader market with a gain of 0.6%. Notably, the financial sector proxy ETF ended the week lower by 1.5% as the possibility of a Cypriot exit from the eurozone weighed.
While major financials were tentative in their advance, the growth-oriented materials sector did not participate in the rally at all. After starting the session in line with the broader market, the SPDR Materials Select Sector ETF (XLB 39.07, +0.05) slid back to its unchanged level, and remained there until the close. The lack of a bounce in basic materials was notable as the sector bore the brunt of yesterday's selling.
Elsewhere, tech shares also underperformed notably in yesterday's action, but finished today in the middle of sector rankings. Although most tech stocks rebounded, Oracle (ORCL 31.98, -0.32) remained under pressure after reporting below-consensus earnings following Wednesday's close.
Trading volume was the lowest of the week as just over 620 million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Reviewing the final sector performance, consumer discretionary (+1.2%), consumer staples (+0.9%), energy (+0.8%), and telecom (+0.7%) finished in the lead. On the downside, materials (+0.1%), utilities (+0.2%), and financials (+0.5%) trailed behind the broader market.
There was no economic news released today with Monday's economic calendar also free of scheduled reports.
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