Day Traders Diary


The major averages ended today's headline-filled session with modest losses, and the S&P 500 settled lower by 0.3%. Equities began the day amid broad strength, which brought the benchmark average within a point of a record high close. The morning gains came about after Cyprus and the Eurogroup agreed on the terms of a rescue package for the island nation. The early strength did not hold past the opening hour as the S&P 500 began slipping towards fresh session lows. That slide accelerated when Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem gave an interview to Reuters in which he explained how the Cypriot bank restructuring may be used as a template for future bailout talks. The comments had an immediate impact on equities with Italian bank stocks feeling the brunt of the headline-driven selling. Notably, a safety bid ran German Bunds to session highs into the close, pushing the 10-yr yield down six basis points to 1.33%. As U.S. equities hovered near session lows, an afternoon statement from Mr. Dijsselbloem lifted markets off their worst levels. The Eurogroup head said, "Cyprus is a unique models or templates are used." Although the comments gave equities a brief bounce, the S&P 500 settled near its lows.

Growth-oriented sectors were responsible for the bulk of today's losses. The industrial space ended as the biggest laggard amid broad weakness. Machinery producers lagged throughout the day, and Caterpillar (CAT 86.69, -0.79) lost 0.9%. In addition, underperformance from transportation-related stocks caused the Dow Jones Transportation Average to settle lower by 0.7%. FedEx (FDX 97.02, -1.46), which reported disappointing earnings and issued cautious guidance last Wednesday, fell 1.5%. Shares of FedEx are down over 8.5% since last week's quarterly report. Elsewhere, the materials sector saw an extension of its recent weakness. The SPDR Materials Select Sector ETF (XLB 38.77, -0.30) slid 0.8% after the last two sessions saw the cyclical group end as the weakest performer. In addition to underperformance from economically-sensitive sectors, copper futures slipped 0.5% to $3.45 per pound.

At the end of the day, all ten S&P 500 sectors ended in the red. The countercyclical consumer staples group settled with the slimmest loss and the SPDR Consumer Staples Select Sector ETF (XLP 39.27, -0.03) shed 0.1%.

Trading volume was below average as 660 million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. There was no economic data of note released today. Tomorrow, February durable goods orders and durable orders ex-transportation will be released at 8:30 ET. The January Case-Shiller 20-city Index is set to follow at 9:00 ET while February new home sales and March consumer confidence will both be reported at 10:00 ET.

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