Day Traders Diary


The S&P 500 settled higher by 0.4% after spending the bulk of today's action in the black while the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended flat.

The technology sector was under pressure after the International Data Corporation indicated first-quarter PC shipments plunged 14%. This marked the largest decline on record since IDC began tracking shipments in 1994, and pressured major tech names. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ 20.88, -1.44) fell 6.5% while Intel (INTC 21.82, -0.44) and Microsoft (MSFT 28.94, -1.35) settled with respective losses of 2.0% and 4.4%.

The news also weighed on chipmakers as the PHLX Semiconductor Index shed 0.4%. As a result of the broad sector weakness, the tech space was the only sector which settled in the red. The underperformance also weighed on the Nasdaq, which was unable to break away from its flat line.

Excluding technology, the other nine sectors ended with gains as health care and consumer discretionary stocks paced today's advance.

While the discretionary space saw strength across the board, retailers stood out. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 72.97, +1.43) jumped 2.0% despite less-than-stellar same store sales reports from several companies. Although six retailers reported same store sales below the Retail Metrics Consensus, only two settled in the red.

The retail space will be in focus once again tomorrow when the census bureau sheds some light on March retail sales. The consensus expects an unchanged reading to follow February's increase of 1.1%.

Although the broader market ended higher, today's leadership was mixed. Two of the recent leaders, health care and transports, finished with different results. Health care was atop the leaderboard while the Dow Jones Transportation Average lagged.

The 20-stock index ended lower by 0.3% as truckers were stuck in reverse. Con-way (CNW 34.28, -0.58) and JB Hunt (JBHT 74.22, -0.65) both lost near 1.0%. Although the bellwether complex has been one of the top performers year-to-date, the Transportation Average is down 1.5% so far this month.

Notably, the financial sector outperformed intraday, but saw some weakness into the close. JPMorgan Chase (JPM 49.31, +0.06) and Wells Fargo (WFC 37.51, -0.06) ended little changed with the two scheduled to report their first quarter earnings ahead of tomorrow's opening bell.

Volume was below average as 643 million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Today's economic data was limited to weekly initial claims as well as import and export prices.

After two weeks of elevated initial claims readings, claims settled back down below 350,000 for the week ending April 6. The initial claims level fell to 346,000 from an upwardly revised 388,000 (from 385,000) for the week ending March 30. The consensus expected the initial claims level to fall to 365,000.

The drop in claims does not represent a strengthening in labor conditions.

The Department of Labor has difficulty adjusting the data from the seasonal biases related to the changing Easter holiday. The bump up in claims last week was the result of poor seasonal adjustments accounting for Easter occurring earlier in the year than normal.

Export prices, excluding agriculture, decreased by 0.2% in March after they had increased 0.6% during the prior month. Excluding oil, import prices declined 0.2%, which follows last month's unchanged reading.

Tomorrow, March retail sales, retail sales ex-auto, PPI, and core PPI will all be reported at 8:30 ET. In addition, the preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey for April as well as February business inventories will be released at 9:55 ET and 10:00 ET, respectively. 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.