Day Traders Diary


The S&P 500 ended higher by 0.5% despite enduring some intraday weakness while the Dow added 0.1%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.9%.

Technology stocks led from the start with Microsoft (MSFT 30.83, +1.06) providing considerable support after ValueAct announced a $2 billion stake in the software company. Other tech shares also displayed strength as Apple (AAPL 398.67, +8.14) climbed 2.1%.

Although most large tech names ended with gains, IBM (IBM 187.83, -2.17) shed 1.1% to follow Friday's earnings-driven 8.3% drop. Interestingly, General Electric (GE 21.35, -0.40) and McDonald's (MCD 99.32, -0.60) remained under pressure after the two also provided disappointing earnings on Friday.

The underperformance of those names weighed on the Dow, which spent the bulk of today's session in negative territory.

Two of the weakest sectors of the month, energy and materials, ended atop today's leaderboard. The energy space gained 1.0% as better-than-expected earnings from Halliburton (HAL 39.29, +2.08) and a 1.1% rise in crude oil provided support the sector.

Elsewhere, the materials space settled higher as gold miners shook off their recent weakness. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX 28.97, +0.38) gained 1.3% as gold futures rose 2.1% to $1425.20.

While precious metals were able to rebound from last week's selloff, copper remained under pressure. The red metal shed 0.6% as global growth concerns stayed on the minds of investors.

The ongoing growth concerns were echoed by Caterpillar's (CAT 82.71, +2.28) quarterly report, which missed on the earnings and revenue. In addition, the machinery producer lowered its full-year earnings and revenue guidance below consensus. Although Caterpillar ended higher, the industrial sector settled with a loss of 0.1%.

The utilities sector was the only other group which settled with a loss as the SPDR Utilities Select Sector ETF (XLU 40.68, -0.05) ended lower by 0.1%.

Today's volume was below average as just over 620 million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Reviewing the day's economic data, existing home sales fell 0.6% from a downwardly revised 4.95 million (from 4.98 million) in February to 4.92 million in March. The consensus expected existing home sales to increase to 5.01 million.

Inventories managed to eke out a small gain, rising 1.6% to 1.93 million. That represents a 4.7-month supply at the current sales rate, which is down from a 6.2-month supply a year ago. According to the National Association of Realtors, an ideal inventory level is around a 6-month supply.

Tomorrow, February FHFA Housing Price Index and March new home sales will be reported at 9:00 ET and 10:00 ET, respectively. Among earnings of note, Delta Air Lines (DAL 15.14, -0.12) and Johnson Controls (JCI 33.15, +0.51) will report their quarterly results ahead of the opening bell.

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