Day Traders Diary


The major averages ended today's session on a mixed note. The Dow shed 0.3% while Nasdaq and S&P 500 ended flat.

Defensively-oriented groups were among the leaders of the first-quarter market rally. Today, however, three defensive sectors finished firmly lower after top-line results from major components failed to justify the considerable first-quarter gains.

Consumer staples, telecom, and health care sectors all registered losses of at least 1.7%.

Consumer staples lagged after Procter & Gamble (PG 77.12, -4.82) reported revenue below the Capital IQ consensus estimate. In addition, the company issued cautious fourth quarter earnings and revenue guidance.

Elsewhere, telecoms were pressured by AT&T (T 37.04, -1.96) after the carrier missed on revenue. In addition, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley both downgraded the stock.

The top performing sector of the year, health care, declined steadily throughout the day after Amgen (AMGN 104.93, -7.83), Edwards Lifesciences (EW 64.60, -18.21), and Eli Lilly (LLY 56.05, -2.28) all reported below-consensus revenues.

In addition, Amgen's 6.9% decline weighed on biotech companies as iShares Nasdaq Biotech ETF (IBB 169.67, -5.11) settled lower by 2.9%.

The underperformance of biotechnology names kept the Nasdaq near its flat line even as technology stocks displayed relative strength. Apple (AAPL 405.46, -0.67) ended little changed after beating on earnings and revenue. Although the company's results surprised to the upside, its gross margin was reported on the low end of estimates. In addition, Apple lowered its third quarter revenue and gross margin guidance below consensus. Also of note, the company raised its quarterly dividend by 15%. However, the increased capital return program will be funded by taking on debt rather than repatriating its cash, which would be subject to U.S. corporate taxes.

Chipmakers were some of the top performing tech components after Broadcom (BRCM 35.08, +2.11) topped its earnings and revenue estimates. Meanwhile, the broader PHLX Semiconductor Index rose 1.3%.

While the best performing sectors of the first quarter ended firmly lower, three notable Q1 laggards ended in the lead. Energy, industrials, and materials all settled with gains of at least 1.0%.

The economically-sensitive groups were aided by a rebound in commodities. Crude oil ended higher by 2.8% at $91.63 per barrel while copper rose 2.4% to $3.166 per pound, and gold climbed 1.5% to $1429.70 per troy ounce.

Industrials received added support from defense stocks after General Dynamics (GD 71.73, +4.63) beat on earnings. Meanwhile, the broader PHLX Defense Index advanced 1.6%.

Today's volume was right in-line with its 200-day moving average as 706 million shares traded hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Durable goods orders continued their streak of sizable up-and-down movements in March. Orders fell 5.7% after increasing a downwardly revised 4.3% (from 5.6%) in February. The consensus expected orders to fall 3.1%.

The wild swings in orders over the last few months have been the result of big moves in aircraft orders. In March, total aircraft orders -- defense and nondefense -- fell 43.5% after increasing 65.0% in February.

Excluding transportation, orders fell 1.4% after dropping a downwardly revised 1.7% (from -0.7%) in February. The consensus expected these orders to remain flat.

The weekly MBA Mortgage Index rose 0.2% to follow last week's increase of 4.8%.

Tomorrow, weekly initial and continuing claims will be reported at 8:30 ET. Among earnings of note, 3M (MMM 107.87, +0.48), Exxon Mobil (XOM 89.43, +0.13), and UPS (UPS 83.50, -0.24) will report their results before the opening bell.

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