Day Traders Diary
5/13/12Equities ended the day little changed as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.2% while the Nasdaq added 0.1%. The S&P 500, for its part, ended flat.
Stocks registered losses at the open as Thursday's afternoon rumor turned into a Friday evening headline. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Reserve has begun to map out a plan to slow the pace of its asset purchase program.
However, the article did not provide any additional insight with regards to the timing of actual policy modification. Past comments from the Fed have indicated any changes would likely have to be preceded by a notable improvement in the labor market.
The S&P 500 notched its lows 90 minutes into the session before climbing back to its flat line. The index was able to make a brief appearance in the black, but with declining issues outpacing advancers, the S&P surrendered to the underlying currents.
The Nasdaq outperformed the broader market thanks to the relative strength of biotechnology. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 183.04, +3.02) continued its recent outperformance by adding 1.7%. Notably, the ETF is higher by 4.9% since last Thursday, and up 33.1% year-to-date.
Biotech names provided support for the health care space, which led throughout the day. Meanwhile, other defensively-oriented groups were mixed. The staples sector registered a slim gain while utilities and telecom ended with modest losses.
The utilities sector shed 0.6% to extend its recent weakness. The high-yielding space is down 4.7% in May.
While defensive groups saw mixed results, cyclical sectors ended generally lower with financials being the exception.
The SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF (XLF 19.31, +0.06) added 0.3% amid the outperformance from most majors. However, the relative strength of U.S. financials was not matched by their European counterparts. Banco Santander (SAN 7.05, -0.15) and Deutsche Bank (DB 46.98, -0.52) settled with respective losses of 2.1% and 1.1%.
Elsewhere, industrial shares lagged throughout the day as transportation-related names displayed weakness. Airlines and truckers pressured the Dow Jones Transportation Average, which lost 0.5%.
In the bond market, Treasuries ended with modest losses as the 10-yr yield rose two basis points to 1.925%.
Looking back at today's economic data, business inventories growth was flat for a second consecutive month in March. The Briefing.com consensus expected business inventories to increase 0.3%.
Inventory growth from manufacturers (0.0%) and merchant wholesalers (0.4%) was known prior to the release. The only new information was that retailer inventories declined 0.5% in March after increasing 0.2% in February.
Retail sales increased 0.1% in April after declining 0.5% in March. The Briefing.com consensus expected retail sales to decline 0.3%. The April employment report showed a 0.3% decline in aggregate wages. The increase in sales was a result of consumers reducing their savings rate. That may work in the short-run, but consumers are expected eventually to increase their savings rate back to 2012 levels. Unless income growth accelerates, retail sales growth will likely decelerate and possibly contract in the long-run.
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