Day Traders Diary


Equity indices settled on their lows following a steady, session-long slide. Similar to yesterday, small-caps paced the retreat as the Russell 2000 fell 1.6%, extending its December loss to 3.6%. The S&P 500 settled lower by 1.1%, widening its month-to-date decline to 1.3%.
There was no specific news catalyst behind today's slide, which had the markings of broad-based profit-taking. Seven of ten sectors settled with losses of 1.0% or more while only two groups finished above their respective lows.
Top-weighted financial (-1.5%) and health care (-1.6%) sectors trailed throughout the session, which emboldened sellers and prevented dip-buyers from turning the tide. Interestingly, the largest S&P 500 sector, technology, outperformed with a loss of 0.9% even as the tech-heavy Nasdaq (-1.4%) lagged.
The outperformance of the tech sector was largely due to big gains in the shares of MasterCard (MA 790.57, +26.96) and Visa (V 205.66, +6.23). The pair posted respective gains of 3.5% and 3.1% after MasterCard announced a 10-1 stock split, increased its quarterly dividend by 83.0%, and announced a new share repurchase program in the amount of $3.50 billion. Furthermore, Visa's strength contributed to outperformance of the price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.8%).
Even though the Dow outperformed, only five index components finished in positive territory and Visa was the only listing that added more than 1.0%. Other advancers included Coca-Cola (KO 40.13, +0.28) and Procter & Gamble (PG 84.02, +0.37) while the broader consumer staples sector eked out a gain of 0.2%.
Finding shades of green in other areas proved particularly difficult today as bonds and commodities sold off. The 10-yr note fell 10 ticks, sending its yield higher by four basis points to 2.84%. Crude oil (-1.1% to $97.40) and gold futures (-0.7% to $1252.50/ozt) also retreated while copper bucked the trend, climbing 0.6% to $3.286/pound.
With stocks ending on their lows, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 15.36, +1.45) finished at its highest level since mid-October.
Participation was right in-line with average as just over 725 million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Among news of note, negotiators in Washington secured a two-year budget agreement that aims to reduce sequester cuts by $63 billion and lower the deficit by roughly $20 billion. The deal has yet to receive full Congressional approval with votes in the House and the Senate expected to take place next week.
The weekly MBA Mortgage Index ticked up 1.0% following last week's 12.8% fall.
Separately, the Treasury budget deficit declined to $135.20 billion in November from $172.10 billion in November 2012. Since the data are not seasonally adjusted, the November deficit cannot be compared to the decline in October. The consensus expected the budget deficit to fall to $140.00 billion.
The Congressional Budget Office released their budget preview earlier in the week and predicted a shortfall of $140 billion. The market was well aware of the CBO's forecast, therefore the reaction to the budget data was limited.
Tomorrow, weekly initial claims, November Retail Sales, and November export prices ex-agriculture and import prices ex-oil will all be reported at 8:30 ET. The day's data will be topped off with the 10:00 ET release of the October Business Inventories report.

Nasdaq +32.6% YTD
Russell 2000 +29.7% YTD
S&P 500 +25.0% YTD
DJIA +20.9% YTD 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.