Day Traders Diary


Equities endured a rough end to the abbreviated week with the S&P 500 seeing its largest weekly loss since June 2012. The benchmark index fell 2.1%, extending its January decline to 3.1%.
The market spent the entire session in a steady slide amid continued concerns regarding China. Furthermore, participants kept a close eye on the foreign exchange market where emerging market currencies weakened while the Japanese yen saw its second consecutive day of gains. Dollar/yen fell below the 102.50 level after trading near 104.50 on Wednesday. The yen strength came about after Bank of Japan officials said the Japanese economy remains on track and there is no need for additional easing at this time. In turn, this posed a headwind to yen-based carry trades, which played a significant part in last year's market rally.
Like yesterday, the weakness began overnight; however, unlike yesterday, the aggressive selling did not start until the European session kicked off. Regional indices saw broad losses with peripheral markets leading the slide. Spain's IBEX plunged 3.6% while Italy's MIB fell 2.3%.
The overseas weakness set the tone for a lower start in U.S. equities with cyclical sectors leading the decline. Consumer discretionary (-1.9%) and technology (-2.1%) finished just ahead of the broader market thanks to the relative strength of Starbucks (SBUX 74.98, +1.59) and Microsoft (MSFT 36.80, +0.75) after both beat their bottom-line estimates.
Staying on the earnings theme, most of the reports received between yesterday's close and today's open were ahead of expectations but that mattered little to the broader market. However, Kansas City Southern's (KSU 99.49, -17.79) seven-cent miss mattered quite a bit as the stock plunged 15.2% while also weighing on the Dow Jones Transportation Average, which tumbled 4.1%. This marked the largest one-day loss for the bellwether complex since September 2011 as the broad liquidation resulted in 17 of 20 components posting losses in excess of 2.0%. Due to the sharp losses, the industrial sector (-3.1%) ended at the bottom of the leaderboard.
Elsewhere, financials (-2.3%) and materials (-2.7%) lagged while energy (-2.1%) ended in-line.
Meanwhile, defensive sectorssans health careoutperformed with losses between 0.9% and 1.1%. Procter & Gamble (PG 79.18, +0.94) contributed to the relative strength of the consumer staples sector after reporting a one-cent beat. For its part, the health care sector lost 2.3%.
Treasuries booked gains with the 10-yr yield ending lower by five basis points at 2.73%.
The aggressive selling fueled strong demand for volatility protection as indicated by a 30.0% surge in the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 17.89, +4.12), which ended at its highest level since October 15.
For the second day in a row, the selloff was accompanied by above-average volume as 902 million shares changed hands at the NYSE.
Monday's data will be limited to the December New Home Sales report, which will be released at 10:00 ET.

Nasdaq Composite -1.2% YTD
Russell 2000 -1.7% YTD
S&P 500 -3.1% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average -4.2% YTD

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