Day Traders Diary


Equity indices took a bit of a breather on Wednesday after the S&P 500 surged nearly 4.5% in the six sessions since February 3. The benchmark index shed less than a point while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2%.
Overall, the session was very quiet as the key averages respected narrow ranges. The S&P 500 spent the bulk of the trading day near its flat line while the Nasdaq (+0.2%) outperformed.
Similar to the major averages, most individual sectors never deviated too far from their unchanged levels. The largest S&P 500 sector, technology (+0.3%), finished in the lead thanks to chipmakers. Intel (INTC 24.55, +0.08) added 0.3% while the broader PHLX Semiconductor Index rose 0.9%.
Outside of technology, consumer discretionary (+0.1%) and industrials (+0.2%) were the only other advancers among cyclical groups. Defense contractors outperformed (PHLX Defense Index +0.5%) while Deere (DE 86.90, -0.56) fell 0.6% despite beating on earnings and revenue.
Also of note, two of yesterday's leadersenergy (-0.4%) and materials (-0.3%)finished among today's laggards. However, the pair still fared a bit better than the consumer staples sector, which lost 0.5% as tobacco names lagged after Lorillard (LO 47.47, -2.48) reported disappointing earnings.
Other countercyclical groups were little changed with telecom services (+0.3%) ending modestly higher while health care (-0.1%) and utilities (-0.1%) finished in the red.
Treasuries posted their third day of losses as the 10-yr yield rose three basis points to 2.76%. Interestingly, the retreat in one safe-haven asset was accompanied by an increase in another. Gold futures saw their fourth day of gains, climbing 0.4% to $1294.90/ozt.
Today's participation was well below average as less than 630 million shares changed hands at the NYSE.
Economic data was limited to just two reports:

The weekly MBA Mortgage Index slipped 2.0% to follow last week's uptick of 0.4%.
January Treasury Budget showed a deficit of $10.40 billion, which followed the prior month's surplus of $2.90 billion. The consensus expected the deficit to hit $10.00 billion.
Among overseas news of note, Italian Prime Minster Enrico Letta held a press conference amid increasing calls for his resignation, making way for the leader of the Democratic Party, Matteo Renzi. In his remarks, Mr. Letta asked for 'clarity,' saying, 'He who wants to replace me must be clear about his intentions.' Even though the political future of Italy remains uncertain, Italian stocks appeared unconcerned with the situation as the MIB gained 1.3%.

Tomorrow, weekly initial claims and January retail sales will be reported at 8:30 ET while the December Business Inventories report will cross the wires at 10:00 ET. Also of note, Fed Chair Janet Yellen was scheduled to appear before the Senate Banking Committee for the second part of the semiannual testimony on monetary policy, but the hearing has been postponed due to weather.

Nasdaq Composite +0.6% YTD
S&P 500 -1.6% YTD
Russell 2000 -2.5% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average -3.7% YTD

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