Day Traders Diary


The major averages began the new trading week on a slightly lower note with small caps leading the weakness. The Russell 2000 shed 0.3% while the S&P 500 slipped less than a point with six sectors ending in the red.
Equity indices began the day in negative territory with only the Nasdaq (-0.04%) making a very brief appearance in the green. After sliding through the first hour of action, the major averages reversed and spent the remainder of the session climbing off their lows with help from the three top-weighted sectors. Health care and financials gained 0.4% and 0.04%, respectively, while technology (-0.1%) ended just below its flat line. Also contributing to the rebound was the energy sector, which added 0.2% even as crude oil fell 1.4% to $101.07/bbl.
The S&P 500 tried to regain its flat line, but came up just short as the weakness among consumer discretionary (-0.4%), industrials (-0.5%), and materials (-0.1%) sectors kept a lid on the attempted rally.
Although the materials sector accounts for less than 4.0% of the entire S&P 500, the group was a notable early laggard after China reported disappointing trade figures for February. The country's trade balance swung from a surplus to a deficit of $22.98 billion (expected surplus of $14.50 billion) as exports fell 18.1% (expected +6.8%) while imports grew 10.1% (consensus +8.0%). The big miss did not come without an excuse as the Lunar New Year, which took place at the start of the month, was cited for causing distortions to the report.
The trade figures put additional pressure on copper futures, which continued their recent weakness. The metal fell 1.3% to $3.042/lb after starting the year in the 3.400/lb area. Miners and steelmakers were also pressured with Freeport-McMoRan (FCX 31.38, -0.81) and Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX 43.87, -0.75) sliding 2.5% and 1.7%, respectively.
Elsewhere, the industrial space was pressured by Boeing (BA 126.89, -1.65), which lost 1.3% after a 777 jet operated by Malaysia Airlines vanished over the South China Sea during the weekend. Separately, a Tokyo-bound 787 from San Francisco was forced to make an emergency landing in Hawaii due to engine issues. Although the industrial space finished at the bottom of the leaderboard, transports fared a bit better. The Dow Jones Transportation Average shed 0.2%, trimming its March gain to 3.2%.
Also of note, the discretionary sector spent the duration of the session among the laggards. Homebuilders ended broadly lower with the iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction ETF (ITB 25.23, -0.49) falling 1.9%. Automakers also lagged with Ford (F 15.51, -0.11) and General Motors (GM 37.08, -0.61) ending lower by 0.7% and 1.6%, respectively.
The Treasury market spent the day inside a narrow range and the 10-yr yield slipped one basis point to 2.78%.
Trading volume was well below average with just over 615 million shares changing hands at the NYSE.
Tomorrow, the January Wholesale Inventories report will be released at 10:00 ET.

Nasdaq Composite +3.8% YTD
Russell 2000 +3.4% YTD
S&P 500 +1.6% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average -1.0% YTD

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