Day Traders Diary
6/23/14The major averages started the week on a quiet note with the S&P 500 shedding less than a point. To be fair, the slight downtick was a function of some profit taking after the benchmark index registered six consecutive gains.
Equity indices started the day in the red and maintained narrow ranges throughout the session. The S&P 500 tried to regain its flat line shortly after the open, but could not do so as three influential sectors weighed. Specifically, consumer staples (-0.6%), health care (-0.3%), and industrials (-0.6%) slumped out of the gate and pressured the market throughout the session.
Most notably, the industrial sector finished the trading day at the bottom of the leaderboard due to broad weakness among transport stocks. The Dow Jones Transportation Average lost 0.5% with 17 of 20 components ending in the red. The five airline stocks that comprise a portion of the index all lost more than 1.0% apiece with Southwest Airlines (LUV 26.92, -0.37) leading the retreat. Despite today's loss, the Transportation remained higher by 7.8% for the quarter.
Elsewhere, the health care sector stumbled amid relative weakness in biotechnology. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 252.91, -2.73) lost 1.1%, trimming its quarter-to-date gain to 7.0%.
Like the high-beta biotech space, chipmakers also displayed relative weakness after Advanced Micro Devices (AMD 4.01, -0.09) and NVIDIA (NVDA 18.71, -0.22) were both downgraded to 'Underperform' at Pacific Crest. The two stocks lost 2.2% and 1.2%, respectively, while the PHLX Semiconductor Index slipped 0.4%.
Meanwhile, large cap tech names held up well with the likes of Microsoft (MSFT 41.99, +0.31), Google (GOOGL 574.29, +7.77), and Oracle (ORCL 41.10, +0.28) climbing between 0.7% and 1.4%. For its part, Oracle rallied after announcing the acquisition of Micros (MCRS 67.98, +2.21) for $68/share.
Similar to the technology sector (+0.3%), five of the other six cyclical groups posted modest gains. Energy (+0.4%) outperformed throughout the session even as crude oil slid 0.6% to $106.18/bbl. The commodity-linked sector extended its June gain to 6.3%, while pushing its quarter-to-date advance to 12.9%.
The slim losses in equities encouraged participants to increase their demand for volatility protection, but the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 10.97, +0.12), which rose 1.1%, still finished near multi-year lows.
Treasuries, meanwhile, did not indicate safe haven demand as the 10-yr note slipped four ticks, which pushed the benchmark yield higher by one basis point to 2.62%.
Participation remained on the light side with just under 560 million shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.
Economic data was limited to the Existing Home Sales report for May:
- Existing home sales increased 4.9% in May to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 4.89 million from an upwardly revised 4.66 million SAAR (from 4.65 mln SAAR) in April. The Briefing.com consensus expected existing home sales to increase to 4.80 million SAAR.
- Mortgage rates, which had been moving higher for most of 2014, fell sharply over the last couple of months and helped boost sales growth, but year-over-year sales are still 5.0% below May 2013 levels.
- Purchases by first-time home buyers accounted for only 27% of all sales in May. That was down from 29% in April. First-time home buyers typically account for a third of home purchases during periods of normal sales trends. Tomorrow, the Case-Shiller 20-city Index (Briefing.com consensus 11.6%) and FHFA Housing Price Index will both be released at 9:00 ET, while New Home Sales for May (consensus 440K) and June Consumer Confidence (consensus 84.0) will be released at 10:00 ET.
- S&P 500 +6.2% YTD
- Nasdaq Composite +4.6% YTD
- Dow Jones Industrial Average +2.2% YTD
- Russell 2000 +1.9% YTD
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