Day Traders Diary


The headlines generally favored Tuesday being another good day for the stock market. Instead, it was just a mixed day with modest point changes on either side of the unchanged mark for the major indices.

For the most part, the stock market was a sideshow. The main trading events were seen in the commodity and Treasury markets, both of which saw some decent-sized losses within their respective complex.

Dollar strength was at the heart of the weakness in the commodity arena, which saw a 4.2% drop in natural gas futures to $3.90/btu, a 3.1% decline in oil prices to $92.96/bbl, and a 1.7% slide in gold prices to $1266.10/troy ounce.

The US Dollar Index increased 0.3% to 82.99 -- a 13-month high -- as the yen hit its weakest level (105.15) against the greenback since January; meanwhile, the euro was probing the 1.31 level, which was seen in September 2013.

The drop in commodity prices, and especially oil and natural gas, are positives for the consumer if they persist and should lead to more benign inflation readings that will provide a line of defense for the Federal Reserve's policy outlook. That is a positive consideration for longer-dated Treasuries. The fact that they traded down sharply on Tuesday went to show that the impetus for Tuesday's weak showing was primarily profit taking. The 10-yr note (-20/32) settled at its low for the day and saw its yield jump seven basis points to 2.42%. Presumably, a holiday weekend that did not feature a flare-up of geopolitical conflict also led to some unwinding of safety trades that had been established ahead of the weekend.

The latter point notwithstanding, it was not a "risk-on" trade in the stock market. It tried to run early. The S&P 500 even set a new intraday high at 2006.15 shortly after the start of trading. The follow-through was lacking, however, as participants were battling the notion that the market has gotten overextended on a short-term basis, as well as the recognition that some key, market-moving events are waiting at the back half of the week.

Specifically, the Bank of Japan, Bank of England, and ECB will all be holding policy meetings on Thursday and the US employment report for August will be released on Friday. The specter of those items overshadowed another spate of M&A news, which featured Dollar General (DG 64.36, +0.37) raising its all-cash bid for Family Dollar (FDO 80.22, +0.39) to $80 per share, the favorable impact on the consumer of lower energy prices, and some encouraging economic data that included the highest reading in the ISM Index (59.0) since March 2011 and a report that construction spending increased 1.8% in July.

Those things didn't go entirely unnoticed, however. The financial (+0.3%), industrial (+0.2%), and consumer discretionary (+0.2%) sectors all exhibited relative strength and helped keep losses in check. Remarkably, a weak earnings report electronics and appliance retaile Conns (CONN 31.00, -13.83) that was blamed in large part on weak credit trends did not take down the consumer discretionary sector.

The information technology sector (+0.1%) also outperformed. It got a boost from Apple (AAPL 103.30, +0.80), which shot down accusations its iCloud service got hacked, noting instead that certain celebrities were targeted in a direct attack on their user names and passwords.

Separately, there were some rumblings that there may have been a customer data breach at Home Depot (HD 91.15, -1.88) stores. That allegation sent the home improvement retailer lower and left it as one of the Dow's worst-performing components along with Chevron (CVX 127.54, -1.91), Boeing (BA 125.48, -1.32), and ExxonMobil (XOM 98.49, -0.97).

Losses in Chevron and Exxon weighed heavily on the energy sector (-1.3%), which was the worst-performing sector in the S&P 500. It was followed by the utilities sector (-1.0%), which traded lower as Treasury yields moved higher.

Volume remained on the light side with just 578 mln shares traded at the NYSE.

Wednesday's session will feature the Mortgage Applications, Factory Orders, Beige Book, and Auto Sales reports.
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