Day Traders Diary


The stock market ended the Wednesday session on an upbeat note despite enduring a shaky start. The S&P 500 spiked 1.8% with the bulk of the gain coming after the release of the FOMC minutes from the September meeting.

Equity indices began the day near their flat lines following another reminder about slowing global growth. To that point, China's HSBC Services PMI slipped to 53.5 from 54.1 (expected 53.8), but remained above 50.0, which marks the difference between expansion and contraction.

The first half of the session saw a brief dip into the red that was fueled by weakness in the energy sector. At its lowest level, the group was down near 2.0% with crude oil exerting pressure on the sector. Crude fell 1.3% to $87.67/bbl, while the sector ended with a solid gain (+1.0%) after the FOMC minutes sparked an afternoon rally that likely featured a short-covering component.

Most notably, the minutes acknowledged that growth concerns overseas could have an impact on the U.S. through a strengthening dollar, which would lead to a decline in inflation expectations. This was viewed as an indication that the Fed would not rush to raise the fed funds rate, but instead maintain its accommodative policy stance. Treasuries spiked from lows to new highs in response (10-yr yield -3 bps to 2.31%) while the Dollar Index (85.27, -0.40) slumped to a two-week low.

The dovish-sounding statement was accompanied by yet another reminder that economic data would serve as the driving force behind future policy changes. That being said, the overall tenor of the key passages suggests the Fed isn't convinced recent progress toward its objectives can be sustained.

Accordingly, the prospects of continued easy-money policy resulted in a broad-based rally with high-beta groups leading the way. Chipmakers soared with Intel (INTC 34.27, +0.80) climbing 2.4%, while the broader PHLX Semiconductor Index gained 2.3% to narrow this week's loss to 0.5%. For its part, the technology sector (+2.0%) ended the day ahead of the remaining cyclical groups. Germany-based business software developer SAP (SAP 69.21, -1.20) bucked the trend, falling 1.7% amid speculation the company will implement a hiring freeze until 2015.

Elsewhere among cyclical sectors, industrials settled in-line with the market, but that concealed the underperformance of transport stocks. The Dow Jones Transportation Average gained 1.0%, but despite today's advance, the bellwether complex remains down 2.7% since last Friday versus no change for the S&P 500.

On the countercyclical side, the telecom services sector (+0.1%) edged into the green just before the close, while consumer staples (+1.4%), health care (+2.5%), and utilities (+2.2%) posted stronger gains.

The staples sector received a measure of support from Costco (COST 128.73, +3.46), which reported better than expected results. As for health care, the sector received help from biotechnology with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 274.13, +7.51) surging 2.8%.

Today's session invited above-average participation with roughly 900 million shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.

Economic data released this morning was limited to the weekly MBA Mortgage Index, which rose 3.8% to follow last week's downtick of 0.2%.

Tomorrow, weekly Initial Claims ( consensus 295K) will be released at 8:30 ET, while the Wholesale Inventories report for August (consensus 0.3%) will cross the wires at 10:00 ET.

Nasdaq Composite +7.0% YTD
S&P 500 +6.5% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average +2.5% YTD
Russell 2000 -5.8% YTD

All comments contained herein are for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as a solicitation to buy or sell any security. The firm does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information or make any warranties regarding results from it's usage.