Day Traders Diary


The stock market ended the midweek session on a modestly lower note. The Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) was the weakest performer while the S&P 500 shed 0.1% with seven sectors ending in the red.

The benchmark index held a slim gain at the start, but spent the day in a slow retreat that featured a brief afternoon spike to lows after the Federal Open Market Committee released its latest policy statement. As expected, the statement called for the final $15 billion taper, thus putting a stop to scheduled purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.

Meanwhile, the commentary on rates was little changed from previous directives with the Fed maintaining its reference to keeping the fed funds rate at its current level for a 'considerable time.' Minneapolis Fed President Kocherlakota was the lone dissenter, voting to keep the asset purchase program intact.

Equities handled the initial impact of the announcement relatively well with the S&P 500 finishing about two points above its pre-FOMC levels. Treasuries, meanwhile, ended mixed. The FOMC announcement sent the complex to lows, but the 30-yr bond surged to new highs ahead of the close to pressure its yield one basis point to 3.05%. For its part, the 10-yr note reclaimed its post-FOMC losses with the benchmark yield ending higher by two basis points at 2.32%. Also of note, the 2-yr note settled near its low with its yield higher by six basis points at 0.49%.

The dollar was also on the move, rallying against all other major currencies. The Dollar Index (85.99, +0.59) gained 0.7% to end within a point of its October high (86.87).

Seven sectors finished in the red with the spike in short-term rates helping financials (+0.2%) settle in the lead. Most of the remaining cyclical groups ended behind the broader market while technology (-0.2%) finished near the S&P 500. The top-weighted sector component, Apple (AAPL 107.34, +0.60), added 0.6% while social media names lagged after Facebook (FB 75.86, -4.91) reported earnings. Shares of FB plunged 6.1% with above-consensus earnings being overshadowed by concerns about increased spending plans and slowing revenue growth. Peers Twitter (TWTR 42.08, -1.70), LinkedIn (LNKD 199.51, -5.84), and Yelp (YELP 56.68, -2.43) also lagged, falling between 2.8% and 4.1%.

Elsewhere among cyclical sectors, the materials space (-1.3%) spent the entire session at the bottom of the leaderboard while energy (-0.2%) outperformed. The growth-sensitive group received a helping hand from crude oil, which climbed 1.0% to $82.18/bbl. On the earnings front, Hess (HES 82.89, +0.94) rallied 1.2% in reaction to better than expected results.

Staying on the earnings theme, Gilead Sciences (GILD 110.75, -2.70), which is a major component of the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 290.63, -3.32), fell 2.4% after beating estimates on below-consensus sales of one of its major drugs. Biotechnology weighed on the Nasdaq Composite while the health care sector (+0.03%) registered a slim gain.

Economic data released this morning was limited to the weekly MBA Mortgage Index, which fell 6.6% to follow last week's 11.6% spike.

Tomorrow, weekly Initial Claims ( consensus 284,000) and the advance reading of Q3 GDP (consensus 3.0%) will both be released at 8:30 ET.

Nasdaq Composite +8.9% YTD
S&P 500 +7.3% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average +2.4% YTD
Russell 2000 -1.5% YTD

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