Day Traders Diary


The stock market registered a midweek gain with the S&P 500 climbing 0.6% to a fresh record high at 2,023.57. The benchmark index maintained a ten-point range while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.1%) spent the bulk of the day near its flat line.

Equities climbed at the start after yesterday's midterm elections in the U.S. altered the balance of power in Washington. The GOP picked up seven Senate seats to claim a 52-seat majority while also adding ten seats to their majority in the House of Representatives.

In addition to giving a small overnight boost to index futures, the news helped the Dollar Index (87.45, +0.47) climb to a new multi-year high at the expense of the yen (-105 pips) and the euro (-60 pips).

Strikingly, the dollar strength did not get in the way of a rally in crude oil. The energy component surged 2.0% to $78.73/bbl with an intraday boost following reports of a diesel pipeline explosion in Saudi Arabia. However, follow-up headlines indicated the pipeline did not explode, but caught fire during maintenance work.

The spike in oil served as a supportive factor for the energy sector (+1.7%), which outperformed from the start of the session. Better than expected results from EOG Resources (EOG 96.10, +5.82) also factored into the strength, sending the stock higher by 6.5%.

Meanwhile, the remaining cyclical groups were not nearly as strong. The materials sector (+0.9%) outperformed while financials (+0.6%) and industrials (+0.6%) caught up to the S&P 500 during the final hour of the session. For its part, technology (+0.3%) was limited to a small gain as large cap names like Facebook (FB 74.83, -0.93), Google (GOOGL 555.95, -8.24), and IBM (IBM 161.82, -0.83) weighed. Intel (INTC 33.76, -0.55) also lagged, falling 1.6%, but the broader PHLX Semiconductor Index gained 0.9%.

Even though chipmakers displayed strength, that was not enough to keep the Nasdaq out of negative territory. Biotechnology pressured the index and the group's weakness caused the health care sector (-0.2%) to finish in the red. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 288.54, -4.80) settled lower by 1.6%.

Elsewhere among countercyclical sectors, consumer staples (+0.7%) and utilities (+2.3%) displayed strength while the telecom services sector (+0.2%) ended little changed. Consumer staples were underpinned by better than expected earnings from Mondelez (MDLZ 37.15, +2.12) while utilities rallied with help from Duke Energy (DUK 83.50, +1.27). The stock gained 1.5% despite missing earnings and revenue estimates.

Treasuries spent the bulk of the session in the red, but returned to their flat lines by the end of the day. The 10-yr yield ended at 2.34%.

Participation was ahead of average with more than 770 million shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.

Economic data included ADP Employment, ISM Services, and the MBA Mortgage Index:

The ADP National Employment Report revealed that employment in the nonfarm private business sector rose 230K in October while the consensus expected an increase of 220K
The September reading was revised up to 225,000 from 213,000
The ISM Services Index dropped to 57.1 in October from 58.6 while the consensus expected a decline to 58.0
Even though the services sector data softened more than expected, the index remains at an elevated position and in-line with expansionary trends
The weekly MBA Mortgage Index fell 2.6% to follow last week's 6.6% drop
Tomorrow, the Challenger Job Cuts report for October will be released at 7:30 ET while weekly Initial Claims ( consensus 285K) and Q3 Productivity/Unit Labor Costs data will cross the wires at 8:30 ET.

Nasdaq Composite +10.6% YTD
S&P 500 +9.5% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average +5.5% YTD
Russell 2000 +0.3% YTD

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