Day Traders Diary


The stock market began the new trading week on an unassuming note. The S&P 500 (+0.1%) added just over a point while the Nasdaq (-0.4%) and Russell 2000 (-0.8%) underperformed throughout the session.

The benchmark index started under modest pressure, but was able to finish near its best level of day with help from countercyclical sectors. News from overseas contributed to the early weakness as Japan's preliminary GDP report for Q3 revealed the second consecutive decline (-0.4%; expected 0.5%), meaning the country is now in recession. The news gave an overnight boost to the yen, but the currency was back to unchanged against the dollar (116.20) by the start of the U.S. session. The yen weakened a bit during the session, sending the dollar/yen pair to 116.50.

Although the S&P 500 started in the red, the index was back near its flat line in the first hour with help from comments made by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. Mr. Draghi appeared in front of a European parliamentary committee and provided another reminder that the ECB stands ready to act if downside risks continue mounting.

The combination of Mr. Draghi's comments and the relative strength in countercyclical sectors kept the S&P 500 from dipping too far into the red. However, the index never climbed too far above its flat line either with participants reluctant to take on additional risk after an 11.2% rally over the past month. Below-average participation spoke to the cautious posture as fewer than 675 million shares changed hands at the NYSE floor.

As mentioned earlier, countercyclical sectors displayed strength with consumer staples (+0.6%), health care (+0.5%), and utilities (+1.3%) registering solid gains while the telecom services sector (-0.2%) underperformed.

The staples sector rallied behind Tyson Foods (TSN 43.01, +2.35), which spiked 5.8% in reaction to a bottom-line beat. Elsewhere, health care was underpinned by news indicating Actavis (ACT 247.94, +4.17) agreed to acquire Allergan (AGN 209.20, +10.55) for $219/share in cash and stock. Biotechnology displayed intraday strength, but the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 288.84, +0.67) narrowed its gain to 0.2% by the close.

M&A activity was not isolated to the health care sector as Halliburton (HAL 49.23, -5.85) agreed to acquire Baker Hughes (BHI 65.23, +5.34) for $78.62/share, representing a 40.8% premium to BHI's price on October 10 before the initial offer was made. As for energy, the sector narrowed its loss to 0.4%, but still ended at the bottom of the leaderboard. Crude oil registered another decline, sliding 0.3% to $75.61/bbl.

The remaining growth-sensitive sectors settled closer to their flat lines, but the relative weakness among chipmakers kept the Nasdaq in the red throughout the session. The PHLX Semiconductor Index lost 0.5% while the technology sector shed 0.2%.

Treasuries ended near their lows with the 10-yr higher by a basis point at 2.33%.

Tomorrow, October PPI ( consensus -0.2%) will be released at 8:30 ET while the NAHB Housing Market Index for November (consensus 55) will cross the wires at 10:00 ET.

Nasdaq Composite +11.8% YTD
S&P 500 +10.4% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average +6.5% YTD
Russell 2000 +0.1% YTD

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