Day Traders Diary


The stock market slumped on Monday as the S&P 500 ended lower by 0.7% with seven sectors in the red. The price-weighted Dow (-0.6%) finished a little ahead of the benchmark index while the Nasdaq (-0.8%) and Russell 2000 (-1.3%) lagged.

Equity markets around the world started the new week on a mostly lower note. However, continued hopes for stimulus from the PBoC sent China's Shanghai Composite higher by 2.8% to extend its gain over the past month to 25.0%. The advance took place after the latest trade data showed a better than expected surplus of $54.47 billion, which resulted from a 6.7% drop in imports (expected +3.5%). Hopes for additional stimulus were also present in Europe, but the key indices there could not stay out of the red amid weakness in growth-sensitive listings.

Fittingly, cyclical sectors were also responsible for the weakness in the U.S. with energy (-3.9%) taking it on the chin amid another decline in crude oil. The sector gave back its entire advance from last week while Chevron (CVX 106.80, -4.07) and ExxonMobil (XOM 91.70, -2.12) lost 3.7% and 2.3%, respectively. As for crude oil, the energy component plunged 5.5% to $63.10/bbl, which represents the lowest level since August 2009. Oil was not the only weak spot among commodities as copper and iron ore also retreated following China's trade data. This kept the pressure on the materials sector (-1.6%), which settled only ahead of energy.

Elsewhere, the technology sector (-1.2%) held up relatively well through the morning, but slipped into the afternoon amid broad weakness. Apple (AAPL 112.40, -2.60), Intel (INTC 37.21, -0.46), and Microsoft (MSFT 47.70, -0.73) lost between 1.2% and 2.3% while the PHLX Semiconductor Index sank 1.4%.

Also of note, the consumer discretionary sector (-0.8%) underperformed with shares of McDonald's (MCD 92.61, -3.70) diving 3.8% after the fast food giant reported a 2.2% decline in global comparable store sales in November, paced by a 4.6% decline in U.S. sales.

Although cyclical sectors were responsible for the bulk of the weakness, financials (+0.4%) tried to resist the broad pressure. The sector climbed through the first two hours of action, but returned in the middle of its range by the close to maintain its market-leading December gain of 2.2%.

Meanwhile, the second-best performer of the monthhealth care (+0.3%)followed the same pattern as financials. The sector received an early boost from biotechnology after Merck (MRK 61.88, +0.39) agreed to acquire Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST 100.60, +26.24) for $102/share, which represents a 35.0% premium to CBST's average stock price over the past five days. Cubist soared 35.3% while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 313.79, +4.98) jumped 1.6% to a new record high.

Treasuries ended the day near their highs with the 10-yr yield slipping five basis points to 2.26%. However, the front of the curve saw little change with the 2-yr yield slipping one basis point to 0.64%.

For its part, the Dollar Index (89.16, -0.18) took a step back from its multi-year high, but the index is still up more than 11.5% since May. That strength has prompted the Bank of International Settlements to issue a warning about the rising dollar and the potential impact to $1.1 trillion in dollar-denominated loans held by Chinese banks. The BIS said that continued dollar strength increases the potential for a credit shock being sent through East Asia.

Today's participation was in-line with average as roughly 794 million shares changed hands at the NYSE floor.

Tomorrow's economic data will be limited to October Wholesale Inventories ( consensus 0.2%) and October JOLTS with both reports set to be released at 10:00 ET.

Nasdaq Composite +13.5% YTD
S&P 500 +11.5% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average +7.7% YTD
Russell 2000 +0.3% YTD

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