Day Traders Diary


Remember last week's rally effort following the pronouncement from the FOMC that it will be patient in raising the fed funds rate? Well, it's not over yet. The stock market on Monday continued its winning ways with each of the major indices adding to their gains. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed at new all-time highs.

Throughout Monday's trading, there was a clear preference for owning Dow Jones Industrial Average stocks. Our sense of things is that participants were favoring these names for their liquidity, which is optimal in the event positions need to be exited quickly, and for their appeal as conservative options to participate in further upside should the year-end rally continue.

Either way, it was a good day for the price-weighted average, which saw 27 of its 30 components advance. IBM (IBM 161.45, +2.94) was the biggest price mover while Intel (INTC 37.22, +0.85), up 2.3%, was the biggest percentage gainer.

Those stocks helped lead the information technology sector (+1.1%), which was the best-performing sector in the S&P 500. Its gains helped offset weakness in the health care (-1.2%) and energy (-1.0%) sectors.

Health care was weak due in large part to a large loss in Gilead Sciences (GILD 92.90, -15.55), which followed reports that pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts (ESRX 82.34, +1.37) is going to displace Gilead's hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, in favor of a less expensive offering from AbbVie (ABBV 66.96, -0.75), Viekira Pak, which recently won FDA approval and will become the exclusive option in the formulary for patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C.

Essentially, the decision by Express Scripts created some angst about potential pricing pressures for the drug makers. Not all drug makers were weak on Monday, yet Merck (MRK 58.95, -0.63) was one of Dow's three losers, which also included Chevron (CVX 112.05, -0.88), and ExxonMobil (XOM 93.31, -0.33).

The energy sector traded in negative territory throughout the day, pressured by a renewed drop in oil and natural gas prices. WTI crude futures dipped 3.3% to $55.27/bbl while natural gas futures, hit with forecasts for warmer winter temperatures ahead in the northeast, plunged 8.2% to $3.18/btu.

Commodities in general were weak on Monday with a stronger dollar pressuring some of the action. To that end, gold futures slipped 2.0% to $1172.60/troy ounce; meanwhile, copper futures fell 0.4% to $2.87/lb.

There didn't appear to be any abject concerns in the stock market about the weakness in commodity prices signaling economic trouble ahead. Granted the materials sector (0.05%) underperformed, yet the industrials (+0.9%), consumer discretionary (+0.9%), and financial (+0.6%) sectors outperformed.

Interestingly, the 10-yr Treasury note battled back from modest losses and went out at its highs for the day as stocks were advancing into the close to finish at their best levels of the session. The highs weren't that high for the Treasury market. The 10-yr note was unchanged at 2.165%, yet its steady state didn't necessarily reflect the same amount of confidence in the outlook that the stock market's continued gains did.

A weaker-than-expected Existing Home Sales report for November, which showed a 6.1% decline in homes sold from October to an annualized rate of 4.93 million units ( consensus 5.20 mln), lent a measure of support to the Treasury market.

Tuesday will feature an extensive lineup of economic releases that includes the Durable Orders, Third Estimate for Q3 GDP, Personal Income and Spending, University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment, and New Home Sales reports.

Volume was on the lighter side of recent averages as 772 million shares traded at the NYSE.

Nasdaq Composite +14.5% YTD
S&P 500 +12.5% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average +8.3%
Russell 2000 +3.1% YTD

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