Day Traders Diary


The major averages eked out modest gains on Thursday after spending the day inside narrow ranges. The S&P 500 gained 0.4% while the Nasdaq Composite (+0.1%) underperformed. The market ended the abbreviated week on a mixed note with the S&P 500 adding 0.3% while the Nasdaq shed 0.1% for the week.

Today's session was very quiet with the S&P 500 bouncing between its 100- (2,060) and 50-day moving averages (2,073). The index settled in the top half of its trading range, but it is worth noting that many participants chose to forego the session, evidenced by light trading volume. To that point, fewer than 700 million shares changed hands at the NYSE floor.

Still, nine of ten sectors registered gains with telecom services (+0.9%) spending the day ahead of its peers. Meanwhile, the remaining three countercyclical groups posted slimmer gains. Notably, the health care sector (+0.2%) registered a modest gain despite intraday weakness in biotechnology. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 339.70, -0.38) shed 0.1%.

The relative weakness in biotechnology kept the Nasdaq Composite behind the S&P 500 while high-beta chipmakers also lagged. Micron (MU 26.72, -0.41) lost 1.5% after reporting a bottom-line beat and issuing below-consensus revenue guidance while the broader PHLX Semiconductor Index slipped 0.3%.

Conversely, chipmakers also pressured the technology sector (-0.1%), which was the only group ending in the red. The modest loss was not entirely due to weakness among microchip names as several large cap components like Google (GOOGL 541.31, -8.18), Microsoft (MSFT 40.29, -0.43), and Qualcomm (QCOM 67.97, -1.46) dropped between 1.1% and 2.1%.

Elsewhere among cyclical groups, the energy sector (+0.2%) settled just above its flat line while crude oil endured a volatile session before ending lower by 1.8% at $49.10/bbl. On a related note, leaders from six countries and Iran agreed on a general framework for a deal that will require Iran to reduce its uranium stockpiles in exchange for the removal of sanctions that are currently in place. The deadline for the final agreement has been pushed back to June 30.

Also of note, the consumer discretionary sector (+0.9%) finished ahead of other cyclical groups thanks to broad strength. Homebuilders rallied with the iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction ETF (ITB 28.61, +0.48) climbing 1.7% while media names like CBS (CBS 61.16, +1.54), Comcast (CMCSA 57.94, +0.88), and Time Warner (TWX 85.00, +2.20) also posted solid gains.

Treasuries spent the day in a steady slide from their early morning highs, sending the 10-yr yield higher by five basis points to 1.91%.

Economic data included ISM Index, Construction Spending, ADP Employment, and MBA Mortgage Index:

The ADP National Employment Report revealed that employment in the nonfarm private business sector rose by 189K in March while the consensus expected an increase of 225K 

The February reading was revised up to 214,000 from 212,000

The ISM Manufacturing Index declined to 51.5 in March from 52.9 in February while the consensus expected a decrease to 52.5 

Nearly all of the regional manufacturing surveys pointed toward a sharp deceleration in the national manufacturing index so the drop in the ISM Index shouldn't have been much of a surprise

Production levels actually improved, albeit by a very small margin, as the related index increased to 53.8 in March from 53.7 in February

Construction spending declined 0.1% in February after declining a downwardly revised 1.7% (from -1.1%) in January while the consensus expected a decline of 0.3% 

The unseasonably harsh winter weather conditions, which were blamed for a significant downturn in new housing starts, had little to no effect on overall construction levels 

Total private construction increased 0.2% in February after declining 1.1% in January

The weekly MBA Mortgage Index rose 4.6% to follow last week's 9.5% spike

Tomorrow, the Nonfarm Payrolls report for March ( consensus 250K) will be released at 8:30 ET even though the stock market will be closed.


Nasdaq Composite +3.2% YTD

Russell 2000 +4.1% YTD

S&P 500 +0.4% YTD

Dow Jones Industrial Average -0.3% YTD

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