Day Traders Diary


The stock market wrapped up a defensive week with a Friday plunge that sent the S&P 500 (-3.2%) lower by 65 points to levels not seen since late October. For the week, the S&P 500 lost 5.8% while the Nasdaq Composite underperformed, diving 3.5% today to extend its weekly decline to 6.8%.


Equities stumbled out of the gate as investor sentiment continued deteriorating after the overnight session included more selling in China with the Shanghai Composite falling 4.3% to extend its weekly decline to 11.2%. Continued concerns about the country's economy fueled today's dive after the preliminary Caixin Manufacturing PMI (47.1; consensus 47.7) dropped near 6.5-year lows while the output component dropped to 46.6, its lowest level in four years.


The selling pressure persisted through European trade and remained heavy during the New York session. The daylong retreat began with an opening dive that sent the S&P 500 lower by almost 20 points. The index followed that with an eight-point uptick, but that was met with a 30-point slide. Another rebound ensued, but the move was limited to 14 points, and followed by 17-point retreat. The index then strung a 12-point advance, but once again, that was retraced by a 35-point slide to a fresh low into the close.


All ten sectors registered losses with five groups losing 3.0% or more. Top-weighted sectors like technology (-3.8%), consumer discretionary (-3.2%), and health care (-3.0%) paced the daylong tumble while other heavily-weighted groups also contributed to the market-wide pressure.


The technology sector suffered from losses among large cap components with the likes of Apple (AAPL 106.05, -6.60), Google (GOOGL 644.03, -35.45), Facebook (FB 86.06, -4.50), Intel (INTC 26.58, -0.95), and Microsoft (MSFT 43.07, -2.59) diving between 3.5% and 5.9%. Unlike Intel, high-beta chipmakers held slimmer losses than the broader market during the day, but the PHLX Semiconductor Index ended lower by 2.7% due to heavy selling in the afternoon.


Elsewhere, the discretionary sector was broadsided by retailers while recent high-flyers like Amazon (AMZN 494.50, -21.28) and Netflix (NFLX 103.96, -8.53) lost 4.1% and 7.6%, respectively. The two listings contributed to the relative weakness in the Nasdaq while biotech names also retreated, but iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 339.84, -10.98) ended ahead of the Nasdaq with a 3.1% decline.


Also of note, the energy sector (-3.6%) finished near the bottom of the barrel as crude oil registered its eight consecutive weekly decline. The energy component fell 2.1%, settling at $40.45/bbl after briefly dipping below the $40.00/bbl mark. For the week, crude oil sank 6.2%.


The Friday drop caught many participants by surprise, evidenced by a daylong rally in the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 28.17, +9.03), which rocketed higher by nine points to levels last seen in mid-October as investors showed relentless demand for downside protection.


Interestingly, the considerable weakness in equities was not met by significant strength in the Treasury market. To be sure, Treasuries did advance, but the 10-yr note notched its high well before the low in stocks. As a result, the benchmark 10-yr yield fell two basis points to 2.05%.


Today's participation was well above average as more than 1.3 billion shares changed hands at the NYSE floor. It is worth noting that the total was boosted in part by flows related to August options expiration.


Investors did not receive any economic data today and Monday's session will also be quiet on the economic front.


Nasdaq Composite -0.6% YTD

S&P 500 -4.3% YTD

Russell 2000 -3.9% YTD

Dow Jones Industrial Average -7.7% YTD

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