Day Traders Diary


The stock market ended Wednesday on a lower note after enduring a shaky session. The S&P 500 lost 0.6% after failing to overtake its 100-day moving average (2,038) for the second day in a row. Just like yesterday, the Nasdaq Composite (-0.8%) underperformed while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.3%) displayed relative strength.


Equities began the day with modest gains, but the S&P 500 notched its high during the opening minutes of the session and returned to its flat line in short order. The index traded just above the unchanged level into the afternoon, but slid to lows shortly after 13:00 ET. The S&P 500 staged a late charge to its flat line, but could not overtake that level, dropping to a new low instead.


Although the market spent another day inside a relatively narrow range (21 S&P points), the same could not be said about the health care sector, which ended lower by 0.9% after showing a 1.0% gain at the start that briefly morphed into a 2.5% decline. The intraday volatility was brought on by a swoon in the biotech space after Citron Research published a report on Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX 118.61, -28.13), calling into question the company's relationship with Philidor RX, which is a specialty pharmacy. According to Citron, Valeant appears to have created a network of specialty pharmacies modeled after Philidor, whose purpose was to generate phantom sales of VRX products. Shares of Valeant were down nearly 40.0% during afternoon action, but they narrowed their loss to 19.2% after a brief trading halt was lifted. Valeant responded to Citron's allegations during the trading halt, calling them "erroneous." It is worth noting that the afternoon rebound was aided by comments from fund manager Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management who told CNBC that his fund bought an additional two million shares in VRX today. As for the remainder of the biotech space, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 304.48, -1.48) ended off its low, but still surrendered 0.5%. Notably, Biogen (BIIB 276.34, +10.53) spiked 4.0% after the company beat estimates, raised its guidance, and announced a restructuring plan.


Similar to the health care sector, energy (-1.0%), materials (-0.9%), and technology (-0.8%) ended among the laggards while most of the remaining sectors fared a bit better. The top-weighted technology sector settled behind the broader market, which masked a 0.2% uptick in the PHLX Semiconductor Index after SanDisk (SNDK 76.78, +1.59) agreed to be acquired by Western Digital (WDC 71.44, -3.42) for $86.50/share. Shares of SanDisk jumped 2.1% while another index component—KLA-Tencor (KLAC 63.98, +10.12)—surged 18.8% after agreeing to be acquired by Lam Research (LRCX 70.79, +0.76) for $67.02/share.


On the upside, the industrial sector (+0.1%) displayed relative strength throughout the day thanks to a 1.6% gain in Boeing (BA 141.19, +2.31) after the Dow component reported better than expected results and boosted its guidance.


Unlike stocks, Treasuries advanced into the afternoon, holding the bulk of their gains into the close with the 10-yr yield sliding four basis points to 2.03%.


Today's participation was in line with average as more than 830 million shares changed hands at the NYSE floor. Economic data was limited to the weekly MBA Mortgage Index, which jumped 11.8% to follow last week's 27.6% plunge.


Tomorrow, weekly Initial Claims ( consensus 265,000) will be released at 8:30 ET while the August FHFA Housing Price Index will cross the wires at 9:00 ET. Also of note, September Leading Indicators (consensus -0.1%) and Existing Home Sales (expected 5.39 million) will be reported at 10:00 ET.


Nasdaq Composite +2.2% YTD

S&P 500 -1.9% YTD

Dow Jones Industrial Average -3.7% YTD

Russell 2000 -4.9% YTD

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