Day Traders Diary


The stock market completed an abbreviated trading week on a flat note as the sleepy Thursday session produced a slightly lower finish for the S&P 500 (-0.2%) while the Nasdaq Composite (+0.1%) settled just above its flat line. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 2.8% and the Nasdaq advanced 2.6%.


The Thursday half-session had the makings of a range-bound affair from the start, considering index futures spent the night inside narrow ranges. The overnight action saw mixed trade in Asia while yen strength pressured the dollar/yen pair to 120.30, where the pair traded through the New York session. Similarly, the few European markets that were open ended the day on a mixed note and there was no news on the Spanish political front.


Once the opening bell rang, the energy sector (-0.9%) slumped to the bottom of the leaderboard and remained there into the close. The sector halved its loss intraday, but returned to its low by the end of the day while crude oil climbed 1.6% to $38.08/bbl. Despite today's decline, the energy sector gained 4.8% for the week and crude oil advanced nearly 10.0%.


Outside of energy, the remaining sectors spent the bulk of the session near their flat lines, climbing into the green during the final hour; however, a late wave of selling sent the entire market to its opening low. The health care sector (+0.1%) settled in the lead thanks to strength in biotechnology. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 339.79, +1.12) climbed 0.3%, which kept the Nasdaq ahead of the S&P 500 throughout the day.


To be fair, the Nasdaq also drew strength from chipmakers, evidenced by a 0.4% gain in the PHLX Semiconductor Index. Meanwhile, the broader technology sector (-0.1%) was held back by large cap names like Apple (AAPL 108.03, -0.58), Alphabet (GOOGL 765.84, -2.67), and Microsoft (MSFT 55.67, -0.15).


Above all, today's session saw very limited participation with fewer than 400 million shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.


Treasuries are on track to register slim gains with the bond market set to close in an hour. The 10-yr yield is lower by a basis point at 2.25%.


The weekly initial claims report was slightly better than expected, with claims for the week ending December 19 dropping by 5,000 to 267,000 ( consensus 271,000). However, it was no different from what has been seen in these weekly reports for some time. Initial claims have been bounded between 250,000 and 300,000 since July 2014. The four-week moving average for initial claims increased by 1,750 to 272,500.


Continuing claims for the week ending December 12 decreased by 47,000 to 2.195 million ( consensus 2.238 mln). That left the four week moving average at 2.211 million, up 10,000 from the prior week.


Investors will not receive any economic data on Monday.


Nasdaq Composite +6.6% YTD

S&P 500 +0.1% YTD

Dow Jones Industrial Average -1.5% YTD

Russell 2000 -4.3% YTD

Week in Review: Stocks Trot Higher on Light Volume

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