Day Traders Diary
The stock market ended an abbreviated week with a rally off its opening lows. Thanks to the final-hour push, the market ended the day on a mixed note as the S&P 500 (UNCH) recovered all but one point from its opening decline while the Nasdaq Composite (+0.1%) ended slightly above its flat line. Today's trade saw oil in focus, renewed strength from the dollar, and relative weakness from the financial sector (-0.7%). Separately, diverging commentary among Fed officials also impacted today's trade.
The cash market opened under selling pressure as oil slipped along international bourses. The tumble in the energy component followed yesterday's larger than expected build in crude stockpiles. This persistence of the supply glut took some shine off the commodity as WTI crude carved out fresh session lows during the opening half hour. However, oil was able to rally off those early levels, ending its pit session lower by 0.8% at $39.49/bbl.
Meanwhile, the economically-sensitive financial sector (-0.7%) saw pressure on two fronts as weaker-than-expected data overseas and at home weighed on the space. Domestically, February Durable Goods Orders (-2.8%; Briefing.com consensus -2.9%) disappointed investors as the report also contained a downward revision for the prior month.
Four sectors ended their day on a lower note as financials (-0.7%), industrials (-0.3%), and health care (-0.1%) led the downside. Meanwhile, telecom services (+1.0%), energy (+0.5%), and utilities (+0.3%) outperformed.
The commodity-sensitive energy space (+0.5%) was able to move from laggard to leader as oil rallied off its low throughout the session. Independent oil and gas names outperformed while pipeline companies and oilfield servicers ended on a mixed note. Meanwhile, Dow components Exxon Mobil (XOM 83.98, +0.23) and Chevron (CVX 94.85, +1.26) ended ahead of the price-weighted index.
In the financial sector (-0.7%), life insurance names underperformed while money center banks rebounded from their worst levels of the day. Meanwhile, PayPal (PYPL 38.92, -1.60) plunged 4.0% after Re/Code reported that Apple (AAPL 105.67, -0.46) is looking to expand it Apple Pay service to outside websites by the end of the year.
On the central bank front, St. Louis Fed President Bullard (FOMC voter) echoed his statements from yesterday when he said that a rate hike may not be "far off" if economic conditions evolve as expected. President Bullard again did not discount a rate hike at the FOMC's April meeting. This diverged from the latest policy statement, which struck a dovish tone by lowering long-term target rate projections.
In the consumer discretionary space (+0.1%), Amazon (AMZN 582.95, +13.32) led as it extended its week-to-date gain to 6.2%. Meanwhile, media names like Disney (DIS 97.22, +0.39) and Comcast (CMCSA 60.01, +0.76) also outperformed.
Conversely, airline names underperformed in the industrial sector (-0.3%). The space as a whole was likely facing some headwinds from the recent gain in the dollar and the weaker than expected durable goods orders for February. Furthermore, General Dynamics (GD 129.08, -5.24) slipped 3.9% after being downgraded to "Hold" at Deutsche Bank.
The U.S. Dollar Index (96.11, +0.11) ended modestly higher as the dollar gained against the yen. The dollar/yen rose 0.4% to 112.82.
The Treasury complex tumbled at the beginning of the session as equities moved off their lows. The yield on the 10-yr note increased two basis points to 1.90%.
Today's participation fell below the recent average as fewer than 870 million shares changed hands on the NYSE floor.
Today's economic data included weekly initial claims and Durable Goods Orders for February:
The initial claims data stayed true to its range-bound form. Initial claims for the week ending March 19 were 265,000 (Briefing.com consensus 268,000), up 6,000 from the prior week.
There were no special factors influencing initial claims, which have now run below 300,000 for 55 straight weeks, which is the longest such streak since 1973.
The four-week moving average for initial claims was little changed at 259,750.
Continuing claims for the week ending March 12 were 2.179 million, down 39,000 from the downward revision for the prior week.
The four-week moving average for this series fell 13,500 to 2.207 million.
The Durable Goods Orders report for February was a disappointment, partly because it contained downward revisions for January but also because almost every category, excluding transportation, registered a month-over-month decline in new orders.
Furthermore, orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft -- a proxy for business spending -- declined (-1.8%) while shipments of those goods (-1.1%), which factor into GDP forecasts, declined for the second straight month. Total durable orders fell 2.8% (Briefing.com consensus -2.9%) in February and were revised for January to show 4.2% growth versus the previously reported 4.8% growth. On a year-over-year basis, durable orders are up 2.6%.
Excluding transportation, orders were down 1.0% in February (Briefing.com consensus -0.2%) and were said to have increased 1.2% in January versus 1.8% before. On a year-over-year basis, orders excluding transportation are unchanged.
Markets will be closed tomorrow in observance of Good Friday. However, the third estimate of fourth quarter GDP (Briefing.com consensus +1.0%) will still be released at 8:30 ET.
Monday's economic data will include PCE Prices for February (Briefing.com consensus +0.2%), Personal Income for February (Briefing.com consensus +0.1%), and Personal Spending for February (Briefing.com consensus +0.1%), which will each cross the wires at 8:30 ET. Meanwhile, Pending Home Sales for February (Briefing.com consensus +1.1%) will be released at 10:00 ET.
Russell 2000 -5.0% YTD
Nasdaq Composite -4.7% YTD
S&P 500 -0.4% YTD
Dow Jones +0.5% YTD
All comments contained herein are for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as a solicitation to buy or sell any security. The firm does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information or make any warranties regarding results from it's usage.