Day Traders Diary


The stock market ended a roller-coaster Thursday on a modestly lower note as the major averages battled back from steep opening losses. The S&P 500 finished lower by 0.3% after stumbling 1.1% at the start of the session. The Nasdaq Composite (-0.5%) finished the day slightly behind both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.3%).


Global markets tilted to the downside overnight as a weaker-than-expected Trade Balance Report for September out of China startled investors. The report featured a 10.0% year-over-year decline in exports (expected: -3.3%) and a 1.9% year-over-year decline in imports (expected: +0.7%). The negative economic data resuscitated concerns regarding the health of the global economy.


It also led to speculation that China may tacitly embrace a competitive devaluation of the yuan to bolster beleaguered export demand.


Equity indices moved due south through the opening half hour as the heavily-weighted financials (-1.1%), technology (-0.6%), and consumer discretionary (-0.3%) sectors pressured the benchmark index. The S&P 500 briefly violated technical support levels at 2128/2130, 2127, and 2120/2119 before bottoming just below 2115.


The broader market staged a reversal shortly thereafter as just about every area bounced back from initial selling efforts. The higher-yielding sectors -- utilities (+1.3%), real estate (+0.5%), telecom services (UNCH), and consumer staples (UNCH)-- led the rebound effort, enjoying a break from rising bond yields.


Bond prices increased today (and yields went down) after reports indicated that the ECB may discuss modifications to its asset purchase program at next week's meeting with an aim to find a way to keep purchasing EUR 80 billion per month of bonds should the ECB elect to extend its asset purchase program beyond March 2017. Rates have been on the rise recently on concerns about central banks reaching policy limits with their asset purchase plans.


Treasuries finished higher across the board with yields pulling back throughout the complex. The yield on the 10-yr note slipped three basis points to 1.74%.


Equities finished off their best level of the day as the S&P 500 ran into resistance near its 100-day simple moving average (2140.29) in the final hour.


The financial sector ended off its low, but still finished at the bottom of the sector leaderboard. The economically-sensitive sector underperformed as headwinds from China's negative trade data and a flattening yield curve weighed.


Banking names displayed relative weakness as the S&P Bank ETF (KBE 33.22, -0.75) fell 2.2%. The industry group was under pressure ahead of tomorrow's quarterly reports from JPMorgan Chase (JPM 67.74, -0.39), Citigroup (C 48.47, -0.23), PNC (PNC 87.94, -1.89), and Wells Fargo (WFC 44.75, -0.57).


Wells Fargo was also a story stock today after the company confirmed that Chairman and CEO John Stumpf will retire from the Company and the Board of Directors, effective immediately. That decision follows on the heels of a ruinous scandal for the bank that included the fraudulent opening of two million bank and credit card accounts to meet aggressive sales goals.


The high-beta chipmakers underperformed in the technology space, evidenced by the 1.2% decline in the PHLX Semiconductor Index. The group continues to see selling interest after Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) opted to permanently suspended the production and sale of its Galaxy Note 7 device. Samsung supplier Integrated Device (IDTI 19.73, -0.50) has plunged 13.3% this week.


The energy sector (-0.7%) finished off its low amid an uptick in crude oil. WTI crude settled higher by 0.5% ($50.40/bbl; +$0.25) despite some mixed inventory data. The Department of Energy reported that crude oil inventories rose by 4.9 million barrels (consensus: +0.65 million) while gasoline stockpiles declined by 1.90 million barrels (consensus: -1.49 million).


Biotechnology outperformed the broader health care sector (+0.1%), as the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 271.11, +0.98) rose 0.4%. The ETF narrowed its weekly loss to 4.6%. In the ETF, Mylan (MYL 37.88, +0.81) displayed relative strength, rising 2.2%.


Today's trading volume fell came in below the recent average of 930 million as 879 million shares changed hands at the NYSE floor.


Today's economic data included weekly initial claims and the Import/Export Price report for September:


Initial claims for the week ending October 8 were unchanged at 246,000 ( consensus 255,000) from last week's downardly revised reading.

Continuing claims for the week ending October 1 declined to 2.046 million from 2.062 million.

Aided by a 1.1% increase in import fuel prices, U.S. import prices rose 0.1% in September following a 0.2% decline in August.

Export prices, meanwhile, increased 0.3% after a 0.6% decline in August, helped by a 0.4% rise in nonagricultural prices.

Tomorrow's economic data will include the 8:30 a.m. ET release of the PPI Report for September ( consensus +0.2%) and the Retail Sales Report for September ( consensus +0.6%). Separately, Business Inventories for August ( consensus +0.1%) and the initial reading of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for October ( consensus 92.4) will both cross the wires at 10:00 ET.


Russell 2000: +7.2% YTD

S&P 500: +4.3% YTD

Nasdaq Composite: +4.1% YTD

Dow Jones: +3.9% YTD

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