Day Traders Diary
The stock market endured a quiet pre-holiday session that was confined to negative territory. The S&P 500 shed 0.3% while small caps underperformed, leading to a 0.7% retreat in the Russell 2000.
All in all, the Wednesday affair had all the hallmarks of pre-holiday trade as the S&P 500 spent the day in a six-point range. which widened into the close. Intraday NYSE floor volume was below average, but a spike in activity during the final minutes brought the total up to 850 million shares, shy of the 200-day average (933 million). A handful of heavily-weighted sectors spent the day in negative territory, which offset gains in smaller groups and prevented the market from turning positive.
Cyclical sectors like technology (-0.2%), financials (-0.2%), and industrials (-0.4%) spent the day in negative territory while the health care sector (-0.6%) retreated into the afternoon. Biotechnology contributed to the weakness in the health care sector, sending the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 267.85, -3.07) lower by 1.1%.
The top-weighted technology sector was restrained by a mixed showing from large cap names. Accenture (ACN 117.90, -6.20) lost 5.0% after missing estimates and lowering its full-year guidance. Chipmakers had a better showing than the broader sector, as the PHLX Semiconductor Index settled just above its flat line.
For its part, the industrial sector (-0.4%) struggled throughout the day after FedEx (FDX 192.12, -6.62) reported disappointing results. The stock lost 3.3% while the broader Dow Jones Transportation Average surrendered 0.9%.
Staying on the earnings front, Nike (NKE 52.30, +0.51) added 1.0% after reporting above-consensus results. Other apparel names did not follow Nike higher, likely due to some caution related to weak results and guidance from Finish Line (FINL 21.00, -2.01), which surrendered 8.7%. Homebuilders outperformed, helping the consumer discretionary sector (-0.1%) stay near its flat line. The iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction ETF (ITB 28.28, +0.18) gained 0.7%.
Two other cyclical groups—energy (+0.2%) and materials (+0.1%)—spent the day atop the leaderboard, with energy advancing despite a 1.3% slide in crude oil to $52.55/bbl. The energy component retreated after the release of bearish inventory data from the Department of Energy.
Treasuries spent the day inside narrow ranges, climbing into the afternoon. The 10-yr yield slipped two basis points to 2.54%.
Also of note, the U.S. Dollar Index (103.00, -0.26) pulled back from a fresh 13-year high, giving up ground to the euro (1.0426) and the yen (117.50). The euro backed off its intraday high of 1.4050 after the Financial Times reported that Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena is expected to be nationalized as part of a newly-approved EUR20 billion bank rescue fund after failing to attract private investors.
Today's economic data was limited to November Existing Home Sales, which increased 0.7% from October to an annualized rate of 5.61 million units while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 5.50 million.
Tomorrow will be busy on the data front with weekly initial claims (Briefing.com consensus 256,000), the third estimate of Q3 GDP (Briefing.com consensus 3.3%), and November Durable Orders (Briefing.com consensus -4.5%) set to be released at 8:30 ET. The October FHFA Housing Price Index will be released at 9:00 ET while November Leading Indicators (Briefing.com consensus 0.1%), November Personal Income (Briefing.com consensus 0.3%), Personal Spending (Briefing.com consensus 0.4%), and core PCE Prices (Briefing.com consensus 0.1%) will be reported at 10:00 ET.
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