Day Traders Diary
The stock market ended Wednesday on a higher note, ending just below its session high. The S&P 500 finished higher by 0.6%, while the Nasdaq (+0.9%) outperformed the benchmark index. The Dow (+0.3%) will begin Thursday's session within striking distance of the 20k mark.
Nine out of eleven sectors finished the day in positive territory, with materials (+1.4%) claiming the top spot on the leaderboard. Consumer discretionary (+1.3%) held the lead for most of the day after automakers reported better-than-expected sales for the month of December. On a year-over-year basis, General Motors (GM 37.09, +1.94)reported a 10.0% increase (consensus +0.7%), while Ford Motor (F 13.17, +0.58)saw a 0.3% gain (consensus -1.6%). The two names finished up by 5.5% and 4.6%, respectively.
Real estate (+1.2%), financials (+0.9%), and health care (+0.7%) also performed better than the broader market. The health care sector received a big bump from biotechnology, evidenced by the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF's (IBB 277.53, +7.24) 2.7% gain. Information technology (+0.4%) also finished in the green, despite losses from top components like Apple (AAPL 116.02, -0.13), Microsoft (MSFT 62.30, -0.28), and Alphabet (GOOGL 807.77, -0.24).
After finishing at the top of the leaderboard on Tuesday, telecom services (-0.3%) finished at the bottom on Wednesday. Energy (-0.3%) performed only modestly better as the sector failed to capitalize on crude oil's positive performance. The commodity ended its trading day up 1.8% at $52.28/bbl amid a weaker U.S. dollar. The U.S. Dollar Index (102.58, -0.66) finished lower by 0.6%.
On the data front, the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its December meeting, showing a discussion about the recent surge in the dollar that lifted the U.S. Dollar Index (102.72, -0.49) to a fresh 14-year high. Members of the committee discussed the potential headwinds stemming from dollar strength, but hedged that discussion by noting that continued dollar strength might keep down inflation. The minutes showed uncertainty over possible changes in fiscal policies, but members agreed that near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced.
Treasuries climbed to new highs immediately after the release, but finished the day near their flat lines. The 10-yr yield ended Wednesday unchanged at 2.45%.
Thursday's economic data will include December Challenger Job Cuts at 7:30 ET, December ADP Employment Change (Briefing.com consensus 170,000) at 8:15 ET, Initial Claims (Briefing.com consensus 265,000) at 8:30 ET, and the December ISM Services Index (Briefing.com consensus 56.6) at 10:00 ET.
On the earning front, several companies are scheduled to report before Thursday's opening bell with Monsanto (MON 105.05, +0.28) and Walgreens Boot Alliance (WBA 82.98, +0.02) being the most notable.
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