Day Traders Diary


Stocks advanced to new records for the third session in a row on Thursday, keeping their perfect 2018 record intact.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.6% to 25075.13, the S&P 500 jumped 0.4% to 2723.99, and the Nasdaq Composite ticked up 0.2% to 7077.91. All three stock indices finished at new all-time highs with the Dow crossing the 25000 mark for the first time. The Russell 2000 also notched a new record, rising 0.2% to 1555.72.

After opening modestly above Wednesday's closing levels, the equity market kept pretty steady through the closing bell.

Nine of eleven sectors advanced on Thursday with gains ranging between 0.1% and 0.9%. The heavily-weighted financial sector (+0.9%) was the top-performing group after trailing the broader market through the first two sessions of the new year. Lenders like JPMorgan Chase (JPM 109.04, +1.54), Bank of America (BAC 30.19, +0.39), Wells Fargo (WFC 62.33, +0.77), and Citigroup (C 75.51, +0.92) added more than 1.0% apiece.

Meanwhile, the energy sector managed to tack on another 0.6%, bringing its 2018 gain to 4.0%, as crude oil extended its three-week rally. West Texas Intermediate crude futures advanced to a fresh three-year high, jumping 0.6% to $61.97 per barrel. Crude futures benefited from the Department of Energy's weekly inventory report, which showed that U.S. crude stockpiles declined by 7.4 million barrels last week--nearly 3 million barrels more than estimates had predicted.

On the downside, the health care sector underperformed, adding just 0.1%, as biotechnology shares gave back a portion of gains registered earlier in the week; the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 109.97, -0.91) lost 0.8%, trimming its week-to-date gain to 3.0%. The lightly-weighted utilities and real estate sectors also struggled, finishing at the bottom of the sector standings with losses of 0.9% and 1.7%, respectively.

In corporate news, Walgreens Boot Alliance (WBA 71.60, -3.91) dropped 5.2% despite reporting better-than-expected earnings and revenues for its fiscal first quarter. L Brands (LB 51.00, -7.16) also had a disappointing outing, as did many retailers, after lowering its profit projections for the holiday season. LB shares ended the session lower by 12.3% while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 45.71, -0.27) shed 0.6%.

Elsewhere, equity indices in the Asia-Pacific region finished Thursday on a higher note with Japan's Nikkei (+3.3%) climbing to its best level since 1991. European equities also had a solid day, especially financial names like Deutsche Bank (+2.7%) and Credit Agricole (+4.5%), pushing the Euro Stoxx 50 higher by 1.7%.

Outside the equity markets, U.S. Treasuries sold off modestly, extending losses for the week. The yield on the benchmark 10-yr Treasury note advanced one basis point to 2.45% while the 2-yr yield settled at 1.95% after closing the prior session at 1.93%. Meanwhile, the U.S. Dollar Index slipped 0.3% to 91.60, notching its sixth loss in seven sessions. The greenback lost 0.4% against the euro (1.2068) and 0.3% against the British pound (1.3554).

Reviewing Thursday's economic data, which included the ADP National Employment Report for December and the weekly Initial Claims Report:

  • The ADP National Employment Report showed an increase of 250,000 in December ( consensus 190,000). The November reading was revised to 185,000 from 190,000.
    • The ADP reading precedes Friday's more influential Employment Situation Report for December ( consensus +188K).
  • The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 250,000, while the consensus expected a reading of 239,000. Today's tally was above the revised prior week count of 247,000 (from 245,000). As for continuing claims, they declined to 1.914 million from a revised count of 1.951 million (from 1.943 million).
    • Initial claims have held below 300,000 for 148 straight weeks

On Friday, the Employment Situation Report for the month of December will be released at 8:30 AM ET. The consensus expects the report will show the addition of 188,000 nonfarm payrolls, a 0.3% increase in average hourly earnings, and an unemployment rate of 4.0%.

In addition, investors will receive the November Trade Balance ( consensus -$47.9 billion) at 8:30 AM ET and both November Factory Orders ( consensus +1.4%) and the ISM Services Index ( consensus 57.6) at 10:00 AM ET.

  • Nasdaq Composite: +2.5% YTD
  • S&P 500: +1.9% YTD
  • Russell 2000: +1.4% YTD
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: +1.3% YTD

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