Day Traders Diary
Stocks tumbled on Thursday as a slew of leery headlines left buyers on the sidelines. The S&P 500 lost 2.5%, dropping into negative territory for the year (-1.1%) and extending its week-to-date decline to 3.9%, while the Nasdaq and the Dow tumbled 2.4% and 2.9%, respectively.
There was little doubt as to where the market was headed at Thursday's opening bell, as equity futures were down big in overnight trading. There wasn't a particular catalyst for the negative disposition, but disappointing PMI readings in the eurozone and Japan, an unsatisfying apology from Facebook's (FB 164.89, -4.50) CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding the Cambridge Analytica data breach, and Wednesday's rate hike from the Fed didn't exactly bode well for investor sentiment.
The biggest headline catalyst, however, was President Trump's decision to impose tariffs of up to $60 billion on Chinese imports; Mr. Trump officially signed a presidential memorandum on Thursday afternoon. However, the decision wasn't a surprise -- Reuters first reported the president's desire to punish China for intellectual property theft via tariffs last week -- and actually had a silver lining considering the tariffs will only be implemented after a consultation period. Still, the duties do give new energy to the trade war debate.
Selling picked up notably in the final hour of the session, with the S&P 500 nearly doubling its earlier loss. The financial sector led the retreat, dropping 3.7%, as Treasury yields tumbled across the curve; the benchmark 10-yr yield declined eight basis points to 2.83%, while the 2-yr yield slid three basis points to 2.28%. The industrial sector (-3.3%) also showed notable weakness, while most of the remaining groups finished with losses of more than 2.0%.
The most influential sector, information technology, declined 2.7% -- a discouraging sign for investors who have looked to the sector for leadership; the tech group led last year's rally and is still the top-performing sector of 2018 despite Thursday's slide, up 4.3% year to date. Accenture (ACN 150.23, -11.80) was the tech sector's worst-performing component on Thursday, tumbling 7.3%, despite beating earnings and revenue estimates for its fiscal second quarter and raising its yearly guidance.
In other corporate news, AbbVie (ABBV 98.10, -14.35) shares dropped 12.8% after the drugmaker provided a disappointing update on its experimental cancer drug Rova-T, saying data from a phase two trial was not strong enough to justify seeking accelerated approval. The health care sector lost 2.9%.
On a positive note, the rate-sensitive utilities sector advanced 0.4%, benefiting from the decline in Treasury yields.
Investors received several pieces of economic data on Thursday morning, including the weekly Initial Jobless Claims Report, the FHFA Housing Price Index for January, and the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index for February:
On Friday, investors will receive just two economic reports -- Durable Goods Orders for February (Briefing.com consensus +1.5%) and New Home Sales for February (Briefing.com consensus 620K) -- which will be released at 8:30 AM ET and 10:00 AM ET, respectively.
Headlines provided by Briefing.com