Day Traders Diary



Increased tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the ongoing situation in Syria has weighed on sentiment today -- although things have gotten a little more cheerful since the opening bell. The S&P 500 is currently down 0.2%, while the Nasdaq trades a tick above its flat line and the Dow shows a loss of 0.5%.

A U.S.-led attack against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appears to be imminent following a suspected chemical attack from the Syrian government on the rebel-held town of Douma that killed at least 40 people over the weekend. Russia said it would shoot down any missiles fired at its ally Syria, to which U.S. President Donald Trump replied "get ready Russia, because they will be coming." In addition, unconfirmed reports that Saudi Arabia intercepted a rocket over Riyadh -- likely launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen -- have further added to fears in the region.

Accordingly, oil prices have continued to rise despite some otherwise bearish inventory data reported earlier this morning, underpinned by the possibility that tensions in the oil-rich Middle East could lead to a slow down in production. WTI crude futures are up 2.0% at $66.82 per barrel, hitting a three-year high, and the energy sector is the strongest of the 11 S&P 500 groups, sporting a gain of 1.0%.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Facebook's (FB 166.28, +1.26) CEO Mark Zuckerberg has dominated the news networks today, appearing for the second, and final, day of testimony on Capitol Hill -- where he is answering questions from lawmakers about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and Russia's use of Facebook in attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election. Shares of Facebook are up 0.8% this afternoon, adding to yesterday's 4.5% rally.

In total, four sectors are trading in the green and seven are trading in the red. As mentioned earlier, energy is the top performer, followed by real estate (+0.7%), consumer discretionary (+0.2%), and consumer staples (+0.1%). Conversely, telecom services (-1.3%) is the weakest performer, and financials (-0.8%) is also exhibiting notable weakness. The top-weighted technology sector, which houses Facebook, is down 0.1%.

Reviewing Wednesday's economic data, which has been limited to the March CPI readings thus far:

  • Total CPI decreased 0.1% ( consensus +0.1%) in March, while core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.2% ( consensus +0.2%). On a year-over-year basis, total CPI is up 2.4% (vs +2.2% in February) and core CPI is up 2.1% (vs +1.8% in February).
    • The key takeaway from the report is that it showed a firming (though not scary) inflation trend that will keep the Federal Reserve wedded to its tightening bias and belief that at least two more rate hikes are warranted this year.

The FOMC Minutes from the March meeting and the March Treasury Budget will both be released at 2:00 PM ET.

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