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Leigh Baldwin & Co.

112 Albany Street, Cazenovia, NY 13035 | Phone: (315) 655-2964 Toll Free: 1-800-659-8044

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Day Traders Diary

5/17/18

 

The stock market is flat this afternoon, but held a modest gain through much of the morning. Small caps are outperforming, pushing the Russell 2000 (+0.5%) to a new all-time high.

Energy (+1.2%) is the top-performing S&P sector, by a comfortable margin, as crude prices have returned to a three-and-a-half year high -- although they have weakened since the start of the session. West Texas Intermediate crude futures are currently up 0.2% at $71.60 per barrel, but were up as much as 1.1% earlier.

However, most S&P sectors are trading in negative territory this afternoon. The rate-sensitive utilities sector (-0.7%) is the weakest group as Treasury yields remain at multi-year highs. The yield on the benchmark 10-yr Treasury note is hovering at its Wednesday close of 3.10%, which marked its best finish in nearly seven years. The rise in Treasury yields -- which offer a "risk free" return -- has lured buyers away from the equity market in recent days, putting Wall Street's bullish start to the month on hold.

In earnings news, Walmart (WMT 84.67, -1.47) and Cisco Systems (CSCO 43.61, -1.54) both reported above-consensus earnings and revenues, but their shares are down today, shedding 1.7% and 3.5%, respectively. Walmart's weakness has been attributed to a weaker-than-expected increase in same-store sales.

Meanwhile, shares of CBS (CBS 50.93, -2.90) are sharply lower, down 5.3%, after a judge ruled in favor of National Amusements' challenge to a voting-control plan. The Redstone family, which controls National Amusements, has been trying to force a CBS-Viacom (VIAB 28.19, -0.08) merger, so today's ruling clears a path for that to happen.

Reviewing today's economic data, which included weekly Initial Claims, the Philadelphia Fed Index for May, and the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index for April:

  • The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 222,000, while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 216,000. Today's tally was above the unrevised prior week count of 211,000. As for continuing claims, they declined to 1.707 million from a revised count of 1.794 million (from 1.790 million).
    • The key takeaway from the initial claims report is that it covers the period in which the survey for the May employment report was conducted. The continued low level of initial claims, then, should continue to feed expectations for another solid increase in nonfarm payrolls.
  • The Philadelphia Fed Survey for May rose to 34.4 (Briefing.com consensus 20.0) from an unrevised 23.2 in April.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the Prices Received Index -- a reflection of manufacturers' own prices -- increased seven points to 36.4, which is the highest reading since February 1989.
  • The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index increased 0.4% in April (Briefing.com consensus +0.4%), and the March increase was revised to 0.4% from 0.3%.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the strength among the leading indicators remains very widespread.
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