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Leigh Baldwin & Co.

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Day Traders Diary

8/24/18

 

Stocks are a ways above their session lows this afternoon, but still in the red following President Trump's decision to cancel his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The S&P 500 is down 0.3% after opening flat and being down as much as 1.0%. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq is lower by 0.1% and the Dow is down 0.4%.

In a letter to Kim Jong Un, President Trump cited North Korea's "tremendous anger and open hostility" in a recent statement directed at Vice President Mike Pence as the reason for his decision to cancel the summit between the two leaders. However, for the market, the focus seems to be on what the cancellation means for the relationship between the U.S. and China, as Mr. Trump insinuated earlier this week, and alluded to once again in a press conference today, that Chinese President Xi might have had something to do with North Korea's change in attitude.

Separately, trade matters are a topic of conversation again today after reports that the White House is considering import tariffs on automobiles of as much as 25%, and President Trump officially approved a bill to roll back regulations implemented against small and medium-sized lenders in response to the 2008 financial crisis. The president added that there is potential to extend the rollback to big banks in the future.

A little more than half of the S&P sectors are in the red this afternoon, but gains and losses have been pretty modest overall. The financial sector (-1.0%) is showing relative weakness as Treasury yields slide across the curve, with the benchmark 10-yr yield dropping three basis points to 2.97%. The energy group (-1.5%) is also weak as WTI crude futures are down 1.1% at $71.06/bbl.

In earnings news, electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY 70.04, -5.91) is down 7.6%, hitting a six-week low, despite reporting above-consensus earnings and revenues for the first quarter. Reportedly, there is some disappointment that the company didn't raise its full-year guidance. Conversely, L Brands (LB 35.63, +1.57) is up 4.7%, overcoming early weakness after its post-earnings conference call.

Reviewing today's economic data, which included weekly Initial Claims, Existing Home Sales for April, and the FHFA Housing Price Index for March:

  • The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 234,000, while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 220,000. Today's tally was above the revised prior week count of 223,000 (from 222,000). As for continuing claims, they rose to 1.741 million from a revised count of 1.712 million (from 1.707 million).
    • While initial claims were higher than expected, the key takeaway from the report is that it won't do anything to upset the favorable perspective on the initial claims trend.
  • Existing home sales decreased 2.5% in April to an annualized rate of 5.46 million units (Briefing.com consensus 5.57 million). The March reading was left unrevised at 5.60 million.
    • The key takeaway from the report remains the same: notable supply constraints continue to act as a drag on overall sales. The limited inventory -- and the high prices on available inventory -- is crimping affordability, particularly for first-time buyers; moreover, all prospective buyers are going to feel added affordability pressures from rising mortgage rates.
  • The FHFA Housing Price Index rose 0.1% in March (Briefing.com consensus +0.6%), and the February increase was left unrevised at 0.6%.
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Headlines provided by briefing.com

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