Day Traders Diary



After a pause on Wednesday, stocks have resumed this week's upward trend in today's session, with the S&P 500 tacking on another 0.5%, which brings its weekly gain to 1.1%. The benchmark index is roughly 10 points, or 0.3%, away from its August 29 record close. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq is up 1.0%, and the Dow is higher by 0.5%. Small caps underperform, with the Russell 2000 up just 0.1%.

The market was up out of the gate this morning, but hit a speed bump when President Trump tweeted that the U.S. isn't under pressure to make a deal with China; rather, China is under pressure to make a deal with the United States. The president's tweet follows news on Wednesday that the U.S. is proposing a new round of trade talks with China, a proposition that's been welcomed by Beijing.

Stocks fell slightly following President Trump's tweet, but have since reclaimed their earlier levels.

Investors received the Consumer Price Index for August this morning, which rose 0.2% month-over-month as expected. However, the core CPI, which excludes the volatile categories of food and energy, rose a less-than-expected 0.1% ( consensus +0.2%). That sent Treasury yields, which were up in pre-market, back to their flat lines. The 10-yr yield is currently down one basis point at 2.95%.

Tech stocks are leading today's rally on Wall Street, pushing the S&P 500's technology sector higher by 1.5%. Within the space, Apple (AAPL 227.16, +6.11) has jumped 2.8% after unveiling its latest iPhone lineup on Wednesday, which included the iPhone Xs ($999), the iPhone Xs Max ($1099), and the iPhone Xr ($749). Pre-orders for the Xs and Xs Max start on Friday.

Conversely, consumer staples is at the bottom of the sector standings with a loss of 0.6%. Within the group, Kroger (KR 28.49, -3.24) has tumbled 10.2%, hitting its lowest level since late July, despite reporting above-consensus earnings for the second quarter and reaffirming its profit guidance for fiscal year 2019. The heavily-weighted financial sector (-0.1%) is also struggling.

Overseas, a trio of central banks released their latest policy decisions this morning, including the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Central Bank of Turkey. The ECB and the BoE kept interest rates unchanged, as expected, while Turkey's central bank increased its benchmark rate to 24% from 17.75%, pushing the struggling Turkish lira up 3.5% against the U.S. dollar.

Back in the U.S., Hurricane Florence has weakened to a Category 2 storm, but is still expected to cause devastating damage on the East Coast when it makes landfall either late tonight or early tomorrow. WTI crude futures, which rallied in anticipation of pipeline disruptions earlier this week, are down 2.4% at $68.69/bbl.

Reviewing today's economic data, which has included the August Consumer Price Index and weekly Initial Claims thus far:

  • Total CPI increased 0.2% ( consensus +0.2%) in August, and core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.1% ( consensus +0.2%). On a year-over-year basis, total CPI is up 2.7% (vs +2.9% in July) and core CPI is up 2.2% (vs +2.4% in July).
    • The key takeaway for the market is that there was a moderation in the year-over-year growth rates for total CPI and core CPI. That won't alter the prevailing view that the Federal Reserve is likely to raise rates two more times this year, yet the moderation is apt to be seen as a data point that could keep the Federal Reserve from tightening rates too rapidly.
  • The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 204,000, while the consensus expected a reading of 210,000. Today's tally was below the revised prior week count of 205,000 (from 203,000). As for continuing claims, they declined to 1.696 million from a revised count of 1.711 million (from 1.707 million).
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the four-week moving averages for initial claims and continuing claims are at their lowest level since 1969 and 1973, respectively.

In addition, the August Treasury Budget will be released at 2:00 PM ET.

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