Day Traders Diary



The U.S. stock market is in much better form today than yesterday, supported by reassuring earnings results and guidance from leading companies, influential sector leadership, and an underlying sense that the market was due for a spring-loaded rebound effort given the scope of losses in October that took the S&P 500 into negative territory for the year as of Wednesday's close.

The major indices are off their best levels of the session, but continue to hold the bulk of today's gains as efforts to sell into the strength have been quickly quelled to this point.  The Nasdaq Composite is up 2.5%, the Russell 2000 is up 1.9%, the S&P 500 is up 1.7%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 1.5%.

Microsoft (MSFT 107.83, +5.51, +5.4%) has played a leading role in today's session, rallying on the heels of a pleasing fiscal first quarter report and fiscal second quarter outlook.  Its gains have underpinned the Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500, as well as the S&P 500 information technology sector (+2.9%), which is tied with consumer discretionary (+2.9%) as today's best-performing sector. (AMZN 1749.21, +85.00, +5.1%), which reports after today's close, has been the driver of the outperformance of the consumer discretionary sector, which has also been bolstered by the positive responses to earnings results from Ford (F 8.85, +0.67, +8.1%), Tractor Supply Co. (TSCO 89.17, +4.99, +5.9%), Whirlpool (WHR 110.75, +6.48, +6.2%), and Borg Warner (BWA 37.38, +1.59, +4.4%).

The two reports that really caught investors by surprise (in a good way), however, were the reports from Tesla (TSLA 309.83, +21.32, +7.4%) and Twitter (TWTR 31.45, +3.91, +14.2%).  Both companies comfortably exceeded consensus revenue and EPS estimates (Tesla actually blew them out).

Their good news, and investors' favorable response to the good news, has fueled buying interest in many beaten-down momentum stocks like Amazon, Netflix (NFLX 308.75, +6.92, +2.3%), and Alphabet (GOOG 1090.94, +40.23, +3.8%), which has reinforced today's positive bias.

Alphabet reports after today's close as well, along with Intel (INTC 44.23, +1.81, +4.3%), which is helping to drive the outperformance of the beaten-down semiconductor stocks.  The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index is up 2.1%, shaking off a fourth quarter revenue warning from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD 19.17, -3.62, -15.9%).

In other developments, the European Central Bank left its key interest rates unchanged, as expected. ECB President Draghi said the central bank will continue to monitor risks to the outlook but that the ECB has not talked about extending its quantitative easing program.

That view was taken in stride by European markets, which also traded with a positive bias today, helped in part by a quieting of concerns (for today anyway) surrounding the Italian budget situation.

The U.S. Treasury market has been pretty subdued today. Despite the rally in the stock market, yields across the curve are unchanged or up just one or two basis points, suggesting there hasn't been a flight away from safety even though stocks are charting a bullish course.

Reviewing Thursday's economic data:

  • Durable Goods orders for September increased 0.8% ( consensus -1.8%) after a revised 4.6% increase (from 4.5%) in August. Excluding transportation, durable goods orders increased 0.1% ( consensus 0.3%) after a revised 0.3% increase (from 0.1%) in August.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the headline increase was driven by growth in transportation equipment orders and defense aircraft and parts orders while growth in other areas was more of a mixed bag.
  • Initial claims for the week ending October 20 increased by 5,000 to 215,000 ( consensus 211,000). Continuing claims for the week ending October 13 decreased by 5,000 to 1.636 million, which is the lowest level since August 4, 1973.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the trend of steadily decreasing initial and continuing claims has been uninterrupted by today's report.
  • Pending home sales for September increased 0.5% ( consensus -0.2%)
  • Adv. International Trade in Goods for September were -$76.0 billion ( consensus -$74.4 billion)
  • Adv. Retail Inventories for September +0.1%
  • Adv. Wholesale Inventories for September +0.3%
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