Day Traders Diary


The S&P 500 lost 0.4% on Thursday, as disappointing economic data helped simmer the market's lengthy rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq Composite, and the Russell 2000 also lost 0.4% apiece.

The S&P 500 energy (-1.6%), health care (-0.9%), and communication services (-0.6%) sectors underperformed the broader market. Conversely, the utilities (+0.8%) and consumer staples (+0.3%) sectors showed relative strength.

The stock market began the day slightly lower as weaker-than-expected economic data tempered buying interest. U.S. business investment declined for the second consecutive month in December, and the eurozone manufacturing sector experienced its first contraction since 2013. 

Investors have generally forgiven negative data this year, but some of the reports released today covered January and February--two months that featured a strong rally in the market amid hopes that the economic picture would improve.

Separately, the U.S. and China began working on six memorandums of understanding on structural issues that would outline the path to a trade deal, according to Reuters. Specific details on talks have been sparse, though, with China's Ministry of Commerce spokesperson saying that there was nothing new to report.

The market's negative disposition despite the reported progress possibly suggested the market's patience for hopeful-sounding headlines may be wearing thin, especially when taking into account the number of rallies that took place amid upbeat headlines, but little concrete progress.

With earnings season winding down, some other corporate-specific news captured the market's attention.

Nike (NKE 83.95, -0.89, -1.1%) was under pressure following some on-the-court drama. College basketball sensation Zion Williamson sustained an injury when his Nike sneakers broke apart during a highly-anticipated game. Nike issued a statement that they were working to identify the issue. 

Tesla (TSLA 291.23, -11.33) for its part lost 3.7% after Consumer Reports dropped its Model 3 recommendation due to the car's reliability issues. On a related note, Tesla has been under scrutiny for its untimely handling of returns and refunds. 

U.S. Treasuries finished on a lower note, pushing yields higher across the curve. The 2-yr yield and the 10-yr yield increased three basis points each to 2.53% and 2.69%, respectively. The U.S. Dollar Index increased 0.2% to 96.62. WTI crude declined 0.3% to $57.00/bbl.

Reviewing Thursday's economic data, which included Existing Homes Sales for January, Durable Orders for December, the Philadelphia Fed Index for February, the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators Index for January, and the weekly Initial and Continuing Claims report.

  • Existing home sales decreased 1.2% month-over-month in January to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million ( consensus 5.05 million) from an upwardly revised 5.00 million (from 4.99 million) in December. Total sales were 8.5% lower than the same period a year ago.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that existing home sales activity has not improved much since December even when taking into account the upward revision to the December reading.
  • Durable goods orders increased 1.2% in December ( consensus 1.3%) after an upwardly revised 1.0% increase (from 0.8%) in November. Excluding transportation, orders increased 0.1% ( consensus 0.2%) after decreasing a revised 0.2% (from -0.4%) in November.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that business investment remained weak, evidenced by the 0.7% decline in nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft. Furthermore, the November reading was revised down to -1.0% from -0.6%.
  • The Philadelphia Fed Index for February fell to -4.1 ( consensus 12.0) from 17.0 in January.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the headline decrease was driven by declines in most components with the Prices Paid Index returning to its low from 2017.
  • The Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators Index decreased 0.1% in December ( consensus -0.1%) after increasing 0.2% in November.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the Conference Board sees a path to GDP growth slowing to 2.0% by the end of 2019.
  • Initial claims for the week ending February 16 decreased by 23,000 to 216,000 ( consensus 225,000). Continuing claims for the week ending February 9 decreased by 55,000 to 1.780 million.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the decline returned the initial claims level into a sideways range that has been in place over the past year; however, the four-week moving average for initial claims remains at its highest level since January 2018.

Investors will not receive any economic data on Friday.

  • Russell 2000 +16.8% YTD
  • Nasdaq Composite +12.4% YTD
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average +10.8% YTD
  • S&P 500 +10.7% YTD
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