Day Traders Diary

12/20/21

The major averages fell on Monday but came off their lows as investors continued to grapple with the resurgence of Covid cases spurred from the newfound omicron variant. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 433 points, dragged down by losses in Boeing, Goldman Sachs and American Express. The S&P 500 dipped 52 points or 1.1% while the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite declined 188 points or 1.2%. The small-cap benchmark Russell 2000 lost 1.6%.

The omicron variant is raging across the world as the winter holiday season approaches. U.S. cases are jumping into year-end with more than 156,000 reported on Friday, according to CDC data.

The strain has been found through testing in 43 out of 50 U.S. states and around 90 countries, and the number of cases is doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in areas with community transmission, according to the World Health Organization.

Caterpillar, Boeing and General Electric all lost ground on Monday. The aircraft maker was off by 2.2%. Caterpillar and General Electric fell 2.9% and 1.5%, respectively.

Reopening plays were among the biggest losers once again on Monday. Las Vegas Sands shed 3.6%. Alaska Air Group and Southwest fell 1.4% and 0.8%, respectively. Darden Restaurants also lost 1.3%.

Energy stocks also dipped as U.S. oil prices dropped more than 5%. Devon Energy slid 2.4% and Exxon Mobil shed 1.5%.

Financials were in the red with Goldman Sachs down 2.7% and Wells Fargo down 2.3%. JPMorgan and Bank of America also dropped 1.8% and 1.6%, respectively.

The downward move in markets "reflecting growing uncertainty surrounding whether the Omicron surge will bring new widespread economic shutdowns, an unexpected shelving of additional fiscal stimulus from President Biden's Build Back Better plan, and a breach by the S&P 500 index of its 50-day moving average," said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group.

While tech stocks suffered, streaming giant Netflix bucked the broader market's trend, adding 1.2% on Monday.

On the political front, Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, said Sunday he won't support the Biden administration's "Build Back Better" plan. Manchin's decision will likely kill the $1.75 trillion social spending and climate policy bill as it stands now.

Goldman Sachs cut its GDP forecast on the Manchin news, cutting its first quarter 2022 forecast to 2% from 3%. The firm also lowered its second quarter and third quarter growth forecasts.

The major averages are coming off a negative week, with the S&P 500 declining 1.9%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped nearly 3% last week as investors dumped high-flying growth stocks on the prospect of higher interest rates, while the Dow slipped 1.7%.

Last week, the Federal Reserve announced a more aggressive plan to wind down its asset purchases, and said that it will potentially raise interest rates three times next year.

Some investors are hoping for a Santa Claus rally into the year-end, which calls for positive market performance in the last five trading days of the year and first two trading days of January, according to Stock Trader's Almanac.

 

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