Day Traders Diary


Equities began the day on a mixed note with the S&P 500 climbing out of the gate while Nasdaq slipped into the red, where it spent the majority of today's session.

Although the S&P saw early gains, the index notched its highs within the opening minutes, before sliding into negative territory. However, afternoon buying pulled the S&P out of the red, and the index ended with a gain of 0.4%.

After Wednesday's selloff caused the benchmark average to slide 1.1%, a handful of yesterday's underperformers began among today's leaders. The early leadership did not hold into the afternoon as some defensive sectors began appearing atop the leaderboard.

Counter-cyclical telecoms and utilities climbed throughout the day, and saw the largest gains. In addition, a rebound in financials and materials helped those two groups outperform the broader market.

Although the financial sector ended with firm gains, major components saw mixed performance. Goldman Sachs (GS 142.99, -0.42) shed 0.3% while JPMorgan Chase (JPM 47.49, +0.64) rose 1.4%.

Despite today's gains, financials remain one of the weakest sectors in April. The SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF (XLF 18.08, +0.16) is down 0.7% since April 1.

Elsewhere, the SPDR Materials Select Sector ETF (XLB 38.47, +0.33) climbed 0.9% amid strength in gold miners. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX 35.22, +0.97) advanced 2.8%.

Even though materials finished among today's leaders, the sector is the second weakest performer in April, trailing behind energy. The energy space shed 0.2% during today's session as crude oil slipped 1.3% to $93.25 per barrel.

While financials and materials were able to rebound from yesterday's selloff, that was not the case for the Dow Jones Transportation Average. After losing more than 1.0% in each of the past three sessions, the bellwether complex ended little changed as railroads pressured the 20-stock group. CSX (CSX 23.77, -0.18) and Norfolk Southern (NSC 73.86, -1.30) saw respective losses of 0.8% and 1.7% after an analyst report suggested carriers will report disappointing first quarter rail volume.

On the downside, weakness among major tech names like Apple (AAPL 427.72, -4.27), Google (GOOG 795.07, -11.13), and International Business Machines (IBM 211.31, -1.35) weighed on the sector. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended with a gain of just 0.2%.

Despite the broader market ending in positive territory, a safety bid across the Treasury complex sent the 10-yr yield lower by five basis points to 1.76%. Also notable was the 30-yr yield finishing below 3.00% for the first time in 2013.

Today's volume was largely in-line with Monday's total as just over 645 million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Looking back at the final sector performance, telecom (+1.3%), utilities (+0.9%), financials (+0.9%), and materials (+0.8%) outperformed the broader market. Meanwhile, technology (-0.2%) and energy (-0.1%) settled in the red.

Today's economic data focused on jobs. The initial claims level jumped to 385,000 for the week ending March 30 from 357,000 for the week ending March 23. The consensus expected the initial claims level to fall to 345,000.

The increase in claims was not the result of a sudden softening in labor market conditions. The seasonal adjustments used by the Department of Labor have a difficult time accounting for the Easter holiday. Because the Easter holiday falls on a different date each year, the seasonal adjustments from one year to the next cannot adequately explain seasonal employment fluctuations from Easter-related hiring and firing.

Tomorrow morning will be busy in terms of economic news. March nonfarm payrolls, nonfarm private payrolls, unemployment rate, hourly earnings, average workweek, and February trade balance will all be reported at 8:30 ET. The busy day will be topped off by a 15:00 ET release of February consumer credit.

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