Day Traders Diary


Equities spent the bulk of today's session in negative territory before afternoon buying lifted the major averages out of the red. As a result, the S&P 500 settled higher by 0.6%.

Although stocks finished with gains, leadership was mixed, suggesting a certain level of indecision was present among market participants. Both consumer sectors ended ahead of the broader market with the defensively-oriented staples in the lead.

Staple stocks outperformed amid broad strength in beverage and tobacco producers. Coca-Cola (KO 40.86, +0.78) rose 2.0% and Philip Morris (PM 94.44, +1.72) advanced 1.9%.

Meanwhile, the growth-sensitive discretionary space outperformed on the back of homebuilders as the group rallied broadly. PulteGroup (PHM 19.73, +0.60) gained 3.1% while the broader SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB 29.49, +0.58) added 2.0%.

Elsewhere in discretionary shares, quick-service restaurants ended on a mixed note. Yum! Brands (YUM 67.33, +0.36), who owns the KFC brand, was under early pressure amid concerns the Chinese bird flu outbreak will impact KFC sales. However, the stock was able to shake off the early weakness, and end higher by 0.5%.

In addition to consumer stocks, the Dow Jones Transportation Average outperformed, and settled with a gain of 0.9%. While most index components settled in the black, airlines displayed notable strength. Delta Air Lines (DAL 14.93, +0.54) and United Continental (UAL 30.05, +0.78) climbed 3.8% and 2.7%, respectively.

On the downside, the health care sector lagged after outperforming last week. BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX 1.92, +0.22) was an exception as the stock surged 12.9% after Chinese authorities approved the company's peramivir flu treatment in light of the recent bird flu outbreak.

In M&A news, Lufkin Industries (LUFK 87.96, +24.03) surged 37.6% after the company agreed to be acquired by General Electric (GE 23.12, +0.19) for $3.3 billion or $88.50 per share. The transaction price represents a 38% premium to Lufkin's Friday closing price.

Today's volume was well below average as less than 600 million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Reviewing the day's final sector performance, consumer staples (+1.1%), consumer discretionary (+1.1%), financials (+1.0%), and utilities (+0.8%) traded ahead of the broader market. Meanwhile, telecom (-0.5%), health care (+0.2%), and technology (+0.4%) lagged.

There was no notable economic data released today.

Tomorrow, February wholesale inventories will be reported at 10:00 ET.

The U.S. Treasury will auction off $32 billion in 3-yr notes.

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