Day Traders Diary


The major averages entered the weekend on a mixed note as the S&P 500 slipped 0.2% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.1%.

The final session of the week began on a cautious note as downbeat overseas trade and mixed corporate earnings pressured equity futures. In addition, a disappointing first quarter GDP report contributed to the lower open.

According to the advance report, first quarter GDP grew at an annualized rate of 2.5%. That was up from a 0.4% gain in the final quarter of last year, but below the consensus expectation of a 2.8% gain.

A deeper look into the data sets the tone for a likely severe deceleration in trends during the second quarter.

Just about all of the gains in the first quarter came from consumption and inventories, both of which are likely to experience a pullback over the next three months. Furthermore, government spending, which fell 4.1% in the first quarter after declining 7.1% in Q4 2012, is set to fall by a larger amount during the second quarter as the effects of the sequestration become more pronounced.

With below-consensus growth, the growth-sensitive materials sector was the weakest performer of the day as steelmakers weighed. The Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX 41.35, -0.71) settled lower by 1.7%. Metal prices also saw a decline as gold slipped 0.4% to $1456.60 per troy ounce while silver declined 1.2% to $23.86 per troy ounce. Also of note, copper futures fell 1.8% to $3.180 per pound.

While the sluggish GDP report weighed on producers of basic materials, the materials sector was the only group which slumped more than 1.0%. Meanwhile, the second weakest sector, financials, ended with a loss of just 0.4%.

Although first quarter economic growth missed expectations, the broader market appeared unconcerned as market participants are well aware of the Federal Reserve's commitment to maintain its accommodative monetary policy for as long as conditions warrant continued easing. As such, the disappointing report resulted in a morning dip, which was met with enough afternoon buying interest to bring the S&P back to its flat line. Those levels held until the final 20 minutes when sellers reemerged and pushed the benchmark average back into the red.

As mentioned earlier, quarterly earnings were in focus this morning. The discretionary sector underperformed as retailers displayed some weakness. (AMZN 254.81, -19.89) lost 7.2% after its above-consensus results were overshadowed by disappointing operating income guidance.

In addition, Starbucks (SBUX 60.00, -0.50) shed 0.8% after its revenue fell short of the Capital IQ consensus estimate. Guidance was also a point of concern as the company lowered its third quarter earnings expectations below consensus.

On the upside, the industrial sector outperformed the broader market as Dow components, Boeing (BA 92.85, +1.18) and General Electric (GE 22.21, +0.26) ended with respective gains of 1.3% and 1.2%. Shares of Boeing rallied following reports indicating Japan will allow the 787 Dreamliner to return to service after the jet experienced battery problems in recent months.

Transportation-related stocks also traded ahead of the broader market. The Dow Jones Transportation Average added 0.1% with airlines providing the leadership. Delta Air Lines (DAL 16.81, +0.52) rose 3.2% after the House of Representatives passed a bill to end sequester-related Federal Aviation Administration furloughs.

Today's economic data also included the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, which was revised up to 76.4 from 72.3 in the final April reading. That is still down from 78.6 in March and the weakest reading since January. The consensus expected the sentiment index would be essentially unchanged at 72.4.

On Monday, March personal income, personal spending, and core PCE prices will all be reported at 8:30 ET while March pending home sales will be announced at 10:00 ET.

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