Day Traders Diary


The stock market punctuated July with a broad-based retreat that sent the S&P 500 lower by 2.0% with all ten sectors ending in the red. The benchmark index posted a monthly decline of 1.5%, while the Russell 2000 (-2.3%) underperformed to end the month lower by 6.1%.

To get a better feel for what led to today's retreat, we'd like to look back to Wednesday, when the market had ample reason to rally, but did not. Instead, it ended basically flat after a sloppy day of trading where good news was marveled at -- Q2 GDP and earnings results -- but not acted on with any real conviction from buyers. A spike in long-term rates and worries the Fed could raise the fed funds rate sooner than expected (a worry the FOMC directive didn't refute in unequivocal fashion) garnered most of the blame for the lackluster response.

That inability to rally on a batch of good economic and earnings news left the stock market increasingly vulnerable to a larger pullback in the event any bad news came its way. Sure enough, there were some overnight headlines that rattled weak-handed positions:
Eurozone CPI was up just 0.4% year-over-year in July (expected 0.5%), triggering renewed worries about deflation
Argentina was deemed to be in default on its bond payments
Portuguese bank Banco Espirito Santo reported a big net loss for the first half of the year that wiped out its capital buffer and drove its stock price down 50%, reminding investors that there are still issues present in the European banking system
With the sentiment taking a turn for the worse, a batch of poor quarterly results from a handful of global players contributed to the slide. Samsung kicked things off overnight with below-consensus earnings that sent the stock lower by 3.7% in Seoul. Things did not get much better during the European session with Adidas and Deutsche Lufthansa posting respective earnings-driven losses of 15.4% and 6.4% in Frankfurt. The DAX Index, meanwhile, lost 1.9%.

Back in the U.S., market participants received a set of earnings that did not quite live up to the high standard that was set during the first two weeks of the reporting period with earnings growth pushing 9.0%, according to S&P Capital IQ.

On that note, 3D Systems (DDD 50.13, -5.94), Mosaic (MOS 46.11, -1.07), Beazer Homes (BZH 15.35, -1.95), and Ocwen Financial (OCN 30.17, -4.49), registered losses between 2.3% and 13.0% after disappointing with their results. Furthermore, even above-consensus earnings from the likes of Akamai Technologies (AKAM 59.02, -1.71), MasterCard (MA 74.15, -1.76), and Yelp (YELP 67.16, -8.44) were met with selling activity.

The ten economic sectors registered losses between 1.7% (utilities) and 2.4% (energy). Rate-sensitive telecom services (-2.3%) and utilities outperformed in the early going as participants sought cover in the defensively-oriented sectors, but the two groups could not avoid being engulfed in the selling activity.

Elsewhere, the top-weighted sector-technology (-2.0%)-suffered from broad pressure. Influential listings like Apple (AAPL 95.60, -2.55), Google (GOOGL 579.55, -15.89), Facebook (FB 72.65, -2.03), and Qualcomm (QCOM 73.72, -2.32) lost between 2.6% and 3.1%, while chipmakers also tumbled. Notably, Micron (MU 30.55, -1.98) plunged 6.1% amid cautious comments from Goldman Sachs, while the broader PHLX Semiconductor Index fell 2.1%.

Biotechnology did not fare much better with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 250.83, -6.42) sliding 2.5%. For its part, the health care sector lost 2.0%, surrendering its entire monthly gain.

Only technology and telecom services were able to post July gains of 1.4% and 2.6%, respectively, while the utilities sector lost 6.9% for the month.

Treasuries ended flat after regaining their early morning losses. The 10-yr yield settled at 2.56%.

The selloff invited above-average participation with more than 900 million shares changing hands at the NYSE.

Economic data included Initial Claims, the Employment Cost Index, and the Chicago PMI report:
The initial claims level increased to 302,000 from a downwardly revised 279,000 (from 284,000)
The consensus expected the initial claims level to increase to 310,000
The Employment Cost Index increased 0.7% in Q2 2014, up from a 0.3% increase in the first quarter, while the consensus expected an increase of 0.4%
Wages and salaries rose 0.6% in the second quarter, up from a 0.3% increase in Q1
Benefits spending rose 1.0% and is up 2.5% year-over-year
Manufacturing activities in the Chicago region softened significantly in July as the Chicago PMI fell to 52.6 from 62.6 in June
The consensus expected a more modest decline to 61.8
Tomorrow's session will be full of economic data starting with the 8:30 ET release of the Nonfarm Payrolls report for July ( consensus 220K). Personal Income/Spending (consensus 0.4%) data and Core PCE Prices (expected 0.2%) will also be reported at 8:30 ET, while the final reading of the Michigan Sentiment survey for July (consensus 82.0) will cross the wires at 9:55 ET. Finally, the July ISM Index (consensus 55.9) and June Construction Spending (expected 0.3%) will both be reported at 10:00 ET.

S&P 500 +4.5% YTD
Nasdaq Composite +4.6% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average -0.1% YTD
Russell 2000 -3.7% YTD

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