Day Traders Diary


 Investors were very selective of their pitches when they stepped up to the plate on Thursday, ultimately choosing to take ball four rather than risking a swing and miss. Despite news, earnings, and economic data, the major averages finished in the neighborhood of where they began, with the S&P 500 (-0.1%) closing just a tick lower.

Conversely, Donald Trump did take a swing today tweeting that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto should cancel his upcoming meeting with the U.S. President "if Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall." The Mexican President responded by doing just that.

The market ticked down ever so slightly on Mr. Pena Nieto's response, but regardless, the incident does highlight some concerns about Mr. Trump's ability to play nice with foreign leaders. Only time will tell if President Trump's international agenda will be as friendly to the stock market as his domestically focused, pro-growth one has been so far.

Sector standings looked just as unenthusiastic as the market itself with some sectors green, some red, but no one space swinging too far from its flat line. Cyclical sectors had a slight edge over the defensive groups, with four of the six finishing higher. Technology (-0.2%) and energy (unch) bucked the trend, however, with the latter sector ignoring crude oil's 1.9% climb. The energy component closed its trading day at $53.75/bbl.

The downtick in technology stemmed from a downbeat response to Qualcomm's (QCOM 54.05, -2.85) quarterly report. The company finished 5.0% lower after missing on revenues, signaling a possible slowdown in demand for semiconductors, which are a component of nearly every modern technological device.

Industrials (+0.3%) finished near the top of the leaderboard, beside financials (+0.3%), as airlines willed the industrial sector to a modest gain. Southwest Airlines (LUV 53.92, +4.46) added 9.0% after reporting favorable earnings per share, however, the industrial sector's gains were capped by a lackluster earnings report from Caterpillar (CAT 97.22, -0.93) and continued weakness from United Technologies (UTX 110.36, -0.60), who reported quarterly results before yesterday's session. The two names finished down 1.0% and 0.5%, respectively.

On the countercyclical side, health care (-0.7%) finished in last place after Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY 46.82, -2.73) missed earnings per share estimates and issued downbeat guidance. The company slipped 5.5%, putting pressure on its fellow health care components. Consumer staples (-0.4%) finished just a hair better than the health care sector, while the lightly-weighted telecom services, utilities, and real estate sectors finished near their flat lines.

U.S. Treasuries closed modestly higher, bouncing back in the afternoon after succumbing to morning selling pressure. The benchmark 10-yr yield finished one basis point lower at 2.50%.

Today's economic data included Initial Claims, International Trade in Goods, New Home Sales, and Leading Indicators:

The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 259,000 while the consensus expected a reading of 246,000. Today's tally was above the revised prior week count of 237,000 (from 234,000). As for continuing claims, they rose to 2.100 million from the revised count of 2.059 million (from 2.046 million).

The headline for initial claims was a bit disappointing, yet the key takeaway is that there wasn't really any major deviation from the underlying trend considering how low the initial claims reading has been in recent weeks.

The Advance report for International Trade in Goods for December showed a deficit of $65.0 billion, down from a deficit of $65.3 billion for November.

New Home Sales in December hit an annualized rate of 536,000, which was below the revised November rate of 598,000 (from 592k), and less than the 589,000 that was expected by the consensus.

The key takeaway from the report is that the combination of higher prices and higher mortgage rates appears to have squeezed the home-buying capability of lower-income consumers, evidenced by the drop in sales of new homes priced under $299,999.

The Conference Board's Leading Indicators report for December ticked up 0.5% ( consensus +0.5%) after a 0.1% increase (from 0.0%) in November.

The key takeaway from the December report is that the component indexes suggest the economic expansion should continue and possibly increase in the near term.

Tomorrow's economic data will include advance fourth quarter GDP ( consensus 2.2%) and December Durable Orders ( consensus 3.0%) at 8:30 am ET, with the final reading of the Michigan Sentiment Index for January following at 10:00 am ET.


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