Stock Market Update from Briefing.com

4:10 pm: [BRIEFING.COM] The stock market began the week with a pullback from record levels, but not before setting fresh intraday record highs during the opening minutes of action. The S&P 500 (-0.4%) registered its first decline in four sessions while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.6%) underperformed.

Equity indices displayed modest gains in the early going to follow a relatively quiet weekend. It is worth noting that China's Shanghai Composite soared 3.0% after MNI reported the People's Bank of China is looking into purchasing local government bonds. Meanwhile, European markets began the day under pressure, but finished with solid gains amid optimism that followed reports Greece has reshuffled its negotiating team.

As for U.S. stocks, the S&P 500 held an eight-point gain at the start with cyclical sectors underpinning the early strength; however, biotechnology lagged from the early going and pressured the health care sector (-1.8%) to the bottom of the leaderboard. For its part, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 348.55, -15.15) lost 4.2% and contributed to the underperformance of the Nasdaq.

Biotechnology weighed on S&P 500 and the Nasdaq while the Dow (-0.2%) was able to end a little ahead since the price-weighted index does not contain any biotech listings. That being said, the largest Dow component by weight-Goldman Sachs (GS 196.52, -1.47)-lost 0.7% while the financial sector (-0.3%) settled a step ahead of the S&P 500.

Similar to financials, four of the remaining five cyclical groups settled ahead of the broader market while the consumer discretionary sector (-0.9%) underperformed. On the flip side, materials (+0.9%) and technology (+0.4%) spent the day in positive territory.

The materials sector enjoyed broad support, including a 4.6% spike in Dow component DuPont (DD 74.81, +3.29) after Institutional Shareholder Services recommended Nelson Peltz for the company's board of directors. Steelmakers and miners also rallied with Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX 19.76, +0.40) and Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX 35.79, +0.29) gaining 2.1% and 0.8%, respectively.

Elsewhere, the technology sector (+0.4%) kept the market from sliding deeper into negative territory thanks to solid gains among large cap components. Most notably, Apple (AAPL 132.65, +2.37) climbed 1.8% ahead of its quarterly report while chipmakers held up relatively well with the PHLX Semiconductor Index adding 0.3%. The modest uptick in the chip index masked an 8.4% plunge in the shares of Applied Materials (AMAT 19.97, -1.83) brought on by news that the company terminated its combination agreement with Tokyo Electron due to regulatory concerns.

Treasuries retreated throughout the morning, but reversed course to erase the bulk of their losses. The 10-yr yield ticked up a basis point to 1.92%.

Today's participation was ahead of recent averages with more than 780 million shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.

Tomorrow, the Case-Shiller 20-city Index for February will be reported at 9:00 ET (Briefing.com consensus 4.7%) while the April Consumer Confidence report will cross the wires at 10:00 ET (expected 102.2).

  • Nasdaq Composite +6.9% YTD 
  • Russell 2000 +4.1% YTD 
  • S&P 500 +2.4% YTD 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average +1.2% YTD

3:40 pm: [BRIEFING.COM]

  • Gold and silver futures held today's strong gains, ending near today's highs
  • June gold rallied $27.20 to $1202.50/oz, while May silver gained $0.72 (or +5%) to $16.36/oz
  • Natural gas futures remained in the red all day on mild weather, ending -$0.06 to $2.51/MMBtu
  • WTI crude oil lost gains, closing $0.16 lower at $56.99/barrel.
  • Brent/WTI crude oil spread is currently about $8/barrel.

2:55 pm: [BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 trades lower by 0.2% with one hour remaining in the session while the Nasdaq (-0.6%) continues showing relative weakness.

The benchmark index enters the final hour of the day after surrendering its opening eight-point gain. Biotechnology was responsible for the pullback from the early high and the group remains weak with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 348.44, -15.26) down 4.1%.

Elsewhere, the top-weighted technology sector (+0.2%) has prevented the market from extending its decline with shares of Apple (AAPL 131.45, +1.17) trading higher by 0.9% ahead of this evening's quarterly report.

2:30 pm: [BRIEFING.COM] Not much change in the market with the S&P 500 (-0.2%) trading about three points above its worst level of the session. Meanwhile, the Russell 2000 (-1.0%) trails due to relative weakness in small cap names.

Cyclical sectors displayed strength in the early going, but only four of six growth-sensitive groups continue trading in the green while consumer discretionary (-0.4%) and financials (-0.1%) have turned negative. The discretionary sector has suffered from broad weakness, including a 0.9% decline in the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 100.10, -0.88) and a comparable pullback in the iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction ETF (ITB 26.77, -0.21).

On the upside, the materials sector (+1.1%) remains in the lead.

1:55 pm: [BRIEFING.COM] The major averages remain near their session lows.

With no economic data released today, we look to tomorrow's Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index increased to 101.3 in March from 98.8 in February. The Briefing.com Consensus expects the Consumer Confidence Index increased to 102.2 in April.

Over the past few weeks, gasoline prices continued to move higher and the stock market showed signs of volatility. Typically, these conditions weigh down confidence levels.

Those same moves, however, had no adverse impact on the University of Michigan's preliminary Consumer Sentiment Index. That index bounced back after a weak reading in March

1:35 pm: [BRIEFING.COM] The major U.S. indices remain lower but have staged a move off their intra-day lows. Equities remain weighed down by weakness in the health care sector (-1.4%) and specifically biotech stocks.

In commodities, gold (+$29.80 to $1204.80/troy ounce) and silver (+$0.76 to $16.40/troy ounce) futures have held their strong gains amid weakness in the U.S. Dollar. In turn, crude oil futures (-0.5% to $56.88) are weak, falling back under $57/bbl, and surrendering earlier gains.

In equities, shares in Tesla Motors (TSLA 234.25, +15.93) have set new 2015 highs following bullish commentary from Deutsche Bank ahead of Tesla's anticipated April 30 new product announcement.

At the top of the hour, the Treasury auctioned off $26 bln in 2-year notes. The auction was met with modest demand and saw a high yield of 0.54% and a bid-to-cover of 3.30.

12:55 pm: [BRIEFING.COM] The major averages hover near their lows at midday after spending the first half of the day in a steady slide from their early highs. The S&P 500 is lower by 0.3% while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.5%) underperforms.

Equity indices began the day with modest gains with most cyclical sectors overshadowing weakness among countercyclical groups. However, persistent selling pressure in the biotechnology group has sent the heavily-weighted health care sector (-1.4%) to the bottom of the leaderboard. In turn, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 350.28, -13.42) trades lower by 3.7%, which has contributed to the underperformance of the Nasdaq.

However, the Nasdaq has been limited to a relatively small decline despite the sharp losses among biotech names. That is mostly due to a 1.8% gain in the shares of Apple (AAPL 132.65, +2.37) with the company scheduled to report its results after today's closing bell. Meanwhile, the technology sector (+0.3%) trades only behind the materials space (+1.0%).

Elsewhere among cyclical groups, financials (+0.1%) and industrials (+0.1%) hold modest gains while consumer discretionary (-0.3%) and energy (-0.2%) hover below their flat lines.

Interestingly, the industrial sector has held a modest gain thanks to large cap names like General Electric (GE 26.88, +0.08) and Caterpillar (CAT 85.52, +0.92) while transport stocks lag with the Dow Jones Transportation Average lower by 0.7%.

Treasuries hold modest losses with the 10-yr yield higher by two basis points at 1.93%. On a related note, the Dollar Index (96.49, -0.44) held a slim gain during morning action, but is now on track for its third consecutive loss.

12:25 pm: [BRIEFING.COM] Continued selling pressure has sent the S&P 500 (-0.1%) into the red while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) remains behind the benchmark index.

The high-beta biotech group has lagged since the early going and the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 348.71, -14.99) is now down 4.0% while the health care sector (-1.6%) has slipped behind the utilities space (-1.4%). Including today's decline, the biotechnology ETF is just above its 50-day moving average (347.75).

Elsewhere, Treasuries remain near their lows with the 10-yr yield higher by three basis points at 1.93%.

11:55 am: [BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 (+0.1%) remains near its session low amid persistent pressure in the biotech space. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 355.28, -8.42) has widened its decline to 2.3% while the health care sector is now lower by 0.7%, only trading ahead of the utilities space (-1.4%).

Conversely, the steady selling in the biotech space has pressured the Nasdaq Composite (unch) to its flat line while cyclical sectors continue showing gains between 0.1% (consumer discretionary) and materials (1.2%).

Interestingly, the industrial sector (+0.3%) outperforms, but transport stocks have struggled with the Dow Jones Transportation Average trading lower by 0.3%. CH Robinson (CHRW 68.77, -1.88) has surrendered 2.7% ahead of this evening's quarterly report.

11:30 am: [BRIEFING.COM] Recent action saw the major averages retreat to their session lows with the Russell 2000 making a brief dip into the red. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 (+0.2%) continues holding a slim gain with all six cyclical sectors remaining in the green.

The materials sector (+1.2%) has held the lead since the start thanks to broad strength. Steelmakers and miners outperform with Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX 36.10, +0.60) and Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX 19.98, +0.62) showing respective gains of 1.7% and 3.1%. In addition, DuPont (DD 74.59, +3.07) has jumped 4.3% after Institutional Shareholder Services recommended Nelson Peltz for the company's board of directors.

Elsewhere, Treasuries have slipped to new lows, pushing the 10-yr yield up to 1.94% (+3 bps).

10:55 am: [BRIEFING.COM] The major averages continue holding modest gains with the S&P 500 trading higher by 0.1%.

Seven sectors trade in positive territory, but only two groups-materials (+1.0%) and technology (+0.6%)-show gains larger than 0.4%. Furthermore, the heavily-weighted financial sector (+0.3%) represents another outperformer while health care (-0.3%) and consumer staples (-0.2%) lag.

Notably, the health care sector has been pressured by biotechnology with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 359.16, -4.54) trading lower by 1.3%. Unlike the health care sector, the Nasdaq Composite has been able to overcome the weakness in biotech as its top-component-Apple (AAPL 132.71, +2.43)-remains higher by 1.9%.

10:40 am: [BRIEFING.COM]

  • Despite modest strength in the dollar index in overnight and early morning trade, precious metals were showing solid gains
  • In more recent trade, both gold and silver have extended gains by surging sharply higher, which was not driven by the dollar index.
  • The dollar index has given up its small morning gains and is now near the unchanged mark at 96.91
  • June gold is now +2% at $1198.50/oz while May silver is +3.8% at $16.23/oz
  • May nat gas has been in the red all day and is near session lows on mild weather, currently trading -3% at $2.45/MMBtu
  • Crude oil futures rallied higher following the open of floor trading, rising as high at $57.89/barrel. WTI has since pulled back and is now +0.5% at $57.45/barrel
  • May copper is +1.2% at $2.78/lb

9:55 am: [BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices continue holding their opening gains with the S&P 500 (+0.3%) trading near its early high.

The energy sector (+0.3%) has slipped from the top spot, leaving the technology space (+0.6%) ahead of other economic groups. The sector has been underpinned by Apple (AAPL 132.96, +2.68), which has added 2.1% ahead of this evening's earnings report.

Elsewhere, another influential group-financials (+0.5%)-also trades ahead of the benchmark index.

9:40 am: [BRIEFING.COM] As expected, the major averages began the day with modest gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.3%) leads while the S&P 500 (+0.2%) follows a little behind.

Eight of ten sectors display early gains with energy (+0.5%) pacing the early advance. The sector has been underpinned by a comparable advance in crude oil, which has climbed 0.5% to $57.42/bbl despite modest dollar strength that has the Dollar Index (97.08, +0.15) trading higher by 0.2% to follow two consecutive losses.

Elsewhere, the top-weighted technology sector (+0.4%) also displays relative strength while consumer staples (-0.2%) and utilities (-0.1%) underperform.

Treasuries remain near their lows with the 10-yr yield higher by two basis points at 1.93%.

9:14 am: [BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: +6.70. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +20.70. The stock market is on track for a higher open with futures on the S&P 500 trading seven points above fair value. Index futures spent the early portion of the night near their flat lines, but rallied to highs about two hours ago.

Global equity markets have started the week on an upbeat note with China's Shanghai Composite soaring 3.0% after MNI reported the People's Bank of China may begin buying local government bonds. Meanwhile in Europe, key regional indices hold gains between 0.5% and 1.0% despite the lack of new developments with regard to Greece.

Domestically, investors did not receive any economic data while today's batch of earnings did not include any notable reports. That being said, tech heavyweight-Apple (AAPL 132.14, +1.86)-is higher by 1.4% in pre-market ahead of its earnings report scheduled for after the closing bell.

Treasuries hover in the red with the 10-yr yield higher a basis point at 1.92%.

8:56 am: [BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: +5.20. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +17.20. The S&P 500 futures trade five points above fair value.

Overall, it was a somewhat mixed outing for Asian-Pacific markets on Monday, yet it was another gangbuster day for the Shanghai Composite, which soared 3.0% on the back of continued buying momentum from retail investors and speculation the People's Bank of China could begin a quantitative easing program.

  • Economic data was limited: 
    • China's March Industrial Profits -0.4% year-over-year (prior -4.2%) while Q1 Industrial Profits -2.7% year-over-year 
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  • Japan's Nikkei declined 0.2% with losses in the financial (-0.6%), energy (-0.6%), and consumer cyclical (-0.6%) sectors weighing on matters. Shiseido Co (-5.0%), Mitsubishi Motors (-4.1%), and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co (-3.6%) topped the list of decliners. Nippon Paper Industries (+5.1%) and NEC Corp (+4.9%) paced the winners. Out of the 225 index members, 83 ended higher, 132 finished lower, and 10 were unchanged. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng increased 1.3%. The energy (+3.9%), technology (+1.4%), and financial (+1.0%) sectors were the biggest movers. Individual standouts included China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (+7.2%), PetroChina (+6.7%), Kunlun Energy (+4.8%), HSBC Holdings (+3.6%), and China Unicom Hong Kong (+2.8%). China Mengniu Dairy (-1.9%) and Belle Intl (-1.7%) were the only stocks to drop more than 1.0%. Out of the 50 index members, 40 ended higher and 10 finished lower. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite increased 3.0%. According to a Bloomberg report, the rally was fueled in part by speculation that the government is considering merging state-owned enterprises. The energy (+4.5%) and industrial (+2.2%) sectors were the biggest movers in the Chinese market on Monday, with the latter bumping up after a report showing industrial profits were down 0.4% in March year-over-year versus a 4.2% decline in the first two months. Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical, Guangshen Railway, China Petroleum & Chemical, and Air China all rose by the daily limit of 10%. 
Major European indices trade higher across the board with Germany's DAX (+1.4%) in the lead. Greece remains in limbo following the Eurogroup meeting, but Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said he does not believe that a third bailout for Greece is needed at this time.
  • Participants received just a couple data points: 
    • Germany's March Import Price Index +1.0% month-over-month (expected 0.5%; prior 1.4%); -1.4% year-over-year, as expected 
    • UK's CBI Industrial Trends Orders ticked up to 1 from 0 (consensus 4) 
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  • UK's FTSE is higher by 0.5% with miners and financials showing strength. HSBC Holdings, Standard Chartered, Anglo American, Antofagasta, Rio Tinto, and Glencore are up between 0.6% and 2.9%. On the downside, homebuilders lag with Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey both down near 0.7%. 
  • In France, the CAC has gained 0.7%. Cap Gemini leads trades higher by 7.7% after announcing plans to acquire IGATE for $4 billion. Financials trade mixed with Societe Generale up 0.7% and BNP Paribas off 0.1%. 
  • Germany's DAX has jumped 1.4% with all but two names in the green. Deutsche Lufthansa and Volkswagen hold respective gains of 4.7% and 4.1% with the latter rallying after the resignation of its Chairman. Deutsche Bank is the weakest performer, down 4.1%.

8:28 am: [BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: +5.30. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +16.90. U.S. equity futures continue holding modest gains as they hover near their pre-market highs.

Meanwhile, the Dollar Index (97.23, +0.31) has spent the morning in a steady climb after registering two consecutive declines to end last week. The early dollar strength has come at the expense of the British pound (-0.5%) and the euro (-0.4%).

Today's action in the greenback will not be affected by economic data with tomorrow's Case-Shiller 20-city Index for February (Briefing.com consensus 4.7%) representing the first data point of the week.

7:55 am: [BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: +5.20. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +13.10. U.S. equity futures trade modestly higher amid upbeat action overseas. The S&P 500 futures hover five points above fair value after climbing off their lows shortly after markets in Europe opened for action.

The weekend was relatively quiet in terms of news developments with the biggest story coming out of China where the Shanghai Composite surged 3.0% on the expectations that the People's Bank of China will launch a quantitative easing program.

Today's session will be free of economic data.

Treasuries hold slim losses with the 10y-r yield higher by two basis points at 1.93%.

In U.S. corporate news of note:

  • 3D Systems (DDD 26.36, -0.87): -3.2% in reaction to a Piper Jaffray downgrade to 'Underweight' from 'Neutral.' 
  • Akorn (AKRX 47.00, -8.24): -14.9% after announcing plans to restate prior financial statements. In addition, the stock was downgraded to 'Neutral' from 'Overweight' at Piper Jaffray. 
  • American Express (AXP 77.61, -0.38): -0.5% after Nomura downgraded the stock to 'Neutral' from 'Buy.' 
  • Applied Materials (AMAT 20.32, -1.49): -6.8% after terminating its combination agreement with Tokyo Electron due to regulatory concerns. 
  • Changyou.com (CYOU 29.50, +0.18): +0.6% in reaction to better than expected results and cautious guidance. 
  • Restaurant Brands International (QSR 41.97, +0.40): +1.0% after beating earnings estimates on light revenue. 
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei -0.2%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng +1.3%, and China's Shanghai Composite +3.0% 
    • Economic data was limited: 
      • China's March Industrial Profits -0.4% year-over-year (prior -4.2%) while Q1 Industrial Profits -2.7% year-over-year 
    • In news: 
      • According to MNI, the People's Bank of China is looking at ways of expanding its balance sheet in order to avoid liquidity shortfalls in the system with quantitative easing being the most likely path. 
  • Major European indices trade higher across the board. UK's FTSE +0.3%, France's CAC +0.5%, and Germany's DAX +1.1%. Elsewhere, Italy's MIB +0.4% and Spain's IBEX +0.1% 
    • Participants received just a couple data points: 
      • Germany's March Import Price Index +1.0% month-over-month (expected 0.5%; prior 1.4%); -1.4% year-over-year, as expected 
      • UK's CBI Industrial Trends Orders ticked up to 1 from 0 (consensus 4). 
    • Among news of note: 
      • Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said he does not believe that a third bailout for Greece is needed at this time.

5:55 am: [BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: flat. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +8.80.

5:55 am: [BRIEFING.COM] Nikkei...19983.32...-36.70...-0.20%.  Hang Seng...28433.59...+372.60...+1.30%.

5:55 am: [BRIEFING.COM] FTSE...7046.19...-24.50...-0.40%.  DAX...11788.66...-22.20...-0.20%.

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