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It's earnings and perhaps "rumor" season too

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There's been little change in the major indexes as late-session trading has seen the major indexes dip slightly below their intra-day pivots, only to recover back above those pivots in what has been at best a "scalp trader's" session where little volatility is making for a rather lackluster trading session.

While earnings season begins to kick into full stride, some "unusual" activity is being seen in several stocks ahead of their earnings reports.

Shares of business products retailer Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) $13.10 -7.2% trades lower on heavy volume of 6.5 million shares, which follow a rather heavy volume day of 5 million shares yesterday. The company is expected to report its Q4 results in early February with analysts looking for the company to earn $0.21 per share, which would be 2-cent above year ago level. I can find no news to explain today's action, but chief rival Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) $18.26 -1.6% also exhibits marginal weakness as does OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX) $5.12 -2.47%. Of the major business products retailers, ODP is usually the first to report quarterly earnings and set the tone for the sector. Today's action hints that there may be some trader talk circulating the floor, but that's about all I can come up with to explain today's action.

The Gold/Silver Index (XAU.X) 74.13 -3.40% has extended its earlier losses after giving up the 75.00 level of support mentioned earlier today, on what looks to be a exodus of momentum bulls, which may be a sign of impatience as geopolitical tensions haven't seemed to benefit the group much in the past week. Today's trade at 75.00 does have the sector giving a point and figure sell signal and hinting of a more defensive posture, with bullish support trend at 67 a risk assessment level for bulls.

Just as we noted divergence between oil service stocks and oil itself earlier today, we see the same from gold equities and gold futures. Today's action saw the April Gold futures (gc03h) little changed at $353.40.

Volume has been on the light side today at both the NYSE and NASDAQ. NYSE volume just broke the 1.1 billion share mark while NASDAQ volume has been slightly more heavy at 1.34, but hard pressed to reach yesterday's 1.59 billion share mark.

While yesterday's action saw final breadth even at 16:16 for the NYSE and NASDAQ, breadth at relatively unchanged levels is more positive as we near the close with NYSE advancers outnumbering decliners by a 9 to 7 margin, while breadth at the NASDAQ is equally positive at 17 to 14.

Today's trade in the new highs versus new lows category isn't quite to the bullish levels seen yesterday, but still healthy with 88 stocks hitting new 52-week highs on the NYSE compared to just 18 stocks trading new lows. NASDAQ shows 66 stocks at new 52-week highs compared to just 13 new lows.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) $17.65 +1.55% has built a gain to its session high and is the third most actively traded stock in the market today. Tonight's earnings will be "key" for technology stock traders in the coming session, and we'll be covering the results and after-hours trade in tonight's market monitor.

Jeff Bailey

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