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End of Day Brief - Wed. March 24 - Stocks lower on recovery & reopening delay fear

Stocks drop as investors worry the pandemic recovery may take longer than anticipated

The major averages again ended lower following yesterday's declines on Wall Street, as the market continues to swing between gains and losses as investors mull growing evidence that the global pandemic recovery may take a bit longer than anticipated. Indeed, lockdowns have returned to some countries in the Eurozone, threatening the timetable for the global recovery.

ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the durable goods report undershot estimates with a 1.1% February headline orders drop and a 0.9% ex-transportation decline that both capped nine-month stretches of gains. The flash Markit manufacturing PMI for March rose 1.4 points to 59.0.

TOP NEWS: Intel ($INTC) was in focus after the chipmaker announced that it would invest $20B in two new Arizona semiconductor factories as part of the company's "IDM 2.0" vision. Along with the news, CEO Pat Gelsinger also announced Intel's plans to become a major provider of foundry capacity in the U.S. and Europe to serve customers globally. Looking ahead, Intel provided earnings and revenue guidance for fiscal 2021, adding that it expects to exceed its previously communicated Q1 guidance due to "continued strong notebook demand."

On the earnings front, GameStop ($GME) shares dropped 33.8% after the video game retailer reported slightly downbeat quarterly results, though comparable store sales were up 6.5% year-over-year in the quarter. The company also named Jenna Owens COO and disclosed in a regulatory filing that, since January 2021, it has been evaluating whether to increase the size of its at-the-market offering program and whether to potentially sell shares of its Class A common stock during the course of fiscal 2021.

In other earnings news, shares of Adobe ($ADBE) closed 1.9% lower despite the company reporting better than expected Q1 earnings and revenue. Looking ahead, Adobe provided upbeat guidance for the second quarter and raised its earnings and revenue guidance for fiscal 2021. Of note, the company said that CFO John Murphy intends to retire in 2021 to "spend more time with family and friends and focus on philanthropy."

In non-earnings news, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Bloomberg in an emailed statement that its existing order regarding a phased approach to cruises will stay in place. The news comes as a response to CLIA, which represents 95% of global ocean-going cruise capacity, calling for the CDC to lift the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order and allow for the planning of a phased resumption of cruise operations from U.S. ports by the beginning of July. Shares of cruise liners Norwegian Cruise ($NCLH), Royal Carribbean ($RCL), and Carnival ($CCL) all traded lower after the CDC's response.

Bloomberg reported online stock trading platform Robinhood ($HOOD) has filed confidentially for an IPO with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The popular app is moving forward with its offering even though its listing plans may change, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, shares of Bally's ($BALY) jumped 2.6% after the company reached an agreement in principle on key terms of a possible combination with the UK's Gamesys Group plc ($JKPTF), pursuant to which Bally's would acquire the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of Gamesys.

Additionally, marijuana stocks were in focus after Spectrum News NY1 reported that New York state officials have reached an agreement to legalize cannabis products for adult use and allow residents to maintain a limited number of marijuana plants in their homes.

MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Calumet Specialty Products ($CLMT), which rose 18% after Wells Fargo analyst Roger Read upgraded the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight as he incorporates a base-case view of its proposed renewable diesel transition. Also higher was Aptose Biosciences ($APTO), which surged 66.2% after reporting quarterly results.

Among the notable losers was Piedmont Lithium ($PLL), which declined 16.4% after a 1.75M share secondary offering priced at $70 per share. Also lower was General Mills ($GIS), which fell 4.2% after reporting quarterly results.

Reviewing Wednesday's economic data:

  • Durable goods orders declined 1.1% m/m in February ( consensus +0.9%) following an upwardly revised 3.5% increase (from 3.4%) in January. Excluding transportation, durable goods orders dropped 0.9% m/m ( consensus +0.6%) following an upwardly revised 1.6% increase (from 1.4%) in January.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the disappointing data for February followed on the heels of some notable strength in January, which in turn followed on the heels of some notable strength in prior months, suggesting that it is most likely only a temporary pause in the strengthening demand for durable goods.
  • The IHS final Markit Manufacturing PMI for March checked in at 59.0 vs. 58.6 in the preliminary reading. The final Services PMI for March checked in at 60.0 vs. 59.8 in the preliminary reading.
  • The weekly MBA Mortgage Applications Index decreased 2.5% following a 2.2% decline in the prior week.

  • Russell 2000 +8.1% YTD
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average +5.9% YTD
  • S&P 500 +3.5% YTD
  • Nasdaq Composite +0.6% YTD

Market Snapshot

SP 5003889.14-21.38(-0.55%)
10-yr Note +1/321.615
NYSEAdv 1388 Dec 1832 Vol 1.0 bln
NasdaqAdv 970 Dec 2987 Vol 6.0 bln

Industry Watch

Strong: Energy, Financials, Materials, Industrials
Weak: Information Technology, Communication Services, Consumer Discretionary

Moving the Market

-- Market closes lower in disappointing session

-- Cyclical stocks outperformed, but mega-caps/growth stocks exerted influential weakness

-- Intel (INTC) announced plans to build two semiconductor foundries in Arizona

Disclosure: I may trade in the ticker symbols mentioned, both long or short. My articles represent my personal opinion and analysis and should not be taken as investment advice. Readers should do their own research before making decisions to buy or sell securities. Trading and investing include risks, including loss of principal.

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