The main event early yesterday was the ECB rate decision. The central bank left its benchmark interest rates unchanged, as was expected by the majority of economists. In his usual press conference, President Mario Draghi made the same comments as he did last month about the ECB's monetary policy stance. However, in response to a question about when he might act, Draghi stated that the ECB was prepared to begin an asset purchase program as early as next month, when its staff would update its economic projections. (See: "Todd Harrison: The ECB Loads the Bazooka."
Energy was a very notable underperformer Thursday. The EIA released its weekly natural gas inventories, which recorded a 74-billion-cubic-feet build versus expectations of +70 bcf. Natural gas was lower, which dragged down the stocks of a number of exploration and production companies. Gulfport Energy
(NYSE:GPOR) was also a major culprit for the sell-off after reporting earnings in the pre-market and missing by a wide margin. The stock fell 19% amid a number of analyst downgrades.
The broader indices experienced another roller-coaster day. The S&P 500
(INDEXSP:.INX) opened up 0.55%, only to fall a full percent intraday, only to recover some of those losses by the close of the session. Small caps notably underperformed again after Wednesday's strong intraday turnaround.
High-beta tech stocks were generally weak Thursday, with Tesla Motors
(NASDAQ:TSLA) leading the charge lower. Tesla fell 11.3% after reporting first-quarter earnings that were roughly in line with expectations, and thus not strong enough to satisfy bulls in the shaky market environment.
Internet security play FireEye
(NASDAQ:FEYE) traded higher in the early going, but it couldn't hold its gains and finished down 4.19%. At $27.45, it's now more than 70% off its $97.35 March high.
One tech name that bucked the larger trend was Twitter
(NYSE:TWTR), which rose 4.17% to $31.94 after Morgan Stanley
(NYSE:MS) upgraded the stock to equal-weight.
Tomorrow's Financial Outlook
Two economic reports are scheduled for today, the March JOLTS Job Openings and Wholesale Inventories. The March report of inventories will be the last officially reported figure for the next round of first-quarter GDP revisions. Inventories are expected to grow 0.5% month-on-month after rising a similar amount in the month prior. The Job Openings report is judged by economists to be the "truest" gauge of labor market activity because it measures job leavers in addition to new hires.
Being Friday, it will be a light day for earnings. The only notable reports scheduled are Ralph Lauren
(NYSE:RL) and Hilton Worldwide
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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