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Bulls Feel the Winter Blues

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Today's financial recap and tomorrow's financial outlook.

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Stocks closed the week on a sour note as the bearish action picked up.

Extending yesterday's emerging markets-driven sell-off, the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) fell -2.09% to 1790.29 as investors fled from anything risk-related.

Looking at the other indices, we saw substantial weakness in the small-cap Russell 2000 (INDEXRUSSELL:RUT), and the Nasdaq Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) underperformed slightly despite positive action in earnings winners Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX).

Sector-wise, economically sensitive and momentum-based sectors were hurting today, with housing, financials, biotech, and social media coming under significant pressure.

We also saw the VIX (INDEXCBOE:VIX) spike 31.7% to 18.14, a level not seen since mid-December 2013, and the 10-Year US Treasury yield fell 14 bps to 2.735% as investors sought a safe haven.

There wasn't any one specific identifiable downside catalyst today, but in hindsight, market conditions seemed ripe for a pullback. Volatility in currencies, most notably in Argentina, has been picking up significantly in recent days, driving worries about contagion and a collapse in confidence. Traders are also increasingly concerned about a drop in Chinese economic activity and liquidity pressures in Turkey.

Stateside, earnings season has been underwhelming at best. The S&P 500 is coming off a spectacular year and is slightly overvalued based upon traditional metrics like P/E ratios.

Therefore, the current action in the US is best described as aggressive profit-taking, as uncertainty is increasing following a year of smooth gains amid low volatility.

In company news, we saw strong earnings from the aforementioned Microsoft and Starbucks after the close Thursday, while this morning, consumer staple giants Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and Kimberly Clark (NYSE:KMB) reported upside surprises. On the negative side, State Street (NYSE:STT) and Xerox (NYSE:XRX) sold off after disappointing Wall Street.

On the commodities side, natural gas was the story today, crossing the $5 mark for the first time since 2010 in reaction to the recent spate of cold weather, which is driving up demand.

There were no US economic reports today.

Tomorrow's Financial Outlook

Barring some unforeseen international event over the weekend, the biggest news on Monday will be Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report, which is due in the afternoon.

Other names reporting earnings include Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) before the open, and Seagate (NASDAQ:STX) and US Steel (NYSE:X) after the close.

At 10:00 a.m. EST, December 2013 new home sales data will be released. Consensus stands at 455,000.

Twitter: @Minyanville

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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