Stocks Back Off In Reduced Volume


Weak economic data sent stocks to a weak close Friday, to end Q3 on a down note.

The Nasdaq fell 0.7%, the S&P 500 0.5% and the Dow Jones industrial average 0.4%. Volume fell slightly on both major exchanges, according to preliminary data.

The Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 49.7 for September, reflecting contraction. The University of Michigan’s final read on consumer sentiment for September also undercut expectations.

GNC Holdings (GNC) rose 5% after JPMorgan reported the vitamin retailer was introducing a special gold card service in several major metropolitan areas. The brokerage said the service could boost same-store sales in those markets, and kept an overweight rating on the stock. Volume came in barely above average.

GNC has fallen for three weeks in a row. But the week saw an upside reversal, with the stock paring what was an 8% loss to just 1%. The stock also regained its 10-week line.

Only a few top-rated stocks fell with heavy volume. Stratasys (SSYS) fell 4%, although in soft trade, and erased the bulk of Thursday’s advance. The stock has cooled off sharply since clearing a cup-with-handle base in July. Stratasys has wiped out its 35% gain from its July 18 breakout.

Apple (AAPL) fell 2% in slightly above-average volume. CEO Tim Cook apologized for the iPhone’s criticized mapping software. Cook even pointed customers to use maps from rivals Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT). Apple is 8% past a 619.97 buy point from a cup-with-handle base.

TransDigm (TDG) reversed higher, moving from a 2% loss to a 1% gain as volume climbed well above average. The stock cleared a 136.44 buy point from a flat base Aug. 17 in big volume, but hasn’t made much headway since. It’s up about 4% past that trigger.


Stocks Lurch Higher But Volume Lags Badly


Stocks lurched higher Thursday amid news that Spain enacted a deficit-cutting budget and hopes for new China stimulus. But volume lagged, giving the impression that the big-money funds didn’t have their hearts in it.

The Nasdaq rose 1.4%, the S&P 500 1% and the Dow Jones industrial average added 0.5%. Volume fell 2% on the Nasdaq and 17% on the NYSE, according to preliminary data.

The gains broke some losing streaks among the major averages. the S&P 500 had lost ground for five straight days, the Dow for four and the Nasdaq for three.

News from the U.S. economy was mixed: Initial claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected, suggesting an improved job market. But a poor report on durable goods sales and weak pending home sales did not add to the picture of a healthy economic recovery.

Cirrus Logic (CRUS) climbed 5% with moderately above-average volume and regained its 50-day moving average, breached Wednesday. It ended a six-session slide. Cirrus sold off in big volume in recent sessions.

Bally Technologies (BYI) rallied 4% to a five-month high in fast trade. The stock cleared a 47.84 buy point from a handle in a consolidation. Bally’s pattern can also be interpreted as a shallow double-bottom base. The gaming equipment maker has had some tough times in recent years and carries a heavy debt load. But it has now delivered profit growth of 12% to 56% in the past four quarters. Revenue grew 9% to 20% in recent periods.

Select Comfort (SCSS) reversed higher and rose 3%. It erased nearly all of Wednesday’s drop, although volume was higher on the way down than on the way up. Select Comfort cleared a 28.35 buy point from a cup-with-handle base Aug. 7.

Mortgage services software maker Ellie Mae (ELLI) climbed 4%. The stock ended Wednesday down 9% so far for the week and just above its 50-day moving average. The stock is testing its 10-week moving average.

Rentech Nitrogen Partners (RNF) rallied 3% and retraced nearly all of Wednesday’s drop. The stock cleared a 28.91 buy point from a cup-with-handle base July 5 and has climbed 30%. Rentech, which makes fertilizer and industrial products, has shown profit growth of 145% to 467% in recent quarters. But sales dipped 5% in the latest period.

Mellanox Technologies (MLNX) gapped up and rallied 3% in average trading. The stock has sold off hard in recent sessions. It closed below its 50-day line for the first time in two months Tuesday. But the stock is now getting close to regaining that line.

On the downside, Chinese software-security company Qihoo 360 Technology (QIHU) reversed early gains and fell 1%, its sixth straight loss. On Wednesday, the stock fell more than 8% below a 24.98 buy point in a cup-with-handle pattern. Qihoo’s base corrected 47% and had an awkward shape. Its handle corrected 15%, a bit more than the proper range of 8% to 12%.

Stocks Extend Losses But End Off Lows


Stocks extended losses Wednesday, but ended off their session lows.

Worries over the eurozone put investors on edge. Spain’s economy slowed sharply in the third quarter and Spanish bond yields topped 6%. An unexpected drop in U.S. new-home sales didn’t help, either.

The Nasdaq again suffered the hardest hit, falling 0.8%. But it was off by 1.2% at Wednesday’s low. The S&P 500 fell 0.6% for its fifth straight loss. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.3%. According to preliminary data, NYSE volume rose and Nasdaq trade fell. Group (WWWW) trimmed an 8% loss to 4%. Intraday, the stock fell more than 8% below an 18.40 buy point from a cup-with-handle base cleared Tuesday. Although volume was heavy on the breakout, the stock closed under the buy point, which is usually not a good sign.

Stratasys (SSYS) slumped 4% to a two-month low. The stock closed near a 54.47 trigger from a cup-with-handle base cleared July 18. Stratasys has now erased the 35% gain from that breakout. The maker of 3D printers was recently cut from the small-cap S&P 600 index, as its pending merger with peer Objet violates certain index criteria.

Elsewhere, homebuilders fell hard one news that new-home sales eased 0.3% in August to an annual rate of 373,000 units. Economists expected a slight rise to 380,000 units. Meritage Homes (MTH) swooned 7% and Ryland Group (RYL) lost 6%.

Leaders up in volume were few, but Michael Kors (KORS) gained nearly 1% as it bounced back from two days of heavy selling. On Tuesday, the company priced a secondary offering by existing holders of 23 million shares at a discount to Monday’s close. Selling shareholders include founder Michael Kors and CEO John Idol.

Data on the third-quarter GDP, initial jobless claims, durable goods and pending-home sales will be out Thursday.