Surprise Swiss move plays havoc with Swiss stocks

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The Swiss National Bank scrapped its cap on the franc against the euro. The immediate result is the Swiss franc rallied against the euro and the dollar, which will make imports cheaper, but exports more expensive for Switzerland. The Swiss bank also cut rates.

The Swiss stock market is down about 10 percent, including bank stocks like Credit Suisse and UBS. However, Swiss stocks that trade in the United States, which are quoted in dollars, are trading up because the Swiss franc has rallied against the dollar.

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1) Best Buy had great holiday sales, but gave lousy guidance. Holiday sales growth of 2.6 percent was well above expectations of roughly 1 percent. Online comparable store sales were up 13.4 percent. These are good numbers! Best Buy should have stopped there.

Guidance for the first half of 2015 is for flat to down comparable sales and lower margins. That's disappointing, considering how strong mobile phone and home theater sales appear to have been. Maybe Best Buy is just being ultra-conservative.

2) Target is exiting Canada, but the retailer did guide higher for fourth quarter comparable store sales, up 3 percent versus prior guidance of a 2-percent increase. Traffic has been stronger, driven by digital sales.

3) Homebuilder Lennar reported earnings per share of $1.07, much better than the expected 96 cents. The good news: orders are up 22 percent, better than expected.

The bad news: selling prices are only up 7 percent, a little weaker than expected. Like KB Home, Lennar noted that 2015 would see slightly lower gross margins. The issues are the same: an increase in material, labor, and land costs, as well as higher incentives to home buyers.

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4) It's been a volatile start to the year, but the one trend that is very clear is defensives are outperforming cyclicals.

Sector leaders 2015:

  • Healthcare: up 2.0 percent
  • Utilities: up 1.4 percent
  • Consumer Staples: up 0.8 percent

Sector Laggards 2015:

  • Energy: down 6.5 percent
  • Financials: down 4.9 percent
  • Industrials: down 3.6 percent
  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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