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Trader Talk: What's derailing transportation stocks

All 20 stocks in the Dow Transportation Average are down on the week.

The overall trend in the market remains up, but there is one slightly troubling development: Transports are deteriorating.

They notched a huge 15 percent run-up from the election to the middle of December. Yet since hitting an historic high on January 26th, the Dow Transportation Average has dropped every single day, a drop of about 4 percent. Yesterday, it dropped below its 50-day moving average for the first time since October 2016, so there's been technical damage as well.

What gives? Part of the problem is poor earnings:

1) UPS is down 11 percent on the week after poor guidance, taking rival Fedex down 6 percent as well. Part of the problem is Amazon, which is turning the whole shipping business into a commodity;

2) Truckers have been reporting disappointing numbers. Ryder is down 8 percent for the week, as it missed on earnings and offered very weak guidance. Still, even decent earnings are not preventing selloffs.

Freight transporter and logistics provider CH Robinson beat estimates Tuesday after the bell, but as with Ryder pricing has been weak for trucking services, and the stock has been trading down since then.

3) Airlines have been down all week, as Delta suffered through another technology outage Sunday night. Some of this may be due to the threat of onerous immigration policies coming from the Trump administration.

It may be more than that. None of the major airlines or railroads reported earnings this week, yet Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific and CSX are all down 1 percent to 3 percent.

So there you have it: Poor earnings, and a mix of trade and policy concerns around the Trump administration. Is this an early warning sign?

  • 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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