The NASDAQ futures weighed on stocks, but the broad market is marching on.
From a historical perspective, this week is not the time to be a stock market bear. As we've outlined, the market generally likes to move higher into Fed meetings and quarterly futures expiration also tends to put upward pressure on pricing. This is true, at least until the Friday morning Triple Witch. From there, things sometimes turn sour. Thus, the ES bears will likely have better entry points in the coming sessions if they are patient.
We've also heard chatter about a Bradley turn date occurring on the 20th of this month, and others are noting June 26th as a potential reversal date based on moon cycles. We don't normally pay attention to these types of things, but the fact that they coincidentally appear to be in line with the charts make them at least worth noting.
Investors are on edge ahead of event risk
Thus far the summer of 2016 has been highly volatile, and we don't see any signs of this changing anytime soon. From grains, to energies, to currencies and, of course, the financials, there have been fortunes made and lost in the markets. We suspect this trend will continue well into the fall months. Accordingly, it is generally a good idea to try to keep speculative bets on the small side.
Risk-off assets such as Treasuries and gold are highly overextended despite the fact that equity market are hovering at relatively lofty levels. In our view, this offers a glimpse into the minds of investors; it is clear they are far from comfortable with the current environment. We can't blame them; we've yet to resolve the Brexit vote implications and we will soon be forced to endure the latest US employment report and, more important, it's potential impact on the Fed's interest rate policy. Soon after, the second quarter earnings season will roll out. With all of this in mind, it might be worth unloading some risk where possible.
A healthy jobs report, a potential Dodd-Frank peel back, and renewed talks of tax cuts propelled markets higher.
Financial futures traders loved Friday's events and they expressed that sentiment by buying into US assets. For the first time in a LONG time, the jobs report was judged by its merit as opposed to the anticipated reaction by the Federal Reserve. In other words, the markets no longer seem to be held hostage by the Fed's every move. Instead, investors are looking to speculative economic growth as the driving factor with the Fed's monetary policy as a secondary concern.
Non-farm payrolls grew by 227,000 in January but the good news was slightly dampened by sluggish wage growth. On a positive note, the unemployment rate ticked higher to 4.8%. No, that isn't a typo...a higher unemployment rate is a positive. The increase in the unemployment rate is a sign that the labor force has increased. In short, some of those who were discouraged from looking for work have found a reason to get back on the job-hunt (remember, the headline unemployment report fails to recognize those who stopped looking for a job out of frustration but are still unemployed).
Trade tariff talk is just that, we've yet to get anything concrete. Yet, the market is emotional.
This is nothing new, if there is anything we've learned from the first year (+) of the Trump presidency it is the conversation always starts with drama, but then settles down to something more reasonable. Unfortunately, the markets haven't quite figured that out yet. Those that believe markets are efficient, will have a hard time explaining what we've seen in the previous three or four trading sessions.
Tariff discussions, without any concrete decisions, can't explain such big swings in asset prices. The only rational explanation for this type of volatility is (ironically) irrationality. Markets are emotional, and we are being reminded of that. The low volatility slumber of 2016 and 2017 were anomalies and are probably behind us.
The "buy and holders" might not be happy with the market environment before us, but the reality is the expanded volatility will eventually provide opportunities for traders (particularly option sellers). Further, it might not feel like it but this is a healthier market than what we saw in late 2017 and January 2018.