Following Wednesday's low-volume advances (lowest of the year), stocks followed a similar pattern in Thursday's trading regimen, slumping at the open, only to rise through the day and close modestly green.
While the talking heads on Bloomberg and CNBC are hyperventilating over the February non-farm payroll report due out tomorrow morning, the true market-moving events concern central banks and they don't occur until next week and the following, beginning with the ECB policy announcement on March 10, and the FOMC meeting March 15-16.
After ADP's February private sector number coming in at 214,000 Wednesday morning, the market is expecting something in that range from the BLS, with consensus just a shade below 200,000.
Whatever the number, it should weigh on any rate decision the Fed has planned or is considering. Another 25 basis point hike in the federal funds rate at this meeting has been largely discounted by the market, meaning, that if the Fed stands pat on rates, then it is tacit understanding that their goal of four more hikes by the end of the year is very much being scrapped.
There are simply too many negative forces pulling at the Fed for them to do another rate hike. Everything from the fragile US economy to the cratering Yuan and Chinese GDP growth to the nut-case presidential primaries are under consideration by the most politically-motivated central bank in the known universe.
That is to say nothing of the 1500-point hissy fit thrown by the DJIA after the most recent rate increase, in December of last year.
Stocks continue to keep to the script here, with the S&P within hailing distance of 2000, and the Dow closing in fast on 17,000. Both are admirable short-term goals, but they will hardly prove to be persistent. Stocks are becoming severely overbought and overvalued, and charts show all kinds of evidence that the bull run from 2009 has ended. Besides, there's growing fears of a recession looming, especially after the poor performance not only of the past two quarters, but of the general seven-year-long recovery.
The key level is 17,200 for the Dow, a point at which there is a significant patch of heavily-fortified resistance.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release the February non-farm payroll report at 8:30 am ET, Friday.
S&P 500: 1,993.40, +6.95 (0.35%)
Dow: 16,943.90, +44.58 (0.26%)
NASDAQ: 4,707.42, +4.00 (0.09%)
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