Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Market Steady Ahead of NFP; ADP Reports Jobs Creation Strong

The snapback rally in stocks off the January lows cannot be understated, nor can it be stopped. There are simply not enough reasons to not own stocks, being that commodities have been decimated, bonds are beyond the reach or intellect of ordinary investors, and the fact that most of the investment advisors and fund managers of the world are reaching for yield, putting stocks first, to the detriment of everything and anything else.

But, today was a day for repositioning, after ADP got the party started by reporting that private employers added 214,000 jobs in February. [Full report here]

Stocks initially had the blues, trading in the red for most of the morning, until European markets closed, then quickly erasing all losses, hugging the UNCH line for the remainder of the session.

While stocks were lacking in volatility and volume, commodities got a bit of a boost, with oil, gold and silver headed handily higher.

It was a lackluster session due to uncertainty about next week's FOMC meeting, one which the Fed could conceivably raise interest rates, though analysts have largely dismissed that possibility.

The interim rally in stocks has, since the middle of February, clawed back more than two-thirds of the losses incurred during the six-week decline from the start of January to the middle of February. Nothing seems to be able to send stocks back to their 2016 lows, though getting back to all-time highs would be something of a surprise, considering the slow growth rates of economies around the world, and especially in developed nations.

There's a week left before the FOMC meeting, at which point sentiment may take a turn to the negative, though, if the Fed continues to keep rates at their abnormally low rates, the party crowd on Wall Street is likely to break out the champagne, hats, and favors, bidding up equities beyond reasonable valuations (some say they already have).

This is just normal churn, but no time to either stake out new positions nor panic. The markets seem content - like the US economy - to muddle along, delivering unsensational profits in a low-inflation, low-growth environment.

Friday's non-farm payroll report - as meaningless and unprovable as their spurious numbers might be - may provide some idea of sentiment going forward, but, at this point, the Fed is holding the most volatile hand of all the players, and they're not likely to bluff or fold. In typical Fed fashion, they'll be more likely to check, rather than raise the ante or call the hands.

Wednesday's Sleeper:
S&P 500: 1,986.45, +8.10 (0.41%)
DOW: 16,899.32, +34.24 (0.20%)
NASDAQ: 4,703.42, +13.83 (0.29%)

Crude Oil 34.65 +0.73% Gold 1,241.70 +0.89% EUR/USD 1.0867 -0.01% 10-Yr Bond 1.8480 +0.76% Corn 355.75 +0.07% Copper 2.19 +2.21% Silver 15.01 +1.69% Natural Gas 1.67 -4.13% Russell 2000 1,065.67 +1.06% VIX 17.12 -3.28% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4079 +0.91% USD/JPY 113.38

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