Was the Market Even Open Last Week?


Don’t feel bad if you were on vacation last week. Not much happened in the market.

The S&P 500 opened with a bang at its highest level in over a month. But it stalled and bled lower through Thursday. All told, the index ended the week down 1.14 percent, and only two companies managed double-digit moves.

Perhaps more importantly, the S&P 500 closed above its 50-day moving average — a closely watched trend indicator. Cboe’s volatility index, the VIX, also ended the week at its second-lowest level since last month’s sharp pullback in the broader market.

News events were mixed. On one hand, talk of trade wars kept rattling nerves. Retail sales and housing disappointed, although consumer sentiment and industrial data surprised to the upside. Lawmakers are also looking to cut bank regulations imposed under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.

Sector performance had an interesting twist. At first glance it looked like a “flight-to-safety” week because safe havens like Utilities and REITs were the only major sectors to rise. But other buckets associated with risk appetite, especially Transports and small-caps, also outperformed.

The megacap Dow Jones Industrial Average did the worst among major benchmarks as trade worries dragged on Boeing (BA). Materials and financials struggled as well.

Micron (MU) was the only member of the S&P 500 to rise 10 percent last week, continuing a rampage that began with a 50-day moving average breakout in mid-February. Signet Jewelers (SIG) led to the downside with a 21 percent drop. Too bad it’s not the 1990s, because otherwise their mall-based business model would be great.

There were some notes in currency and commodity markets. The euro fell against both the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen amid weak inflation and dovish comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. Crude oil also spiked without a clear reason on Friday morning, potentially escaping from a bearish-triangle pattern.

This week brings news from the Federal Reserve and some high-profile earnings.

Cryptocurrencies may be in focus today as G-20 financial leaders begin a two-day meeting in Buenos Aires. Oracle (ORCL) reports earnings tonight. FedEx (FDX) follows tomorrow afternoon.

On Wednesday, the Fed is expected to raise interest rates a quarter point. It will also be the first meeting under its newly installed chair, Jerome Powell. Existing home sales and crude-oil inventories come out earlier in the morning.

Thursday’s the busiest day for earnings, with Carnival (CCL) in the pre-market and MU and Nike (NKE) after the close. Initial jobless claims are due as well.

The week concludes with durable-goods orders and new-home sales Friday morning.

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David Russell is VP of Market Intelligence at TradeStation Group. Drawing on nearly two decades of experience as a financial journalist and analyst, his background includes equities, emerging markets, fixed-income and derivatives. He previously worked at Bloomberg News, CNBC and E*TRADE Financial. Russell systematically reviews countless global financial headlines and indicators in search of broad tradable trends that present opportunities repeatedly over time. Customers can expect him to keep them appraised of sector leadership, relative strength and the big stories – especially those overlooked by other commentators. He’s also a big fan of generating leverage with options to limit capital at risk.