Wall Street had a quiet and mixed week following the euphoric post-French-election surge, as the usually impactful Fed meeting and jobs report didn’t get traders very excited. The FOMC did not cause any major surprises this month, leaving the benchmark rate unchanged, while the robust employment numbers were was also largely in line with expectations. On a negative note, industrial metals and oil are in a dismal period, as the fears regarding the sustainability of the Chinese economic growth are back in earnest, weighing heavily on the connected industries. The most-watched earnings reports were also a bit disappointing, as both Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) failed to impress with their numbers. With all of this in mind, the sideways price action should qualify as a bullish sign.
The latest economic reports were finally slightly better-than-expected, after a string of negative weeks. Besides the strong payrolls growth, the trade balance, the ISM non-manufacturing PMI, and the new jobless claims number were all positive surprises, with only the manufacturing PMI missing the consensus estimate. On Wednesday, the Fed’s finest dismissed the recent weakness as “transitory,” and although that caused a small dip in equities, the market seems to be fine with the speed of the current rate-hike cycle. Investors widely expect the next tightening step in June, with one additional hike being “priced in” for the rest of 2017.
The technical picture is still strongly bullish, despite the mixed performance of the major indices, as the major indices are all in clearly advancing trends. That said, the Nasdaq was the only benchmark that hit a new all-time high, holding above the historic 6,000 level throughout the week. The Dow and the S&P 500 were less convincing once again, but all of the indices are still above both their 50- and 200-day moving averages. The Russell 2000 drifted lower toward its short-term moving average, and the long-term indicator also edged closer to the small-cap benchmark. The Volatility Index (VIX) is still just above the 10 level; close to its all-time lows, as investor sentiment remains encouraging.
Market internals took a small hit, as small caps lagged the broader market following a brief period of relative strength, pushing some of the key measures lower. The Advance/Decline line failed to hit another new high last week, but it remains among the indicators that point to a healthy bull market. Advancing issues slightly outnumbered declining stocks again, by a 3 -to-2 ratio on the NYSE and by a 3-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The average number of new 52-week highs declined significantly on both exchanges, dropping to 155 on the NYSE, and 160 on the Nasdaq. The number of new lows also signaled deterioration, jumping to 56 on the NYSE, and 60 on the Nasdaq. The ratio of stocks above their 200-day moving average shows a clear negative divergence, as it dropped to 65% during the week, reflecting the weakness in the commodity complex and small caps.
Short interest remained near record lows in the low volatility environment, with only the energy segment being under constant pressure, thanks to the scary decline to a six-month low in the price of oil. Oil and gas equipment provider RPC (RES) experienced a jump in short interest, to 57%, amid the price drop. The shares of the company are holding up relatively well, still trading above their March lows, pointing to underlying strength. Home furnishing company RH (RH) broke out to a new 18-month high once again this week, and shorts are still in a peculiar position as the short interest stands at 50%. The recovery of Yahoo (YHOO) continued, as the search giant showed up on the list with the highest days-to-cover ratio (DTC), with a reading of 10. Teradata (TDC) is still also high on the list, with a DTC ratio of 13, as the stock took a 10% hit following its quarterly report.
The economic calendar seems empty following last week’s busy schedule, but Friday’s CPI and retail sales reports might have a real impact on the market, especially after the dismal readings in April. The Gorilla hopes that the “sell in May and go away” strategy won’t be a good one this year, as the lengthy consolidation period should provide a good base for the next leg of the bull market. That said, the Chinese banking woes could very well turn into a global problem, as they did back in 2015, but, so far, domestic stocks have been ignoring the weakness in Asia and the steep decline in commodities. Since most of the major companies have already reported earnings, and the numbers have been largely positive, bulls have good reason to be confident, despite the looming negative seasonality. Stay tuned!