Daily Commentary: January 17, 2024

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News Vacuum & Sluggish Price Movement

Posted by Pete Stolcers on January 17

PRE-OPEN MARKET COMMENTS WEDNESDAY – The market is struggling to breakout above the high from 2023 and the headlines have been negative. We are in a news vacuum and all of the smaller issues that have been in play for over a year are in focus. That will change next week when more companies report earnings.

China’s market has been taking a hit and it is down big overnight. GDP came in at 4.8% vs 5% expected. Retail sales were a little light at 7.8% vs 8% expected. Industrial production was a little better than expected. China is once again reporting teenage unemployment after a few month respite. It dropped (employment improved) from 25% to 15% in a few months (don’t trust this number). China has been asking equity managers not to sell stocks. Their population continues to decline and that demographic shift could have consequences. The property development companies and the shadow banking industry are weak. This is the second largest economy in the world and China has been the global growth engine for decades so it is important to know what is happening there. None of this is new. The recent round of economic releases don’t explain the drop.

ECB comments from the Davos conference have been signaling a possible rate cut this summer. Fed officials have also been splashing cold water on the notion of a rate cut anytime soon.

This sluggish price movement and lack of follow-through for the S&P 500 starts to weigh on traders mentally. Every day it seems like we have to test support before we see any buying. Try to keep everything in perspective. In two weeks we will get the FOMC statement, major earnings releases from tech companies and a major round of economic news. These events have fueled the rally. The market is close to an all-time high because the Fed is not raising rates and they might consider a rate cut in Q1. Inflation is easing, job growth has been strong, economic activity has been strong and earnings have been excellent. Projections are for 12% earnings growth in 2024 and UBS is expecting mega cap tech companies to do particularly well. This is the news we need and each passing day, we get closer to those releases.

This is a pretty substantial overnight drop so let it play out. Europe and Asia were weak. No need to rush in and buy. We want the market to find support at AVWAPQ and to close above it today.

Support is at AVWAPQ and resistance is at the high from Tuesday.

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