Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Markets Struggle To Hold 50-day Averages

The market is under pressure again in early trading, led by a bounce in the dollar and continued weakness in commodities.

The major indexes are now struggling to hold above their respective 50-day moving averages. The S&P 500 needs to close above 1325, while the Nasdaq needs to hold 2771.

In economic news, both housing starts and building permits came in weaker than expected. The housing market continues to bump along a long bottom without making much progress.

In corporate news, HPQ reported solid earnings but issued downside guidance for next quarter which really hit the stock hard. Wal-Mart also reported solid earnings and gave in-line guidance, but it's stock is slightly lower so far as well.

In early trading, materials and industrials stocks are leading on the downside, while defensive consumer staples and utilities are bucking the weakness and showing small gains.

Asian markets were mixed overnight, while Europe is mostly weaker this morning. A bounce in the dollar is weighing on commodities, with oil prices down to $96.50 and gold prices lower to $1482.

The 10-year yield is sliding further to 3.11%. It's funny that with QE2 ending, the fear was that bond yields would rise but the exact opposite is occurring.

The volatility index is up 1.5% to 18.51.

Trading comment: Volume accelerated during yesterday's selloff, making for another distribution day. The market is in a correction now, so it's prudent to space out your buys a little wider, and hold a higher cash cushion to take advantage of further dips. Emerging markets look broken, with the BRIC countries lagging most other parts of the world in relative performance. In the US, leading growth stocks continue to break down, signaling a more cautious stance is warranted. Ideally, this will just be another brief correction like many of the others, but you never know when something deeper is in the cards, so just be careful.


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