Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Retail Sales Rise In Feb

The market is roughly flat in early trading, and once again yesterday we saw sellers try to push the market lower but dip buyers again showed up late in the day and helped save the Dow and keep in in positive territory.  The S&P closed only slightly lower on relatively light volume.

In economic news, retail sales for the month of February rose 1.1% which was better than expected, and up from the prior month's reading of 0.2%.

Utility stocks are leading the early action, while the materials sector is lagging.  Financials are up slightly so far.

Asian markets were lower across the board overnight, led by a 1.5% drop in Hong Kong over concerns about a slowdown in China's property markets.  S. Korean unemployment was reported at 3.5%, slightly ahead of what the market was looking for.

European markets are also lower today, led by a 1.6% drop in Italy.  Eurozone industrial production declined 0.4%.  Italy auctioned off 3-yr debt at a yield of 2.48% vs. 2.30% from the previous auction.  And reports indicate the Troika and Cyprus are in talks regarding a smaller bailout agreement for the troubled nation.

The dollar index is trading higher today, and weighing on commodities.  Gold is lower near $1586, and silver and copper prices are lower also.  Ag prices are down today as well.  Oil prices are bucking the trend and trading higher to $93.08.

The 10-year yield is higher today, within its recent range and trading at 2.05%,

The volatility index remains remarkably low at 12.32.  When the VIX is this low, we often see a selloff in the market even if it turns out to be brief.

Trading comment: Waiting for a market pullback continues to be a difficult plan.  We have been looking for situations to add to stocks that have been performing well but are not too extended in price.  That list isn't too large these days as many stocks have had big runups and look like they are in need of a rest at this point and not worth chasing.  But investor sentiment is not nearly as high as we would expect with the market at new highs, so we continue to think pullbacks will be brief affairs in this environment.


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