Todd Harrison: Janet Yellen Supercharges Quarter-End Performance Anxiety
Multiple crosscurrents compete for our collective attention.
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She cuts you once, she cuts you twice but still you believe. The wound is so fresh you can taste the blood, but you don't have strength to leave.-- Billy Joel.
Janet Yellen, Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, did her part this morning to supercharge quarter-end performance anxiety.
In mentioning the economy will need "extraordinary support for some time" and "QE (quantitative easing) taper doesn't mean reduced stimulus commitment," she counter-balanced her recent remarks alluding to a rate hike in the spring of 2015.
These comments, on top of the Putin news late Friday that he is seeking a diplomatic solution -- take that with a grain of salt -- is the tailwind to today's tape.
Given the updraft, the banks and S&P (INDEXSP:.INX) are above support while the Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:IXIC), Dow Transports (INDEXDJX:DJT), and Russell 2000 (INDEXRUSSELL:RUT) remain below resistance as we edge toward the last trading day of the first reporting period in 2014.
As I write this missive, market breadth is 3:1 positive although some cracks have appeared in Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Keurig Green Mountain (NASDAQ:GMCR), which are trading to the downside. My favorite cannabis proxy, GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH), is struggling to hold the flat line after getting thumped on Friday.
And, we have the VXO (INDEXCBOE:VXO) at 12-half -- a kitten's whisker away from all-time support-- where we've seen bounces in the past. Volatility is the opposite of liquidity and if the Fed reduces liquidity from the system, it stands to reason that volatility will uptick--which could create a bumpy ride for stocks.
Lots of chatter about the Michael Lewis 60 Minutes segment last night. I thought it was well done; those who have paid attention to the Wall Street machination have known for some time the tape doesn't trade naturally. Between central bank agendas and high-frequency trading (HFT), we've been caught in the crossfire.
The most important question is how the regulation will evolve; with more that 50% (some estimate 70%) of average daily volume driven by the machines, the decision to "pull the plug" would shock the system. A market sans HFT would be healthier and more pure but there will be unintended consequences as there always are.
Every stock market level you need to know for the coming week can be found here.
Today is the last day of the quarter, which means we'll see a lot of shuffling under the surface. You can't front the games people play but you should be aware of them. Also remember that even more reshuffling will occur tomorrow and perhaps a few days to follow as funds reweight their holdings into Q2.
One would think that the high-beta realm and biotech -- sectors puked the last few weeks -- will bounce once the new three-month lease of exposure begins tomorrow. Last week we flagged biotech support at IBB (NASDAQ:IBB) 234 and the 200-day is below that at IBB 215; the complex is down almost 17% in a month--but still up 47% in the last year and 226% the last three years.
With the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI), S&P, and Nasdaq-100 (INDEXNASDAQ:NDX) all (more or less) 1% from the flat line, alpha bits (individual stocks) will mysteriously move into the closing bell.
Of course, the bulls are betting that the recent supply is quarter-end related, or at the very least, tax-selling. Seems intuitive enough; the question remains, how many people are waiting to sell into it?
I can't shake the story about Sir Isaac Newton and the South Sea Bubble.
- Lots to digest; let me get this to you. As always, I hope this finds you well.
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Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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