The stock market showed some characteristic resilience on Wednesday, bouncing back from larger losses and ending the day down less than one point. The recovery effort didn't have a specific catalyst; hence, it was explained by some to be a case of end-of-quarter window dressing by fund managers.
Whatever it was, there wasn't a lot of conviction in yesterday's trading. Volume at the NYSE totalled just 596 mln shares versus the 50-day average of 723 mln shares.
The S&P 500 continues to knock at the door of a new, all-time closing high. A gain of 2.31 points today will get it there, yet the early indication is that it is not a given.
The S&P futures are trading roughly 0.1% above fair value, suggesting a fairly tepid start is in order.
One of today's leading headlines is that the banks in Cyprus reopened with capital controls and long lines of depositors in place. It is a long way from business as usual, but the successful reopening combined with a better-than-expected retail sales report out of Germany has helped lift European equity markets.
It was a different story China where the Shanghai Composite dropped 2.8% in the wake of new controls on wealth management products being announced by the country's banking regulator. Japan was down 1.3%, reportedly on concerns linked to weak business activity in the eurozone.
Here at home, several companies reported earnings results after yesterday's close. Blackberry (BBRY) is getting most of the attention after posting better-than-expected bottom-line numbers. It stock has been volatile in premarket trading due in part to short-covering activity and some cautious remarks from analysts.
Accenture (ACN), Red Hat (RHT), Gamestop (GME) and PVH Corp. (PVH) were other notable companies that reported. They all topped expectations yet each one of them also issued disappointing guidance.
This morning's economic reports brought some mixed news as well.
The third estimate for Q4 GDP was revised up to 0.4% (Briefing.com consensus +0.3%) from 0.1%. The improvement was driven by an upward revision to nonresidential investment, which increased 13.2% versus a 9.7% increase reported with the second estimate. That bumped up the contribution to real GDP from nonresidential investment to 1.28 percentage points from 0.96 percentage points.
The higher read on Q4 GDP is nice to see, but any way you look at it, the growth was still weak. Final sales of domestic product, which excludes the change in inventories, were up 1.9% versus 2.4% in the third quarter.
This report for Q4 will be glossed over for two reasons in particular: (1) the market is cognizant that first quarter activity is tracking for higher growth (we're at 2.9%) and (2) the first quarter is basically over, making a Q4 report look dated indeed.
Separately, initial claims increased by 16,000 to 357,000 for the week ending March 23 (Briefing.com consensus 338,000). Initial claims had fallen below 350,000 for four weeks straight, so the latest number tips things back into the 350,000-400,000 zone where claims had been for most of the last year.
We'll have to see if this is a return to prior form when next week's number is released. For the moment, we aren't going to read too much into it as a sign of weakening labor conditions. It doesn't appear as if the market is either since the S&P futures saw little change after its release.
As an aside, the Department of Labor said this week's release reflects the annual revision to the weekly unemployment claims seasonal adjustment factors.
Continuing claims for the week ending March 16 decreased 27,000 to 3.05 mln (Briefing.com consensus 3.04 mln).
The Chicago PMI report for March (Briefing.com consensus 56.5; prior 56.8) will be released at 9:45 a.m. ET.