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The pre-market data for unemployment claims came in better (lower) than expected Thursday, setting the stage for positive open. On the other hand, the US trade deficit came in worse than expected, and that is not the sort of news that Q1 GDP needs. But the S&P 500 saw the glass half full and popped at the open. After the first five minutes it reached a level that proved to be higher than the level at it closing gain of 0.18%.

Thursday's trading range was quite narrow, and volume again was light -- about 9% below its 50-day moving average. What's on the market's mind? The February jobs report out today before the market opens.

Here's a 15-minute chart of the week so far. The majority of the week's gains were accomplished from the Monday noon hour to mid-morning on Tuesday. The subsequent trend has been at a much slower pace with the 1545 level as resistance. Will today's jobs data put the market in motion? And in which direction?

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Of late I've been watching daily charts of the SPY ETF, which gives a better sense of trader mentality. Volume has been falling conspicuously, a plausible sign of weak conviction.

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The S&P 500 is now up 8.28% for 2013 and at a new interim high.

From a longer-term perspective, the index is 128.3% above the March 2009 closing low and 1.3% below the nominal all-time high of October 2007.

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

For a better sense of how these declines figure into a larger historical context, here's a long-term view of secular bull and bear markets in the S&P Composite since 1871.

Source: S&P 500 Snapshot: Another Fractional Gain In Advance of Friday's Jobs Report