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There was no economic news Monday, only speculation about Q1 earnings season. The eurozone markets closed essentially flat, with the EURO STOXX 50 up a fractional 0.15%. The S&P 500 ignored pre-market futures and spent yesterday morning and lunch hour in negative territory, although the index trended subtly higher after its 10:15 intraday low. But a bit after 1:30 the index began a rally that was sustained to its closing gain of 0.63%, which was also the intraday high. Monday marked the 14th consecutive day of alternating gains and losses. I'm not sure what the record is, but I know this string predates the early 1980s.

Here is a 5-minute look at yesterday's action. Was there some nutritional supplement in lunch?

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Despite Monday's gain, volume was extremely thin as we enter earnings season. Has there been enough lowering of expectations for Q1 earnings to surprise to the upside? The answer will probably be slow in coming. As I type this, Alcoa (AA) appears to have beat on profits but fallen short on revenue.

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The S&P 500 is now up 9.60% for 2013 and 0.46% below the interim closing high of April 2, 2013. From a longer-term perspective, the index is 131.04% above the March 2009 closing low.

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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: Afternoon Rally On Low Volume