Weighing the Week Ahead: A Delicate (and Temporary) Balance

Despite plenty of news, there was little market reaction. In a summer week including many vacations, we have a modest economic calendar but plenty of earnings news. I expect the punditry to be asking:

What will disrupt the balance of news?

Opinions about the balance are quite diverse, as a recap of last week shows.

Last Week Recap

In my last edition of WTWA I suggested “Anything Goes,” because there were so many varied events – all important. There was much discussion over the Trump/Putin summit, lots of good earnings news, two days of testimony from Fed Chairman Powell, and plenty of economic reports. And how did the market react? Not much, at least not in the overall indexes. Once again, a big week for news had a very modest effect on stocks. The punditry expressed surprise before offering their profound explanations. It was humorous to watch. Some were surprised that the news had not pushed stocks higher, and some were amazed that stocks had “shrugged off” the turmoil to hold ground. The job of pundit is easier when there is a clear move for which you can find post-hoc explanations.

My observation that it would be difficult to guess a single theme was pretty accurate. The Helsinki Summit story got continuing headlines, although the market implications are murky.

The Story in One Chart

I always start my personal review of the week by looking at a great chart. This week let’s look at the futures chart from Investing.com. Since futures trade outside normal market hours, you can see the overnight effects. The “N” tags are points where there was significant news. The interactive chart lets you see the specific news and add technical indicators of your choice. Futures have a different lead month on a quarterly cycle. Right now, trading is in September futures. The value differs a bit from the S&P 500 index value. The futures owner does not collect dividends but earns interest on the funds not used for actual stock purchases. There is an active arbitrage between these values.

The market was virtually unchanged. The week’s trading range was less than 1%, lower than the last few weeks and much lower than the long-term average. I summarize actual and implied volatility each week in our Indicator Snapshot section below. Volatility is back below the long-term range.