The S&P 500 closed on Wednesday at 2119, after touching 2120 for a moment mid-day. That’s within an eyelash of the 2124 and 2128 daily closing highs of last July and the intraday high for the index of 2132 made at the same time. (Note: I’ve always thought intraday figures are more important than closing, even if they’re a tiny bit more effort to look up. That’s not the consensus view, though. Arguably, that makes them even more important.)
This is the best attempt the S&P has made since then to test the old highs–which have so far proved firmly resistant to being bettered.
Yesterday, the market rallied from intra-day lows to close down, but not badly down, from Wednesday levels.
In the pre-market today, the S&P is showing the most significant weakness it has in a while, although we’re still talking about just over a half-percent. We also know that dabblers in the pre-market are often derivatives traders who exert little influence on how trading in the stocks themselves plays out. So pre-market action may have little predictive value.
In any event, I think that today’s trading might give us some insight into what the general mood of the market may be in coming weeks.
–a breakout above the current historical index highs would be a very bullish sign. But that might be like expecting a pony for your birthday, just too much to ask.
–a reflex decline, where short-term traders, having determined that the market can’t go higher, try to push prices down to see how far they can decline
—“backing and filling,” which is what technicians often call a sideways market, where stocks bob around in the space between–in this case–the May levels of 2050 or so and the new ground of 2100+ while they gather strength for a further advance.
If I had to pick one of the three right now, I’d select the third. One twist, though. It seems to me that as the market struggles higher, it is also reorienting itself further toward secular growth themes, specifically Millennials vs. Boomers and internet vs. physical presence. I expect that process to continue, no matter what the overall market direction.