Futures are slightly lower in whisper quiet trading after the S&P 500 (^GSPC) set its second all-time record in as many days with a close right at the 2100 level Tuesday. Here are three things to watch as trading gets underway.
#1 No matter what you hear from less-reliable people in my line of work stock rallies and drops don’t actually come with labels. That’s not to say markets are “stupid” or “efficient”. It’s just that most of what you hear is less close to logical than you’re being told. The guess here has been and remains that turmoil in Greece and Ukraine simply don’t matter on the margin for U.S. investors. With the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) above nicely defined breakouts, the textbook trade is relatively simple: Get long and use old resistance as support. That works out to about 2090 and 2075 on the S&P 500. A close meaningfully below those levels is your natural stop. Trendlines are about controlling risk. Trades don’t get more basic than the set-up we have now.
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#2 Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder has instructed Justice Department lawyers that they have 90 days to decide whether or not they have cases they can win against individual executives at financial firms related to the 2008 financial crisis. Taken in combination with last week’s settlement with Standard & Poor’s in which the rating agency paid $ 1.37 billion without admitting wrong doing it would seem we’re winding down the litigation associated with the meltdown. Do you feel safer after $ 40 billion plus in fines and no executives in jail? If you do you shouldn’t. The point of all these cases was to fix an inherently flawed system to avoid the systemic risks that led to the meltdown. With the so-called disinfection of sunlight nothing will ever change. We don’t really need the government to hunt down and kill bankers. We need to rid the system of a conflict of interest like ratings agencies being paid by the banks whose products they are rating. That system remains in place just as millennials get ready to enter the home buying market.
Related: Justice Department Investigating Moody’s Investors Service
#3 Finally and coming full circle on things that don’t really matter: we’ve got Fed Minutes at 2pm today. Naturally goat entrails will be studied to no end trying to decipher what they may imply about the timing of the Fed’s long awaited rate hike. As is my custom, I will not parse a single word and neither should you. If you’re honestly making investing decisions based on stuff economists said in a conference room a couple weeks ago you have bigger problems than I can solve in my short remaining time on this platform. Let me just say this: There’s a reason Fed officials don’t get rich until they leave public office and start making speeches. The Fed isn’t going to bury important, actionable notions in some corner of the minutes like a video game Easter Egg. Rather than trade off Fed minutes just go down to Wall Street and make it rain by throwing money at traders. The end results is the same but that way you may make some new friends.
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