The S&P futures are down three points and are trading 0.2% below fair value. That disposition, should it hold, sets the stage for a modestly lower start for a stock market that has been acting with more modesty lately.
The unchecked bravado has faded with the passage of time and the lack of passage of a health care reform bill and an uncertain pathway to the passage of tax reform.
There are a lot of things that are up in the air so to speak and that has essentially grounded the stock market, which is trading today where it was basically trading in mid-February.
That can be called a lateral consolidation effort on the other side of a tremendous post-election run. The question on the market's mind is whether that is the pause that refreshes or the pause that gives way to a more meaningful correction.
Answers will be forthcoming in due time with the flow of first quarter earnings reports, the closely-watched French presidential election, which should be settled on May 7, and Congress reconvening in a few weeks to debate tax reform and other legislative priorities.
There is a geopolitical wild card in play, however, that has the market behaving in an otherwise reserved fashion. To that end, President Trump retweeted that he would like to see China help defuse the North Korea situation, but if it didn't, then the U.S. would act unilaterally if need be.
In effect, it is more of the same and that quality of "sameness" has led to a lack of trading conviction.
On a related note, Fed Chair Yellen offered a pretty status quo view of the Fed's policy approach in her remarks last night, although she avoided the topic of balance sheet normalization. Instead, she emphasized the expectation that the path to a lower neutral fed funds rate will likely be a gradual one.
Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, an FOMC voter and the lone dissenter at last month's meeting, will be speaking today at 1:45 p.m. ET. His remarks will follow the release of the JOLTS - Job Openings Report for February at 10:00 a.m. ET today. That report is known to be looked at closely by Fed Chair Yellen.
There isn't any other economic data of note on today's calendar, but it was reported earlier that the NFIB's Small Business Optimism Index dipped 0.6 points to 104.7 in March, with the Uncertainty Index checking in at 93, which is the second-highest reading in the history of the survey.
That uncertainty factor has been looming large over a lot of things and, as alluded to above, has tempered trading conviction.
There isn't much in the corporate news to get things going today from a market-moving standpoint. United Continental (UAL) and American Air (AAL) have both provided passenger unit revenue updates, but true to recent form, the stock market isn't taking flight on any of the corporate news, which is taking a backseat for now to other matters.