The major indices eked out some slim gains on Wednesday thanks to a closing burst of buying interest in a thinly-traded market. There's no telling what to expect today other than it will probably another thinly-traded market.
At the moment, the major indices are tracking toward a somewhat flattish start. That sense of things is wrapped up in the futures trade, as the S&P futures, Nasdaq 100 futures, and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are all trading in close proximity to their fair values.
There isn't any corporate news of market-moving note, which helps explain why there aren't any strong trading biases ahead of the open.
The one item that seems to be capturing some added air time is -- surprise, surprise -- the volatility in bitcoin trading.
The price of bitcoin fell as much as 11% earlier today amid the news that South Korea will be introducing regulations that include banning anonymous accounts and the power to shut down exchanges. Additionally, there is some talk that traders, who piled into bitcoin ahead of another hard fork (Segwit2x), are selling it now that they have been allocated their free coins.
Moving on, stock market participants may be inclined to keep a close eye on the Treasury market.
The latter had a stunning rally yesterday, led by longer-dated securities. The yield on the 10-yr note fell six basis points to 2.41%. There was a concurrent drop in European yields, so it is fair to say interest-rate differential trades may have been the fuel for yesterday's rally.
Gains, however, were logged across the curve, so it can also be argued that the rally had elements of a safe-haven trade tied to the specter of another three-day weekend and a possible setback for the stock market early in 2018 as investors move to take long-term capital gains that were deferred at the end of 2017 as the tax bill was being worked out.
Whatever the case may be, the statistical fact of the matter is that the 2-10 spread narrowed to 53 basis points, which is near a 10-year low and a striking mutation relative to the genus of economic optimism that has been helping to underpin equity prices.
In terms of this morning's economic data, it hasn't altered the pre-market mood.
Initial claims for the week ending December 23 were 245,000 (Briefing.com consensus 238,000), unchanged from the prior week, while continuing claims for the week ending December 16 increased by 7,000 to 1.943 million. Initial claims have held below 300,000 for 147 straight weeks.
Separately, the advance report for international trade in goods for November showed a widening in the deficit to $69.7 billion (from -$68.1 billion) while the advance report for wholesale inventories for November showed a 0.7% increase on the heels of a 0.4% decline in October.
The Chicago PMI report for December (Briefing.com consensus 61.9; prior 63.9) is slated for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.