It's yet another Hump Day and the futures market is acting as if it is in no hurry to get over the hump. The S&P futures are down two points, the Nasdaq 100 futures are up two points, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are down seven points.
We don't want to say traders are bored; rather, it's more like the news on the board has left them feeling apathetic since there is nothing in the mix to whet their index-driving appetite.
The action is at the micro level, as traders have turned their attention to story stocks like Snap (SNAP), which reported disappointing third quarter results that got offset to a certain extent by the news that Tencent Holdings bought 145.8 million shares of the company's non-voting stock over the last quarter and now holds close to a 10% stake in SNAP.
Shares of SNAP had been down as much as 22% following the company's earnings report, but they are now down 13% in pre-market trading.
There are other story stocks like Humana (HUM), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN), and Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO), which have gotten a pop after their latest earnings results, but again, they are sideshows for traders seeking a main attraction.
The tax reform effort isn't a main attraction -- not yet anyway -- because ideas and proposals are still being thrown around in the House and the Senate that simply keep market participants guessing with respect to what a final bill will look like, what it will cost, and how it gets paid for.
The one tax item that seems to touch a nerve at this juncture is any suggestion that there could be a delay in cutting the corporate tax rate to 20%. That's a particularly sensitive topic for small-cap companies, which generally incur higher effective tax rates.
The Russell 2000 was the worst-performing index on Tuesday, declining 1.3%, as concerns about the fate of the corporate tax rate weighed on sentiment.
There was almost no change, though, in the S&P 500, which settled the day down less than half a point, ending a five-session winning streak.
Whether the S&P 500 gets back on a winning track remains to be seen. It is poised to start today's session slightly lower as traders have dismissed items like China's mixed Trade Balance report for October, news that Democrats won governor seats in Virginia and New Jersey, and weekly inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute as background noise.
Commensurate with that take on things, there is little change in the US Dollar Index, the Treasury market, and the CBOE Volatility Index.