There was a lull in the buying action on Wednesday, which led to a rare down day for the broader market -- but barely so. The S&P 500 declined 1.59 points or 0.06%.
Wednesday's loss is going to be made up as soon as the opening bell rings. Currently, the S&P futures are up 11 points and are trading 0.5% above fair value.
The Nasdaq 100, meanwhile, looks ready to reclaim what it lost yesterday. The Nasdaq 100 futures are up 51 points.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average doesn't have anything to make up. It gained 41 points and will extend its reach into record territory at the open as the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are up 131 points.
The bullish bias is a byproduct of some familiar drivers in 2018: a weakening dollar, rising oil prices ($66.39, +0.78, +1.2%), economic optimism, and impressive earnings.
Caterpillar (CAT) and 3M (MMM) are leading the earnings-reporting charge this morning. Both Dow components handily beat consensus earnings estimates and issued FY18 earnings guidance that exceeded analysts' average expectations. They were not alone with their good earnings news.
Biogen (BIIB), Lam Research (LRCX), American Airlines (AAL), Southwest Airlines (LUV), Northrop Grumman (NOC), Celgene (CELG), Las Vegas Sands (LVS), and American Electric Power (AEP) were other luminaries that reported better than expected earnings and/or guidance.
A few companies, like Ford (F) and Whirlpool (WHR), have disappointed with their earnings news. Still, though, the corporate news vibe has been predominately a positive one.
On a related note, Home Depot (HD) is the latest company to announce a plan, following the tax reform legislation, to provide a one-time cash bonus of up to $1,000 for U.S. hourly associates.
The economic news vibe has been predominately positive, too.
Weekly initial claims were 233,000 for the week ending January 20 (Briefing.com consensus 240,000). That was up 17,000 from the prior week, yet initial claims are still near historically low levels. Continuing claims for the week ending January 13 decreased by 28,000 to 1.937 million.
In other developments, the ECB issued a cookie-cutter policy directive, saying it decided to leave the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25%, and -0.40%, respectively.
The ECB, in turn, reiterated that it expects its interest rates to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases, which it intends to run at a monthly pace of €30 billion until the end of September 2018, or beyond, if necessary, until it sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim of close to, but below, 2.0%.
The strengthening in the euro is going to act as a policy headwind for the ECB since it will help tamp down inflation. ECB President Draghi hasn't made a deliberate effort to talk down the euro so far in his press conference, but he did note the ECB sees FX markets as a downside risk.
The euro has continued to advance against the dollar during the press conference, underscoring the market's initial impression that the ECB, like the Bank of Japan, may find itself in a position of having to distance itself from its ultra-easy policy sooner than it currently expects.
In terms of the U.S. stock market, it's not ready yet to distance itself from its ultra-bullish perspective.
The market will get off to a robust start today, but in light of the selling interest that hit intraday Wednesday, there will be a laser focus on whether that happens again today amid the growing cries that the market is overbought and due for a pullback that is more than fractional in nature.