So, we're not too sure anyone will care that the futures market isn't doing much today.
That apathy is apt to have as much to do with the fact that there won't be much change at the open as much as it does with the understanding that this market has had no reason to fear down openings. On the contrary, they have been rally points for a market that has been basically programmed to buy the dips.
The Federal Reserve hacked into the market in early January to write a new line of code that told the market to settle down with its volatile behavior and to start rallying.
It was a pretty simple line, too, that said we will be patient with our approach to policy and won't hesitate to alter the balance sheet normalization process if necessary.
Nothing was more effective in re-booting the system than that new line of code, which is why the market will be paying close attention to the release of the FOMC Minutes for the January meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET today.
Market participants want to get a sense of the thinking behind the Fed's altered policy guidance and the plans it foresees for its balance sheet -- plans the market thinks are going to suggest the normalization effort could be ending by the end of this year.
Some will argue that the optimism over a trade deal getting done between the U.S. and China has been the line of code that re-booted the bull market. There is some truth to that, yet the rose-colored view on that topic has been facilitated by the re-birth of the Fed put, which reduced market rates, volatility, and the fear of worst-case scenarios, and resurrected some animal spirits.
The animal spirits are snoozing right now. The S&P futures are down one point, the Nasdaq 100 futures are up eight points, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are down 19 points. They are all in close proximity to fair value, which is the formula for a mixed and flattish start.
There haven't been any market-moving headlines on the trade negotiation front this morning and markets have been largely unaffected by the lackluster trade data out of Japan, which featured an 8.4% year-over-year decline in exports and a 0.6% year-over-year decline in imports.
Bad data apparently invites good thoughts about policy rates staying low, which is code in the mind of global equity markets that bad news equals good news.
In any event, major markets in Asia rose on Wednesday; major markets in Europe are trading modestly higher; and the U.S. market, sitting on an 18.2% gain since the December 24 low, might slip less than 0.1% at the open.
There are some individual stocks making big moves. CVS Health (CVS) is one. It is down 8.4% after issuing disappointing EPS guidance for the first quarter and full year that overshadowed a fourth quarter earnings beat. Southwest Airlines (LUV) is another. It is down 4.7% after lowering its first quarter unit revenue guidance, citing the adverse effects of the government shutdown.
Semiconductor company Analog Devices (ADI), on the other hand, is up 2.2% after surpassing fiscal first quarter expectations and issuing in-line guidance for its fiscal second quarter.
These individual companies are creating some headline buzz, but from a broader standpoint, there isn't much buzz. That won't matter, because the programming code places more of an emphasis on the buzz at the close.