A lot of NCAA Tournament Brackets were busted over the weekend and there is no fixing that. In the same vein, there were some breakdowns in the political arena over the weekend, and while those have the potential to be fixed, their loose-end dynamic has helped take some of the dynamism out of the bull market.
- Health care reform remains a heated talking point. Reportedly, a vote on the House GOP plan will take place on Thursday, yet its passage isn't guaranteed nor is passage in the Senate if the bill happens to make it out of the lower house.
- North Korea has successfully tested a new rocket engine and has naturally broadcast that successful test, stirring the diplomatic pot in the process with the U.S. and South Korea.
- The G-20 meeting of finance ministers raised some eyebrows following the news that the communique from the meeting didn't include reference to resisting all forms of protectionism.
- France will be holding a closely-watched presidential debate tonight with all five candidates appearing. Anxious minds will be interested to see how Marine Le Pen does, as a victory for the populist leader in the presidential election has been discussed as a possible threat to the survival of the European Union.
These political developments and their uncertain nature fit perfectly with the thematic element highlighted in the market view update that was published to The Big Picture column on Friday. The gist of things is that there is no getting around politics when it comes to considering this market.
For the time being, market participants appear to be mostly in consideration mode, contemplating items like Deutsche Bank (DB) raising new capital and reportedly trying to sell cheap debt to attract buyers for delinquent mortgages.
The S&P futures are down five points and are trading 0.1% below fair value.
That's not a decidedly negative disposition by any means, yet it gels with the predominately lateral move the cash market has made over the last few weeks. To wit, the S&P 500 closed March 6 at 2375.31, and on Friday it closed at 2378.25.
A drop in oil prices ($47.87, -$0.91, -1.9%), which is being pinned on concern about the rising rig count in the absence of any specific news driver, has also been cited as a drag on the futures market this morning along with the specter of many Fed speakers this week, including Chicago Fed President Evans (and FOMC voter) today at 1:00 p.m. ET.
There isn't any economic data of note out of the U.S. today and there won't be really until the middle of the week when the Existing Home Sales Report for February is released.
That isn't giving bond traders much to work with, then, and there is some anecdotal evidence that many might not be working today as Treasury yields are pretty flat across the curve.
Rest assured some change will happen in the stock market today. The question is to what degree?
Things are looking subdued at this juncture (kind of like my chances of winning the office bracket contest).