The drive for whole-number symmetry is on this morning: 25,000 for the Dow, 7,000 for the Nasdaq Composite, and 2,700 for the S&P 500. The major indices may not get there by the close, yet the futures market reflects a revving engine that will shift into buying gear when the opening bell rings.
Presently, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are up 75 points, the S&P 500 futures are up nine points, and the Nasdaq 100 futures are up 18 points. That's off the highs of the morning, too.
There hasn't been a news basis for the pullback, but more to the point, there hasn't been a news basis for the updraft either.
It is somewhat of a playground move. Traders are taking advantage of thin trading conditions to force the action on this last trading day of the year in a way that is only appropriate for how things have gone basically all year.
The bullish bias is wrapped up in the fun thought that it would be fitting to close the year on a decidedly bullish note. An absence of sellers helps in that pursuit and that is what we have so far today in the stock market.
Strikingly, that isn't the case in the currency market where the greenback is losing ground against a basket of major currencies.
That dynamic is reflected in the 0.3% decline in the U.S. Dollar Index, which is trading at 92.26, down 9.7% for the year. That weakness is a major byproduct of a resurgent euro, which has a 57.6% weighting in the U.S. Dollar Index. The euro is up 0.5% against the dollar this morning and up 14.0% for the year to 1.1992.
The weakening dollar seemingly contradicts the optimism about a pickup in growth in the U.S., yet one could argue that its flagging position isn't a harbinger of weakness here so much as it is a sign of optimism about the economic recoveries unfolding in Europe and Japan.
A weaker dollar has some tailwind forces in that it makes U.S. exporters more competitive and lifts the earnings prospects of U.S. multinationals. The fact that the dollar is lagging at the same time the yield curve is flattening, however, will keep things interesting insomuch as the economic narrative for 2018 is concerned.
For now, neither of those developments is disrupting the stock market.
There won't be any economic data to disrupt (or to erupt) things either. The economic calendar is devoid of notable releases, which is one reason why the Treasury market has hit the snooze button. The other reason is that the Treasury market will close early at 2:00 p.m. ET today, meaning there isn't a lot of incentive for bond traders to get out of bed on yet another frigid morning in the Midwest and Northeast.
The stock market will be open for a full day of trading to aid in year-end settlement. It has already been settled, however, that 2017 has been a very good year for the stock market -- and it's slated to get even better when the opening bell rings.
Thank you everyone for reading Briefing.com, and the Page One column, throughout 2017. Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2018!