First and foremost, Happy St. Patrick's Day! May the road and stock prices rise to meet you on this fine day, which is near and dear to your author's heart. I can attest that an icy driveway in Chicago this morning did indeed rise to meet me, but what I can't attest to is if stock prices will follow suit.
Currently, the S&P futures are up a point and are trading a wee bit above fair value. That's a setup for a flattish open on this quadruple-witching day, which includes the quarterly expiration of stock options, index options, index futures, and single-stock futures.
That expiration should ensure some heavy volume today, yet it may not necessarily ensure a lot of movement in the major indices.
The news flow is on the lighter side this morning and the media's focal points are generally a rehash of the same items that weren't going to be solved yesterday, aren't going to be solved today, and won't be solved tomorrow.
In particular, there is the matter of health care reform, the matter of North Korea, the matter of the border tax, the matter of central bank policy, and the matter of the French election.
Those aren't the only matters to consider, but the fact of the matter is that an overhang of concern about what could possibly go wrong to upend this stock market is colliding with an underlayer of optimism about what could possibly go right to keep this bull market running.
The result of it all is that the market has seemingly entered a lateral consolidation mode and is waiting anxiously for a "new" catalyst to take its next step -- either up or down.
President Trump and German Chancellor Merkel are going to meet today; the health care reform debate will persist; there is a G-20 finance ministers meeting today and tomorrow; and Secretary of State Tillerson has indicated the U.S. policy of "strategic patience" with North Korea is over and added all options are on the table when it comes to dealing with North Korea.
Perhaps there is a "new" news catalyst lurking in those areas, but for the time being, the stock market is in an observation mode (which probably includes observing the NCAA Tournament games today, too).
Before today's tip-offs, which could create a tipping point for many tournament brackets, the market will be digesting some economic data that will include the Industrial Production Report for February (Briefing.com consensus +0.2%; prior -0.3%), the Leading Indicators Report for February (Briefing.com consensus +0.5%; prior +0.6%), and the preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Report for March (Briefing.com consensus 96.8; prior 96.3).
Those reports are unlikely to cause any major shifts in sentiment, although they will present another match-up of "hard" economic data and "soft" survey data.
Separately, Tiffany & Co. (TIF) is making it hard on short sellers this morning. Its stock is up 4% in pre-market action after the jewelry retailer delivered better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings results and providing reassuring earnings guidance for its next fiscal year.
There will be a lot of "next years" for college basketball teams (like my Vanderbilt Commodores), but the day we have all been given today is the only one that matters. May the luck o' the Irish be with us all.