This is an abbreviated week of trading, and the first of four sessions did not go so well for the bulls. The major indices slumped under the pressure of Walmart's (WMT) losses, some late selling of the technology stocks, and a breach of technical support at the 50-day simple moving average for the S&P 500.
A disappointing 2-yr note auction contributed to the selling as well, having fostered concerns about increased supply and the specter of rising interest rates.
The market has a sluggish feel to it this morning. The S&P futures are up two points, the Nasdaq 100 futures are up 21 points, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are down 15 points, leaving them all trading in close proximity to fair value.
There isn't much conviction as market participants are waiting to see what comes of yesterday's pullback leading up to -- and following -- the release of the minutes for the January 30-31 FOMC meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET.
There is some nervousness that the minutes could reveal a more hawkish-minded Federal Reserve than the market has grown accustomed to dealing with since the financial crisis.
The January FOMC meeting came before the employment, CPI, and PPI reports for January, the stock market upheaval in February, and the two-year budget agreement. Accordingly, with the market knowing what it knows now, the minutes will likely prove nettlesome if they connote a hawkish tone.
As a reminder, Fed Chairman Powell will deliver his semiannual monetary policy report to Congress next week. That will offer a more "current" view of matters, so it could be best perhaps if market participants tempered their monetary policy predilections until that report.
There isn't any corporate news of note pushing the tape in a meaningful way at the moment. One item, though, that will get some added attention from the business media is the news that Broadcom (AVGO) lowered its offer to acquire Qualcomm (QCOM) to $79.00 per share in cash and stock (from $82.00) after Qualcomm raised its offer to acquire NXP Semiconductors (NXPI).
Today's economic calendar revolves around the housing market.
Earlier, it was reported that mortgage applications declined 6.6% week-over-week, as rising mortgage rates curtailed both purchase and refinancing applications. At 10:00 a.m. ET, the Existing Home Sales Report for January (Briefing.com consensus 5.62 million; prior 5.57 million) will be released.
Another focal point today will be the $35 billion 5-yr note auction at 1:00 p.m. ET. Market participants are anxious to see if the demand is relatively weak again like it was at yesterday's 2-yr note auction.
Incidentally, the 2-yr note yield, which is more sensitive to rate-hike expectations, has risen five basis points this morning to 2.27%, which is its highest level since September 2008.