It is going to be an abbreviated week of trading as the stock and bond markets will be closed Friday in observance of Good Friday. The market, however, already has that vacation-minded feel to it, which is to say there doesn't appear to be a lot of interest at the moment in the capital-trading business.
The U.S. Dollar Index is little changed, Treasuries are little changed, and the S&P futures, up one point or 0.1% above fair value, are also little changed.
We wish we could say that market participants simply have an extended weekend on their mind, yet there is more to it. The vacation factor is hanging out there, but so, too, is the uncertainty factor.
That factor is looming particularly large right now with respect to the geopolitical scene after last week's missile strike in Syria and reports over the weekend that the U.S. Pacific Command ordered several strike-group ships to head closer to the Korean Peninsula.
Additionally, polls out of France show communist-backed candidate Melenchon gaining ground after last week's presidential debate, which is stirring the pot of political uncertainty there since Melenchon is also a populist candidate with an anti-EU bent. The first round of the French election, which is held to determine the final two candidates, takes place April 23.
That's roughly right around the time Congress will be returning from its two-week recess. Accordingly, any work on the legislative agenda the next few weeks will be done behind the scenes, yet one can still expect a bevy of headlines in the interim surrounding health care and tax reform efforts and White House efforts to tackle both.
Later this week, the market will be tackling some key economic data and some key earnings reports from JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Citigroup (C).
Those earnings reports will be out before the open on Thursday, which will mark the official start to the first quarter earnings reporting period.
In aggregate, S&P 500 earnings are expected to be up 8.9% year-over-year, according to FactSet, which would be the strongest growth rate since the fourth quarter of 2013. That increase is expected to be fueled by the energy and financial sectors.
There isn't any economic data of note today, yet the short trading week will end with a cadre of important releases that include the PPI, Retail Sales, and CPI reports for March.
Fed Chair Yellen will be speaking at 4:10 p.m. ET today, which is just one more consideration contributing to the early sense of hesitancy today. Traders are anxious to hear if she delves into the issue of balance sheet management in a policy talk series being held at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.
There has been a spate of M&A deals announced today, most of which are smaller in size.
The lead development on the M&A front, which will lead to some active trading in the trucking industry, is the news that Swift Transportation (SWFT) and Knight Transportation (KNX) are merging in an all-stock transaction with a combined enterprise value of $6 billion that will create the industry's largest full truckload company.
The stock market itself will keep on truckin' today, but for the time being, it looks as if it is pulling off the highway into a weigh station for inspection.