At the moment 3,800 on the Standard & Poor’s 500 is the place the market wants to be.
Tumble toward 3,600 and the June low, and the market rallies as it did on Monday.
Threaten to dip much below that 3,800 level as the market did today and stocks move back up. The S&P 500 dropped by as much as 1.75% at 10:33 a.m. New York time this morning before rallying to close at 3783.65, down 0.19%, after kissing, you guessed it, 3800 at 3804.36 at 3:19 p.m.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 0.14% after trading lower by 1.28% at 10.37 a.m. The NASDAQ Composite finished off 0.25% after a maximum loss of 2.33% at 10.33.
It’s not that stocks didn’t have reason to fall today after a very solid two-day bounce. The ADP jobs numbers, a peek ahead at the official job report on Friday, came in stronger than expected. Comments from Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly stressed that she sees a high bar for slowing the 75-basis-point pace of hikes at the November meeting of the Federal Reserve. She added that anticipation of interest rate cuts next year is misplaced.
So why didn’t stocks fall further today on this news, the OPEC cut in production (and the prospect of higher energy prices) and general global uncertainty?
I think the answer is no more or less complicated than that the market finds value here at 3800. With stocks down in morning trading, a giant options trade involving buying and selling call options (at a cost of $31 million) looks to have turned the day around. That looks like it was enough to get some investors to reconsider their positioning.
In my book all this adds up to the lack of a trend in this market. If we got a drop below the 3600 June low, I’d say this bounce was over and that we’re about to enter another down leg in the Bear Market. If we got a bounce above 4,000 I’d say this bounce had turned into a full Bear Market rally.
At 3,800? I don’t see much conviction one way or another. Certainly not enough to make me put big wagers on market direction.