Today the Standard & Poor’s 500 gained just 0.15%. Trying volume was really light on the day at 1.735 billion shares. Normal average daily volume is almost twice that at 3.404 billion shares.
Just about what I’d expect from a stock market where everyone is waiting to hear what, if anything, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell will say at the (virtual) Jackson Hole central bankers gathering on Friday morning.
But, on the other hand, volumes for the Robin Hood/meme stocks soared. GameStop (GME) saw 14.3 million shares traded when average volume is 5.4 million. Other speculative favorites of the WallStreetBets crowd showed a similar pattern. Best Buy (BBY), for example showed volume today of 11.8 million shares when the average daily volume is 22 million shares.
For the day GameStop was up 27.53% and Best Buy gained 8.32%.
The worry I have hear is not that these speculative traders are wrong. And not that the Wall Street pros that dominate trading in the S&P 500 stocks are right.
But that if Powell delivers anything like a negative surprise, those speculative traders will just wind up their positions and go away (counting their gains or losses.) These traders don’t make markets for the bulk of stocks in the market. They don’t stay around if the short-term trend turns against them. That’s not how you make money on their trading style.
But today’s volumes do indicate to me that the bulk of the market is worried about Fed policy and doesn’t have much conviction one way or the other ahead of the news.
Don’t let the big gains in a few stocks fool you, this is a very nervous market in the short term. And congratulations if you reaped any of those gains today. In my own portfolio Oatly Group (OTLY) was up 7.47% today on volume of 4.06 million shares versus average volume of 2.75 million. I don’t think anybody who saw a position soar is about to give the dollars back. Just continue to be careful and don’t let speculative gains convince you that this is an easy to trade market headed solidly upwards.