Stocks claw back losses after retail earnings crater

Alan Valdes
Alan Valdes

By Alan Valdes, director of floor operations at Silverbear

Yesterday was another one of those days the markets didn’t know whether to go up or down. Stocks opened a little lower, as traders wondered if the dismissal of FBI Director Comey would lead to a delay in tax reform and deregulation. These constant self-inflicted distractions from the White House are beginning to wear on traders.

Traders are also concerned with the 2018 mid-terms only months away and with summer in Washington about to start with both House and Senate members heading back to their constituents for the a recess. It is looking less and less likely that any major victories for Trump will happen this summer. If tax cuts get put off till fall, it could be a big drag on markets.

It was oil that saved the day yesterday, as the EIA reported a larger-than-expected drop in oil inventories. That gave a nice bump to crude prices, which overall helped equities. For much of the rest of the morning, stocks moved sideways. Volume continues to be on the light side. Something we don’t usually see happen yesterday was the Dow, which closed down marginally, had advancers beat decliners by roughly two to one.

Today we get a handful of retail numbers. Macy’s (M) continues to disappoint. The stock fell -10% in pre-market trading, pushing share prices to 5 1/2-year lows, as earning came in at 24 cents per share with revenue of $5.34 billion. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 35 cents per share and revenue of $5.34 Billion. Kohl’s (KSS) saw profits grow; however, for the fifth straight quarter, sales continue to fall, down -2.7%. After the bell, we get earnings from Nordstrom (JWN), and tomorrow JC Penney (JCP) reports.

Lost in all the chatter of today’s retail earnings and distractions out of Washington are jobless claims, which came in at lows not seen since 1988. Initial jobless claims dropped by 2,000 to 236,000, while continuing claims dropped by 61,000.

Although the politics coming out of Washington will continue to make the headlines, the real news, as far as Wall Street is concerned, shows an economy and jobs market gaining strength. Today, with retail earnings coming in weak, more chatter out of Washington and a VIX (^VIX) still showing complacency, expect to see the market trade flat to down on light volume.

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