US stocks close out a quiet week with another modestly positive session, with the S&P 500 just at the 1150 level that’s got so many bulls riveted. But we wonder what lies beneath the surface, because this was an oddly still week and we can’t imagine the condition remaining static for too long.
DJIA rises 13 to 10625, up 0.6% on the week. S&P 500 slip less than 1 to 1149.99, right at the critical level. Nasdaq Comp slips 1 to 2368. NYSE volume’s a bit above average. Now that traders have kissed the 1150 level, what will they do with it? Most expected the market to vault the hurdle on its way to even higher ground. But they haven’t exactly passed it in style; in fact, at 1149.99, and even with yesterday’s close at 1150.24, they haven’t actually passed it at all. Not yet at least.
February’s retail sales come in stronger than expected, even as January’s as revised down. And while it’s being treated as yet another sign of a solid recovery, keep in mind something. February’s sales at $355.5 billion were better than last February’s sales of $342.3 billion, yes. But last February was pretty darn closer to the nadir. You have to go back to 2006 to find a worse month, when sales were $354 billion.
It was consumption, yes, but it was not conspicuous consumption. And it doesn’t exactly presage some imminent return to the salad days.
Meanwhile, we imagine this weekend’s going to see a lot of people in the New York area spending a rainy weekend pouring through Anton Valukas’ Lehman Brothers report. We really wonder what the fallout of this report’s going to be. We imagine it’s got more than just the guys at Zero Hedge fired up.