Monday, April 9, 2007

Equity Index Update

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Brad Sullivan

The index markets rallied off the surprisingly strong Non-Farm Payrolls data released on Friday morning. The SPM7 contract settled the trade at 1458, up over 5pts on the session. This morning our domestic market will be open, however, the DAX, FTSE and CAC are all closed and volume flows should be dramatically reduced.
As for the employment report, the headline reading was +180k versus expectations around -30% lower. In addition, the rate of unemployment dropped to 4.4% and revisions for the last two reports were sharply higher than anticipated. The true damage done was in the short end of the yield curve, where Eurodollars were hammered lower by -10 to -16 basis points in their shortened trade. The long end held up marginally better, but still finished with significant losses on the session. The dollar was able to rally against nearly all the major currencies.

The question on the board now becomes this…if the index rally from our recent lows has been predicated (at least partly) on lower rates, what happens now that the cut appears off the table in the short run? My suspicion is nothing that would take us lower. I think the marketplace was much more concerned with any Sub-Prime leftover worries a couple of weeks ago during Fed speak. When those fears were not shared with the FED, the indices took off to the upside. I would argue that most of the longs have been building positions based on the continued global economic expansion (Copper anyone?). However, there are two potentially damaging issues that the indices must overcome to gain any territory from the current pricing.

The first issue is the breaking of the staircase rally since the July ’06 retest of the 1225 level in SPX. The violence of that break in February remains and it materially changed the steady low volatility environment players had grown accustomed with trading. If this move is nothing more than a retest, late April and early May could prove to be a velocity driven trade on the downside in equities.

The second issue facing the marketplace is the erosion in the Money Center Banks and Broker/Dealers. These issues have been “liquidity” leaders for the current bull move and right now they are flashing caution in the near term.

Finally, with Europe on holiday today, trading should be thin and quiet. I would anticipate at least one attempt for the SPM7 to trade towards the 1453 zone, which is where the index was moments before the employment release. 1454.50 to 1457.50 should provide a choppy “no fly zone” throughout the rest of the session.

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