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  /  News   /  Santoli: Technical signals are in favor of the bulls, but nearby hurdles loom for stocks

Santoli: Technical signals are in favor of the bulls, but nearby hurdles loom for stocks

This is the daily notebook of Mike Santoli, CNBC’s senior markets commentator, with ideas about trends, stocks and market statistics. A pause in the rally makes sense here, after a +3% week and +17% in the broad benchmarks in less than two months. In this context, some sleepy softness to start a week in which Chinese economic data disappointed to place a “slow growth” overlay on the markets is not a game changer. Strength in Big Growth, along with a continued bid in the space, is forestalling any meaty pullback for now. The bulls have satisfied at least a good portion of their burden of proof in recent weeks, at least in technical terms. Recapturing more than half the bear-market decline and with several breadth/momentum signals triggering upbeat signals make the June lows seem like a probable bottom for now and maybe for the foreseeable future. There are still some nearby hurdles just above the market, including a still-declining 200-day average level. As usual, after such a revival of risk appetites, the debate is feisty between those who are quick to trust the implied message of the market and those who are suspicious that the Street is talking itself into an implausible story of sturdy economic growth and imminent dovish turn by the Federal Reserve. There is no doubt the Fed will look at the current loosening of financial conditions (stocks up, credit spreads and the dollar down) as a counterweight to its effort to slow demand and slay inflation. Yet if inflation is decisively inflecting lower on its own and/or the economy starts to wobble more, the Fed will not stay hawkish just for the sake of throttling financial markets. Oil/gasoline weakness is among the bigger drivers of the idea the Fed can ease off soon, and crude is down today. The way to square these views is to say the big money got way too bearish and underexposed to stocks by late June, and it has been enticed/forced back in as the tape stabilized and earnings showed Corporate America was still feasting on healthy nominal growth. There’s still probably a bit more to go in systematic/quant investors rebuilding their equity allocations as volatility has ebbed, though this alone can’t carry stocks back into galloping bull market mode. The morning market headlines featured on FactSet suggest that investors and observers are more skeptical than excited by the rally to date. This is modest net supportive of the market: Market breadth is middling though has been impressively strong. Megacap growth playing a bit of catch-up, but the outperformance by the “average stock” has been pronounced this year. The equal-weighted Russell 1000 is off less than 6% for 2022. VIX hovering near multi-month lows near 20. There is no real divergence or warning sign here. The market has calmed. Rotational action has gained some traction, and it is late summer. Options and VIX futures expirations in coming days could rock the boat a bit, but in all the VIX reflects lower stress levels from credit and macro fears.

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