US stocks just made the most unremarkable type of history.
Friday marked the 13th straight day that the S&P 500 failed to move more than 0.5% in either direction on a closing basis, the longest such streak since 1995.
The day was just “another waste of carfare and a clean shirt,” Art Cashin, director of trading floor operations at UBS, wrote in a client note.
The stasis should be unsurprising for those watching the equity market over the past few weeks. In the absence of any major geopolitical shocks or economic surprises, investors haven’t seen much of a reason to get riled up.
Their complacency has manifested itself in muted price swings, with the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, a barometer of investor nervousness, close to the lowest on record. The so-called fear gauge slipped earlier this month to its lowest level since February 2007.
It’s possible investor concerns about the durability of the eight-year bull market has been assuaged by impressive S&P 500 earnings growth. Companies in the index are on pace to see 14% profit expansion for the period, the most since the third quarter of 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Another potential explanation for the market malaise comes from the realm of technical analysis. On March 1, the S&P 500 came within one point of breaking 2,400 before bouncing off that key level of upward resistance. In the 2 1/2 months since then, the benchmark has twisted and turned in a tight range, testing 2,400 on multiple occasions but never closing above it.
Having closed last week at 2,390.90, the S&P 500 enters Monday once again searching for inspiration amid a light slate of economic data releases and as earnings season winds down.