The return of market volatility sent the S&P 500 to a low of 1,820 last Wednesday, down 9.8% from its September 19 all-time high of 2,019.
There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of concerns. The global economy has been slowing, commodity prices have been plunging, geopolitical tensions have been high, and the Ebola virus has been spreading. And all this came amid expectations that the Federal Reserve would soon tighten monetary policy.
But at 1,941 today, the market is now up a remarkable 6.6% in just five trading days.
Locally, the Australian market is running about 4% up on the low it hit nine days ago but it still down around 4% below the September highs. Today the S&P/ASX 200 was running up around 0.85%, heading for a seventh straight positive day.
“The question is this: “What changed so much in the macro picture since just four sessions ago when everyone was hitting the panic buttons??” NYSE floor governor Rich Barry asked. “Three things have changed:
“1) The Street is expecting the Fed to be slightly more dovish when they meet next week. Last Thursday, (perfect timing, I might add), St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the Fed “should consider delaying the end of its bond purchase program to halt the decline in inflation expectations.” As we said in this note, the market, up until that point, did not even think it was possible to delay the end of QE. Although nobody really expects them to keep the QE program going, there is a growing sense that the FOMC will push out the date for interest rate hikes.
“2) Oil (finally) has stopped its free-fall, and is now simply languishing in the low 80s. As a result, energy stocks have stabilised and are not weighing heavily on the indices.
“3) With a cautioned sigh of relief, we add that the Ebola concerns have eased. It was a huge relief when it was reported that 43 of the 48 people on the original watch list in Dallas had passed the 21-day incubation period and appear to be in the clear. We believe that the Ebola scare was a HUGE issue for the market. If the news continues to be positive, we believe this relief (short-covering) rally will continue.”
The S&P is almost as close to its high as it is to its recent low. Which way do we go next?