Last week the market was addled by the threat of higher interest rates and rising oil prices. The market indexes found their footing on Friday—in part due to a 3.3% plunge in oil prices and the announcement that National Semiconductor had not only beat its earnings estimate, but upped its 1Q sales forecast. The Dow, which has been the market’s top performer for 2 ½ months saw three straight down days on higher volume last week, a clear sign of distribution, or institutional selling, but by weeks end, many leading stocks vaulted higher. Still, the volume on Friday’s rally retreated anywhere between 18% and 19%, depending upon the index, which would seem to indicate that skeptics remained.
Where are stocks headed? Well, follow the market indexes from day to day, and look for a return to higher volume on up days and retreating volume on down days—the pattern that has held throughout most of the rally up until last week. Also monitor the action of leading stocks, which are the proverbial canaries in the coalmine as to overall market conditions, as well as upcoming interest rate-related economic reports, which are sure to be closely scrutinized at this point. Most of the economic news scheduled for next week does not hit until Wednesday morning, when the very important Fed beige book on economic conditions around the country will be released, along with retail sales, business inventories, and crude inventories. Then, on Thursday morning, look for very important producer price index, followed by the consumer price index on Friday morning.
Following leading stocks often gives you good insight into the market, and right now a number of leading stocks are hitting key support areas and seem to be getting ready to stage reversals. Meanwhile, while others are moving up into position and look ready to break out soon.
Paul Johnson is an internet, real estate and stock market entrepreneur and publisher who has written a number of articles, ebooks and publications.
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