Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
The trading pattern of the past two weeks – particularly alongside cryptocurrency’s movements – suggests stocks could continue to be volatile in the week ahead.
Investors are watching the wild swings in bitcoin and trying to gauge whether technology shares can gain traction after a rally attempt in the past week.
The Dow and S&P 500 were lower in the past week, but Nasdaq was slightly higher, helped by a positive move in tech, as well as buying in biotech and big cap growth names like FANG members Alphabet, Facebook and Netflix.
A steep plunge in bitcoin after China announced new regulations soured the mood for risk assets during the past week. The U.S. also called for stricter compliance with the IRS. Further, on Friday, China said it would crack down on bitcoin mining and trading.
“What’s interesting is the market is being bullied around by where bitcoin goes,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer with Bleakley Advisory Group. Bitcoin plunged by as much as 30% on Wednesday, to about $30,000. Though it recovered to above $42,000, it slid again on Friday.
The cryptocurrency was down about 9% late Friday, hovering around $36,000, according to Coin Metrics.
“Bitcoin is a poster child for risk appetite,” said Boockvar. “It tells you the stock market is more on uneven ground, if we’re getting dragged along by bitcoin.”
There is some key data in the week ahead. Consumer confidence, home price data and new home sales are out on Tuesday. Durable goods will be released Thursday, and the consumer sentiment report is issued Friday.
But the most important data will be the personal income and spending data, which includes the personal consumption expenditure price deflator, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure.
“The key to next week is going to be the inflation numbers. The inflation numbers are now becoming the new payroll numbers in terms of market performance,” said Boockvar. “What will also be interesting is inside the consumer confidence numbers, is where the inflation expectations go.”
The consumer price index was surprisingly hot when released last week, showing core inflation at a year over year pace of 3% in April. The core PCE price index was up 1.8% year over year in March.
As the market has chopped around this month, dip buyers have stepped into the declines and snapped up perceived bargains.
Some strategists do not see a correction just yet, though pullbacks could continue.
“For me, my framework is we can only get a 10% correction when we have a liquidity set back, when we have a policy tightening,” said Barry Knapp, managing partner of Ironsides Macroeconomics. “In any of the little disturbances, we are getting about a 4% to 6% pullback.
Knapp said investors are fretting too much about higher interest rates being a problem for technology companies. “You should be in the cyclical parts of tech,” he said. Knapp noted that subsectors like semiconductors and software should do well with the economic reopening and global manufacturing rebound.
Tech squeaked out a slight gain in the past week, gaining 0.1%, but semiconductors popped nearly 3%. Software was up 0.2%.
The best performing sector was real estate investment trusts, up 0.9%, followed by health care, up 0.7%. Biotech was higher on the week with the IBB iShares Nasdaq Biotech ETF, up 1.1%.
“It wouldn’t shock me if we went straight back to new highs,” Knapp said. “Part of the reason I thought we would trade in a range, was earnings season was done but net revisions is surging.”
He said earnings for the S&P 500 are now expected to be up 7% more for the year than when the first quarter…