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“It is amazing how many drivers, even at the Formula One Level, think that the brakes are for slowing the car down.” – Mario Andretti
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If you’re looking at the positive Dow futures this morning, you’re getting a misleading picture of the setup heading into the trading day. That’s because a 15%+ rally in salesforce (CRM) is responsible for about 100 points of the rally. Without CRM, the Dow would also be poised to open lower. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are trading lower with Tesla (TSLA) acting as a bigger drag on the Nasdaq.
Stocks have been in a bit of a rut ever since the Presidents Day weekend as the S&P 500 has declined over 3% and closed lower than its opening print on all seven trading days. In total now, we’ve seen a pullback of just over 5% since the recent peak in early February. Today, the focus of investors will be on Non-Farm Productivity, Unit Labor Costs, and jobless claims all at 8:30.
The year is only two months old, but already some of the typical seasonal trends in the economy seem to be bucking the trend. Whether it was due to the weather, seasonal adjustments, or just underlying strength, economic data surprised to the upside after a December that was mostly weaker than expected.
One area where the pattern has been the opposite of the seasonal norms at this point in the year is gasoline prices. While national average prices, as tracked by AAA, typically only see marginal gains in the month of January, this year prices surged more than 9%, which ultimately translated to higher levels of inflation. In February, though, we saw much of the increase in prices from January reverse itself, and prices finished the month down more than 4% for the largest February decline since 2006. As a result of that pullback, the national average price, which was up way more than normal YTD at the end of January, is now actually up slightly less YTD this year than in an ‘average’ year. While gas prices were an accelerant for inflation in January, they’re likely to be a damper on it in February.
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