Only a week ago, the market encountered a period of great difficulty, in large part caused by concern that smartphone demand was on the wane. Expectations had Apple (AAPL) releasing weak numbers and cutting its forecasts. In fact, a number of suppliers for Apple parts, like Taiwan Semiconductors (TSM) even reported a slowdown in orders from Apple.
When Apple ultimately reported solid figures this past Tuesday, the stock opened at a gap up, successfully holding on to its gains; the strength, though, didn’t succeed in spreading to the rest of the market. In effect, on Thursday, the large Wall Street indexes seemed to be entirely at a loss and only a significant intraday reversal succeeding in improving the overall environment. Eventually, on Friday, buyers came back to life after the news release that Warren Buffett had increased his holdings in Apple in the first quarter by 75 million shares. That was enough to propel Apple 4% higher to an all-time high, carrying along with it a battery of other tech stocks. Apple ended the week at $183.33, with weekly gains of 13.3%, recording its best trading week since October ’11. The tech sector (XLK) surged on Friday by almost 2%, closing the week up 3.2% in its first positive trading week in 3 weeks.
At the same time, Friday’s positive movement wasn’t enough to salvage the week, which ended down for the S&P 500. The S&P 500 slipped 0.2% on the week, the Dow Jones likely closing slightly down, by 0.18%. The tech-leaning NASDAQ succeeded in ending the week nicely up by 1.72%.
It could be that the most positive thing we saw in Friday’s movement was the true momentum. Traders chased after stocks, and it wasn’t hard to find stocks that rallied significantly, trading up a high percentage. Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) each soared over 8%. The Buffett news prompted buying, not selling. That could be the most important to take out of last week. The problem in the market had been that good news was creating selling, not buying pressure.
The large indexes are still up against their fair share of problems. The S&P 500 has been trapped, bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball between the 50-period EMA which has checked priced movement on the upside, and the 200-period EMA which has constituted strong support since the end of January; the last time it did so was this past Thursday. The more support levels are tested time and time again, they become weaker, market players becoming more and more testy.
This coming week, Wall Street will once again need to grapple with new trade developments vis a vis China, and the high prospect of a price retreat in the event a deal isn’t reached. Likewise, inflation has again entered center-stage after the April employment report was released on Friday. Employment figures fell short of the Street’s projections, coming out at 164 thousand new hires, a good deal short of the 192 thousand consensus. The unemployment rate fell to just 3.9%.
Our concern at present is that it’s going to be a rocky ride this coming week, and were the S&P 500 to continue to climb in an upward V pattern, it would be rather surprising, though we can’t say we haven’t been surprised before. There are two key technical level that will determine the trajectory of the next movement on the SPY: a breakup of the 272 point level on the upside or if things get ugly, a breakout of the 253 point level on the downside.
All-in-all, the market’s movement has still reflected a fair share of apathy given the good earnings season – and traders have continued to wonder whether looking forward, fundamentals will weaken, adapting themselves to current price levels, or alternatively, whether stocks will rally to catch up with the underlying strength of the strong numbers.