Here are three things to keep in mind while watching the market today:
Number 1: Young traders out there, don’t look to the European Central Bank for clues on how to cleverly wait for your price. The ECB told the world six weeks ago that it was sort of keen to buy about one trillion euros worth of bonds – but wasn’t quite sure exactly when or how.
Details on the ECB’s plan are due this morning. They’ll be covered intensely, but – as usual – won’t be as interesting as the markets’ reaction to them.
Rarely have so many prepared to buy so much paper with this much advance notice. It’s as if Mario Draghi and his colleagues are playing poker with their cards facing the table.
As a result, the market has front-run the ECB and bid up bond and stock prices while trashing the euro. Of course, central bankers aren’t profit-driven traders, so this is what they like to see – the markets doing their work for them as a sign that investors believe they’re serious.
But this raises a big question: How much is left in these “easy” trades now that we’re getting the mundane mechanics of the plan?
In the six weeks since the Jan. 22 QE announcement, the euro is down 5% against the dollar – a hefty move for major currencies – and the German stock market (^GDAXI) is up a whopping 10%.
In the U.S., stocks are digesting their best month in more than three years with professional investor sentiment looking a bit giddy. So watch the markets after the ECB speaks to gauge whether we get a sell-on-the-news response.
Number 2: Citigroup (C) CEO Mike Corbat is sweating the results of the Fed’s bank stress test due later today. The bank – called a “problem child” by former Fed chair Ben Bernanke in just-released 2009 meeting minutes – has failed this test twice in a row. More than mere capital ratios and liquidity measures, Citi’s culture and risk controls have been deemed lacking by regulators. Corbat – a Mr. Fix-It who’s struggling to find the right approach to reshaping Citi – has said he’ll step aside if the Fed dings the bank again.
Look to bank stocks (KBE), which have badly lagged the broad market for years now, to see whether this once-crucial group will be viewed as comeback candidates or immobilized Gullivers fully six years after the financial crisis they helped cause.
And number 3: There’s something quaint about the name – Martha Stewart Living OMNIMEDIA (MSO). It shows the one-time ambition and audacity of the lifestyle legend Martha Stewart that her company was to encompass all of media.
As it stands now, her shrunken public company sits below a $ 300 million market value and is mostly in the struggling glossy “shelter magazine” business, runs a syndicated TV show that has shuttled among various networks and licenses Stewart’s name for a line of home goods.
Yet Macy’s (M) and J.C. Penney (
- Investment & Company Information
- European Central Bank