The Nasdaq 100 is at a record, stocks have just strung together two weeks of gains, and one of the best earnings seasons in a decade is at hand. Bears vanquished? Not entirely.
While benchmark measures of volatility are as calm as they’ve been in five months, among individual stocks, anxiety is running high. It’s showing up in indicators that plot bearish and bullish options, in a lingering preference for defensive industries and the refusal of hedge funds to commit new money.
Blame it on a global trade war where President Trump just threatened duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods. Or fear over a repeat of April, when a 24 percent surge in corporate profits did nothing to lift the market. Friday’s drop in financial shares did little to calm nerves as Citigroup and Wells Fargo kicked off the reporting season with disappointing results.
“You have two forces pushing against each other, strong economic fundamentals and a volatile news cycle, with talks of trade wars,” said Todd Fungard of McQueen, Ball & Associates. “The market is up, which is reflecting fundamentals, but the defensive posture reflects caution.”
The Treasury will sell $51 billion of three-month bills and $45 billion of six-month bills Monday They yielded 2.01 percent and 2.18 percent in when-issued trading. It will also sell four-week bills and $26 billion of 52-week bills Tuesday, and $13 billion of Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities on Thursday.