How Does Italian Uncertainty Affect US Equities?

The 10-year treasury yield is dropping again — in spite of the Fed’s rate hike campaign.  Presumably this is because many European bond traders are seeking safety in the US while Italy shakes out some issues.  Italian bonds tanked and yields spiked as talk is shifting to the possibility of a post-election exit from the EU.

We’ll skip the (most of) the politics and finger pointing because that’s not what this blog is about.  We want to talk technical shop.  What does all this mean for the equity markets?

In the very short-term, it means a pull-back in equities.  But after a few days of digesting things, a recovery may be in the cards.  When you strip away all of the other noise, here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • US economic data remains pretty solid
  • Earnings season was great
  • Borrowing rates remain low
  • Credit spreads, while widening slightly, are still pretty narrow

Given the macro picture — and the unknown issues in Italy (which is not a huge contributor to the EU economic output) — it seems like this data isn’t enough to derail the bulls just yet.

When looking at the technical picture, the number to watch Tuesday today is 2700 on the SPX.  For the week, keep an eye on the 50-day moving average at 2673 as well.

Resistance is likely to be around 2750 or so.  A close above this level on Friday would be a positive sign for this market.

The reality is that unless Italy is a sign of more significant global contagion, this is likely to remain contained.  It’s not a significant impact on global GDP.  So life probably goes on.

Given the shortened trading week and end of the month, it’s both possible and likely we’ll see higher volatility this week.  S&P futures dipped down to 2690.25 overnight.  It’s possible there will be a move down at the open to test this level.  If so, it is important the equity markets find a support at the 50-day moving average.  Ideally, a reversal with a close above 2700 would confirm support at these levels.  That would indicate the markets have consolidated around the 2700 price and traders are looking for justification to push things higher.

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