TRADING THE WEEK: Light, Range-Bound Pre-Holiday Sessions Ahead


The U.S. equities market is expected to remain range-bound this week and subject to light trading volume ahead of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

After a lackluster week of trading, where U.S. economic indicators pushed trading volume around, investors are standing pat and not adding to existing positions. And while that fact doesn’t bode well for stock prices, it isn’t necessarily bad either.

“We saw some sideways price action last week,” began a trading head in New York, “but as the week continued it tapered off and we don’t expect any heavy activity ahead of the upcoming holiday weekend.”

Another floor trader in New York agreed, adding that U.S. economic data is “pushing the market around daily” but not enough to see prices break out to the upside or downside enough to bring in fresh buy or sell programs.

Average daily trading volume as measured by Bats Global Markets was about 7.24 billion shares for the week ended May 20, up slightly from a flat 7 billion in the previous week.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a research note last week told clients, “Bearish sentiment should provide support” for market volume right now and that Wall Street portfolio managers they’d spoken with “are recommending just a 52 percent allocation to equities.”

The bank added that over the last 15 weeks its clients have been net sellers at current levels — the longest continued sell pattern seen by the bank since the financial crisis in 2008. “On top of that, the four-week average net outflows recently reached their highest level since 2008, before moderating a bit over the past two weeks.”

However, in its global fund manager survey BoA said that while prices have some downside potential and pressure, this could actually represent a buying opportunity for those institutions looking to add to positions ahead of the June federal Reserve meeting.

Last Thursday, JPMorgan told its clients a similar story – that the market had limited upside (in a handful of specific sectors) and the market was actually “tired.”

“The path forward likely remains range-bound as investors are caught in a tug of war between weak fundamentals and exhausted technicals, on the one hand, and expectations of a more dovish Fed and stabilizing USD on the other,” JPMorgan U.S. equity strategist Dubravko Lakos-Bujas wrote in a note.

This Week’s Major U.S. Economic Indicators of Interest:

Monday Purchasing Managers Index
Tuesday Wholesale Inventories
Consumer Price Index
Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index
Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index
Housing Starts and Building Permits
Industrial Production
Capacity Utilization
Wednesday International Trade Report
Thursday Weekly Jobless Claims
Durable Goods
Pending Home Sales Index
Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index
Friday U.S. GDP
Consumer Sentiment


Trading Previous Weeks:

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