Nice rally, but major indices seem stretched

Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

It was widely noted yesterday that the NASDAQ has been up 10 days in a row, but several other indicators seem a bit stretched as well.

By "stretched" I mean many big indices are far above their 50-day moving averages. Typically, when these indices get too far from that average, there is a reversion to the mean, and the index corrects or at the very least stops rising.

For example, the NASDAQ 100 ETF, at 109, is well above its 50-day moving average of roughly 103.

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The Russell 2000 ETF has hit new highs seven days in a row. At nearly 123, it is several points above its 50-day moving average of 118.6, historically stretched.

Several sectors are also stretched and arguably overbought, particularly technology. For example, the Technology Select ETF, a proxy for the technology sector of the S&P 500, is also up 10 days in a row. It's gone from 39 to 43 this month and is well above its 50-day moving average of 41.

The CBOE Volatility Index hit another low for the year.

Elsewhere:

1) Retail earnings continue to be good, because sales are strong. Lowe's beat on the top and bottom line, but more importantly reported Q4 same-store sales up 7.3 percent (7.4 percent for the U.S.), which is much better than expected. Its 2015 guidance is for $3.29 in earnings, about in line with expectations of $3.30. Lowe's sees comparable sales increasing 4 to 4.5 percent.

The problem is price. At $74, the stock is trading at roughly 23 times forward earnings. That is a bit pricey.

TJX also beat on the top and bottom line, with same-store sales up 4 percent, also above expectations. That was almost entirely driven by higher customer traffic. TJX's 2015 same-store sales guidance of 1 to 2 percent gain is also respectable, but Q1 guidance of 64 cents to 66 cents is below consensus.

Dollar Tree saw same-store sales up 5.6 percent as well. Target was up 3.8 percent. These are well above general expectations; as a general rule, anything above two percent is pretty good.

Read More Target earnings beat estimates

In restaurants, DineEquity, owner of IHOP and Applebee's, beat on the top and bottom line, but more importantly sales were terrific. IHOP's comps were up 6.1 percent, the highest quarterly sales increase since the first quarter of 2004. Applebee's saw growth of 2.8 percent, the strongest result since the second quarter of 2011.

DineEquity's 2015 same-restaurant sales guidance is also strong, with IHOP up 2 to 5 percent, and Applebee's up 1 to 4 percent, both above expectations at the midpoint.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect TJX's 2015 same-store sales guidance of a 1 to 2 percent gain.

  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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