Quarterly earnings look set to fall for the second straight quarter, according to FactSet data.» Read More
It's earnings season.
And JPMorgan Chase will be among the first big U.S. banks to report earnings. The financial institution is scheduled to deliver its results before Friday's opening bell.
That said, we want to hear from you - do you think financials will lead the market higher this year?
Vote now in our "Futures Now" poll!
Goldman Sachs slashed its gold price forecasts on Wednesday morning, and recommended that people close out the long gold positions Goldman previously recommended and start shorting bullion. While the call did seem to hurt gold in Wednesday's session, many traders kept asking the same question: Why would anyone listen to what Goldman says about commodities?
"Their calls have been suspect at best, so I'm not giving this one much merit," said Jeff Kilburg of KKM Financial. "Traders out here in Chicago are not lending much credibility to their calls, because they've been so inaccurate lately."
The latest minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting suggests that a few Fed policymakers expect to soon slow the pace of asset purchases, prompting one professional trader to warn that an abrupt end to the bond-buying program would be a "disaster."
(Poll: Will the Fed End QE This Year?)
"I could think of probably two ways it ends good and about 10 it ends bad, but the way it is now, it looks like we are one day closer to either being curtailed back or ending," Anthony Grisanti, founder of GRZ Energy, said on CNBC's "Futures Now."
Minutes from the most recent Fed meeting suggested that some policymakers expected to slow the asset purchases by midyear and end them later this year, while several others expected to taper the rate a bit later and halt the program by year's end.
(Read More: Some Fed Members Fear Monetary Policy Effects)
The price of gold popped through resistance on Tuesday to reach the next major level that all traders are now watching: $1,590.4.
This was the level that broke the camel's back a week ago and gold continued to trade another $50 lower. Once it reached a high of $1,590.1 on Tuesday, the precious metal quickly backed off and consolidated just above the $1,583.8 level into the close.
(Read More: Gold or Stocks? It Doesn't Matter!)
On Wednesday, gold reached a high of $1,588.5, but the market has little mojo, as it currently easing toward $1,570.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs has once again lowered their 2013 gold forecast to $1,545 from $1,610 and to $1,350 in 2014 from $1,490, as they note that although euro-area fears are heightened and U.S. data has been disappointing, gold prices are unchanged over the last month. In February, Goldman reduced their 2013 forecast from $1,810. Nonetheless, we all know and have seen Goldman reduce or raise forecasts in order to find themselves a better entry or exit point, so this should all be taken with a grain of salt.
(Read More: Goldman Sachs Says It's Time to Short Gold)
Due to an accidental early release to Congress and to trade organizations yesterday, the FOMC minutes were released at 9 a.m. today, surprising the market. Traders must remember that these minutes are from the meeting that took place on March 19 and 20 – which, importantly, was prior to the last Friday's disappointing jobs report. Major focus is always placed on dissension among the ranks, but we want to place the focus on the top economists who see a downtick in the economy as a result of sequestration. Although there are Fed governors who see the endless easing coming to a halt at the end of the year, this is not realistic, and the top economists believe that if anything is changed at all, the $85 billion worth of bonds purchasing will just be curtailed slightly.
(Poll: Will the Fed End QE This Year?)
If we continue to see an uptick in U.S. economic data, this will continue to provide a green light for equities, thus taking away the luster of gold. However, if we see a downtick in economic data caused by sequestration, then this is will provide a catalyst for investors and traders alike to step back into gold.
Support will now come in at $1,570, and furthermore $1,566.1 — so a close below here will confirm Tuesday's failure into Wednesday morning, likely initiating a bearish leg lower. A close back above $1,578.9 on Wednesday will neutralize the negative activity. A close above $1,583.8 will provide positive momentum, confirming Tuesday's price action. And only a close back above major resistance at $1,590.4 will be bullish.
Read on for 10 Things You Need to Know to Trade Futures
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of its latest Federal Open Markets Committee Meeting several hours earlier than planned.
The minutes were inadvertently released to about 100 Congressional staffers and trade lobbyists shortly after 2pm ET Tuesday, according to a Federal Reserve spokesperson.
Minutes from the most recent Fed meeting suggest that members have grown increasingly concerned that things could get messy if it continues its asset-purchasing and money-printing policies too far into the future.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has hit new highs and the S&P 500 index has set records, while U.S. Treasurys continue to push higher. Each asset class competes for investors' monies, so typically stocks rally or bonds rally, but not both together.
Since stocks and bonds typically trade inversely, professional trader Jim Iuorio said Treasurys have advanced on fears the prolonged stock market rally could soon come to an end.
To pro trader Anthony Grisanti, it's foreign investment that's driving bond prices higher.
"My theory is it's the money that's coming in from overseas, with all the liquidity that's happening there. That money has to go somewhere," said Grisanti, founder of GRZ Energy. "If it ain't going into equities, it's going to go into bonds and I think it's coming from them."
If you're counting out China, it's possible you're making a terrible mistake.
For months chatter on the Street had everything to do with China and whether the world's second largest economy could underpin global growth.
Lately Wall Street had become skeptical, especially after a high profile report suggested China's rapid expansion had generated the largest housing bubble in history.
Considering the housing bubble in the US was responsible in part for the worst downturn since the Great Depression, a bigger one in China seemed disastrous. Wall Street's concern seemed warranted.
As a result, sectors of the stock market tethered to China had lagged the broader market.
You might have agonized over the decision back then. Buying gold protects you from inflation, but buying stocks entitles you to a cut of future profits. Gold is shiny, but lots of stocks have cool names. So which one would you have chosen?
Here's the thing: It wouldn't have mattered.
On the first day of June in 1990, gold futures and the S&P 500 were each trading at about 360. And on April 3, 2013, gold and stocks traded at the same nominal level again—but by then, that level was about 1,550.
The stock market has been on a tear lately, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting another all-time high of 14,706.52 on Tuesday, but the bullish Jeremy Siegel argued that the Dow could see 18,000 by the end of next year.
(Read More: Dow Touches New High)
To Siegel, professor of finance at the University of Pennsylvania 's Wharton School and author of "Stocks for the Long Run," there are two reasons the market could keep pushing up.
To start, Siegel noted that stocks are trading at historically cheap multiples. Equities are so inexpensive that no asset class is more attractive, he said. Take Treasury bonds. With the yield on bonds so low, he thinks you can easily pay 18 to 20 times earnings and not be overpriced on stocks.
(Read More: CNBC Explains Treasury Bond Prices and Yields)
"Given what I see going on in the rest of the world and all this liquidity coming in, people are going to look to stocks as that hedge with earnings power and dividends, which none of those other asset classes have," Siegel said on CNBC's "Futures Now."
He added that stocks will likely stay strong as long as the Federal Reserve maintains its policies on bond purchases and record-low interest rates. In September, the Fed launched a third round of quantitative easing, in which it has bought $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities per month, primarily in mortgage-backed bonds.
(Read More: Gold Pares Losses, but Equities Lure Investors)
This month, the precious metal and the S&P 500 index have been trading at the same nominal price for the first time in three years. The last time that happened, some thought gold was the better short-term bet.
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