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Worst Fear of Traders: It's Not Macro Events

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Overnight, the debate among traders was the "death by slow growth" fear, the one thing that is not baked into the bull scenario this year. It's this: that the biggest worry of traders — some macro event like a meltdown in Europe, or a downgrade of U.S. debt, or a debt ceiling meltdown — never happens. Instead, what happens is that growth just does not materialize. That what upends the stock market this year is just boring no growth? Gads.

For the moment, that is not the dominant emotion. The gross domestic product decline was largely written off as a slowdown in defense and inventory de-stocking. The decline yesterday was mild, the volume normal.

Regardless: At some point, we will need to see more growth ... and not just from housing.

But the bulls are not backing down. The Wharton School's Jeremy Siegel appeared on our air this morning and talked enthusiastically about expanding multiples for the stock market in 2013. He gave a 70 percent chance the Dow Jones Industrial Average will hit 15,000 by the end of the year, and sees an increase in consumer spending. He also said he believes the housing recovery will continue.

Even Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical's CEO, came on our air sounding optimistic, saying he saw "good things in China," and that he was aiming to have 35 percent of revenue in emerging markets. Still, the comments in the press release were more cautious: "The second half of 2012 saw significant deterioration in the markets we serve, particularly in China."

Elsewhere:

1) The first home building initial public offering in 10 years: Last night, Tri Pointe Homes (TPH) sold 13.7 million shares at $17. It had initially planned to sell 11 million shares between $14 and $16 a share. Why the big move up? To start, it is backed by Starwood. Second, it bought a lot of land cheap. Third, we are in the middle of a housing recovery. It will be selling in California and Colorado primarily.

Speaking of home builders, PulteGroup, the latest to report, beat earnings expectations modestly, order growth was 27 percent, strong but a bit lower than other builders, most of which are reporting order growth above 30 percent. Meritage reported new orders up 46 percent, as well.

2) Whirlpool beat estimates, despite a three percent decline in sales in North America. Regardless: 2013 guidance was spectacular at $9.25 to $9.75 a share, well above consensus of $9.17 a share. It is counting on price increases and an improving U.S. housing market. It reiterated a focus on an 8 percent operating margin by 2014.

A little bit of a disappointment from Sherwin Williams, where earnings were a tad light and 2013 guidance of $7.45 to $7.55 a share was a bit below consensus of $7.84 a share ... but the stock doubled in 2012!

3) Tech not so bad: Qualcomm, whose chips are in most smartphones, raised its 2013 guidance, business software maker Citrix had strong earnings, and communications equipment maker JDS Uniphase beat expectations on strong demand for its equipment used in broadband networks.

4) Lots of talk that defense has finally reached an "inflection point," with fourth-quarter GDP clearly indicating the decline in spending is accelerating.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Tri Pointe Homes would be selling primarily in California and Arizona.

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

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