Is this time different? The meager three percent pullback in the S&P 500 at the end of February made a lot of traders believe that any pullback should be bought, but there has been a lot of discussion this week that this pullback might be different. The following arguments are being batted around:
1) the technicals are worse: this week has seen two days (Monday and Wednesday) where 90 percent of the volume was on the downside on very large volume; this has led many to question whether we are still in an up trend in the markets;
2) the macros are different: March and early April economic numbers (Philly Fed) have been weak (this is becoming a regular Spring event);
However, it's a little early to draw any conclusions from earnings, other than tech disappointment. Early bank reports (JPMorgan and Wells Fargo) were good, but Bank of America disappointed, and multi-industry company reports have been mixed. General Electric was fair but CEO Jeff Immelt noted ongoing weakness in Europe.
As of this morning,104 companies have reported (21 percent of the S&P 500), with 67 percent beating expectations — slightly above the norm. Earnings are 2.0 percent higher than the same period last year, with revenue outpacing last year by 3.2 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ. However, guidance has been cautious to poor.