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Move along, nothing to see here: Stocks keep rising as data falls short

Friday, 21 Feb 2014 | 9:53 AM ET
Tuomas Kujansuu | E+ | Getty Images

Why are stocks still advancing, with such poor economic data? Though not all indices are up this week, the S&P 500 Index has a good shot at posting three up weeks.

Most of the disappointing macroeconomic data is getting a pass due to weather. Plenty of traders mentioned the the positive data from Markit on flash U.S. manufacturing was the reason the market held up yesterday.

One thing's for sure: much of the market leadership is in speculative technology stocks. I mean Priceline, Google, Linkedin, Netflix, Tesla, Facebook, even Workday is where large amounts of the trading action is.

So far, no one wants to sell on up days, while buying is restricted on down days. We'll see how long that lasts.

Elsewhere

1) Biotech/medical initial public offering (IPO) mania may be waning. Last night, Semler Scientific (SMLR), which does blood flow measurement tests in-office, priced 1.4 million shares—more than expected—at $7, but it was below the price talk of $7.50-$9.50.

This company was supposed to go public last week, but was delayed until this week. There were six biotech/medical IPOs last week, and as you can see their reception in the market has been decidedly mixed:

company ( percent change from offering price)

Amedica (AMDA) up 23%

Flexion Tehrapeutics (FLXN) up 14%

Concert Pharmaceuticals (CNCE) flat

Inogen (INGN) down 3%

Nephrogenex (NRX) down 7%

Eagle Pharmaecuticals (EGRX) down 22%

This doesn't mean the IPO market is slowing, but after a year of intense biotech offerings, it's not surprising if we see a slowdown.


Big picture economy about the weather: Pro
Maury Harris, UBS chief U.S. economist, and Darrell Cronk, Regional Chief Investment Officer, Wells Fargo Private Bank, share their thoughts on what's driving the markets and where they are likely headed from here. I'm not that worried about underlying weakness, says Harris.

I expect tech IPOs to pick up the slack in the coming months. The enormous amount of money that Facebook paid for WhatsApp will certainly be an impetus for some firms to capitalize on the demand for small social media companies. There are many strategic buyers that are now in the market, and that's not lost on anyone.

2) Kudos to Warren Buffett and the management team at Business Wire, the company he owns. The Wall Street Journal and other publications are reporting that Business Wire will stop giving high-frequency traders direct access to corporate earnings. Many companies use Business Wire and other competitors to release their earnings reports.

These distributors then sell the information to media companies like Dow Jones or Bloomberg. However, Business Wire allowed traders to pay for direct access to the feed. This allowed traders who paid for the data to get access to the information slightly faster than others who got them through the media outlets. We are talking about a fraction of a second, but that is enough to trade on. Eliminating that ability to gain faster access is the right decision.

I've said this before: I have nothing against high frequency trading, but I do have a problem with getting faster access than anyone else. On a separate note, any indication that any high frequency trader is engaging in manipulative or abusive practices should be investigated.

3) Home furnishing company Mohawk Industries slides after issuing downbeat first quarter profit guidance and noting the effects of harsh winter weather. MHK sees a Q1 share range between $1.13 and $1.19, much lower than expectations of $1.51.

"While the weather in the first half of this quarter has impacted the timing of some of our U.S. orders and shipments, our first quarter results are expected to be in line with normal seasonal patterns," said CEO Jeffrey Lorberbaum.

By CNBC's Bob Pisani

  Price   Change %Change
S&P 500
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US 10-YR
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The Priceline Group
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GOOGL
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LINKEDIN
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NFLX
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TSLA
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FB
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WDAY
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MHK
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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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