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Conditions ripe for new highs as it starts to rain IPOs

NYSE trader
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NYSE trader

We could move quickly to fresh historic highs (1878.04 was the S&P 500 Index's closing historic high on March 7th) if there is no violence in the Crimea, and particularly if Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen emphasizes that there will be no early rise in the Fed funds rate. Yellen is also widely expected to reduce its unemployment target lower, to 6 percent from 6.5 percent.

But the conviction level is not high. Volume has been abysmal, among the lowest of the year. Also, bear in mind that despite all the euphoria in the last two days, the S&P 500 is essentially unchanged on the year (OK, we're up one percent to be exact, but you get the point). At the end of the first quarter of last year, the S&P was up 10 percent.

Elsewhere

1) The initial public offering (IPO) deluge which I told you about two weeks ago is now beginning. In the next eight trading days, 21 IPOs are scheduled to price.

It began last night, when cloud-based payroll software provider Paylocity (PCTY) priced seven million shares—more than expected—at $17, above the price talk of $14-$16.

A10 Networks (ATEN), which makes technology that improves the working of data center networks, is scheduled to price Thursday night for Friday trading. Next week, Candy Crush maker King Digital Entertainment (KING) will price, and it's currently getting most of the attention. However, the biggest deal this month will be billboard king CBS Outdoor Americas (CBSO) proposed $540 million offering.

It's been a great start to the year. At the start of this week, there were 45 IPOs completed, double the same period last year, according to Renaissance Capital.


2) Blame it on the weather (again). FedEx came in light on both the top and bottom line and lowered 2014 guidance, to $6.55-$6.80 from $6.73-$7.10. CFO Alan Graf delivered the bad news: "the impact from multiple severe storms and frigid temperatures was significantly more pronounced this year, and we are reducing our full-year earnings per share guidance as a result of the weather impact."

3) KB Home reported earnings and revenues above expectations; orders were up six percent, above expectations. Average selling prices are up 12 percent in the last year. However, in the West, average selling prices were up 30 percent.

Some of this is a mix shift: they are moving to coastal, higher end custom builders from entry level homes.They are opening more communities, and increasing orders as a result. As a result, margins are improving.

Remember: this is a heavily shorted group. Most of the other builders reported orders were down, one reason there was such high short interest. Still, KBH is primarily out in the West, and their numbers have been good. Expect a lot of short covering in the group today.

By CNBC's 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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