I've noted that when you are in this kind of uncertain market, everyone becomes a technician. There's a lot of attention now focused on tech stocks, now that both the NASDAQ and NASDAQ 100 have broken to 52-week lows.
For example: Google needs to hold above this week's low ($488.52 intraday). Microsoft is barely above its August low.
Many heavily traded techs are already below support levels. Apple , for example, broke below support yesterday and is now at its lowest level since August; same with Bidu .
Unfortunately, Cisco is not helping. While the numbers were OK,during the conference call the company did indicate that there was a falloff in orders during January. Down 10 percent to a new low.
1) Retail sales. According to RetailMetrics, January comp store sales were up only 0.2 percent; first time since Feb-March 2003 with back to back growth below 1 percent.
Wal-Mart sales were up 0.5 percent, well below the 2 percent growth expected; also worse than expected were Limited, Nordstrom (down 5 percent pre-open), Target (who is forecasting February sales down 1 percent to up 1 percent), American Eagle (but they affirm their fourth quarter forecast), Pacific Sunwear (also affirms forecast).
Gap was a pleasant surprise. They beat by a wide margin: up 2 percent vs. a decline of 5.8 percent expected. Aeropostale (affirms fourth quarter), Saks,Ann Taylor were a also a bit better. Ann Taylor said, "To keep our inventories turning, we were promotionally aggressive during the month".
JC Penney also said sales were down, but better than expected; guidance is also higher than expected; up 6 percent pre-open.
Remember what we have seen recently: Talk about restructuring at Macy's,Talbots will close 100 underperforming stores, Freds is closing 75 stores, Hot Topic will open fewer stores, Charming Shoppes is closing 150 stores and cut 250 jobs, Ann Taylor will have fewer store openings, and cutting HQ staff.
2) Expect semis to be weak again as chip maker Infineon reported revenue below expectations; the SOX (semiconductor index) is already at a 4 1/2 year low. Down 16 per-open.