Enter multiple symbols separated by commas

Traders Are 'Renters' Right Now

If the trading seems a bit tentative and confusing, you're on the right track. And don't blame it on traders on vacation; there's plenty of that, but there's a reason for the market's uncertainty.

Traders are in a "Don't fall in love with anything" phase right now -- is the financial rally over? Is the decline in materials over for the moment? Has big energy finally bottomed? There aren't strong convictions on these major issues.

That's why you get a day like today:

-- Materials are clearly oversold and are up today, but most traders are only playing them for a 1-2 day bounce, so Potash , Mosaic , Freeport McMoRan, Alcoa are all up in a notable downtrend.

-- Exxon, Chevron, BP , and all the other big energy names have stopped dropping, but neither their trading volumes nor their news flow suggest a strong reason to buy;

-- Financials continue to have negative headlines, and have been mostly sideways for the last 2 weeks.

Does this sound cynical? One trader this morning -- a momentum trader -- noted to me that the stock market has become a rental market, meaning it's not clear how long you can own anything.

In this environment, is it any wonder that the talk is more technical in nature, more about Stochastics and Relative Strength than about Price-to-Book? When you can get 20-25 percent moves in a stock in a single week, how can you not become a short-term trader?

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

  • Bob Pisani

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

Wall Street

  • Robert Shiller

    Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller says that his key valuation indicator is flashing warning signs.

  • Lael Brainard

    The Fed is in the early stages of an analysis on changes in bond market liquidity, amid signs that liquidity may be less resilient than in past.

  • Bill Gross

    Janus Capital acquired a majority interest in Kapstream Capital and said Kapstream's Palghat will support Bill Gross as co-portfolio manager of the Janus Global Unconstrained Bond strategy.