Which is it: a sell-off coming, or another buy-on-the-dip opportunity? Funny thing is, almost everyone wants to see the markets drop, but for two very different reasons.
One camp wants the market to drop another five to ten percent so they can buy the market cheaper. They believe the economy is strengthening, and with several key issues--including the budget--out of the way, they believe a modest multiple expansion, with the potential for higher revenues, will make lower stock prices a buying opportunity.
The other camp is convinced that tapering is beginning in either December or January, and that the stock market will not handle it well. They believe 2014 could be a real disappointment.
Is the stock market--and the economy--capable of handling the imminent taper? Despite the sluggishness, you have to be blind not to conclude that the underlying trend is still bullish. The S&P 500 Index is only 1.8 percent below its historic high; we have a long way to go before we get to a five percent drop, let alone a ten percent drop.
My bet is that Ben Bernanke (who still leads the Federal Reserve until the end of the year)/Janet Yellen (the Fed chief in waiting) will not taper next week, but send a signal that one is imminent. That may cause stocks to wobble for a few more days.
Note that U.S. stock mutual funds saw $6.5 billion in outflows during the latest week, its biggest weekly outflow of 2013, according to Lipper.
1) Hot flash storage initial public offering (IPO): Nimble Storage (NMBL) offered 8 million shares at $21.The initial price talk of $16-$18 was upped to $18-$20. NMBL is in the enterprise storage business, which incorporates high-performance flash storage. It's a technology change because flash is a quicker, and more reliable than traditional disk-based storage.
Separately, Cheniere Energy (CQH) priced 36 million shares - 6 million more than expected - at $20 each, in the middle of the range. CQH is a limited partnership (LP), will own a 55.9 percent interest in Cheniere Partners, which owns liquid natural gas facilities.
Third IPO at the NYSE: Life insurer Fidelity & Guaranty (FGL) priced 9.7 million shares at $17 apiece, at the low end of the price talk.
Yesterday was the largest IPO day in 2013 in terms of proceeds raised, on both the NYSE and in the overall US IPO market: $3.58 billion in the overall market, and $3.53 billion in the NYSE.
2) Is Cisco the canary in the coal mine for tech? Cisco is trading near an eight-month low after trimming its long-term revenue outlook, citing issues in emerging markets, conservative spending and slowing growth in its core business: network equipment. The company cut its revenue expectations over the next three to five years to three to six percent, versus its previous forecast of five to seven percent.
So is this a sign of a broader problem in tech? It's very hard to say. They are blaming emerging market weakness, but it seems clear some of this may be due to weakness in China and a "Snowden effect" due to theblow-back of American companies operating in China.
If that's true, why--as MKM Partners point out--are other telecom equipment companies like Juniper, Ciena, and Alcatel-Lucent doing better in emerging markets? They also note that half of the forecast reduction was also due to product cycle transitions in the Switching and Routing divisions, where new products have been announced but are not yet available.
3) The House passed the budget...the first passed in four years! The Senate will vote next week.
—By CNBC's Bob Pisani