Market Insider

Traders read first-quarter tea leaves for clues

The first quarter appears to be going out with a whimper for stocks, but turbulence lurks just beneath the surface.

The , after three months of ups, downs and several new highs, is closing in on the end of the quarter just about where it began. It's barely changed—less than 0.1 percent away from its Dec. 31 close.

Friday's session should be a key to the coming quarter, as themes now dominating markets should continue to do so. With an eye on the Fed, traders say markets are adjusting to the expectations for higher short-term interest rates, which have driven short-term yields higher and are wringing some of the riskiest excess out of the stock market. They are also watching economic reports to see if it was harsh winter weather that held back the economy or something else.