Trader Talk

Stocks are selling off because of two key reasons

Three big reasons why the market is down today
Three big reasons why the market is down today

Here's something we haven't seen in a while: a 1 percent move down in the S&P 500, which hasn't happened since Jan. 30.

What's going on? Volumes remain light, for the most part, so let's not make too much of this — at least not yet.

Fed-fueled red flags

It's clear much of this is a continuation of a trend that began with last week's FOMC meeting:

  1. The dollar weakness is continuing, with the Dollar Index down about 2 percent since the FOMC meeting;
  2. 10-year Treasury yields, which were at 2.6 percent going into the Fed meeting, continue to decline, today at 2.43 percent. This is putting pressure on banks: The bank ETF (KBE) is down 3.6 percent.

The Trump speed bump?

Finally, it's hard to quantify, but anxiety over the ability of President Trump to pass his agenda of tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and lower regulations has been building for some time and was certainly not alleviated by the FBI/NSA hearings yesterday on the Hill.

The repeal of Obamacare is standing squarely in the way. There's a lot riding on Thursday's House vote to repeal Obamacare, as these battles are threatening to push out tax reform and more stimulus well into the end of 2017 or 2018.

Greg Valliere from Horizon Investments put it succinctly this morning: "Make no mistake: a defeat in Thursday's vote would send a clear signal that the rest of Trump's agenda — taxes, the budget, infrastructure, etc. — is in trouble."

Finally, I would throw in some small concerns on the fundamentals.

Autos are down again today — Ford, GM down 3 percent, Hertz and Avis down 8 percent, Santander Consumer (auto loans) down 4 percent. Used car prices are declining, there is some softness in auto loans, and last week Santander Consumer reported a small rise in auto loan delinquencies.

Bears are arguing this is a sign of consumer softness at the edges. A bit early to make this call, but it bears watching.