Stocks rose early in the morning as oil rose, bond yields moved up, and the ADP private employment report was strong.
Then midday, the markets reversed. The initial catalyst were in the Federal Reserve's minutes from its last meeting. The Fed made several comments that could be interpreted as negative for stocks:
- They don't expect fiscal stimulus until 2018.
- Some see the stock market valuation as high.
- They said they are considering reducing their $4.5 trillion balance sheet this year, and this is likely viewed as effectively an additional rate hike.
None of this was helpful for stocks.
Shortly after the Fed minutes, House Speaker Paul Ryan was quoted in a Reuters story saying tax reform could take longer than healthcare overhaul, and that the House, Senate and White House aren't yet on the same page on tax reform.
What's this all mean? The market cares about three things right now: 1) the Trump Agenda, 2) interest rates, and 3) growth and the right valuation for the markets.
All three of these got smacked around a bit this afternoon. You can see these issues got the markets going by looking at volume, which has been terrible for weeks.
But today big, broad ETFs that track major indexes had heavy volume: the Russell 2000 had volume 30 percent above normal, the NASDAQ 100 had volume nearly 60 percent above normal, and S&P 500 about 25 percent above normal.