Market Insider

A few things that could add some zip to markets Tuesday

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., January 23, 2017.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

When Congress whiffed on replacing Obamacare last month, some of the more interested parties were in the small-business community, where health-care expenses and coverage has been an issue.

So when the National Federation of Independent Business releases its small business optimism reading at the crack of dawn Tuesday, it could find a highly interested audience.

"This will incorporate post AHCA failure results, and while that may not impact consumer confidence, I feel like small businesses would care about that a lot," said Tom Simons, money market economist at Jefferies.

The index has been near a 43-year high, with businesses exhilarated by the promises from Washington for deregulation, tax reform and stimulus. The index was at 105.3 in February, down slightly from January.

The other data expected Tuesday is the 10 a.m. ET release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, which looks at hires, job openings and quit rates. "I think the household survey in Friday's jobs report gave you all you need to know on the labor market now. We're still seeing it strengthen, and new entrants into the workforce are finding jobs," said Simons. While the March employment report showed just 98,000 jobs, the underlying data was strong and the unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent.

Markets were extremely quiet Monday, with the lowest stock market volume of the year and exceptionally light trading in bonds. Stocks closed flat with the Dow up a point at 20,658, and the S&P 500 also up a point at 2,357. Bonds were also higher with stocks Monday, and Treasury yields, which move opposite prices, were slightly lower.

Big for bonds Tuesday will be the reopened auction of $20 billion in 10-year Treasury notes. The government's three-year note auction Monday saw disappointing demand.

"I don't think it should be anything unusual. The big takeaway is the market's been pretty complacent looking at all the news from last week," said Michael Schumacher, head of interest rate strategy Wells Fargo Securities.

Last week, the Fed revealed that it could begin unwinding its sleeping giant of a balance sheet this year, earlier than expected by markets. The Fed built the balance sheet up to $4.5 trillion as a result of the easing policies it initiated in the financial crisis.

To this day, the Fed continues to replace the securities that roll down, meaning when a Treasury matures it buys a new one. This in essence means it is still "easing," and many market participants believe interest rates could rise when the Fed stops replacing those securities, which are both mortgages and Treasurys.

Minneapolic Fed President Neel Kashkari speaks in Minneapolis Tueasdy at 1:45 p.m. ET.

Markets will also keep an eye on geopolitical events. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels to Russia on Tuesday to meet with Russia's foreign minister and other officials for discussions about the Ukraine, counterterrorism efforts and other issues, like North Korea and Syria.