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This week is shaping up to be the slowest in the market since Christmas

  • As of Wednesday afternoon, just over 13 billion shares had been traded for the week.
  • The weekly volume is on track for its lowest level since last Christmas despite rising tensions with North Korea and a deadly storm that has hobbled the U.S. energy sector.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

It's been a very sleepy week for Wall Street thus far, despite plenty of market-moving headlines.

As of Wednesday afternoon, just over 13 billion shares had been traded for the week, on track to be the lowest weekly volume since last Christmas.

Weekly US composite volume

Source: FactSet

Of course, seasonality is playing a big role in the lack of trading action in the U.S. stock market. Many traders and investors have already left for vacation ahead of the long Labor Day weekend. The stock market is closed on Monday.

But the slowdown comes on a busy news week, starting with Hurricane Harvey over the weekend, which has forced widespread shutdowns in the U.S. oil refining sector, and North Korea's firing of a missile over Japan early Tuesday local time.

"It just feels like a lot of people are away," said Kim Forrest, senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital, but "there have been events that generally drive up trading."

U.S. stocks initially sold off on the North Korea news on Tuesday, but reversed course to close higher. On Wednesday, investors combed through stronger-than-expected economic data.

The ADP National Employment report showed private-sector jobs increased by 237,000 in August, well above the expected 185,000. The ADP report is often used by traders as a preview to the government's monthly jobs report, which is set for release on Friday.

Meanwhile, the second estimate for gross domestic product data in the second quarter showed the U.S. economy grew by 3.0 percent, more than the expected increase of 2.7 percent.

"Strong economic data can't break the fact that late August is one of the sleepier times of the year," said Ryan Detrick, a senior market strategist at LPL Financial. "Geopolitical worries are still lingering, but with Congress scheduled to get back in session next week, we wouldn't be surprised to see some September volatility starting up quickly."