Good news: The S & P 500 is in a modest uptrend. The bad news: the trading action is so lethargic the trading community doesn't seem to care. The S & P 500 is up 7% since bottoming at the height of the banking crisis March 13th. Why are traders so bored? "Business has been slow, Bob," one trader said to me. There are two reasons for the indifference: volume and volatility. Or more precisely, the lack of both. Volumes were great in March, lousy in April. One great thing a (banking) crisis does is create a lot of volume. That has now subsided. NYSE volumes, routinely more than 4 billion shares a day many times in March, have been mostly in the mid-to-low 3-billion range for the past couple weeks. Overall trading volumes are just as anemic. In April, U.S. equity share volumes have averaged 10.0 billion shares per day, which is about 20% below the March average of 12.5 billion, according to Piper Sandler. Option volumes are also lower. Why is the VIX so low? The main focus of volatility, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), hit a 15-month low on Wednesday. Traders seemed astonished that the VIX hit 16 on Monday, before rebounding modestly Tuesday. It wasn't lost on them that the last time the VIX was at 16 was in January 2022, which was market top. "While a declining VIX drives equity prices higher, troughs in the VIX mark market peaks," Mike O'Rourke at Jones Trading said in a note to clients last night. "The January 2022 trough in the VIX marks the current all-time high for the S & P 500. That makes the current levels an interesting crossroads." Those who resolutely believe that some kind of recession are coming and think the VIX is sending a false signal seem to misunderstand what the VIX is supposed to represent — a bet on very short-term volatility. By short-term, I mean 30 days out, so traders who think the VIX is wrong or sending the wrong signal about a recession in the second half are missing the point. So why is the market going up? Partly, it's the realization that the banking crisis may not morph into a full-blown crisis. But a big contributor has been earnings. So far, they are far better than feared. Julian Emanuel at Evercore ISI noted that as of Tuesday night, 44 companies in the S & P 500 had reported. Reported sales growth for those companies has been up 9.8% and earnings were ahead 10.3%. That is far better than expected, surprising by 2.2 percentage points in the case of sales and 8.0 points better in earnings, according to Emanuel.