Producer price inflation data and industrial production are among the reports expected Friday, as traders attempt to decipher whether the bond market or the stock market is sending the right signal.
Stocks were on track after Thursday’s gains for the best weekly performance since July 3. The bond market, meanwhile, plumbed yields at the bottom of the recent range after a $16 billion 30-year bond auction drew strong demand at low yields last seen at auction more than a year ago.
Read More Bond market bullishness ramps up
World equity markets got a lift after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a conciliatory statement toward Ukraine Thursday, and bonds, at the same time, were bought by investors nervous about weak European growth and with a nervous eye on geopolitics. U.S. yields moved lower, in tandem with European yields. The yield on the German 10-year bund temporarily fell below 1 percent for the first time after reports that German GDP surprisingly contracted by 0.2 percent.
Gina Martin Adams, institutional equity strategist at Wells Fargo Securities, said the stock market’s move higher has to do with the Fed. The market, in recent sessions, has spun bad economic reports in a positive way on the logic that a weaker economy could mean the Fed would be slower to remove stimulus or raise rates. Weekly jobless claims were slightly disappointing Thursday, rising back above 300,000.
“I think that the market is saying awful news is OK because it gives us our juice for longer. We kind of hoped we’d start to trade on earnings trends,” Adams said. “But earnings don’t matter. In earnings season, stocks fell and it was the best earnings season we’ve seen in years.”
Adams said the market is also sensitive to what’s happening in Ukraine, pointing to last Friday when stocks rose after Russian officials said military exercises ended. “There’s obviously a geopolitical kick, and the Fed driving the trading pattern … I do think geopolitics are part of the story and create an even greater volatility on a day-to-day basis, but underlying it all at its core—it’s really all about the Fed.”
Trader focus has already been shifting to next week, when minutes from the Fed’s last meeting are released Wednesday. But the highlight comes when Fed officials head to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for their annual symposium at the end of the week.
Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies, said it’s unlikely there will be much to surprise markets from Jackson Hole. “Basically Jackson Hole is going to be a showdown between those who think the labor market still has wounds and those who think it’s coming along,” he said.
As the bond market pulled in buyers, stock market buyers went on a spree among the riskiest names Thursday. The iShares Nasdaq Biotech ETF is up 3.9 percent so far this week. Stocks like Amazon, Tesla and LinkedIn are all several percent higher since Monday.
Special situations should get some attention Friday, after big investors and hedge funds revealed their holdings in SEC filings. Gannett rose in late trading after Carl Icahn revealed a stake and said he wants to split it apart. Also in the after hours, Coca-Cola announced it bought a stake in Monster Beverage, and both stocks rose.
PPI data is reported at 8:30 a.m. Friday, as is the EmpireState survey. Treasury TIC data is released at 9 a.m., while industrial production and capacity utilization are both released at 9:15 am. Consumer sentiment is at 9:55 a.m. Estee Lauder releases earnings ahead of the bell.