U.S. stocks closed around highs on Tuesday as investors found little impetus to move decisively in one direction or the other.
“The bond market is closed, and it’s one of the drivers in the market. When it’s closed, we tend to have lower volume and less-volatile days, as we don’t have a yield to look at and say this is bullish or bearish,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, referring to the Veterans Day holiday that had the federal government closed, along with the U.S. Treasury market.
After briefly sliding below $77 a barrel, the price of West Texas Intermediate was back above that level, which Hogan calls “the line in the sand, when it turns into a barometer for the global economy.”
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, rose 3 percent to trade near 13.
“On a nothing day we’ve seen the VIX rally a lot,” JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist for TD Ameritrade, said. “With the market at all-time highs people, rather than selling their stocks are protecting them a bit.”
Alibaba Group Holding slid as the Chinese e-commerce company’s shopping holiday sales cleared the $9 billion mark; D.R. Horton rose after the homebuilder reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue; Groupon climbed after the online provider of daily deals provided revenue guidance for 2015 above estimates.
The U.S. dollar dipped against currency rivals and dollar-denominated commodities including gold and oil gained.
On Monday, U.S. stocks stepped modestly higher, with health-care companies leading the charge that again lifted benchmarks to records, as investors tracked corporate results as the earnings season starts to wind down.
“The latest stock market relief rally suggests that investors are less anxious about a number of issues that were concerning them during early October’s panic attack,” Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, noted in emailed research.
“The relief continues on several fronts,” said Yardeni, who included lessened concerns about the spread of Ebola and reduced worries that the drop in oil prices implies a slowdown in the global economy on his list.
Retail will be in focus for the next few days, as Macy’s and Burberry before the bell on Wednesday and retail sales come out on Friday.
“The market has rallied almost on a relief that third-quarter results did not turn out as bad as feared,” Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout, said. “It’s been very good for third-quarter earnings but for revision of fourth quarter and beyond we think the market is overlooking that deterioration.”