Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why Futures are Annoying

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As I type this the S&P 500 is flat after running into the simple moving average just as the ISM Services report was released. All set up for a "rocket fuel run" based on a "surprise" beat. But alas, not to be.

However a flat session in the first hour is deceptive. We are actually down 0.5% in my book. Why? Because all of today's gains came in the first minutes as premarket futures were marked up half a percent on essentially no reason.

So a pattern we've seen for much of the past year and a half
Premarket move: +0.5%.
Regular session: some sort of loss.

Today they happen to cancel each other out... leading to a flat day. That would be a negative day (at this moment of course) if not for premarket magic.

And this is why the premarket movement the past few years has become beyond annoying. And lest we pin the movement on 'great news' in premarket (a) the news was benign and (b) futures were up 0.4% before any news came out in the U.S. - and there was nothing of note overseas. It was just random magic.

There seems to be something unbalanced when a thin market, easily moved by a small slice of money (in the big scheme of things) can affect our day to day action so much.

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