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Market Update

Stock Market Hunkers Down Ahead of Fed Interest Rate Update

May 20, 2015

U.S. stock market indicators were confined to tight ranges early today with many participants holding back ahead of the afternoon release of closely watched Federal Reserve meeting minutes, which could shed light on the timing for a first interest-rate hike in some nine years. A morning data void was adding to the antsy mood.

FIGURE 1: WELCOME TO THE PARTY. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (SPX) scored its fifth record close of the year Tuesday in an otherwise sloppy day for the major stock indexes. Data source: Dow Jones Indices. Chart source: TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim® platform. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

You May Recall a More Dovish Fed. Today’s minutes release covers the Fed’s April 29 meeting. At the meeting, the panel downgraded its assessment of growth, citing bad winter weather, the West Coast port strike, and a stronger dollar. The market’s assessment at that time: the Fed’s stance argued against a move to hike rates as soon as June. Let’s see if today’s release brings more color on the situation. Maybe the Fed will expose its thoughts on the housing market as data this week showed that this powerful economic engine rebounded in April. Home Depot (HD), a de facto proxy for housing strength, surprised Wall Street this week with solid earnings and an upbeat outlook.

Homemade Goes Big Time, Sees Big Test. Shares of craft, vintage, and art-selling site Etsy (ETSY) unraveled in early action after its first set of quarterly earnings as a public company disappointed Wall Street. Etsy, now trading back near its $16 IPO price from mid-April, reported an unexpected loss and detailed more spending. Critics have also gone after the firm for alleged trademark infringements on some 5% of its listed goods. Management was encouraged by traction for its mobile app.

Next Level. As we bob around here at record highs, bulls will be looking for the S&P 500 (SPX) to hold 2120 on the downside, which of course was former major resistance. And again, resistance looms at 2140.

Good trading,

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