Unexpectedly Intriguing!
May 7, 2018
The S&P 500 (Index: INX) saw some major intraday swings during the first week of May 2018, with the combination of Thursday, 3 May 2018 and Friday 4 May 2018 combining to take the index on the wildest ride of the week.

S&P 500, 30 April 2018 through 4 May 2018

Tracking each day's closing value of the S&P 500, what we find is that the level of the S&P 500 is consistent with investors continuing to split their attention between the current quarter of 2018-Q2 and the more distant future quarter of 2019-Q1, although slightly favoring the current quarter during Week 1 of May 2018.

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2018Q2 - Standard Model - Snapshot on 04 May 2018

That makes a lot of sense in the context of the news of the past week, where we're nearing the end of earnings reporting season taking place during 2018-Q2, so investors are continuing to keep a good portion of their forward-looking attention on the current quarter. Here are the market-moving headlines from the week that was....

Monday, 30 April 2018
Tuesday, 1 May 2018
Wednesday, 2 May 2018
Thursday, 3 May 2018
Friday, 4 May 2018

Elsewhere, Barry Ritholtz found that the number of positives outweighed the negatives for the U.S. economy and markets during the first week of May 2018.

The other big factor of the week was the latest statement of the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee, which all but guaranteed that it will next hike short term interest rates in the U.S. at its June 2018 meeting. At the same time, investors are expecting at least one more rate hike in 2018, currently expected in 2018-Q3, as indicated by the CME Group's Federal Funds Rate futures.

Probabilities for Target Federal Funds Rate at Selected Upcoming Fed Meeting Dates (CME FedWatch on 4 May 2018)
FOMC Meeting Date Current
150-175 bps 175-200 bps 200-225 bps 225-250 bps 250-275 bps 275-300 bps
13-Jun-2018 (2018-Q2) 0.0% 100.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
26-Sep-2018 (2018-Q3) 0.0% 26.3% 69.4% 4.3% 0.0% 0.0%
19-Dec-2018 (2018-Q4) 0.0% 12.1% 45.1% 37.7% 4.9% 0.2%

Though the CME Group's FedWatch tool isn't tracking it yet, we believe that investors are also anticipating that the Fed will once again raise the Federal Funds Rate during 2019-Q1, although with more uncertainty than they've indicated for the rate hikes that they are currently expecting in 2018. At the very least, that hypothesis offers a plausible reason for why 2019-Q1 would appear to be holding a considerable share of the current day focus of investors. Combined with covering the end-of-year market action for 2018 (since the futures contracts for 2018-Q4 will expire on Friday, 21 December 2018), we think its likely that investors will focus at least a portion of their forward-looking attention on this quarter all through the rest of 2018.

Unless, of course, something happens to prompt them to shift their attention more fully to a different point of time in the future. As for what new information might cause that kind of shift, and when it might happen, your guess is as good as ours!...

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