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Monday March 1, 2010 - 23:32:00 GMT
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Improving Economy Pushes March S&P through Resistance

Signs of improvement in the U.S. economy helped the March E-mini S&P 500 push through recent resistance at 1112.75 to turn the main trend to up. The strong close in the Dow has this average in a position to challenge the last main top at 10434. Strong demand for technology stocks helped drive the March NASDAQ through the recent main top at 1833.00.

 

Although the indices were up overnight, it took a better than expected economic report to set off Tuesday’s rally. The surprise this morning was the increase in U.S. Consumer Spending to its highest level since May 2008. This report may be signaling that consumer confidence in the economic outlook is increasing. The ISM Manufacturing Index fell to 56.5% from 58.4%; nonetheless, investors saw this as positive as long as the reading remains above 50%.

 

The key to higher markets will be follow-through buying. Investors have been shying away from buying strength so don’t be surprised by another pull-back to attract the attention of the buying crowd. Traders should also pay close attention to the Dollar. A sharply higher Dollar tied to sovereign debt concerns in Europe is likely to weaken the stock indices.

 

June Treasury futures fell following the release of the friendly U.S. economic reports. Trading was slow and the range was tight. Increased demand for higher yielding assets also contributed to the weakness. All of this took place while the June Treasury Bonds were testing a key 50% level at 117’23. The charts indicate that there is room to break to at least 116’00.

 

The turnaround in the Canadian Dollar helped to turn April Gold positive intraday, but it could not sustain the strength into the close. Upside momentum needs to continue to build if this market wants to have enough power to test the last main top at $1131.50. A trade through this price will turn the main trend up. With the Euro reaching an important crossroad because of the possibility of an EU/Greece agreement, traders should watch for a possible acceleration to the upside if the Dollar weakens substantially.

 

The stronger Canadian Dollar could not help sustain the early session strength in crude oil and this market succumbed to selling pressure because of the weaker than expected ISM Manufacturing Index. Traders lightened up on their long positions after the weak ISM report indicated that crude oil demand may not be as strong as previously estimated. This market dropped although equity markets and the Canadian Dollar were higher. This indicates that more downside pressure could be expected over the short run.

 

The March British Pound plunged following reports that a poll indicated that the minority party may win the upcoming election. Such a move will mark the first time since 1974 that the minority party has gained such power. Investors feel that this drastic change will stall the country’s efforts to shore up the U.K.’s debt issues.  In addition, the weaker Euro also dragged down the Pound as fear swept through the markets over the possibility that the sovereign debt crisis was spreading to the U.K.

 

Heightened political pressures along with the poor economy and the Bank of England’s continued easing of monetary policy weighed heavily on the Pound since early in the session when stops were hit below 1.50.  Shortly after the New York opening, the British Pound found support at a .618 retracement level at 1.4854. The successful test of this level generated some light short-covering, but far from enough to trigger a change in trend.

 

The March Euro was under pressure throughout the New York session as uncertainty over the Greek bailout package encouraged more selling. Downside momentum dried up as the market approached last week’s low at 1.3443. This triggered a late session short-covering rally which helped erase close to half of its losses.

 

Optimism over a possible deal between the European Union and Greece waned as traders grew impatient over the lack of progress toward a resolution regarding the Greek debt crisis. A week-end report from the Wall Street Journal citing the possibility that Germany and France would bail-out Greece to the tune of $41 billion failed to generate any strong buying or short-covering early in the session. This triggered a relentless barrage of sell order shortly before the New York opening. Downside pressure was on the Euro until about the mid-session when it became apparent that the recent bottom at 1.3443 was going to hold.

 

Monday’s action indicates that investors are getting frustrated with waiting for the deal to be set and with Greece’s inability to make additional budget cuts. The only thing that could turn this market around at this time will be either a concrete resolution to the crisis or a short-covering rally triggered by fresh foreign buying of the Euro.

 

The March Canadian Dollar rallied sharply higher after a report showed that Canadian GDP grew in the fourth quarter faster than economists forecast. Traders erased an earlier loss after the GDP report showed the economy expanded by 5% versus pre-report guesses of 4.2%.

 

This morning’s better-than-expected GDP report indicates the economy has enough positive momentum to perhaps trigger a more hawkish statement from the Bank of Canada at Tuesday’s policy meeting.  This robust report could serve as notice that the economy is expanding at a pace that would warrant an interest rate hike by the BoC sooner than the Federal Reserve.

 

Demand for higher risk assets because of today’s strong U.S. equity markets helped to pressure the March Japanese Yen. Although the range was tight, the chart formation suggests that the Yen is poised to breakout to the downside if it can trigger stops below 1.1174. The return of risk aversion should underpin the Japanese Yen which could lead to an acceleration to the upside through the recent main top at 1.1295.

 

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