I hope you all understood the message of the market today. Because I didn't. Perhaps it isn't cool to admit a lack of analytical clarity, but that's where I am after a tedious day in which the market leaders slipped while less-beloved groups advanced.
To recap the first session of the fall season, optical fiber, biotech, wireless communications and semiconductor stocks drooped. (Or did they,
) Meanwhile, the
stalwarts powered along led by the likes of
Procter & Gamble
This was unexpected. Coming into today, traders were touting tech because the momentum players were returning from the Hamptons and had cash built up in their mutual funds, which supposedly needed to be invested now. In contrast, no one expected an Old Economy rally in names like
. (Not even value investors just back from Maine.) So, of course, tech stunk and the oldsters rallied smartly just to punish people.
And maybe that was the meaning today: The market continues to punish the maximum number of people. In other words, the common wisdom will continue to disappoint.
What was the common wisdom today, and what would be most unconventional? Here are four examples:
Three top Wall Street strategists were quoted today in The Wall Street Journal saying that we should expect a nice, boring 4% to 8% return this year. So I bet we see either a big gain or a big loss for the year.
Analysts worry that today's tech slump augurs the beginning of the end for tech blue-chips like Intel , Cisco and Ciena . So you should expect they have one more rocket ride before their launch pads sink into the shifting sand.
The banks held up well today, too, and their momentum should continue. So obviously the banks are close to peaking.
The tech leaders were down today, which is worrisome to the bulls. So expect the market rally to continue and to broaden.
I could give you all kinds of rationalizations -- technical, fundamental, political, seasonal, animal and vegetable -- to justify my unconventional wisdom. But that is not the point of this column. What is the point? Just this -- it is too soon to say what today meant.
Simply because Labor Day has come and gone does not signify that investors have decided what to do with their money. (Portfolio managers may seem like so many monkeys at the typewriter, but they are not complete idiots. Even PM's look before they leap.)
Independent market analyst Tom Beale of
put it pretty well when we talked today. "I would still go with the trend, which has been up, but keep an eye out for early warning signs of weakness."
The market has been trending up for pretty much a month now. A pause should be expected. We might even get a correction here. But not every day is an inflection point or a clear rotation from one sector of the market to another. Let's not read too much into today.
Brett Fromson writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He invites you to send your feedback to