Here's a strange development: The bank index is holding in, down only slightly as I write this. That could be an important sign that we are near the trough in rates. It is a tenuous reed, but if rates were going through the roof, this index would be down big, not treading water.
Bonds finally had their first upticks, and that could explain the banks' resilience. As always, I fear the fake-out. Yesterday we saw the utilities up, and they were a false tell. They sent a signal that bonds might bottom, and that signal backfired. In many ways, the bank index is more reliable because it is a better read on sentiment. People really love to pound the banks into submission when they really fear a rate rise.
Nevertheless, I am getting ready to nibble into the last half hour if the Ursa Majors come, buying stocks down two and three that make sense to me. Fives and tens, just in case. Nothing aggressive. Just bidding "underneath," hoping I get whacked (meaning if National Gift is at 46, I might bid 45 for 5,000 shares and bet someone panics and hits me). The velocity of the decline in the bonds seems to have been stemmed for now, and I want to pick up some communications names that are down badly that I think are doing well. You can't just buy these stocks when they are flying high.
The one group that really acts great is the Net. Two theories: (1) The people who own these stocks don't know enough about the bond market to sell them (this, I believe, is the naive theory); or, more likely, (2) the individuals who trade these don't care about the bonds. Wow, would that be something.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column by sending a letter to TheStreet.com.