Final Hour: Techs, Treasuries, Small Caps Boost Otherwise Sideways Shuffle

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Indices fluctuated in a directionless day of trade for much of the afternoon. Investors may be excused for thinking there's little more than a sideways shuffle happening in markets.

But key drivers are machinating beneath the surface: a rolling correction in tech stocks, poor performance in financials and cynicism around small caps. 

It was a better showing from techs stocks that lifted sentiment on Monday -- think Netflix (NFLX), Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) -- together with small caps, pulling markets higher in afternoon trade after a sluggish start.

The rally in Treasuries may also be starving off a stock correction -- fueled by expectations of European stimulus, worries around Russia and a supply shortage of U.S. bonds. Palisade Capital's Dan Veru reckons the action in Treasuries is more about these factors than concern around the domestic economy. But plenty of pundits sit in the latter camp, holding their breath for a recovery in second quarter GDP; no question that Q1 was a shocker.

Veru also sees the 8% fall in the Russell 2000 since March as a decent entry point for that index, noting a general split between the S&P and small stocks. Probably true in the long run, if you're bullish on the U.S. economy.

A cool reception to the AT&T (T) and DirecTV (DTV) merger dampened the mood in early trade, while talks between AstraZeneca (AZN) and Pfizer (PFE) broke down.

But in the absence of big economic data or mega earnings misses, investors were happy to push stocks higher -- albeit, not by too much.

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-- By Jane Searle in New York

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