It's been relatively hunky-dory for the markets during the past few months as investors rode the high of President Donald Trump's America-first agenda.
But Friday morning, following a week that included a rate hike from the Federal Reserve, the unveiling of Trump's first budget and further movements on the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, some cracks are starting to show.
As brokerage Seaport Global Securities points out in a morning note to clients, optimism is waning, oil and natural gas prices are dropping and one key measure seems to pointing to a pullback in the S&P.
The VVIX index, which measures expected fluctuations in the Volatility Index, "just dropped to its lowest level since 2015," the analyst noted Friday, pointing out that the past two times the VVIX sank this low (May 2015 and May 2016) there was a pullback of more than 5% in the S&P 500.
Another sign of weakness comes from the world of junk bonds. The high-yield, high-risk securities that companies often offer to raise quick capital, are hovering around 52-week lows, and there are signs that this may not change anytime soon.
Indeed, analysts at Bank of America's Merrill Lynch noted $5.7 billion of was taken out of high-yield bonds in the past week, the most in more than two years.
"I would object heartily to [the] assertion that high yield represents a good reward versus risk," Doug Kass, the president of Seabreeze Partners Management wrote for the TheStreet's premium site, Real Money. "The spread of high yield to Treasuries is much tighter today and well below where it was six months and one year ago."
Still, stocks were mostly higher on Friday despite disappointing industrial production data, while crude oil attempted another rebound to close out the week. The S&P 500 was up 0.05%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1%, and the Nasdaq was flat.
Industrial production came in flat in February, falling short of estimates for an increase of 0.3%. Weekly data on domestic supplies showed a surprise decrease, setting off a rally mid-week. Weekly data on drilling activity in the U.S. will be released at 1 p.m. EDT on Friday.
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