Major averages fell yesterday on lower volume as oil took a 4% hit. That said, the Dow Jones Utility Average had another strong day as it made a higher-high. It is up 11.2% year-to-date while the NASDAQ Composite is down -7.2%, the S&P 500 is down -3.2%, and the Russell 2000 is down -6.0% year-to-date. This pronounced divergence along with the tough time the few leading stocks have had in their ability to follow-through with any reasonable gains suggests the life expectancy of this bounce may be limited.
Futures are up owing to higher oil prices and European stocks one day ahead of the European Central Bank meeting. The ECB tends to be dovish and has indicated more easy money is on the way. The ECB will deliver a policy decision on Thursday. The central bank is widely expected to push its deposit rate further into negative territory, but analysts are also betting on an expansion of the ECB’s aggressive quantitative-easing program as well as another round of cheap loans to banks. That said, the ECB could disappoint markets again, as it did in December when its rate cut and QE extension massively underwhelmed investors. European markets remain in downtrends overall as QE has yet to spark any sort of economic recovery.
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