Here we go again with the ups and downs. All major indexes opened the day with a sharp gap down, the fall continuing until the final 14 minutes of trading. Since breaking support at 2040 two weeks ago, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) has consistently had a flourish of volatility in the final hour of trading or so.
We saw it on Thursday, August 27th, with stocks moving 2% in less than an hour into the close. On Wednesday, they moved up 2.3% in an hour and forty minutes. The day before, the index fell 3% in an hour, the Dow Jones (^DJI) had fallen 3.2%. Very large players seem to be making very large trades at the close lately.
Even the calmer days have looked more like jagged mountain ranges, with even small changes taking very large slopes in either direction.
Oil (NYSEARCA:USO) keeps rising and falling as if in hysterics. One of the few assets rising with any sort of calm regularity has been gold (NYSEARCA:GLD), sneaking its way up another 0.35% today as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on at all.
Tomorrow could be even more volatile for oil, as the nearly schizophrenic commodity will certainly respond to the crude inventories report, scheduled for release at 10:30AM EST. This will be followed three and a half hours later by the Fed’s Beige Book, which will give a basic summary of economic conditions over the last of the last six and a half weeks.
All of this is noise, and investors should expect the volatile whipsawing action to continue until the Fed makes a decision on whether or not to raise rates. The best indication of what they will do on that front will be the unemployment numbers for August, to be released on Friday morning, September 4 at 8:30AM.
Any number below 5.3% will increase the chances of a rate hike, so don’t be surprised if the market reacts negatively to low unemployment numbers. It will look strange, but there is a method to this madness. Just keep holding on to your hats.