The markets were rallying reasonably strongly today, until Yellen spoke. SPX traded as high as $1882 before losing all of its gains to close unchanged at $1852. RUT was also unchanged at $963. Volatility contracted about three tenths of a point with VIX closing at 26.3%, but VIX was down to 24% before Yellen spooked traders with talk of negative interest rates.
Today's market action underscores why the Fed should have stayed out of this market. The painful adjustments would have been made and we would be long past the financial crisis. Instead we have traders anxiously perusing every word from anyone associated with the FOMC. More importantly, FOMC intervention has introduced great uncertainty because we have no historical basis to even guess the implications of the Fed's intervention. Free markets are comparatively easy to evaluate. External manipulations always have unintended consequences.
Trading volume in the S&P 500 stocks dropped back to the 50 dma today at 2.9 billion shares. Trading on the NYSE dropped 7% and trading on NASDAQ was flat.
SPX still appears to be holding support around $1850. RUT is behaving similarly at $960. So one could reasonably argue that we have seen the worst of the correction. But today's pull back demonstrates the fragility of this market. It could go either way. However, I don't see the economic drivers for a new recession. I think the doom and gloom crowd have been given the headlines too often. It sells papers, as they say.
Keep in mind that we have a three day weekend coming up. Global markets will be open Monday, so that always introduces the possibility of large moves in the U.S. markets Tuesday morning.