In Search of the Elusive Market Driver

Steve Kanaval |

Markets always have a driver, and it is usually easy to tell what the driver is because markets trade tic for tic when they couple. Anyone watching overnight markets saw oil higher on the day which gave a bid to Asia, Europe, and ultimately the open of US stocks post Martin Luther King Day.

Know that the driver changes, but traders in general are lazy. If they can find a single sheep to follow they will do it right off the cliff until the masses switch to something else, but for now any small victory for crude oil provides global markets a reason to bounce. The absurd thing is lower oil prices historically have been good for the economy, and if I told you when crude oil was trading $60 per barrel that oil would fall to $30, and the world would be watching it fall with fear, you would have concluded I was an idiot.

Markets in general do not like volatility, while investors don't like volatility. A majority of investors have never shorted a stock, traded options, or any derivative for that matter. ETF's proliferate because investors view this as a way to escape single stock risk. I am not sure that ever works, but their is every ETF you can think of from 3x Bullish trades to a basket of stocks to mirror the Dow Jones or the S&P 500.

Today, we know what the driver is, but tomorrow we may not know. Lazy traders search each day to determine what they should be watching, so they can do other things and not over focus on the portfolio. All they are watching today is oil continuing to trade lower, while they watch and wait.

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