"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please." — Mark Twain
A lot has happened since the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) last hovered above the 13,000 level. Bush the Younger was still holding court. Buying a house seemed like an expensive but riskless proposition. Gas was considered radically expensive at $3 a gallon. Facebook had a mere 100 million users.
Now it's baaack. At least it was, for a few days anyway. The next question is whether that same 13,000 level will become a level of support or resistance.
The factors that will help shape that particular paradigm are the usual suspects: The health of the U.S. economy and the sentiment of investors to the latest round of euro-zone news.
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Though all three of the major indexes suffered small declines on Friday, there were a series of small events that might prove to be telling. For the Dow, in addition to the fling with the psychologically important 13,000 number, it was the fact that the Blue-Chip index had ended in the black for each of the months going all the way back to October. In comparison, the S&P 500 Index managed to pull off its third consecutive month of gains. More importantly, though, the benchmark index seems to be establishing 1,350 as a base for another possible leg up. As for the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index (COMP), it achieved its very own milestone, nudging up to the 3,000 level, which is significant, as you'd have to go all the way back to the year 2000 in order to place the last time it traveled at such lofty levels.
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Last week's round of economic reports certainly took some of the wind from the sails of the recent uptrend in the equities market, as home prices fell lower, manufacturing data revealed an unexpected dip, and durable goods orders tailed off sharply for January.
Investors will certainly follow this week's economic data closely in an effort to gauge the lay of the land in terms of the nation's economic health. Patterns are a big factor for investors as they try to read the tea leaves, and the new monthly unemployment report, due at the end of the week, will be as watched as carefully as a bear watching a honeycombed beehive.
As far as the ongoing saga of the Eurozone's sovereign debt crisis goes, the signing of the fiscal pact, agreed to back in December by a majority of EU members, was pretty much a non-event, as it was pre-ordained so to speak, and left no real impact upon either Wall Street or the European bourses.
In addition, the "firewall" generally regarded as a necessary tool to contain the possibility of euro-zone contagion, was shown little love at the summit. No additional funds were pledged to the cause, nor were there any real expectations that there would be.
So, at least in terms of the Eurozone, no significant news was regarded once again as a good thing by investors. This would seem to indicate that most of the uncertainty is baked into the market, at least until the next shock emerges, which could come as soon as April.
That's when Greece is scheduled to hold national elections. At that point, the dynamics of the current Greek bailout could shift considerably, along with investor sentiment.
Full disclosure: The author does not personally hold any of the ETFs mentioned in this week's "What the Periscope Sees."
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