Market Recon Thursday

Good Morning,
                       So, the Fed Minutes kind of, sort of indicate… that maybe…if conditions add up correctly, and Jupiter’s moons align with Pluto… that the Fed Funds Rate will lift off of the zero bound in December.  Of course, there’s a big but, in fact there’s plenty of them.  The players involved still worry about downside risks to inflation, and growth.  You worry about downside risks to inflation, gang ??  Didn’t think so.  There are of course broader concerns, such as the Chinese, and European economies, and the actions taken by those central banks that will impact the US dollar’s exchange rate.  Wow, Sarge…that’s a lot to think about.
                       Sure is, but wait…. there’s more.  We didn’t even touch on geo-political risk, or the results of November “Jobs Day”, which is December 4, twelve days ahead of the next policy decision announcement to be made by the FOMC.  A mediocre number that day, on top of a downward revision to that “fantastic” October print does what ??  Ahhhhh, I see.  That all said, equity markets did roar yesterday on the perception of uncertainty being removed from the equation.  On top of that, global equities have also performed well, and US futures markets are still higher this morning.
                       I am not at all anti-rate hike.  Unless you are new to my note, you know that.  I have been pushing for some kind of lift-off for about a year and a half now.  I also recognize the fact that the road we are on still has a lot of potholes, and the FOMC is not the most courageous bunch of characters that I have ever come across.  Keep your focus on those moons of Jupiter, kids.  We may need their help.
                      If you ripped the cover off of the ball over the last couple of days, think protection.  Ringing the cash register early is way better than ringing it late.  Let’s get Thursday on the tape.
.
Economic Stuff
.
08:30 ET
.
Initial Jobless Claims (Weekly): I am probably being petty, but hey….that’s life in the big city.  The last two weeks have been slightly above trend for this item, with both prints coming in at 276K.  That number is at the higher end of consensus range for this week, as most economists are looking for something like 271K.  The four week moving average, which is the proper way to look at Initial Jobless Claims, currently stands just below 268K.  This one will likely not impact the futures markets all that much, unless traders are looking to take profits after yesterday’s “running of the bulls”.
.
10:00 ET
.
Philly Fed Manufacturing Index (November): Simply put, when it comes to the manufacturing biz, this one counts more so than any of the other regional Fed district numbers, and probably almost as much as the ISM print itself.  I don’t have to tell you that every district has printed in contraction for two months, and that the Empire State just laid another egg on Monday. (Because you pay attention, and you already know that stuff)  Projections are for a number very close to zero for Philly today.  If they can squeeze out anything in positive territory, it will be taken as a morale boost by the marketplace.  Anything more than three full points away from zero in either direction will surprise, and thus impact trading.
.
Leading Indicators (October): Maybe I’m the idiot (very likely), but in three decades on Wall Street, I have never heard anyone mention this item when trading anything. (…and I’ve traded pretty much everything except Forex and used cars)  It’s a non-event, and up against the Philly number will not get much of a mention.
.
10:30 ET
.
Natural Gas Inventories (Weekly):  Ever been on Space Mountain ??  You know.. when you go through that orange tunnel with the loud noise.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.
.
12:30 ET
.
Fed Speaker:  Charlotte’s Web had a thousand of them.  We’ve got just one.  Atlanta Fed Pres. Dennis Lockhart speaks from that city, and he will answer questions from the audience.  Number one in your hearts, number 43 in your program.
.
16:45 ET
.
Fed Speaker:  Federal Reserve Vice Chair Stanley Fischer will speak from San Francisco.  He too, is brave enough today to answer questions posed by his audience.
.
Thursday’s Earnings highlights
.
Before the Open: BBY (.35), SJM (1.51)
After the Close: GPS (.63), WSM (.73)
.
Sarge’s TRADING LEVELS
.
SPX: 2099, 2091, 2086, 2075, 2069, 2063
RUT: 1187, 1182, 1177, 1170, 1165, 1160