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Nasdaq 100 E-Mini Mar '19 (NQH19)

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Nasdaq 100 E-Mini Futures Market News and Commentary

U.S. Stock Indexes Close Lower on Reduced Fed Rate-Cut Speculation and Escalation of Iran Tensions

The S&P 500 ($SPX) on Friday closed down -18.50 (-0.62%), the Dow Jones Industrials index ($DOWI) closed down -68.77 (-0.258%), and the Nasdaq 100 Index ($IUXX) closed down -69.23 (-0.88%). Key U.S. stock indexes gave up early gains Friday and closed lower on reduced expectations for Fed rate cuts and escalation of tensions with Iran. Thursday's dovish comments from New York Fed President Williams that "it pays to act quickly to lower rates at the first sign of economic distress" had bolstered speculation the Fed may cut rates by 50 bp at the July 30-31 FOMC meeting, although the New York Fed downplayed his comments late Thursday when it said Williams' comments were based on academic talk over 20 years of research and were not about potential Fed policy actions. The 50 bp rate cut speculation was further dampened on Friday's comments from St. Louis Fed President Bullard who said, "a 25 bp rate cut by the Fed would be appropriate as the current situation doesn't warrant a larger rate cut." Friday's U.S. economic data was slightly negative after the University of Michigan U.S. July consumer sentiment index rose by only +0.2 to 98.4, weaker than expectations of +0.6 to 98.8. Geopolitical tensions heated up Friday afternoon and sparked long liquidation in stocks after the AP reported that Iran's Revolutionary Guard had seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. The VIX volatility index ($VIX) on Friday rose +0.92 to 14.45%, just below Thursday's 1-week high of 14.50%. The VIX remains moderately above the 3-month low of 12.04% (July 5) and April's 11-1/4 month low of 11.03%. Big Picture U.S. Stock Market Factors: Bullish factors for the U.S. stock market include (1) the Fed's dovish shift at the June 18-19 FOMC meeting where the FOMC downgraded its assessment of economic activity to "moderate" from May's "solid" and removed its reference to being "patient" on interest rates, which produced expectations of a 100% chance of a rate cut at the July 30-31 FOMC meeting, (2) expectations for an SPX earnings growth of +3% in 2019, although that is sharply lower than 2018's stellar +23% pace, and (3) general strength in earnings and buybacks from the 2018 tax cut. Bearish factors include (1) US/Iran tensions, (2) US/Chinese trade and tech tensions, and (3) slower U.S. and global economic growth.
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