The Germans and Russians were potentially working things out in Ukraine. Home Depot (HD) and some other retailers put up terrific numbers, and housing starts got stronger even as gasoline and mortgage rates went lower. Gaza was peaceful. The dollar was stable, and we didn't seem to have all that much to worry about regarding the Federal Reserve.
Keep those circumstances in mind, because those were the thoughts that framed Tuesday's closing bell.
Now consider today.
First, the dollar is soaring again, and much harder than what we have seen of late. Why? Maybe because Ukraine wants more concessions and the Russians don't want to go quietly into the night? Second, at the Bank of England, the prior consensus to keep interest rates lower is unraveling, as two members want higher rates. Third, the Gaza truce is off and the fighting is back on.
Fourth, the Fed minutes come out today, and there is almost always a violent reaction to them, often a negative one, because the market is unable to recall the setting in which they were made. So if inflation has since taken a step down and we see the Fed is worried about inflation, then we'll decide to worry and the market will sell off.
Company news? It's all bad. Hertz (HTZ) stock fell apart last night after multiple assurances that things would be fine. The company seems to be anything but.The Wall Street Journal says there is turmoil at the top of the largest drug-store chain in the nation, Walgreen (WAG). And Lowe's (LOW) just cut its forecast even as Home Depot boosted its own views just yesterday. Staples (SPLS) guided down badly, too.
Oh, and did I mention the market is really overbought and that the Jackson Hole, Wyo., economic conference is right around the corner?
All of these negatives have surfaced in less than 24 hours' time. We live in a bizarre, each-day-on-its-own-bottom world in which whatever happened yesterday is irrelevant, and people take little solace in it. They rethink closely held assumptions -- at least assumptions that had been closely held at 4 p.m. yesterday.
Yesterday, it seems, no longer matters.
What's the real truth here? I think things are better. The market did and does have a lot going for it. That's why it has been going up. The market can stay here or go higher as long as Ukraine-Russia remains stable. If Ukraine-Russia breaks down again, the market will give up the gains of the last two days.
Don't kid yourself -- the Ukraine situation is still in charge. When it clouds our vision, we don't like what we see, and we focus on the other negatives. When it clears up, we ignore the negatives and we like what we see.
Today's looking like a cloudy day.