It's back to business on Wall Street as the U.S. markets reopen for a normal trading session this morning. The last time the NYSE closed for two consecutive days due to weather was during a blizzard in 1888. (See Related: What it Takes to Close the Stock Market)
But will it be business as usual?
"I think this closure is interesting in that we haven't seen a two-day weather closure since 1888, but the reality is that it isn't as serious as it sounds for investors," says Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management. "There were enough markets open that if you needed to get something done you could."
Still a slew of delayed earnings reports and economic data will hit the tape on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, making this one busy shortened market week.
"I do expect higher volume due to pent up trades that would've went through on Monday or Tuesday, but I don't think it's going to be panicky," says Paulsen. "By a half-hour into trading it'll be like we were never closed."
Stocks are coming off a down week with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 1.8% and the S&P 500 off 1.5% last week. Overall, October has been dismal with the S&P down 2%, the DJIA down 2.5%, and the Nasdaq down 4% as we enter the final trading session of the month.
"It is month-end so people will be jockeying to get their books squared away," says David Lutz, head of ETF trading at Stifel Nicolaus. "But there doesn't seem to be any strong catalyst that'll cause a negative disruption in the market tomorrow." Lutz is content with the modest strength in European markets over the last two sessions and a decent Italian bond auction.
"Liquidity will still be pretty light, even though we've had some pent up trades," he predicts. "You'll still have some managers having difficulty getting back into the office, so I expect light volume and a little higher volatility."
This may not be such a bad thing while the exchanges get back on line and investors digest earnings and economic data ahead of the election.
"The main focus for Wall Street is making sure infrastructure is working well, stability is in tact, and then we have the jobs report and the election to look ahead to," says Lutz. "The economic data will not carry as much noise given the disruption we've had."
Lutz was quick to remind us that people were well prepared for this storm. Warnings were issued, heeded, and it helped that people had a weekend to prepare for its arrival, and investors had time to prepare for month-end positioning.
Still, eager investors have had a lot of time on their hands over these last two days and Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions thinks some pent up anxiety will play out in today's trading.
"I think you'll see a lot of emotional trading," says Sozzi. "We've had a lot of data to digest and there's no clear consensus in the market regarding the impact of this event. Without clarity on the storm, the only thing to go on is earnings. We're still adjusting to incrementally worse earnings and the Sandy impact will extend into November."
Sozzi thinks we could see a lot of action in typical "storm stocks" like Wal-Mart (WMT), Target (TGT), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK), trucking company Swift (SWFT), and Generac (GNRC) —a generator producer. (See Related: Storm Stocks Outperforming the Market Since Hurricane Irene)
In a note to clients this morning, Sozzi called GNRC "the first financial clue from a Hurricane Sandy storm stock." The company released earnings, here's his takeaway:
If ever there was a better opportunity for a management team to sell an investment thesis, I do not truly recollect. Generac, the investment community's new new storm sweetheart stock, gave us a glimpse into how Sandy impacted suppliers of products into major retail channels; the initial impression is robust. Full year sales guidance was taken up by a full 10% along with adjusted EBITDA, and adjusted EPS was raised by a cool $0.30. -Brian Sozzi, Oct. 31, 2012
Timing is key and seems to be the one theme collectively agreed on by all market participants and watchers. (See Related: The Real October Surprise May Be Hiding in Plain Sight)
"The two-day delay is really the perfect storm in terms of when it occurred. To happen in the heart of earnings season and just a week before an election is rather unfortunate," says Ryan Detrick, senior technical analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "Had this happened during the boring summer months it wouldn't have mattered as much, but with so much happening currently, the odds of some huge volatility on big volume is very good. Throw in the fact this is the end of the month and the end of the year for some hedge funds, volume today could be in line with what we normally see on expiration Friday once a month as firms close their books on the year."
The S&P 500 closed last week at 1,412. As a technical analyst, Detrick says there's a key level to watch this week.
"The 1400 level is a big level. If you draw a trendline from the October '11 lows with the June '12 lows it comes out to right about 1,400," he says. "Given this is where we are trading now, if you are bullish you want to see some buyer step in here to defend their turf."
We'll see how it plays out this week and into the election next week.
We hope all of our viewers are safe and sound and out of harms way.
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