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Ahead of Wall Street

March 27, 2013

(This is Mark Vickery substituting for Sheraz Mian this morning and all this week.)

Compared to yesterday's smorgasbord of econ data, we'll be dieting today. Pending Home Sales come out after the bell, and the only notable earnings reports (Q1 season hits full throttle in the next 2-3 weeks) are after today's close.

European markets were down Wednesday when it was reported not only that Italy has failed to formulate a coalition government, but that a top politico in the country said, "Only an insane person would want to govern Italy right now…" I'm sure it sounded much nicer in Italian.

Otherwise, there's little to do but review what we know from yesterday -- and after which the market again began to flirt with all-time highs, this time on the S&P 500: Durable Goods up (good, however ex-transportation was down), Fed New Home Sales way down (not good, though everyone knew this number was going to fall from January's number), March Consumer Confidence down (bad -- this number keeps falling, and this past month was by nearly 10%), and the Case-Shiller Home Price Index up (good, although this reflects the ancient history that was January 2013).

Higher taxes from the fiscal cliff and the sequester no doubt have had some impact on the negative numbers here. From one angle, we might even breathe a sigh of relief that the impact wasn't worse; consumers may be feeling some bruises right now, but it doesn't seem like anyone fears breaking his or her neck.

So back to Case Shiller, it is another piece of evidence that illustrates our economic recovery is the result of traction in the housing industry. Pending Home Sales will help shed some light on this momentum going forward -- and again, sequestration issues may be somewhat of a wet blanket here -- but ultimately, our Zacks experts who have long predicted a housing market-led recovery should rest easy these days.

As far as the S&P 500 touching new highs, this looks like it may be a struggle to maintain in the near-term, especially without any expected new catalysts. It's like when Chuck Yeager tried to fly that plane into outer space: as soon as he started to see the stars, the engine began to sputter. Does our current market have "The Right Stuff?

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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