China announced 6.9% GDP growth for 2015 this morning. Even though we would be jealous to have that level of growth, that's the low in a slow downward slide for China. But is that worth the U.S. market crashing and turning into a bearish trend? Oil prices continue to dominate the discussions and continue to be blamed for the market weakness. Yes, China is slowing and requires less oil. Yes, everyone and his cousins are pumping cheap oil and we are swimming in it. I continue to think this has been seriously overblown. Our economic data have been weak and muddling along for years. The politicians just try to tell us everything is rosy. But even my less rosy view of the economy doesn't paint the dreaded R word.
The markets opened and traded higher this morning, but the enthusiasm was short lived. SPX closed up one dollar at $1881 after being as low as $1865. The August flash crash lows are around $1870. RUT, as usual, traded more weakly with a $13 loss, closing at $995. For the previous three sessions, RUT appeared to be trying to settle around $1010 and RUT opened there this morning and traded up for a while before weakening.
VIX is interesting. In spite of all of the hand wringing of the doomsday gurus, VIX has remained relatively low. VIX pulled back 1.1 points today to 25.9%. That isn't low volatility, but it isn't crash mode either. On August 24th, VIX hit over 53% intraday and closed at 41%.
You may be following the Stock Traders Almanac as they discuss the three January indicators: the Santa Claus rally, the first five days of January indicator and the month of January indicator. The first two have already turned in negative signals. SPX has to get back to $2038 by the end of the month to be positive. Gaining $157 is feasible, but days like today do not appear to be increasing the odds. In years where all three indicators are negative, the past track record of predicting a flat or negative market for the year is impressive.