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You may recall the old joke about the optimist and the pessimist that fell off a skyscraper. As the optimist passed one of the intermediate floors, he was heard to say, “So far, so good.” It would be unrealistic to expect another market performance this week like we saw last week. But the markets did hold. The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) gained 48 points on Friday, closing at 3585, but that close was almost precisely where SPX opened the week, at 3583. Friday’s close matched SPX’s all-time high set on September 2nd. Monday’s trading volume matched record highs earlier this year, but volume fell each trading session this week with Friday’s volume of 1.93 billion shares coming in well below the 50-day moving average of 2.53 billion shares.

The volatility index for the S&P 500 options, VIX, opened the week at 24.8% and closed yesterday at 23.1%. Intraday lows all week ranged around 22.5%. These are the lowest levels of volatility since mid-August. The split nature of the election with neither party dominating the Congress appears to have reduced uncertainty, always a bullish factor for the markets.

IWM, the ETF based on the Russell 2000 group of companies, opened the week with a huge gap up in price, but then backed off that high and traded sideways the balance of the week, closing Friday at 173.50. IWM gained 6% from last Friday’s close to yesterday’s close. That represents a bullish move for the entire market.

In contrast to last week, the NASDAQ Composite index lagged behind this week, opening at 12,047 and closing Friday at 11,829, down 1.8% for the week. NASDAQ’s trading volume was similar to that of the S&P 500 companies, spiking Monday but declining the balance of the week.

This week’s market behavior was essentially sideways with minimal change in either direction. After the very strong market last week, this sideways move was very bullish. We could have easily seen a rash of profit taking this week and given back much of last week’s gains.

I am trading this market more aggressively now. We have survived the cautionary September - October period when so many crashes have occurred in the past. Barring some unforeseen news events, I think the bulls will remain in control. Volatility has declined but remains relatively high from a historical perspective. Watch your positions diligently.