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The Standard and Poors index (SPX) made the ninth mini-correction this year last week but the pattern changed. In all of the previous pull backs, the market almost immediately bounced back. The “buy the dip” strategy had a near perfect track record. SPX continued to weaken this week and even sold off near the end of today’s market – an ugly end to two ugly weeks. SPX closed at 4433, down 41 points or 0.9%. Trading volume spiked today, due to quadruple witching.

VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, closed today at 21%. This was the peak of the weakness last Friday, but the mini-correction still has life in it.

I have plotted the prices of the IWM ETF below to track the Russell 2000 index. The owners of Russell have priced everyone out of Russell 2000 index and option data. That is why I plot the IWM prices. IWM has been extremely choppy for the past six months and has generally traded lower as we saw the broad market strengthen. That was the bearish advance signal for the past two weeks of trading. However, today was different. IWM closed at 222.48, up 0.29 or 0.1%. That is a small gain, but markedly different from the losses on the S&P 500 and NASDAQ. Perhaps there is hope for the bulls after all.

The NASDAQ Composite index closed today at 15044, down 137 points or nearly one percent. NASDAQ’s trading volume was above average through Wednesday but declined for the past two days.

We have now seen nine mini-corrections this year. Previous downturns only lasted a few days and then bounced back in a classic V pattern. I wondered whether the traders would come in to buy the dip one more time? The answer as of today is, “No, not yet.”

I think this week’s CPI report, documenting an increase of 5.3% over the past 12 months served to underscore inflation fears. The last two weeks of trading just reinforce my nervous attitude toward this market. Much of the basic economic data are headed in the right direction, but I think inflation fears overwhelm all else. The positive Russell 2000 prices today were essentially the only positive news this week.