9:00am (EST)

The bears took another step closer to getting back to even for the week following Thursday’s big win.

We mentioned the sun was shining over the bulls at the crack of dawn but things quickly reversed course after worse-than-expected economic news hit the Street.  We know the talking heads get paid to pump up the market but they seemed stunned when they heard yesterday’s jobless claims numbers.  There were a number of colorful commentators saying the numbers “just aren’t strong enough”.  Duh.    

The Dow fell 68 points, or 0.5%, to settle at 12,964.  The blue-chips fell through the 13,000 level shortly after the open and were down 136 points at one point to 12,896.  The index rebounded into the close to avoid a triple-digit loss but will need to close above 13,000 to keep the momentum going into next week.   

The S&P dipped 8 points, or 0.6%, to end at 1,376.  The index traded up to 1,390 in the AM but dipped below 1,375 during our midday update.  The low came in at 1,370 and a close below the two aforementioned levels ahead of the weekend would be bearish.

The Nasdaq got punished for 24 points, or 0.8%, to finish at 3,007.  Tech traded to a high of 3,058 but gave way to the 3,000 level shortly after our briefing.  The next wave of support comes in at 2,975 but a break below this level gets 2,850 back in play.  Tech will continue to lead the market higher or lower but it doesn’t seem to have the strength to take us to new highs with Tech heavyweights coming in with mixed results. 

Over the past 15 years, the blue-chips have finished in positive territory 12 times on April Expiration Day.  This means there is an 80% chance of the market finishing higher today but it is only one piece of the puzzle.

The Dow could rebound following Microsoft’s (MSFT, $31.03, down $0.13) earnings which came in above estimates after the close last night.  The company reported a profit of 2 pennies ahead of estimates (60 cents a share versus expectations for 58 cents) and revenue also beat ($17.4 billion vs. $17.2 billion). 

There are no major economic reports scheduled for today and futures are showing a strong positive open as we head into the last trading day of the week.  Dow futures are up 69 points to 12,971 while the S&P futures are higher by 6 points to 1,378.  Nasdaq 100 futures are gaining 10 points to 2,363.

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