A Tough Call

While daily indicators are probably still negative, market volatility charts may still signal gains on Friday

By Paul Cherney

Friday is a real toss-up because we are at the last trading day of the week and I am sure there are plenty of short-term market participants who will be happy to go into the weekend flat. Indicators based on end-of-day data have probably lost downside momentum but still could be registering negative readings for both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

Even though I just said that daily indicators are probably still negative, gains on Friday cannot be ruled out. There is some potential to build a little on Thursday's gains. I am basing this positive comment on the VIX (market volatility index). I cannot predict headlines and they are not part of this commentary -- they always represent a wildcard -- but my view of the VIX chart is that it does have at least the potential for a further decline in the VIX (which would translate into equity gains, not big, but positive). If the VIX can move below 29.51 and trend below that level in Friday's market, that would put, and keep, the odds in favor of gains for the day.

The price action on Thursday converts the recent lows to immediate supports.

Immediate Nasdaq support is 1374-1358.23; the index has a more substantial layer of support at 1355-1327.

Immediate S&P 500 support is is 882.55-876.89; the index has a layer of support which overlaps this at 878-869.

The next layer of S&P 500 resistance is 893-906. For the Nasdaq it is 1393-1401.37. The Nasdaq has a price gap between 1401.37-1420.11. The gap was created with the opening plunge on Jan. 17, but intraday price action from Jan. 18 produced a layer of resistance at 1411-1419 which would be a likely stopping point -- unless there is a headline of undeniably bullish importance.

Cherney is chief market analyst for Standard & Poor's