The markets appear to be caught in a tug of war today on the last trading day of the first quarter. The battle is between the better economic data and the potential for strong earnings this year versus the negativity of potential further policy blunders by the new administration. Will the smoke of the healthcare defeat debacle and further revelations about connections between the Trump campaign and government and the Russians spark a fire?

At the end of today, where will the statistics stand historically? The DOW is slightly lower with about a 1/2 hour to go…while the NASDAQ is doing better on its sixth straight higher day. The NASDAQ is headed for its best quarterly performance since the 4Q of 2003 with a gain of more than 10%. The leaders are AAPL, AMZN (at another explosive new high), FB, NFLX and PCLN. The DOW is on its way to a gain this quarter of around 5% give or take a little depending on how it ends today. This would be its sixth straight quarterly advance for the best such stretch since 2006. The S&P will end around 6% higher for the quarter.

There were some economic reports this morning as February personal income rose by 0.4% while personal spending was ahead by 0.1%. The PCE, which is the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, was ahead by only 0.1% which could temper the rate of interest rate increases. The March Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Survey improved a little at 57.7 from 57.4 and the final reading from the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey remained almost unchanged at 96.9.

Bond yields are a little lower with the 10-year Treasury Note at 2.41%. This is the reason why the utilities and real estate investment trusts are doing a little better. The dollar is weaker on the lower interest rates with the Euro up to 1.067 and the Japanese yen at 111.4. Gold is making a nice gain back up to $1,251 while crude oil prices are doing better at $50.55 for their best weekly gain in months from low levels. Shares of XOM are sharply lower, giving back all of yesterday’s strong gains, and having a negative impact on the DOW.

Breadth numbers are positive at a 16/13 upside ratio. The VIX is surprisingly higher at 12.33 for a good gain of .79.

Donald M. Selkin  

These are excerpts from Don Selkin’s Daily Market Notes, abbreviated and updated with permission from the author. Don Selkin is the Chief Market Strategist at Newbridge Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC and provides the Fair Value analysis for CNBC each morning.  The commentary provided in this Market Letter is intended to provide timely market analysis and should not be considered a research report.  This Market Letter may contain, and is limited to: Discussions of broad based indices; Commentaries on economic, political or market conditions; Technical analyses concerning the demand and supply for a sector, index or industry based in trading volume and price; Statistical summaries of multiple companies’ financial data, including listings of current ratings; and, Recommendations regarding increasing or decreasing holdings in particular industries or securities.  This Market Letter does not make a financial or investment recommendation or otherwise promotes a product or service of the firm.   This Market Letter contains only news, facts, and commentary on information previously reported from a news source believed to be accurate and reliable by the author.  These news sources include the following: Bloomberg Financial, Reuters, and the Associated Press.