US stocks sputter … again

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Wall Street’s stretch of boredom has endured another day. For those keeping score at home: Thursday marked the seventh straight trading session in which the S&P 500 index neither rose nor fell by greater than three-tenths of a per cent.

That marks the longest period of such market tranquility in six-and-a-half years, according to Reuters data. If the S&P manages to laze around for another four days, it would top the record that was set twice in the 1960s.

The low level of realised and expected volatility that has marked the environment recently has raised eyebrows among some investors, who have worried that the markets could be vulnerable to pullbacks with US stocks hovering about record highs and valuations near multi-year peaks.

“(A)lthough both realised and implied volatility are very low, unlike 2006/7, global economic policy uncertainty is very high implying an elevated risk of policy error,” Ian Spreadbury, a portfolio manager at Fidelity International said earlier this week.

Peter Cecchini, chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald, meanwhile, notes that now could be “an opportune time” to take measures to protect equities portfolios.

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