It’s the first day of the month and the first session of the quarter. Investors will have to digest the raft of global PMI manufacturing surveys and the “crucial” US non-farm payrolls data. And if all of that didn’t already keep traders on their toes, it is also April Fools’ Day. Careful now! The turn of the calendar comes as the S&P 500 sits poised to challenge cyclical highs. Colleagues address (see left) some of the fundamentals that have been powering stocks of late. But for ultra-short term traders technical factors are just as important.

Here are a few. After the previous seven months had averaged a first-day S&P 500 gain of 1.5 per cent, March duly delivered a 1.6 per cent drop. Thus traders may be more wary of this previously supportive “calendar bias”. Bearish.

The bounce from the Japan earthquake lows has been swift, but the S&P’s relative strength index (see chart) suggests the market is not overstretched. Bullish.

Indeed, the S&P is above its 50- and 200-day moving averages, while the MACD momentum indicator points to the start of another up leg. Bullish. But, for contrarians, the Vix, at 18, is dipping back towards complacency levels. Bearish.

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