MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stock Market On Eve Of Potentially Stormiest Stretch Of Trading In 2017

By Sue Chang and Mark DeCambre, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Is the market ready for 'Super Thursday'

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The stock market could face its most tumultuous period of trade Thursday, with a trio of potentially destabilizing events on deck: former FBI director James Comey's testimony, the U.K. election, and the European Central Bank's monetary-policy meeting. The trifecta, coming nearly all simultaneously threaten to derail U.S. equities' record-setting run.

"The hurricane season is forecast to start earlier than normal this year for the Trump administration as a perfect storm of events is converging," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Financial Partners.

Comey, who was fired by President Trump early last month, on Thursday will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/when-will-james-comey-testify-2017-06-01) on Russia's role in the U.S. presidential election as well as whether he was pressured to drop a probe on possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian officials. (Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he would nominate Christopher A. Wray to replace Comey (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/president-trump-to-name-christopher-wray-as-comey-replacement-at-fbi-2017-06-07))

"The Comey testimony appears to be the second act in the latest drama on Capitol Hill and we think this installment only makes the road that much longer to meaningful tax reform and fiscal stimulus," Charlie Ripley, investment strategist at Allianz Investment Management, told MarketWatch.

Stocks have set numerous records over the past months on expectations that Trump will usher in a more business-friendly era through tax cuts and ramped-up fiscal spending. However, they have moved tentatively over the past several days as investors prepare for Thursday's geopolitical fusillade.

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Aside from Comey's Senate appearance, former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller is overseeing a federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election that could possibly lead to criminal indictments against those in Trump's inner circle (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-the-white-house-should-worry-special-counsels-usually-result-in-criminal-charges-2017-05-18).

Across the Atlantic, the British will head to the polls in a snap election to pick their representatives to the House of Commons. Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party currently has a 17-seat working majority but as support for the Conservatives wanes (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/when-is-the-uk-election-and-when-do-we-know-who-won-2017-06-01), the outcome of the election could reshape the U.K. Parliament and lead to greater uncertainty as the country negotiates its way out of the European Union.

Read:Draghi's ECB may take 'baby steps' toward ending ultraloose monetary policy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/draghis-ecb-may-take-baby-steps-toward-ending-ultraloose-monetary-policy-2017-06-06)

Check out:5 things to know about the U.K. general election this week (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-things-to-know-about-the-uk-general-election-next-week-2017-06-01)

See: U.K. election: The worst, best and most likely scenarios for stocks worldwide (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-election-the-nightmare-best-case-and-most-likely-scenarios-for-stocks-worldwide-2017-06-01)

On the same day in Tallinn, Estonia, the European Central Bank could set off tremors of its own if it unexpectedly announces a policy shift (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ecb-urged-by-germans-to-prepare-to-unwind-qe-2017-06-01) to wean Europe from its massive stimulus program at its monetary policy meeting.

Economists at Deutsche Bank believe that while the ECB isn't yet ready to announce an exit fromits quantitative-easing regime next week, it could telegraph that a tapering is imminent in a bid to prepare the markets. A recent report from Bloomberg News on Wednesda (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-07/ecb-said-to-cut-inflation-forecasts-after-energy-prices-slide)y implied that the ECB might be aiming to reduce its inflation outlook.

Read:Watch for a shake-up among U.K. stocks after Thursday's election (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/watch-for-a-shake-up-among-uk-stocks-after-thursdays-election-2017-06-06)

Even without the political cliffhangers, the market is entering a rough patch as summer doldrums set in.

Stocks have recorded a median decline of 0.79% in the two-week period between May 30 and June 13 over the past 10 years, according to data from Bespoke Investment Group.

Since 1950, June is among the worst months for stocks with only August and September having worse average returns as the chart from Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial, shows.

Nonetheless, there are reasons for investors to take heart.

"June historically has been a weak month for equities, but the catch is some of the worst drops have taken place when the S&P 500 index was beneath its 200-day moving average to start the month. When the S&P 500 has been in a bullish trend--above this long-term trendline--June has been higher 59% of the time versus 33% when starting below," Detrick wrote in a recent note.

Stocks kicked off this month firmly above the 200-day moving average, suggesting that any pickup in volatility could be a buying opportunity, he added.

Indeed, the market has been extremely resilient with even poor economic data failing to dampen investors' appetite for stocks.

The U.S. added 138,000 new jobs (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-adds-138000-jobs-in-may-unemployment-drops-to-16-year-low-of-43-2017-06-02) last month, below the 185,000 increase projected by economists in a MarketWatch survey, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.3%, the lowest level since 2001, the Labor Department said Friday.

The tepid number, however, sparked speculation that the Federal Reserve may stop after just one more interest rate hike this year rather than the two widely expected. The Fed could increase rates as early as middle of this month when the Federal Open Market Committee convenes.

All major indexes closed at records on Wednesday, were trading modestly higher, with the S&P 500 Dow Jones Industrial Average the Nasdaq Composite Index trading within grasp of record territory (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wall-street-stocks-becalmed-as-investors-get-ready-for-super-thursday-2017-06-07).

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 07, 2017 11:32 ET (15:32 GMT)