This is a big day for macro events, no doubt about it:
- The German Constitutional Court has ruled that the European Stability Mechanism, the Eurozone's permanent bailout fund, is legal. A surprise is always possible, of course, but this had probably been priced into the market as a near certainty.
- The Fed begins its regular two-day policy meeting today. This is more open-ended in terms of outcomes. Will the Fed extend the expected period of low short rates into 2015? Is the bank teeing up another round of quantitative easing (i.e., bond-buying)? Ben Bernanke's Jackson Hole, Wyo., speech was a teaser. Now the market is in "show me" mode.
- The Dutch go to the polls to elect a new government. The Netherlands is a "core" country in the eurozone, and the latest polls point to a pro-EU coalition emerging as the winner.
Until Bernanke has spoken, we can probably expect the market to remain in a holding pattern. Certainly, the S&P 500 Index (INDEX: ^GSPC ) and the Dow (INDEX: ^DJI ) have moved in a tight range this morning.
However, beneath the calm, some investors are positioning themselves for increased volatility. Yesterday, options volume on the VIX index (INDEX: ^VIX ) -- the so-called "fear index," which tracks market expectations for short-term volatility in the S&P 500 -- hit a single-day record. The previous record was achieved on Aug. 5, 2011 -- the day Standard & Poor's stripped the U.S. of its "AAA" credit rating.
The bottom line: Buy insurance against spikes in volatility or focus on business values and accept short-term volatility as an inevitable hazard on the road to long-term returns.
Speaking of major macro news, check out these stocks that could skyrocket after the 2012 election!