‘Quadruple Witching’ Vexes Markets and ETFs Early

March 19th at 10:00am by Tom Lydon

The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s eight-day winning streak is in peril thanks to a variety of expiring options and futures contracts known as “quadruple witching.” Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are mostly flat.

Quadruple witching, a situation in which four contracts expire on the same day, is threatening to send the markets lower. If the major indexes do close down today, it will snap an eight-day winning streak.

One bit of news in particular has taken the markets by surprise: for the first time since July 2008, India hiked interest rates after inflation spiked to a 16-month high. The shocking move happened a month ahead of the central bank’s monetary policy meeting. WisdomTree India Earnings (NYSEArca: EPI) is down about 0.6% so far today. [India ETFs: The World's Next Superpower?]

Health care is gearing up for a showdown, possibly as soon as Sunday. Democrats have been feverishly working to bring more votes to their side in an effort to get the $940 billion bill passed, and by all appearances, it’s going to be a close vote. First Trust Health Care AlphaDEX (NYSEArca: FXH) is flat so far this morning. [Biotech ETFs for Any Risk Appetite.]

Things are looking up for Boeing (NYSE: BA), which announced today that it would speed up production plans for its 777 and 747 models in anticipation of more demand from commercial airlines in the next few years. Boeing foresees a recovery in the sector this year, followed by a profitable year in 2011. It expects that this will lead to calls for new planes by 2012. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense (NYSEArca: ITA) is up nearly 1% this morning; Boeing is 7.9%.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.