Here’s one way to beat this market storm

An earlier version of this Thursday report gave the incorrect last name for Andrew Adams at Raymond James.

Stocks are finding a bottom, given yesterday’s finish well above the lows — right?

No way, say many hunkered-down traders. They warn the late-day saves are “only postponing the inevitable washout still to come.” Some hedge funds are indicating they expect more selling, as they “buy nothing.”

Chart-loving bears emphasize the S&P 500
has knifed under a key level, namely its August low at 1,867. And while there is “potential for a counter-trend rally,” says S&P Capital IQ’s Sam Stovall in a note, the market drop will likely deepen, as valuations are still high.

Yet there is nonetheless chatter about “hammer candles” and capitulation, meaning signs of a possible bottom. That’s as the Dow
 on Wednesday went from down 565 points to closing lower by “only” 249 points, or 1.6%.

“For the first time in the entire down move, the SPX has put in a bullish candle, in this case a hammer at the lows,” writes financial blogger Macro Man. “If it were ever going to mount a rally, now should be the time.”

Wednesday’s action had “the feel of capitulation,” says Andrew Adams at Raymond James in a note, though he also advises that all but the most aggressive accounts think about cutting exposure to riskier assets. As Colin Cieszynski at CMC Markets says, the “recent bear may finally be exhausted and a bounce starting.”

But no one really knows what’s ahead for the whole stock market. So today’s call focuses on something shorter term: the so-called blizzard plays that many traders are buzzing about, as the East Coast braces for a “monster storm.” Meanwhile, the chart of the day shows exactly which stock benchmarks have now been pounded into bear-market territory.

Key market gauges

 and Dow
 futures are pointing to a higher open, erasing earlier losses after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi hinted at more stimulus in his news conference that’s underway. Europe
 is higher, but Asia closed down after early gains faded. Oil

and gold
 are falling, while a key dollar index
 is higher, helped by the euro dropping as Draghi speaks.

The call

There’s a storm a-comin’, and while snow is driving down, these stocks could be driving up, if only briefly. Makers of snowmobiles, sellers of shovels — there’s a range of opportunities, say traders touting blizzard plays. Such as generator maker Generac

… or snowblower maker Toro
 , snow-day go-to Netflix
 and Deere
 , which makes equipment for moving snow, not just farming gear:

And let’s not forget generator maker Briggs & Stratton
 , snow plow company Douglas Dynamics
 (great ticker, BTW) and snowmobile manufacturers like Polaris
 and Arctic Cat
 . Plus Home Depot
  and Lowe’s
 could benefit from strong sales of snow shovels, road salt and more.

It could be seen as heartless — traders trying to capitalize on a potentially record storm that could affect 50 million people and freeze U.S. economic growth. Well, teens will be looking to make money from shoveling sidewalks, and East Coast ski resorts sound excited. Still, you may not want to go there.

The stat

30 inches — that’s how much snow Washington, D.C., could get by Sunday, according to CNN meteorologist Tom Sater. The AP notes that New York City could be spared the heaviest snowfall totals.

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Check out: Blizzard bearing down on East Coast may dump 3 feet of snow on D.C.

The chart
Stock benchmark

% down from its 52-week high

S&P 500


Dow Jones Industrial Average


Nasdaq Composite


Russell 2000


Stoxx Europe 600


U.K.’s FTSE 100


Japan’s Nikkei


China’s Shanghai Composite


Source: FactSet data as of about 6 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday

The S&P, Dow and Nasdaq Composite
 haven’t fallen into bear-market territory, which is commonly defined as a drop of 20% or more from a recent high. But they’re firmly in correction mode (-10% or more). And it’s looking grizzly for the small-cap Russell 2000
 and plenty of overseas benchmarks, as shown in our chart of the day above (OK, it’s actually a table).

The buzz

and Verizon
 have been among the companies posting quarterly results before the open, while Starbucks
 and Schlumberger
 report after the close.

Read more: What to watch for in Starbucks earnings

 , Delta
  and other airlines have warned about disruptions due to that weekend winter storm, which has been named Jonas.

Have you heard that Goldman’s
 stock could fall another 20%?

The economy


In his news conference today, Draghi has signaled the ECB will review and “possibly reconsider” its policy stance at its next meeting as global market turmoil raises downside risks.

Follow MarketWatch’s ECB live blog: Draghi hints at more easing

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Analysts had been expecting he would make dovish sounds after laying an egg last time, but not reveal any new stimulus efforts. Before his news conference began, the ECB left interest rates unchanged, as expected.

Weekly U.S. jobless claims rose to a seven-month high but were lower than expected. The Philly Fed’s manufacturing index stayed negative, but came in slightly ahead of forecasts.

The quote

“I never give stock market advice, and this is no exception. But the market is probably overreacting to news from China by a wide margin. In the case of oil prices, it seems even to have the direction wrong.” — Princeton economist Alan Blinder in a Wall Street Journal column with the headline “Markets are scaring themselves.”

Random reads

Researchers have developed a sarcasm detector. We’re sure their parents are really proud of them.

CEO Jack Dorsey is no longer a billionaire after Twitter’s
 stock slump.

A rival to the Kit Kat bar looks likely after Nestle can’t trademark that four-finger shape.

Oh man, another one. Rock legend Animal dies aged 66.

The NFL has its first full-time female assistant coach thanks to the Bills.

How flirting on a train can turn into a business deal.

France gives back the head of a Hindu statue after spiriting it away 130 years ago.

Imagine if cyborg-minded DARPA truly opens “the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.”

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