This is CNBC Senior Markets Commentator Mike Santoli’s daily notebook of insights on trends, stocks and market statistics. A breakfast of hearty economic and earnings data, plus easily digestible Fedspeak, is fueling a relief rally in stocks, with “better than feared” inputs slightly easing recession worries, earnings pain and the aggressiveness of the Federal Reserve. The market has shown little willingness to budge toward the June lows, even if it remains mired in the lower end of the 2022 range. In nine of the past 11 trading days, the S&P 500 has finished much higher higher than its morning low, based on low equity exposures (and low expectations) among professional investors and some easing in bond and commodity markets. He still cuts a side range, plausibly settling into some kind of bottom setup, but it’s hard to have much conviction about that prospect. The 4,000 hurdle in a broad burst of energy buying remains the next step for the bulls to regain some benefit of the doubt. A good pace in nominal retail sales, better Empire State Manufacturing (with cooler inflation indicators) and a modest pace in the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment report and its inflation expectations component they helped put the offer on the market. More bank CEOs also commented that indicators of credit and consumer/corporate activity are “good for now,” although they could get a little worse. The president of the Fed of St. Louis, Jim Bullard and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic hinted at a 0.75 percentage point rate hike next week without pushing for a full percentage point, though there is still some game in this perspective. The heavy focus on UMich inflation expectations (an unreliable survey of a couple of hundred people) may seem like a reach for traders, but Fed Chairman Jerome Powell himself did so citing the initial reading of this survey from last month as a cover story. for the rise of 0.75 percentage points in June. The poll appears to mainly track gas prices and the political mood, but at least it has become a MacGuffin that drives the Fed plot. The expectation on tap remains that earnings and guidance will come in “better than feared,” that valuations will have adjusted somewhat for a softer outlook, and that the recession talk is mostly about investors anticipating overly a downturn based on market signals and the Fed’s body language rather than being clear. advanced indicators It is worth remembering that there was a fairly entrenched recessionary camp in both 2011 and early 2016, proving false alarms. Yes, this is quite different in detail now: the market is trying to look towards the turning point of the cycle and a dovish move from the central bank, and the Fed is (for now) asking for months of real data to show that inflation has been been really down. But the path of inflation and the Fed’s guidance can change quickly, as the past eight months have shown, so the market will continue to try to play out a possible turn. CEOs and economists talking about consumers being in decent shape and with a good balance sheet support are not sugarcoating things. The ratio of household financial obligations (debt service plus rent/mortgage payments) to disposable income is quite low, in stark contrast to periods before previous recessions. The S&P 500 is spending a good chunk of time near the 3,850 level, as it did earlier in the week. This is another option expiration day, when sometimes round numbers carry gravity. It is also the threshold that represents 20% below historical highs. Credit is consolidating today on better economic cues and the 2-year Treasury yield at 3.1% is well below Thursday’s early peak near 3.25%, and macro stress eased slightly on both fronts. Good market breadth: 85% more volume on NYSE. VIX down 2 and down below 25 before a summer weekend. Lower end of the three-month range. It’s not low enough to speak of expected stability, but it also shows that all those people insisting that VIX “should be higher” near market lows didn’t quite have it right.