Friday, January 26, 2007

Week Ends Slightly Weaker on Mixed Bag

A late-day rally restored some respectability on the Dow and the S&P 500, but both indices fell back to break-even or worse for 2007.

In particular, the Dow briefly dropped into red for the year and ended the day - and week - just 23-and-change from the 2006 finish. The S&P fared a bit better, losing less than 2 points during the session, but it is perilously close to the 1418.30 close of December 29, 2006 - less than 4 points - at 1422.18.

The last day of what turned out to be a tumultuous week left the major indices split from where they began. The Dow and NASDAQ lost ground while the S&P gained a bit, and that seems to be par for the course. The much-anticipated January Barometer reading may turn out to be inconsequential as there are currently too many unresolved issues - bonds, Fed action, earnings, oil, conflicting economic readings - to place much emphasis on any kind of reading it may produce.

At best or worst, depending on your outlook, outside of a huge 3-day rally or sell-off, January is going to finish close to where it started. That gives traders essentially no guidance, just what we're getting used to from the markets, the military, the government and even a host of football prognosticators.

Friday's 15.54 loss on the Dow was driven by a confluence of diversity. Dow component Caterpillar (CAT) missed earnings forecasts but issued encouraging 2007 guidance. After the close last night, Microsoft (MSFT) beat estimates and this morning, fellow component Honeywell (HON) merely matched expectations.

Other market-moving news included Durable Orders rising 3.1% in December, the Commerce Dept. said new home sales rose at a 4.8% rate in December to 1.12 million, marking the highest level since April, but as the day wore on oil continued to price higher, closing above $55/bbl. once again.

It really is a mixed bag out there. Caveat Emptor Sellers too.

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