Saturday, March 31, 2007

More Miracle Rallies Keep Equities Even

Just before noon on Friday, the Dow had lost over 100 points, with the NASDAQ and S&P following the trend lower. What the markets were reacting to was not immediately clear, though this session happened to be the finale for the 1st quarter, so there were certainly plenty of brokers and hedge funds clearing the decks.

Just as the decline was beginning to become serious, though, the trend abruptly reversed and all indices began climbing higher. By 2:30, the bulk of the activity was complete and all gauges had advanced to near break even. At the end of the day, the casual observer would conclude, by just grazing the closing figures, that it was a calm and orderly day on Wall Street. It was actually far from ordinary or calm.

Dow 12,354.35 +5.60; NASDAQ 2,421.64 +3.76; S&P 500 1,420.86 -1.67; NYSE Composite 9,261.82 -17.26

The broad indices - the S&P and NYSE Comp. - took the brunt of the blows, ending slightly lower, but the underpinnings of the market remain weak and confused. Investors are torn between conflicting economic reports, mostly positive, though with an inflationary undertone cutting into the euphoria.

When all was said and done, the day ended in no decision, mired between the recent highs and lows, apparently satisfied to wait until corporate earnings begin flowing next week. There are varying degrees of hope and trepidation in most camps, which augurs for a volatile earnings season this quarter.

Oil remained tame for at least one day, settling at $65.87, ensuring at least that the rapacious prices at the pump will continue for some time. The high price of crude - and gasoline - continues to damper enthusiasm in the U.S. economy.

Silver and gold both made small advances, but remain stuck in no-man's land, just like the U.S. equity markets.

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