Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rigged Rally

Any doubt that the US stock markets have been, are being or can be manipulated was put to rest today at precisely 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. It was at that moment that the Dow Jones Industrials climbed an extraordinary 50+ points in just over one minute. There was no news, no report issued that would move the market, only the covert actions by groping, free market fondlers. called the 3:00 jump a "technical trade," which is a good substitute for "we don't know," and the Fed's Beige Book was released at 2:00, not 3:00, but maybe it took a while to digest.

In any case, the final result was a healthy gain for the Dow, with the other indices tagging along.

Dow 13,784.50 +67.55; NASDAQ 2,648.17 +8.31; S&P 500 1,518.09 +7.05; NYSE Composite 9,930.36 +20.41

Other than the faux late-day rally, it was really a see-saw session with the markets initially buffeted by stellar earnings reports from Amazon (AMZN) and Boeing (BA), then battered by the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) existing Home Sales for June, which came in well below estimates, suggesting that, considering the current malaise in the housing market, those estimates might want to be a little less optimistic going forward.

It was the worst showing for housing in roughly 4 1/2 years, though that in itself should not have been much of a surprise.

Elsewhere, companies were churning out 2nd quarter earnings reports, and some actually weren't all bad.
  • Xerox (X) beat estimates by a penny, but was pounded lower by 1.10 (nearly 6%).

  • Colgate-Palmolive (CL): Excluding restructuring charges, net income in the most recent quarter was $457.5 million, or 84 cents per share. Analysts expected earnings per share of 84 cents.

  • ConocoPhillips (COP) posted income, excluding extraordinary items, of $4.8 billion, or $2.90 a share, compared with $5.2 billion, or $3.09 a share, during the second quarter of 2006. The results were well above the $2.68 analyst expectations.

  • Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX): On the acquisition of rival Phelps Dodge in March and increased metal pricing, net income after paying preferred dividends rose to $1.10 billion, or $2.62 per share, from $367 million, or $1.74 per share, a year ago. Revenue surged to $5.81 billion from $1.43 billion last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for profit of $2.71 per share on revenue of $5.27 billion.
  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK): Pretax profit was flat at £1.896 billion -- compared with £1.897 billion a year earlier -- and was ahead of analysts' consensus expectations of £1.833 billion. Net profit rose to £1.36 billion from £1.34 billion a year earlier.

  • Apple (AAPL): (After the close) For fiscal 2007 third quarter ended June 30, 2007, posted revenue of $5.41 billion and net quarterly profit of $818 million, or $.92 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $4.37 billion and net quarterly profit of $472 million, or $.54 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

The story beyond the headline numbers was in stark contrast. Decliners beat advancing issues by a 3-2 ration, and new lows swamped the market, beating new highs by 630-134 (no, that's not a misprint).

Oil posted huge gains on the NY Mercantile Exchange, with crude up a massive $2.32 to $75.88. So, square those facts and numbers with a nearly 70-point rise on the Dow... really, try it.

Gold was hammered down $11 to $673.80, with silver losing 29 cents to close at $13.15.

More hijinks are in store for certain tomorrow, as new home sales figures for June are released and another 400+ companies roll out earnings reports.

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