Thursday, September 6, 2007

Are you buying?

The market was up today, so, were you one of the buyers?

Usually, it takes more than a day of small gains to convince me to dive in, especially one day after I told anyone interested to stay out of this market.

The indices were simply marking time, on low volume, in advance of tomorrow's non-farm payroll employment report for August, which will be released at 8:30 am, prior to the market opening.

So, now do you understand why there were so few dipping their toes into the muddy market waters. They could be stuck in a downdraft before they're able to make a move.

What's important to note about today's sluggish volume was not who was trading, but who wasn't. The smartest money on the street is clearly sitting this dance out until a clear direction is indicated.

Dow 13,363.35 +57.88; NASDAQ 2,614.32 +8.37; S&P 500 1,478.55 +6.26; NYSE Composite 9,637.55 +54.38

So, if you were a buyer today, there's a palpable risk that you'll be a loser at the opening bell, because, non-farm payrolls for August are expected to be around 110,000, but may come in at half that number due to the huge layoffs in mortgage and banking related businesses. Of course, the Labor Dept. could do what they usually do, gently massage the numbers higher and then revise them next month, but, rest assured, this economy is barely producing enough new jobs to keep pace with the population and replace the jobs being lost. Sooner or later, there's going to be a settlement on what the figures really are, and it's not going to be a pretty sight.

Tomorrow could be that day.

Advancing issues on Thursday slipped by decliners by a 4-3 margin, while new highs recorded the slimmest of victories over new lows, 128-127. If you're looking for confidence, it certainly isn't in these numbers, which can best be characterized as breadth-less.

Commodities, especially gold, took a surprising turn today. Crude oil for October delivery was up 57 cents to $76.30 on lower inventory readings, but gold shot past the $700 mark, gaining $13.90 to end the day at $704.60. Silver also rose, but not in the same proportion, adding 18 cents to $12.53.

Something is surely afoot, as the spectacular rise in the price of gold could be presaging some serious difficulty ahead for stocks. Friday is shaping up to be a very interesting day indeed.

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