Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Small Change on Slow Day

Stocks were barely budged on Wednesday, as investors took an extended hiatus following the Christmas holiday. Volume checked in with one of the lowest readings of the year.

Underpinning the narrowly upward movement were hopes that retailers would see something of a rebound in the days after Christmas, as holiday sales overall have been less-than-inspiring.

The most recent figures suggest that retailers saw a 3-4% increase over last year, though specific companies, particularly Target (TGT) have warned that same-store sales may have actually fallen for the post-Thanksgiving period.

It was likely a good thing that traders were mostly on the sidelines on Wall Street, with more bad news in the housing sector weighing on stocks. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Schiller home price index showed home prices declining for the 10% straight month. The October decline was the largest since 1991. The index tracks home prices in 10 metropolitan areas.

Dow 13,551.69 +2.36; NASDAQ 2,724.41 +10.91; S&P 500 1,497.66 +1.21; NYSE Composite 9,894.15 +20.67

Advancing issues narrowly edged decliners for the third straight session, 3366-2960. New lows retained their lead over new highs, however, 256-238. The high-low metric has stubbornly resisted rolling over in favor of the new highs, suggesting that any rally in stocks is going to be short-lived and devoid of breadth or depth.

$100 Car Payments
Edmonton, Vancouver, Bad Credit, Divorced, Bankruptcy OK. Apply online.
The specter of continuing calamities in the housing arena and the unwinding bank/credit crisis is aligning with a growing chorus of economists suggesting that a recession may be difficult to avoid in 2008.

The price of crude shot up another $1.84 on Wednesday, as the combination of lower US inventories and fears arising out of Turkish air strikes in Northern Iraq sent crude to a closing price of $95.97.

Gold also showed healthy gains, rising $13.00 to $829.50. Silver also was higher, up 18 cents to $14.84.

With just three more trading days remaining, 2007 is on track to record positive gains on all of the major indices, despite all of them being off their 52-week highs.

Looking ahead, though, investors are skeptical about 4th quarter profits in a variety of industries and worry that the weakness in housing could spill over into the general economy. While an unwinding of a 50+ month-long bull market would not be surprising, how far and for how long stocks fall is still a matter of considerable speculation, with the majority of analysts seeing moderate growth at best for the entirety of 2008 and some kind of recovery in 2009.

NYSE Volume 2,010,497,250
NASDAQ Volume 1,260,348,625

No comments: