Friday, March 28, 2008

The Big Give-Back

After rocketing ahead early in the week, the markets gave back all of the gains and then some. The Dow, which closed Monday at 12,548.64, lost ground four consecutive sessions, finishing 145 points lower for the week.

Dow 12,216.40 -86.06; NASDAQ 2,261.18 -19.65; S&P 500 1,315.22 -10.44; NYSE Composite 8,762.12 -55.05

Volume was on the very low end of the scale, indicative of an end-of-month wait-and-see attitude all around, though Monday's final day of the quarter could prove significant.

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It seems that no matter what moves the Fed makes and how much happy talk the Fox News and CNBC pundits produce, nothing can stop stocks from falling. Just glancing at the charts of the major indices shows that they are still in a holding pattern above recent lows and retests and retreats are inevitable.

Declining issues overwhelmed advancers once again, 4120-2075. Only 39 stocks made new 52-week highs, while 165 made new lows. The string of days with more new lows than new highs stretches back to October 31 of last year, except for two days in December. That's a very long run and the streak is now unlikely to be unbroken until we reach the original falling-off point in August.

Commodities continue to trade very uncertainly, with oil down $1.96 to $105.62, gold off $17.50 to $936.50, and silver down 61 cents to $17.94. Deflation is taking hold in a big way, which is expressly what the Fed sought to avoid with its interest rate cuts and interventions into the credit markets.

Obviously, it's not working.

NYSE Volume 3,610,889,000
NASDAQ Volume 1,739,376,375

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