Friday, April 4, 2008

Stocks in Limbo

With the release of the monthly non-farms payroll report for March on Friday morning, investors were struck with yet another sign of a failing US economy as US employers handed out 80,000 pink slips during the month.

It was the third consecutive monthly decline in the US labor force and solidifies the argument that the economy is already in a recession, the worst aspects of which have yet to be felt.

In response, stocks fell out of the gate, but recovered, and by midday were sporting a healthy gain. Late in the day, however, a reality check sent the Dow back below the break even line, though the other indices managed to carve out modest gains.

Dow 12,609.42 -16.61; NASDAQ 2,370.98 +7.68; S&P 500 1,370.40 +1.09; NYSE Composite 9,157.53 +16.89

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There was more evidence of a change in direction as advancers held a slim edge over declining issues, 3312-2862. And for the first time since early December, new highs edged new lows, 127-89. That is a significant change, but it's not likely to last. The last time there were more new highs than lows, it was for only two days before the markets beat a hasty retreat.

Considering the depth of the banking and housing crises and the unmistakable signs of recession, stocks have barely budged and are floating on rarefied air with unrealistic valuations.

Those seeking a quick turn-around for the US economy are in for a surprise. These job losses are spreading and are likely the tip of an unemployment iceberg that's about to bust a big hole in the titanic US revenue machine. The economy is stagnant at best and the solutions by the government are sorely lacking in scope and vision.

Oil priced another $2.40 higher, to close at $106.23, while gold tacked on $3.60 to $913.20 and silver added 28 cents to $17.76.

Wall Street and most investors are in serious denial. The market is sure to hand them some sad news shortly. Tax time looms, always a down period for the markets.

NYSE Volume 3,703,311,250
NASDAQ Volume 1,981,811,875

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