Monday, May 19, 2008

Reversal of Fortune

The kind of action seen today on the indices is usually reserved for a Turbulent Tuesday or a Turnaround Thursday, but today being Monday, we'll just have to call it an Afternoon About-face.

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When the Conference Board released their Index of Leading Economic Indicators for April, investors bought up stocks based on the second straight monthly gain of 0.1%.

By mid-afternoon, with all the indices up smartly (the Dow hit an intraday high of 13,136.39), the reality of such a smallish gain just hit traders over the head like a bag of hammers and brisk, widespread selling began in earnest, taking the Dow down to nearly break-even and sinking the other indices into the red, especially the NASDAQ, which suffered the worst decline of the day.

Dow 13,028.16 +41.36; NASDAQ 2,516.09 -12.76; S&P 500 1,426.63 +1.28; NYSE Composite 9,602.78 -0.23

Outside of the Conference Board's report, there was little else upon which to hang a rally as stocks lost value late in the day even more quickly than they gained in the AM. Again, the catalyst may have been oil or just sentiment that the market is basically outrunning itself ahead of expectations that sent stocks sliding, but, whatever it was, it certainly looked serious, with the drops coming all of a sudden or in waves of high volume.

Internals were expectedly mixed, with declining issues beating advancers, 3336-2708. New highs continued to lead new lows, 248-154, suggesting that there's more from where this rally has come.

Crude oil closed with a gain of 77 cents to $127.06 -another record. The metals crossed key thresholds as gold advanced $5.90 to $905.80 and silver gained 7 cents to close at $17.03 per ounce.

The market is continuing to send mixed signals, though the bias is beginning to tilt towards the positive. Many in the market remain unconvinced, however, as today's sell-off surely showed.

NYSE Volume 1,149,216,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,263,051,000

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