Thursday, June 12, 2008

Early Rally Fizzles, PPT Steps in to Save Markets

We knew (didn't we?) that after the deep declines Wednesday and last Friday, there would be plenty of bottom-fishing, and this morning, stocks were up sharply. The Dow was higher by nearly 200 points between 11:00 am and noon, but the realities of the market brought fresh waves of selling throughout the afternoon.

Shortly after 3:00 pm, the Dow had sunk back to break-even, with all other indices showing in the red. It was at that point, with markets apparently breaking down badly, that stocks began moving forward again, a sure sign that the Plunge Protection Team (PPT) was back at work, salvaging what little is left of the formerly free and fair equity markets.

Dow 12,141.58 +57.81; NASDAQ 2,404.35 +10.34; S&P 500 1,339.87 +4.38; NYSE Composite 8,947.72 +6.45

As usual, on days such as this, the internals offer a better view of what's really going on. Advancing issues actually fared better than decliners on the day, though by a very slim margin, 3208-2833. New lows continued to dominate new highs, 367-73. These numbers continue to confirm that stocks are stuck in a near-term down trend that isn't likely to end until recent lows (March) are retested.

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That the PPT (correctly known as the President's Working Group on Financial Markets) would enter into the fray is completely expected. As a matter of conjecture, they've probably been plying their trade with due diligence over the past few months, attempting to stabilize some truly upsetting conditions which persist in US markets.

Markets received a bit of good news in terms of retail sales figures this morning, but those were quickly dismissed as a natural outgrowth of the millions of government stimulus checks which were finding taxpayers. The fundamentals of a weak economy, with inflation, low job creation and a crumbling currency, are still in place and have not improved.

Oil was up again, gaining 40 cents, after being lower most of the day, settling at the unsettling price of $137.38. Metals were once more under pressure, with gold losing $10.90, to $872.00, and silver dropping 37 cents to $16.49 an ounce.

Traders are largely running scared at this juncture and until there is clear evidence of some positive changes in the economy, or a new president with the full backing of congress, or both, markets should remain under selling pressure.

NYSE Volume 1,332,073,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,246,544,000

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