Thursday, July 3, 2008

Market Looking Past Independence Day

Considering the conditions in the market on July 3 - shortened trading session, busiest driving weekend upcoming - the key impression from today's tone of trade was one of looking ahead. Some brave souls staked out new positions after a couple of key economic reports, but from 10:30 until the market's early close at 1:00 pm, the indices drifted in a narrow range, closing positively, with the exception of the NASDAQ, while the Dow displayed leadership.

Dow 11,288.54 +73.03; NASDAQ 2,245.38 -6.08; S&P 500 1,262.90 +1.38; NYSE Composite 8,481.54 +16.03

It's somewhat fitting that the Dow would show strength the day before we commemorate our independence from England's tyranny. The Dow Jones Industrials are - as a group - representative of American financial might. Closing higher prior to the holiday leaves a pleasant aura over the markets.

The two economic reports were the Labor Dept.'s June Non Farm Payroll data, which showed a loss of 62,000 jobs for the month, and the ISM Services Index, which fell to 48.2 from a May reading of 51.7.

As for the prospects for next week and the rest of the month, first good, then bad. With almost two full weeks of trading available before corporate reports for the second quarter begin to clog the market, there's ample opportunity for a bounce back to 11,700 on the Dow. Excluding today, the Dow has dropped a rock-like 1813 points since May 19 (13,028-11,215), and is in a technically oversold position.

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While future prospects range from dim to dull to bleak, the opportunity for a 300-500 point bounce within the coming two weeks is paramount. After that, all bets are off, because, as I have been saying, and according to no less an ardent voice than Standard & Poor's themselves, second quarter corporate profits are expected to be weak. There's no secret here. The economy is figuratively in the crapper and stocks have not reflected the fact yet.

That said, oil prices should ease (where have we heard that before?), following the peak demand holiday weekend. I should include this caveat: that my judgment of the price of oil is based upon a theory that it largely anticipates demand and after July 6, when folks return from weekend trips, there's likely to be a sag. Consumer's pockets will be generally emptied at the filling stations across the nation as prices peak.

So, with oil going lower and the market in a temporarily oversold condition, the timing and rationale for a slight bump upwards is logical.

On the day, internals were the same as always. Declining issues beat advancers by an unhealthy margin, 3886-2217. New lows overwhelmed new highs by an amazing 898-44.

At last glance, oil was already easing, up just 19 cents, at $143.76. The metals, in their continuing gyrations between peak and interim support, were lower. Gold dropped $11.70, to $934.80, while silver shed 15 cents to $18.28. Please note that the commodity markets were still open and trading as of this writing.

Enjoy the 4th, and remember, our freedom is guaranteed by the constitution, not our leaders.

NASDAQ Volume 1,427,788,000

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