Friday, August 1, 2008

Despite Earnings Upsides, Markets Tank

A disappointing preliminary reading on second quarter GDP, showing expansion at a 1.9% annual rate (optimistic analysts were expecting 2.3%), sent stocks into another decline on Thursday, though losses were somewhat tempered due to a 2% drop in oil prices and strong earnings from some widely-held companies.

Dow 11,378.02 -205.67; NASDAQ 2,325.55 -4.17; S&P 500 1,267.38 -16.88; NYSE Composite 8,438.64 -126.67

Winnipeg Theme Room Hotel Rooms
Enjoy all the comforts of home on your next trip.
Jobless claims climbed 44,000 to 448,000, the third time in the last five weeks claims have been above the 400,000 level. The four-week moving average sailed 11,000 higher, to 393,000.

CBS Corp. (CBS), Altria (MO), Motorola (MOT), Disney (DIS), MasterCard (MA), Visa (V), and Tyco (TYC) all reported positive earnings results prior to the opening bell, though those pluses were not enough to stem the waves of selling that engulfed the markets.

Advancing issues were beaten back by decliners, 2656-3617. New lows were, as usual, ahead of new highs, though not by a substantial margin, 225-103.

Light Sweet Crude Oil for September delivery fell $2.69, to $124.08
Gold gained $10.40, to $922.70, and silver also rebounded, up 33 cents to $17.79 per ounce.

Release of July employment data in the Labor Department's Non-farm payroll report has investors somewhat spooked. Analysts are expecting the 6th straight month of job losses, roughly -72,000.

Oddly enough, many on the Street still put faith into the government's massively massaged numbers. For instance, it was revealed today that the economy actually shrank 0.2% in the 4th quarter of 2007, when earlier figures showed a minute gain of 0.6%.

Substantial Wealth and Riches Creation
The Path of Substantial Wealth and Riches: Your Parents' Influence on Your Finances
The employment figures are even more of a statistical shroud, based on faulty data collection measures and a dubious calculation method. The worst feature of employment-unemployment data is where people whose unemployment insurance has expired are taken out of the equation completely, rather than counted as continuing unemployed.

It is ever prudent to interpret government data with a wide berth. No figures are ever finalized until months later, and even then - in addition to being irrelevant due to dating - may be a stretch from reality.

With the current administration's continuing effort to jawbone the economy into better condition, the rule of thumb is to consider all data releases at 10-20% better than what is actual.

Generally speaking, the markets and anecdotal evidence reflect reality better than government figures. Only some federal number-crunchers and a select minority of analysts actually believe that a recession has been avoided. The rest of the world already knew that the final quarter of '07 and the first quarter of '08 were in decline, meeting the classical definition of a recession.

NYSE Volume 1,456,028,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,357,763,000

No comments: