Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stocks Settle for Small Change; Metals Rocked

Following two days of extreme movement - one up, one down - the major indices settled into a positive trading range and held on to substantial gains before renewed selling interest in the final hour turned many stocks lower.

Dow 11,268.92 +38.19; NASDAQ 2,228.70 +18.89; S&P 500 1,232.04 +7.53; NYSE Composite 7,957.26 +86.11

The markets traded in herky-jerky fashion throughout the session but retained a positive bias. The massive sell-off into the close, however, had many shaking their heads.

Devoid of any consequential economic reports, traders were forced to deal with the one big headline of the day, as embattled Lehman Brothers (LEH, 7.24, -0.55) issued an earnings pre-announcement which was far worse than anyone expected. The company said it would show a third quarter loss of $3.9 billion, or $5.82 per share and would reduce its annual dividend from 68 cents to 5 cents. Lehman also announced the sale or partial divestiture of much of its other holdings.

Such news was expected, though few thought the devastation would be so complete. Lehman had traded above $60 earlier this year. The stock, like so many others in the financial arena, has lost a massive amount of value - nearly 90%.

With the bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac still fresh in the minds of investors, Lehman's fall from grace was yet another dose of bad news for a market that can hardly bear any more.

On the day, gainers managed a narrow edge over losers, 3473-2797. New highs were scarce, with only 66 firms recording 52-week highs. New lows however, were in abundance. There were 545 of those.

More evidence of the popping of the commodities bubble appeared, as gold lost massively, down $29.50, dropping to $762.50 per ounce. Silver also was hammered, sliding 84 cents, to $10.89. Oil fell as well on futures markets, with a barrel of crude worth 68 cents less than yesterday, settling at $102.58 per barrel.

The liquidity crisis continues. Everything, from real estate to stocks to grandpa's coin collection are being sold off as fast as humanly possible with no end in sight. By the time most average folks get an idea that what they own is not nearly worth what they paid, it's likely to be too late and another round of forced divestiture will ensue.

Happy days... not here, not now.

NYSE Volume 1,549,186,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,288,587,000

No comments: