Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Bounce? No, It's a Geithner Gallop; eBay Disappoints

Stocks reversed nearly all of yesterday's losses after the New York Times posted an article with the glaring headline. Hearing Over, Geithner’s Confirmation Is Expected minutes before noon.

Stocks started out full of steam, but had surrendered most of their gains before that bastion of journalistic integrity asserted that Timothy Geithner's problems with not paying taxes on time would be sufficiently swept under the rug and he would be confirmed as the new Treasury Secretary. Such an appointment virtually assures more bad behavior on both Wall Street and in Washington, DC. The banks will continue to receive hefty sums of taxpayer dough from the Treasury without recourse nor accountability.

Tra, la, la, life as a bankrupt banker must be good with a capital G.

Dow 8,228.10, +279.01 (3.51%)
NASDAQ 1,507.07, +66.21 (4.60%)
S&P 500 840.24, +35.02 (4.35%)
NYSE Composite 5,273.9902, +215.93 (4.27%)

The advance was broad-based with gainers beating losers, 5011-1567. New lows retained their 14+ month edge over new highs, 278-10, notable in the minuscule number of new highs on such a large point gain. Volume was solid, a very optimistic indicator.

NYSE Volume 1,737,111,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,109,177,000

IBM's strong 4th quarter results also contributed to the sanguine tenor of the day. The computing giant returned impressive results after the close on Tuesday.

Commodities also got in on the rising price action, though oil's gain of $2.71 resulted in a closing price of $43.55, quite tame by recent standards. Gold continued to trade under pressure, losing $5.10, to $850.10. Silver gained 15 cents, to $11.33. Natural gas was also higher, gaining 12 cents, to $4.75 mmbtu.

After the close, eBay released 4th quarter and full year results. The company's 4th quarter returned lower revenue and earnings, and the stock sold off after-hours. Here [PDF] is a link to a graphical presentation.

Ebay-related revenue took a large hit. The largest revenue production came from PayPal, as the company struggles through a troubling transition in their core auction and fixed-price business. Essentially, the company has largely neglected the individual seller in favor of catering to larger enterprises. This has caused nothing short of a seller exodus over the past few months. Ebay executives put most of the blame on poor global economic conditions rather than taking the heat for their failed turnaround of a business that didn't need changing.

At this writing, ebay was trading at 12.52, down 0.76 in after-hours trading.

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