Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stocks Gallop Ahead to Best Gains of 2009

At long last the market responded to extreme oversold conditions and ramped up for the biggest gains of the year.

Dow 6,926.49, +379.44 (5.80%)
Nasdaq 1,358.28, +89.64 (7.07%)
S&P 500 719.60, +43.07 (6.37%)
NYSE Composite 4,499.38, +273.07 (6.46%)

The impetus was provided by Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit's comment that his beleaguered bank had performed well enough to be profitable (minus some odious one-time charges and government money) over the first two months of the year.

It was more than likely nothing more than than a well-timed fabrication, but investors were so starved for any kind of good news, they bought it and ran with it. The resultant gains will probably last for some time, as the market is simply worn out from selling. In fact, there's nothing resembling even the slightest resistance in the charts all the way up to 8000 on the Dow, so this could turn into a lengthy, extended bear market rally.

This move is off fresh multi-year lows, so there's no telling where stocks will go from here, though it was pleasant to see such enthusiasm over such a broad base of stocks.

Advancers absolutely trounced declining issues, 5815-863, about a 7-1 ratio. Still, new lows maintained their long-standing edge over new highs, 354-14, so, obviously, there's more work to be done before anyone starts calling a bottom, though another day or two on the upside will bring on the perma-bulls. Volume was also very strong, another factor that will bring out the bellows for a bottom being in place, which is probably more wishful thinking than actual analysis.

NYSE Volume 2,186,757,000
Nasdaq Volume 2,424,305,000

Commodities, for the most part, were the one area that did not participate in Wall Street's celebration. Oil fell $1.31, to $45.71. Gold dropped $22.10, to $895.90, back under the $900 barrier, and silver sold off in sympathy, losing 40 cents, to close at $12.54. a multi-week low.

To illustrate the absurdity of today's gigantic move forward, Citigroup was up a whopping 38%, gaining 40 cents to $1.42. Noting that, Pandit's baby will have to double and then almost double again in order for many fund investors to actually be able to trade in the stock under their charters. Citi has been under $5/share for nearly two months, and now that the United States owns roughly 36% of the company - about 6 shares for every person in America - the entire population should be beaming that they own such a hot investment.

Of course, I'm being cynical, because Citi is not a very sound bank. They, along with Bank of America, AIG and JP Morgan Chase have all been the recipients of government largesse, and are largely unsound and quite possibly insolvent. That's why there was an urgent need to "talk up" the market. Just about everybody with a high school education is angry at the banks and the government, so a rally was ordered up and they got it, in spades.

Not like this rally wasn't predictable, markets don't go straight down (as they have been) for long without some kind of snap back. The tricky part will be determining when it all falls apart again and the bears take over. It could be 3 months or 3 days.

The best trades in the world are the short term variety, and this is a perfect spot for experienced hands with steel in their veins.

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