Friday, June 19, 2009

Dull Trading with Minimal New Flows

Considering what the US economy has been through the past 2 years, maybe a little break in the action now and then is a welcome relief. The considerable slowing of news flows over the past few weeks have truncated trading volumes in US equity markets by as much as 40% in recent days.

There were absolutely no economic reports on which to hang a trade on Friday.

Volume was quite a bit healthier due to a quadruple witching condition which produced a touch of volatility and a good deal more trading activity than has been the norm of recent days. It was another split session for stocks, the third in as many days, which is likely a symptom of the general insecurity and lack of direction which has plagued the markets for two weeks running.

The general direction is down, but people are far from convinced. Meanwhile, many of the biggest players have already headed for vacation spots and have money parked in either defensive positions or fixed investment vehicles.

This was, however, the worst week for the major indices since the week ended May 15 this year. The Dow surrendered 260 points, the S&P gave back 25 points, the NASDAQ shed 31 points, and the NYSE Composite lost 214 points.

Dow 8,539.43, -16.17 (0.19%)
NASDAQ 1,827.47, +19.75 (1.09%)
S&P 500 921.19, +2.82 (0.31%)
NYSE Composite 5,934.05, +27.85 (0.47%)

For the day, advancers finished far ahead of decliners, 3854-2487. New lows narrowly led new highs, 56-55. It was the 6th straight session marking the lows above the highs, though the margin continued to deteriorate over the past 3 sessions.

NYSE Volume 2,127,423,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,954,731,000

Finally, the speculators eased off their ridiculous bid on crude oil, sending it to steep losses, down $1.82, to $69.55. Perhaps this is a sign of a topping point in the seasonal bid. With no real demand rationale to push prices higher, maybe the speculators thought better of their positions and see an end to the over-hyped, and over-extended, trade.

Gold gained $1.60, to $936.20; silver went the other way, down 4 cents, to $14.20.

There is scant economic news next week as the end of the second quarter approaches. After a blank Monday, figures for Existing Home Sales are released on Tuesday, with New Home Sales on Wednesday along with Durable Goods Orders and Crude Inventories. Wednesday is also slated for a rate decision by the Fed's FOMC, so trading should be less than robust until 2:15 in the afternoon, in anticipation of what is surely to be a "no change" call. Regardless, many market participants will hang breathlessly on every word and make trades according to the whims and innuendo of the FOMC.

Markets really ought to begin churning a little bit just before the 4th of July weekend, because right after that, companies will be reporting 2nd quarter earnings, so there will be some fur flying. Until then, investors are either getting out of the way or just staying put, waiting for another seminal trading moment. That next moment may come when the Dow breaches 8000, probably within a month's time.

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