Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fed Watchers Get what They Want; Disappoint Late

Stocks were up solidly early in the day, an exceptional note of optimism ahead of the 2:15 pm Fed rate policy decision. The Dow gained as much as 140 points in the early going, with the other indices tagging along with similar percentage gains of roughly 1-1.35%.

When the Fed finally released its statement, Bulls got exactly what they wanted, little to no change in the overall verbiage, with no change in rates. After the normal, brief zig-zagging, the indices stabilized roughly where they were before the announcement, though began to descend slightly between 2:45 and 3:15. With just 45 minutes left in the session, however, a vicious sell-off was undertaken, trimming about 100 points off the Dow's gains and sending the NASDAQ into the red.

As such, stocks finished mixed again, though this time the only index below the unchanged line was the unfortunate NASDAQ, which is a bit confounding, since tech and speculative stocks in the NASDAQ have been responsible for much of the rally over the past 8 months. Monday will mark the end of the 8th month of the rally which began in earnest on March 9, 2009.

Dow 9,802.14, +30.23 (0.31%)
NASDAQ 2,055.52, -1.80 (0.09%)
S&P 500 1,046.50, +1.09 (0.10%)
NYSE Composite 6,830.43, +17.73 (0.26%)

Advancing issues were barely beaten by decliners, 3238-3236, with the emphasis on the downside clearly in NASDAQ stocks. However, the subtle change in the high-low indicator augurs better days ahead and a possible end to the market funk of the past two weeks. New highs outpaced new lows, 142-74, the best showing in a week and easily the best so far this month.

Volume was low, another positive, especially considering the late-day sell-off, which, many suspect was nothing more than shrewd tape-painting by insiders seeking an edge for Thursday.

NYSE Volume 6,510,982,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,134,476,250

Commodities were all priced higher as the dollar was weaker throughout the day. Oil was up 80 cents, to $80.40. Gold reached new highs, closing up $2.10, at $1,087.00, though it traded as high as $1095.00. Silver added 22 cents to $17.40.

Prior to the market open, more economic data was released. the ADP Employment Report showed a loss of 203,000 private sector jobs in October, an improvement over September's revised reading of -227,000, but still on the high side. This also bodes well for the October Non-farm payroll report due out prior to Friday's opening bell. First, the ADP report from last month was -254,000 unrevised, and has been revised lower by 27,000. The September non-farm payroll figure was 263,000, just a bit higher than the ADP reading. If the government revises lower, as ADP did, and remains somewhat in line with forecasts, we could see the first reading below 200,000 in over a year on Friday, which would be a real boost to the market.

Some indication of improvement in the jobs picture came on Monday, in the ISM manufacturing index, which showed improvement in the employment outlook segment. The expectation is for a loss of 175-220,000 jobs in the month, though anything below 210,000 would be positive.

Retail sales figures for October will be released prior to the open and they are expected to be solid.

Cisco (CSCO) reported excellent figures for their fiscal 1st quarter after the bell - .36 per share on expectations of .31, and higher revenue than expected - with the stock moving 3-4% higher after hours, hovering around 24.00 per share.

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