Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wading Through Data, Stocks Up in Light Trading

For the second straight session, investors were met with a slew of economic reports prior to, and then, during the trading session which influenced decisions on stocks. However, with the Thanksgiving holiday on the horizon, volume was so light that no reasonable conclusions can be drawn from the day's results.

As it was, stocks returned modest gains which more than offset Tuesday's slim losses, though given the positive tone of the news, one would normally have expected much better.

Dow 10,464.40, +30.69 (0.29%)
NASDAQ 2,176.05, +6.87 (0.32%)
S&P 500 1,110.63, +4.98 (0.45%)
NYSE Composite 7,232.12, +61.86 (0.86%)

Advancing issues led decliners, 3849-2576, and new highs beat new lows by an impressive 332-66. Despite the horrendously low volume, sentiment, driven by some key numbers, was quite positive.

NYSE Volume 3,479,942,250
NASDAQ Volume 1,414,185,375

Among the data received in the morning was an unexpected drop in initial unemployment claims, down to 466,000, when expectations were for around 500,000. Also positive were the readings on personal income (up 0.2%) and personal spending (up 0.7%). The lone negative result was in durable orders, which showed a 0.6% decline for October, though most of the loss was based on lower defense spending, which, in the long term, is likely a positive. Having the government spending less on arms for war would likely rank high on the list wishes of most Americans.

After the session began, bew home sales also showed an unexpected uptick, to a seasonally-adjusted 430,000 units in October. Even with those solid numbers in place, stocks showed barely any upward interest, meandering along in a very narrow range throughout the day.

The US dollar show weakness once again, boosting gold prices to new records. Gold closed up $20.60, to $1,188.00. Silver gained 31 cents, to finish at $18.80. Oil, after a sluggish morning, was up $1.94, to $77.96.

Overall, there simply was not enough money going into stocks to create much of a stir. Despite the slow trade, however, the Dow and S&P managed to finish at 13-month highs.

Markets are closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving, and re-open for a short session, from 9:30 am until 1:00 pm ET on Friday.

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