Thursday, January 7, 2010

Payrolls on the Mind

Stocks traded sideways most of the session, though the NASDAQ spent the entire day in negative territory, finishing lower y a point. Once again, there was little to no motivation to buy stocks, though the majors all posted gains. Investors are still awaiting Friday's non-farm payroll data.

Initial unemployment claims came in 484,000, which was one thousand more than last week, so there's no movement in that department. Jobs may be more scarce in some areas and for different ethnic and age strata, but there's no lack of money anywhere. Cash, currencies and currency equivalents are circulating at a steady pace, thanks to government stimulus efforts, but mostly to easy interest rates. That's why there is so much worry over rates and when the Fed decides to start raising them, because once they begin, they usually don't stop until they're around 5% on a 10-year note, or higher, depending on how much pent-up demand surfaces in real spending.

Dow 10,606.86, +33.18 (0.31%)
Nasdaq 2,300.05, -1.04 (0.05%)
S&P 500 1,141.69, +4.55 (0.40%)
NYSE Composite 7,393.93, +16.23 (0.22%)

Advancing issues finished far ahead of decliners, 3864-2684, and new highs beat new lows, 584-68. Volume was again on on the high side of moderate. From the volume today and the preceding two, it's become apparent that some strong positions are being filled. Tomorrow's employment number may have almost no net effect on stocks at this level, unless, of course, it's a disappointing one.

NYSE Volume 5,869,563,500
Nasdaq Volume 2,302,742,000

Commodities took a breather from their breakneck gains, except for silver, which continues to be on fire. Copper prices have also been on the rise, though lower today. Oil was off 52 cents, to $82.66. Gold lost $2.90, to $1,133.60. The aforementioned silver: up 18 cents, to $18.35. Silver is close to 18-month highs, though considering the 2009 move in gold, has some catching up to do.

Tomorrow, the wait is over. The government can announce a loss of 45,000 or so jobs and we'll go back to work, or sleep. The market has been very quiet of late, which may be the best thing that could happen.

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