Friday, January 8, 2010

Poor Employment Picture Doesn't Faze Wall Street

The highly-anticipated December Non-farms payroll report, issued by the Commerce Department prior to the opening bell, didn't have much of an effect on the overall tone of trading in the final day of the first week of 2010. The report showed a loss of 85,000 jobs for the month, far worse than expected, but traders seemed unmoved and the major indices, while trending lower most of the session, still managed to post small gains, primarily due to the weaker dollar.

As has been the case for the past 10 months, stocks just keep going up, no matter the news. Analysts and professionals seem to be able to twist any data into positive signs of recovery, just the kind of attitude tha leads to bubble-like markets, over-bought conditions and stock which have multiples that are based more on fiction than the reality of fundamental analysis.

Using the stock indices as yardsticks, one would believe that we're 60% better than we were a year ago. At the very least, that stocks are worth 60% more, or will be. One can only imagine the short positions being taken up by the truly savvy players in anticipation of what are likely to be shaky 4th quarter reports from a slew of companies over the next two to three weeks.

It should be a spectacle worth witnessing.

Dow 10,618.19, +11.33 (0.11%)
NASDAQ 2,317.17, +17.12 (0.74%)
S&P 500 1,144.98, +3.29 (0.29%)
NYSE Composite 7,425.35, +31.42 (0.42%)

Advancing issues led decliners, 4059-2409, the margin building through the week to its best level on Friday. New highs were achieved by 697 stocks, with only 80 making new lows. Volume moderated a bit from the previous two sessions, but remained solid. Those chasing performance may have taken a wait-and-see approach and an early exit for the weekend.

NYSE Volume 4,872,173,500
NASDAQ Volume 2,163,779,500

The commodity markets lollygagged through the day. Crude oil gained all of 9 cents, to $82.75 per barrel. With the weaker dollar underpinning trades, gold rose $5.50, to $1,139.20. Silver continued its ascent, gaining 12 cents, to $18.46. The speculation in natural gas seems to have gone to its limit, near term, with that commodity losing 5 cents, to $5.71/mmbtu.

For the week, stocks trended higher, though Friday's finish was suspect, with almost all of the action commencing in a frantic final half hour. Most of the progress for the week was made on Monday, when traders kicked off 2010 with the best gains.

Alcoa kicks off earnings season on Monday, though one company's results are unlikely to move markets dramatically.

No comments: