Friday, February 26, 2010

Thin Trading, Stocks Higher

Despite another sour report on Existing Home Sales for January - off 7.2% - investors and speculators bid up stocks slightly on the final trading day of February.

Following the release of the housing data at 10:00 am, stocks sank to their lows of the day, but, as has been the case recently, the not-quite-invisible hand of the PPT or other erstwhile stock manipulators pushed the index to its high of the day in less than 30 minutes, a move of roughly 75 points on the Dow.

After that initial burst of despair and excitement, stocks vacillated just above the unchanged mark for the remainder of a lackluster session, one with even lower trading volume than normal due to severe winter storms in the Northeast. Also, just moments before the closing bell, word that a 7.0 magnitude earthquake had struck off Japan seemed to rattle traders, selling off a roughly 20 point gain in the final five minutes.

Dow 10,325.26, +4.23 (0.04%)
NASDAQ 2,238.26, +4.04 (0.18%)
S&P 500 1,104.49, +1.56 (0.14%)
NYSE Composite 7,035.04, +21.59 (0.31%)

Advancing issues led decliners, 3887-2872. There were 312 new highs, to just 34 new lows. Volume was spare.

NYSE Volume 4,742,490,500
NASDAQ Volume 2,153,935,500

Oil finished ahead by $1.49, at $79.66. Gold gained $10.00, to $1,118.50, while silver also was up, ahead by 37 cents, to $16.51.

The major indices finished up for the day and the month, but down for the week. In 2010, stocks have finished weeks on the upside just 3 times and lower 5 times. The major indices are down for the year, but only by 1 or 2%.

The government's revised reading on 4th quarter GDP was no surprise, at 5.9%. Chicago PMI was up a point, to 62.6, in February, and the University of Michigan's Final Consumer Sentiment gauge for February came in at 73.6.

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