Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dow Breaks Above 10,900 and Nobody Throws a Party

It's a good thing that the stock market indices are not true gauges of the strength of the American economy - or maybe it's too bad - because, based upon recent performance, Americans would all be out dancing in the streets because our economic conditions appear so rosy.

Stocks were up again on Tuesday, and if you think this is beginning to sound like the proverbial broken record, it's because in the month of March, stock indices have posted gains on 17 of 21 trading days. With Wednesday being the close of the month and the quarter, be prepared for more of the same, as mutual fund managers perform the quadrennial rite of "window dressing" - buying stocks with good recent track records in a very slimy and lame attempt to lure more investors into their funds.

The managers buy shares of the good stocks at the end of the quarters, then prepare their prospectuses with the recently-purchased stocks highlighted, only they fail to mention that they've held positions in them for less than 30 days, often, much less, as in, a week or so.

It's just more of the same on Wall Street. The more one learns about the business of selling shares to largely unsuspecting, unsophisticated people with more money than they know what to do with, the more one gets the feeling that it's just one big scam designed to separate those people from their money, and, more often than not, it's very successful.

So, stocks were up today, but not much, because everyone is waiting for the monthly jobs report, delivered dutifully the first Friday of every month by Wall Street's main enabler, the government. On Friday, the markets will be closed, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release their widely-anticipated and heavily-massaged Non farm Payroll report for March, which will include upwards of 250,000 new, temporary Census jobs. Expectations are for an increase of 200,000 jobs, which, if it's only that many, will be a bust of sorts, considering the government is kicking in a quarter million all by themselves. Whisper numbers suggest something on the order of 300,000, which would be a blow-out figure.

Whatever number is released, it will surely be hailed as a sign that the economy is recovering, as is everything these days. A bird craps on a car: sign of economic recovery; LeBron James scores 40 points: sign of economic recovery; the world does not end: sign of economic recovery. You get the picture.

Dow 10,907.42, +11.56 (0.11%)
NASDAQ 2,410.69, +6.33 (0.26%)
S&P 500 1,173.27, -0.05 (0.00%)
NYSE Composite 7,460.72, -4.18 (0.06%)

Advancers beat decliners again, 3437-3109, ho-hum. New highs bettered new lows, 414-50. Volume continued to flatten out. Only those with nothing better to do were trading, as has been the case for months.

NYSE Volume 4,546,991,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,073,122,875

Oil was higher by 20 cents, to $82.37. Gold was lower by $5.80, to $1,104.50. Silver dipped 6 cents to $17.32.

It's all so tawdry and stupid. Invest for retirement, like you're going to actually be healthy enough to enjoy it, right?

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