Friday, March 19, 2010

Dow Ends 8-day Win Streak

The headline pretty much says it all. Investors have absolutely priced in expected improved earnings for just about all of 2010.

During the 8-day run-up, Dow stocks added 227 points, but gave back 37 today. Off the most recent bottom on February 8 (9908.39), the Dow added 871 points, a pretty emphatic rally. Further gains should prove more difficult, though the continuation of easy money policies had made stock picking relatively easy of late.

Though there are still any number of headwinds, the Wall Street money machine seems to be humming along just fine.

Dow 10,741.98, -37.19 (0.35%)
NASDAQ 2,374.41, -16.87 (0.71%)
S&P 500 1,159.90, -5.92 (0.51%)
NYSE Composite 7,386.80, -56.77 (0.76%)

Losing issues surpassed gainers for the second straight day, 4383-2149. New highs were elevated again, at 499. There were 41 new lows. Quadruple-witching produced excess volume, as widely expected.

NYSE Volume 6,126,701,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,786,147,500

Commodities all took a nosedive on the day, with oil down $1.52 per barrel, to $80.68. Gold was not shining, off $20.00, to $1,107.40. Silver fell 39 cents, to $17.02.

The trade on options expiration seems to suggest that there are plenty of speculators in the market, many with similar mindsets. Future direction will depend largely on keeping the consensus positive, which has not proved very difficult of late. Most market participants are discounting a double-dip, further easy money policies from the Fed and a lengthy debate over health care moving forward.

In Washington, Democratic lawmakers continued to attempt to find the votes necessary to pass pending health care reform, as it has come to be known, but stripped out some of the taxes on medical device manufacturers and have watered-down the bill, to the delight of the Republicans. A vote on the house measure is expected by Sunday, though any resolution would be referred back to the Senate for further reconciliation.

The process has become entirely tiresome and tangled. Something is likely to come of it, though few regular Americans will notice any changes for at least six months.

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