Thursday, March 25, 2010

Turn-Around Thursday: Greece, US $$ Bury Stock Gains?

Well, it's simply not all sunshine and roses out there after all. On a day in which market pumpers from the major brokerages were attempting to take the Dow over the magical 11,000 mark, turmoil in the Eurozone and strength of the US dollar killed all hopes of a smooth recovery.

The headlines from the various media would have you believe that investors are snapping up stocks like jelly beans on Easter morning and that the bad, old world of Europe, which just can't get its own house in order caused so much worry that everybody sold at once around 3:00 in the afternoon.

Folks, don't be silly. The selling began as soon as the dow crossed the threshold of 10,500, around 1:30 pm. There was no news at that point, except some rumors that Jean Claude Trichet, president of the Europen Central Bank, warned that the bailout of Greece should not involve the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a US export which has consistently stolen wealth from less-fortunate or less-well-armed nations. As it turns out, the EU will be in partnership with the IMF, with the latter handling 1/3 of the Greece debt solution. Good for us, though only if you agree with bullying smaller countries.

It's a working plan, without firm details, though Greece's senior notes are now graded as junk, BBB-. What happened at 3:00? Nothing, except that an ordinary time of day for heavy traders to make moves. And they did all move almost at once, selling, so as to lock in their profits from earlier in the session. This is nothing new. It is a normal trading day move, and nothing more. Reading anything more into a mid-session reversal is usually a bad idea, though this kind of thing could become more commonplace. If stocks continue to gallop higher, look for astute traders to take day-trade profits over and over again.

Dollar strength is good for the US economy, folks. Don't let anybody try to tell you otherwise. A stronger dollar means imports cost less. Sure, exports are more expensive and thus, less marketable around the world, but that shouldn't matter - either to you or most multi-national corporations - you don't export and the big companies nowadays have their manufacturing offshore, in other countries, where labor is cheaper. Besides, they're selling things like industrial tractors, nuclear plants and other extremely high-ticket items where price pretty much takes a back seat to other functions like delivery time and overall quality.

So, sure, the US dollar was marked up today, not because the US is in such outstanding shape, but because Europe is a basket case. US dollars just looked better by comparison, at least for the short term. The trend is positive for US consumers, maybe not for US companies as a rule, but, by no means is a stronger dollar anything but good.

Thus, trader sentiment, and the lust for a quick profit, had more to do with turning a 90-point move higher on the dow into a 5-point gain at the close, and a 25-point NASDAQ gain into a small loss. Tough cookies. Live with it.

Dow 10,841.21, +5.06 (0.05%)
NASDAQ 2,397.41, -1.35 (0.06%)
S&P 500 1,165.73, -1.99 (0.17%)
NYSE Composite 7,385.60, -22.56 (0.30%)

Surprisingly, volume was excellent, though most of the moves were made in the latter part of the day, when selling was the correct option. Losers outslugged winners, 3936-2583. There were 751 new highs to just 85 new lows.

NYSE Volume 6,429,545,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,589,351,750

The rise in the dollar shot dead a rally in oil and the metals. Crude for May delivery fell 8 cents, to $80.53. Gold, which was up sharply, closed with a gain of just $4.10, at $1,092.70. Silver picked up 10 cents, to close at $16.73 per ounce.

In two stories which have importance only in the context of a post-government era of semi-autonomous anarchy, California will vote in November to legalize marijuana and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and popular truth-telling writer Paul Craig Roberts said he is retiring from the writing business, ending his last column with the words, "As the pen is censored and its might extinguished, I am signing off."

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