Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stocks Begin May with a Bang

Investors, at least for the first trading day of May, shunned the sage adage, "sell in May and go away," sending shares on all indices up sharply despite threatening news from the Gulf of Mexico, where an untamed oil leak threatens some of America's most cherished and productive marshlands lining the Louisiana coast.

While the world waits anxiously as the oil slick off the southern US coastline creeps closer to shore, the mood on Wall Street was exceptionally ebullient.

Dow 11,151.83, +143.22 (1.30%)
NASDAQ 2,498.74, +37.55 (1.53%)
S&P 500 1,202.26, +15.57 (1.31%)
NYSE Compos 7,543.15, +68.72 (0.92%

While equities were in sharp focus, commodities, including, somewhat surprisingly, crude oil, finished the day in mixed fashion. Oil futures finished lower by $1.23, closing at $84.93 for the June contract. Gold continued its steady climb, adding $3.40, to $1,186.10, though silver diverged, losing 16 cents, to $18.66.

With the ongoing potential disaster looming in the background and no real movement in the general economy, investors must have seen something other than the growing selling pressure from the previous week, taking the opportunity to snatch up stocks at what actually don't appear to be bargain prices.

Despite the super-sized gains of the day, Monday's - and especially first-of-the-month trading days - seem to be more guided by herding behavior than actual analysis, especially from fund managers who have no good options other than equities in which to park their clients' funds.

With earnings season largely behind them, the markets are seeking a catalyst for the next move, whether that be forward or back. Considering current conditions - the Gulf oil spill notwithstanding - one can hardly make a bullish case in the overall market, though some of the economic data of late, especially the ISM Index, which hit a 4-year high of 60.4 in April.

Still, there are far too many doubts swirling about for a major upside rally to materialize.

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