Friday, June 11, 2010

Stocks Finish First Positive Week in Last Four

Thanks to the rally from nowhere, based upon nothing, that materialized on Thursday, all of the major equity indices will finish with their first weekly gain in the past four weeks.

Investors were stunned prior to the opening bell on Friday with a report on May retail sales that showed Americans spending at a rate 1.2% lower than in April. The news was another disconcerting data point for the bulls, coming just a week after the unnerving non farm payroll report which quite graphically demonstrated that the "recovery" had ceased creating jobs in the private sector, if it was even creating any at all prior to May.

The little piece of news wasn't at all expected by the expert economists who track - or, apparently guess at - these kinds of things, who were looking for a gain in retail sales in the neighborhood of 0.2%. The stark difference between expectations and reality points up just how juiced the media has been with all the phony recovery talk over the past six months.

Anybody who simply lives in an average American community can see for themselves that business conditions are not optimal. Stores in retail strip malls and spaces in enclosed malls go begging for tenants, jobs are hard to come by and state and local governments are dealing with budget deficits brought on by lower tax receipts and shrinking tax revenues, all effects of the recession and the lack of a powerful recovery.

Wall Street is about the only place in the country which seems to be of the opinion that all's well in the USA and the economy, though the recent declines in the market make clear that not everyone is euphoric over future prospects. The headwinds of future taxation, continued high unemployment and a critically ill housing market are beginning to take their tolls on even the most ardent bulls.

Strains in the European Union banking complex and the continuous flow of oil from deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico - putting thousands of shrimpers, clammers and fishermen out of work - certainly aren't helping matters.

As inexplicable as Thursday's rally was, today's late-day trade was equally out-of-the-blue. The Dow, which had, along with the S&P, spent nearly the entire session in negative territory, tacked on 75 points in the final three-quarters of the hour, helping push all the indices into plus territory. Once again, organized trading by a consortium of insiders or perhaps machine-driven, stocks ran counter-trend late in the day.

Dow 10,211.07, +38.54 (0.38%)
NASDAQ 2,243.60, +24.89 (1.12%)
S&P 500 1,091.60, +4.76 (0.44%)
NYSE Composite 6,814.76, +31.25 (0.46%)

In spite of the late-session tape-painting, advancing issues finished well ahead of decliners, 4619-1830. New highs broke through above new lows, 125-76, in a temporary reversal of the trend. Volume, however, was absolutely pathetic, the lowest in months.

NYSE Volume 4,672,237,500.00
NASDAQ Volume 1,731,446,375.00

Crude oil sold off, losing $1.49, to $73.99, which made sense in light of the sour retail figures. Precious metals were split, with gold gaining $5.70, to $1,228.10, while silver dipped 12 cents, to $18.24.

Looking ahead to next week, trading decisions will be led largely by out-of-market forces, those being the situation the in Gulf, the debt contagion in Europe and the advancement of the Financial Reform bill in congress, though mid-week economic data, including PPI, CPI, industrial production, capacity utilization and housing starts may provide some surprises.

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