Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is This the End of the Rally?

Stocks may have gotten a little ahead of earnings schedule, as there was absolutely no lift to the markets, even after Intel's (INTC) blowout quarter, announced last night after the close.

Struggling all day to find any buying interest, Dow and S&P stocks sent the majority of the day trading just below the flat line, with the NASDAQ sporting slim gains.

After the FOMC minutes were released at 2:00 pm, stocks abruptly turned lower, but traders boosted them back to nearly positive by the end of the session, ending with two indices up and two down, though marginally. Overall, the FOMC minutes may have had the most impact, as the opinions expressed revealed that a majority of Fed governors felt that while the economy would not fall into recession again, growth would be moderate and it would take five or six years for the US economy to regain a solid footing.

That kind of sentiment cannot be encouraging to the general sentiment and it showed up immediately in the lackluster trading and rocky internals.

What seems to be most disconcerting to stocks are technical n nature, as the indices are all toying with the space between the 200-day moving average and the 50-day. In each case, the two have crossed, with the 200-day now declining, along with the 50-day. Moving past the 200-day line will take some very positive news, though any gains in such a sloe environment are unlikely to be lasting. It seems as though the entire earnings season has already been wasted on the past six days, in which the indices already gained 7-8%, a big enough move in any environment. Adding to the confusion is options expiration this Friday, which has no doubt contributed in a big way to the sudden upside surge.

Dow 10,366.72, +3.70 (0.04%)
NASDAQ 2,249.84. +7.81 (0.35%)
S&P 500 1,095.17, -0.17 (0.02%)
NYSE Composite 6,903.36, -4.42 (0.06%)

Declining issues led advancers, 3535-2828, though new high remained well beyond the reach of new lows, 176-41. It should be noted that at this time last year, stocks surged powerfully, and that should negate any strengthening of new lows for a considerable period. Volume was just about average.

NASDAQ Volume 2,165,528,750
NYSE Volume 4,653,667,000

Stocks weren't the only assets stuck in neutral. Commodities hugged the unchanged mark most of the day. Oil lost 11 cents, closing at $77.04. Gold dropped $6.50, to $1,206.80, while silver added 4 cents, to $18.27.

Financial stocks are next up on the calendar, along with PPI and CPI on Thursday and Friday, respectively. JP Morgan Chase (JPM) reports prior to the open on Thursday, with Bank of America (BAC) and Citigroup (C) releasing on Friday.

There have been no major surprises, though retail sales were reportedly weak (not surprising) and Intel's earnings - in an ordinary environment - would have ignited a powerful rally in techs, though none was forthcoming.

An air of extreme caution and pessimism about the future seems to have fully enveloped Wall Street.

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