Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Rally That Wasn't

Nothing like a three-day weekend to revitalize the spirits of bullish investors, thus, the markets opened in the US on a strongly positive note the day after Independence Day festivities expired.

The Dow rocketed ahead 172 points in early going, but the high of the day was reached just moments after ISM services were reported lower for June, down to 53.8, after a reading of 55.4 for May. The market's reaction to the economic data was the opposite of what one would have expected, but it was fleeting, with the markets beginning a serious day-long downturn less than an hour into the session.

By 2:00 pm all the of indices had given up their gains, with the NASDAQ trading in the red the rest of the way into the close. Stocks finished mixed, which, along with the strong open and sloppy finish, are tell-tale chart patterns of bear markets. Only a final push - likely the result of short-covering - kept the markets from ending the session fully in the red.

With nearly all of the economic data over the past three to four weeks being on the weak side, there's an abundance of anxiety over upcoming corporate earning reports, which are expected to be strong enough to pull stocks out of their prolonged slump, which has persisted since the start of May.

Alcoa (AA) will officially kick things off on Monday, July 12, but investors aren't currently inclined to play much of a waiting game. The consistent mood has been, "sell now, ask questions later," as stocks have been beset by doubt and uncertainty in global markets.

Dow 9,743.62, +57.14 (0.59%)
NASDAQ 2,093.88, +2.09 (0.10%)
S&P 500 1,028.06, +5.48 (0.54%)
NYSE Composite 6,486.12, +51.31 (0.80%)

While today's headline numbers look good on the surface, a peek beneath the hood reveals the extent of the damage. Declining issues outpaced advancers once again, 3626-2884. New lows continued to dominate new highs, 304-122. Volume was average.

NASDAQ Volume 2,170,274,250
NYSE Volume 5,480,022,000

Surely, some will take comfort in the fact that the string of seven consecutive days on the downside has been broken, though many more will point to the manner in which the streak was ended as being servile and cynical.

Commodities also evidenced signs of strain. Oil dipped to $71.98, down 16 cents, while gold fell another $12.60, at $1,194.80. Silver, perhaps as people appreciate how undervalued it has become in terms of gold, gained smartly, up 14 cents, to $17.83.

It's a short week for trading, but an important one, to see whether traders can hold it together until earnings reports come riding to the rescue. Even that's a dodgy proposition, with so much uncertainty in so many corners.

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