Monday, December 20, 2010

Another Nothing Day on Wall Street

Why the market is even open this week is a reasonable question. Trading volumes have been so low for so long that this week will just put a punctuation mark on one of the most tenuous rallies of all time. Stocks on the major indices are all in solidly positive territory for the year, so now is as good a time to ask as any: With stocks up two straight years, what are the chances that 2011 will be another positive?

Well, if you ask some of the heavies on the Street, they'll all give you the same answer. They're 100% positive that stocks will see further gains in 2011, from a low reading by Citigroup with the S&P 500 at 1300, to a high of 1420 by Barclays Capital, other forecasters see gains of 5-14% in the coming year.

Mark Twain once famously said, “Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.” So, since I don't want to be on the wrong side of this issue and since almost everybody in the world believes stocks will have another upside year in 2011, I'll put forth the prospect that stocks are currently 12-15% overpriced and 2011 will be a year in which we will witness a rather healthy decline of 20% or more on the major indices (and I'm being conservative).

Anecdotal evidence shows that since World War II stocks have traded higher three consecutive years only twice, and the gains were quite small. All other times, the markets showed losses in the third year. There are good reasons for this, many of them having to do with the business cycle and nothing to do with the concept that the US hasn't really made it out of recession and is still struggling, though that could be a good argument on its own.

Dow 11,478.13, -13.78 (0.12%)
NASDAQ 2,649.56, +6.59 (0.25%)
S&P 500 1,247.08, +3.17 (0.25%)
NYSE Compos 7,846.96, +11.65 (0.15%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,728,535,625
NYSE Volume 3,973,126,250

For the session, advancers narrowly topped decliners, 3313-3227. New highs on the NASDAQ totaled 226, to 28 new lows. On the NYSE, there were 208 new highs and 23 new lows. Volume was absurdly low, though expected, this being less than a week before Christmas.

Oil gained 79 cents, to $88.70. Gold added $9.60, to $1385.10, while silver kicked ahead 18 cents, at $29.37.

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