Wednesday, January 19, 2011

NASDAQ Sells the News

On Monday, we heard that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was going to take a six-month medical leave of absence. On Tuesday, after the closing bell, Apple announced another smashing quarter with great earnings and revenue. On Wednesday, Apple stock got hit with the classic "sell the news" earnings aftermath sell-off.

The decline actually began with the Jobs press release on Tuesday morning, but after earning were released and the stock was initially rebounding, it opened lower on Wednesday and dragged the rest of the NASDAQ down 40 points. Though Apple has only lost 10 points over the past two days, the damage is being felt in other big tech names such as Cisco (CSCO), Dell (DELL), Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG). Of course, it's far too early to tell, but, considering the way stocks have appreciated over the past 4 1/2 months, this could be the beginning of a significant correction, one probably overdue and timed perfectly for post-earnings profit-taking. As usual, the smart money may be getting out while the getting is good.

With tech sliding, the rest of the market didn't fare well, though major industrials on the Dow maintained a sense of stability. Another point of focus should be stock options, which expire on Friday. After that, markets could be in for a free-for-all.

Dow 11,825.29, -12.64 (0.11%)
NASDAQ 2,725.36, -40.49 (1.46%)
S&P 500 1,281.92, -13.10 (1.01%)
NYSE Composite 8,104.92, -85.99 (1.05%)

Losers beat gainers by an unhealthy margin, 5161-1411, indicating that the decline, though well-masked on Apple's move, was certainly not contained to tech stocks alone. On the NASDAQ, there were 147 new highs, but just 12 new lows. The NYSE reported 186 new highs and a mere 22 new lows, though the high-low indicator is somewhat of a lagging one, especially after a huge rally such as that seen since September. It will take a while for new highs to fall off in the case of a real correction and an even longer time period for fresh new lows to be plumbed. Volume was at its best level of the week, another disturbing data point.

NASDAQ Volume 2,106,258,500.00
NYSE Volume 5,298,377,000

Crude oil was relatively flat, dipping 52 cents on the front-end futures contract, to $90.86. Gold gained late in the day, up $2.70, to $1370.40 at last look. Silver continued to slide, however, down 12 cents, to $28.76.

Thursday will be a big day for earnings, with nearly 100 companies reporting, including big names such as Capital One (COF), Southwest Airlines (LUV), Morgan Stanley (MS), Coach (COH), Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

Stay tuned. This may become interesting again.

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