Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dow Ends Win Streak... Barely; Mubarak to Stay, Same with Bernanke

Houston, we have a problem. The markets are no longer liquid enough even for machines to move them. Today's trade, on the back of a gloomy outlook from Cisco (CSCO) after the close on Wednesday, was pathetic, and fitting, upon the widespread rumors that the NYSE would be sold to the Deustch Bourse and that President Mubarak of Egypt would step down.

None of that seemed to matter very much, as well as the rosy picture painted by the release of the current first time unemployment claims, which came in at 383,000, far better than expected.

The markets (or, those who control the markets) would have none of it, at least for the first half-hour of trading, that is. as all major indices dropped right from the opening bell, hitting bottom right about 10:00 am, 1/2 hour into the session. The Dow shed 83 points, but immediately rallied back up 50 points, shaving off the losses and trapping the retail investors who sold in the early part of the day.

For the remainder of the session, stocks vacillated in a narrow range, finally ending nearly unchanged, with the Dow down, the S&P and NASDAQ barely in the green. The Dow snapped an 8-day win streak with a 10-point loss. Ho-hum. It was a day of futility all around as nothing newsworthy seemed to either occur nor move stocks in any clearly-defined direction.

Dow 12,229.29, -10.60 (0.09%)
NASDAQ 2,790.45, +1.38 (0.05%)
S&P 500 1,321.87, +0.99 (0.07%)
NYSE Composite 8,337.13, -6.86 (0.08%)

Advancers and decliners were nearly at a stalemate, with winners ahead slightly at the close, 3281-3170. NASDAQ new highs totaled 175, with new lows at 30. On the NYSE, there were 180 new highs, with 18 new lows. Volume was dull on the NYSE, but rather strong on the NASDAQ, due primarily to heavy selling from Cisco, which reported nearly flat second quarter earnings, but scared some with downbeat forecasts. The 13% drop in the stock was probably a bit exaggerated as seems to the theme these days. Anything even slightly positive or negative results in big moves one way or the other in the most-tightly-wrapped market ever.

NASDAQ Volume 2,512,622,250.00
NYSE Volume 4,705,256,500

Commodities mostly treaded water as well. Oil gained two cents, to $86.73. Gold was off $3.00, to $1,362.50, but silver shed 18 cents, to $30.09.

Put this one in the books and store it for future reference. One gets the feeling that there's quite a bit of tension out there in the trading pits and something big is about to occur. A major sell-off or resumption of the rally would not be much of a surprise over the next two to three sessions.

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