Monday, March 28, 2011

Late Selling Sends Indices to Losses

Make no mistake about it, something was up when all the major indices did an abrupt about-face in the final half hour of trading.

There was no earth-shattering news, no announcements, nothing, except some of the big players pulling their bids to see what would happen on what turned out to be the lowest volume day of the year.

It didn't take long for the results to be seen: immediate capitulation. There is absolutely no faith in stocks, in this market, in the US economy or the global economy. Everything has been gliding along on top of bank bailout, trillions of dollars in liquidity injections and stimulus, and yet, the economy is still weak, possibly about to roll over into the second phase of the depression, without the backstop of global money-printing by central banks.

Today was a test run. The test revealed what everybody with at least half a functioning cerebral cortex already knew: we're screwed. Once the Fed stops its daily injection of liquidity through POMO and other behind-the-scenes operations, the market crashes. It's exactly why the Fed would not allow Bank of America to increase its dividend from the absurd (.01) to the ridiculous (.02) last week. They're a victim, about to be sucked under by bad debt, never written down properly and put-backs by the various parties to whom they sold the toxic MBS in the first place.

The death of Bank of America will not be a pretty sight, but it is overdue by some two years and is eventually unavoidable. The only question remaining is exactly when the plug is finally pulled and that is something nobody can predict with confidence.

What was truly remarkable about today's 30-minute nuke test was the overall number of decliners as compared to advancers. The ratio was far out of the range expected in such a small decline. Losers led gainers, 3843-2674.

Dow 12,197.88, -22.71 (0.19%)
NASDAQ 2,730.68, -12.38 (0.45%)
S&P 500 1,310.19, -3.61 (0.27%)
NYSE Composite 8,296.52, -25.26 (0.30%)

On the NASDAQ, there were 109 new highs and 22 new lows. There were 114 new highs and 16 new lows on the NYSE. Be prepared for these numbers to converge again and possibly roll over. The falls from the February 18 highs were truncated when buyers stepped in at support levels over the last two weeks. Capitulation never occurred and the market correction of 10-15% turned out to be only a 4-6% decline. Resumption of the correction could have begun late today, but look for any tell-tale signs in the A-D line (like today) and of course volume and the new high-new low readings.

NASDAQ Volume 1,687,059,000
NYSE Volume 3,583,604,000

Crude oil dipped again today, as the ground conditions in Libya seem to be improving, meaning that NATO air strikes have taken their toll on the rogue government's advances and the rebels are gaining an upper hand. WTI crude fell $1.42, to $103.98. Relief at the gas pump would be welcome, but the Middle east situation is still largely unresolved and volatile. Expect crude to trade around $100 per barrel for the foreseeable future with gas prices in the US hovering in the $3.40-3.80 range through the Spring. Summer could witness a complete reversal due to easing tensions and slack demand.

Gold finished slightly lower, losing $6.30, to $1,419.90. Silver gained 4 cents, holding at $37.09.

There are key releases of economic data this week, beginning with the S&P/Case-Shiller 10 and 20-city indices on Tuesday and the BLS non-farm payroll data on Friday. Of course, Thursday is the end of month and first quarter, so portfolio realignment should cause more volatility and another spike in the VIX is more probable this week than over the past two when it was pounded down by Fed liquidity.

Reality is taking a firm footing here and around the world. The containment of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is far from over and needs to be handled much more diligently than it has been to this point. It is not under control still and needs to be handled as a global threat because it is.

The news coming out of Japan on all matters related to the nuclear plant that has become now nothing more than a toxic, nuclear dump site leeching radioactive isotopes into the air, into ground water and the ocean. This should have been completely handled at least a week ago. It is now closing in on three weeks since the quake and the situation is still worsening despite what may be reported by major news sources.

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