Monday, May 9, 2011

Citi Reverse Split Causes Volume Dump; PPT Still Engaged

Covering the daily machinations of a stock market that is now nearly a vast wasteland of swap trades, churning and "gotcha" moves seldom offers much of anything substantive of which to report, but today's reverse split of Citigroup (C) may turn out to be a watershed moment for our contrived and trivial stock markets.

With Citi now a $44 stock instead of a $4.40 stock - and it being the nearly indisputable daily volume leader for many months - America's 3rd largest bank has cost the NYSE about 450,000 trades on a daily basis, today, tomorrow, forever. This dramatic upside-down-sizing caused today's NYSE volume to dip to its second-lowest level of the year.

It is more than dismal on Wall Street; it is so scary that the PPT was brought in today just before noon for a quick fixer-up, sending all the indices close to their highs of the day in a 20-minute ramp job that is certain to destroy what little remains of confidence in the veracity of US markets.

From about 11:50 am to 12:10 pm, the Dow gathered itself up for an 80 point gain, the NASDAQ gained about 27 points and the S&P added nine. The indices had been hugging the flat line until the PPT (yes, we're absolutely certain they're still working) showed up. Afterwards, stocks drifted along the new highs and closed near those newly-elevated levels.

Yet another fantastic display of why nobody trusts these markets and nobody should be trading here: the stocks are all traded between the biggest brokerages and selected hedge funds, and the whole game is rigged for their benefit. Someday, we can only hope, the whole miasma gets thrown a loop by the HFT computers and never recovers. Maybe then, the greed, corruption and utter uselessness of US stock markets can be exposed.

Dow 12,684.68, +45.94 (0.36%)
NASDAQ 2,843.25, +15.69 (0.55%)
S&P 500 1,346.29, +6.09 (0.45%)
NYSE Composite 8,478.19, +52.29 (0.62%)

For the record, advancing issues beat decliners, 4534-2055. NASDAQ new highs: 81; new lows: 39. On the NYSE, there were 120 new highs and 17 new lows. Combined volume for the NYSE and NASDAQ was at or below the lowest level of the year. While the trading volume on the NYSE was expected, the absurdly low number of trades on the NASDAQ is telling market timers that now is the time to get out of Dodge.

NASDAQ Volume 1,654,697,000.00
NYSE Volume 3,366,898,000

Commodities must be the new playground, because they had a banner day. Forget the massive drop in crude oil from last week. Today's ramp job of $5.37 on NYMEX WTI crude futures brought the price back to $102.55 at the close. One wonders whether it's actual volatility driving the wild price swings or just plain revenge by the traders who were nearly wiped out in last week's plummeting decline. In any case, the price of oil has absolutely nothing to do with fundamental. It's almost as though price discovery has become a function of speculation. There is no real price for a barrel of oil, only that which appears or appeases for the day. These markets are broken beyond repair. Time to dust off and oil up that old bike. You'll need the energy boost in order to stay ahead of the coming rolling panics in cities across America.

Gold buyers were back in earnest, raising the price $18.20, to $1513.60. Silver recovered as well, gaining $2.28, to $37.90.

If anybody can make sense of any of this, please call 1-800-CONFUSED and leave a long, descriptive message.

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