Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Markets Up on Greek Deal Hopes

Well, that headline is not a joke. Surely, nobody on Wall Street has ever heard the phrase, "beware Greeks bearing gifts," though by tomorrow, everyone will know whether the second bailout of Greece - with a third coming by the end of August, almost certainly - will be a bonus or a canard.

The issues facing the Greek government are the roll-over of some $10 billion in maturing debt, plus another $40 billion in August. Right now, the deal is on, if Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, receives a vote of confidence from the Greek parliament, in a vote scheduled at the stroke of midnight in Greece (5:00 pm EDT).

Papandreou looked to have enough votes to win the crucial vote of confidence in parliament which would pave the way to passage of the latest austerity measures next week, ensuring a $12 billion advance from the ECB and the IMF.

With time winding down on the vote, crowds were beginning to form in Syntagma Square, directly across from the Parliament building. A vote of no confidence would be seen as a victory for the Greek populace, and if Papandreou does get the needed votes, rioting and confrontation are a near-certainty, as much of the population would like to detach Greece from the EU, return to the drachma and move on. (We will post an update of the vote as soon as it is confirmed.)

Elsewhere, investors looked past more horrifying housing numbers, as existing home sales in May fell by 3.8% from April and are down 15.3% from the same time last year, according to the report released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

So, once again, Wall Street demonstrated just how far detached from Main Street it really is, a chasm that only seems to keep widening.

Dow 12,190.01, +109.63 (0.91%)
NASDAQ 2,687.26, +57.60 (2.19%)
S&P 500 1,295.52, +17.16 (1.34%)
NYSE Composite 8,156.27, +124.05 (1.54%)

Advancing issues defeated decliners, 5430-1205. On the NASDAQ, there were 55 new highs and 32 new lows. The NYSE registered 68 new highs and 25 new lows, effectively ending the 12-day stretch in which the lows held the advantage with the combined numbers at 123 new highs and 57 new lows. What a difference a Greek makes!

Volume on the day was marginally better than on Monday, which is saying very little.

NASDAQ Volume 1,825,893,375
NYSE Volume 3,913,965,750

WTI crude futures edged up 14 cents, to $93.40. Gold added $6.30, to $1546.80 and silver was up 37 cents to $36.43. The moves in precious metals reflected the uncertainty of global economic conditions.

Tomorrow the Federal Reverse Open Market Committee will issue another one of the periodic edicts, keeping interest rates at near ZERO, and, presumably, will include the words, "extended period" for how long they believe it will be before they actually raise rates one iota.

The Fed is stuck in no-man's land, with a stumbling, structurally-impaired domestic economy and the threat of inflation due to a falling dollar. Thus far, the Fed has taken the easy route of monetary stimulation, throwing trillions into a stagnant economy, and that's likely to be their choice for many months, if not years, to come.

In reality, Greece is a side-show.

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