Thursday, July 14, 2011

Italy Settles Down, But Stocks Slide Again; Google Amazes

With the continuing debt crisis in Europe taking an unusual day of rest, US stocks opened on the upside but could not maintain momentum as stalled talks over the US debt ceiling weighed heavily.

It's almost a certainty that the government clowns in Washington will come to a compromise solution similar to the budget deal in May - too little, almost too late, and sure to not address the most pressing US issues, those being housing, jobs and our very own burgeoning debt crisis.

With both sides still at odds over the scope and details, the nation is paralyzed by indecision, regulations and a tax policy that has - like the rest of the federal government - gone off the rails.

In Italy, austerity measures were passed, allowing the Italian government to issue much-needed 5-and-15-year bonds to finance continuing operations. The plan has many facets, and should (though it won't) serve as a blueprint for US measures.

That did not, however, help traders in US equities, which has this week given back much of the gains made over last week's spectacular five-day rally. Markets hate uncertainty, and even in the midst of earnings season, US stocks are very much a mixed bag of tricks, teetering on the brink of collapse.

It was a fine day for Google (GOOG), though, as the giant internet search and service company boasted profits well above Street estimates. Reporting after the closing bell, the company reported $6.92 billion in net revenue in the second quarter of 2011 and non-GAAP earnings per share of $8.74 on expectations of $6.54 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $7.87. The stock was trading up 12% in after-hours, up more than 63 points.

Dow 12,437.12, -54.49 (0.44%)
NASDAQ 2,762.67, -34.25 (1.22%)
S&P 500 1,308.87, -8.85 (0.67%)
NYSE Composite 8,191.13, -55.67 (0.68%)

Declining issues beat back advancers, 5019-1495. Though the headline numbers were hardly spectacular, except for the NASDAQ, which lost 1.22% on the day, selling was broad-based. NASDAQ stocks showed 56 new highs and 35 new lows, while the NYSE posted 46 new highs and 45 new lows. The combined total spread of 102 new highs and 80 new lows continues to deteriorate. Volume on the day was relatively solid, though that should be bearish for investors.

NASDAQ Volume 1,923,346,875
NYSE Volume 4,298,657,500

Economic data was mixed and uninspiring. Initial unemployment claims dropped to 405,000, though it was the 16th consecutive week above 400,000, another non-encouraging sign. Retail sales for June came in at plus 0.1%, and the PPI actually fell 0.4%, though the core number, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.3%. Business inventories were up 1.0% in May, as companies cited slack demand.

Commodities were also mixed. WTI crude oil fell sharply, down $2.36, to $95.69. Gold, though, set another new record high, gaining $3.40, to $1,589.30. Silver added 54 cents, gaining to $38.69 per ounce.

With the week drawing to a quick conclusion, Friday's data features the June CPI reading, the Michigan survey of consumer confidence and earnings from Citigroup (C).

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