Friday, July 15, 2011

Last Hour Rally Salvages Gains, Though Markets Down for Week

A tumultuous week came to a very anti-climatic conclusion on Friday, as the President issued a challenge to congress to come up with the "framework" of a deal within the next 24 to 36 hours to solve the wrangling over the debt ceiling and budget issues.

President Obama's 11:00 am new conference did little to move the matter in a more positive direction, and stocks languished throughout the day, finally putting together a half-hearted momentum rally in the final hour of trading.

In Europe, 82 of 90 banks passed the European banking Authority stress tests, but eight failed - four of them in Spain - and 12 more received barely passing grades.

Citigroup posted better-than-expected second quarter results, but still finished in the red for the day. Taking its cue, Bank of America (BAC), which reports on July 19, fell below $10 per share, finishing exactly at 10.00, after trading as low as 9.88, the lowest in more than two years.

The entire day was rather disjointed and purposeless, as stocks drifted around until the ramp-up at the close.

For the week, the Dow shed 177 points, the NASDAQ fell 70, the S&P gave back 27 and the NYSE composite dropped 183 points.

The late rally made little sense, unless one gives credence to the thought that it was a positive sign from the markets that a debt ceiling deal would be hatched by Monday.

Dow 12,479.73, +42.61 (0.34%)
NASDAQ 2,789.80, +27.13 (0.98%)
S&P 500 1,316.14, +7.27 (0.56%)
NYSE Composite 8,227.04, +35.91 (0.44%)

Advancers led decliners, 3945-2570. The NASDAQ offered 40 new highs and 34 new lows, while the NYSE had 62 stocks make new 52-week highs and 51 reach new lows. The combined total of 102 new highs and 85 new lows is cutting the margin rather closely and is reflective of the choppiness inherent in current markets.

NASDAQ Volume 1,825,291,125
NYSE Volume 4,370,969,000

A swath of economic data points offered no suggestion of improvement. The CPI fell 0.2%, the Empire Index returned a -3.76, industrial production and capacity utilization were both stagnant at 0.2% and 76.9%, and the Michigan consumer sentiment fell from 71.5 in May to 63.8 in June.

Crude oil continued on its zig-zag path, gaining $1.55, to $97.24. Gold hit another record, up 80 cents, to $1,590.10. Silver was up 38 cents, at $39.07 per ounce.

The NFL lockout continued, but both sides seem intent on reaching a deal, saying they would continue working over the weekend in order to conclude talks as early as possible without jeopardizing the preseason or regular season.

Maybe congress should take a hint from the players and owners. The American people have had about as much stalling and posturing as they can handle.

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