Friday, October 21, 2011

US Equities Rise 4th Straight Week on Euro-phoria, Earnings

Whatever happens in Europe over the next week or so apparently is going to be positive, if one reads the tea leaves of Wall Street correctly. Either that, or, a lot of people cashed in on some front-end options contracts, as today was October options expiration.

While a 200+ point gain on the Dow Jones Industrials is always a good way to end the week, in the current environment, there are still skeptics about, though caution has not been a solid strategy these past four weeks as the Dow put in its fourth consecutive weekly gain, amidst positive earnings news from a host of companies, including McDonald's (MCD), Honeywell (HON) and Verizon (VZ).

Thumbing their collective noses at naysayers and the protesters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Wall Streeters pushed stocks to their highest levels since August 8th, and beyond the recent range that had kept the major indices bottled up for the past two-and-a-half months.

The Dow would have been down for the week without Friday's huge upswing, as Monday's 247-point decline took some getting past. For the week the Dow ended up 164 points, the S&P added 38, but the NASDAQ actually lost 30 points, mostly on the earnings miss by market leader Apple (AAPL).

Overall sentiment has turned bullish, though headwinds still prevail and caution is still advised by many. At least on this day, worries over the future of Greece, Italy and the Euro nations were out of focus and the market traded somewhat on fundamentals provided by strong earnings from a host of companies.

It was an odd day in that almost everything was up, including favored commodities, oil, gold and even silver.

Economic data continued to suggest sluggish growth as unemployment claims were down, though not by much, and leading indicators edged 0.2% higher. Existing home sales were disappointing, reported on Thursday at an annual rate of 4.91M for September. The US economy is still balanced on a precipice, buoyed on one side by smashing results from corporations, but weighed down by housing, employment and the European debt crisis.

For today, at least, the stock market shrugged off the negativity and moved ahead boldly. That will likely change in coming weeks as Europe continues to grapple with its over-leveraged conditions and US banks try to hide behind earnings manipulations. This is still not a bear market, though it could become one with more ease than most realize, though it is in everyone's best interests to keep the carousel turning.

Dow 11,808.79, +267.01 (2.31%)
NASDAQ 2,637.46, +38.84 (1.49%)
S&P 500 1,238.25, +22.86 (1.88%)
NYSE Composite 7,431.10, +157.20 (2.16%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,976,088,875
NYSE Volume 4,858,157,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 5308-1180
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 98-33
WTI crude oil: 87.40, +1.33
Gold: 1,636.10, +23.20
Silver: 31.19, +0.91

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