Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Traders, Winners, Losers and Sitters

Stocks extended the Santa Claus Rally on the last trading day before Christmas, as there was light trading and not a peep out of Europe, which seems to have settled down after the ECB generously granted about $639 billion in loans to over 500 banks in the region. Additionally, many European stock exchanges and all US stock exchanges will be closed On Monday, in observance of Christmas (which actually falls on Sunday).

A couple of sets of economic data were released prior to Friday's open. Durable Goods Orders showed a 3.8% gain in November, but the number was drastically reduced when transportation was excluded, knocking the gain down to a disappointing 0.3%. Also troubling was the lowered capital spending by businesses, which was down for the second month in a row.

Personal income and personal spending showed gains of 0.1%, both disappointments.

According to the Commerce Dept. new home sales for November were up 1.6%, to an annualized rate of 315,000, an all-time low, coming after last year's dismal showing of 323,000 new homes sold. The small gain pushed the number of new homes on the market to an all time low as home builders have found few takers and even fewer who could qualify for mortgages.

In conjunction with the existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that came out on Wednesday, the housing market continues to show the damage done by the 2008 financial collapse and the now-five-year-long housing bust. The NAR also revised their existing home sales figures from 2007 to 2010 down 14.3%, citing errors in the collection of data, including double listings, a decline in for sale by owners and house flipping.

November sales rose 4% from the previous month and 12.2% from a year ago, though the figures are now much lower than what was previously expected. With the revisions, the NAR acknowledged that the housing slump has been longer and deeper than previously thought.

And, in Washington, the Republican House backed down and decided ot pass the stupid two-month extension of the social security contribution reduction. Good Grief!

Merry Christmas and good night.

Dow 12,294.00, +124.35 (1.02%)
NASDAQ 2,618.64, +19.19 (0.74%)
S&P 500 1,265.33, +11.33 (0.90%)
NYSE Composite 7,518.66, +57.91 (0.78%)
NASDAQ Volume 970,584,500
NYSE Volume 2,226,056,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3491-2108
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 193-42
WTI crude oil: 99.68, +0.15
Gold: 1,606.00, -4.60
Silver: 29.08, +0.04

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