Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nothing Happening on Wall Street as Holidays Wind Down; Sears First Christmas Casualty

The three-day Christamas holiday was a welcome break, but, for the traders, bankers, swindlers and everybody who isn't a teacher or member of the US congress, Tuesday was back-to-work day.

Not that it mattered much on Wall Street. On what looks - at first glance - to be the lowest-volume full session trading day of the year, stocks were essentially flat, trading in a tight range which had the Dow down as much as 24 points and up only about 34 points.

So, advice for this week is to watch as much football as possible, don't eat too many leftovers and forget the rigged, stupid markets. If today's trading is to serve as any indication, they aren't going anywhere until January.

One noteworthy item in today's news is worth mentioning, however, that being the imminent demise of one of America's iconic store brands, Sears Holdings (SHLD), the parent company for over 4,000 US and Canadian Sears and K-Mart stores, announced this morning that it would be closing 100-120 stores due to poor performance during the holdiays season.

This is nothing new for Sears/K-Mart, but if they eventually close only 100-120 stores, that would be something of a surprise. By this time next year, we could all be reminiscing over how the Sears bankruptcy (again) and the closings of 2000 stores was one of the top stories of 2012. Their credit lines are tight and, if there's any hint of a slowdown in the first half of 2012, they could be pulled or frozen, leaving the company very thin indeed.

Shares of Sears Holding were hammered without mercy, the stock losing 27% on the day (33.38, -12.47). SHLD traded as high as 82 and change near the end of October. Obviously, this was something some people knew a bit about.

Yep, the people running Sears and K-Mart into the ground (Target, Macy's, Wal-Mart, among others) is just what the US economy needs right about now: another wave of retail layoffs.

Also making headlines and jacking up the price of oil back over $100 today was more sabre-rattling from Iran, which has been conducting military exercises around the Strait of Hormuz since Christmas Eve, and today said that they would halt the flow of oil if foreign sanctions were imposed on its crude exports because of its nuclear ambitions. Well, we all know what europe and the US thinks of that. Get ready for $5.00 per gallon gas if the morons in Washington and Brussels continue on their failed policy path. Presidential candidate Ron Paul says that US policies are what makes people around the world hate America. He has a very valid point and should be the Republican nominee on his anti-war/foreign policy stance alone.

January is already setting up to be a real loser for stocks. Start shorting selected retailers (GAP comes to mind). The Christmas season is winding down and there's nothing on the horizon to make people want to shop more. At least the weather hasn't been horrible, which is great for humans, but bad for companies which sell coats, hats and winter wear, as well as being brutal on ski resorts.

Al Gore? Paging the promoter of global warming. 2012 could be your best year yet.

Dow 12,291.35, -2.65 (0.02%)
NASDAQ 2,625.20, +6.56 (0.25%)
S&P 500 1,265.43, +0.10 (0.01%)
NYSE Composite 7,508.33, -10.33 (0.14%)
NASDAQ Volume 942,962,875
NYSE Volume 2,034,548,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2829-2797
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 272-78
WTI crude oil: 101.34, +1.66
Gold: 1,595.50, -10.50
Silver: 28.74, -0.34

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