Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Opens with Expected Rally, but the Sizzle Fizzles


Nothing like another gap up at the open and a fizzled rally on the first day of the month.

With all the players flush with cash following the best January since 1997 (shows how horrible the market has been over the past 15 years), there had to be someplace to put all that money to work. Bingo! Let's buy some stocks!

But, let's not get carried away, like last month, when the gains on the first trading day of the month (January 3) was about 2/5ths of the gains for the entire month and after options expiration on Friday, January 20, stocks stalled, ending the month three points lower from that date on the S&P and 87 points lower on the Dow.

The possible excuses catalysts for the meteoric rise at the open and through the early afternoon were various, but hardly worth the triple-digit gains on the Dow (up 151 points at the peak), including the excitement over the imminent IPO of Facebook, the ADP Employment Change (showing 170,000 new private sector jobs in January, below consensus), the 54.1 read on the ISM index (also below expectations) or the "any day now" word from Europe on the Greek debt deal.

No, it was just those crazy Wall Street guys with cash on hand and time to waste that led to the "giddy-up" on the first day of February. Perhaps April Fool's Day was bumped up a couple of months.

What killed the rally was day-trading, as usual, as the smartest guys got the heck out of the way, before American Airlines (AMR) announced that it would lay off 13,000 workers, their pension plans to be likely administered by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), otherwise known as the federal government, AKA, me, you and the rest of working Americans, something that was discussed on this very blog about six years ago.

Yep, this was a swell rally, even though it only lasted about four hours. Prepare for tomorrow's gap down at the open and Friday's slaughter when non-farm payrolls reveal that the birth-death model accounted for about 300,000 phantom jobs created in 2011.

And the president, now known as the landlord-in-chief, announced a broad plan to save the hundreds of thousands of people with underwater mortgages. Too bad Mr. Obama didn't disclose to the cheering throng in Falls Church that his plan has exactly zero chance of passing through congress because it requires the banks to pony up some money to fund these write-downs. The program to rent out already foreclosed-upon homes will move forward, however, bringing the slums directly to a neighborhood near you.

(Personally, I'm still waiting for car dealerships to give away new cars as long as the buyer signs an oath to only buy gas from ExxonMobil. I want a Veloster, or, something like that.)

Happy days!

Dow 12,716.31, +83.40 (0.66%)
NASDAQ 2,848.27, +34.43 (1.22%)
S&P 500 1,324.08, +11.67 (0.89%)
NYSE Composite 7,940.29, +101.81 (1.30%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,046,891,250
NYSE Volume 4,380,622,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4505-1144
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 441-21 (now, that's extreme! Time to sell.)
WTI crude oil: 97.61, -0.87
Gold: 1,749.50, +9.10
Silver: 33.81, +0.55

1 comment:

Greg F. said...

Hello Rick,

just came across your excellent web site. It's tough to find finance-related pages that aren't written by Hopium smokers!

I would be interested in hearing/reading your take of today's Report to the Secretary of the Treasury from the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee:

A few highlights:

"It was broadly agreed that flooring interest rates at zero, or capping issuance proceeds at par, was prohibiting proper market function. The Committee unanimously recommended that the Treasury Department allow for negative yield auction results as soon as logistically practical."

"While more analysis on the specifics of the program must be done, the Committee was unanimously in favor of Treasury issuing FRNs (floating rate notes)... pricing for a hypothetical two year FRN was estimated to be in the arena of 3 month Treasury bills plus 8 basis points."

Keep up the great work!