Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stocks Gain on No News; Barclay's Fined, Phil Falcone Nabbed by SEC

As this market has shown consistently over the past few years, no headlines, no problem, and it's off to the races we go.

With the EU summit still a day away and some nearly-positive news in the form of a May durable goods number that came in plus 1.1%, above expectations of 1.0%. There is also a buoyant attitude surrounding the housing market these days. After new home sales showed a boost on Monday and the Case-Shiller 20-City Index was up on a monthly basis, a 5.9% gain in pending home sales from April to May added momentum to home builder stocks.

For the second straight day, there was near silence from Europe, which served to keep stocks rolling right along throughout the session.

It was also a day for regulators to catch up with a couple of the crooks, and what better reason to bid up stocks, as the ROI on financial crime is stupendous.

Billionaire hedge fund operator, Phil Falcone, who made a ton of money in 2007 betting against sub-prime mortgage securities, was charged by the SEC with securities fraud along with the firm he founded, Harbinger Capital Partners. Sadly, the charge, among others, is civil, no criminal, and centers around Falcone's receipt of a $114 million loan from his fund to pay his taxes and other schemes, such as short selling and short squeezing.

Also, Barclay's has agreed to pay British and US authorities $453 million in a settlement over allegations the firm manipulated key overnight bank lending rates know as Libor. Being the first to be nailed in association with the probe, the door is now open for regulators to go after other financial firms who may have colluded to rig the Libor.

Laughably, the US Department of Justice said that its criminal investigation is ongoing and focused on a wide swath of banking interests which may have taken part in a conspiracy to manipulate the Libor. If any charges are ever brought, expect them to coincide with President Obama's re-election bid. Like local police who round up prostitutes just before a sheriff's election, the feds operate in much the same manner.

Stocks galloped out of the opening gate and closed near the highs reached in the middle of the day.

Dow 12,627.01, +92.34 (0.74%)
NASDAQ 2,875.32, +21.26 (0.74%)
S&P 500 1,331.85, +11.86 (0.90%)
NYSE Composite 7,597.99, +70.90 (0.94%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,550,569,000
NYSE Volume 3,249,099,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4207-1385
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 180-76
WTI crude oil: 80.21, +0.85
Gold: 1,578.40, +3.50
Silver: 26.94, -0.10

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