Thursday, July 5, 2012

Trepidacious Trading in Uncertain market Environment

On a day in which most of the economic news was positive - or, could have been considered in that regard - the palpable fear that engulfed Wall Street was nothing short of astonishing.

Even though the People's Bank of China (PBOC) cut interest rates, along with the ECB, and the Bank of England announced a boost in their own version of quantitative easing, adding 50 billion pounds to their asset purchase program, stocks could not get out of their own way throughout a tense, thinly-traded, anxious session.

US data was mixed. The ADP private employment index registered a gain of 179,000 jobs in June, blowing away estimates of a gain of 105,000, but ISM Services declined from 53.7 in May to 52.1 in June, the lowest reading since January of 2010.

Must of the angst appears focused on Friday's non-farm payroll report from the BLS, which is expected to show job growth in June for the US of 100,000 net new jobs. Following May's poor showing of a mere 69,000 new jobs, investors were rightly skeptical of the ADP number, which last month showed a gain of 136,000 jobs, so the consensus is that ADP's figures are skewed to the upside by 50,000, at a minimum.

With the major indices trading at, or close to, their highest levels since the end of May, investors exercised caution ahead of tomorrow's potentially-volatile non-farm payroll number.

The odd occurrence of stocks actually slumping when central banks cut interest rates or offer looser standards is confounding and possibly a signal that the current short-term rally is close to completion. Stocks are trading at levels closer to the highs seen at the beginning of May than the lows experienced at the end of May.

Also adding to the general state of confusion is the advent of second quarter earnings, which will begin to come to market next week. There may be some thinking that this earnings season will not be as robust as prior ones, even though estimates have been lowered for many firms.

There's also the nagging feeling that nothing is really solved in Europe and in America, no meaningful legislative action will be taken with the presidential and congressional elections taking place within four months.

The market is very uneasy at present, and yesterday's - and today's - extreme reading of new highs to new lows may have signaled to some an interim market top.

Of course, everything hinges on tomorrow's jobs' data, which will be released prior to the opening bell, at 8:30 am EDT.

Dow 12,896.67, -47.15 (0.36%)
NASDAQ 2,976.12, +0.04 (0.00%)
S&P 500 1,367.58, -6.44 (0.47%)
NYSE Composite 7,838.39, -63.27 (0.80%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,326,294,125
NYSE Volume 2,925,787,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2494-3070
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 385-22
WTI crude oil: 87.22, -0.44
Gold: 1,609.40, -12.40
Silver: 27.67, -0.61

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