Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wall Street's Summer Doldrums Extend Into 8th Day

For nearly two weeks running, trading ranges on the major indices have been slim and volume exceptionally light, as Wall Street sees no reason to rush either in or out of positions late in the summer.

This kind of trading regime is of no particular value to anybody, even to insiders who depend on at least some shred of volatility to move stocks in one direction or the other.

There's no catalyst for stocks at the present time, a condition which could persist until the elections in November or whenever the Europeans decide to actually do something about their ongoing crisis.

On the other hand, this just could be the "new normal" for US markets, since the triumvirate of high frequency trading (HFT), insider trading and the utter lack of individual investors to trust in the markets, has rendered just about all investment decisions a moot point.

Zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) by the Fed and general fraud on the part of the nation's biggest banks - in collusion with the federal government - have many otherwise investor types on the sidelines in cash or other hard assets like gold, silver or real estate.

About the only thing showing any movement are commodities, and they're moving in a very dangerous direction, with corn prices escalating and oil jumping back up into nose-bleed territory. In a macro sense, high food and energy prices will derail any kind of recovery, even the one we haven't had for the past three years.

Stocks, however, continue to levitate at unreasonable levels, another reason why there isn't much in the way of buying activity, but the conundrum is why there hasn't been more selling, either for profit-taking (and there's been plenty of profit of late) or out of a sense that the bottom is going to fall out of the global economy any day now.

In either case, one would expect some kind of movement, and most likely not to the upside. Corporate profits in the second quarter were barely as good as lowered estimates, small business continues to struggle along, housing is not fixed and unemployment remains stubbornly high.

Perhaps the lesson to be taken from this summer respite is that one can only kick a can so far down a given road until either the road ends or somebody picks up the can for a nickel deposit return.

Something will change to get Wall Street out of its rut, but timing such an event could prove costly and dangerous.

Dow 13,164.78, -7.36 (0.06%)
NASDAQ 3,030.93, +13.95 (0.46%)
S&P 500 1,405.53, +1.60 (0.11%)
NYSE Composite 8,030.08, +10.55 (0.13%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,498,334.250
NYSE Volume 2,527,355.50
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3628-1915
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 152-57
WTI crude oil: 94.33, +0.90
Gold: 1,606.60, +4.20
Silver: 27.81, +0.05

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