Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Like Emotions, Stocks Run the Full Gamut

There's good karma and bad karma, and there seems to be no shortage of either on Wall Street lately.

The best advice concerning the essence of bad karma is to quickly depart, a dictum taken to heart by investors with losing positions, of which there are currently some, though not an overwhelming number.

While the averages have done little of late to inspire either the bulls or the bears, individual stocks have been doing cartwheels and flips, like Kraft did today in a singular reprise of the flash crash (though to the upside), or like Hewlett-Packard to the downside.

Through it all, it's an emotional game played over emotionless bits of data and what used to be paper certificates. While it may be profitable to some, only those willing and able to suffer long periods of fallow may eventually come away with significant gains. Stocks, even though many Americans unwittingly own them through 401k or other investment vehicles, are a risky lot, not for the feint of heart.

Today's action was choppy, mostly positive, but moreso in the morning than in the afternoon, when the Dow slipped briefly into negative territory and the S&P, NASDAQ and NYSE Composite hit the lows of the day. As usual, low volume was prevalent, economic data uninspiring and stocks rebounded in the final hour.

It's like waiting for a hammer or second shoe to drop, the endless ticking, the tickling teases, the unending speculation running through the mind. What if? What, then?

The best news to millions of motorists was today's precipitous drop in the price of oil, which was surely bad news for certain speculators.

As in sports, or love, or simple competition, there are winners and there are losers. Unlike Nature, which makes choices based on long-standing natural dictums, the rules of stocks are man-made, and subject to frequent reconsideration, recalculation and remorse.

Nature gives to all, takes from one and gives to another. It's a zero-sum game through the pantheon of ages. Stocks are different. One must buy into risk and losses and gains go to those in the right positions.

Most of us, in our heart of hearts, would probably choose nature over stocks, but we're either too dumb, numb or indoctrinated to make such a wise, but simple choice.

Perhaps in another time, a different place, the crush of humanity would make the wise choice. For now, we have what we have, and it is not very pleasing.

Finally, for those having trouble finding full range of human emotions in these hectic, helter-skelter times, or just suffering an overload of the negative ones, this classic from Nat King Cole:

Dow 13,494.61, +12.25 (0.09%)
NASDAQ 3,135.23, +15.19 (0.49%)
S&P 500 1,450.99, +5.24 (0.36%)
NYSE Composite 8,297.50, +2.39 (0.03%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,683,303,875
NYSE Volume 3,486,346,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2643-2824
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 246-46
WTI crude oil: 88.14, -3.75
Gold: 1,779.80, +4.20
Silver: 34.69, +0.021

No comments: