Thursday, November 8, 2012

Stocks Get Whacked Again; Dow Down 100+; Support on Major Indices Breached

Make no doubt about it, there's real fear on Wall Street.

For the second day in a row, stocks spent the day wallowing in negative territory, amid fears of the fiscal cliff - higher taxes, imposed budget cuts, more - the souring condition of the European Union, notably Greece and, yes, Germany, post-election hand wringing, and generally overpriced stocks in a market that is supposed to be buoyed by unlimited bond purchases by the Federal Reserve.

Word to the Street: It's not working.

Stock market participants who were brave enough to bid stocks up at the open (aka, suckers) were immediately punished for thinking that after the worst down day in a year on the Dow, stocks were ready to rebound, as all the major averages got a brief boost at the open but fell back into the red shortly after the first half hour of trading.

Trading volumes were brisk and stocks continued to gyrate lower, finally ending with a rush to finish at the lows of the day right at the closing bell, hardly an encouraging sign for those who believe this recent pull-back was nothing but blues for Mr. Romney's loss in the presidential sweepstakes.

All of the major indices closed below their 200-day moving averages, the first time this has happened since the end of May, beginning of June, when investors were worried that the Fed would not extend its easing measures (they did, of course).

In the current environment, traders are more or less on their own. Many funds have closed their books for the year and are taking on losses as sharp-nosed hedge fund managers skewer the slow-footed and long-term types with shorting and controlled demolitions of individual stocks and groups. High beta stocks, which posted the greatest gains over the past 10 months, are being hammered relentlessly as profit-taking has become more akin to skinning tomatoes, a slippery job at best and a troublesome trade at worst.

There are scant buyers, though the "semi-invisible" hand of the Plunge Protection Team (PPT) may actually be keeping stocks from falling directly into the East River or beyond.

Foreign markets have been hard hit as well, with almost all Asian, European and Latin American markets feeling the pinch the past two days.

In Europe, the truly laughable situation that the ECB finds itself in is truly one for he history books, as Greece steps closer to civil war after voting once again for austerity measures and another round of cash from the monetary authorities in Brussels and Germany. Thing are relatively quiet in the other Southern European detor nations, though Spanish bond yields are beginning to rise, frightening everybody from Angela Merkel - who wants more time (sorry, honey, you've had enough) - to Mario Draghi, who has expressed openly that the lone bright spot in the EU - Germany - is beginning to lose its luster.

Thankfully for most traders, tomorrow is Friday, making the end of what will likely go down as one of the worst weeks of the year, with the Dow down more than 400 points thus far, and the issues presented to the market anything but resolved.

It's been said many times that the market hates uncertainty, and that's all they've got in front of them presently. Worse yet, the underlying conditions set by global central bankers are proving more destructive and costly than anyone could possibly have imagined (except for a few select bloggers and out-of-the-mainstream market watchers). The favored positions of bailing out banks, major companies and sovereign nations with increased easing of monetary policy and near-zero interest rates has created an environment with no escape hatch.

The hands of the central bankers are tied, and with them, all appendages of the trading community. If there was ever a time to book profits (what's left of them), it's now, or rather, it was Tuesday. Since the massive ramp job in anticipation of a Romney victory, stocks have been beaten and battered to a point at which the Dow now sports a gain of less than 600 points on the year, roughly a five percent move from the close of 12217.56 on December 30, 2011.

The NASDAQ being the hardest-hit in the recent downtrend, had the most to give up and is still holding onto a gain of nearly 300 points, having begun the year off the close at 2605.15 at the end of last year. Starting the year at 1257, the S&P 500 is still holding onto a 120-point gain, just less than 10% higher on the year, which, in normal times, would be considered excellent, but those gains seem to be eroding faster than the confidence that the Democrats and Republicans in Washington can find an ultimate solution (they can't; they're broke themselves).

New highs have been subsumed by new lows, 91-185, the second straight day in which the lows have registered a win. It, however, this is just the beginning of a correction of seven to fifteen percent, there's further to fall, something many on wall Street don't want to think about until maybe Monday, when all hell may break loose.

There's still one more day to get through this week and all pretense has been removed. There's a general fear about being in the market at all presently and the last man standing is not the preferred position, nor is the act of catching a falling knife, currently the only places left on the market floor.

From a chartists' perspective, the move lower was nearly overdue, but the timing could not have been more predictable after the major indices made new highs in early October, fall back, and failed to achieve those same levels later in the month, at which point began the eventual fall-out. The bull market which began in March of 2009 is now getting a little long in the tooth, at 44 months, and it could be all she wrote as third quarter results were messy to horrifying and Wall Street's dirty little secret - that stocks are not growing their earnings - is beginning to get out.

Tomorrow could see a bit of a snap-back, dead cat bounce, but all indications are that more pain is ahead and that period could extend through the remainder of 2012 and into next year.

There were winners, ominous ones at that: gold and silver.

Dow 12,811.32, -121.41 (0.94%)
NASDAQ 2,895.58, -41.71 (1.42%)
S&P 500 1,377.51, -17.02 (1.22%)
NYSE Composite 8,050.83, -87.98 (1.08%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,876,133,130
NYSE Volume 3,759,670,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1462-4062
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 185-91
WTI crude oil: 85.09, +0.65
Gold: 1,726.00, +12.00
Silver: 32.24, +0.579

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