Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Boehner, Obama Closer on Fiscal Cliff Negotiations, Prompting Exultant Wall Street Rally

In a piece of somewhat shocking news, considering the participants are both career politicians of the highest grade, it appeared today that President Obama and House Speaker, John Boehner, were getting much closer to reaching a compromise to end the fears of going over the fiscal cliff on January 1, 2013.

Essentially, Boehner has agreed to some tax cuts for wealthier individuals while Obama is making headway in spending cuts, bringing the two sides closer to an agreement that would, at the very least, provide a level of certainty about tax and spending policies for the near future.

While the roughly $1 trillion in tax increases and another $1 trillion in spending cuts is phased over 10 years, it represents some easing of the tense gridlock between the two parties that have plagued Washington for years.

Compromise being the key to negotiation on these issues, it appears both sides are ready to give a little as the December 31 deadline approaches.

Cynics might say that the politicians are closing in on a deal only because their party members don't want to stay in Washington or have to return to the capitol between Christmas and New Year to hammer out details of a deal.

Most indications are that the President and the Speaker are within a few hundred billion dollars of each other's targets and a bill could be brought to the House and Senate by Thursday, allowing time for votes, a few minor changes and all escaping back to their districts (and families) in plenty of time for the holidays.

What was for certain was Wall Street's enthusiastic response, sending stocks sharply higher on strong volume. The rally - despite fears stemming from the fiscal debate - over the past four-and-a-half weeks has been nothing short of remarkable with the Dow Jones Industrials advancing more than 800 points since the closing low on November 15 (15,542.38) and the S&P tacking on 94 points over the same time span.

Whether or not the politicians arrive at a compromise deal, shorting this market - coincident with the real potential for a blow-off Santa Claus rally - before year's end would not be a wise move right about now.

The Wall Street crowd can best be compared to college kids on Spring Break, where just about anything is ample cause for a party.

Dow 13,350.96, +115.57(0.87%)
NASDAQ 3,054.53, +43.93(1.46%)
S&P 500 1,446.79, +16.43(1.15%)
NYSE Composite 8,499.35, +92.34(1.10%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,017,737,875
NYSE Volume 4,116,356,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4078-1520
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 284-41
WTI crude oil: 87.93, +0.73
Gold: 1,670.70, -27.50
Silver: 31.67, -0.611

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