Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Energy Stocks Push Dow Higher in Listless Session

In terms of the declines from the past two days, today's paltry gains were about 20% of the pullback, so technically, Wednesday's session was nothing much more than a knee-jerk, relief rally with little follow through.

Energy stocks, ExxonMobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) in particular, were responsible for roughly one half of the gains on the Dow Industrials, and there was concerted selling into the close, with stocks giving back about a third of the day's gains into the closing bell, a negative for trading conviction.

WTI crude oil closed above $110 a barrel for the first time since May, 2011, a direct result of the saber-rattling going on over Syria. Gold and silver took a breather, probably for some serious profit-taking, as the precious metals have been on a real tear over the past two weeks, bounding off their lows to make multi-month highs.

Volume was typically dismal, as is usually the case in August, especially the last week of the month, as were are witnessing.

News flow and economic data have been largely negative. Today's -1.3% downturn in pending home sales for July was another sign that the housing market continues to cool and may turn into a chill as the peak selling season is passing quickly.

Talk was centered on when the US would strike Syria, rather than "if," and how that might affect the Fed's decision over tapering bond purchases in September or delay it until tensions subside. Such banter is the stuff of markets, but largely foolish speculation and ignorant of the underlying trends in the economy, which are weak, at best, and slumping, at worst.

Overall, it was a nothing session, with most traders either on hold until a Syria assault becomes reality or on holiday until after Labor Day.

Gains were minimal and may prove to be fleeting.

Dow 14,824.51, +48.38 (0.33%)
NASDAQ 3,593.35, +14.83 (0.41%)
S&P 500 1,634.96, +4.48 (0.27%)
NYSE Composite 9,311.30, +23.19 (0.25%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,318,517,250
NYSE Volume 2,873,515,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3655-2890
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 59-88
WTI crude oil: 110.10, +1.09
Gold: 1,418.80, -1.40
Silver: 24.39, -0.26

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