Sluggish would be a compliment to the manner of trading that took place on Thursday, with the major indices scratching out meager gains, with the exception of the Dow 30, which took it slightly on the chin but avoided a knockout blow.
Market participants are unaware of what to do without some form of guidance by or from the Fed or other central bankers. It's almost as though markets are locked up with nowhere to go, which actually might be the case as the slog through August continues.
If there was any bright spot for the markets it was in the oil patch, where WTI crude rallied off a low spot at $40 per barrel a few days ago and now sits closer to $42. It isn't much of a move, but nervous oil specs will take any gains they can get at this juncture. With crude spilling out of every known production facility at near record pace, the glut has only worsened over the summer as demand has not exactly been robust.
The price of crude - if not for material intervention by players of significant size - should be hovering closer to $30 than $40. Crude has fallen into a bear market, more than 20% off the recent artificial high of $50 per barrel, which didn't last for more than a nanosecond.
A serious sell-off in crude over the next few weeks or into October could be the catalyst for more selling of equities and another dip in the stock markets, though the power of the Fed and other central banks to prevent anything even resembling a correction before the November presidential election cannot be underestimated.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
18,352.05, -2.95 (-0.02%)
5,166.25, +6.51 (0.13%)
2,164.25, +0.46 (0.02%)
10,707.13, +11.99 (0.11%)