Monday, February 5, 2007

Uninspired Opening to Week

Stocks traded in an extremely narrow range for the second straight day. Friday was similarly sluggish and there was nothing to get traders excited on Monday.

The Dow ranged between 12,629 and 12,661, finishing higher by 8.25. The NASDAQ lost 5.28, the S&P was lower by 1.40. Volume was low to moderate, with gainers outpacing losers by a 4-5 margin.

Investors seemed content to sit on their hands awaiting something noteworthy in the way of economic reports or merger news. Once again, the price of oil exhibited volatility, peaking just a nickel below $60, but closing down 28 cents to $58.74.

Supertrader Carl Icahn made a $2.4 billion bid for Lear Corp. (LEA), boosting shares more than 4 points. There were a few other deals in the works, but none of them noteworthy.

With corporate earnings reports slowing to a trickle by the end of this week, the markets will be looking for some kind of spark.

The period from February through the second week of April is notorious for directionless trade, consolidation or outright selling. The Dow experienced declines in 3 of the past 5 years during that time span, and the last big near-crash occurred in April of 2000, though that was primarily experienced on the NASDAQ.

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