Monday, December 17, 2007

Stocks on Sale: Dow Sinks Another 172 points

After reaching an interim peak just a week ago at 13,727.03, the Dow has dropped back into a trading range between 12,950 and 13,300 which may prove to be the area in which the index closes for the year. Unless there's some dramatic news - positive or negative - or a lot more tax-related selling to be done before putting the wraps on 2007, there's little to move the markets, though the unrelenting selling pressure could yet take a few more bites and turn the year into an overall loser for all the major indices.

With those caveats firmly in hand, Monday's trade was no doubt a continuation of the selling that commenced in the latter part of last week. Apparently, investors are not through dumping stocks, and while the poor condition of the economy becomes clearer each trading day, there isn't much passion in buyer's eyes.

Dow 13,167.20 -172.65; NASDAQ 2,574.46 -61.28; S&P 500 1,445.90 -22.05; NYSE Composite 9,528.67 Down 169.70

The majors are all close to break-even for the year, based on closing prices December 29, 2006. On that date, the S&P stood at 1418.30; the Dow was 12,463.15; the NASDAQ was 2415.29 and the NYSE Comp. was 9.139.02. Clearly, whatever gains the markets made in 2007 were marginal, ranging between less than 3% (S&P) and just about 7% (NASDAQ).

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Internal indicators showed a somewhat heavier bearish bias than previously. Decliners held a substantial edge over advancing issues, 5163-1233, a better than 4-1 edge, and among the largest margins seen this year. New lows continued to widen their gap over new highs as well, expanding to a 718-74 advantage, also a figure well outside any "average" range. More downsliding is to be expected in coming days.

What's of particular concern at this juncture are two factors: 1. On Friday and again on Monday, not a single industry sector showed a gain; and 2. The Dow is less than 400 points away from the 2007 lows, reached just last month.

Further, the Fed has few weapons left in its arsenal not already deployed to stave off further declines, so the market must fend for itself, seemingly, for the remaining nine trading days of the year.

Commodity prices barely budged, with oil slightly lower, gold inching up and silver unchanged.

NYSE Volume 3,526,140,750
NASDAQ Volume 1,932,222,875

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