Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stocks Set Up for Week-ending Swoon

A late-session surge brought the Dow Jones Industrials and S&P 500 into positive territory, but the NASDAQ and NYSE Composite suffered through another day of negative returns.

Leading the news, alarming inflation figures released by the Commerce Department, showed prices at the wholesale prices leaping 3.2% in November, their biggest increase since 1973.

Flashing back to the mid-70s, a period of double digit inflation and gas rationing, we can clearly see where the economy is heading. In response to inflation, interest rates ratcheted upward into double digits. A typical home loan was set at 12-14% interest.

Back in the day, the Fed acted nearly-responsibly, hiking interest rates to wring the inflation out of the economy. It was a painful time for American businesses, typified by stagnant growth and high inflation, a condition which became known as stagflation

Dow 13,517.96 +44.06; NASDAQ 2,668.49 -2.65; S&P 500 1,488.41 +1.82; NYSE Composite 9,864.28 -57.36

Today's environment is profoundly different. Our capricious Federal Reserve has more interest in keeping stock prices buoyant than fighting higher prices for consumers and is intent on keeping banks from defaulting completely as they wade waist deep through the most severe credit crisis since the Great Depression.

This is 21st century America, after all, where savings don't matter and the immediacy of satisfaction and the quick buck are front and center. Today's news merely amplifies the already-shaky condition of the US economy and US stocks. Today's trade was nothing more than a tune-up for a week-ending swan dive.

As the day wound on, the NYSE Composite, where the real action exists, was off by more than 170 points during the grueling session as all indices spent most of the day in the red.

Friday will likely see a continuation of the downdraft that has taken hold of the markets in various guises since August.

For indications, there were nearly two stocks losing ground for every gainer, as decliners beat advancers, 4012-2304. Further proof of the continuation of the bearish trend came from the disparity in new highs and new lows. The lows checked in at 407, to a mere 96 new highs. This particular indicator has favored the new lows for nearly a month and a half, with new highs on top in only two sessions last week.

As if frightened by the prospect of high prices and world economic disembowelment, major commodities sold off. Oil dropped $2.14 to $92.25. Gold tumbled $14.80 to $804.00 and silver lost a whopping 59 cents to mark at $14.24.

Here we are at the height of the Christmas shopping season with high gasoline prices, wickedly higher wholesale prices, a Federal Reserve running ruination on the dollar and a forecast of weaker corporate profits for at least the next three quarters. It's beginning to look a lot like... no, not Christmas, but recession.

NYSE Volume 3,530,155,750
NASDAQ Volume 2,100,678,250

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