Monday, March 3, 2008

Begging for Losses

A grizzled, experienced veteran of the trading floor once mentioned never to buy or sell stocks before ten o'clock or after three o'clock.

The reasoning, he explained, "that's when the big money is at work - the brokerages are placing heavy bets and once the momentum gets going, it takes a lot of money to move it in the other direction."

I've heeded this sage advice through many sessions of market-watching, trading and analysis, but the prescience of this wisdom has never been more prevalent than over the past two months, especially on the Dow.

Today was a perfect example of the volatility that often overwhelms inexperienced or fearful traders who are looking for safe entry points. Just before 10:00 am, stocks hit a low of 12,175. Everybody, it seemed was selling.

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By 10:30, however, the Dow was nearly unchanged. It traded in a narrow range, staying just slightly to the downside all day... until just before 3:00. It made the low of the day, at 12,161, a loss of just more than 100 points, right before the clock struck three.

Of course, we all know what happened next. Stocks continued to climb, erasing most of the losses and leaving everyone with the impression that stocks were going down, but not much. No worries, people.

Dow 12,258.90 -7.49; NASDAQ 2,258.60 -12.88; S&P 500 1,331.34 +0.71; NYSE Composite 8,970.39 +7.93

Meanwhile, commodities continued their ceaseless march to record highs. Oil closed up 61 cents to $102.45. Gold was up another $9.20 to $984.20. Silver added 27 cents to $20.18. Just a week ago, silver could be had for $18 and change. Inflation has arrived in a very, very big way.

The internals, of course, tell a slightly different story than the nightly news. Declining issues once again sped ahead of advancers, 3750-2588. New lows carried the day again over new highs, 526-87. That spread continues to grow, indicating further price deterioration for stocks is in the offing.

To get an idea of the flavor in this ridiculous market, consider the running commentary from, at 3:05. "Sellers now outpace buyers by 2-to-1 on the NYSE. Pessimism is broad based." Just to underscore the monstrosity of the market, the NYSE advance-decline line ended with losers ahead by a 6-5 margin. One would suppose that the pessimism, so "broad based" at 3:00, was washed completely away in the final hour of trading.

I reiterate. The US stock markets are rigged, to prevent stocks from falling too much, too fast. The money the Fed continues to supply the banks in terms of overnight, 14-day and clandestine, exotic, never-to-see-the-light-of-day loans over the discount window through auctions and other sinister devices, is going to eventually collapse the entire system.

Please, please, please, examine the chart at the right. It makes no sense in any way, unless you understand that the market is, has been and will be manipulated to avoid showing losses. The it all becomes crystal clear. Might as well not trade before 10:00 or after 3:00, just like the old guy said.

Banks are already unwilling to lend unless your credit record is perfect, so why must they continue to borrow from the Fed? They aren't loaning any out, so they must be... ah, there's the answer, shoring up their own feeble, nearly-penniless balance sheets which are fraught with accounting black holes.

We're sitting on top of a pile of bad checks that have been written by the major money center banks and Wall Street, the Fed and the high reaches of government continue to act like there's nothing going on. Business as usual. Ho-hum.

What an evil, bad joke is being played on the American public - investors or otherwise. While many cannot afford gas for their cars, heat for their homes or food for the hungry mouths of families, the slick Wall Street pitchmen are still touting equities over commodities, and they all know, some day, like it or not, there will be a reckoning, and it won't be a happy occasion. Until then, the phoniest party on the planet carries on.

NYSE Volume 3,933,841,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,128,272,500

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