Monday, December 29, 2008

Markets Creak, Don't Break

Monday's holiday hangover resulted in another poor performance for stocks, posting their 6th losing session of the last eight.

With little economic data due this final week of 2008, investors seem to be nitpicking over the remains of already-battered equities, sending the bulk lower and continuing the daily series of 150+ 52-week lows. Much of the focus was on Israel's full-on assault on the Gaza Strip, though that horrid little piece of Earth really has little to do with economics overall, it at least takes people's minds off the grotesque reality that is the global economy.

Dow 8,483.93, -31.62 (0.37%)
NASDAQ 1,510.32, -19.92 (1.30%)
S&P 500 869.42, -3.38 (0.39%)
NYSE Composite 5,534.64, -3.55 (0.06%)

Losers beat gainers, 4421-2303, and new lows expanded over new highs, 222-16. That ratio has been extremely stable over the past month, an indication that investors are playing a hybrid game of Chicken and Texas Hold 'em, with nobody seemingly capable of making the "all in" gambit. Slowly but surely, stocks keep descending in search of a bottom retracing, which apparently is going to occur next year rather than at the end of this one. Anyone who hasn't already done year-end tax selling is more than likely hoping for a rally in January, pinned on hopes that the Obama team can rescue the economy, or at least momentarily lift the spirits of market participants.

Volume was much less than ordinary, at roughly half that of a healthy day's figure.

NYSE Volume 877,202,000
NASDAQ Volume 1,182,510,000

Commodities finished higher, with oil posting a substantial $2.31 gain, closing at $40.02. Gold picked up $4.10, to finish at $875.30. Silver added 28 cents, to $10.81 the ounce.

As usual during the holidays, trading velocity was sluggish, at best. There is only one more full trading day (Tuesday; Wednesday the markets close at 1:00 pm) before investors gladly put 2008 behind them.

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