Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No News, No Earnings, No Data, No Volume Means Nothing Much for Stocks

The Wall Street HTF machines must have been cranked up to maximum momentum on yet another day without any notable news or data, because stocks, after an early dive into the red, continued an inexorable advance throughout the session, pushing all major indices to positive or flat closes.

Despite Alcoa (AA) announcing in-line earnings on Monday, there haven't been any companies of import releasing full year and 4th quarter results this week. That should all change next week when the market will be inundated with quarterly and year-end reports from a plethora of firms, but so far this week, the markets have had little to move on in either direction.

Instead of pouring into or out of positions, as is often the case in the first few weeks of a new year, traders have been stuck in neutral the past five sessions, and the rest of the week doesn't offer much in the way of market-moving events or news.

The fed released its beige book, detailing what everybody already knows: that the US economy is limping along, unemployment remains a stubborn problem, housing is still weak and December retail was something of a non-event. Even word from the almighty Federal Reserve did nothing to move stocks.

Down 63 points shortly after 10:00 am ET, the Dow finally pushed into positive territory in the final 20 minutes of trading before falling back to red at the close. Leading the slow surge, the NASDAQ had been positive most of the session, with the S&P following the Dow's path, finally finishing with a fractional gain.

One notable item not mentioned around the trading posts was the upcoming debacle of another debt ceiling increase, just five months after the congress and president Obama wrangled over raising the ceiling last August. Our brilliant leaders have managed to blow through some $900 billion in fresh debt since then and will need another rise, which was negotiated in the initial bill.

President Obama is set to ask congress for another $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in a matter of days. The congress will have 15 days to decide whether to grant Mr. Obama his wish. Meanwhile, the debt ceiling will be once again breached, and, after appropriate dummy theater, the congress will oblige. The rhetoric should be especially thick this time around, especially with debate on whether to keep the inappropriately-named payroll tax decrease for the remainder of the year. That deal runs out at the end of February.

Political junkies will enjoy the show; the rest of us will entertain emotions from boredom to disgust. Thank God for the NFL playoffs.

Dow 12,449.45, -13.02 (0.10%)
NASDAQ 2,710.76, +8.26 (0.31%)
S&P 500 1,292.48, +0.40 (0.03%)
NYSE Composite 7,662.17, -6.73 (0.09%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,712,712,875
NYSE Volume 3,965,303,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3208-2391
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 112-36
WTI crude oil: 101.73, -0.51
Gold: 1,639.60, +8.10
Silver: 29.89, +0.08

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