Friday, November 9, 2012

Wall Street Peers Over Fiscal Cliff, Likes the View, Maybe

Only in the Wall Street casino can such madness prevail.

When the S&P 500 index closes almost exactly on its 200-day moving average on a day in which it was down, then up sharply, then down, then up again and finally closing almost where it started, one has a sense of the level of manipulation designed to produce the maximum level of uncertainty.

It's working.

The day started with stocks down sharply, but slowly advancing in anticipation of Rep. John Boehner's brief news conference shortly after 11:00 am ET, during which it sold off slightly before rising - after his very abrupt departure - to what would turn out to be the highs of the day, up 78 points on the Dow, just before President Obama made prepared remarks at 1:07 pm. During and just after the president's appearance, the Dow lost all of its gains and fell briefly into negative territory, a move of 103 points in just under an hour.

Stocks spent the rest of the afternoon folling along the line of unchange, with a couple of sharp rises just to keep things interesting.

Naturally, the final hour turned into a circus microcosm of the day, with the Dow up, down, up, down and eventually closing with a gain of four points.

So much for resolution.

The dueling parties in Washington preened and postured for the cameras and microphones while the wise guys in New York pushed buy and sell buttons with just enough pressure to keep markets in suspended animation for the full session, miraculously ending with gains of less than 10 points on all exchanges (four or less excluding the NASDAQ).

It was politico-socio-psycho-econo theater at its best.

There's surely more to come from the recently-re-anointed crowd in Washington and the usual suspects in New York as we end our way through the final seven weeks of 2012.

While the news and financial networks scramble and flail about trying to explain the undesirable effects of falling over the "fiscal cliff," though Wall Streeters seem perfectly at ease tip-toeing along the precipice. One gets the distinct feeling that the deal has already been struck and the rest is just for show.

How to trade it? Well, one can take the virtuous route and ignore it all, or play along with the pros and prepare to be beaten by their wickedly swift HFT algos which scan and skim every trade.

Bottom line is that there is no actual bottom line, so long as Ben Bernanke sits quietly in the background, his finger poised to punch up another couple hundred billion dollars as needed, along with his counterpart, Mario Draghi, in Europe.

Did somebody mention Europe? That place where equally nothing matters? Yes, they're still out there, kicking their own can further down the road to perdition.

With the elections in the US over and done with, it's back to business as usual, wherein neither the politicians nor the bankers can lose.

For all you poker fans, the market did leave a couple of "tells." Gold and silver notched nice gains again, and, for the third day in a row, new lows slaughtered new highs, 231-76.

That's a pretty fat slice of salami laying out there, Wall Street. Some of us actually notice... and our appetite is good.

Dow 12,815.39, +4.07(0.03%)
NASDAQ 2,904.87, +9.29(0.32%)
S&P 500 1,379.85, +2.34(0.17%)
NYSE Composite 8,053.56, +2.74(0.03%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,802,865,630
NYSE Volume 3,572,545.750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2707-2778
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 76-231
WTI crude oil: 86.07, +0.98
Gold: 1,730.90, +4.90
Silver: 32.60, +0.359

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