Friday, March 26, 2010

Market Seems Relieved

Hopeful noises from Europe and the conclusion of the health care debate in Congress helped the market score a fourth consecutive weekly gain.The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 1.0,while the NASDAQ pegged 0.9 and the S&P gained 0.6 for the week.It seems that the European Union has at least the semblance of a plan to deal with the Greek debt crisis and Congress has gone home for the Easter recess,having put the final touches on the new health insurance reform law.At the same time,the headwind of poor housing data kept the market in check,and volume was still on the light side.
Next week's big financial event happens on Good Friday,with the stock exchanges being closed,but business journalists busy with the employment report Friday morning.The trading week will have limited significance,given the crucial report waiting beyond its reach.It will be a week looking to the following week's reaction to the report.Nonetheless,the S&P futures were up 0.80 early this evening.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Journalists On Capitol Call

There is little rest for weary journalists this weekend.Instead of watching basketball,many of them are focused on the momentous health care bill struggling through Congress.It seems that momentum is moving in the bill's favor,with several holdouts pledging their support at this late hour in the process.It's one of the more complex pieces of legislation in the history of democracy,being over 2,000 pages long.It is an insurance reform package that is to be phased in over a number of years.While health insurers opposed it,the largest doctor's trade group,the American Medical Association,approved of it,along with the AARP seniors organization.Veteran broadcast journalist Dan Rather said he had never seen the country so polarized as it is today,which distinguishes our era from the mid-1960s,when President Lyndon Johnson got Medicare and Medicaid on the books.
Profits were taken on Wall Street today in advance of Sunday's vote on very light volume.For the week,the Dow was up 1.1,while the NASDAQ rose 6.75 and the S&P gained 9.1.The S&P futures were down 5.0 early this evening.Many traders may have been waiting to see just what happens in Congress,and how the early risers in Asia and Europe react to it beginning on Sunday evening,as they didn't buy many of the bargains available Friday afternoon.To this point,the rally has been strong,with higher highs and higher lows,as well as being broadly based.Many say a correction is needed now to keep it rolling on.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Consumer Mixed,Transports Up

It was a week of modest achievement,with muted gains for a toppy market.The S&P was up 1.0,while the Dow rose 0.6 and the NASDAQ climbed 1.8 for the week.Consumer assessments were mixed.Retail sales were good,but consumer sentiment fell.Next week could have some significant headlines,with a vote on health care looking increasingly likely by the end of the week,and the Federal Reserve announcing its interest rate decision and releasing an explanatory statement.Rates will be held steady,but the Fed's statement could always sway the market.
The price of gas is steadily making its way up.It is expected to crest 3.00 a gallon this summer,getting as high as 3.50.That means higher prices for many goods and services.The transport stocks were strong this week,but more expensive fuel would take a toll on them eventually.With interest in basketball heating up,perhaps few will notice energy costs in the near term.
The S&P futures were up 0.70 early this evening.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Euphoria Grips Limited Trading

A sense of euphoria got hold of the stock market on Friday when the unemployment report was better than expected.Economists had thought the snowstorms that battered much of the country in late February would have taken a toll on labor figures.When that didn't happen,a relief rally occurred,sending the S&P 500 Index up 3.1% for the week.The labor market was essentially flat,with unemployment staying at 9.7% for February.
Although the S&P surged on Friday,volume was paltry,coming in at less than a billion shares,which throws the staying power of the rally into question.The status quo job numbers hardly seem to justify today's Irish jig.As CNBC's Rick Santelli remarked,the bar for good news in employment is pretty darned low.In order for the economy to grow significantly,much more than holding the jobless line will be required.Nothing that happened this week lessened the credibility of the new normal hypothesis of slow growth and high unemployment for an extended period.
The S&P futures were nonetheless strong this evening,rising 14.20.