With the fiscal cliff still overhanging, investors bravely bid for stocks Monday morning. I'm not sure if Veteran's Day had anything to do with traders' courageous calls or whether it was bargain hunting that had them hungry for stocks. Still, questions renewed and stocks wavered through the day around the breakeven line. Heading into the closing hours, the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) and the PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) were each higher by about a third of a percentage point, but upside seems limited until Congress cures its confliction.
The Day's Drivers
American stock exchanges were open for the celebration of Veteran's Day, but bond markets, banks and government agency offices and some corporates were closed. There were no economic report releases on the schedule due to the national holiday.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) published its World Energy Outlook Monday morning. It spurred headlines this morning, mostly on its prediction that North America and the United States would become the world's most important energy producer by 2020, overtaking even Saudi Arabia. United States Oil (USO) gave back early gains by the afternoon and was off fractionally at the hour of publishing here. Even as the U.S. is predicted to become a net energy exporter, demand for Middle Eastern oil will remain high because of the needs of expanding China and India.
Eurozone finance ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss Greece's future. Greece is currently awaiting a critical tranche of capital borrowings in order to meet its next bond repayment this Friday. The problem is not Greece's intent to deliver on promises, but its ability to deliver on promises that hinge on its populace's willingness to swallow. As long as the world pressures Greeks, the Greeks will find ways around the pressure (read black market and cheating), and no economic benefit will ensue to tax collectors.
The corporate calendar has Reynolds American (RAI) and Cardinal Health (CAH) meeting with analysts. The JPMorgan (JPM) analyst covering Caterpillar (CAT) cut the stock to neutral today from overweight, due to the potential impact of the re-election of President Obama on the coal and energy sectors. Cost pressure in the mining sector was also a catalyst for the move. CAT shares recovered from a resulting early morning selloff and were in the green at publishing here. The earnings schedule highlights reports by Beazer Homes (BZH), China Yuchai Int'l (CYD), Country Style Cooking (CCSC), D.R. Horton (DHI), Esco Technologies (ESE), Fortegra Financial (FRF), Idera Pharmaceuticals (IDRA), Jacobs Engineering (JEC), Matador Resources (MTDR), NAPCO Security (NSSC), NQ Mobile (NQ), Soufun Holdings (SFUN), Vermillion (VRML), Weatherford Int'l (WFT), Wuxi Pharmatech (WX) and many more.