Daily State of the Markets
Publishing Note: I have commitments on Monday and Tuesday mornings with very early meeting times. Thus, we will be publishing the new "lite" version of Daily State during my absence. If all goes as planned, my regular meandering morning missives will return on Wednesday.
While I don't want to appear as if I am beating a dead horse, Thursday was likely another day of disappointment for anyone leaning toward the dark side. Yes, it is true that the indices did all finish in the red for a change. And it is also true that the action did get a little ugly there for a while mid-morning. However, even the most ardent bears will have to admit that a drop of 17 Dow points isn't anything to write home about and that things just don't seem to be going their way right now.
While I am a card-carrying member of the glass-is-at-least-half-full club and you may find it hard to believe, I actually do have friends that regularly reside in the bear camp. At least two of my colleagues take great delight in shorting the market at a moment's notice using options and/or futures. However, these guys tend to keep their bearish bent on a short leash and like to take profits "Chicago style" (early and often). Thus, despite one's outlook of the world, it is important to recognize that there are many ways to skin a cat in this business.
For example, the group I will term the "functional bears" - I.E. the guys and gals that may have gold, canned goods, and a shotgun locked in a basement safe but yet are still able to trade with the best of them on a daily basis - can do alright for themselves even in this type of environment. The trick, I'm told, to being profitable when playing from the short side is to "pick your spots, hit it hard, and then run like the wind with profits when you have them." And while this isn't exactly my cup of tea, it may have been exactly what was happening on Thursday.
Just before 10:30am Eastern Time, the shorts "hit it" and they did indeed hit it hard. While it took a few minutes to get the headline that another earthquake had struck Japan's northeastern coast, it was obvious that something was up besides the usual defense of the S&P 1340 line in the sand. So, before you could remember how to spell Fukushima Dai-ichi, the Dow had plunged 100 points. But as we got word that (a) this earthquake was near the areas already devastated, (b) that there was no further damage to nuclear plants, and (c) that the tsunami warning was a false alarm, the "functional bears" reeled in their profits in a hurry.
While the bears did try to get something going a couple more times during the session, it appears that the good news relating to the nation's retailers and the weekly jobless claims kept the Negative Nancy's from making any progress with their efforts to push prices out of the teeny tiny range that has developed recently. And despite the much anticipated rate hike by the ECB, the likelihood of a government shutdown here at home, and some trepidation in front of the upcoming earnings season, we've got to say the end result wasn't half bad.
Speaking of things that aren't half bad, I think we've also got to recognize that, so far at least, this week's little consolidation certainly fits into this category. As we've been saying, the bears have had the table set with an overbought condition and a spike in bullish sentiment. And yet, despite their opportunities, each day has been a bit of a disappointment for any bears looking to do something besides take profits "Chicago style."
Turning to this morning... Traders are in an upbeat mood as a sigh-of-relief rally has taken hold in the overseas markets. However, with a gov't shutdown looming and the start of the earnings parade on the horizon, we wouldn't be terribly surprised to see stocks stick close to the recent range.
On the Economic front... There is no economic data to review before the bell this morning. However, we will get a report on Wholesale Inventories at 8:00 am eastern.
Thought for the day: Best of luck on this Friday and be sure to enjoy the weekend!
Here are the Pre-Market indicators we review each morning before the opening bell...
Wall Street Research Summary