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Daily Market Summary (Feb 22nd)

Dow: -27 (-.21%)
Nasdaq: -15 (-.52%)
S&P: -5 (-.34%)
Gold: +21 (+1.18%)
Oil: -.30 (-.28%)
10-yr: -.05 to 2.01%

Equity markets moved lower in the late morning and early afternoon but stablized in later trading. Risk was off after the Eurozone PMI showed a slight contraction against expectations of continued growth, restoking recessionary fears.

The Chinese PMI rose to a 4-month high but continued to show contraction as it has for more than 6 months. News on Monday of eased reserve requirments may get traditional credit markets heated up again. However, the "black-market" credit that many small and medium-sized firms rely on (not to mention some local governments) appears to remain icy.

The January existing home sales report was a mixed bag. Sales grew at a 4.3% clip, a continuation of recent trends. However, the uptick in volume was more than offset by a 4.6% decrease in the median selling price. Housing supply hit a new recovery low of 6.1 months, but those advocating a market bottom should be very wary. Delays in the foreclosure process have pushed back a glut of existing homes, which should hit the market in the coming months. Additionally, long-term demographic trends are working against housing prices. Each year, more and more baby boomers are retiring and looking to unload their most valuable asset.

Oil traded mostly flat following continued concerns regarding Iran. While analyst opinions downplaying the impact of Monday's trading limitations to Britain and France may be accurate, they don't fully encapsulate the gravity of the situation. If Iran follows through on threats of a pre-emptive strike, the entire Middle East, and its 50% of the world oil supply, may be dragged into conflict (see Sunni/Shia relations). If that happens, we may $150/barrell.