Nothing good to say if you're a bull. The fact that the fiscal cliff is hanging perilously over the markets head is pushing the bulls away from getting too involved. Who can really blame them? The market has nothing good fundamentally behind it, so the path of least resistance is lower, unless we get a resolution and fast. The market and many stocks within it are getting close to big breakdowns. Apple Inc. (AAPL) cannot bid and is trying to start a breakdown below 505. It's having lower and lower closes, and this is not good. No bid whatsoever. AAPL and its brothers must start behaving better to lead the Nasdaq higher. Stocks, such as Priceline.com Incorporated (PCLN), Google Inc. (GOOG), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), and Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (ISRG). There's no way to know just how bad things will get, but the overall action is negative, and will worsen ahead of the 31st, if the market feels nothing is going to get resolved.
The market wants nothing short of a full resolution, it appears, thus, the big boys and girls need to get rocking with a plan both sides can live with for the longer-term. With the market having a small gap up at the open, it gave the bulls some hope, but one thing was very clear early and that was the Nasdaq was lagging yet again. It didn't take long before it started to fall harder than the rest of the major indexes, which was a clue the day wouldn't end on the upside for anyone. It wasn't terrible for the S&P 500 and Dow, but the underperformance on the Nasdaq was glaring. Same old, I'm afraid. It tells you that if we do go over the cliff, the Nasdaq will take it the hardest. A bad day for the bulls again, but all is not lost until we actually go over the cliff. Let's hope our leaders get it together sooner than later.
The retail sector took it the hardest today. It was across the board from high enders to the cheapest brands. The numbers were bad. It was up only 0.7% with expectations that the holiday season would be much better than that. High-end retailers were really whacked today. It shows that the consumer has already started to pull it in in terms of spending. The fear of the fiscal cliff, and then add in what has already been happening economically, reared its ugly head in terms of consumer spending.
Fear of losing jobs. Fear of inflation. Fear of losing benefits. Fear of all things has made the consumer act more carefully. They're simply doing less. No other way to say it. Can you imagine what will happen to our economy if we do go over the cliff and we lose even more jobs, etc! Recession is basically a guarantee. Retail tells the tale of how the consumer feels about their finances and their future. It wasn't a pretty picture regarding those numbers this morning. Is anyone listening?
When markets aren't trading on pure technical analysis, it makes trading it that much more difficult. Two massive black candles on the VIX the prior two days should have led to a strong rally in equities today. It didn't. The VIX actually gapped up and held. What? That just doesn't happen. The fiscal cliff and its ramifications are so powerful it's just not allowing for normal technical responses. It tells you to be very careful and to play very lightly. Don't be a hero. There will be a much better time to play this game when this nonsense is behind us. If you play aggressively here you are looking for trouble. Be wise and be patient. Stocks like AAPL just aren't painting a good picture, but if you get too bearish you can get smoked by having a resolution blow up in your face. Slow and easy as usual here.
In closing, President Obama is back tomorrow, and hopefully progress will be made. I wouldn't count on it, but l hope something does get done. The market needs some hope here as you can see by the daily action over the past several days. Only time will tell, but keep the faith, I suppose.
Jack Steiman is author of SwingTradeOnline.com ( www.swingtradeonline.com ). Former columnist for TheStreet.com, Jack is renowned for calling major shifts in the market, including the market bottom in mid-2002 and the market top in October 2007.
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