MarketWrap for 12/28/09 6th straight daily gain on strong retail sales....

U.S. retail sales rose an estimated 3.6 percent this holiday season as online gift-buying, last- minute spending and an extra shopping day spurred a recovery from last year, the worst in four decades.  Helping lift sentiment, MasterCard's  SpendingPulse unit said a late boost from procrastinating consumers and an extra day of shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas increased total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gas, by 3.6% over the year-earlier period through Christmas Eve. Macy's  climbed 1.1% , while Saks rose 1.3% and American Eagle Outfitters advanced 2.9%.   Also providing a boost, online retail giant  said over the weekend that sales on its peak holiday-shopping day topped 9.5 million items.  This news helped stocks rise for the 6th straight session, despite choppiness throughout the day.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 26.98 points, or 0.3%, to 10, 547.08, its highest close since Oct. 1, 2008.  The technology-heavy NASDAQ added 5.39 points, or 0.2%, to 2,291.08.  The Standard & Poor's 500 added 1.3 points, or 0.1%, to 1,127.78.  Volume was light across the board which is to be expected the last trading week on the decade. 

The market is back to levels not seen since the fall of 2008, around the time of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  Year-to-date the Dow is up just over 20%, the S&P 500 is up 25% and the NASDAQ is up 45%.  But all three major indexes are up even more substantially since hitting multi-year lows on March 9 amid the height of the financial crisis.

Weekend at Bernies ... ouch !!!

According to AP - Prisoned Ponzi master Bernie Madoff was moved a hospital in Durham, N.C. after he suffered "serious injuries consistent with an assault" according to a report from a local ABC affiliate.

Mr. Madoff, who is now being treated at the medical facility in the Butner, N.C. prison where he is serving his 150-year sentence, was treated at Duke hospital in Durham last Friday for the injuries and discharged earlier this week, according to WTVD ABC 11, which cited unnamed sources.  However, a lawyer for the hospitalized Madoff says his client has experienced dizziness and high blood pressure. The Bureau of Prisons said Thursday that the 71-year-old disgraced financier remains under medical care for a seventh day.  Prison officials have declined to reveal why he was transferred from a North Carolina federal prison to a hospital. But bureau spokeswoman Traci Billingsley did say there have been no assaults at the prison in the past week.  Lawyer Ira Sorkin tells The Associated Press that Madoff has "had some dizzy spells and some high blood pressure."

Duke University Medical Center says Madoff was released Monday. Billingsley says he is now in a prison medical facility.  Madoff has been imprisoned since March after pleading guilty to fraud and admitting cheating thousands of investors out of billions of dollars.

NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park

Off the topic of finance for a few minutes.  Below is a great link that shows a time lapse video of the construction of the outdoor rink at Fenway Park which will host a game on January 1st 2010 between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.

MarketWrap for 12/22/09-Stocks gain on Home Sales data...

Stocks and the U.S. dollar rose while government bonds and the cost of insuring against corporate defaults declined on evidence economies around the world are improving.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 51 to close at 10,464.  The S&P 500 gained 4 points to close at 1,118 and the NASDAQ rallied 15 points to close at 2,252.  Both the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 climbed to new 2009 closing highs.  Gold fell to a seven-week intraday low.  The gains came as used-home sales for November were particularly strong, having risen more than double the increase economists had expected. The report was a boon to stocks exposed to the housing sector, especially home builders, as strength in existing-home sales tends to come ahead of major improvements in new-home sales.    Equities in the world’s largest economy advanced even after the U.S. Commerce Department said gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent rate in the third quarter, slower than the 2.8 percent pace originally reported by the government.

Post Market Wrap - 12/21/2009 ... Santa Clause is coming to town ...

Call it a Santa Claus rally, call it window dressing, call it portfolio manager benchmark chasing, call it manipulation, call it all of the above or whatever you like but stocks are clearly trying to levitate higher through year end.

During the holiday season it is hard to call a market as it seems like trading desks are half staffed and even the bears go into hibernation for a bit. After all it is winter. 

That said the direction for stocks remains up. While common logic suggests a pullback should occur or a correction is needed stocks continue to climb the wall of worry and doubt. Until that wall is replaced by complacency, acceptance and over confidence stocks will likely continue to trend higher a bit longer.

Internals remain solid (not exceptional) however the new 52 week high list is expanding again, which is bullish. 

We continue to expound the mantra - hold ‘em if you’re long ‘em. Just make sure you plan an exit strategy such as; trailing stops or strategic pruning. As much as we want to see the cracks in the foundation and not sound like a broken record for now there aren't any.

Below 1,085 remains the level to watch on the SP 500 short term level. Should we break that level we could sell off a bit. On the upside we do not see any major resistance in the SP 500 until 1,193.

California Pizza Kitchen (CPKI) ... bouncing from support .... Low risk entry ....

As seen below CPKI shares (an earlier recommendation of ours) is at the lower end of its trading range and moving higher.  Buying here just above the range low and near support at $ 12.30 (purple line) may offer a low risk entry as opposed to waiting for the secular technical turnaround which only occurs on a breakout above resistance near $ 17.15 (red line and arrows).  This formation appears to be a longer term bottom forming in CPKI shares.  Buying here is for those who want to jump the gun, be early or limit downside in the event of being wrong.  Only taking out resistance, a trade for those who want more confirmation, would suggest a much larger advance is at hand.


New York Times (NYT) ... about to breakout ??

As seen below New York Times Co.-Class A (NYT) has had another big volume surge this past week within the context of a nice base.  This is all occurring as NYT approaches horizontal resistance near $ 11.50 (orange lines) and a downtrend line (red line).  Above these levels shares can run quickly to $ 15.00.

Peers such as GCI and WPO have also been showing technical strength of late as well.  Additionally add sales have come back strong from last year levels and we would suggest the technical strength is a preview of what are likely to be a continued rebound in ad sales.  Smart investors may want to position ahead of this and jump on the breakout.

As an additional catalyst there is the continued rumor that GOOG may be a suitor.

MarketWrap for 12/18/09-Financials and Technology lead the way today.....

Stocks rose today, trimming a weekly loss for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, after better than estimated profits at Oracle Corp. and Research In Motion Ltd. boosted technology companies across the board.  The S&P 500, which is up 22 percent in 2009 after its worst year since the Great Depression, added 0.6 percent to 1,102.39. The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index increased 20.63 points to 10,328.89. The NASDAQ climbed 1.1 percent to 2,203.36.  For the week, the S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent, while the Dow  lost 1.4 percent and NASDAQ was up 1% from the week-ago close.   Both tech stocks and financial stocks had been beaten down during the previous session, but rebounded to respective gains of 1.6% and 1.4% this session

Consumer shares continued their weakness.  Consumer staples companies in the S&P 500 fell for a fourth straight day, losing 1.6 percent for the steepest loss among 10 groups.  Philip Morris International lost 1.3 percent to $48.66.  PepsiCo, the biggest snack maker, slipped 0.9 percent to $59.48.

For a fifth straight week the S&P 500 was unable to top the 1,120 level that marks the midpoint of its 57 percent plunge from a record in October 2007 to a 12-year low in March 2009.

FusionIQ Market Wrap - 12/17/2009 - Stocks sell off as Dollar rallies ...

Stiff selling on heavy volume came as the dollar spiked against foreign currencies and financials faltered.  Stocks now head into Friday with a week-to-date loss of nearly 1%.  On the session the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 132 points to close at 10,308, while the S&P 500 Index closed down 13 points at 1,096.  The technology laden NASDAQ lost 26 points to close at 2,180.  So far this week the dollar made its way to a 1.1% gain against competing currencies.

Support for the greenback had the Dollar Index up as much as 1.4%, which put it at a new three-month high.  The dollar strength pressured both stocks and commodities.  The materials sector was the biggest loser on the session as it settled with a loss of 2.3%.  Additionally financials faltered on news that Citigroup priced shares in its previously announced common stock offering at $3.15 each, a near 9% discount to the previous session's closing price. The lower than expected pricing kept the Treasury from unloading its $5 billion of shares in the company.  Financials, which make up 14% of the stock market's weight, fell 1.8%.

FedEx Corp. also left investors uninspired with its latest quarterly results. The global shipment company brought in earnings of $1.10 per share, which matched its preannouncement, but topped the consensus of $1.06 per share. However, FedEx expects third quarter earnings to range from $0.50 to $0.70 per share, which is shy of the current consensus of $0.84 per share. It also stated it expects earnings for fiscal 2010 to range from $3.45 to $3.75 per share, which brackets the current consensus of $3.46 per share.

MarketWrap for 12/16/09-Stocks mixed on Fed comments....

U.S. stocks were mixed today, the dollar strengthened against the yen and yields on 10-year Treasury notes rose to a four-month high on concern the Federal Reserve is preparing investors for higher interest rates next year.   The FOMC stated that economic activity has continued to pick up and that deterioration in the labor market is abating.  The FOMC also expressed that conditions in the financial markets are improving, so some of the Fed's special liquidity facilities will soon end as planned.  The FOMC indicated that the target range for the federal funds rate will remain at 0.00% to 0.25% and that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period. The overall language in the statement is consistent with previous statements, so it helped calm concerns that the Fed may look to raise interest rates sooner than later.

Though the dollar was able to improve its position, support for commodities remained strong. That gave the CRB Commodity Index a 1.6% gain, its best by percent in three weeks, and helped the materials sector outperform.  Materials stocks advanced 1.0%, led by diversified metals and miners (+1.7%).

Energy stocks also looked strong.  They advanced 0.5% as oil prices closed 2.8% higher at $72.68 per barrel.  Early weakness in the dollar and a larger-than-expected weekly inventory draw of 3.69 million barrels underpinned oil's strength.