Thursday, April 16, 2009

Some Fairly Big Expectations, I'm Afraid

Things were heating up this afternoon on optimism about earnings reports and anxiety over being left behind. After the solid report from JPM, market players looked for more of the same from GOOG, which reports tonight, and GE and C, which report in the morning.

So far reports have been very solid and the stocks have held despite an increase in recent expectations. Google is going to be an important test tonight. Obviously a lot of people are expecting something very good.

The most notable thing about the market right now is that it simply refuses to pull back very much. If you want in, you have to be willing to pay up and that is an awfully tough thing for many folks to do after the bear market we have been through.

The longer the market holds up the more frustration there is over being left behind and the more likely that cash is slowly deployed. It is a classic example of climbing the wall of worry.

The Google report is hitting as I write and the numbers are slightly ahead but I'm not sure its enough to keep the momentum going. After an initial move over $400, Google dipped slightly but is now up over that level again. The conference call is the key, but right now buyers are feeling OK.

This market is getting awfully excited lately and the anxiety over being underinvested has to be tremendous. That bodes well for more upside, but this is becoming rather frothy and making new buys is a real chase.

Google continues to move higher as I write, but I think we'll see it dip a bit after conference call starts.

Going into more detail, despite a slow, choppy start, stocks climbed in afternoon trading and finished with healthy gains. The Nasdaq outperformed the other headline indices as shares of large-cap tech stocks rebounded from their losses in the prior session... Tech sector was the only sector to finish in the red Wednesday, but it bounded back this session to close with a 3.2% gain. The sector's rebound was led by large-cap tech holdings... Though tech's move was impressive, consumer discretionary stocks staged the best advance. The sector closed 3.4% higher as 78 of its 81 components logged gains... Financial stocks also closed higher, but they lagged the broader market. The sector made a late rally effort, which took it to a 2.4% gain, but the move lost momentum into the close. Financials finished with a gain of 0.6%... JPM provided leadership to the financial sector for the entire session after the company announced first quarter earnings results of $0.40 per share, which bested the $0.32 per share that was widely expected. The company reminded investors that all isn't well just yet by reporting higher loss provisions... Financial giant Citigroup also made strong gains. The company is scheduled to announce its latest results tomorrow morning... Economic bellwether General Electric also reports tomorrow morning. Interest in its shares helped send the industrial sector 2.9% higher... In economic news, the latest jobless claims data suggest that the pace of layoffs is slowing, but that it isn't getting any easier to find work. Initial claims for the week ending April 11 totaled 610,000, which is down more than expected from the prior week, but continuing claims climbed more than expected to a new record of 6.02 million... Separately, housing starts disappointed investors hoping to find signs of a recovery in home building. Housing starts for March totaled 510,000, which was below the 540,000 starts that were expected and down from the prior month. Meanwhile, building permits in March totaled 513,000, which is below the 549,000 permits that were expected, and down from February.

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