"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Energy Stocks and Broken Trust

Once again, energy stocks seem to be driving the market. We're wrapping up the day up (mildly): the Dow closed up 9.84, the NASDAQ closed up 4.05, and the S&P 500 closed up 1.27. Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobile all hit 52-week highs today (before pulling back) - mostly on the fact that crude oil prices are near a 2-year high (thank you, Fimbulvetr!).
But, whatever good may have come from the Fimbulvetr's impact on those oil prices is more than being offset by the impact the blizzard (and the ravening packs of lean, hungry wolves) is having on retail sales. ShopperTrak is showing a 4.1% year over year decline in Christmas week retail sales, and is estimating that the blizzard has postponed about $1 billion in retail spending.
On the other hand, the S&P 500 is up 6.7% for the month (rising in 17 of the last 20 sessions). The bad news is that volume has been extremely light, indicating that investors are waiting to see if this is just a Santa Claus rally, or if this is sustainable.
In California, Operation Broken Trust strikes again. Winifred Jiau has been charged with one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy for leaking inside information about multiple publicly traded companies from 2006 - 2006. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison.

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