Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Market Roars Again - Strong Financials, Oil Falling, and a Consumer Confidence Surprise

All three market indices moved higher on Tuesday based on strong financial reports, oil falling to a three month low, and a consumer confidence surprise.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) rose 2.4% Tuesday erasing the losses from Monday. The S&P 500 index (SPX) jumped 2.3%, and the NASDAQ (COMP) climbed 2.5% on the earnings report by drug maker Amgen (AMGN). Both the Dow and S&P 500 were helped immensely by the financials.

News of Merrill Lynch (MER) raising capital and selling some of it mortgage securities gave hope that the rest of the financial sector is starting to clean house and reposition itself. Shares of Merrill finished the day up 8%. Luckily, other names in the financial sector did as well or better than Merrill. Wachovia (WB) jumped 15.2%. Bank of America (BAC) finished up 14.8%, Washington Mutual (WM) gained 12.4%, Wells Fargo (WFC) moved up 9.1% and JP Morgan Chase (JPM) rose 8.2%. Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase are Dow components.

Crude oil prices finished down more than $2.50 on Tuesday to close at  just over $122 per barrel. Oil plummeted after OPEC President Chakib Khelil said oil was overpriced and could sink to $78 a barrel. Oil has fallen about $25 since setting a record high of $147.27 on July 11.

The Consumer Confidence Report displayed a small improvement over June according to the report by the Conference Board. The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 51.9, up from a revised 51 in June. Economists had expected the index to decline to 50. The end result though is a consumer that is still considered cautiously pessimistic. In July 2007, the report had a figure of 111.9.

Finally, May home prices dropped a record 15.8% from a year ago, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index of 20 cities. It was the 22nd consecutive month of decline recorded by the index. The good news here was that some analysts are saying the decline is slowing, and that a bottom could be reached soon.

The good news is that Asian markets have followed the U.S. lead, and they have moved higher in Wednesday trading.

Source - CNNMoney

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