Equity markets head into the holiday weekend with mixed results, S&P 500 ends positive

Friday, February 15, 2008

The equity markets head into a three day weekend with slightly positive momentum as trader's adjusted positions & lifted the indices off their lows in later afternoon trade. The averages got off to a negative start as unfriendly economic data pressured trader's & investors to dump shares heading into a long weekend. The NY Empire State Index came in well below forecast signalling the industrial sector is experiencing sluggish growth that is potentially affecting the entire economy. Furthermore, the UofM Preliminary Consumer Sentiment figure also came in well below forecast. The index is now the lowest in 16 years and is -15% below the worst level of the '01 recession and terrorist fears. Additionally, February equity options expiration contributed to somewhat 'whippy' intraday price action as the averages trended mostly lower. However, by late afternoon, intraday range tops were taken out in many of the averages generating short-term positive trading signals & technical buying. Unofficially, the INDU (+1.3% for the week) settled @ 12348 -28.75 or -0.25%, SPX (+1.4% for the week) @ 1350 +1.15 or +0.10%, COMPQ (+0.75% for the week) @ 2321.80 -10.75 or -0.45%, NDX (+0.35% for the week) @ 1780.40 -7.20 or -0.40%, & RUT (+0.35% for the week) @ 701.50 -3.8 or -0.55%. This sessions sector strength was noticeable in Financials (XLF +1.6%, IYF +1.9%), Materials (XLB +1.25%), Regional Banks (RKH +1.1%), Utilities (XLU +1.25%), & Energy (OIH +0.60%, XLE +0.20%). Sector weakness today was seen in Homebuilders (XHB -3.6%), Clean Energy (PBW -2.75%), Semis (SMH -1.25%, XSD -2.2%), Coal (KOL -1.0%), & Biotech (IBB -0.95%).