Window Dressing Proceeds Apace

With 6 of the past 7 weeks in the red, the markets have managed to string together a series of winning days. Daily gains both this week and last have ranged between 0.50% and 1.25%. Indeed, the Dow’s gains on Monday and Tuesday represent the first consecutive triple digit gain for the Industrials¬† since December 1- 2, 2010. This was the fourth triple digit rally since the April 29th highs.

Are we making a major turn? Has psychology become so bad its a contrary indicator? Has the 200 day moving average proved to be inviolable?

Perhaps any of those explanations might prove to be the case, although I have my suspicions otherwise. I suspect it is simply a case of funds marking up stocks into the close of the 2nd quarter.

What data supports this thesis? I would point to 2 things: Psychology and Trading Volume. Most metrics are showing psychology is either neutral or optimistic. This tends to be supportive of a short term trading bounce, and not a longer-lasting rally.

Second, the volume has been anemic, even by the unusually low levels we have seen all year. The overall volume on Monday was well below the 30-day average on both NYSE and Nasdaq. Tuesday was even lower. Rallies on increasingly lighter volume are not signs of aggressive institutional buying. Rather, it supports the Window dressing thesis.

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Explaining the short term noise is often a Fool’s Errand,. In my experience, it tends to reveal more about the speaker’s book than it says about the market conditions. But in the present case, I cannot help but be concerned that the long side trade is a bit of a suckers bet much beyond June 30th . . .

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