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Random Thoughts on a Freaky Friday: Banks, Nasdaq, and Ballmer's Billions


Observations from the front as the trading ranks thin.

Editor's Note: Todd posts his vibes in real time each day on our Buzz & Banter.

It's the Friday in front of the most popular vacation week of the summer and the ranks will get thinner as we tick into the weekend. As liquidity is the "other side" of volatility (as anyone who has tried to trade a thin float will attest) we'll need to stay on our toes as we edge into our requisite respite.

Here's what I'm looking at, in no particular order:
  • I was surprised the tape drifted higher late yesterday after the digital brownout at the Nasdaq and the potential for it to ding investor confidence. Given that the reaction to news is more important than the news itself, we'll soon see if we could again learn a lot just by watching.
  • I wonder how it feels to announce retirement from your life's work and see the stock of your company jump 7%. Steve Ballmer at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is experiencing that now, although I'm sure his 333,252,990 shares are helping to take some of the sting out of it with a daily paper gain of $833,132,475.
  • The S&P (INDEXSP:.INX) 50-day moving average now resides at 1659.34 (it's upward sloping) while S&P 1680/85 (the short-term downtrend, and the "gap fillage" from August 15) is next resistance, S&P 1650ish is first -- and last -- support until the 200-day at S&P 1555.
  • Sideways movement above support is basing; the same price action under resistance is churning.
  • While I'm of the view that Moody's (NYSE:MCO) lost its mojo long ago, watch Goldman (NYSE:GS) and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) as trading tells today on the back of the debt review. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) also deserve a peek throughout the session.
  • Where are we in the denial-migration-panic continuum?
  • While Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was halted yesterday, Carl Icahn tweeted, "Spoke to Tim (Cook). Planning dinner in September. Tim believes in buyback and is doing one. What will be discussed is magnitude."
  • We spoke about this dynamic last week, and today's move further blurs the regulatory lines. At what point does this qualify as material information -- and at what point does Tim's goose get cooked as a result?
  • Remember when Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) was a real estate play trading at triple digits? Yeah, me too.
  • "Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs." -- Charlotte Brontë
  • Festivus 2013 is December 6 at Hill Country BBQ. If you or your firm would like to get involved --100% of the net proceeds to benefit The Ruby Peck Foundation for Children's Education -- please let me know; it's for the kids!
  • Strange days on Wall and Broad; we're a long way from Kansas, Dorothy.
  • I plan to take my first full week off this summer starting tomorrow, which will be chock full of QT with my wife and kids. While I'm a firm believer of "work to live; don't live to work," I'll be monitoring the markets and on call (over on the Buzz) should the world get whacky.
  • Absent that, I'll see YOU on the other side of Labor Day. Enjoy the journey, and make it a safe one.

Twitter: @todd_harrison

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