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Industrial production still contracting

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This morning's industrial production numbers show that production at U.S. factories continues to contract for a 12th straight month. September's contraction marks the first time since the end of World War II, the industrial production has declined for 12 months in a row.

Industrial products slipped 1% last month, which was slightly more than the decline of 0.8% forecast by many economists. Industrial production form August was revised lower to an 0.8% drop, from a previously reported 0.7% decline.

Capacity utilization for September also dropped to 75.5%, which was right near analysts target of 75.4%. Septembers usage rate is the lowest since June 1983 when the U.S. was just beginning to pull out of a recession.

Stocks holding gains

The broader market averages have been trying to hold gains this morning after a plethora of earnings were announce before the opening of trading. The Dow Industrials (INDU) have dipped into the red in the last 30 minutes with a 16-point decline at 9,330. The S&P 500 (SPX.X) trades fractionally higher at 1,091 and the NASDAQ Composite (COMPX) is trading higher by 8 points to 1,704.

Financials show gains

Financial related stocks, especially banks as characterized by the S&P Banks Index (BIX.X) are helping the S&P 500 Index (SPX) stay in positive ground. AmSouth Bancorp (NYSE:ASO) is trading up 1% after reporting earnings that met expectations of 37 cents a share. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is jumping higher by 3.5% to $57.50 and S&P Banks Index (BIX.X) component Bank One Corp. (NYSE:ONE) is up 6% to $32.25 after beating street estimates on earnings of 64-cents a share.

S&P Banks Index (BIX.X) - last nine months

A move above the 578 level might see banking stocks catch some fire. The group has been lagging the S&P 500 in recent weeks after testing our 50% retracement level at 618 back on October 3rd and 4th. Stock symbols that make up the BIX.X are (ASO, BAC, BBT, BK, CMA, FBF, FITB, HBAN, KEY, MEL, NCC, NTRS, ONE, PNC, RGBK, SNV, SOTR, STI, UPC, USB, WB, WFC, ZION).

Jeff Bailey
Senior Market Technician
Option Investor

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