The markets really didn't experience much "window dressing" the last few sessions but any buying that was done may be getting undone. Today's rally for the markets appears to be fading. The venerable Dow Jones Industrials index is now only up 55 points and back under the 8050 mark. The Index has failed to rally through resistance at the 8100 level. We're seeing a similar story with the NASDAQ Composite. The COMPX is only up 7 points and is retracing a lot of today's gains. This puts it back under the 1350 mark.
Shares of SBC Communications (SBC) remains the leader among the Dow's gainers at +1.16 or 5.7%. The combination of an upgrade to a "buy" by Legg Mason and news on CNBC that the company would not bid on the GM's Hughes Electronics DirectTV unit.
Meanwhile, still leading the Dow's losers are shares of the Altria Group (MO) which is down $1.97 or -6.57%. The "conglomerate" is being hit hard by news its Phillip Morris unit may have to post a $12 billion bond for a $10 billion fine levied by a recent court ruling. This has many speculating that the Phillip Morris division may have to declare bankruptcy.
As discussed earlier, it appeared the markets had rallied on growing speculation that Saddam may be seriously injured or dead. The dictator failed to appear on Iraqi TV this evening after an announcement that he would be giving a talk to the Iraqi people. After the initial rush by bargain hunters or shorts covering on the rumor of Saddam's demise, the major market indices are now rolling over.
Two major issues on the horizon give investors great reason to pause before buying securities. First, the prospect of a longer, bloodier war than expected still remains first and foremost in the hearts and minds of the American people. Second, signs that the economy is indeed leaning towards a second-dip recession does not bode well for corporate profits. The up coming Q1 earnings reports that should start several days hence will be very revealing. If not for what management says but maybe for what they don't say.