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Stocks Steady After Inventory Data

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At the 11:00 AM ET mark, stocks are steady to higher after the Census Bureau said wholesale inventories fell by 1.1% in October to $438.2 billion, which was better than Wall Street's forecast for a 0.2% decline.

The decline in inventories came as a relief as sales remained weak, falling 4.1% to $3.774 billion from a downwardly revised September sales figure.

Sales of durable goods were down 4.2% (+/-1.1%) from last month and were down 1.6% (+/-1.9%) from a year ago. Sales of metals and minerals, except petroleum were down 5.2% from last month and sales of motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts and supplies were down 4.5%. Sales of nondurable goods were down 4.1% (+/-1.1%) from last month, but were up 6.5% (+/-2.3%) from last year. Sales of petroleum products were down a hefty 11.2% from last month and sales of farm product raw materials were down 6.1%.

October's inventory to sales ratio rose to 1.16 from last year's 1.10%.

S&P 500 Index (SPX) - 30-minute intervals

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Sector action across the board is largely to the upside and has the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) holding institutional support now above the 881 level and MONTHLY Pivot.

After a successful test of more critical support on Friday, I think technicians can now adjust a near-term upward trend from the 11/21/08 low to the 12/05/08 morning low.

Sector action has the AMEX Gold Bugs ($HUI.X) +10% pacing gains and despite some mixed EIA inventory figures, energy sectors aren't far behind.

After a move higher at the cash session, we did see some selling come into the crude oil complex with the January (cl09f) $42.59 +1.21% retreating from the $45.00 level.

The EIA said U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 392,00 barrels, which was below analysts estimates for a 1.0 million barrel build.

Selling took hold most likely on the 3.7 million build in total gasoline stockpiles and a hefty 5.6 million barrel build in total distillates. Ultra-low sulfur diesel (<0-15 PPM sulfur) showed a 2.7 million barrel increase, while heating oil stockpiles (>500 PPM sulfur) were up 1.68 million barrels.

On the demand side of things, refiners increased their crude oil inputs by 387,000 barrels/day with the percent utilization of operable capacity also rising to 87.44% from last week's 84.34% of total capacity.

My number of days of crude oil supply edged down to 21.8 days supply from last week's 21.9 days supply.

Helping bolster today's equity trade is some weakness in the Yen vs. the greenback with the Yen CurrencyShares (FXY) 107.20 -0.90% edging back from yesterday's 52-week high close.

Intraday Internals - 12:00 PM

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Intraday internals have been strong from the opening tick and price action follows.

As I was updating the 12:00 mark, I noted a rather "sharp" decline in the VIX.X at about 11:45 AM ET from the 56.22 measure to 54.36 over a 5-minute time period. That's a pretty notable dip in a short amount of time and would indicate notably more put selling/call buying than put buying/call selling.

At 11:45 AM the SPX was trading 901.

See you in this evening Market Wrap.

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