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Just like Tampakos and Jovtchev

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Not unlike this weekends results of the Olympic gymnastics men's rings final, where Greece's Dimonisthenis Tampakos edged out Bulgaria's Jordan Jovtchev for the gold medal by just 0.012 of a point, bulls and bears battled it out with the major indices finishing mixed, where fractional gains and losses were common throughout the session.

Bulls may have faced some of the same challenges that Bulgaria's Jordan Jovtchev faced when challenging Tampakos on his home turf, where earlier this morning, Dow component and retailing giant Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) $53.80 -1.55% said August same store sales would come in below prior guidance as a slower than expected back-to-school season and temporary store closings in the south east from Hurricane Charles had hurt results.

With the S&P Retail Index (RLX.X) 385.70 -0.44% already doing battle with both its 200-day SMA (386.75) and trending lower 50- day SMA (387.62) the negative weight of Wal-Mart's (WMT) weaker- than-forecasted August same store sales revisions were just enough to have the Dow shedding 37 points by the close, and giving up its session's best level of trade from 10,130 in the final 90-minutes of trade.

U.S. Market Watch - 08/23/04 Close

October Crude Oil futures (cl04v) $46.03 -1.47% fell to one-week lows as supply concerns eased on broadly positive developments out of Iraq and Russia.

The October contract, which became the lead contract at the end of Friday's session, ended down 69 cents at $46.03. On Friday, the September futures contract peaked at $49.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, before closing the session lower at $47.86.

There is still no resolution to the standoff in the Iraqi town of Najaf between militiamen loyal to rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al- Sadr and Iraqi and U.S. armed forces.

The militiamen are reportedly holed up in the Imam Ali Shrine, which they have been using as a refuge while they attacked U.S and Iraqi forces in Najaf.

Homebuilders as depicted by the Dow Jones Home Construction Index (DJUSHB) 620.35 +1.58% took home the green ahead of tomorrow's lone economic report and July existing home sales. Economists' look for existing home sales to slip from June's 6.95 million unit annual rate to 6.81 million unit rate.

Meanwhile, the dollar jumped against a weighted basket of 6 major foreign currencies with the U.S. Dollar Index (dx00y) 89.08 +1.08% reclaiming its MONTHLY Pivot. The dollar's strength had metal and mining stocks giving back some of last week's gains with the AMEX Gold Bugs Index ($HUI.X) 204.85 -2.21% resting from seven-straight sessions of gains.

Market Snapshot / Internals - 08/23/04 Close

Unlike the Olympic Gymnastics Center for the men's rings final, there seems to have been few market participants willing to trade in today session, where NYSE volume of just over 1.02 billion shares was the lightest for 2004. NASDAQ's 1.22 billion shares were equally light and lowest daily volume of the year.

As the month of August draws to a close, average daily volume for the NYSE is a meager 1.28 billion per day, while NASDAQ has averaged a modest 1.48 billion. I thought the summer doldrums were over after the NYSE managed just 1.30 billion per day and NASDAQ just 1.48 billion.

We might be stuck with these types of volumes until after the Labor Day weekend, which tends to mark the end of summer.

NASDAQ-100 Tracker (QQQ) - Daily Intervals

NASDAQ-100 heavyweight Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) $27.24 +0.44% gained 12 cents, but traded within Friday's range, and may have been the "swing stock" that had the QQQ showing a fractional gain by the close, where weakness in the Biotechnology Index (BTK.X) 487.87 -1.29% was offset by fading strength from the Semiconductor Index (SOX.X) 390.09 +1.05%.

NASDAQ-100 breadth finished fractionally bearish with 52 decliners and 48 advancers. Level 3 Communications (NASDAQ:LVLT) $2.72 +6.66% rose 17 cents, but wasn't able to reclaim its similarly trending lower 21-day SMA ($2.78) on a closing basis, while PETsMART (NASDAQ:PETM) $27.71 -3.01% lead the list of percentage losers and struggles to hold above its 200-day SMA ($27.16) after reporting inline earnings last week.

Today's lows for the QQQ look to have been marked by a correlative DAILY Pivot and the $33.92 level from our WEEKLY Pivot retracement, and that correlation for near-term support stands tomorrow at DAILY S1. Intra-day action had TRIN opening higher at 1.04 then falling in this morning's trade, only to close right back near 1.00 by the close.

S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) Chart - Daily Intervals

The broader S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) 1,095.68 -0.24% looks to be taking a rest at August's "Max Pain" option expiration level, where September's quarterly expiration is also currently tabulated at 1,100.00. Resistance is marked by our old downward trend that serves as closing resistance for a second-straight session.

Key economic reports this week will have July durable goods orders expected to rise a modest 1.0% after a 0.9% gain in June. On Friday, economists forecast the PRELIMINARY Q2 GDP at 2.7%, after the advanced reading showed the economy grew at a 3.0% rate.

Pivot Analysis Matrix -

Jeff Bailey

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