The U of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was cherry-picked by bulls as the indicator upon which to rally stocks Friday. But, frankly is it really a valid measure of current consumer attitudes? I don't think so given it's weighted heavily by stock prices and curiously by gasoline prices. With the latter, a one week ten cent drop in prices hardly makes a trend.
Some had the nerve to say consumers were now getting accustomed to higher gas prices. How about you?
Consumer Metrics Institute
's opinion and conclusion is as follows:
"The levitation effect provided by the Federal fiscal stimulus packages will begin to wilt soon, as will Mr. Bernanke's monetary magic when QE-2 lapses in June. At some point in time the GDP will revert to tracking the 70% of the economy provided by consumer spending. When that happens, the glaring gap in the above graph will close, and most likely with the upper line converging towards the lower, rather than the other way around.
We have said before that our consumers seem to know that the headline recovery in the S&P 500 has not yet been fully shared with the them, their neighbors or their local merchants. Until unemployment materially decreases and the residential housing market returns to at least pre-2005 levels of activity, the "Great Recession" isn't over, despite what the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) would have us believe."
Other data this week was just awful. And, Pending Home Sales on Friday dropped by 11% which was much worse than expected. If higher stock prices buoy consumer sentiment, what about poor housing data? The disconnect is extraordinary.
Most major equity index related ETF were able to claw out of most negative readings to close the week either unchanged or plus/minus a small amount. Most of this was accomplished on very weak volume but with a heavy assist of QE2 ($30 billion over the last 5-7 trading days). This is the magic dust for bulls.
The tape's action is reality but the action behind the curtain is hollow and comprised of free money from on high. Nevertheless, most indexes may close the month down with only one day left to trade. Our DeMark monthly sequential 9 counts may have already made their impact as QE2 has another month to run and will compete with it.
Volume Friday was light as you'd expect on the day prior to a holiday. Breadth per the WSJ was positive leaving markets squarely in neutral technically.
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