Stocks Slave to Volatility

Updated from 1:46 p.m. EDT

During an up-and-down session, U.S. stocks were trading just above the baseline Thursday afternoon, as traders took in a flood of corporate earnings statements, saw evidence of additional turmoil in the financial sector and stomached a fresh serving of economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was lately up 74 points to 8652, and the S&P 500 was better by 4.3 points at 912. The Nasdaq was adding 28 points to 1657.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies, said that he believes the market bottomed at its intraday low on Friday, and the markets will not even return to test that. "We're still convinced that the punishment is not fitting the crime and we're overdoing it here." He said the market is seeing indiscriminate selling as firms continue to try to raise cash.

Bob Andres, chief investment strategist for Portfolio Management Consultants, was less bullish, saying, "The consumer is a dead man walking." He said the Federal Reserve and Treasury have gotten behind the curve. Now that the government has somewhat addressed the credit crisis, it's time to move on and look at the economy, he said.

"Everybody is relating the bailout package in some way to the economy ... and it has almost nothing to do with the economy," said Andres. As for equities, "You can't call a bottom or a top," he said. "Are we closer to fair value? Certainly we are." However, he said he predicts GDP will decline 2.5% this quarter, and the economy will remain stagnant for a long time.

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