Conditions Ripe for Selling

 | Jan 19, 2012 | 4:30 PM EST
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The earnings reports are coming in and, so far, the big news is that Google (GOOG) missed both the top and bottom line and the stock is down sharply in after-hours trading.

IBM (IBM), Intel (INTC), Microsoft (MSFT) and Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) are all trading slightly higher on their reports. There aren't any big upside surprises, but the numbers are good enough to keep the sellers at bay.

Today is particularly important to see if a "sell the news" reaction takes hold. Expectations are fairly high, and we are technically extended and in need of consolidation, so conditions are ripe for selling. But the dip buyers have been in control recently and have not been in a hurry to step aside.

Although the indices went out near their highs today, there were quite a few pullbacks in individual stocks intraday. We are just too extended in places for profit-taking not to occur. The big issue is whether it develops into something more extreme once we pause. There is no reason to anticipate that now, but it certainly is a good place to tighten up and protect recent gains. We have had a straight up move so far this year, and the latter part of January has a tendency toward weakness.

There is no need to be overtly bearish, but a little defense may pay off at this point.

We'll see how things develop overnight, and I'll see you in the morning.

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