Shopping Chatter Is a Nice Distraction

 | Nov 23, 2012 | 7:46 AM EST
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You can still go shopping without buying, because where buying is a matter of need, shopping is a question of want. -- Robert Rowland Smith

With the leftover turkey safely tucked away in the refrigerator the great American tradition shifts to shopping. We will hear endless talk today that "the mall is packed! People are carrying many shopping bags!" 

Without fail every Black Friday is deemed to be exceptionally strong and is an indication that retail sales will be very good. That usually lasts until early next week when reality sets in and people once again discover that the activity on Black Friday is about shopping and the media rather than actually spending money and buying.

If nothing else, the shopping stories are is a nice distraction on our half-day of rather meaningless trading. We have a few traders out there who'd like to catch some action, but for the most part there isn't any interest in making big moves.  

We do have a fair amount of news flow out of Europe this morning with some positive economic data from Germany and some chatter how Greece is about to be saved once again.  It has been more of a struggle to arrive at an agreement in Europe recently, but maybe that means they will actually make a meaningful deal this time.

Ultimately the main thing that is going to drive this market in the next few weeks is the negotiation over the fiscal cliff. Congress is out of session and at the moment there is a fair level of optimism that a deal will be struck, but I anticipate that it may be a bumpy road as both sides resort to the brinkmanship that they are so used to employing.

Overall the fundamentals are providing some hope but the technical patterns could still use some work. We've had one big oversold bounce and its running a bit higher during the holidays, but the risk of a rollover is very high. This is a pattern that becomes increasingly difficult to chase as it starts to approach resistance levels and move from oversold to overbought.

As I've written often, these bounces can continue longer than the bears tend to think, but at some point the folks who caught the bounce start to think about locking in some gains and then waiting for entry points to set up. It is a tough market to chase at this juncture, but we should have some opportunity in individual stocks.

Don't forget we close at 1 p.m. ET today and volume is going to be very light. The vast majority of the discussion in the media will be about shopping and retail sales and it will be totally useless information for investors.

We have a slightly positive open on the way and some positive holiday spirit to drive us. It should last for at least a few hours.

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