Volume was by far the lightest for a full day of trading this year and breath was very mixed, but we had typical window-dressing action. Big caps like Intuitive Surgical (ISRG), Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL) and Chipotle (CMG) were walked up on low volume, but tax-loss selling pushed down many of the names that have been lagging this year.
As I discussed in my opening post, stocks are not trading much on their individual merits right now. The main driving force is squaring things up and being ready for the start of next year. If there is an opportunity to produce a little relative performance with a high beta big-cap, they will give it a go, but with a finger on the eject button.
It's typical to see at least one very aggressive bout of selling in the waning days of the year. Some folks come to conclude that it is better to lock in profits and pay taxes than defer them to next year and risk a pullback. In fact, I'm kicking myself for not selling down more VirnetX Holding Corp. (VHC) when it was up sharply earlier.
The action is not likely to pick up in the next couple of days, so if you want to be active it is going to be tough. I'm inclined to try to catch a bout of profit-taking with some index plays, but you can see how easily this market was squeezed at midday.
As long as you don't expect much other than random low-volume action, you'll be fine. Unfortunately, the downside of this action is that it gives too many people too much time to make predictions about what they think is going to happen in 2012.
Have a good evening.