Hope for a ‘Santa Claus’ rally?

David Brancaccio Nov 25, 2011

Black Friday is usually a good day for the markets. While many people are enjoying the long weekend, it’s a short trading day and there’s generally lots of excitement about the beginning of the holiday retail season. Today, not so much. Stocks spent much of the day in positive territory, but they slipped into the red in the last 20 minutes. It seems investors just couldn’t avert their eyes from another bad day on Europe’s financial markets.

It’s been a parade of downbeat news from Europe this week, with high bond yields and slipping credit ratings. In Italy today, yields on two-year bonds went up to 7.8 percent, a level that keeping investors worried that the eurozone’s third-largest economy is headed the way of Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Also today, Moody’s cut Hungary’s credit rating to junk bond status. And, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Belgium’s credit on concerns that the current temporary government is not up to the challenge of this economic crisis.

We talked with Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. He says for the last three decades, December’s been the second strongest month on the markets. The usual “Santa Claus” rally could happen this year, as hedge funds try to make their benchmarks, retail sales continue to go strong, and investors get in the holiday spirit. It’s just that with things as bad as they are in Europe, the feel-good mood of the markets may not be enough.

Also on today’s show, lots of puddle jumpers — the dinky airplanes the airliners often surprise us with — are being phased out due to soaring fuel prices. Delta and United-Continental are among the airlines jettisoning small planes. That news is sending the Marketplace Daily Pulse up.

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