US stocks rally to cap off a volatile February as oil prices remain elevated but off panic highs.
DJIA rises 96 (0.8%) to 12226, up about 2.8% on the month; S&P 500 gains 7 (0.6%) to 1327, Nasdaq Comp adds 1 to 2782. That makes three monthly winners in a row for the Dow, and five of the past six since Ben Bernanke started talking up QE2.
But, hey, it wasn’t such a bad month for crude, either. Nymex crude was up 5.2% in February, closing at $96.97. This benchmark is up six months in a row, rising 35% during that run. A move that big could be due only to fundamentals, right? Right.
Stock investors today jumped on a raft of economic reports, although we’re hard pressed to see how incomes rising as result of the payroll-tax cut is fundamentally good. No matter, apparently. The NAR says pending home sales didn’t fall quite as much as expected, so you know things are good.
You can expect a good day for stocks tomorrow, too, unless the world explodes overnight. The first trading day of the month has been a very reliable friend to the bulls.
Elsewhere, market’s starting to drill down to QE2′s scheduled end; so is the Fed. The central bank’s James Bullard and William Dudley were out today on the circuit talking about it, and Chairman Bernanke is sure to be asked about it tomorrow and Wednesday when he trudges over to Capitol Hill.
Whether this program gets cut off, tapered out or even fully extended is taking on more significance; it’s been a major source of the stock market’s rally since August, and indeed despite the Fed’s insistence it’s been a major source of the rally in commodities as well, so how the Fed plans to end it is a major concern.