The stock market is off to a fitful start on this first trading day of 2008, not necessarily a good omen for the year if you believe soothsayers. ISM manufacturing data, released at 10 a.m., took an already waffling market lower.
The Institute for Supply Management index fell to 47.7 percent for December, down from 50.8 percent in November. Economists had predicted 51. ISM shows manufacturing activity and a number below 50 indicates contraction in the factory sector. Buyers stepped into Treasurys, pushing yields lower.
The shrinking dollar is giving a boost to oil and gold. Oil is above $98 per barrelon more violence in Nigeria. Energy Department inventory data, usually issued Wednesday, is due Thursday this week. Gold is up sharply, striking a record of $855.10 an ounce in the spot market.
The latest Investor's Intelligence poll shows bullish sentiment declines to 52.2% from 54.9%, and that bearish sentiment is on the rise to 24.5% from 23.1%. That, from a contrarian view, is sometimes seen as a good sign for stocks. Those expecting a market correction rose to 23.3% from 22.0%.
The big thing to watch today is the minutes from the last FOMC meeting, due at 2 p.m. What we might see in those minutes is hints as to why the Fed turned the taps on big time in the final weeks of the year, and of course we'll watch for any hints on future action.
BlackRock Vice Chairman Robert Doll was on "Squawk Box" this morning, and he, like a number of strategists, is cautiously optimistic that stocks will rise in the year ahead. Too bad that was before ISM data. "That stocks go up is a possibility for the course of this year," said Doll, also Global CIO of BlackRock. "We are going to need to get by without an economic recession and the profits picture, while it looks a little gloomy for now , if we can get through that picture..there's a lot of liquidity on the sidelines."