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The President: What a Difference a Day Makes

The contrast between the president's speech todayat the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and his speech yesterday on Wall Streetcould not have been more glaring.

Today, the president stood in shirtsleeves and made it clear his economic policy was helping revive the economy. He was animated, full of fight, and acted like he was running for re-election.

  • Bernanke: Recession 'Likely Over', Recovery to Be Slow

He waded into the crowd and enthusiastically shook hands with the workers.

He was clearly at ease.

By contrast, yesterday he appeared at Federal Hall, gave a somber speech, admonished Wall Street, and apparently did not want to be seen shaking with traders, so did not even bother to come across the street to the New York Stock Exchange.

A market top? The usual cynical comments from the trading community as signs emerge that retail traders are returning to the market.

Numbers released in the last 24 hours certainly seem to indicate that retail traders are getting more active. Daily client trades for the major retail brokers were up sharply in August:

  • Schwab up 24%
  • ETrade up 37.4%-year ago
  • Knight Capital: up 53%
  • TD Ameritrade up 71%

These are numbers that compare August 2009 to August 2008, but sequential numbers (July to August) were also up as well.

Some of this was clearly due to very heavy trading in low-priced, high-beta financials (think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

However, other data on mutual fund inflows indicate that retail investors, for the first time this year, are indeed putting more money into equity mutual funds.

This is eliciting the usual cynical comments, that retail investors always get in at the top. But if we are truly at the beginning of a surge in the earnings cycle, that old saw may not play out.

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Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com


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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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