U.S. markets’ Fat Tuesday revels more or less a bust

Wall Street’s Kosmic One Percent Krewe tries to party hearty, but averages close like it’s the morning after.

Krewe of Kosmic Debris revelers on Frenchmen Street.
The heck with Wall Street. Here are some folks who really know how to party. Krewe of Kosmic Debris revelers on Frenchmen Street in action, 2009. (Via Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON, February 17, 2015 – Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, call it what you want. Tonight’s the night for Carnival(e), Mardi Gras and all things festive, depending upon which side of the International Dateline you happen to reside.

But Wall Street’s stuffy traders just didn’t catch that Fat Tuesday spirit. It was almost as if they’d applied Wednesday’s ashes to their collective foreheads a day early. Averages hovered in negative territory throughout much of the day before ending with a half-hearted positive close at 4 p.m. EST. Action was essentially indecisive.

Who knows? Maybe this was an after-effect of Monday’s latest Eastern Seaboard blizzard, the endless chain of which clearly proves that global warming climate change is real. Or maybe God is finally deciding to do the Blue States in with ice instead of fire.

More likely, today’s lackluster results were due to a combination of snowstorm absentees and confusing news on the international and energy fronts. Tomorrow should provide us with a clearer idea as to this erratic 2015 market’s overall direction. We think.

Looking ahead, oil prices (for now) seem happy to hover a point or three on either side of $50 bbl. for West Texas Intermediate. On the other side of the pond, ISIS and its ilk are happily destroying Libya’s oil infrastructure along with everything else they can get their murderous hands on.

Meanwhile, Russian and Ukraine forces are apparently enjoying their latest ceasefire, rejoicing with mass quantities of celebratory gunfire in each other’s direction.

Elsewhere, Greece’s new Communist government is refreshing an old page from the Marxist Book of Negotiation by sincerely powwowing with the EU even as they tear their former agreements apart. Socialists and Marxists love to spend money they’ll never have. But then again, given our own current administration, we should talk.

It’s all part of the New Normal, apparently. But the center is not holding and, as Yeats once observed, things fall apart when that happens. But never when you think.

U.S. portfolios, at least, are not likely to completely fall apart until the bulls finally abandon their twin mantras of “bad news is good” and “BTFD” (“Buy The effing Dip”).

That could happen when the Federal Reserve finally drops its Hamlet act and actually raises interest rates, likely causing a fiscal coronary event, à la 1937. But only TV’s blow-dried pundits and wealthy, blathering gasbags seem to know the precise date this will occur, proclaiming daily their almost certainly wrong guesstimates much like the endless supply of false prophets who pinpoint the exact moment we will finally achieve The End of Days.

Maybe tomorrow will be more fun, one way or the other. But today we pretty much busied ourselves with other things on the domestic front, due largely to this morning’s snow closures here in D.C. As a result, no trading tips today.

We’ll try to break out of our mental claustrophobia and have more fun things for you to ponder on Wednesday.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17