Wednesday stock trade: Levitation without a cause

Stocks rally hard for second consecutive day, but for little reason and on low volume. Oil catches a bid, but world economies still broken.

Pee-Wee Herman will soon be aloft in his first-ever Netflix original movie on March 18. Will this week's stock market rally stay aloft that long? (Screen grab from Pee-Wee's movie trailer. See below.)

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2016 – Many stocks and stock sectors continued to rise in Wednesday trading, tacking on another win to Tuesday’s festivities. That’s pretty good for a holiday-shortened trading week, at least thus far.

But aside from a Saudi-Russian “oil freeze” agreement that’s mostly hot air, when it comes to hard information on the direction of the U.S. and the world’s economies… well, “There’s no there, there,” as Gertrude Stein once famously said of a small town in flyover country.

Even so, markets were quickly aloft following this morning’s closing bell and hovered in the stratosphere all day without visible support, a bit like Pee-Wee Herman in our illustration above, a screen grab from the trailer for his upcoming Netflix original film, “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.”

Both Pee-Wee’s world and this week’s market action thus far seem to exist on a different plane of reality from the one we’re living in. True, oil did catch a nice bid Wednesday, after this weekend’s Saudi-Russian non-announcement. But oil always catches a bid every time it hits rock bottom, as high-volume, high-frequency traders (HFTs) trampoline those bids right up again.

Once having suckered enough people into the oil “rally,” the HFTs are almost sure to do a 180, and crash-panic will ensue once again.

Yawn. Best to stay out of this. While some analysts are contending that stocks may be starting to break free from their current one-on-one link with oil prices, we’ll believe it when we see more evidence that this isn’t just another HFT game.

The current and ongoing oil-entire stock market linkage to oil never made a great deal of sense to us, and the hell with all those alleged interrelationships with everything. But it will take more than just a couple of decent, damage-repairing daily market moves to offset the carnage we’ve seen thus far in this still young new year.

So let’s wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Meanwhile, since we have nothing better to do, let’s take a look at that new Pee-Wee movie trailer.

As most of you must know, onetime kiddie star Pee-Wee Herman (as portrayed by Paul Reubens) was a very naughty boy some 25 years ago. That’s when Sarasota, Florida, cops, apparently with nothing better to do, discovered him in a movie theater thoroughly enjoying the kind of motion picture that kiddie stars aren’t supposed to enjoy, at least in public. They subsequently hauled him off to the slammer.

Given the scandal that ensued, Pee-Wee was pronounced doomed and eternally banned by clucking media pundits and moralists, all of whom proclaimed he’d never return to the idiot box or the silver screen ever, ever again.

Now, apparently, all is forgiven. Pee-Wee is about to go aloft once again in a brand new adventure starting on March 18. Can the rotten market we’ve thus far endured in 2016 do the same? If not, maybe we could ban it for 25 years.

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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