“Burn the Hands”

Yesterday, stocks recovered a little from last week’s sharp sell-off. A little time over the weekend to reflect on the true potential of the "Volcker Rule"

(the name given to the new banking regulations proposed by the President on Thursday) to become law probably helped. 

Stocks gained slightly even though December home sales dropped a worse than expected 16%. That’s a pretty bad surprise, but stocks shook it off. That suggests to me that last week’s sell off may have been a bit exaggerated.

As an aside, I’m not sure why there was concern that Fed Chief Bernanke wouldn’t be re-confirmed to his post. Sure, Geithner might be on the way out, but that’s no big deal. I see zero percent chance that Congress would let Bernanke go at this point. 

*****Fourth Quarter earnings have been good so far. I read that 70% of companies reporting have beaten expectations. But many of the surprises have been met with selling, like IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Google (Nasdaq:GOOG).  

DJIA, Nasdaq, S&P 500 Up in Morning Trading

Both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 are hitting new recovery rally highs today. Part of the reason for today’s strength is the better than expected construction numbers released this morning. 
The 0.8% gain in construction spending for April was the biggest gain in nearly a year. And it was far better than economists’ expectations of a 1.5% drop.

Where the S&P 500 is headed next

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is having his "Lucy" moment today. Yes, he’s got "a lot of explaining to do …" 
He’s speaking before Congress today to answer questions as to how the Public-Private Investment Program will actually remove toxic assets and protect taxpayer money at the same time. Also up for explanation is how the remaining $110 billion in TARP money is enough to fund any future bank rescues. 
I don’t envy Geithner one bit. That’s because there’s no way he can adequately answer these questions:

S&P 500 Support

I have never seen a company more determined to make itself universally reviled than AIG. It truly boggles the mind that anyone at AIG, especially those in the financial products division that lost $62 billion on credit default swaps in the fourth quarter alone, could think they should receive a bonus. 
I don’t care what the contract says – if you’re party to losing $62 billion in a three-month span, you get no reward. Sorry. And if you even have to ask if bonuses can be paid with bailout money that’s keeping your business going, your moral compass is seriously out of whack.