Stocks and ETFs Chop as Bulls and Bears Battle

U.S. stocks and ETFs start off strongly but fizzle into the close Thursday.

U.S. stock markets and index ETFs got off to a strong start but fizzled in the last 30 minutes of trading to close mixed with some losses and some gains in major U.S. markets.

Major U.S. Index ETFs:

Dow Jones Industrial Average: (NYSEARCA:DIA)  -0.14%

S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) +0.02%

Nasdaq 100 (NYSEARCA:QQQ) -0.345

Russell 2000 (NYSEARCA:IWM) +0.37%

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Overall, major U.S. markets continue to exhibit substantial weakness on concern over earnings reports, the Presidential election and fiscal cliff.

Nearly everywhere one looks, uncertainty abounds and so markets remain in a tight trading range as they wait for resolution or at least some forward looking guidance regarding all of these significant issues.

The bright spot today was a surprise in jobless claims which added fuel to the argument that the economy is, in fact, gathering strength and this was bolstered by a report indicating that foreclosure filings for September fell to a level not seen since 2007.

Action in other major markets was slow, with gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) adding 0.24% and VIX (NYSEARCA:TVIX) crashing another 4.3% today, victimized yet again by strong economic reports.

Yesterday’s economic reports were largely positive and tomorrow brings producer and consumer price reports and University of Michigan consumer sentiment, along with important earnings reports from JP Morgan (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo due before traders head home for the weekend.

The Nasdaq continues to lag the other major indexes, which is troubling, as Nasdaq tends to leads markets both higher and lower.  However, today the direction was lower again with the Nasdaq 100 (NYSEARCA:QQQ) down some 5% over the last month alone.

Bottom line:  Stocks and ETFs try to rally but get shot down by weakening fundamentals, predominantly too much debt and slow growth. Technically, major ETFs remain locked in a sideways channel.

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John Nyaradi is the author of The ETF Investing Premium Newsletter.