The Fiscal Cliff Standoff Has Investors in a Waiting Game

U.S. stocks and ETFs fall to summer lows on Wal-Mart earnings, fiscal cliff and fighting in the Middle East

It was another rough day Thursday for U.S. stocks and ETFs as investors continued fretting about the fiscal cliff, slowing global economy and poor earnings.

Europe reported that it was in recession and U.S unemployment rose.

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Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) disappointed and pointed to a stressed consumer while rockets apparently hit Tel Aviv from Gaza and U.S. politicians prepare to meet tomorrow to wrangle over the fiscal cliff.

In economic news, weekly unemployment claims rose and the Philly Fed slumped to -10.7 from a +5.7 in October, solidly in contraction territory and indicating weak conditions in the Northeast as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

 Major U.S. Index ETFs:

Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) -0.23%

S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) -0.16%

Nasdaq 100 (NYSEARCA:QQQ) -0.30%

Russell 2000 (NYSEARCA:IWM) -0.48%

Gold: (NYSEARCA:GLD) -0.63%

Oil (NYSEARCA:USO) -0.88%

It was also a down day for most commodities as gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) and oil (NYSEARCA:USO) declined.

On a technical basis, major U.S. indexes, including the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) and Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) are now at oversold levels and so many analysts expect at least a short term technical bounce.  However, major stock indexes and index ETFs remain well below widely watched moving averages like the 50 and 200 day and so can be considered to be in at least short term bear markets.

Market leader Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) continued its slide further into bear market territory with a loss of -2.1%.

Friday comes news on the industrial sector with the October industrial production report.

Bottom line: Markets continue to be roiled by weak economic reports, the fiscal cliff standoff and now fighting in the Middle East.  Expect volatility to continue and possibly a short term bounce on oversold technical conditions and any good news.

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