By Robert W. Colby, Senior Analyst

What’s up, Santa?

On Tuesday, MasterCard Advisors said U.S. retailers’ sales rose 3.6 percent in holiday shopping, which was at the lower end of expectations.

The Energy Stock Sector Price rose to a new all-time high.

Crude Oil Futures moved above previous 6-day price highs.

Bond prices fell again, continuing their correction/consolidation phase.

On Monday, major stock price indexes opened higher in reaction to news that Santa might deliver $6.2 billion to Merrill Lynch, which has been trying to deal with untold billions of depreciated subprime assets of questionable value on its balance sheet. MER stock opened higher but closed lower when someone said that Santa might have attached strings to his “gift”.

Still, the major stock price indexes held early gains and added to gains in the final half hour to close near their best levels of the day and above their highest highs over the previous 7 trading days. This normally might be taken for a sign of strength for the very short term. After all, seasonal tendencies are supposed to be Bullish, aren’t they.

The S&P 500 moved above 50- and 200-day simple moving averages to confirm the previous similar accomplishment by the DJIA.

Volume on the NYSE fell by 72%, reflecting the Christmas Eve half-day trading session on Monday.

Breadth ended 54% net Bullish, with a greater number of Advancing stocks than Declining stocks on the NYSE.

Up-Down Volume finished the day 53% net Bullish, with greater Up Volume than Down Volume on the NYSE.

But still, the New Highs-New Lows on the NYSE ended at 9% net Bearish.

Spotlight on event stocks: Here is a stock screen I designed to pick out potential “event” stocks, both Bullish and Bearish. Sometimes, stocks with large changes in price and volume are revealed to be deal stocks, sooner or later, or are the subject of some other extraordinary events, positive or negative.

Bullish Stocks: Rising Price and Rising Volume
% Price Change, Symbol, Name

0.37% , FDV , Value 40 Large Low P/E FT DB, FDV
0.94% , VCR , Consumer D. VIPERs, VCR
1.02% , NYC , LargeCap Blend NYSE Composite iS, NYC
0.81% , EWN , Netherlands Index, EWN
0.89% , KLD , LargeCap Blend Socially Responsible iS, KLD
1.79% , RZV , Value SmallCap S&P 600, RZV
0.20% , EWD , Sweden Index, EWD
0.74% , EZU , EMU Europe Index, EZU
0.58% , PBJ , Food & Beverage, PBJ
1.10% , VIS , Industrials VIPERs, VIS
1.22% , FPX , IPOs, First Tr IPOX-100, FPX
0.74% , DBC , Commodity Tracking, DBC
1.05% , VGT , Info Tech VIPERs, VGT
0.67% , NY , Value LargeCap NYSE 100 iS, NY
0.94% , VBK , Growth SmallCap VIPERs, VBK
0.90% , IWB , LargeCap 1000 R, IWB
0.79% , IAH , Internet Architecture H, IAH
0.70% , IWZ , Growth LargeCap Russell 3000, IWZ
0.27% , EWQ , France Index, EWQ
0.43% , HCR , MANOR CARE
0.70% , PFM , Dividend Achievers PS, PFM
0.67% , EWP , Spain Index, EWP
0.82% , PWJ , Growth Mid Cap Dynamic PS, PWJ
0.86% , SWH , Software H, SWH
0.83% , VAW , Materials VIPERs, VAW
0.81% , VDE , Energy VIPERs, VDE
0.67% , ELV , Value Large Cap DJ, ELV
0.82% , IGM , Technology GS, IGM
0.46% , EWI , Italy Index, EWI
0.45% , XLE , Energy SPDR, XLE
1.07% , VXF , Extended Mkt VIPERs, VXF
0.11% , VPU , Utilities VIPERs, VPU
0.47% , TTH , Telecom H, TTH
0.18% , IVW , Growth S&P 500/BARRA, IVW
0.46% , PJP , Pharmaceuticals, PJP
0.17% , YHOO , YAHOO

Bearish Stocks: Falling Price and Rising Volume
% Price Change, Symbol, Name

-0.81% , ITF , Japan LargeCap Blend TOPIX 150, ITF
-1.55% , IXC , Energy Global, IXC

Sectors: among the 9 major U.S. sectors, 8 rose and 1 fell.
Major Sectors Ranked for the Day
% Price Change, Sector

1.85% Consumer Discretionary
1.81% Financial
1.11% Industrial
0.93% Materials
0.74% Technology
0.49% Utilities
0.45% Energy
0.33% Health Care
-0.14% Consumer Staples

Looking beyond the daily fluctuation to the major trends (listed in order of long-term relative strength):

Energy (XLE) Bullish, Overweight. Relative Strength made a new all-time high on 12/21/07. XLE made an all-time price high on 12/24/07. XLE has been strong compared to the S&P since 3/12/03.

Utilities (XLU) Bullish, Overweight. This defensive sector’s Relative Strength made a new 6-year high on 12/5/07, and price made a new all-time high on 12/10/07.

Materials (XLB) Bullish, Overweight. The XLB/SPY Relative Strength Ratio made a new all-time high on 11/8/07. Price made new all-time high on 10/29/07. The long-term Relative Strength trend has strongly outperformed since 9/27/2000.

Technology (XLK) Neutral, Market Weight. Relative Strength turned up from a low on 11/30/07. And, long term, XLK has been relatively strong compared to the S&P since its low on 7/24/06.

Consumer Staples (XLP) Bullish, Overweight. This defensive sector’s price made a new all-time high on 12/10/07, and Relative Strength made a new 6-year high on 11/26/07.

Industrial (XLI) Neutral, Market Weight. Price and Relative Strength have been chopping sideways since 8/3/07. Longer-term trends appear Bullish.

Health Care (XLV) Neutral, Market Weight. XLV price moved up to a new 6-month high on 12/3/07. Relative Strength moved up to a new 13-month high on 11/27/07.

Consumer Discretionary (XLY) Bearish, Underweight. On 12/21/07, the XLY/SPY Relative Strength Ratio fell to its lowest level in 6 years. Relative Strength has been trending down since 1/5/05. XLY price made a new 14-month low on 11/27/07.

Financial (XLF) Bearish, Underweight. On 12/20/07, the XLF/SPY Relative Strength Ratio fell to its lowest level in 7 years. Relative Strength has been trending down since 2/20/07. XLF price hit a new 2.5-year low on 11/26/07.

Foreign stock indices have underperformed U.S. stock indices short term, since 11/27/07. The EFA (the EAFE, international developed country stock markets, ex the U.S. and Canada) made a new price high on 10/31/07 and a new relative strength high on 11/27/07. EFA has substantially outperformed long term, since the Bull market started in 2002, and the secular trend is still Bullish. My Top 10 ETF Relative Strength Ranks have been nearly all Foreign for many months.

NASDAQ Composite and NASDAQ 100 underperformed the S&P since 11/7/07. But trends in different time frames conflict. Longer term, NASDAQ outperformed from 8/8/06 to 11/7/07, including a new 6-year Relative Strength high on 11/7/07 and a new price high on 10/31/07.

Growth Stock/Value Stock Relative Strength Ratio has been in a neutral trend since 11/7/07. The long-term, the main trend for the Growth/Value ratio (IWF/IWD) has been rising since 8/8/06.

The Small Cap/Large Cap Relative Strength Ratio has been showing typical seasonal strength since 12/17/07. Year end and early January often has been good for Small Caps. But the main long-term trend is Relatively Bearish for Small Caps. The ratio fell to a new 2.5-year low on 12/17/07. Small Caps substantially underperformed Large Caps since 4/19/06.

Crude Oil Futures moved above previous 6-day price highs. Crude appears to be in position to test Resistance at the 12/13/07 high of 94.85 and possibly at the 11/21/07 high of 99.29. Oil found support at the 12/6/07 low of 85.82. The U.S. OIL FUND ETF (AMEX: USO) is not a pure play on Crude Oil, although it generally moves in the same direction.

The Energy stock sector outperformed the USO since 11/26/07. Previously, over the 6 months from 5/30/07 to 11/26/07, XLE lagged oil the commodity.

February Gold Futures moved further above a 6-week downtrend line. Gold appears to be ending a Triangle Consolidation Pattern. The 6-week price range is between 855.00 set on 11/7/07 and 778.40 set on 11/20/07.

Silver’s main trend is Bearish compared to Gold. The iShares Silver Trust (AMEX: SLV) has been relatively weak since 12/7/06.

The Gold Miners ETF (GDX) has underperformed Gold Futures since 10/31/07. Price made a new 13-week low on 12/18/07.

Inflation expectations have recovered since 12/5/07. The short-term trend has been mostly rising, based on the behavior of the ratio of two ETFs, TIP/IEF.

U.S. Treasury Bond prices fell again. Bonds have been in correction/consolidation since their price top on 11/26/07. Bonds remain reactive to news about the credit crisis: the worse the credit crisis, the higher the Bond prices; the better the credit crisis, the lower the Bond prices.

The U.S. dollar eased slightly the past two trading days after making a 2-month closing price high last week. The short-term price trend has been up since the oversold low at 74.65 on 11/23/07. Longer term, there could be plenty of overhead resistance and the main trend is still Bearish. The dollar fell 19% from its high of 92.53 on 11/16/05 to its low of 74.65 on 11/23/07, moving it into “oversold”.

Daily Rankings of Major Global Markets, Ranked from Strongest to Weakest of the Day:

3.58% REITs
2.24% Singapore
1.85% Consumer Discretionary
1.81% Financial
1.76% Mexico
1.69% Malaysia
1.67% Airlines
1.60% Retailers
1.36% South Korea
1.35% Dow Transports
1.26% Banks
1.12% Russell 2000
1.12% S&P Mid Caps
1.12% Oil Services
1.11% Industrial
1.06% AMEX Composite
1.06% S&P Small Caps
1.05% Chemicals
1.03% Commodity Related
0.97% Australia
0.96% Value Line
0.96% Insurance
0.93% Materials
0.93% Computer Tech
0.88% Wilshire 5000
0.87% NYSE Composite
0.84% Oil
0.83% Russell 3000
0.82% Brazil
0.81% Russell 1000
0.81% Netherlands
0.80% Nasdaq Composite
0.80% Nasdaq 100
0.79% Hardware
0.76% S&P 100
0.76% Dow Composite
0.74% Technology
0.73% Canadian Dollar
0.69% Austria
0.67% Spain
0.65% Network
0.63% Disk Drives
0.62% Australian Dollar
0.59% Gold Mining
0.54% Hospitals
0.53% Semiconductors
0.49% Utilities
0.46% Italy
0.45% Energy
0.44% Canada
0.42% Broker Dealers
0.38% Internet
0.33% Health Care
0.33% Euro Index
0.31% DOT
0.29% Belgium
0.27% France
0.20% Sweden
0.19% Switzerland
0.17% Drugs
0.11% Health Care
0.09% Biotechs
0.09% Health Care Products
0.01% Dow Utilities
0.01% Natural Gas
0.00% Dow Industrial
0.00% S&P 500
-0.08% Swiss Franc
-0.14% Consumer Staples
-0.21% US Dollar Index
-0.26% Paper
-0.34% Japanese Yen
-0.38% British Pound
-0.55% 30Y T-Bond
-0.84% Germany
-1.02% Hong Kong
-1.14% Taiwan
-1.19% Japan
-2.75% United Kingdom