By Robert W. Colby, Senior Analyst

M&A enthusiasm may be short lived.
NYSE volume fell 13%.

Materials Stock Sector Relative Strength made a new all-time high.

Crude Oil broke down below 5-day lows.

On Friday, major stock price indexes rose following news that Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo! for $31 per share, which was 62% above the market price. This seemed to fan the fires of deal speculation generally. Stocks turned down after 10 a.m., recovered after 11 a.m. and closed near their highs of the day. But volume on the NYSE fell 13%, suggesting diminished enthusiasm for chasing stocks higher.

The market seems to be quite reactive to the news of the day, and the news seems to change every day. In the longer-term picture, major underlying technical trends remain Bearish for stocks. In addition, underlying fundamental trends appear difficult, at best. There has been a sense that big problems are already baked into the cake, in the pipeline. But there may be solutions as well. There have been vague reports of powerful people working on rescue plans. We just don’t know what the next big news item might me. Therefore, it appears to be a high risk environment—both for longs and shorts.

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

47.97% , YHOO , YAHOO
1.76% , PXE , Energy Exploration & Prod, PXE
1.60% , PHJ , Dividend Growth PS, PHJ
3.72% , PSJ , Software, PSJ
11.73% , MU , MICRON TECH
5.63% , XSD , Semiconductor SPDR, XSD
10.35% , MOT , MOTOROLA
7.42% , SMH , Semiconductor H, SMH
1.72% , DGT , Global Titans, DGT
2.41% , RZV , Value SmallCap S&P 600, RZV
10.38% , DISH , EchoStar Communications Corporation
3.54% , NCR , NCR
3.22% , RFV , Value MidCap S&P 400, RFV
2.69% , XBI , Biotech SPDR, XBI
10.48% , PWER , POWER ONE
5.33% , IGW , Semiconductor iS GS, IGW
5.69% , VRSN , VeriSign Inc
2.15% , FDL , Dividend Leaders, FDL
2.19% , PWT , Growth SmallCap Dynamic PS, PWT
6.23% , R , RYDER SYSTEM
2.08% , RPG , Growth S&P 500, RPG
8.25% , SNDK , SanDisk Corporation
2.53% , IJS , Value SmallCap S&P 600 B, IJS
2.43% , VAW , Materials VIPERs, VAW
2.10% , JKG , MidCap Blend Core iS M, JKG
3.60% , AA , ALCOA
2.21% , IJJ , Value MidCap S&P 400 B, IJJ
3.20% , EZA , South Africa Index, EZA
6.95% , CTSH , Cognizant Technology Solutions
5.75% , VC , VISTEON
2.88% , MTK , Technology MS sT, MTK
2.09% , JKL , Value SmallCap iS M, JKL
1.77% , IYJ , Industrial LargeCap Blend DJ US, IYJ
2.46% , PWV , Value LargeCap Dynamic PS, PWV
1.34% , PPA , Aerospace & Defense, PPA
1.97% , PMR , Retail, PMR
2.81% , VB , Small Cap VIPERs, VB
2.57% , BDH , Broadband H, BDH

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

-7.88% , MIL , MILLIPORE
-2.24% , GLD , Gold Shares S.T., GLD
-3.72% , RFMD , RF Micro Devices Inc
-2.92% , CMI , CUMMINS
-8.58% , GOOG , Google
-2.40% , IAU , Gold COMEX iS, IAU
-5.08% , SAF , SAFECO
-1.19% , SLV , Silver Trust iS, SLV
-2.60% , USO , Oil, Crude, U.S. Oil Fund, USO
-2.65% , CIEN.O , CIENA
-0.60% , RYAAY , Ryanair Holdings plc
-1.20% , CR , CRANE
-0.16% , SHY , Bond, 1-3 Year Treasury, SHY
-0.80% , TDC , Teradata Corporation, TDC
-0.47% , LLL , L-3 COMMS HLDGS
-0.04% , LQD , Bond, Corp, LQD

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

2.60% Utilities
2.52% Financial
2.51% Energy
2.43% Materials
2.30% Industrial
1.72% Technology
0.99% Consumer Staples
0.89% Consumer Discretionary
0.47% Health Care

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

Materials (XLB) Bullish, Overweight. Price touched a new 5-month low on 1/23/08. The XLB/SPY Relative Strength Ratio made a new all-time high on 2/1/08. The long-term Relative Strength trend has strongly outperformed since 9/27/2000.

Energy (XLE) Bullish, Overweight. Price hit a new 5-month low on 1/22/08. On 1/3/08, both XLE Price and Relative Strength made new all-time highs. XLE has been strong compared to the S&P since 3/12/03.

Utilities (XLU) Neutral, Market Weight. Price touched a new 12-month low on 1/22/08. Relative Strength made a new all-time high on 1/9/08, and Price made a new all-time high on 12/10/07.

Consumer Staples (XLP) Neutral, Market Weight. Price touched a new 15-month low on 1/22/08. Price made a new all-time high on 12/10/07, and Relative Strength made a new 3-year high on 1/17/08.

Industrial (XLI) Neutral, Market Weight. Price touched a new 16-month low on 1/22/08. On 1/30/08, Relative Strength made a new all-time high.

Health Care (XLV) Neutral, Market Weight. Price touched a new 18-month low on 1/22/08. Relative Strength moved up to a new 26-month high on 1/17/08.

Technology (XLK) Neutral, Market Weight. Price touched a new 17-month low on 1/22/08. On 1/31/08, Relative Strength made a new 7-month low. XLK/SPY has underperformed since 11/5/07.

Consumer Discretionary (XLY) Bearish, Underweight. Price touched a new 4-year low on 1/22/08. On 1/11/08, the XLY/SPY Relative Strength Ratio fell to its lowest level in 6 years.

Financial (XLF) Bearish, Underweight. Price touched a new 4-year low on 1/22/08. On 1/8/08, Relative Strength fell to a new 7-year low. These confirmed a Bearish major trend.

Foreign stock indexes remain in downtrends. EFA price fell to a new 17-month low on 1/23/08. The EFA (the EAFE, international developed country stock markets, ex the U.S. and Canada) underperformed since 11/27/07. Previously, EFA outperformed from 2002 to 11/27/07.

NASDAQ Composite price touched a new 15-month low on 1/23/08. Relative Strength underperformed the S&P since 11/7/07.

Growth Stock/Value Stock Relative Strength Ratio made a new 3-month low and has underperformed since the peak on 11/7/07. The Growth/Value ratio (IWF/IWD) appears to be in an intermediate-term correction phase.

The Small Cap/Large Cap Relative Strength Ratio broke down to a new 2.5-year low on 1/11/07. It has been trending down since 4/19/06. The main long-term trend is Relatively Bearish for Small Caps.

Crude Oil Futures (March) broke down below 5-day lows. Oil could test support near December’s low at 85.37. Resistance is evident at recent highs at 92.71 and 99.77. 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 has underperformed Crude Oil since 12/10/07.

Gold Futures broke down below 5-day lows. Probably just a temporary correction within a powerful uptrend.

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

The Gold Miners ETF (GDX) has underperformed Gold futures since 10/31/07.

Inflation expectations reversed to the downside, based on the behavior of the ratio of two ETFs, TIP/IEF.

U.S. Treasury Bond prices consolidated over the past 8 trading days. But the major long-term trend remains Bullish. 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 recovered slightly over the past 2 days. Some bounce is normal after a 7-day slide. The dollar held support around 74.66, which is shaping up as a critical level. The main trend remains Bearish.

The Art of Contrary Thinking: The mood has been moving away from optimism as stock prices move lower. Sentiment is far from a level associated with extreme pessimism. So, crowd psychology could get more Bearish before it is over. The business and financial news has flipped from Bearish to Bullish and back again. Investors’ moods and stock volatility have jumped up and down abruptly with the latest news. When everything shifts so dramatically from one day to the next, risk control becomes more important than aggressive profit seeking. Stay flexible.

Sentiment/Contrary Opinion: Bullish opinion is moderately below normal. According to the weekly Investors Intelligence newsletter survey as of 1/30/08, there were 40.2% Bulls and 32.2% Bears. The ratio of Bullish advisors to Bearish advisors fell to 1.25 to 1, which below its 38-year median at 1.47. The ratio’s 38-year range is 0.28 to 17.51.

VIX “Fear Index”, now at 24.02 and falling, is relatively normal by Bear Market standards (around 20 to 40) but relatively high by Bull Market standards (around 10 to 20). Longer term, VIX has been in a rising trend since it hit a 13-year low of 9.89 on 1/24/07. The all-time high was 45.74 on 10/8/98. VIX is a market estimate of expected constant 30-day volatility, calculated by weighting S&P 500 Index CBOE option bid/ask quotes spanning a wide range of strike prices for the two nearest expiration dates.

VXN “Fear Index”, now at 28.05 and falling, is relatively low by Bear Market standards (around 35 to 80) but relatively high by Bull Market standards (around 12 to 26). Longer term, VXN has been in a rising trend since it hit its all-time low of 12.61 on 7/29/05. The all-time high was 114.23 on 10/8/98. VXN measures Nasdaq Volatility using a method comparable to that used for VIX.

CBOE Put/Call Ratio is 0.70, which indicates slightly above-average Bearish sentiment. Its 4-year simple moving average and median are 0.62, and its 4-year range is 0.35 to 1.28.

ISEE Call/Put Ratio is 0.82, which indicates Bearish sentiment. It is below its 4-year simple moving average at 1.50 and its 4-year median at 1.47. That means customers opened fewer long call options and more long put options than normal. Its 4-year range is 0.51 to 3.04.

Fundamentals: The 2003-2007 Bull Market was fed by abundant global liquidly, M&A, leveraged buyouts, corporate stock buybacks, and the net balance of positive earnings surprises. The unfolding fallout from the subprime credit market crisis has derailed that engine. Economic statistics and corporate earnings have been weakening.

The Primary Tide Major Trend turned Bearish, and that is a strong force. The Dow Theory confirmed a Primary Bear Market on 11/21/07 when both the Dow-Jones Industrial Average and the Dow-Jones Transportation Average closed below their respective closing price lows of August, 2007. On 11/7/07, the Transports closed below their August low. Then on 11/21/07, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average closed below its 8/16/07 closing price low of 12,845.78, thereby turning the Primary Tide Bearish.

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

5.90% Airlines
5.77% Semiconductors
5.75% Australia
4.09% Taiwan
3.86% Disk Drives
3.75% REITs
2.83% Hardware
2.83% Oil Services
2.78% DOT
2.60% Utilities
2.52% Financial
2.51% Energy
2.48% Sweden
2.43% S&P Small Caps
2.43% Materials
2.41% Russell 2000
2.40% Mexico
2.36% Value Line
2.34% S&P Mid Caps
2.33% Internet
2.30% Industrial
2.30% Chemicals
2.10% Canada
2.07% Commodity Related
1.91% Brazil
1.89% AMEX Composite
1.82% Banks
1.79% France
1.77% Hospitals
1.72% Technology
1.69% Belgium
1.66% NYSE Composite
1.66% Natural Gas
1.66% Broker Dealers
1.61% Spain
1.59% South Korea
1.55% Netherlands
1.52% Biotechs
1.47% Dow Utilities
1.44% Russell 3000
1.40% Wilshire 5000
1.36% Russell 1000
1.35% United Kingdom
1.32% Singapore
1.32% Switzerland
1.31% Health Care Products
1.22% S&P 500
1.22% Malaysia
1.17% Dow Transports
1.16% Austria
1.09% Paper
1.03% Insurance
1.03% Oil
1.02% Dow Composite
1.01% Health Care
0.99% Consumer Staples
0.98% Nasdaq Composite
0.97% Network
0.89% Consumer Discretionary
0.88% Canadian Dollar
0.86% Japan
0.80% Germany
0.75% Nasdaq 100
0.73% Dow Industrial
0.66% Australian Dollar
0.50% S&P 100
0.50% Hong Kong
0.47% Health Care
0.41% US Dollar Index
0.39% Drugs
0.39% 30Y T-Bond
0.20% Retailers
0.10% Italy
0.05% Japanese Yen
-0.16% Computer Tech
-0.28% Swiss Franc
-0.32% Euro Index
-0.91% Gold Mining
-1.01% British Pound