The good news threatened to turn bad, Tuesday. Driven by improving consumer confidence and a small but measurable improvement in the devastated U.S. housing market, stocks resumed their upward path, with the Dow Jones Industrial average closing the day at 9539. That was a modest 30-point gain, but marked a 404-point jump over the last six days.
The Conference Board, a widely-quoted research firm, announced Tuesday that consumer attitudes have taken an upturn after two monthly declines. In July, the figure stood at a revised 47.4, surging to 54.1 in August – significantly better than observers had expected and the highest point since May. Whether this means anything as the U.S. economy continues to shed jobs, businesses continue to fire people and government deficits reach the stratosphere remains to be seen.
Oil traders were hoping to capture some of that magic, since consumer confidence is one of the strongest indicators of near-term spending. With consumers driving less and factories turning out less, prices collapsed last December, but things may be reversing course. See Ken Zino’s analysis of the oil pricing roller coaster and our failed energy policies by clicking here.
As anyone with a car knows, fuel prices have been steadily increasing this year. The oil industry has been seeing a number of opportunities over the last few weeks, including increased demand in China, to raise prices. And that has nudged prices steadily higher in recent trading. It’s beginning to look like another price spike could be looming.