Saturday, January 21, 2006

Railroad stocks roll

The market finished on a bad note this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Index closed down 2.7% on the week, with only 3 of the 30 index members advancing. Hitting a 52-week high, McDonalds (MCD) with its 4% move was the best performer of the Dow 30. But the major tremor was felt in the technology sector. Internet, and semiconductor stocks took the biggest hit - poster boys IBM (down 2.1%) and Intel (INTC) (down 15.6%) both responding to investor jitters - while Yahoo (YHOO)(-15%) and Google (GOOG)(-14%) were meted a serious flight of sellers on the NASDAQ. Financial stocks also dropped 3.3%, with insurance stocks like AIG and Metlife (MET) notably weak. Stock Trends followers will find multiple bank stocks in our listing of Newly Weak Bullish stocks - including Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (CIT), Wachovia (WB), US Bancorp (USB), and Commerce Bancorp (CBH). Indeed, the coming week will present some important answers about the resiliency of both the technology and financial sectors.

Amid the scampering of little feet toward the exits there was also a solid party of investors who would have none of the panic, instead nestling even closer to the bar with their cigars and cognac. These hardcore investors were definitely old school - picking up rolling stock, of all things. Railroad stocks rose a healthy 4%, outperformed this week by only the oil services industry. Union Pacific (UNP) (up 6.4%), and Norfolk Southern (NSC) (up 4.2%), and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNI) (up 2.7%) were the most actively traded of the group. The railroads have been one of the best performing industry groups in the past year - currently up 37% from a year ago. The strong bullish trend in these transport stocks seems to be an important antidote to the market's queasy feelings.
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