The Dow rallied 320 points today. Most analysts are crediting the rally to Wal-Mart's better-than-expected earnings, and comments out of Goldman Sachs saying it won't be posting any significant writedowns. Other analysts are saying the market rallied simply because it was short-term oversold. In other words, stocks went up today because they had gone down in previous days.
I am happy to see today's rally in Wal-Mart because the stock is on my recommeded list in the Special Situation Survey. I'm also happy to see the nice rebound in Citigroup because I started buying it just a few days ago (see Can Citi Maintain the Dividend). Yet I remain cautious on stocks overall. We will be seeing more mortgage-related writedowns. Yestereday's announcement from E*Trade won't be the last. Furthermore, problems could soon arise with securitized credit card obligations.
Although oil prices backed off more than $3 per barrel today, they remain extraordinarily high. This means gasoline prices will be going up significantly from current levels--just in time for the holiday shopping season. With consumer spending likely to slow, the weak dollar may be the only thing keeping our economy out of recession.
I would use strong rallies like today's to hedge positions. The UltraShort ProShares ETFs are a good way to accomplish this.