BUSINESS
05/02/2012 07:58 am ET

Stock Market Forgets All Its Cares: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Roughly one in seven people thinks the world is ending soon, but until then they'll need to know seven and a half things each day. Here they are:

Thing One: Happy Days Here Again: Just like that, everything's fine again.

All it took was one little survey of manufacturers, and all of Wall Street's worries about another spring slowdown in the economy simply melted away, letting stocks jump back to their highest levels since before the crisis. The Institute for Supply Management said its index of factory sentiment jumped to 54.8 from 53.4, the 33rd straight month the index has been above 50, the dividing line between expanding activity and shrinking activity. Economists had expected the ISM index to fall a little bit, in line with other surveys and data pointing to a weaker economy. When it didn't, the stock market immediately rocketed higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up some 120 points at one point on Tuesday. That rally faded by half, but still left the Dow at its highest level since late December 2007.

And now for the skeptical part: The ISM is an important number, arguably one of the most important economic numbers we get every month. But it is a sentiment survey, not hard data. It also contradicts the sentiment surveys we've gotten from regions around the country, all of which have turned lower recently. The stock market, meanwhile, seems to have gotten most of its juice yesterday from the panicky flight of short sellers, who weren't expecting such a strong ISM number and had to bail out of their bets against the market all at once, which helps prices rise. Once that short-covering effect was gone, the market started losing its juice. We still have big economic reports ahead, including the jobs report on Friday. Let's not start slapping each other's backs quite yet, to paraphrase Winston Wolf.

Thing Two: Chesapeake At Bay: One of the stocks rallying hard on Tuesday was Chesapeake Energy. Investors cheered the removal of CEO Aubrey McClendon from the position of chairman, under scrutiny for more than $1 billion in loans he took on his stakes in Chesapeake oil and gas wells. And Reuters reports this morning that McClendon, who is being asked to pay a little more attention to the company's business, please, was straight-up running a $200 million hedge fund inside Chesapeake. Like a boss.

Thing Three: RIM Shot: Research In Motion, the Keystone Kops of technology companies, held a sad little dog-and-pony show with developers yesterday, in which it unveiled a half-baked prototype of its BlackBerry 10, the buttonless new smartphone it hopes will help it survive in a world dominated by iPhones and Androids. Hint: It's not.

Thing Four: Facebook Needs Friends: You there, emerging from your cryogenic chamber, you may not have heard this, but Facebook is going public soon. Like very soon: Bloomberg reports that it will begin making its pitch to investors in a road show starting maybe next week. The Wall Street Journal is not making its job any easier, though, writing a story about how advertisers are just a little skeptical about whether they're really getting their money's worth on this Facebook thing.

Thing Five: The Wages Of Austerity: Things just keep getting better and better in Europe, where this morning it was reported that the unemployment rate hit 10.9 percent, its highest level since 1997. That includes 24 percent unemployment in Spain. Oh, and a reading of European factory output fell, too. But it's fine, everything's fine; the European Central Bank is probably not even going to cut its key interest rate at its policy meeting tomorrow, Bloomberg writes. Europe: Making American policy makers look progressive since 2010.

Thing Six: Whatever Floats Your Note: Today's the exciting day, America, when the Treasury Department is expected to announce whether it will borrow money at a floating interest rate, the Washington Post writes. This will apparently encourage people to keep lending to the government, but with rates near all-time lows, shouldn't Treasury be doing everything it can to simply lock those low rates in, rather than exposing itself to interest-rate risk?

Thing Seven: Despicable DeMarco: Saturday Night Live once had a memorable skit showing the alternate ending to "It's A Wonderful Life," in which everybody realizes that Old Man Potter had actually taken the money, and they all run down to his bank and visit swift justice on him. You can almost imagine such a thing eventually happening to Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, who has been steadfastly refusing to reduce principal balances for borrowers with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. Yesterday House Democrats said they had found documents proving that DeMarco knows full well that principal reduction, in addition to helping thousands of homeowners, could have saved taxpayers billions of dollars in foreclosure costs, directly contradicting DeMarco's protests that principal reduction is evil.

Thing Seven And One Half: Avengers Assemble Cash Mountain: "The Avengers," which you know you are totally going to see, has already made more than $200 million, and it doesn't even open in the U.S. until midnight Thursday. By the end of the weekend it might top $500 million.

Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

8:15 a.m. ET: ADP Employment Change for April
10:00 a.m. ET: Factory Orders for March

Corporate Earnings:

Before market open:
Comcast
CVS Caremark
MasterCard
PG&E
Time Warner

After market close:
Allstate
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Visa
Whole Foods
Yelp!

Heard On The Tweets:

@jfahmy: RT @zerohedge: debt: $15,692,368,067,305.23 <--- It's only a matter of time before that figure won't fit in 140 characters.

@marketfolly: Here's a transcript of David Einhorn's questions on $HLF conference call http://t.co/NxerdFFE He hasn't disclosed long or short

@moorehn: We're at the point where a stock tanks when David Einhorn just asks the company questions! Herbalife. $HLF

@TheStalwart: Imagine the chills that go down an executive's back when they hear David Einhorn has joined a conference call.

@ReformedBroker: Serious irony here - OWS screaming outside BAC building on 5th, meanwhile BAC is busy laying off anything that casts a shadow

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja

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