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Trader on the New York Stock Exchange (BRENDAN MCDERMID/BRENDAN MCDERMID/Reuters)
Trader on the New York Stock Exchange (BRENDAN MCDERMID/BRENDAN MCDERMID/Reuters)

Weak trading volume bedevils rally Add to ...

Skeptics of October’s stock market rally pointed out earlier in the month that stock-trading volume was suspiciously low, suggesting that there wasn’t widespread bullish enthusiasm for stocks, even as major indexes surged. Even with Thursday’s massive rally, volumes remain lacklustre – and that's the biggest one-day move by the S&P 500 since August.

With just two trading days left in the month, the total volume of S&P 500 shares sits at a total of about 14.9 billion, as of late afternoon trading on Thursday. That works out to an average of 784 million shares a day. Yawn. If the average daily volume persists for the next two days, volume for the month will finish a grand total of just 16.5 billion shares. Another yawn.

That’s not strong, and bears and skeptics alike believe it points to a lot of investors still waiting on the sidelines, unconvinced that October's big gains will last. The daily volume is below the 50-day moving average and the overall volume would represent the lowest level since July. And consider that during the sharp selloff in August, total volume for the S&P 500 was above 26 billion, with another 19 billion shares trading hands in September.

Clearly, the bears had conviction during the selloff. Now, where is the conviction among the bulls?

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