The turnover of power in Iraq could be a turning point for the stock market that Wall Street pundits have been predicting for months.
For awhile this morning, they almost had investors believing it.
Proponents of the turnover/turning point theory proclaimed that investors had put that issue behind them and now could concentrate on quarterly corporate profits and the Federal Reserve's interest rate decision on Wednesday.
But by the end of the day, Wall Street decided there was little to benefit investors in the furtive, unscheduled, unannounced transition ceremony that took place in Baghdad.
Initial euphoria sent stocks higher across the board, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average up almost 100 points and producing similar gains for the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index and the Standard & Poors 500 stock index.
Those gains held only for half the day, however, and were wiped out by a mid-afternoon reality check that pushed all the indexes into losing territory by the end of the session.
The Dow closed down 15 points at 10357.09.
The S&P 500 slipped a little less than a point to 1133.52.
The Nasdaq composite was off almost 6 points at 2019.82.
It proved to be another embarrassing day for the dial-a-quotes, who have ready explanations for what the market is doing at any given time. By the closing bell there was a hollow ring to their morning answer that the market would strengthen now that the United States had extracted itself from Iraq's political morass. The market reaction turned out to be as ethereal as the extraction itself, since U.S. troops will remain on the ground there.
Surprisingly the oil futures market managed to hold on to trends that were also attributed to events in Iraq. Crude oil prices in New York fell ton $36 a barrel -- the lowest in two months -- based on the premise that disruption of Iraqi oil exports would not be less of a problem.
By afternoon, traders attributed the reversal of fortune to fresh reports of violence from Israel and a warning by General Motors that auto sales are slowing.
GM officials said that with two days left in the month, it looks like June sales will be down from a year ago. Wal-Mart issued a similar warning, saying its June sales growth will be about half what the nation's number one retailer had previously projected.
The results from GM and Wal-Mart contrasted with the Commerce Department's May tally of consumer spending, which showed a 1 percent increase, the fastest gain in more than three years.