If they weren't already, U.S. stock markets are officially in denial.
Yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) rallied over 1% despite negative news coming from both sides of the Atlantic. We're seeing the same effect at work today as well: More bad news, more stock gains. Coming into midday, the Dow's trading up around 0.5%. Similarly, both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 have also posted gains to the tune of 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively. The market's fear gauge, the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX ) , also climbed today by 2.6%. And while we always love to see our portfolios in the green, unfortunately today's gains are again purely speculative -- cognitive dissonance at its worst.
Reading the tea leaves
Today's economic news contrasts against the market's bullish posture. According to data released by the Federal Reserve, U.S. industrial production fell unexpectedly in May by 0.1%. The Fed also revised April's gains downward. April's figures dropped from a gain of 1.1% down to 1%. It's not monumental, but a downward trend certainly paints the U.S. recovery as increasingly weak. Consumer sentiment has also fallen sharply thus far in June. Not exactly screaming buy signals. However, the market's clearly interpreting this growing ream of negative data as increasing the likelihood of a third round of economic stimulus on the part of the Fed.
Looming elections in Greece this weekend are the most important story for investors. European stocks rallied going into the weekend in expectation of favorable outcome. These elections could determine Greece's place in the EU and also hold huge implications for the deepening European sovereign debt crisis.
Patient investors are winning investors
We have relatively little in the way of major corporate news. Shares of mega-insurer AIG (NYSE: AIG ) posted gains in excess of 1% after the company announced it had decreased its dependence on government funding by over $150 billion. The federal government now owns only roughly $30 billion in the company's common stock.
At present, stocks, especially blue chips, look quite attractive. Investors should start working on a shopping list. This weekend should provide further clarity about the market's direction going forward, and you'll want to be prepared. To find out about three cheap, large-cap dividend powerhouses that could make great candidates for your portfolio, check out the Fool's most recent research report. You can access it for free by clicking here.