Thursday, April 28, 2016

US 1Q GDP 0.5%; Get Used To It

The US economy - which, according to official sources, grew by a non-robust 0.5% in the first quarter - is just fine... if you believe in stability.

Unfortunately for the the huckster on Wall Street, the liars in Washington, and the genii at the Fed, low or no growth is bad.

Well, screw them. And, get used to it. Simply just don't take any increase in price for anything, especially taxes or other government fees. In fact, smart people should be looking to avoid paying at all.

That's enough for today. Tomorrow will be the same.

Wall Street. Ugh!

S&P 500: 2,075.81, -19.34 (0.92%)
Dow: 17,830.76, -210.79 (1.17%)
NASDAQ: 4,805.29, -57.85 (1.19%)

Crude Oil 45.79 -0.52% Gold 1,268.20 +0.14% EUR/USD 1.1352 -0.01% 10-Yr Bond 1.84 -1.18% Corn 390.50 +1.49% Copper 2.23 -0.25% Silver 17.64 +0.30% Natural Gas 2.06 -0.91% Russell 2000 1,140.40 -1.19% VIX 15.22 +10.53% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4608 +0.03% USD/JPY 108.1815 +0.08%

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged; Market Loves When Doves Fly

With only one member of the FOMC voting to raise rates (Ester George), the Fed decided to keep the federal funds rate at 1/4 to 1/2 percent.

The 9-1 vote was the expected result, being that conditions haven't changed much in the US economy since the last policy meeting in March. If anything, economic conditions have deteriorated, though the FOMC statement is chock-full of ambiguity and stocked with trap doors for easy escape should their policy need to change in any manner.

To wit:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in March indicates that labor market conditions have improved further even as growth in economic activity appears to have slowed. Growth in household spending has moderated, although households' real income has risen at a solid rate and consumer sentiment remains high. Since the beginning of the year, the housing sector has improved further but business fixed investment and net exports have been soft.

The Fed is boxed in, unable to raise rates, and likely unwilling, given the most recent reaction to any rate hike: a massive selling spree of equities.

All the Fed can do right now is keep the policy somewhat coherent and hope the stock market continues to climb, despite all indications that the economy is very, very weak.

Tomorrow, prior to the market open, the initial estimate of first quarter GDP will be released, and, a week and a day later, non-farm payroll data for April will be announced. There's a solid chance that both numbers will be anemic, with GDP settling in a range somewhere between 0.5% and 1.0% and April jobs coming in somewhere south of 200,000.

But, according to the Fed, everything is simply wonderful. Carry on and don't fret. The next FOMC policy meeting isn't until June 14-15, so, there's a month-and-a-half before we all go through the dumbest guessing game ever... again. With such a short span between now and a potential rate increase, the odds of that happening are about the same as the federal funds rate, or, less than a one percent chance.

Thanks, Janet!
S&P 500: 2,095.15, +3.45 (0.16%)
Dow: 18,041.55, +51.23 (0.28%)
NASDAQ: 4,863.14, -25.14 (0.51%)

Crude Oil 45.31 +2.88% Gold 1,247.30 +0.31% EUR/USD 1.1323 +0.21% 10-Yr Bond 1.86 -3.68% Corn 384.25 -0.77% Copper 2.23 -0.67% Silver 17.25 +0.79% Natural Gas 2.15 -0.51% Russell 2000 1,154.15 +0.30% VIX 13.77 -1.36% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4542 -0.22% USD/JPY 111.4850 +0.18%

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Stocks Stall Ahead Of FOMC; Apple Bytes

Not much in the way of movement happened with stocks as participants were more than willing to wait for tomorrow's non-event from the FOMC, in which the Fed governors are likely to double-down on their dovish rate policy, owing either to market pressures or the near-undeniability that the global economy is defunct without further central bank stimulus.

It is what the banker mobs have wrought: an economy devoid of social or economic mobility, except to the downside, as government and ultra-national corporations crowds out any meaningful enterprise.

After hours, Apple (AAPL) reported earnings for the first quarter, missing on both the top and bottom line, adding more credence to the global slowdown meme. Shares were trading more than seven percent lower in the after-hours.

At 2:00 pm EDT, the FOMC will issue their rate policy decision, keeping the federal funds rate at 0.25-0.50%, which might produce some happiness for the Wall Streeters, however, considering the paucity of positive earnings results this quarter and the anticipation of an ugly first quarter GDP estimate on Thursday (8:30 am), there may be few players prepared to rally.

In all, it's a messy situation which cannot be solved by conventional means at this point, that point being one in which "emergency" measures have been stretched out to seven years. The global economy is beyond the scope of the central bankers' control, a condition that is probably, in the long run, for the best.

Tuesday's Tiptoe:
S&P 500: 2,091.70, +3.91 (0.19%)
Dow: 17,990.32, +13.08 (0.07%)
NASDAQ: 4,888.31, -7.48 (0.15%)

Crude Oil 44.04 +3.28% Gold 1,245.20 +0.40% EUR/USD 1.1301 +0.26% 10-Yr Bond 1.93 +1.52% Corn 385.00 +0.85% Copper 2.25 -0.07% Silver 17.16 +0.89% Natural Gas 2.16 -1.01% Russell 2000 1,150.73 +1.11% VIX 13.96 -0.85% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4582 +0.68% USD/JPY 111.3150 +0.07%

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dull Start As New Home Sales Fall For Third Straight Month

Wall Street wasn't particularly troubled over the fact that new home sales fell for the third month in a row, and by the end of the day, it hardly mattered, as stocks staged a mild comeback from opening losses.

The drop of 1.5% (511,000 annualized, seasonally adjusted) was led by a huge, 23.6% plunge in the West, according to the commerce department. The median home price also fell, to 288,000, a level many are finding difficult to justify.

For instance, even at today's low rates, a $250,000, 30-year mortgage runs $1,088 per month, with interest paid over the life of the loan of $141,686, making the total amount paid a stunning $391,686. With more than half the wage-earners in the United States making less than $30,000 per year, that's a price too high to bear, but, that's what the Fed has thrust upon would-be homebuyers in their quest to boost asset prices and inflation.

Many new-home buyers of today will find themselves stuck - like many home owners during the sub=prime bust - if interest rates rise over the coming years. Not only will these buyers be burdened by an enormous debt, their properties would become unsalable, due to a glut on the market and higher carrying costs. That same $250,000 mortgage, at, say 5%, would jump to $1,342, making the now-used home even less affordable and the current residents trapped in an underwater condition.

It's actually surprising that anybody is actually building and buying new homes. The prices are at astronomical levels. The median home price may actually have peaked a few months ago, hitting a record 317,000 in November, 2015, setting the stage for another round of hand-wringing by banks and homeowners alike when the next recession hits, something for which the US economy is now overdue. It's been eight years since the last one and the Fed has not convinced anyone that it has finally vanquished the business cycle; they've only managed to delay the inevitable.

Speaking of the Fed, the FOMC begins a two-day meeting at which they will do nothing other than remind the world that they are in control of everything and that the US economy is still not to their liking, meaning another rate hike is still months away, if at all. Normalizing rates may prove to be the undoing of central banking, because it will absolutely destroy many leveraged, hedged market constituents.

Monday's Mangled Mess:
S&P 500: 2,087.79, -3.79 (0.18%)
Dow: 17,977.24, -26.51 (0.15%)
NASDAQ: 4,895.79, -10.44 (0.21%)

Crude Oil 42.86 -1.99% Gold 1,239.10 +0.74% EUR/USD 1.1269 +0.42% 10-Yr Bond 1.90 +0.74% Corn 384.50 +2.40% Copper 2.25 -0.60% Silver 16.99 +0.53% Natural Gas 2.19 -3.22% Russell 2000 1,138.09 -0.75% VIX 14.08 +6.51% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4483 +0.16% USD/JPY 111.1950 -0.56%

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Stocks Finish Week In Volatile, Split Fashion; FOMC, BOJ To Drive Markets Last Week Of April

Nothing monumental was happening in the markets on Friday, but the mood was decidedly risk-averse heading into the weekend. The week as a whole mirrored Friday, with the Dow and S&P showing small gains while the NASDAQ took on water.

For the week:
DOW: +106.29 (0.59%)
S&P 500: +10.85 (0.52%)
NASDAQ: -31.99 (0.65%)

The week was among the lesser moves of the year, though it became apparent that the markets were testing the upper limits of their recent range. While the Dow managed to finish just above the 18,000 mark, the S&P remained at a critical inflection point at 2091-2092, almost by magic. Moving above the 2100 mark - which the SPX accomplished mid-week - may prove to be short-lived if investors take recent earnings weakness seriously, though that position is still debatable, considering the virtually unlimited power of the Fed and associated central banks in Japan (BOJ) and Europe (ECB) to print, cajole and promote inflationary, free-money policies.

Central banks cannot, however, remain the only vital force in the markets forever. More and more voices are beginning to openly question the intelligence of placing blind faith in the currency-controllers and are advising that a return to "normalcy" is something the Fed cannot and probably will not approach in the near term. Among them David Stockman, Jeff Gundlach, Bill Gross have been the latest to scoff at the Fed's financially-repressive control policies.

Notwithstanding the naysayers, the Fed, BOJ and ECB continue to stay the course. While Mario Draghi of the ECB didn't move markets one iota with his stand pat position this week, the Fed will likely accomplish little with their FOMC meeting this week (Tuesday and Wednesday), though the BOJ is considering lowering its key interest rate further into the red. The BOJ's next two-day policy review ends on April 28 (Thursday).

The coming week will be focused on central bank nothingness rather than fundamentals, which is what the complainers have been howling about for some time.

Expect their voices to become more numerous and louder if the global economy continues to sputter and stall.

S&P 500: 2,091.58, +0.10 (0.00%)
Dow: 18,003.75, +21.23 (0.12%)
NASDAQ: 4,906.23, -39.66 (0.80%)

Crude Oil 43.71 +1.23% Gold 1,234.90 -1.23% EUR/USD 1.1228 -0.55% 10-Yr Bond 1.89 +0.96% Corn 378.25 -2.95% Copper 2.27 +0.93% Silver 16.97 -0.73% Natural Gas 2.26 +2.13% Russell 2000 1,144.24 +0.75% VIX 13.34 -4.37% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4413 +0.63% USD/JPY 111.6330 +2.02%