Monday, December 10, 2007

Stocks Tack on Gains Ahead of Fed

US stock investors couldn't contain their enthusiasm on Monday, bidding up shares in just about every sector, despite revelations of further write downs in the unfolding subprime/credit/SIV spectacle. Overriding every bit of bad news is the hope of another rate cut by the Federal Reserve which will announce their decision Tuesday at 2:15 pm.

Prior to markets opening in the US, European giant UBS announced that it was taking one of their structured investment vehicles back onto their books, effectively resulting in a $10 billion loss, potentially wiping out all of the bank's 2007 profits.

Dow 13,727.03 +101.45; NASDAQ 2,718.95 +12.79; S&P 500 1,515.96 +11.30; NYSE Composite 10,104.42 +80.84

As the market opened, mortgage insurer MBIA (MBI) was halted with news pending. When the news broke, it was ugly: the company's losses for the 4th quarter would likely exceed those reported in the 3rd; but, there was rampant speculation that the company would received $1 billion in emergency funding from Warburg Pincus.

Interestingly, when the stock opened at 11:00 am, it was more than $6 higher than the Friday close (30.00), and traded as high as $38.19.

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UBS traded higher as well, as news that the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation would invest some $12 billion for a significant stake in the operations. Both stocks finished the day well into the green: UBS (UBS 51.66, +1.18), MBIA (MBI 33.95, +3.95).

The trade of late has to be either guided by the most ill-conceived investment strategy ever, or the big money is betting that all will be better soon. While the past few weeks have borne witness to principally bad news, stocks on the Dow have risen nearly 1000 points in just the past ten sessions since the bottom of 12,743.44 on November 26. More and more economists and analysts are predicting at least a mild recession in 2008, the housing solution provided by the White House is little more than a stalling effort, and over eight years there has been no progress in dealing with the twin giant deficits in import-export trade and the federal budget.

Still, investors continue to pour money into stocks. The current rally seems to be nothing more than a last-ditch effort to engender some kind of confidence in the mere fact that stocks are rising. If there ever was a condition of the tail wagging the dog, this is certainly it and, as with all efforts both desperate and foolhardy, this one will end badly as well.

Sadly, the US equity markets, once the proudest, strongest, best-managed and assiduously-regulated, have come to more resemble a bad poker room in an after-hours casino. What the banks, the media and the government aren't telling us is that these bad sub-prime mortgages and their attendant Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs) and Special Purpose Entities (SPEs) are full of other bad and questionable debts as well.

If it is indeed the case that the bankers have blundered once again, then all of this mad buying begins to make sense. There's not only a credit crunch in which the banks are afraid to lend money to each other, much less private individuals and corporations, but the crisis of confidence is spreading into the stock markets as well.

Most of the money used to buoy stocks over the past ten sessions was more than likely their own, or that of the central bank, the Fed, or central banks worldwide. We are staring into the abyss of bad fiscal management, poor governing and lies, lies and more lies piled on top of lies, deception and at the bottom of it all, false, fiat currency.

What else would explain the recent meteoric rise of stocks or the gains today by UBS and MBIA? The entire market is being cooked to a hard-edged, crusty, inedible, well-done stick of jerky. It will be tough to chew on this and will likely take years to digest. The current genius is to keep the game going until the November elections and then dump the entire mess into the laps of unsuspecting Democrats who are sure to add the executive branch to their lock-up on the legislative. Joy to the world.

On the day, advancing issues once again raced ahead of decliners, by a 3822-2525 margin. New highs expanded their advantage over new lows, though not by much, 225-183.

The day's bright spot came surprisingly from the oil futures market, where the price continued to slide, down another 42 cents to $87.86. Gold soared another $13.30 to $813.50 and silver gained 35 cents to $14.85.

With tomorrow's expected Fed rate cut of either 25 or 50 basis points the two-week-long party may be coming to an abrupt end. If the Fed decides on merely a 25 basis point reduction in the federal funds rate, stocks should sell off through the end of the week and into the next. The only remaining driver for stocks for the rest of the year would then be retail sales, and unless they're surprisingly good, the final two weeks of 2007 could be an unwinding experience.

NYSE Volume 2,863,184,250
NASDAQ Volume 1,776,654,500

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