Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yes, That Was the End of the Rally

As queried yesterday, the split decision by the major indices, resulting in paltry gains and losses across the board, appears to have signaled at least a pause of optimism for the markets.

News flows were both good and bad (depending on one's perspective) prior to the open, highlighted by JP Morgan Chase (JPM) trying to get away with reporting second quarter results which included unusual one-time gains. The usual protocol is for one-time charges or gains to be stripped out, as the vast majority of analysts predict on such a basis.

The Financial Times reports that JPM's earnings "Signal end of Wall St. rebound" and even Wall Street darling CEO Jamie Dimon couldn't get away with reporting $1.09 per share, when analysts were seeking 70 cents, excluding one-time charges. JPM decided to pad earnings by lowering their loan-loss reserves by $1.5 billion. Stripping those out, the venerable House of Morgan made 75 cents per share in the quarter, though there were likely other crafty accounting tricks employed.

For their efforts, investors sold off the nation's second-largest bank to the tune of a little more than a point at the lows of the day. When all was said and done, however, and the Wall Street connivers couldn't stand a little decline, all stocks were boosted in a furious final half-hour, which saw the Dow gain about 70 points and JP Morgan close 11 cents higher on the day, closing at 40.46.

The final push was attributed to passage of the long-overdue Financial Regulation bill by the Senate, but stocks finished mixed again. As the Dow and NASDAQ finished higher on Wednesday, today's two winners were the S&P 500 and NYSE Composite, a complete reversal. So, for the past two days, all the markets did was vaporize a lot of money.

Also prior to the open Initial jobless claims for the week reportedly totaled 429,000, down 29,000 from the previous week. Following last week's precipitous drop, continuing claims climbed by almost 250,000 to 4.68 million. Separately, the Producer Price Index (PPI) for June fell 0.5% month-over-month, another sure sign that deflation is well-entrenched.

The NY Fed Empire Manufacturing Index fell to 5.08 in July, from 19.57 in June, a seven-month low.

Industrial production gained 0.1% in June, while Capacity Utilization stalled out at 74.1% over the same span. All of these indicators cause stocks to sell off at the open, but career further and deeper into the red after 10:00 am when the Philadelphia Fed announced that their manufacturing index fell from 8.0 in June to 5.0 in July.

If there isn't a double-dip or recession headed our way, you sure can't tell it from the spate of negative statistics sprouting from every corner of the economy.

Dow 10,359.31, -7.41 (0.07%)
NASDAQ 2,249.08, -0.76 (0.03%)
S&P 500 1,096.48, +1.31 (0.12%)
NYSE Composite 6,916.81, +13.45 (0.19%)

Decliners again led advancing issues, 3601-2789, and new highs remained ahead of new lows, 172-71. Volume was weak, owing to the uncertainty of the marketplace.

NASDAQ Volume 1,980,588,625
NYSE Volume 5,214,455,500

Crude oil sold off, losing 66 cents, to $76.62, but gold was higher once more, up $1.30, to $1,208.10. Silver gained 7 cents, to $18.35. All traders in commodities are due for a rude awakening at some point, when deflationary forces can no longer be contained and demand eventually falls off a table. Those not in cash (unlike myself and ardent followers of this blog) should begin shedding all semi-liquid assets, including futures contracts, as all signs point to a resumption of the bear market, though this time bottoms could be severe - far lower than expected.

After the final bell, Google (GOOG) was ravaged as it missed analyst expectations of $6.52, by seven cents, or $6.45 per share. To understand the absurdity of Wall Street, one must realize that Google is among the most profitable companies in the world. GAAP operating income (revenues after expenses) was $2.37 billion, which is a pretty good sum of money for any three-month period. Nonetheless, some traders saw fit to wallop the stock down more than 20 points in after hours trading, or, by more than 4%.

Maybe it was a touch overvalued at $494 a share, or, 22 times earnings. Live and learn.

This earnings season can't be over with already, can it? We've just gotten started. There are sure to be wild gyrations tomorrow on options expiration and over the next two weeks, which will only be fun if you're winning.

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