Confirming yesterday's hypothesis that "something is wrong," stocks righted themselves to the steady flow of horrible economic news on wednesday and took their largest losses in months.
What really sent the markets into a deep funk was the release of the ADP private payroll survey, which showed job gains for the month of May to be only 38,000, when most estimates ranged from 175,000 to as high as 300,000. That sent futures tumbling in the hour just prior to the open and stocks did a complete reversal from Tuesday's glorious rally, which, truth be told, was based on nothing but hot air, or even cold air, but air, nonetheless.
Once traders had tasted the bitter flavor of selling winners and losers alike, the ISM manufacturing index came in at 10:00 am, well below expectations of 57.0, at 53.5, after notching a 60.4 handle in April. Despite still being positive (above 50), it was the worst reading since the fall of 2009.
Lumped on top of Tuesday's Chicago PMI and Case-Shiller housing report, the first week of June looks like it may be a tide-turning one. The euphoria of Tuesday's happy-face rally all but extinguished, investors, economists and government talkers must face the grim reality that the economy is sputtering, even after trillions in stimulus over the past two-and-a-half years.
The fallout from the long series of poor to horrible economic reports was that the benchmark 10-year note fell to its lowest level since last summer, checking in at 2.94%, after closing at 3.06 yesterday. Sub-3% yields on the 10-year is swell for borrowers, but it also belies a grim truth: that the economy is dead in the water, and there is nowhere to go but into the relative safety of fixed income, albeit at very unattractive yields.
Dow 12,290.14, -279.65 (2.22%)
NASDAQ 2,769.19, -66.11 (2.33%)
S&P 500 1,314.55, -30.65 (2.28%)
NYSE Composite 8,281.59, -195.69 (2.31%)
Declining issues overwhelmed advancers, 5420-1222. It was the biggest rout of 2011. Still hanging on for dear life, the new high-new low indicator showed the NASDAQ dead even at 74 new highs and the same number of new lows. On the NYSE, a bit more resilience, with 101 new highs and 38 new lows, though once again, the margin is shrinking and it's only a matter of time before the market flips right over and a full-blown correction can be announced.
Naturally, since nobody wants or likes to face the reality of the situation, the US and global economies are almost completely kaput. Nothing more than wasted effort printing worthless Dollars, Euros and Yuan will be the requisite response from the league of central bankers whose policies have been exposed as outright disasters. A great reckoning is upon us, and those who have not prepared will be blind-sided and left in tears with paper assets worth nothing.
Volume was on a par with Tuesday's, unsurprisingly, though one could have expected even heavier selling. Apparently, not everyone is convinced that the game is over. The Too Big To Fail banks are still holding out hope for more dollar devaluation for the Fed and more handouts via the strapped and wrecked taxpayer base.
Of the more curious aspects of today's global melt-down was that the dollar actually looked like the best of a bad lot, rising 0.364 to 74.90, though that condition is - as the Chairman might express - transitory. Eventually, all paper money will be debased to nothing as the world sinks into global depression.
NASDAQ Volume 2,316,268,250
NYSE Volume 4,920,608,500
Of some small consolation to millions of consumers, oil fell abruptly, down $2.41, to $100.29. While still about $25 higher than it should be, the price of crude and the resultant price of gasoline should ease over the coming days and weeks to reflect the true status of the economy. Nothing kills growth as quickly or completely as high oil and gasoline prices, and, even though demand has been falling steadily since the average price of a gallon of unleaded gas hit just below $4.00, the price still remains a drag on the overall economy, at $3.77.
Gold was the greatest beneficiary of Wall Street's loathsome session, hitting a two-month high at $1551.20, before falling back to $1539.10, up $4.10 on the day. Naturally, the central banking cartel could not let silver go untouched, smashing the second precious metal down $1.65, to $36.82. Of course, in a deflationary depression, the metals offer no great relief, though they will tend to outperform all other asset classes and when the collapse of all fiat money occurs, they will shine as saviors.
June is shaping up to be a killer for the stock markets. Even though the ADP employment report has been widely criticized, there's little doubt that Friday's non-farm payroll report for May will be nothing short of disastrous, showing quite clearly that all the stimulus and wanton speculation of the past two years has done nothing to repair the deep wounds to the Main Street economy.
What little hope there is can be found amongst those who believe it is time for honesty and a change of policy, that people be favored over wealthy banks and their criminal CEOs and that government, if unable to serve the needs of the people, will be left behind. As during other times of hardship, the American public will turn to barter, black markets and other underground economies. Governments at all levels will be left holding onto unwieldy deficits as tax receipts fail to materialize.
The more one pays attention to what comes out of the mouths of bankers, government officials and elected legislators, the more one comes to realize that they have no interest but their own at heart and the American people will carry on without them, even if it means wholesale tax rebellion at every level. The system is burdened with unassailable costs and debts that cannot be paid. When and if congress decides to actually come to grips with these harsh realities, we will begin healing, though most with any sense of history feel that government has lost all control and the people are about to begin fending more or less for themselves.
Of course, the government will continue kiting checks to the "needy" and keeping the masses at bay with food stamps and other entitlement outlays, but the value will continue to erode and the already well-entrenched, wretched sub-class of welfare and government dole recipients will suffer even more.
It is truly a remarkable time in the world's history, and probably better to be young than old, for the young have the advantage of time - to repair, replenish and rebuild that which our absent leaders have destroyed.