Monday, April 9, 2012

Economic Dark Clouds Forming in Aftermath of Non-Farm Payroll Miss

Even though US markets were closed on Friday, the BLS did release the monthly non-farm payroll data for March at its regularly-scheduled time, and the results were not pleasant to those of the bullish, "recovery" persuasion.

Non-farm payrolls for March showed an increase of 120,000 net new jobs on expectations of 205,000, a horrific miss that sent shock waves around the globe.

Far eastern markets were the first to react on Monday morning, with the majority sporting hefty losses. European markets were closed for Easter Monday, so their reaction will be registered on the morrow.

US market participants waited patiently until Monday morning to move on the news, though market futures provided a clear guide even as early as Friday morning, when Dow futures were down 120 points, almost exactly where the market eventually opened following the weekend.

As anticipated, the move downward was swift, right at the open, and markets drifted along the lower range until midday, when a hint of a rally materialized, though it was not materially significant and faded badly into the close.

Technical damage was evident. The advance decline ratio was substantially impaired, with decliners outpacing advancers by a 4:1 ratio and the new highs to new lows measure completely flipped over, marking the lowest number of new highs and the highest number of new lows in at least six months.

Those technical indicators should not be dismissed out of hand, as they could be presaging a violent reversal from the immediate highs of just a week ago. Entering an earnings season which is widely considered to come in weaker than those of the recent past, the stage is set for a serious short-term market correction at exactly the wrong time, as traditionalists and day-traders alike will be taking caution and pulling profits off the table at the earliest opportunity.

Late Spring and Summer have established historical precedents which indicate a long, slow slog approaching the fall and the boorish election season.

The rhetoric out of Washington and the bullying bullishness from Wall Street will only resound louder as earnings are released through the month of April and into early May. While pundits and perma-bulls are already calling this a temporary bounce, those same voices are calling for another round of QE from the magnanimous Federal Reserve. With a FOMC meeting just two weeks hence, rumors will be circulated on both sides of that argument, though the bulls will be caught in an untenable position, because, if the economy is actually doing well, then no further easing is necessary.

The cards are on the table and the Fed, it appears, has drawn a dead hand, as has the general economy and the Wall Street crowd. The result may well be an empty pot with nobody willing to make an opening bid.

Interestingly, about the only instrument that rose on the day was gold. Equity market volume was at levels heretofore unseen, even in this era of non-participation.

Dow 12,929.59, -130.55 (1.00%)
NASDAQ 3,047.08, -33.42 (1.08%)
S&P 500 1,382.20, -15.88 (1.14%)
NYSE Composite 7,992.32, -89.03 (1.10%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,369,666,125
NYSE Volume 3,142,976,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1110-4539
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 46-125
WTI crude oil: 102.46, -0.85
Gold: 1,643.90, +13.80
Silver: 31.52, -0.21

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