Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wall Street to Washington, the Clown Show Continues

OK, it's finally gotten officially stupid to invest any money at all in stocks, though judging by the massive outflows from stock-related mutual funds to bond funds, it seems that may be preaching to the choir as far as retail investors are concerned.

Today saw more ridiculous posturing and pontification by various US public office-holders, first by House Speaker John Boehner (who seems to relish in the publicity and his new-found super-power, capable of moving stock indices with a single phrase) who, after meeting with the president's chief negotiator - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner - said that there had been no substantive progress on the fiscal cliff issues in two weeks (no kidding!) and that the president needs to put his cards on the table.

Apparently, Geithner is stone-walling for Obama, insisting on allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on the wealthiest taxpayers - those earning over $250,000 - while allowing them to remain in place for everyone else, but Boehner is likely still insisting on concrete spending cuts. Both have good ideas, though the probability of a realistic compromise appears to be still a ways off.

So, Boehner steps to the microphone a few minutes after 11:30 am ET, says a few words and the Dow loses 50 points in about a minute. A little while later, Senate Leader Harry Reid takes his turn and stocks recover a bit. Maybe Harry has a gentler touch? But stocks went up even more when NY Senator Chuck (I represent Israel) Schumer took to the podium and said a deal was almost a certainty by Christmas, once again, overstating the obvious. Senator Schumer probably had an options straddle working, needed a few extra points on the SPY and he got them.

Nancy Pelosi threatened to speak nearing the close, but held off until after the final bell. Apparently, Mrs. Pelosi plays the futures markets. It's all so absurd, the great Saul Bellow could not have penned a more abstract, obtuse script.

Other than the fiscal cliff bad theater, existing home sales in October were reported to have increased by 5.2% percent over the previous month, third quarter GDP was revised upward from 2.0% to 2.7%, which the market had expected, though most of the gains came from government spending, inventory additions and hedonic adjustments.

Retail Sales for November were reported by a number of chain stores, showing an overall gain of 1.7%, well below the happy forecast of a 4-5% jump. Naturally, Hurricane Sandy was blamed for much of the shortfall, though actual sales declines at Kohl's (down 5.6%), Macy's and Nordstom's were more likely due to a combination of competition, poor marketing and overall sluggish demand by consumers, who can only buy so many 42-inch flat screens, iPods and clothes on limited budgets.

Also, this graphic caught some attention. It shows how former Goldman Sachs executives are now the central bankers of most of Europe. No wonder they're doing so well over there.

Gold was up sharply, as was oil and silver, a day after being belted down by unseen forces. Silver, in particular, is at a two-month high, and looks like its about to break out, though that's been said and seen before, with no follow-through, thanks to the suppressive work constantly being done at JP Morgan.

The big tent will open for the circus promptly at 9:30 am ET tomorrow.

Dow 13,021.82, +36.71 (0.28%)
NASDAQ 3,012.03, +20.25 (0.68%)
S&P 500 1,415.95, +6.02 (0.43%)
NYSE Composite, 8,256.07, +48.71 (0.59%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,758,355,875.00
NYSE Volume 3,337,720,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3963-1531
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 233-30
WTI crude oil: 88.07, +1.58
Gold: 1,727.20, +10.70
Silver: 34.35, +0.664

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