Monday, December 3, 2012

"Cliff" Negotiations Going Nowhere; Wall Street Begins to Get the Message

Anybody who took the time to watch any of the Sunday morning comedy shows, otherwise known as "Meet the Press", "This Week" or "face the Nation could come to no other conclusion than the Democrats and Republicans were still miles apart on solutions to fixing issues pertaining to the "fiscal cliff" that has become the cause celebre in Washington, on Wall Street and just about everywhere else in America.

Alternating between Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, House majority leader, John Boehner and a parade of politicians, pundits and philosophers (notably, Grover Norquist), there was widespread agreement on one thing: that there was no middle ground upon which anybody was seen standing. The Democrats and Republicans are so far apart that the idea that there might not be a deal in time for all the Bush tax cuts to expire, sequestration of mandatory budget cuts would take place and the US economy - and with it the world - would fall into recession early in 2013.

It took Wall Street most of the day to figure out that a deal might not be forthcoming by the clowns they purchased in the last election cycle, a thought so pregnant with dire consequences that many in the (cough, cough) investment community might just be in denial on the topic.

By late afternoon, President Obama took his case to the Twitter-world, answering questions from his point of view. A little later, there was a counter-offer from Boehner's office, though it was much like the president's original proposal: having no chance of acceptance and merely a bargaining salvo, testing the waters, so to speak.

By the end of the day, there was some damage done, though it was nothing like what may occur should Wall Street types begin embracing the idea of actually plunging over the "cliff."

Incidentally, the Dow pooped out right at its 200-day moving average, especially in light of the somewhat stunning November ISM index, which drooped into contraction territory with a 49.5 reading, on expectations of 51.2. Naturally, hurricane Sandy was blamed for the bad read, though a number of analysts did not agree with that assessment, believing that Sandy might be responsible for 0.3 to 0.5 of the shortfall, which would still render a reading of 50, at best.

Spain requested a 39.5 billion euro bailout for its ailing banks, but fell short of making an official request for a sovereign bailout. In the best counterintuitive fashion, European stocks rallied and bond yields fell. Talk about denial! The Euros have that market cornered.

As the cliff diving enters a critical phase this week - because the politicians plan on making their escape from DC on the 14th of December, naturally, taking an extra week off on the taxpayer's dime - expect markets to get ever more jittery. Adding to the unusual noise, Friday's non-farm payroll report for November might rattle a few cages as well.

Dow 12,965.60, -59.98 (0.46%)
NASDAQ 3,002.20, -8.04 (0.27%)
S&P 500 1,409.46, -6.72 (0.47%)
NYSE Composite 8,223.54, -36.90 (0.45%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,666,248,500
NYSE Volume 3,060,504,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2307-3205
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 213-44
WTI crude oil: 89.09, +0.18
Gold: 1,721.10, +8.40
Silver: 33.76, +0.48

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