Thursday, June 6, 2013

Terrific Turnaround Thursday Presages Friday's Key Jobs Report

Whipsawing the markets today in the US were a variety of cross-currents that send stocks screaming into the red in the morning and elevating to new heights in the afternoon.

Most important of all was probably the US$/Yen carry trade, in which the dollar, weakening over the past few days against the Yen took a very large hit just prior to the noon hour in New York, sending the pair below 97 (it had been as high as 105 recently), shaking investors and proponents of Abenomics, the massive stimulative package that has the imprimatur of Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

The Nikkei had closed modestly lower, keeping intact the downside move that has been in place the past few weeks, but the slide in the dollar was against more than just the Yen. The Euro was especially strong, after comments from ECB head Mario Draghi buoyed European markets. On the dollar dive, stocks also took it on the chin, with the Dow losing 117 points at the bottom of the day's trading range.

Also weighing on the markets were the week-long riots and demonstrations in Turkey, a key player in world markets and something of a hinge between the Middle East and the European Union. Turkey also borders Syria, as dangerous a place as there is in the world today, and tensions in Turkey could signal more widespread discontent of the citizenry from Ireland to Ethiopia, to say nothing of its value as a NATO ally and buffer against Russia, with whom we are still at war in a protracted, proxy kind of way.

Earlier in the morning, figures on initial and continuing unemployment were released, and though they were moderately improved, investors were looking past them, toward tomorrow's non-farms payroll release by the BLS.

That number is supposed to come in at around 165,000 new jobs created in the month of May, and speculators are placing bets on both sides of the coin. If the number comes in below 140,000, it will be viewed as a weak labor market, meaning that the Federal Reserve cannot - or at least should not - begin tapering its massive bond purchases. Any number over 190,000 would register as a strengthening of the employment market, meaning that the Fed could begin considering tapering as soon as their June meeting in less than two weeks (June 18-19).

Thus, a stronger US economy (unlikely) would be bad for stocks, and a weak employment picture would be good. Such is the strained logic permeating Wall Street in these strange days.

From top to bottom, the range on the Dow was nearly 200 points, but even with the rise - set off when the S&P and Dow Industrials almost simultaneously pierced their respective 50-day moving averages - the rally (or was is just a dead cat bounce) failed to erase half the losses from Wednesday's melt-down.

Sentiment appears to be changing slightly, however, as more and more speculators become aware of the inept nature of the Fed and central banks everywhere, unable to stem the tide of deflation and a sluggish global economy.

Tomorrow's jobs reports may be important to some, though it is more than likely to be a non-event, with a wide berth given to gauge the response of the Federal Reserve. Besides, it's going into a weekend and none of those Wall Street hotshots want to head to the Hamptons in a bad mood.

Of course, there's more at stake than just jobs and the economy and whether stocks should be the primary asset in one's portfolio. Bonds, buffeted about by the changing paradigm of currency devaluation and rapidly escalating trade wars have firmed up somewhat, with the ten-year closing just above a two percent yield.

On Tuesday, the EU imposed stiff tariffs on Chinese solar panels, and yesterday, the Chinese retaliated by suggesting levies on imports of French, Italian and Spanish wines, hitting the Europeans where it hurts.

With the late-day rally, the advance-decline line was positive and new lows - new highs were nearly even. Much of today's rally was likely built off of short-covering, as shorts remain gun-shy, stung by the continued beatings they've taken over the past four years, though that condition appears prime to undergo some significant change.

The wheels are beginning to come off, as Fed policies are being seen as largely ineffective and a massive waste of money, while world events should continue to heat up in coming weeks and months. Volatility could not be subdued forever and the risk that the bull market is over continues a distinct possibility.

Volume in equities was strong. Gold and silver had solid showings, especially gold, which breached the key $1400 mark to the upside.

Dow 15,040.62, +80.03 (0.53%)
NASDAQ 3,424.05, +22.58 (0.66%)
S&P 500 1,622.56, +13.66 (0.85%)
NYSE Compos... 9,260.47, +82.05 (0.89%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,732,547,125
NYSE Volume 4,008,892,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4676-1833
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 89=87
WTI crude oil: 94.76, +1.02
Gold: 1,415.80, +17.30
Silver: 22.71, +0.235

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