Monday, September 16, 2013

Larry Summers Departs Fed Chairmanship Sweepstakes; Markets Jubilant

You'd never think that a man turning down chairmanship of the Federal Reserve could be such a positive development, but that's exactly what sent stocks soaring today, as Larry Summers announced - in a letter to the president - that he was withdrawing his name for consideration.

It's actually another bit of pretzel logic at play, because while Mr. Summers is the ultimate insider, some folks on the inside also thought he is a hawkish sort in terms of economic policy (how misguided!), and would be likely to pull back QE quicker than most other nominees to succeed chairman Ben Bernanke.

Thus, with fear of the economic spigot being turned off being muted by his withdrawal from consideration, for now, at least, the punchbowl that the Fed so lavishly entertains its Wall Street patrons has been kept in placed and fully spiked.

That, and a severe lack of volume (again, old story), led stocks to gallop out of the gate on Monday, drifting a bit to the downside in the afternoon, with the NASDAQ being pulled down by Apple (AAPL), whose shine has lost much of its luster since the untimely death of founder Steve Jobs. Apple is no longer innovative, forward-thinking or focused on individuality; it is becoming just another greedy corporate factory, outsourcing jobs to China while reaping huge profits here in the USA. The best days of Apple as a company are long past.

Otherwise, the shootings in Washington, DC, did little to stem the orderly flow, though one might be somewhat suspect of the rally continuing, with a FOMC announcement on Wednesday and economic data floundering.

The Empire Manufacturing Index (New York) fell to 6.3 for September after posting a downwardly-revised 8.2 in August, and industrial production missed expectations for the fifth straight month, registering a flaccid increase of jut 0.4%, though even that ws better than the July reading of 0.0%. August Capacity Utilization remained fairly stagnant at 77.8%. It was 77.6% in July.

With Summers and Syria off the front pages, the market can now go back to handicapping the size of the Fed taper to be announced on Wednesday; most estimates are for the Fed to reduce bond purchases by $10 billion a month, mostly in treasuries. They have little choice but to taper, as they are gobbling up more than a third of all issuance by Treasury, and, despite rumors to the contrary, the US Treasury cannot continue borrowing ad infinitum.

Well, maybe not. Infinity is, actually, a long way off.

Dow 15,494.78, -118.72 (0.77%)
Nasdaq 3,717.85, -4.34 (0.12%)
S&P 500 1,697.60, +9.61 (0.57%)
10-Yr Bond 2.87%, -0.02
NYSE Volume 3,344,441,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,476,599,875
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4173-2429
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 430-38 (imbalance)
WTI crude oil: 106.59, -1.62
Gold: 1,317.80, +9.20
Silver: 22.01, +0.289

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