Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dow, S&P Post Fifth Straight Losing Session; Fed Tapering Fears to Blame

Stcks took another turn lower on Thursday after the government reported its second estimate of GDP for the third quarter grew at a rate of 3.6%, far ahed of even the most bullish estimates and a dramatic revision from the first estimate of 2.8% growth.

Inside the numbers, more than half of the GDP push was due to inventory builds, the consumer spending portion of the calculation lower than previous quarters. Additionally, the govenment changed the way it calculates GD per the second quarter, so the adjusted figures include intangible assets (normally treated as liabilities on any corporate balance sheet, but as growth assets according to the infamous trick economists the government employs). All estimates of GDP from the second quarter of 2013 onward, and especially during the initial quarters through the second quarter of 2014, should be viewed as more mark-to-fantasy accounting by the government, designed to make the economy look better than it actually is.

The new calculus of GDP is a double-edged sword going forward, as higher GDP emotes thoughts of Fed tapering of bond purchases, currently the lifeblood of the stock markets. While it looks good on the surface, the net effect in stocks is negative, for now.

In some glorious, imagined future world, higher GDP, based on various faulty assumptions, will produce a happiness effect or contentment, which, along with the Fed's highly-dubious but nonetheless heavily-touted "wealth effect" will be hailed as the outcome of successful Fed policies or some other rubbish, and, which the lazy, out-of-touch politicians in congress and the White House can somehow claim credit.

Sadly, or perhaps happily, in this good-news-is-bad-news regime, the headline-munching algos controlling the stock market can't read between the lines and are programmed to sell on economic improvement, whether the data is flawed or pristine. The Wall Street herd (and it is nothing other than herd mentality dictating direction) is equally deficient by buying into flawed data, but those are the cards issued by the underhanded Fed bottom-card-dealing Fed. The choice to raise, hold or fold is entirely up to the traders, though at this juncture, they're collecting their profits and running from the gaming tables in advance of november non-farm payrolls, due out Friday at 8:30 am ET.

The other number issued today was courtesy of the BLS in weekly initial jobless claims, coming in at 298,000, a six-year low, the good news just adding more melancholy to traders who have brought the Dow and S&P indices lower for the fifth straight session.

Those paying attention to internals will note that the advance-decline line continues to erode, and that new lows finally overtook new highs today, for the first time since early October. Those two indicators will be supplying signals beyond the November non-farm payroll data tomorrow and should be viewed as the least-abused and most reliable signs for market direction.

Precius metals were hammered lower once again, though nary a gold or silver bug can be heard complaining, considering the lowered prices to be akin to a pre-Christmas sale on the metals.

DOW 15,821.51, -68.26 (-0.43%)
NASDAQ 4,033.16, -4.84 (-0.12%)
S&P 1,785.03, -7.78 (-0.43%)
10-Yr Note 99.08 0.00 (0.00%)
NASDAQ Volume 1.79 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.30 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2217-3433
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 127-164
WTI crude oil: 97.38, -0.18
Gold: 1,231.90, -15.30
Silver: 19.57, -0.26
Corn: 433.50, -3.00

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