Thursday, January 2, 2014

January Barometer? Stocks Fall on First Trading Day of 2014


Stocks are only supposed to go higher, and the idea that we would begin the new year with a large selloff in stocks is a disturbing development to those in charge of propagandizing our glorious and ever-expanding economy.

The last time stocks fell on the first trading day of a new year was 2008, and, unless you've been living under a rock the past five years, you know what happened that year.

Not to say that a precipitous decline on the first trading day of the new year is a bad omen or a signal of a down year for stocks, but, referencing the January Effect, there's an 88% positive correlation between the direction of stocks for the entire month of January and the rest of the year, so, starting off with a sharp decline is not the best indication of general health, wealth and happiness going forward.

Obviously, it's too early to tell wither stocks go from here, but the apologists were out in force on CNBC, citing the fact that volume was on the very low side, something they neglected to inform upon during the late-year rally of the past two weeks, when trading volume was among the lowest of the year. Actually, Thursday's volume was higher than the average of the previous two weeks on a daily basis, and closer to normal than at any time since December 16.

With the major indices all up more than 25% in 2013, it would not come as a surprise to anyone should the market face some headwinds in 2014. It deserves mention that while the indices did very well, profits - as Larry Kudlow so often opines, "the mother's milk of stocks" - were higher by only six percent for the year, trailing paper gains by a margin wide enough to haul a bear trap through.

The bad news for holders of stock certificates (or the electrons which signify ownership in a brokerage account - not quite exactly the same thing) is that the selling was rather broad-based, as per the advance-decline line. The good news for the rest of us - those who own hard assets like land, gold, silver, machinery and vehicles - is that deflation seems to not want to go away. Gold and silver were higher, with silver shining at a nearly 4% gain on the day, and corn was down, so the price of corn in silver terms continues the trend lower, which, as our notes imply, according to Adam Smith, that is a deflationary trend of great significance. Crude oil also was off sharply.

Lower prices for all manner of consumer goods would be a definite boon for consumers and the general economy, though it's arguable that Wall Street and the international banking cartel headquartered at the Federal Reserve and World Bank might not be so pleased.

A sneaking suspicion that another grand transfer of wealth - on a scale beyond that of 2008-09 - is about to commence has been bandied about by skeptics of the recovery story. Maybe it's just a one-day trade and there's nothing more to it, though it needs to be pointed out that trades made today - especially those sales at a profit - won't necessarily be taxed for a very long time, around March 15, 2015, to be precise. Now, that could explain more about today's price action than just about any other macro or micro-economic factor present.

DOW 16,441.35, -135.31 (-0.82%)
NASDAQ 4,143.07, -33.52 (-0.80%)
S&P 1,831.98, -16.38 (-0.89%)
10-Yr Note 98.00, -0.03 (-0.03%) Yield: 2.99%
NASDAQ Volume 1.62 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.06 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1995-3764
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 185-41
WTI crude oil: 95.44, -2.98
Gold: 1,225.20, +22.90
Silver: 20.13, +0.758
Corn: 420.50, -1.50

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