Friday, January 29, 2016

US 4th Quarter GDP Grows Feeble 0.7%; Stocks Soar

Apparently, anything better then zero - with the notable exception of the federal funds rate - is cause for Wall Street to break out the champagne and celebrate.

Prior to Friday's opening bell, the BLS produced the first estimate of 4th quarter GDP, showing that the world's largest economy grew by an unimpressive 0.7%.

Back when the United State of America actually had a functioning economy, news such as today's would have caused a rout in stocks. However, in today's fabricated, upside-down mess dominated by zombie banks, a stalled-out global backdrop and an utterly clueless yet self-satisfied Federal Reserve, Wall Street's computer-driven madness produces a 2 1/2% rally, ending January still in the red, just not by as much as, say, yesterday.

There are no words left to describe such idiocy, so let's just say, "have a nice weekend."

Editor's Note: Maybe going back to publishing this blog on a daily basis again wasn't such a good idea after all. The markets are even more manipulated and indecipherable than ever.

S&P 500: 1,940.24, +46.88 (2.48%)
Dow: 16,466.30, +396.66 (2.47%)
NASDAQ: 4,613.95, +107.28 (2.38%)

Crude Oil 33.59 +1.11% Gold 1,117.70 +0.19% EUR/USD 1.0834 -0.98% 10-Yr Bond 1.9310 -2.72% Corn 371.00 +1.50% Copper 2.06 +0.51% Silver 14.26 +0.20% Natural Gas 2.31 +5.87% Russell 2000 1,035.38 +3.20% VIX 20.20 -9.90% BATS 1000 20,684.36 +2.35% GBP/USD 1.4251 -0.76% USD/JPY 121.0870 +1.91%

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Stocks Bounce, Reasons Unknown, 10-Year Note Yield Below Two Percent

Stocks in the US had one of their best days of the new year on Thursday, though it's difficult to put a finger on exactly why that was the case.

Data from durable goods was weak and jobless claims (unemployment) were higher, so there must be an invisible hand (see PPT, for instance) pushing stocks up.

Other oddities on the day were oil gaining to close at 33.72 per barrel and the 10-year note closing below a two percent yield, at 1.985%, which normally would signal a rout in equities.

This is what one gets when markets are endlessly manipulated by government forces and the Federal Reserve.

Trade cautiously.

S&P 500: 1,893.36, +10.41 (0.55%)
Dow: 16,069.64, +125.18 (0.79%)
NASDAQ: 4,506.68, +38.51 (0.86%)

Crude Oil 33.72 +4.40% Gold 1,114.10 -0.15% EUR/USD 1.0940 +0.36% 10-Yr Bond 1.9850 -0.80% Corn 365.75 -0.95% Copper 2.05 -0.53% Silver 14.24 -1.48% Natural Gas 2.22 +3.15% Russell 2000 1,003.27 +0.05% VIX 22.42 -2.99% BATS 1000 20,209.43 +0.62% GBP/USD 1.4356 +0.77% USD/JPY 118.8150 +0.20%

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wall Street Sulks as Fed Is Not Dovish Enough

In the aftermath last month's federal funds rate hike - the first in eight years, and, a paltry 0.25% at that - the Fed held their first FOMC rate policy meeting of the year and the reaction from Wall Street was nothing short of derisive.

While the Fed governors did their level best to hem, haw, and dance around their policy "mistake" - which has taken US stocks roughly seven percent lower and cratered confidence - market participants apparently wanted more, as in a complete roll back of the hike and a return to ZIRP, the policy that had prevailed since the fall of 2008.

Stocks were trading close to the flatline until the 2:00 pm announcement by the Fed. After a small amount of see-sawing, sentiment turned radically negative, with all indices taking a punch to the gut that extended into the close.

The Fed cannot escape its fate. It will be overseeing the utter calamity of a global currency crisis, brought about by their excessive credit policies from the Greenspan and Bernanke eras. Janet Yellen, the current Fed Chair, will be scapegoated, and rightfully, as she is completely tone deaf to the needs of the US and global economies, which are screaming deflation at every turn.

The best Ms. Yellen can hope for in her sure-to-be-short tenure as Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve is for Japan or Europe to somehow come to the rescue with additional QE in coming weeks and months, which will buy her additional time to exit in an orderly manner.

The handwriting is on the wall and the handwringing can be seen on the faces populating the video screens from CNBC and Bloomberg TV. Nobody wants stocks, and soon enough, nobody will want dollars, at least not for long. But first, the powerful grip of deflation will have to work its way through the system, crushing the investor class while shoring up those at the bottom of the societal and economic ladders.

That process has been underway for at least a year, as shown by the price of crude oil. It will eventually infest all consumer goods, crushing corporate profits in manufacturing and retail. The systemic underutilization will commence until governments fall, first in emerging markets, then developed ones.

There is no escaping a monetary event such as what is coming. Gold continued to ramp up. Silver is lagging, but will eventually follow and then surpass the gains made by gold.

Today's closing quotes:
S&P 500: 1,882.95, -20.68 (1.09%)
Dow: 15,944.46, -222.77 (1.38%)
NASDAQ: 4,468.17, -99.51 (2.18%)

Crude Oil 32.19 +2.35% Gold 1,124.90 +0.42% EUR/USD 1.09 +0.32% 10-Yr Bond 2.0010 +0.35% Corn 369.75 +0.14% Copper 2.06 +1.08% Silver 14.50 -0.44% Natural Gas 2.15 -0.51% Russell 2000 1,002.75 -1.50% VIX 23.11 +2.71% BATS 1000 20,083.96 -0.92% GBP/USD 1.4245 -0.72% USD/JPY 118.63 +0.18%

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Global Volatility and the Rise of Precious Metals

Another day, another oddity courtesy of the purveyors of false hope, as China stocks crashed overnight, sparking a small rally in Europe and a monumental one in the United States.

Gold and silver investors, however, were not fooled, with the price of both precious metals rising in tandem - an equally odd event, given the blatant manipulation of the metals markets - to multi-month highs.

Silver gained a cool two percent, finishing the New York session at 14.495, its top tick since November 10. Gold, at 1119.70, saw its best level since November 3rd. Both price levels are notable as the twin titans have been kept solidly in a tight range for the past two months. While it's too early to call, the signal is for a breakout from these moribund levels, but, as any investor in the shiny stuff can surely attest, we've seen this play before.

Still, with world markets in turmoil, the rise of gold and silver back to a place of prominence as true currency would be in line with global concerns over instability, dull trade and the overarching risk of deflation.

In China, the SSE closed down 6.42%, the lowest close since early last year and a sure sign that all is not well in the Red Dragon's stomach. The Nikkei and Hang Seng were also lower by more than two percent.

Europe's markets were modestly higher, with gains on the majors of one percent or less.

The US equity market was another story altogether, romping right out of the gate on what can only be assumed to be false hope, in that the FOMC kicked off its first meeting of the year, and the thinking is that after the recent turmoil, the Fed may at least roll back its rate hike language. There is no chance of a rate move in either direction come tomorrow when the policy is released. Nobody is sweating bullets over this non-event. Stay tuned for further boredom and stupidity at 2:00 pm ET on Wednesday.

Bonus: for those unfamiliar with gold's traditional place as a global currency and why buying gold now might not be such a bad idea, see this article by Hugo Salinas Price, The Coming Revaluation of Gold.

Today's Closing Prices:
S&P 500: 1,903.63, +26.55 (1.41%)
Dow: 16,167.23, +282.01 (1.78%)
NASDAQ: 4,567.67, +49.18 (1.09%)

Crude Oil 31.42 +3.56% Gold 1,117.80 +1.13% EUR/USD 1.0866 +0.15% 10-Yr Bond 1.9940 -1.38% Corn 369.25 -0.14% Copper 2.04 +2.23% Silver 14.52 +1.87% Natural Gas 2.12 -1.62% Russell 2000 1,017.97 +2.07% VIX 22.50 -6.83% BATS 1000 20,270.92 +1.65% GBP/USD 1.4351 +0.75% USD/JPY 118.4055 +0.04%

Monday, January 25, 2016

Gold, Silver Rise as Banks, Energy Stocks in Market Crosshairs

Being that the US equity markets are almost 100% likely to end the month with losses, the opening of the final week of January trading may have been significant if only for the direction of a select number of trading vehicles.

Obviously, energy stocks were once again in focus after last week's faux rally on actual inventory builds, though the pundits of oil slickery are blaming today's demise on the record weekend blizzard that decimated the Northeast.

As lame as it may sound, having the I-95 corridor out of commission for the better part of three to four days is certain to result in growth of the oil and distillate glut that has been plaguing the markets for the past 18 months. The logic is simple: if people aren't driving, nobody's buying gas, and that is exactly what the market doesn't want to hear, especially those of the camp who still believe in the peak oil myth and would like nothing better than to cripple the middle class with another round of crushing gas prices at the pump.

Sadly for them, no such thing is about to occur, and, after being goosed nearly 20% last week, WTI crude took a turn to the downside again, off almost 6% on the day, closing just a nod above $30 per barrel. With the canard of higher oil prices (last week was a serious short squeeze) out of the way, oil majors Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) - both Dow components - both declined by more than three percent.

Also taken down a few notches were banks, especially Bank of America (BAC), which closed below 13 at 12.96, a one-day four percent drop, now down a solid 30% from its recent 52-week high (18.48). Investors and specs are concerned not only with BAC's exposure to the oil patch and fracking concerns, which have been going belly-up since last Autumn, but with the overall health of the banking sector. Reminded that the nation's largest banks had to be bailed out during the sub-prime crisis just eight years ago, stock players don't need much to arouse their worst suspicions, that the balance sheets of the big money center banks are still not exactly transparent.

Citigroup (C) also was on the chopping block, losing 3.35%, extending its decline since May to a third of its value, from 60.95 to today's close at 39.55.

Meanwhile, gold and silver put on tidy gains, with gold edging up nearly $10, from $1098/oz. at Friday's close to a finish in US markets at $1107.90 today. Silver gained, from an even $14 to $14.23 on the day.

Overall, stocks were exposed again, with US indices staying in the red all day long, the selling accelerating during the afternoon and into the close. It was an inauspicious start to the week in a month that has been nothing short of embarrassing for Wall Street's perms-bulls.

Today's Closing Prices:
S&P 500: 1,877.08, -29.82 (1.56%)
Dow: 15,885.22, -208.29 (1.29%)
NASDAQ: 4,518.49, -72.69 (1.58%)

Crude Oil 30.33 -5.78% Gold 1,105.60 +0.85% EUR/USD 1.0849 +0.47% 10-Yr Bond 2.0220 -1.27% Corn 369.25 -0.27% Copper 1.99 -0.47% Silver 14.23 +1.23% Natural Gas 2.16 +0.84% Russell 2000 997.37 -2.28% VIX 24.15 +8.10% BATS 1000 19,941.58 -1.78% GBP/USD 1.4246 -0.19% USD/JPY 118.3035 -0.36%

Friday, January 22, 2016

Stock Rally Extends to Weekend, Rips Faces Off Bears

It was the worst of times. Then, midweek, it became the best of times.

With US stocks falling off the proverbial value cliff on Wednesday, just before noon everything suddenly changed, and the rest of the week was witness to a face-ripping surge which took the Dow Jones Industrials from a low of 15,450.56 on Wednesday to the close Friday at 16,093.51, a gain of 643 points, or, roughly four percent.

The gains from Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, and Friday were so large and so widespread that they left the seeming collapse of Tuesday and early Wednesday as fleeting memories.

Also on the agenda was the untimely end of the price collapse in crude oil, which bottomed out at 26 dollars and change on Wednesday, but closed Friday right around $32 per barrel.

Of course, all of this would not have been possible without some catalyst, like exceptional across-the-board earnings results, outstanding economic data or great geopolitical news. Truth is, none of that happened. Earnings reports have been moderate and inconsistent, economic data has been nothing if not poor, and the geopolitical condition has not changed one whit since Wednesday.

The rally was all concocted and executed by sellers of size, using hyperventilating computer algos which control more than 90% of the trading in the Wall Street casino. It is neither a fair market nor a free market, nor much of a market at all. There hasn't been true price discovery for a long time, at least since March of 2009, when the FASB suspended mark-to-market accounting and the Federal Reserve - in cahoots with the various central banks of Europe, China and Japan - went on an asset-buying binge and slashed the federal funds interest rate to zero.

The market of today is nothing like the one that worked in the heyday of Wall Street. This one is a rotting corpse, overseen by undertakers from the Fed and their lackeys in the large banks and brokerages, which control it, lock, stock and barrel. It is not a place to invest. It is a place to gamble, and gamblers almost always lose.

So it is that the Federal Reserve's reign over the world's finances will continue, with or without some occasional fireworks from the stock market.

The shortened week (markets were closed Monday for MLK Day) ended positive, the first in the three weeks thus far in 2016. However, unless this current rally remains intact and explosive to the upside next week, January will end in the red. By how much is anybody's guess, though the final two days of this week can rightfully be chalked up to options expiration, as doubles many a tenacious trader made money in a derivative fashion.

For the Week:
S&P: +26.57 (+1.41%)
Dow: +105.43 (+0.66%)
NASDAQ: +102.76 (+2.29%)

The Day's Closing Quotes:
S&P 500: 1,906.90, +37.91 (2.03%)
Dow: 16,093.51, +210.83 (1.33%)
NASDAQ: 4,591.18, +119.12 (2.66%)

Crude Oil 31.99 +8.33% Gold 1,097.50 -0.06% EUR/USD 1.08 -0.60% 10-Yr Bond 2.0480 +1.44% Corn 369.75 +0.75% Copper 2.00 +0.28% Silver 14.06 -0.24% Natural Gas 2.14 +0.05% Russell 2000 1,020.77 +2.35% VIX 22.34 -16.30% BATS 1000 20,303.38 +1.95% GBP/USD 1.4264 +0.34% USD/JPY 118.7715 +0.79%
 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Stocks Bounce After Draghi Jawboning But Finish Poorly

For the most part, stocks were better behaved on Thursday than they have been almost any day in this new year, but that's hardly any consolation for investors and holders of 401k products, who have seen roughly 10% of their portfolios wiped out over the better part of the past three weeks.

European Central Bank Chairman, Mario Draghi, made brief headlines prior to the US market open, hinting to anybody within earshot that the ECB would review its policy in March. Market watchers, or, more specifically, alogrithms which control the direction of trading these days, took that to be a positive sign, so stocks flow higher and remained in positive territory for the entire session.

European stocks also finished green, though Asian markets had spooked the altos earlier, with the Shangai Stock Exchange down more than three percent, to 2880, its lowest level in over a year. The Nikkei shed another 2.5% and the Hang Seng was down nearly two percent.

While Draghi's comments to the press may have soothed some nerves for now, markets remain under pressure and without upside catalysts. The world is entering what appears to be a prolonged decline, prompted by years of overfunding of easy money by central banks globally.

With options expiring on Friday, both bulls and bears have been well-served this week. The closing session for the week may be on the tame side, if only due to stocks being overextended short-term to the downside and general exhaustion, though longer term, earnings of companies reporting thus far don't seem to hold much promise for a quick, lasting rebound.

If there was any disappointment on the day, it was into the close, which was unremarkably weak, the NASDAQ finishing within a hair's breath of going down the tubes.

Today's closing figures:
S&P 500: 1,868.99, +9.66 (0.52%)
Dow: 15,882.68, +115.94 (0.74%)
NASDAQ: 4,472.06, +0.37 (0.01%)

Crude Oil 29.70 +4.76% Gold 1,100.80 -0.49% EUR/USD 1.0876 -0.14% 10-Yr Bond 2.0190 +1.76% Corn 367.50 -0.34% Copper 1.99 +1.58% Silver 14.10 -0.39% Natural Gas 2.15 +1.61% Russell 2000 997.34 -0.20% VIX 26.69 -3.26% BATS 1000 19,915.85 +0.62% GBP/USD 1.4221 +0.23% USD/JPY 117.7250 +0.67%

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

This Crash Has Been Interrupted... for now

While the world's richest and most-influential types were sipping Valpolicella, stuffing themselves full of petit fours at the World Economic Forum in Davos, markets around the world were in turmoil.

Wednesday saw Asian markets fall completely out of bed, with the Nikkei falling into bear market territory for the first time, and Hong Knog's Hang Seng Index off by nearly 750 points and four percent. For a change, it wasn't the Shanghai SSE leading the way. It was down a mere one percent.

Spilling over into the European session, the feeling continued, just as it had almost every day of the new year. The Dax was a relative out-performer, with the German shares off just 2.82%, better, by comparison, than the FTSE 100 (-3.46) and the CAC 40 (-3.45). In effect, the day was a massive loss for holders of European stocks.

In the US, stocks were slammed at the opening bell, a knee-jerk reaction to the worldwide carnage, and the three major indices continued lower until just after noon, with the Dow recording a loss of 566 points.

But, all of a sudden, something changed. The Dow, S&P and NASDAQ all began moving the other way, as if somebody had turned a loose screw or flipped a faulty switch, metaphors which may be closer to the truth than anyone would admit to, in the age of HFT and sophisticated algos.

The afternoon was all about erasing the embarrassment of the morning session, and it was done with considerable gusto and untold amounts of money from god-know-whom-or-where. The NASDAQ erased a 125-point decline, moving steadily higher to edge into positive territory in the final hour, though it could not hold onto gains, falling back into the red in the final 20 minutes of trading.

The losses in the other two indices were a little stickier, though the Dow improved dramatically, finishing down by just short of 250 points. The S&P lost 22.

So, what happened? Nothing, really, except that short sellers took profits midday, then sat back and counted their money, supposedly. The smart money - and there always is smart money - is currently on red. And it's going to stay there until the selling stops, which, if the past two weeks are any indication, won't be any time soon.

For instance, the Dow still has 1200 points to get to bear market territory. The NASDAQ and S&P are similarly down about 15% from their highs (last May) and will need a little more time. Don't be surprised if there's a snap-back rally with some ferocity over the next two days as options expire on Friday.

What may be of more technical interest (no pun intended) is the yield on the ten-year note, which closed today under 2.00% for the first time in nearly a year. Following the federal funds rate hike in December, rates were supposed to rise. They've gone in the opposite direction, to the Fed's dismay. Look for the Federal Reserve to call an emergency meeting in the not-so-distant future if the selling doesn't abate shortly.

S&P 500: 1,859.33, -22.00 (1.17%)
Dow: 15,766.74, -249.28 (1.56%)
NASDSAQ: 4,471.69, -5.26 (0.12%)

Crude Oil 26.76 -5.97% Gold 1,101.20 +1.11% EUR/USD 1.0891 -0.18% 10-Yr Bond 1.9840 -2.51% Corn 368.00 +0.07% Copper 1.98 +0.13% Silver 14.17 +0.35% Natural Gas 2.14 +2.58% Russell 2000 999.31 +0.45% VIX 27.59 +5.91% BATS 1000 19,792.43 -1.24% GBP/USD 1.4193 +0.22% USD/JPY 116.9350 -0.60%

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stocks Bounce, But Rally Is Short-Lived Following MLK Holiday

Oddly buoyed by bad data out of China (missed GDP estimates at 6.9%), stocks made a half-hearted attempt to stem some of the losses it took in the first two weeks of the year, rising by about one percent across the three major indices early, but the rally could not find its legs and sellers soon took over, sending the NASDAQ into negative territory for the ninth time in 11 sessions this year.

While there's still eight trading days remaining in the month, the January Barometer merits mention at this juncture if only because the month, as a whole, seems to be lost.

Readers will be reminded that the January Barometer - which posits that "as goes January, so goes the year" - has a roughly 90% correlation. The only question now for traders seems to be not whether the year of 2016 will be a bad one, but just how bad it will end.

Indications continue to suggest that the correction is far from over and the potential of an outright bear market is only being kept off the table due to some select large cap stocks. 65% of stocks on the S&P 500 are already in a bear market, i.e., off 20% or more, and the Russell 2000 is down more than 20% from previous highs.

Equities may have gotten a one-day reprieve from some non-committal buyers of the dip, but that strategy seems to have worn out its welcome. Seasoned traders are becoming more and more risk-averse, seeking the safety of large caps with steady dividends, strong balance sheets (there aren't many), and, as the 10-year-note is telling us quite plainly, fixed income investments.

Today's volatility included a 270-point round trip for the Dow, which was down more than 100 points midday. Wednesday may prove more challenging as markets approach the traditional options expiry on the third Friday of the month, at the end of the current week.

Today's Closing Quotes:
S&P 500: 1,881.33, +1.00 (0.05%)
Dow: 16,016.02, +27.94 (0.17%)
NASADAQ: 4,476.95, -11.47 (0.26%)

Crude Oil 28.59 -2.82% Gold 1,090.70 +0.01% EUR/USD 1.0908 +0.17% 10-Yr Bond 2.0350 +0.10% Corn 368.50 +1.45% Copper 1.97 +1.11% Silver 14.07 +1.29% Natural Gas 2.08 -0.76% Russell 2000 994.87 -1.28% VIX 26.05 -3.59% BATS 1000 20,041.25 -0.13% GBP/USD 1.4160 -0.66% USD/JPY 117.6320 +0.18%

Friday, January 15, 2016

Stocks Slammed Globally, S&P Under 1900; Dow Drops Below 16,000

Wall Street is, at last, getting the just desserts from seven years of Fed policies that have funneled trillions of dollars into the hands of the wealthiest people in the country.

The kicker is that the American public, the 65-70% that still works for a living, are going to get the worst of it.

Today's carnage in US equity markets was not an isolated event by any means. It began years ago, but, in its most current manifestation, the collapse began in China last night, when the SSE fell nearly 5% in its last session of the week.

The contagious selling fever spilled over into European markets, with the DAX, CAC-40, and FTSE-100 ending the day down by 2.54%, 2.38% and 1.93%, respectively.

Prior to markets opening in the US, however, there was a spate of poor economic data released.

Retail sales for December came in at -0.1. PPI went negative (deflation) in December, at -0.2%. Empire Manufacturing (a gauge for economic activity in the NY Fed district, collapsed from a reading of -6.2 in December, to a ghastly -19.4 in January.

Industrial Production fell 0.4%. Capacity Utilization slumped to 76.5%.

Then came the news from Wal-Mart that they would be closing 269 stores this year, with 154 of them in the United States. The full list of Wal-Mart store closings can be seen here.

By the time markets actually opened at 9:30 am ET, futures were showing the Dow down by more than 350 points and the indices all fell off a cliff at the sound of the opening bell.

By midday, the Dow was down more than 500 points, the NASDAQ had shed close to 150, and the S&P was sporting losses of more than 50 points.

While today's crashing stock indices were certainly bloody, they weren't even close to the 10 worst one-day Dow declines of all time, so all is not lost.

As the session wore on, the signs of a failing economy - both here in the US and globally - were everywhere. The 10-year note fell briefly below 2.00%. With 1/2 hour left to go, declining issues were leading advancers roughly 6:1. Intel (INTC) was down nine percent. Citigroup (C) was posting a 6% loss; Microsoft (MSFT) was clinging to a four percent downside. Bank of America (BAC), which was pushing 17 two weeks ago, sliced through 15 and was trading in the range of 14.40, down 4.0% on the day.

With more companies reporting Q4 and annual earnings next week, the action this week and today might just be an appetizer for what's about to come, and that might be a recession, collapsing corporate earnings, liquidations, bankruptcies and the wholesale destruction of pension funds - heavily invested in equities - nationwide.

For its part, the Fed trotted out William Dudley, president of the NY Fed and vice chairman of the FOMc, who noted that negative rates could be considered in light of the recent market volatility. His tongue-lapping of the markets didn't seem to carry much weight. Investors were only interested in getting out and limiting the damage prior to the long weekend.

The day's closing prices:
S&P 500: 1,880.28, -41.56 (2.16%)
Dow: 15,988.08, -390.97 (2.39%)
NASDAQ: 4,488.42, -126.59 (2.74%)

Crude Oil 29.67 -4.90% Gold 1,088.90 +1.43% EUR/USD 1.0920 +0.53% 10-Yr Bond 2.03 -3.10% Corn 362.50 +1.26% Copper 1.95 -1.57% Silver 13.90 +1.14% Natural Gas 2.10 -1.73% Russell 2000 1,005.44 -1.97% VIX 27.70 +15.66% BATS 1000 20,066.91 -1.99% GBP/USD 1.4255 -1.13% USD/JPY 117.0050 -0.97%

For the week:
S&P: -41.76 (-2.17)
Dow: -358.71 (-2.19)
NASDAQ: -155.21 (-3.34)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rally Falls Short in Final Hour; NASDAQ Still Down for the Week; Investors Not Biting on FANGs

Of the hardest hit stocks, many of them, including some of the tech all-stars, such as Facebook (FB), (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), and Alphabet (Google, GOOG), otherwise known as the FANGs have been mercilessly sold off since December, and, likely, for good reason.

Overall, their price-earnings ratios are stratospheric, they don't actually make anything, Amazon, in particular, rarely turns a profit, and they don't offer dividends, only appreciation in stock price as their sole saving grace.

Take away the increasing stock price and what have you got? Losses as far as the eye can see, and traders have recently shied and run away from these four horsemen of the internet.

The big winner today was Facebook, which gained nearly three percent, but is still down close to 10% overall. The others didn't fare quite so well. Amazon gained close to 2%, though it is still down over 12% since December 30. Netflix added back just 0.5%, and is down close to 20% since highs made the first week of December. Google, the best of the bunch, with regular profits and solid earnings quarter after quarter, gained 2% and is only down about 8% since after Christmas.

Fourth quarter earnings are coming due for the bunch of them, and market participants will be eager to note any difficulties experienced during the holiday period, though Amazon could surprise, as more and more people flocked to the web for holiday shopping in the past year.

Otherwise, it was a hopeful day on Wall Street, though the massive rally sparked by St. Louis Fed governor James Bullard's comments that the low price of oil was an impediment to the Fed's 2% inflation target, and thus, the Fed may "rethink" its interest rate hike policy for 2016.

While lower oil - and consequently gas - prices are good for everyone except possibly the oil companies and the Fed, Bullard's jawboning served to send the markets soaring on the day, wiping out much of Wednesday's steep losses.

However, the rally fell short in the final hour, as traders exhausted their buying optimism.

Not much should be made from today's trade. Stocks are still moribund and stuck well below all-time highs. The hope of making back the losses of the past two weeks is slim, and anyone thinking the indices will retrace all the way back to all-time highs made in May 2015 is whistling past the grave.

Unless earnings for the fourth quarter are utterly surprising to the upside, expect the pattern of wild swings to continue. Global markets are still in trouble, as is the worldwide currency crisis, reaching from Japan to China, Australia, Europe and even to Canada, where the looney has lost significantly to the dollar due to the downturn in the price of oil.

It's indeed unfortunate that so many keys of economics are locked to the price of oil, because, by most measures, the price is going to stay low or lower for an extended period of time, pushing all other prices down with it. At the apex of the deflationary spiral, oil, which powers more than just machines, pushes down prices for virtually all products, from manufactured to agricultural.

The rally today erased the loss for the week on the Dow, left the S&P virtually unchanged, and the NASDAQ with a 26-point loss. Friday will determine whether the week ends with a positive or negative tone.

The day's action:
S&P 500: 1,921.84, +31.56 (1.67%)
Dow: 16,379.05, +227.64 (1.41%)
NASDAQ: 4,615.00, +88.94 (1.97%)

Crude Oil 31.09 +2.00% Gold 1,077.20 -0.91% EUR/USD 1.0867 -0.14% 10-Yr Bond 2.0980 +1.55% Corn 358.25 +0.07% Copper 1.98 +1.12% Silver 13.85 -2.20% Natural Gas 2.14 -5.69% Russell 2000 1,025.67 +1.53% VIX 23.95 -5.04% BATS 1000 20,474.30 +1.64% GBP/USD 1.4412 -0.07% USD/JPY 118.0400 +0.34%

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Stocks Massacred Again; S&P Below 1900; Dow Sheds Over 1200 Points in 2016

Another day, another 350+ point loss on the Dow.

There isn't much to say about this kind of result except that it isn't showing any sign of abating. It's what happens when you throw trillions of dollars for speculators to over-leverage on risk assets of all manner and then shut off the free money supply tap.

That's exactly what the Fed did on December 16, when they decided that the economy was strong enough - and gaining momentum - to withstand a rate hike. Dismissing the fact that it was only 25 basis points, the Fed, which has been wrong on everything from the effects of QE and ZIRP to employment, housing and growth, moved at the wrong time. The business cycle had already turned negative; it was exhausted and the consumer had been tapped out.

Not that the consequent decline in stocks was solely the fault of the Federal Reserve, no, the government, spending and taxing and taxing and spending the United States into 19 trillion dollars of unpayable debt, has had an equal hand in the destruction of American business enterprise.

Of course, the demise of the industrial giant wasn't all done overnight. It's taken decades of mismanagement to destroy the American dream and the destroyers aren't done yet. Stock market declines aren't the end of the road, either. Rather, they're just a symptom of the underlying malaise that will be unleashed full force as this election year unwinds.

Stocks are just the visible part of the credit bubble. The other parts consist of moving parts of underfunded pensions, bankrupt trust funds, the fraud of Obamacare, the welfare system, the education complex, military overspending, and a plethora of other wasteful programs funded by the unaware, eyes-shut, American public.

So, the start of 2016 isn't going to be anything monumental, despite the Dow losing 1273.62 in just the first eight trading sessions of the year. Bear in mind that the Dow has to lose roughly another 1500 points (to 14,679) before it's officially a bear market, and there's little doubt that this decline will eventually become a bear market with further downside from there.

No, the first few weeks of January, 2016 will likely be referred to as the "good old days," before the tsunami of deflation finally took hold of the global economy and would not let go. These will be recalled as the time before government fraud and waste was still acceptable, before we realized that unemployment wasn't really five percent, but 15%, or 20%, or more.

Today's trading was nothing short of a waterfall event. The main indices were up at the open, and in a classic bear market pattern, sold off and were negative within the first hour of the session. The Dow, which lost nearly 365 points, wasn't even the worst of it. In fact, on a percentage basis, it was the best of the three. The S&P lopped off 2.5%, the NASDAQ withstood a whopping 3.41% decline.

The 10-year note traded down to 2.05% and will be sporting a one-handle soon, possibly by the end of this week.

This isn't pretty. If you haven't gotten out of the way and out of stocks by now, and into cash or gold or silver, you have nobody to blame but your own greedy self.

Good luck winning the lottery, because your equity holdings are about to be wiped from the face of the earth.

Today's Sad Story
S&P 500: 1,890.28, -48.40 (2.50%)
Dow: 16,151.41, -364.81 (2.21%)
NASDAQ: 4,526.06, -159.85 (3.41%)

Crude Oil 30.40 -0.13% Gold 1,093.80 +0.79% EUR/USD 1.0881 +0.30% 10-Yr Bond 2.0660 -1.71% Corn 358.75 +0.56% Copper 1.95 -0.26% Silver 14.15 +2.90% Natural Gas 2.28 +1.20% Russell 2000 1,010.19 -3.30% VIX 25.22 +12.24% BATS 1000 20,143.62 -2.36% GBP/USD 1.4413 -0.15% USD/JPY 117.7130

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Stocks (and Oil) Can't Catch a Break

It was another ugly day on Wall Street, not because stocks finished higher, but because of how they got there.

Right out of the gate, the major averages were soaring, but all of the early gains were wiped away shortly after 11:00 am. Stocks zig-zagged through the midday, going positive, then negative, and, finally, just after 2:00 pm, decided that upwards would be the most-favored path, so the bid was in.

However, prior to that late-afternoon spike, there were more than a fair share of winners and losers, most of them being of the losing variety. Of the top ten most actives, nine of them were in the red, even with the indices moving decidedly positive. Only Apple (AAPL) was a winner, for reasons of which nobody could rightfully discern.

Of those nine losers, eight of them were energy or materials-related. The oddball in the group was Bank of America (BAC), which continues to shed market cap and is now in the early running for dog stock of the year (but, it's early, though since it's a bank, our money is on them).

Energy and material stocks were actively trending lower because of the all-too-obvious drop in the price of crude oil and just about anything else that falls into the commodity sphere. Oil continued to decline, price-wise, today reaching below $30/barrel for WTI crude as inventories rose and demand fell, giving the slick stuff a double whammy of bad news.

On the NYSE, losers and winners were nearly even, and there the disparity between the new highs (9) and new lows (564) was cause for alarm. On the NASDAQ, a similar story was unfolding, though breadth was slightly better. New highs numbered only 12, with 352 hitting new lows. That's where the real story is taking place. There are far too few stocks leading the market (large caps) and far too many small and mid-caps weighing it down.

These imbalances have much to do with the ongoing debate over wealth inequality. The policies of the Fed not only have benefitted the richest individuals in the society, they've also been particularly advantageous to the larger, better-established listed companies. The big firms have better access to big money for stock buybacks, primarily, while the smaller firms languish in the all-too-real mundane world where profits matter and cost-cutting continues.

Smaller firms have a harder time making their numbers in a slumping economy and are first hit when business begins to slide, or, at least that's how the current crop of traders has been conditioned. Slumping oil prices has morphed into an all-around slap-down of commodities in general, which, in normal times would be good for business, but today the low prices for everything from aluminum to copper to zinc has spread over to consumer goods, most of which are manufactured overseas in sweatshops at minimal cost.

The other side of the equation, that being consumer demand, has been hollowed out by years of fleecing by giant corporations and the Fed's insistence that nobody earn a dime in interest. While Wall Street could afford to speculate and spend because the spigot was wide open, Main Street tightened its belt until consumers are able to only afford the bare necessities after paying more in taxes, fees, credit card interest, student loans and, especially, health care. If there's one culprit upon which most of the blame can be laid for the rottenness of the general economy, it has to be the misappropriately-named Affordable Care Act, which acted as a wealth transfer mechanism from the pockets of ordinary citizens into the health care morass of hospitals, providers, big pharma and insurance companies. It has drained the economy of whatever excess had been created by reduced gas and fuel prices.

Today's closing quotes:
S&P 500: 1,938.68, +15.01 (0.78%)
Dow: 16,516.22, +117.65 (0.72%)
NASDAQ: 4,685.92, +47.93 (1.03%)

Crude Oil 30.57 -2.67% Gold 1,086.00 -0.93% EUR/USD 1.0849 +0.01% 10-Yr Bond 2.1020 -2.59% Corn 358.00 +0.35% Copper 1.96 -0.63% Silver 13.77 -0.69% Natural Gas 2.26 -5.68% Russell 2000 1,044.70 +0.27% VIX 22.47 -7.53% BATS 1000 20,630.49 +0.55% GBP/USD 1.4440 +0.04% USD/JPY 117.7805 +0.04%

Monday, January 11, 2016

Perception Trumps Reality and Why You Should Not Trade Stocks

A large part of investing consists of paying attention to details. It's not enough to know what a certain company or industry is experiencing over a short-term basis, but to examine the details and to put those details into historic perspective.

It is in this light that today's presentation will advise anyone and everyone to distrust the mainstream media reports of the economy in general, and often, even the specific.

Back in the early portion of this century, word began circulating about a mysterious group called the Plunge Protection Team (PPT for short), which had the extraordinary power of pulling the entire equity market out of a crash, thus restoring confidence to traders and investors.

For a long time, people who believed that the PPT existed at all and was causing the wild fluctuations seen in the summer of 2001 and 2002, were dismissed as conspiracy nuts and tin-foil hat wearers. However, the PPT had been exposed beforehand, and it was indeed real. Its true name was the Working Group on Financial Markets, and it was created via an executive order 12631, signed on March 18, 1988 by US President Ronald Reagan, largely in response to the market turmoil that resulted in a 22% drop on October 19, 1987.

The PPT is real, though current manipulators may not exactly match the same original cast of characters, there is still a shadowy group of government people making sure the equity markets don't crash, or, at the very least, they enter the market to manifest a desired outcome.

Just in case you still don't believe in the power of the PPT, or that the market can be massively manipulated on a short-term (leading to long-term) basis, consider that today from 3:17 to 3:38 pm ET, a span of a mere 21 minutes, the Dow Jones Industrials jumped from 16,261.93 to 16.444.04. That's 182.11 points, a number that would be exceptional (a better than 1% gain) for an entire session.

Thus, the Dow - and along with it, the S&P and NASDAQ - went from near the day's lows to modestly positive, nearing the close of the session. These heady days, as perception exceeds reality by a longshot, that result will be precisely ONLY what the mainstream media reports. Not that markets were in turmoil and extending losses from last week, or, that market conviction suddenly changed dramatically, but ONLY that stocks were up on the day. All is well. Nothing to see here. Move along.

That there are government entities meddling in what used to be fair, honest and open markets should be enough to discourage just about any thinking person to not only abhor the practice of manipulation, but to remove themselves and their money from the fraud that is Wall Street, because, if government operators can make the market go up, they have an equal power to make it go down, or up-then-down or whatever they wish it to be.

In essence, stock markets are not fair and open and free anymore, and haven't been for quite some time. Most stocks these days are wildly overvalued, and for good reason. The retirements of millions of Americans are tied to stocks. Not only that, but the entire economy of the planet is tethered, one way or another, to the US equity markets. There are sovereign wealth funds, trust funds, hedge funds, mutual funds and all other manner of funds, ETFs and investment vehicles that are inexorably tied to the success or failure of stocks.

Suppose there is a massive bear market in stocks, like we witnessed in 2000, and again in 2008. People panic. They sell. But that's old news. People don't move markets any more. Computers do, and those are controlled by the barons of Wall Street, the banks and brokerage firms.

Thus, the PPT does not have to exist at all anymore. There only needs to be a mechanism for all the main traders to move at once in the same direction, and that mechanism is probably already in place, has been used in the past, is being used presently and will be used in the future, either to make stocks cheaper (down) or more expensive (up). Either way, the trading firms will have the upper hand, advance notice and the blessing of the federal government.

US markets are not what they appear to be. For instance, they are much more thinly traded than ever, by fewer participants, many of whom are nefarious, criminal and immoral. Individual investors would likely be better off stuffing cash into a mattress, buying gold or silver, or trading comic books, baseball cards, Beanie Babies or other collectibles. Realistically, the collectible market is very robust and smart individuals can actually make a good living on places like eBay or Craigslist. The art market is also very good, especially for rarities.

Leave the stock market to professionals. If you like to gamble, try the lottery, the horses, or fantasy sports betting, because the Dow Jones Industrials, the S&P, the NASDAQ and the NYSE have become nothing more than sophisticated casinos, operating without gaming licenses, and the house always wins.


Today's closing quotes:
S&P 500: 1,923.67, +1.64 (0.09%)
Dow: 16,398.57, +52.12 (0.32%)
NASDAQ: 4,637.99, -5.64 (0.12%)

Crude Oil 31.31 -5.58% Gold 1,095.60 -0.21% EUR/USD 1.0855 -0.60% 10-Yr Bond 2.1580 +1.31% Corn 351.25 -1.61% Copper 1.97 -2.52% Silver 13.85 -0.49% Natural Gas 2.39 -3.16% Russell 2000 1,041.90 -0.41% VIX 24.30 -10.03% BATS 1000 20,518.11 -0.16% GBP/USD 1.4540 +0.22% USD/JPY 117.7050 +0.79%

Friday, January 8, 2016

It's Not China; Dow Dumps 1000 Points in First Week of 2016

Thursday night in the US - Friday morning in the People's Republic of China - all eyes were glued to the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE), to see whether Chinese authorities' plan to suspend their rules on circuit breakers - a fifteen minute pause on a 5% loss, and closing for the day should a 7% loss occur - would hold stocks up or allow massive dumping of overpriced equities.

Disappointing many who would relish the thought of a worldwide collapse of the global stock Ponzi scheme, Chinese traders showed great restraint and state-owned companies bought equities on a wholesale basis, averting a rout in the market by posting a gain of nearly two percent.

It didn't do much good to support the overwhelming narrative of the mainstream press in Europe and the United States, as shares across the continent fell by 1.5% on average across the largest bourses, and the FTSE 100 in Great Britain shedding 0.70%.

In the US, hopes were high when the BLS announced a non-farm payroll increase of 292,000 jobs for December, above even the most aggressive estimates.

The markets didn't care.

Stocks showed modest gains across the three major averages at the open, but the narrative - and the indices - failed to produce positive results. By the end of Friday's session, the S&P joined the Dow and NASDAQ in correction territory, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average showing one of the worst weekly performances of all time, mirroring the collapse in August by shedding over 1000 points.

It was a horrific start to the new year, with the major averages shedding more than 6% on the week, the Dow posting triple-digit losses on four of the five days, the NASDAQ dropping by more than 7%.

The results for the week were downright depressing, the worst weekly start to a new year in the history of US exchanges:

S&P 500: -121.94 (-5.97)
Dow: -1079.12 (-6.19)
NASDAQ: -363.78 (-7.26)

On the day:
S&P 500: 1,922.02, -21.07 (1.08%)
Dow: 16,346.18, -167.92 (1.02%)
NASDAQ: 4,643.63, -45.79 (0.98%)

Crude Oil 33.09 -0.54% Gold 1,102.30 -0.50% EUR/USD 1.0921 -0.01% 10-Yr Bond 2.13 -1.07% Corn 356.25 +0.92% Copper 2.02 -0.25% Silver 13.94 -2.82% Natural Gas 2.49 +4.53% Russell 2000 1,048.78 -1.48% VIX 26.08 +4.36% BATS 1000 20,550.58 -1.01% GBP/USD 1.4524 -0.69% USD/JPY 117.51 -0.12%
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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Slaughter On Wall Street: Stocks Whacked Again As China Markets Close Early; Macy's Lays Off Thousands

Sure, the economy is just fine.

That's what the pundits on Bloomberg and CNBC would have you believe.

So, if everything is so darn good, why is Macy's - which has over 700 stores in the US - closing 40 stores and laying off 4,500 employees?

And why did the NASDAQ and the Dow close the day in correction territory (down 10% from high) today, with the S&P not far off?

People who host shows and are guests on TV want you to believe it's all China's fault. Over on mainland China, their stock markets closed early for the second time this year. That's twice in four days that circuit breakers have been triggered. A 7% selloff causes the market to shut down. Those are their rules. Or, rather, those were their rules.

Early in the US session, Chinese authorities announced that they were suspending the circuit-breaker rule, so their stock markets may fall a lot deeper tomorrow than a mere 7% before everything in the People's Republic goes down the drain.

It's not China's fault. It's the fault of the Fed, the government (for looking the other way and accepting bribes from corporations and banks), and the greed of Wall Street. It's also the fault of smart people taking their money out of the rigged casino, aka Wall Street, before it all vanishes, like it did in 2000, or 2008.

Also, Yahoo! is laying off 1000 employees as part of their reorganization plan. One employee that isn't being let go, but should, is CEO Marissa Mayer, of whom Money Daily said years ago was nothing but a wannabe, a poser, with no measurable skills for running a company.

Yes, the economy is not good, Wall Street and the government is run by a gang of crooks, and, incidentally, those highly-paid CEOs, like Ms. Mayer, should be in bread lines with the rest of the people being let go, because they're incompetent.

America, a once-great country, is going down the tubes, and in a big hurry. The culprit is not some foreign entity, terrorism, guns or aliens. The reasons can be found all over the country. Greedy lawyers, greedier bankers, corrupt government officials, incompetent business leaders, and, interwoven into the fabric of this country, placid, placated, ill-educated, preoccupied, self-engrossed people who vote (or don't) in elections and think they've done their part are all part of the problem, and not part of the solution.

But, people could be the solution. If people stopped making poor decisions, stopped listening to people in authority positions, and started taking responsibility for their own lives, rather than hoping for handouts from an uncle sugar government, people could solve their problems on their own.

The concept of self-reliance has been largely lost in America, but, herms hoping it's going to make a comeback when people wise up to the antics of politicians who don't deliver on their promises and kick them to the curb, where they belong.

There are lots of problems in this country that people could solve on their own if they took charge of their own lives. That, truthfully, may be asking for too much. We've wasted too much time in this country and waited too long for the governing class to do the right thing. Now, it may be too late, and we'll all just have to fend for ourselves.

Actually, that may not be too bad a thing.

The day on wall Street was not pretty, with major indices taking a third huge loss in four days. The Dow Industrials are down nearly 1000 points so far this year, putting 2016 already 6% in the red for even the safest stocks. Averages were lower all day, with no signs of rallies, and, perhaps more telling than anything, there was no snap-back at 3:30 on short covering, which has been the norm of late.

As noted by the quotes below, WTI crude oil finished with a 33 handle, a number not seen in the oil pits in 12 years. Gold and silver have broken out of moribund ranges, though holding and advancing from these levels may be difficult, as central banks collude to keep currency that may compete with the almighty dollar, euro or yen at undesirable levels.

What's undeniable about the gold and silver rigging is that it is unsustainable long-term, though central banks and their henchmen in the COMEX have managed to keep sending the prices of precious metals lower for nearly five full years. With stocks potentially falling out of favor, bonds, cash and PMs may appear to be the best bets with which to ride out a currency storm, a scenario that could be occurring in real time as the dollar/yen carry trade continues to unwind.

There is chaos everywhere, and, for the final trading day of the new year's first week, two important developments will be how the Chinese markets fare and US non-farm payroll data for December, due for release at 8:30 am ET.

Closing prices for Thursday, January 7, 2016
S&P 500: 1,943.09, -47.17 (2.37%)
Dow: 16,514.10, -392.41 (2.32%)
NASDAQ, 4,689.43, -146.34 (3.03%)

Crude Oil 33.21 -2.24% Gold 1,109.20 +1.58% EUR/USD 1.0929 +1.41% 10-Yr Bond 2.1530 -1.10% Corn 352.00 -0.35% Copper 2.02 -3.16% Silver 14.32 +2.50% Natural Gas 2.37 +4.46% Russell 2000 1,064.57 -2.72% VIX 24.99 +21.37% BATS 1000 20,761.26 -2.29% GBP/USD 1.4618 -0.05% USD/JPY 117.5480 -0.80%
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The End? Stocks Slammed Again; Economic Prospects for 2016 Appear Grim

What should have happened in 2008-09 may be beginning to happen now, in 2016. Investors should take losses, companies should go broke, and government apologists should have a "come to Jesus" moment and admit that they've been lying about the recovery for years.

There is and there has been no recovery. GDP has been stuck between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half percent since the financial crisis (and that's if you believe government accounting). 2015 will be fortunate to register at two percent growth.

Meanwhile, wages are stagnant and falling, 95 million able-bodied Americans are not officially counted as part of the workforce. The middle class has been hollowed out by Wall Street greed, government over-taxation, and unrealistic government salaries and pensions that suck the life out of local and state budgets.

The jobs that made America great have long gone, shipped overseas to China and elsewhere, and now we are exacerbating our pitiful condition by allowing in more immigrants - legal and illegal - taking away the few jobs left for natural-born citizens.

Baby boomers are retiring, replaced by their dumbed-down progeny. Our national debt of nearly $19 trillion - and growing - is a universal disgrace. Meanwhile the Federal Reserve, in cahoots with the shiftless Treasury Department, debases our currency by print a full 40% of government expenditures.

The federal government wants to grab our guns, the states want to charge us rent - in the form of property taxes - on the property we own, and neither of them can balance their books. The American public is at a breaking point, through with political correctness, suspicious of a government that spies upon us, regulates us, lies to us and sends our kids to die in useless wars which are never won. The controlled mainstream media propagandizes and cajoles anyone who doesn't align properly with the official corporate-government-military line.

Truly, in the short history of our Republic, we are on the cusp of complete breakdown in finance, education, morals, and decency.

And, while the blame can be placed on the people itself, because we voted for the spineless, unaccountable elected officials who have led us to this point, it should fall on the shoulders of those doing the governing, the legislating, the ones who are routinely bribed to pass legislation that favors corporations over people, banks over homeowners, and diminishment of our rights and liberties over common sense.

Our current government is the most corrupt to ever inhabit the halls of congress and the White House, our state houses and our government mansions. Is it any wonder that only half of the people who can vote, do vote?

Wall Street insiders hold all the cards, and they're gradually folding them. The Dow Industrials, S&P 500 and NASDAQ were all lower by massive amounts again today, for the second time in three this year. If this is a portent of what's ahead for the rest of the year, the ride may not be bumpy at all, merely a slide into the mediocrity created by greed, failed, moronic policies of the Federal Reserve, all with the implicit consent of the government, a government that is not worth the support of the people.

The slow collapse of stocks that has been on display the first week of this year has already been gaining steam since prior to last summer. Stocks peaked in late May and are 6-8% lower (depending on which index you choose) from their inflated high points. The Dow is down nearly 500 points in just three days this year and more than 850 points since the Fed decided, in their insipid, desperate desire, to raise interest rates mid-December.

Manufacturing, as measured by the ISM, has shown contraction for two consecutive months. US Services PMI dropped to 54.3 - the lowest since January 2015. ISM Services fell to 55.3, the lowest level since March 2014.

US factory orders for November fell 4.2% year-over-year, the 13th consecutive monthly drop. We are on the verge of a recession, in the middle of a depression. The emperor has no clothes and this time, with federal funds rates straining to hold between 0.25 and 0.50%, there is no place to hide.

If this isn't the end, it's getting pretty close. According to the most widely-accepted charting methods, stocks will enter a correction phase within a month, if not sooner. Corporate profits are falling, as companies cannot concoct any more accounting tricks to show even meager profits. Quarterly results are due out over the next three to four weeks and prospects for corporate earnings are poor. For retailers, energy stocks and consumer goods producers, the results - stemming from missing expectations for the holiday season and an oversupply of crude oil and distillates - might be devastating.

Stores are being shuttered in malls across the country and with them, marginal jobs which will not come back. The only bright spots are that inflation is nil, gasoline is cheap, and the winter, thus far, has been mild, at least in the heavily-populated Northeast.

Somehow, America will survive. However, the America of 2016 is a far cry from what the country was just 30 years ago, and a dim representation of what our Founding Fathers conceived.

S&P 500: 1,990.26, -26.45 (1.31%)
Dow: 16,906.51, -252.15 (1.47%)
NASDAQ: 4,835.76, -55.67 (1.14%)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Stocks Retrace Lows, End Positive; Gold At Inflection Point

There wasn't much to talk about on the second trading day of 2016, except that stocks managed not to fall for the second consecutive day, thanks to late-day jacking by people who apparently haven't yet gotten the memo that Buying the Dip is so 2012-2015.

Rather than investors seeking bargains, today's late action was more or less a bailout by the NY Fed or the PPT (maybe the same entity) lest people get the idea that the markets are rigged and uncertain.

Surely, economic data and downgrades of the S&P by Citi and the US economy by Duetsche Bank couldn't support the irrational failing that typified the trading on the session.

All three major indices ended the day happily in the green after retracing their lows, giving the CNBC and Bloomberg talking heads a talking point to the effect of "bouncing off yesterday's lows" and being oversold and other such rubbish that is the mainstay of financial (sic) journalism these days.

Markets are likely to gyrate around until Friday, when December non-farm payrolls are announced. In the meantime, the ADP jobs survey kicks off tomorrow prior to the bell, a harbinger of things to come. It might be interesting enough to move markets a little, but probably not by much.

More interesting was the trade in WTI crude. The slippery stuff moved under $36/barrel, finishing at $35.95. Silver ended up some change, closing the NY session at an even $14 per troy ounce. Gold also gained, ending in the US at the statistically signficant 1078.10, which is roughly the delineation between support and resistance. If stocks stumble again this week, watch the PMs take off, as they've been mired in a bear market for more than three years and are viciously oversold.

S&P 500: 2,016.71, +4.05 (0.20%)
Dow: 17,158.66, +9.72 (0.06%)
NASDAQ: 4,891.43, -11.66 (0.24%)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now? MONEY DAILY Predictions Prove Prescient As Stocks Drop on First Trading Day of 2016

As 2015 drew to a close, Money Daily put forward a number of predictions for what 2016 would bring as pertaining to economies and financial markets.

While one day's trading cannot be considered anything more than market "noise," the historic sell-off of January 4 - the first trading day of the new year - proved to be the worst performance to start a year since 2008, and one of the top ten worst starts to a year in market history.

While stocks were down large in the US, they were worse in Asia and Europe. The Shanghai Composite was shaved by 6.9%, Japan's Nikkei tumbled nearly 600 points, a loss of 3.06%.

Germany's DAX was the hardest hit of Europe's majors, losing 4.28%. England's FTSE 100 fell 2.39; France's CAC-40 was down 2.47%.

In the US, most of the carnage was done by midday. Stocks drifted into the closing hour, and were boosted substantially off their lows by a face-ripping, short-covering rally in the last half hour of trading.

It was an unnerving beginning to a year which promises much in the way of surprises with limited upside for stocks, which have been and continue to be wildly overvalued.

Some of the bigger names were high on the list of losers. Netflix (NFLX) fell 3.86%; Alphabet (Google, GOOG) dropped 2.25%; Amazon was the biggest of the tech wrecks, dropping 38.90 points, a 5.76% loss.

WTI crude oil first rose, but came back to earth and was down for the day, finishing around 36.80 on the day.

S&P 500: 2,012.66, -31.28 (1.53%)
Dow: 17,148.94, -276.09 (1.58%)
NASDAQ: 4,903.09, -104.32 (2.08%)