Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sluggish Trading, Late-Day Rally Lifts Dow

A late-session rally moved the Dow into positive territory into the close, and pared losses on the other major averages. The entire trading day was spent with the Dow criss-crossing the unchanged line. Trading was spotty, sporadic and inconsistent.

This was a bit of a change from the volatility seen recently, though there are still enough jittery global events and data points to make traders nervous heading down the home stretch of the holiday season.

Using Fibonacci numbers to exploit the current rally - using intra-day numbers on the Dow - maths out like this:

December 3 high: 25,980.21
December 10 low: 23,881.37

Difference: -2,098.84

First resistance (23.6%): 495.33 points = 24,376.70 (Dow closed at 24,370.24 on Tuesday, December 11; Close enough!)
Second resistance (38.2%): 801.76 points = 24,683.13 (the Dow exceeded this level on Wednesday, but pulled back below it at the close. On Thursday, the Dow approached this level but could not exceed it, signaling a possible breakdown to end the week.)
Third resistance (50%): 1,049.42 = 24,930.79
Fourth resistance (61.8%): 1,297.08 = 25,178.45 (this is usually the key, where resistance is very high and a pullback can be expected. If the Dow powers through this level, expect it to go all the way back to where it started, i.e., 25,980.21 (100% retracement).

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51
12/10/18 24,423.26 +34.31 -1115.20
12/11/18 24,370.24 -53.02 -1168.22
12/12/18 24,527.27 +157.03 -1011.19
12/13/18 24,597.38 +70.11 -941.08

At the Close, Thursday, December 13, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,597.38, +70.11 (+0.29%)
NASDAQ: 7,070.33, -27.98 (-0.39%)
S&P 500: 2,650.54, -0.53 (-0.02%)
NYSE Composite: 11,936.16, -7.13 (-0.06%)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Federal Reserve Loses $66 Billion; Volatility Meets Fibonacci Sequence As Sucker Rally Extends

Here's a fun headline:

Fed piles up $66 billion in debt.

Now, since the Federal Reserve System has been known to conjure up money out of thin air, how can they incur losses, and, if they somehow manage that feat of economic alchemy, do they even matter. The author of the article says no, but the reality is that our fiat money system - and, with it hose of the rest of the world - are fantasies. The money created is all debt. Nothing but debt. Most of it is incurred when the US treasury - or the treasury of some other nation - issues a bond. It's debt, and it's bought by the Fed or one of their agents, and, viola! instant money is created.

Most of government-issued debt is never paid off, which is why the United States has a $21 trillion - and growing - debt. Some of it is owed to other countries, some to private investors (like the Fed), and some of it is owed elsewhere.

Getting back to the Fed and their debt, how they managed to get into debt themselves is pretty simple. They bought a ton of near-worthless paper called Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) back in the halcyon days of sub-prime lending (2006-2011), and that paper is worth today, as some of it is maturing, worth less than what they paid. They did so to bail out their friends, the big banks, and now the piper is being paid. This will continue for some time, as theses MBS mature at different times. Like most mortgages, some won't mature for 30 years, so think 2036-2041 before they're all exhausted, though some will mature well before those dates.

The Fed wants to shrink its balance sheet, so this is how they're doing it, retiring debt. Do they care? Not particularly. To them, gains and losses are ledger entires and nothing more. They exist in a parallel universe from the rest of us who can't just roll over our debts indefinitely. The Fed will outlast all of us, and they know it.

As far as the impact this will have on the economy and markets and currencies, it's likely not good, but it isn't something to lose sleep over either. The Fed's money machine is massive and they'll just print more if they run into problems. However, for the rest of us, that may be inflationary, though that wasn't a huge issue all the time they were engaged in QE, printing to their heart's content to save the world from economic ruin.

As long as everyone keeps using their money, it's fine. If other countries shy away from the glorious dollar - something that some countries already are doing - it could get a bit rough in the international trade venues. Until very many people, businesses, and nations lose faith in the almighty greenback, we're all good, however. But the Fed will still be losing money for the foreseeable future. Nothing to worry about. They can - and will - make more.

As far as the stock markets are concerned, today was day two of the Mother of all Sucker Rallies which was presented yesterday. Stocks were once again bid higher, with the Dow up more than 450 points. Once again, the afternoon was telling, as sellers took control, leaving the Dow and other indices with reasonable gains.

With the rally ongoing, it might be instructive to concern ourselves with Fibonacci levels, as detailed below.

Fibonacci numbers are often used in technical analysis to determine support and resistance levels for stock price movement. Analysts find the two most extreme points (peak and trough) on a stock chart and divide by the Fibonacci ratios of 23.6 percent, 38.2 percent, 50 percent, 61.8 percent and 100 percent.

Using Fibonacci numbers to exploit the current rally - using intra-day numbers on the Dow - maths out like this:

December 3 high: 25,980.21
December 10 low: 23,881.37

Difference: -2,098.84

First resistance (23.6%): 495.33 points = 24,376.70 (Dow closed at 24,370.24 on Tuesday, December 11; Close enough!)
Second resistance (38.2%): 801.76 points = 24,683.13 (the Dow exceeded this level today, but pulled back below it at the close. Watch for direction on Thursday.
Third resistance (50%): 1,049.42 = 24,930.79
Fourth resistance (61.8%): 1,297.08 = 25,178.45 (this is usually the key, where resistance is very high and a pullback can be expected. If the Dow powers through this level, expect it to go all the way back to where it started, i.e., 25,980.21 (100% retracement).

This should give a signal of when the current sucker rally is about to expire. After that, the resistance points will become support, and if the Dow plummets through them, get ready for another round of massive losing days.

Happy Holidays.

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51
12/10/18 24,423.26 +34.31 -1115.20
12/11/18 24,370.24 -53.02 -1168.22
12/12/18 24,527.27 +157.03 -1011.19

At the Close, Wednesday, December 12, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,527.27, +157.03 (+0.64%)
NASDAQ: 7,098.31, +66.48 (+0.95%)
S&P 500: 2,651.07, +14.29 (+0.54%)
NYSE Composite: 11,943.29, +82.64 (+0.70%)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Mother Of All Sucker Rallies

The Miracle Monday Rally has been encored by a follow-up, Terrific Tuesday, which pushed stocks further into a positive realm, though despite Herculean efforts, it didn't end that way.

Making the high of the day just minutes into the session, the Dow was up more than 350 points. Apparently thinking their work was done for the day, whoever was hitting the BUY button went out for coffee, a stroll, and lunch, because the Dow spent the next four-and-a-half hours leaking lower, to a point at which it was 200 points down by 2:00 pm ET.

Back at the controls, the clandestine clerk for the Federal Reserve got back to bidding up stocks, sending the Dow - and with it the rest of the indices - back into the green zone over the next hour.

The entire convulsion involved some seriously heavy lifting and an equally resolute effort by the sellers. From the low point on Monday to the early Tuesday high, the Dow rocketed 910 points, but then came back down another 570 before rocketing higher by 300 points. In the end it was all for naught, with the Dow losing 53 points by the closing bell.

Boo-hoo-hoo. It may be Christmas, but January's 401k statements are likely to be carrying a load of coal.

Whatever unnatural force is preventing a complete crash, it has friends in far-away places. All other indices around the world were sucked into the mother of all sucker rallies on Tuesday, saving the world from a long-overdue asset re-pricing that will, as sure as the sun rises in the East, continue to wreak havoc on the investing universe for the foreseeable - and equally, the unforeseen - future.

Bah, humbug.

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51
12/10/18 24,423.26 +34.31 -1115.20
12/11/18 24,370.24 -53.02 -1168.22

At the Close, Tuesday, December 11, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,370.24, -53.02 (-0.22%)
NASDAQ: 7,031.83, +11.31 (+0.16%)
S&P 500: 2,636.78, -0.94 (-0.04%)
NYSE Composite: 11,860.65, -28.64 (-0.24%)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Seas of Red Ink; Global Collapse In Asset Pricing Underway; US Markets In Denial

Was Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), or Microsoft (MSFT) ever worth a trillion dollars?

All were, for a while, supposedly worth that high until the market considered the madness of such lofty valuations. Then, they were probably not.

A little quickie math is appropriate. For a company to be worth a trillion dollars, in rough terms, it would have to make a profit of $143 off every person on the planet (we're using 7 billion as an estimate) in a calendar year. Figuring a 15-year capitalization period, it's possible.

However, with the global median individual annual income at about $3000, it's unlikely. And for three companies to be worth that would mean every person on the planet, including babies and the elderly in nursing homes or hospices, would have to spend enough so that combined, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft would net a profit of $429. So, for three companies to have that kind of valuation simultaneously is something right out of science fiction, because these people would have to spend about $2000 (figuring a rough profit margin of 20%) on products from just those three companies. Were this to happen, a third of the planet would die off because they spent most of their money on smartphones, software and trinkets from Amazon (with much lower profit margins, BYW), instead of food.

And what about all the other companies on the planet? From the corner store to multi-national corporations like General Motors, Nestle, Samsung, etc.? How much money do they extract from every person in the world with these three biggies crowding out everybody else? It simply doesn't add up.

That's why asset prices are collapsing. Companies, or rather, the stock prices representing shares of these companies are not worth what they're selling for, the big money knows it, and they're selling their shares to people less informed or desperate to make their investments pay off in the global rat race.

Let's face facts. US Stocks have more than tripled in value over the past 10 years. That doesn't make any sense. Were Americans suddenly three times as wealthy as they were 10 years ago? No. No. And Hell No.

Today, as stock prices tumbled around the world, US markets barely suffered a scraped knee and a paper cut. The NIKKEI was down 459 points, or, 2.12%. Japan's economy shrank by 2.5% in the third quarter.

Stock markets in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, India, China, Indonesia, South Korea, Germany, France, England, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Canada were all down between one and two-and-a-half percent, again, after weeks of declines. Many of these indices are in correction. Germany, South Korea, China, Japan, and others are in bear markets, down more than 20%. That's just a sampling. But the US carries on, though the Dow is less than 325 points away from correction territory. All the other US indices are in correction, down more than 10%.

Dow Industrials were down more than 500 points in the morning, but finished, magically (same as last Thursday) well off the lows, in fact, with a small gain. Magic! Denial! HFT Algorithms! Programmed Trading! Central Bank Intervention! It's only temporary.

US stocks have performed better than the rest of the world, so far, but they are trending in the same direction - lower. Brokers and dealers on Wall Street are living in a La-la Land that would put Hollywood to shame. Many in the financial sphere are in deep denial. They don't believe the US economy can contract, that stocks can be re-priced lower, down 20, 30 or 40 percent or more. It has happened in the past, many times, and it will happen again. It is happening right now.

But, but, but, we can't have a stock market crash during the Christmas season, can we? Maybe stocks will not exactly crash this month, but the performance has been - on a day-to-day basis - underwhelming. Winter is coming (Dec. 20).

According to Dow Theory, the Dow Jones Transportation Index confirmed the primary trend change - from bullish to bearish - that the Dow Jones Industrial Average signaled on November 23. That's the second time this year Dow Theory confirmed a primary trend change. The last was through March (Industrials signaled) and April (Transports confirmed), but stocks bounced back quickly through the spring and summer. By autumn, the bloom was off the rose, however, and the false rally began to unwind, and it continues to unwind.

And, with that, today's musical selection, "Turn, Turn, Turn," released October 1, 1965, written by Pete Seeger, performed by the Byrds.



Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51
12/10/18 24,423.26 +34.31 -1115.20

At the Close, Monday, December 10, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,423.26, +34.31 (+0.14%)
NASDAQ: 7,020.52, +51.27 (+0.74%)
S&P 500: 2,637.72, +4.64 (+0.18%)
NYSE Composite: 11,889.29, -52.64 (-0.44%)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

WEEKEND WRAP: The Week The Wheels Fell Off

Was this the week that everything fell completely apart?

The answer is a matter of perspective and speculation, but it sure looked pretty bad. Stocks, with no significant deviation between the Dow, NASDAQ, NYSE Composite, and S&P 500 companies took a major hit, or, rather, a series of heavy blows. Stocks were bludgeoned with regularity, flogged within an inch of their lives, only to be flayed again the following day without respect to any particular sector or class.

Monday was the only positive day of the week, with all the major indices closing nicely in the green. Tuesday was a nightmare, with the Dow dropping nearly 800 points and the other indices dragged down the same abyss. By virtue of the death of former president George H.W. Bush, current president, Donald J. Trump issued an executive order, closing all federal offices for a day of mourning, thus shutting down not just mail service and other government functions, but the financial markets as well.

After the surprise day off, traders got right back to selling again, whacking away with the same ferocity as on Tuesday, but, by mid-afternoon, a suspicious rally emerged, sending the S&P and NASDAQ into positive territory by the close, leaving the Dow with a minor loss of 79 points after it had been down more than 700 during the session. As many expected, the lift late Thursday was either short-term short covering or some button-pushing by the PPT (President's Working Group on Financial Markets... remember them?), setting up Friday for a major collapse of another 558 points on the Dow with the other indices following the lead lower.

What actually was behind the carnage was difficult to discern, as a convergence of events helped shape the worrying. Wrapping up the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires on Sunday, President Trump and China's president, Xi Jinping, announced a 90-day calling off period on new tariffs that were supposed to go into effect and increasing the percentages on others already in force on January 1. Those changes were postponed until March 31, with the intent of the two leaders to work out a framework for trade policy going forward. Markets were obviously pleased on Monday, but by Tuesday felt that a mere 90 days would not be enough to develop long-term policy for either nation.

Politics also is playing a role in the background, as Special Counsel Mueller's bogus "Russia collusion" investigation drags onward with the expectation that a final report will is forthcoming in the very near term. The corrosive political climate in Washington is not only a worry for those involved or tangentially aligned, but it's also having a somewhat chilling effect on investments. Nobody likes uncertainty, but especially so, Wall Street, and when it involves the highest levels of the federal government, the fear gauge goes bonkers and skepticism reigns.

On top of that, there's still a general perception that stocks are not just fully valued, but some are significantly overvalued. More than a few analysts have maintained that the effects of the Trump tax cuts are wearing thin, the federal government is running enormous deficits and a profits squeeze will be apparent by the end of the first or second quarter of 2019.

A minor inversion of the treasury yield curve occurred - almost without notice - on Monday, when the yield on the three-year bill rose above that of the 5-year note. On Tuesday, the 2-year joined in, and both the 2-and-3-year yields ended the week above that of the five. The 2-year closed out Friday at 2.72%, the 3-year the same, and the five-year at 2.70%. The 10-year note was last seen with a yield of 2.85%, and the 30-year down to 3.14%. Bond vigilantes were out in force, and the flight from stocks sent both short and longer-dated bonds soaring. While not quite the textbook inversion of the 2s-10s that have preceded every recession since 1955, the indications are not at all rosy.

Finally, on Friday, November's non-farm payroll data came in woefully short, with expectations of 198,000 jobs met with the reality of just 155,000 new jobs for the month.

The short explanation is that the bull market is getting awfully long in the tooth, the economy is set to slow down a bit in 2019, and the big money on Wall Street is heading for the hills, i.e., bonds and cash or cash equivalents. Dow Theory is about to signal a bear market. The Dow has already sent the signal with its close at 24,285.95 on November 23. Confirmation will come if the Dow Transports close below 9,896.11. It closed Friday at 9,951.16.

With the Fed's FOMC meeting scheduled for December 18-19, and the widely-accepted view is that the Fed will raise the federal funds rate another 25 basis points, there's more than one good reason to be getting out of stocks and those in the know - or at least those who think they know - have been scurrying like rats off a sinking ship.

With the S&P now in correction and the NASDAQ, NYSE composite and Dow Transports already having been there, only the Dow remains above the magic mark of -10 percent. All the major indices show losses for the year and the Dow is just a few hundred points from correction.

Elsewhere on the planet, the number of countries in which their stock markets are already down more than 10 percent continued to grow, with Germany's DAX just a shade above bear market status. That's a huge issue, since Germany is Europe's strongest economy. Given the angst over Brexit, the unwinding of the ECBs massive balance sheet, and Japan's upcoming announcement about the end of QE measures, the focus could easily be on Europe, as it will almost certainly be headed for a recession in 2019. Since Japan's been in something of a recessionary decline for the past 25 years, any slowing of growth on the island nation will barely elicit more than a yawn.

If Europe is about to fall over, the US will almost certainly follow. So much for Making America Great Again (MAGA). The disassembly of the globalist power structure, the rise of populism (marches and violent riots in France) and a global economy on its knees after 10 years of fake stimulus may all be leading to a recession that will have long-lasting and severe consequences.

So, yes, this was the week the wheels fell off.

Here's how the Traveling Wilbury's see it, with the cheery "End of the Line."



Happy Holidays!

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51

At the Close, Friday, December 7, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,388.95, -558.72 (-2.24%)
NASDAQ: 6,969.25, -219.01 (-3.05%)
S&P 500: 2,633.08, -62.87 (-2.33%)
NYSE Composite: 11,941.93, -202.48 (-1.67%)

For the Week:
Dow: -1149.51 (-4.50%)
NASDAQ: -361.28 (-4.93%)
S&P 500: -127.09 (-4.60%)
NYSE Composite: -515.62 (-4.14%)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

PPT To The Rescue, But For What Purpose?

Prepare for lower lows and lower highs.

It's long been maintained that central banks and/or governments should intervene in capital markets to keep people from panicking. That can also be read as "whenever stocks go down too much, too fast, we're here to protect our friends' investments."

For context, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 700 points today. It rallied to close with a minor loss. One problem. All other major stock indices around the world closed down between two and three-and-a-half percent. America is great, but not so great that it can avoid a global slowdown. Nefarious forces behind the scenes - much like the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz - averted a major selloff. Globalism is ending, and with it, many multi-national stocks are going to be badly damaged.

That's what today's miracle late-day rally was all about, because if stocks lose value, the system falls apart. It's really that simple. For context, figure this: corporate buybacks have been at record levels the past three years. Corporations have been buying their own stock at a frenetic pace, at the highest prices. If stocks fall, these companies will be sitting on mountains of their own stock which they bought at ridiculously-high prices. When they are forced to sell to raise capital, they will be losing money on investments in their own companies.

It's not just stupid, it's corrupt to the core, and that, friends, is why stocks can't go down.

But they will.

For a little more context, consider that according to Dow Theory, the primary trend has changed again from bull to bear. More on this in a later post.

Caveat Emptor.

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79

At the Close, Thursday, December 6, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,947.67, -79.40 (-0.32%)
NASDAQ: 7,188.26, +29.83 (+0.42%)
S&P 500: 2,695.95, -4.11 (-0.15%)
NYSE Composite: 12,144.41, -77.57 (-0.63%)

MidDay Digest: Global Rout Underway; Asia, Europe Down Big, US Stocks Plunge

This is a Money Daily update on the churning volatility in stocks, which has taken on prodigious proportions as of Tuesday and extended - after an unusual break due to President Trump ordering all federal offices (and with it the stock market) closed in mourning for the late George H.W. Bush, 41st president - into Thursday's trading.

Asian stocks were wracked as the sun rose from the Pacific. Japan's NIKKEI was down nearly two percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 2.47%. European markets opened lower and the selling accelerated throughout the day. Of particular note was Germany's Dax, which stood at 10,810.98 by the close, down 389.26 points (-3.48%). The DAX is now down 19% from its October 30, 2017 high. Another 100-point decline will put it officially into a bear market.

Other European bourses were hit hard, with losses of three to three-and-a-half percent on all major exchanges.

When stocks opened in New York, the rout had reached critical velocity. The ow opened down more than 400 points and continued selling off. At one point, the Dow was down more than 700 points, but has recovered somewhat as of this writing. With the NASDAQ already in correction territory, the Dow and S&P are close, both down roughly nine percent from recent highs.

There will be another post here after the market closes. Look for a full recap about 7:00 pm ET.

Heads Up! Stocks Selling Off Worldwide; US Open Looking Ugly; Germany's DAX Nearing Bear Market

After an unscheduled day off for the Kumbayah TV presentation of George HW Bush's funeral Wednesday, the rest of the world's equity bourses took the day to vacillate, but Thursday looks to be a bloodbath of magnificent proportions.

Asian stocks were down broadly in Japan, Hong Won, China, and elsewhere, and European stocks opened lower and continued to descend. The DAX, Germany's main stock exchange, is approaching bear market status, down 19% from an all-time high of 13,478.86, reached on October 30, 2017. The DAX is currently trading around 10,940.

At this writing, Dow futures are off more than 450 points, S&P futures have fallen nearly 50, and NASDAQ futures are 115 points lower.

Money Daily will be monitoring events throughout the US session, as this current downdraft appears to be one without a bottom.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Stocks Rocked As Europe Burns, Political Skepticism Soars; Globalism Grips As Populism Rises

With all the good news that's been spreading of late, the magnitude of this most recent setback was, for some, a little overdone. Others, who see the planet for what it is, see populism on the rise and globalism fading into history.

Prepare for some over-the-top hyperbole in 3...2...1...

Besides wealth inequality reaching heights heretofore unseen, taxation of the general populace in developed nations has reached catastrophic proportions. As seen in the European protests, the civility of the average man and woman, having been grossly abused, has been stretched beyond the limits of many whose toils seem to barely keep pace with the endless panoply of regulations, fees, fines, taxes and penalties. This is how epochs end.

In France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Italy and elsewhere, the citizenry has had enough of misrepresentation by so-called officials, elected, selected, or otherwise, and they are seeking economic and social freedom. The forces of globalism have been resolute in obfuscating reality and distorting the obvious all the while raking in the spoils of their pernicious policies and decietful politics.

In the United States, the working class has seen through the flash narrative surrounding the demonization of the popularly-elected President Trump. Americans no longer want illegal migration across their borders, handouts to the poor or the rich, nor policies that do them no good. The entire planet is on the verge of an emotional and psychological breaking point. It has been many years in the making, but, every day that goes by is rife with lies, innuendo, untruths, double-talk. Within the next year or two, everything is going to go sideways. The politics have simply outpaced the usefulness of the ruling class. It's apparent to just about anybody who give a damn and the wisest of the monied class on Wall Street are running for the proverbial hills.

Who knows what causes stocks to zig-zag on a day-to-day basis, for the Dow to pick up 600 points one day and drop nearly 800 the next?

In any case, the point drop on the Dow was the fourth-largest in market history. The other three larger also occurred this year. For the NASDAQ, it was the sixth largest. All of the 11 largest point declines on the NASDAQ occurred in either 2000 or 2018.

The Dow transports (DJT, -4.39%) tumbled 476.37 points, or 4.4%, with all 20 components closing lower. The previous biggest-ever point decline was 445.16 points on Oct. 10. At its intraday worst, the index was down as much as 565.23 points, or 5.2%.

Analysis of the recent volatility is sure to take on obscene forms from a parade of wizened economists, generalists, and hobbyists. None of them will have it exactly right. One day, all the world's full of unicorns and honey. The next, it's going to hell in a hand basket.

Whatever your particular niche or trading style, the current offers a uniquely volatile and confounding proposition for traders, speculators, or even the casual investor.

For the coming months, expect more of the same.

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39

At the Close, Tuesday, December 4, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,027.07, -799.36 (-3.10%)
NASDAQ: 7,158.43, -283.09 (-3.80%)
S&P 500: 2,700.06, -90.31 (-3.24%)
NYSE Composite: 12,221.98, -355.56 (-2.83%)

Stocks Spurt On Tariff Truce; 3-5 Yield Curve Inverts

There was good news on the trade front, but bad news concerning a possible recession.

At the conclusion of the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, President Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, announced a 90-day moratorium on tariffs set to take effect on January 1, 2019. Some of the tariffs already in place were set to increase while new tariffs on a variety of goods were to take effect on the new year, but the leaders of the world's two largest economies decided on a cooling-off period and further talks before proceeding.

That good news sent futures soaring in pre-market trading, the euphoria spilling over into the regular session. Barely noticed - and un-noted by the financial press - was a minor inversion in interest rates, with the yield on the 5-year note (2.83%) falling below that of the 3-year treasury note (2.84%).

Though it's not the inversion that most economists are looking for in terms of portending a recession, the minor inversion is a warning shot. The 2-year and 10-year notes are the fear standard, with an inverted curve of those rates consistently preceding every recession since 1955. Currently the 2-year note stands at a yield of 2.83%, while the 10-year holds at 2.98%, notably below 3.00%, after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell softened his stance on rate hikes last week.

Thus, there's a split narrative that threatens to put a lid on gains in the near term. Trade wars have been postponed, for now, but 90 days isn't long enough to establish new guidelines between China and the USA. With the Fed set to raise and check, interest rates are going to give them some maneuverability, though not much, with the federal funds rate settling in somewhere between 2.25 and 2.50%.

Bond vigilantes brought the 10-year note down below the Maginot Line of 3.0% on the first trading day of December. That's more than enough speculation as to where interest rates are headed. In a word, nowhere. The ancillary note is on growth - both domestic and global - which has had a bit of a bump thanks to US strength, but pockets of malaise are popping up everywhere. There seems to be no smooth path heading into 2019, so, after a boost from the Fed and another from the international trading community, this early December rally may not have enough gusto to carry it past the FOMC meeting and through the holidays.

Much emphasis will be put on consumer spending, though with an early Thanksgiving, holiday spending might just peter out a week before Christmas.

It's not all doom and gloom. It's more like murky, with a light at the end of some tunnel.

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97

At the Close, Monday, December 3, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,826.43, +287.97 (+1.13%)
NASDAQ: 7,441.51, +110.98 (+1.51%)
S&P 500: 2,790.37, +30.20 (+1.09%)
NYSE Composite: 12,577.54, +120.00 (+0.96%)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

WEEKEND WRAP: Powell Puts Positive Spin On Rates, Economy; Stocks Respond With Banner Gains

As much as stocks were flattened last week, they gained back this week, and then some, rebounding mainly off the lips of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, who uttered two words which are sure to become ensconced within the annuls of great Fed Chairman one liners, such as Alan Greenspan's notorious "irrational exuberance."

Having a way with words, especially concise two-word constructs, Powell uttered, in a speech at the Economic Club of New York, that interest rates were "just below" neutral, sending stocks spiraling upwards on Wednesday.

Those gains followed two prior sessions with more pedestrian advances, the Wednesday push a 617-point blast on the Dow which sent the industrials into positive territory not only for the month, but for the year as well. The week's gains were capped off by a window-dressing close on Friday, with the Dow posting a nearly 200-point gain, all of which came after 1:30 pm ET.

Events of the week - from Powell's speech to Trump's dealings at the G20 in Buenos Aires - managed to put a positive spin on the outlook for stocks going into the final month of the year and the holiday shopping season.

Effectively, what Powell's statement on interest rates did was virtually assure a 25 basis point hike in the federal funds rate and then a pause at what would have been the next logical rate increase, at the March FOMC meeting, and beyond. Whether the Fed's members actually believes that an overnight rate of 2.25-2.50% neither hinders nor aids the US economy is a question open for debate, as most believed that more rate hikes were necessary per the minutes of the last FOMC meeting earlier in November.

That sentiment put a bit of a damper on the market when released on Thursday, but, as Wall Street memories seem exceedingly short these days, the flattish close didn't have any lasting effect.

Once into 2019, the Fed is likely to continue to spin positively, as Janet Yellen's honorable mention entry in the two-word scrabble that is Fedspeak, "data dependent" should be rolling off the lips of more than a few Fed officials in the cold months of winter.

Undeniably, a dovish Federal Reserve can be nothing but good for stocks, which are the de facto underpinning of the US economy. The Fed - and Powell in particular - may have been taking a sideways glance at the housing market as well, another pillar in the economic construct. Rising mortgage rates have shut down advances in new and existing home sales, punishing home builder stocks like Lennar (LEN), D.R. Horton (DHI), and KB Home (KBH). A stagnant housing market may have been instrumental in the formation of Powell's suddenly-accomodative stance.

Even with the rebound this week, stocks still have a pretty large slope to scale to get back to September or October's all-time highs. The NASDAQ still has issues with falling tech stocks and GM's announcement that it was shuttering five factories and laying off 14,000 workers had a chilling effect on what was an overwhelmingly positive week.

Elsewhere, oil continued to hover at the $50 level for WTI crude, precious metals remained flat to negative, but other global markets perked up a bit.

When the FOMC meets on December 18-19, there will be little doubt about their direction. A rate hike of 0.25% is practically baked into the cake. After that, however, it certainly appears the Fed will consider its work done, for now, at least. The next rate hike - and there is almost certainly to be one or two in the next 12-18 months - will probably come after some gaudy economic data or fresh highs in the stock market.

Until then, the skies are blue and smooth sailing is ahead.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00
11/19/18 25,017.44 -395.78 -98.78
11/20/18 24,465.64 -551.80 -650.58
11/21/18 24,464.69 -0.95 -651.53
11/23/18 24,285.95 -178.74 -830.27
11/26/18 24,640.24 +354.29 -475.98
11/27/18 24,748.73 +108.49 -367.49
11/28/18 25,366.43 +617.70 +250.21
11/29/18 25,342.72 -23.71 +226.50
11/30/18 25,538.46, +199.62 -23.71 +426.12

At the Close, Friday, November 30, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,538.46, +199.62 (+0.79%)
NASDAQ: 7,330.54, +57.45 (+0.79%)
S&P 500: 2,760.17, +22.41 (+0.82%)
NYSE Composite: 12,457.55, +68.18 (+0.55%)

FOR THE WEEK:
Dow: +1,252.51 (+5.16%)
NASDAQ: +391.55 (+5.64%)
S&P 500: +127.61 (+4.85%)
NYSE Composite: +421.31 (+3.%0%)

Friday, November 30, 2018

Stocks Flat after Fed Minutes; Dow Rally Ends At Three

Stocks were a bit tepid on Thursday, understandable after the huge Wednesday run-up on the back of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's comments on interest rates.

Investors were moved to the downside by bad housing data and an uptick in unemployment claims announced prior to the opening bell, but moved forward throughout the session, though the closing half hour left much to be desired.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00
11/19/18 25,017.44 -395.78 -98.78
11/20/18 24,465.64 -551.80 -650.58
11/21/18 24,464.69 -0.95 -651.53
11/23/18 24,285.95 -178.74 -830.27
11/26/18 24,640.24 +354.29 -475.98
11/27/18 24,748.73 +108.49 -367.49
11/28/18 25,366.43 +617.70 +250.21
11/29/18 25,342.72 -23.71 +226.50

At the Close, Thursday, November 29, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,342.72, -23.71 (-0.09%)
NASDAQ: 7,275.87, -15.73 (-0.22%)
S&P 500: 2,739.26, -4.53 (-0.17%)
NYSE Composite: 12,417.39, -0.24 (0.00%)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fed Chair Powell Currys Favor With Wall Street: Rates "Just Below" Neutral

In what can only be considered an obvious and well-intentioned nod to Wall Street, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, speaking at the prestigious Economic Club of New York, noted that the federal funds rate is "just below" the level that economists consider neutral, neither encouraging risk nor dissuading it.

Powell's remarks sparked a rally on Wall Street that was the best in eight months, and probably put to rest any ideas investors may have had of a bear market developing in stocks.

The Fed chairman is no doubt a stock picker and investor himself, so he's well aware of the kind of volatility that has been plaguing stocks in recent weeks. He also may have taken a bit of a queue from President Trump, who has been consistently complaining about the pace of recent Fed rate hikes.

What this means for interest rates is likely that the Fed will go ahead, as expected, and raise the federal funds and prime rates once more in December, and then take a wait-and-see approach going forward. The Fed had been expected to raise rates three more times in 2019, though that approach was largely nixed by Powell's dovish remarks today.

At the most, the Fed might raise rates twice in the coming year, though once or none at all might be closer to the mark. Fueled by easy money policies the past ten years, the stock market, being a key cog in the US economy, would be hard set if low lending rates were curtailed further.

While Wall Street cheered the development, the biggest winners should be consumers, who are addicted to credit and have seen credit card interest rates soar over the past two years as the Fed, like clockwork every quarter, raised rates to which many credit accounts are tied. A cessation of the rate hikes will come as a relief to anybody carrying a credit card balance.

Combined with gains from Monday and Tuesday, today's positive close pushed the Dow back into the green for the month, and the year.

Who said the Fed doesn't pay attention to the stock market?

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00
11/19/18 25,017.44 -395.78 -98.78
11/20/18 24,465.64 -551.80 -650.58
11/21/18 24,464.69 -0.95 -651.53
11/23/18 24,285.95 -178.74 -830.27
11/26/18 24,640.24 +354.29 -475.98
11/27/18 24,748.73 +108.49 -367.49
11/28/18 25,366.43 +617.70 +250.21

At the Close, Wednesday, November 28, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,366.43, +617.70 (+2.50%)
NASDAQ: 7,291.59, +208.89 (+2.95%)
S&P 500: 2,743.79, +61.62 (+2.30%)
NYSE Composite: 12,417.63, +229.56 (+1.88%)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

GM To Lay Off 14,000; Stocks Stumble To Gains

With news that General Motors (GM) would lay off 14,000 workers and shut down five plants, the mood on Wall Street at the opening bell was more than a little bit sour. It was just the kind of news that the market didn't want to hear, especially after some smashing numbers from Black Friday retail sales and even more good news from Cyber Monday's online commerce.

The Dow sank more than 200 points in the first half hour of trading, but from there took the path of least resistance, to the upside, extending Monday's rally with a little hiccup from some morning indigestion. While the Dow posted a fair gain, the other indices didn't do much, with the NASDAQ and NYSE Composite barely making it above unchanged. The S&P shook out some shorts for a third of a percent win.

Everything else was pretty ugly. Oil posted a minor gain, though there are few in the real world who believe the selloff in crude - as with stocks - is over. Precious metals were slammed close to recent lows and seem to have no ballast, the past three months nothing but a rollover and consolidation with a focus to the negative. The metals can't break to the upside as long as every other asset class is struggling; the current logic dictating that stocks must regain a positive footing and absent that, nothing else matters.

Today's trade was mostly noise. Nothing really moved the meter and it was a little bit of a surprise that stocks rallied as well as they did. Stocks remain week and investors weary. While that's a solid formula for further declines, the day-trading flogs and HFTs have managed to keep stocks from completely folding up their tents. That, and a healthy dose of holiday cheer should keep things stabilized... until they're not.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00
11/19/18 25,017.44 -395.78 -98.78
11/20/18 24,465.64 -551.80 -650.58
11/21/18 24,464.69 -0.95 -651.53
11/23/18 24,285.95 -178.74 -830.27
11/26/18 24,640.24 +354.29 -475.98
11/27/18 24,748.73 +108.49 -367.49

At the Close, Tuesday, November 27, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,748.73, +108.49 (+0.44%)
NASDAQ: 7,082.70, +0.85 (+0.01%)
S&P 500: 2,682.20, +8.75 (+0.33%)
NYSE Composite: 12,188.06, +6.46 (+0.05%)

Monday's Big Bounce Sets Up For Extended Short-Term Rally, Continued Volatility

After last week's bloodletting, it was no surprise that bargain hunters emerged to open the week's trading, sending the markets through the roof right at the open and holding gains throughout the session.

With a four percent loss booked for the prior week, Monday's 1.5-2.0% gains amount to little more than a technical snap-back rally off some very fresh and very dangerous new lows. Early indications from brisk Black Friday weekend sales were the most likely catalyst for Cyber Monday buying, a reflection of what may be considered a robust economy backed by consumers with full wallets and plenty of room to spare on credit cards.

While the Fed has been tightening over the past two years, banks, credit card operations, and shadow banking entities have been cranking up the credit spigots, loosening lending standards and making more money available via an array of personal loans, small business offerings, refinancing, consolidations and other assorted credit vehicles. There certainly is no shortage of easy money in the consumer and small business space, nor in the higher levels of corporate finance.

Add to the consumer and business conditions wide-open spending by governments at all levels and the US economy appears robust, dynamic and unflinching. Never mind that the Fed is threatening to take away the punch bowl. There are more than enough willing participants and suppliers of easy money, many of them spring the mix with added enticements.

There are crosswinds in the capital markets which lead to wild swings in every manner of asset. The flavor of the day may change, but the underlying theme of easy money has not yet left the room. America is in a period that rivals the roaring twenties, the nifty sixties and even the greed-is-good nineties.

The party goes on until the elixir of fast, easy money is taken away, and that's not happening any time soon. Expect even more volatility through the holidays and into the new year.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00
11/19/18 25,017.44 -395.78 -98.78
11/20/18 24,465.64 -551.80 -650.58
11/21/18 24,464.69 -0.95 -651.53
11/23/18 24,285.95 -178.74 -830.27
11/26/18 24,640.24 +354.29 -475.98

At the Close, Monday, December 26, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,640.24, +354.29 (+1.46%)
NASDAQ: 7,081.85, +142.87 (+2.06%)
S&P 500: 2,673.45, +40.89 (+1.55%)
NYSE Composite: 12,181.60, +145.36 (+1.21%)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

WEEKEND WRAP: Black Friday or Blue Friday? Oil Down 34%, S&P, NASDAQ, NYSE In Correction

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

While the exact origin of the above phrase is clouded, it certainly applies to the current stock trading regimen that has sent world markets spinning downward and US stocks to levels comparable to nearly a year ago.

The sad situation for stocks continued even into the holiday season, when the traditionally upbeat and optimistic Black Friday half-day session turned into a savage selloff that lasted right through to the 1:00 pm ET close.

Following a brief respite on Wednesday that saw the Dow end down less than one point, and the Thanksgiving Day holiday, investors took their cues from overseas markets, which were sold off on Thursday, extending the dour moods in Europe and the Pacific Rim. Friday's trading in foreign markets was mixed, though the outlier was Brazil, where the Bovespa lost 1,247.21 points (-1.43%), confirming the theme of a global, rolling, slow-motion crash in equity values.

According to respected sources (ZeroHedge and ETF Daily News), the Dow suffered its worst Black Friday loss since 2010 and the S&P saw its worst performance for the day after Thanksgiving since the mid-1930s.

While the Dow has not yet caught down to its deepest depths of 2018, it is approaching the 2018 bottom from March 23 (23,533.20), promoting the idea that the worst of this round o selling is not quite over.

Friday's session concluded another in a series of poor performances for stocks, nearly equalling the declines seen in the week of October 8-12, sending all of the major indices below their respective 50, 200, and 40-week moving averages.

While shoppers in the US were out buying electronics, toys, appliances, clothes, and assorted trinkets, Wall Street traders were selling off assets, not an encouraging start to the holiday season. All of the major averages ended the week below where they started 2018. Without a significant Santa Claus rally, 2018 looks to be one of the worst for traders since 2008, when the S&P 500 lost 38.49%. Since then, only twice - in 2011 and 2015 - has the S&P closed lower than the close from the previous year. Currently, the S&P is down less than two percent on the year.

Friday's losses sent there S&P 500 into correction territory, ending down 10.17% from the September 20 all-time high (2930.75). The NASDAQ sank further into correction, and is approaching an outright bear market. The NASDAQ is down 14,44% from its August 29 high (8109.69).

On October 3rd, the Dow Industrials closed at an all-time high of 26,828.39. On Friday, it closed down 9.48% from that level.

The NYSE Composite, which peaked on January 25 at 13,637.02, is down 11.74%, and the Dow Jones Transportation Index is down 10.39 since closing at 11,570.84 on September 14.

Finally, the big loser for the week - which will eventually be a boon to consumers - was oil, which was once again crushed, as WTI crude lost more than seven percent, to $50.42/barrel. On October 3rd, coincidentally the game day the Dow peaked, WTI crude sold for $76.41 per barrel. That's a decline of 34.02% in just over seven weeks. Now, that's a crash.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00
11/19/18 25,017.44 -395.78 -98.78
11/20/18 24,465.64 -551.80 -650.58
11/21/18 24,464.69 -0.95 -651.53
11/23/18 24,285.95 -178.74 -830.27

At the Close, Friday, November 23, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,285.95, -178.74 (-0.73%)
NASDAQ: 6,938.98, -33.27 (-0.48%)
S&P 500: 2,632.56, -17.37 (-0.66%)
NYSE Composite: 12,036.24, -87.10 (-0.72%)

For the Week:
Dow: -1,127.27 (-4.44%)
NASDAQ: -308.89 (-4.26%)
S&P 500: -103.71 (-3.79%)
NYSE Composite: -364.04 (-2.94%)

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Is Not For Giving Money To Brokers; Dow Slides Into Weakened Holiday Close

All the stocks you bought last year are worth less this year.

Big deal, right? You still have the same stocks and they'll come back. The stock market always goes higher.

That seems to be the common wisdom, or at least a salve for wounds incurred during the recent downturn, and such thinking is especially appropriate for the millions of small investors who have their money locked up in 401k plans, IRAs or other retirement or long-range investment vehicles. These folks aren't as nimble nor as knowledgeable as the pros on Wall Street or even their local corner store stock broker. They're stuck. They're what's known in the industry as bag-holders, and, as mentioned above, there are millions of them.

The way average consumers - as investors, per se - are treated by the large funds and brokerages who manage their money is tantamount to a skimming operation, not unlike the protection rackets made famous by mob bosses from the 20s, 30s and 40s.

You give the fund your money, and they make sure nothing bad happens to it, suggesting that they will invest it wisely, and, for that privilege, you pay them a fee. If things go wrong, and your money diminishes, your account balance declines, the fund is not held responsible. Too bad. Tough break. "We don't control the market," they'll tell you.

The willingness with which people turn over hard-earned money to managers to invest is a concept that has baffled and befuddled psychologists and entrepreneurs for time immemorial. The generations who were adults during the ravages of the Great Depression - though most of them have passed away - and anyone who lost money in the dotcom bust or the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2007-09, have been rightfully skeptical of the suggestions and promises made by the hawkers of stocks and bonds, the skimmers of fees, the suit-and-tie, computer-aided experts who are allowed to handle everybody else's money.

Does the small investor ever ponder what the broker does with his money? Is he or she investing in the same stocks as the general public he or she is serving? That question is seldom asked, and even more infrequently, answered. And when stocks start to slide, what does the broker do? Is he or she holding steady, as the clients are told to do, or has he or she jumped ship, pulling all the profits out of the stocks he or she owns? These are interesting questions, which, unfortunately, are not required to be answered by individual brokers or their companies. The fiduciary aspects of the brokerage business leaves much to be desired in terms of consumer protection. In brief, consumers are NOT protected and never have been. When one hands over money to a broker, they also give the right for the broker to do whatever he or she wishes with those funds.

This is not an indictment of any broker or investment house. There are many good ones, more good than bad, by a long shot. However, they all share a few common traits: they routinely under-perform the general indices (the most-often quoted statistic being behind the S&P), and, they have zero accountability when they lose money for their clients.

So, this Thanksgiving, be thankful you have money that you can spread around for brokers to manage for you, because, apparently, you're not confident enough nor smart enough to manage it yourself. And then you pay taxes, if you have any gains.

Now, to those uppity markets...

Stocks were floating along a sugar high on the day before Thanksgiving until the rush of a dead-cat rally wore off around 2:00 pm ET., and in an especially large manner on the Dow in the final hour of trading (by this time, your broker was already over the river and through the woods, on his way to Grandmother's house).

The Dow dropped 200 points in those final two hours of trading, the bulk of it (185 points) in the final hour. The other indices lost ground, though not to the degree that the Dow Industrials slumped. A lot of the loss was in Apple, the stock that has been largely blamed for Tuesday's selling.

Finally, the Dow ended with a loss of less than one point. Ouch. Stocks will be on sale again on Black Friday, in a shortened session which ends at 1:00 pm ET.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00
11/19/18 25,017.44 -395.78 -98.78
11/20/18 24,465.64 -551.80 -650.58
11/21/18 24,464.69 -0.95 -651.53

At the Close, Wednesday, November 21, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,464.69, -0.95 (0.00%)
NASDAQ: 6,972.25, +63.43 (+0.92%)
S&P 500: 2,649.93, +8.04 (+0.30%)
NYSE Composite: 12,123.34, +74.69 (+0.62%)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Crash Much? All 2018 Gains Wiped Out In Global Stock Rout

Where to begin?

Today's stock market rout was worldwide, starting in Japan, as the NIKKEI fell 238 points, the Hong Kong's Hang Sent slid 531 points and China's SSE Composite Index closed at 2,645.85, down 57.66 points, or -2.13%.

Europe was next up on the hit list, as the Germany's DAX was off 178.13 points (-1.58%), closing in on a 20% decline for the year. Other European stock indices were down between one and one-and-a-half percent.

As markets opened in the Western Hemisphere, the selling accelerated, sending the Dow down more than 400 points at the open and other North and South American indices falling sharply. By the end of the day, it was absolute carnage, a veritable sea of red. Every equity index on Yahoo's Major World Indices page was lower, save Malaysia's KLCI, which managed a 4-point, 0.25% gain.

Seriously, though, today's crash began in the fall of 2008, when stocks were wiped out in the face of the Lehman Brothers collapse and the sub-prime housing crisis, and also had roots from April 9, 2009, when stocks finally bottomed out as the FASB loosened accounting rules, issuing an official update to rule 157, allowing companies to deviate from standard mark-to-market principles in valuing assets.

The Fed and its central bank cohorts had their dirty little fingers in the dikes as well, conjuring up trillions of dollars in liquidity, effectively bailing out financial institutions that were, essentially, bankrupt. That's what brought us here today, ten years and trillions of dollars later. The everything bubble has finally popped.

This is a rolling crash, not a hard one, like on Black Tuesday in 1929. There have been - in just the past eight trading days - losses on the Dow of 201, 602, 100, 206, 395 points and today's 552. There were gains of 201 and 124 points on Thursday and Friday of last week, but the cumulative effect comes to a loss of 1731 points since November 8, roughly a seven percent dribble.

Tuesday's losses sent the S&P 500 hurtling toward correction territory. From the close of 2,930.75 on September 20 to today's finish at 2,641.89 is a 9.86% loss. For those in the rounding up-or-down crowd, that's 10 percent, or, close enough for horseshoes or hand grenades.

For those keeping score, the Dow is down 8.81% from it's closing high on October 3 (26,828.39). The NASDAQ, which has been in and out and back into correction since October 24, is still up on the year... a whopping five points and change. The index is down 14.82% since August 29. Albeit marginally, the Dow Industrials, S&P, NYSE Composite and the Dow Transports are all lower for the year.

The NYSE Composite which peaked at 13,637.02 on January 26 and never regained that height, is down 11.61%, reaching down to correction levels today, though, like the NASDAQ, it had breached the 10% down level on October 24 and since recovered.

Lastly, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished today with a loss of 321.52 (-3.05%), at 10,212.94. That's an 11.74% drop from the all-time high close of 11,570.84, September 14.

In the commodity space, oil was crushed again today, as WTI crude futures ended at 53.22, down $3.98 per barrel (-6.94%). According to oilprice.com, that's the lowest price since mid-October of 2017.

Where do stocks go from here? That question almost answers itself.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00
11/19/18 25,017.44 -395.78 -98.78
11/20/18 24,465.64 -551.80 -650.58

At the Close, Tuesday, November 20, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,465.64, -551.80 (-2.21%)
NASDAQ: 6,908.82, -119.65 (-1.70%)
S&P 500: 2,641.89, -48.84 (-1.82%)
NYSE Composite: 12,054.17, -226.74 (-1.85%)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Another Blue Monday As Stocks Slammed Hard All Day; Techs Lead Losers

Whew!

This is becoming serious. Last week, when stock traders had a day off for observance of Veterans Day, the week opened with a 600-point loss. Today, the start of a new week, sees stocks tank to the tune of nearly 400 points.

It's not just the start of the week that's been bad of late, it's a recurring trend for the Dow and NASDAQ to slide by triple digits over the course of one session. The down days are beginning to add up, suggesting that something bigger is on the immediate horizon, and it's happening at a time which is usually a good one for stocks. November and December are among the better months for stock gains, though that doesn't look to be the case this season (Is it too early to say "Happy Holidays?").

Most of the selling on Monday came early. Shortly after noon in New York, the Dow had already shed more than 60 points. For the remainder of the session the blue chip index bounced around in a 100-point range, as some tepid buying emerged, though there was not wide enough commitment to keep stocks from near the lows of the day.

Faring even worse was the NASDAQ, which lost more than 100 points for the eighth time in the past seven weeks. In for particular harsh treatment are, and have been, tech stocks. It seems as though any company with a CEO under 40 or with any connection to computers or the internet has been targeted for extermination.

Here are some of the more notable Silicon Valley names on the Wall Street hit list:

  • Facebook: hit a high of 217 in July, closed today at 131.55.
  • Alphabet (Google): August 29: 1,249.30; Today: 1,020.00
  • Netflix: August 30: 370.98; Today: 270.60
  • Apple: September 4: 227.57; Today: 185.86
  • Nvidia: September 4: 283.70; Today: 144.70
  • Amazon: August 31: 2,012.71; Today: 1,512.29

These stocks were among the leaders during the long run-up from 2016 and prior. Now they are the loss-leaders. Amazon's peak is of interest because that was also the day the NASDAQ finished what looks like a pretty solid double top. It closed on August 29 at 8109.69 and on the 31st at 8109.54. It's been downhill since, the NASDAQ sporting a 13% decline since then.

Nobody knows exactly where this is all going, but, from recent market action, it looks to be headed to a not very nice place.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00
11/19/18 25,017.44 -395.78 -98.78

At the Close, Monday, November 19, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,017.44, -395.78 (-1.56%)
NASDAQ: 7,028.48, -219.40 (-3.03%)
S&P 500: 2,690.73, -45.54 (-1.66%)
NYSE Composite: 12,280.91, -119.37 (-0.96%)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Weekend Wrap: Myopic Markets Ignoring Broader, Global Issues

Extending declines from last Friday, stocks took a severe nose-dive on Monday and the carnage continued through to Wednesday, with the first three days of the week wiping out most, if not all market gains from earlier in the month.

The Dow Industrials were hit hardest. Even with winning sessions on Thursday and Friday to close out the week, the blue chips ended with one of the more serious declines of the year, a solid 2.22% rip. Though tech stocks were blamed for most of the drop, the price declines in oil and most of the other components contributed to send Dow stocks lower, as the price of WTI crude hit a year-old bottom on Wednesday before recovering the final two days of the trading week.

Chevron (CVX) and ExxonMobil (XOM), the two energy components in the Dow 30, took it on the chin early in the week, but Chevron actually finished the week about where it started and ExxonMobil ended the week down just two points, or, about 2.5%.

Apple (AAPL) was a big driver to the downside, down nearly five percent at week's end, though it was off about nine percent at the close on Wednesday. The early part of the week saw selling contributions from most of the component stocks and slight recoveries in the latter stages.

Once again, volatility was notable and seems not to be slacking. The widely-watched VIX popped well over 20 as the week progressed, but settled back in the high teems, closing at 18.14 on Friday. That is still an elevated level over the complacency of the past few years, which saw the VIX hanging solidly in the 10-13 range for extended periods.

On the international front, the usual knee-jerking on every utterance, press release, or rumor surrounding a trade deal-or-no-deal between the US and China continued. It's being set up as a foil to be used by the financial press to explain every up-and-down in markets, when in fact, trade with China is much less an issue than say, the Fed's relentless interest rate increases or the possibility of a looming Eurozone-wide recession.

Industrial production in Europe was anemic in the third quarter, with increases of 0.3, 1.1, and 0.9 for July, August and September. As compared to the same quarter in the prior year, the average of 0.77 is dwarfed by 2017's average of four percent. Such a huge decline cannot be taken lightly, though it is rarely - if ever - mentioned in US financial coverage. Contributing to the growing concerns in Europe is the recent Brexit proposal put up by Prime Minister Theresa May's administration. The deal was met with considerable resistance in the House of Commons and prompted some high-level resignations from May's cabinet. Chances of a deal being worked out for an orderly exit from the European Union are being viewed as iffy at best.

While Europe will live or die largely by its own restrictive and stifling internal policies, China and the United States should continue to roll right along, regardless of whether a deal is struck between the two countries. The next meeting between President Trump and china's president, Xi Jinping, is upcoming soon. The two leaders are reportedly planning to discuss trade as a side event at the next G20 meeting in Buenos Aires on November 30, but the two largest national economies in the world aren't about to be sidetracked by tariffs. China's growth is already slowing, but they have broad international initiatives beyond the United States. Ditto for the US, as President Trump extricates the country from one-sided trade deals that were the result of globalization efforts from previous administrations.

Putting the week into perspective, US equity markets are still generally myopic, ignorant of issues elsewhere in the world, though that may be changing. Many US companies are dynamic and have global footprints, so that, if other parts of the planet are suffering, the US, while somewhat insulated, is not completely immune. US expansion has been long, though not deep, but the housing market has peaked and is slowing and unemployment cannot stay at its current sweet spot indefinitely. Tech appears the weakest link presently, though its weakness is not pronounced. Stocks continue to vacillate, but are closer to recent lows than highs.

Recent trends have seen selling into rallies and quick rises off obvious inflection points. Even with what are still somewhat easy credit conditions and stock buybacks at elevated levels, stocks are failing to reach higher, the condition looking more like exhaustion rather than capitulation. Such a condition may take more than a few weeks or months to resolve. In the meantime, traders aren't seriously committed to positions.

Sentiment remains neutral with a slight downside bias.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00

At the Close, Friday, November 16, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,413.22, +123.95 (+0.49%)
NASDAQ: 7,247.87, -11.16 (-0.15%)
S&P 500: 2,736.27, +6.07 (+0.22%)
NYSE Composite: 12,400.28, +38.76 (+0.31%)

For the Week:
Dow: -576.08 (-2.22%)
NASDAQ: -159.03 (-2.15%)
S&P 500: -44.74 (-1.61%)
NYSE Composite: -137.25 (-1.09%)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Dip-Buyers Send Stocks Off Fresh Lows; Cory Booker, Poster Boy For Peak Stupidity

As stocks touched down on some key support levels, investors took the initiative to load up on what they perceived as undervalued shares, sending stocks off morning lows to afternoon highs, with NASDAQ dumb money leading the charge higher.

The major indices were under pressure early in the session, dropping to levels at which the year began, wiping out nearly all of the gains since last December. Call it coincidence or a propensity for chart-watching dip-buying, but there was no other catalyst to Thursday's mini-rally other than valuations.

On the downside, Britain seems to be completely flummoxed by ongoing Brexit negotiations, with resignations in Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet over the compromise deal presented to the House of Commons this week. Rumors of a no confidence vote are circulating as the Brexit issue continues to derail any progress England can make in extricating itself from the European Union. The referendum, passed in early 2016, called for an exit by March of 2019, though that date now appears less certain. The issues are complex and threaten to tear the country apart.

In a completely unrelated note, America has finally achieved PEAK STUPIDITY, and its poster boy is the senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker.

Booker's proposal for "Baby Bonds" as a way to shrink the wealth gap is about as far left an approach as could be considered... without laughing.

Booker's idea is to give every newborn $1000 at birth and up to another $2000 every year thereafter - based on the parents' income, of course - until that child reaches the age of 18, or, in other words, just in time to take out a government-funded student loan, or, pay for maybe a few years of college themselves.

It's just this kind of insanity that American citizens have to endure from its government that causes angst, apathy, or confrontation between liberals and conservatives. The US has had a massive welfare program in place - that rewards having more children with higher benefits - for more than 50 years, and it's done nothing to reduce poverty or improve living conditions for chronically poor people.

With people like Booker being elected and re-elected to high government positions of power, is there any wonder why the United States are so disunited?

Despite the higher close on Thursday, investors should not be enthusiastic about an extension to the short-term rally which was likely the result more of short-covering and corporate buybacks than the actual taking of new positions in stocks. Sentiment remains murky with a bias to the downside.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05

At the Close, Thursday, November 15, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,289.27, +208.77 (+0.83%)
NASDAQ: 7,259.03, +122.64 (+1.72%)
S&P 500: 2,730.20, +28.62 (+1.06%)
NYSE Composite: 12,361.52, +86.03 (+0.70%)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Stocks Stumble Again, Dow Loses All November Gains; Germany's DAX Tumbling

After a while, one gets the impression that the bottom is going to fall out at some point, the only matter being one of when, and, maybe, by how much.

Stocks trended lower for a fourth straight day, with the Dow plunging by more than 350 points midway through the session, giving up all of its gains for November (some 1075 points). The NASDAQ led in percentage terms, down nine-tenths of a percent, with the S&P giving up early gains as well.

As usual, it could have been worse. The Dow slumped below 25,000 for the first time in two weeks, and while big, round numbers are flashy, the 25,000 level has no particular importance other than acting as a psychological figure.

Consumer prices rose by the most in nine months, as the October CPI came in with a "hot" 0.3% increase, fueling more concern that the Fed will continue raising interest rates at its December meeting, as planned. By now, the December federal funds increase should have been priced in, so, accusing inflation as the culprit de jour is probably a bit off the mark. What's really causing the continuation of the selling is more than likely a move by smart money out of stocks and into bonds or cash equivalents. With a 10-year treasury note offering well beyond three percent interest with no risk, some of the money leaving the market is surely headed that way, though corporate bonds are similarly attractive, albeit with a little more risk premia.

The major indices are still less than 10 percent off their all-time highs, making valuation a true issue. Post midterm elections, it appears that the federal government will be largely dysfunctional for the next two years, blunting any of President Trump's economic initiatives, and Maxine Waters proclamation that banking regulations will be tightened isn't winning any popularity contests on Wall Street. Waters is the chair-in-waiting of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees banks and other financial institutions.

There's considerable concern over the smooth continuation of government, more even than there has been since the Gore-Bush election selection fiasco of 2000. Taken by any measure, Trump's policies in the first two years of his administration have been business-friendly, and the newly-elected Democrat majority in the House not only threatens to stop any progress that's been made, but actually reverse it by plunging Washington into chaos with investigations and special committees designed to strip the president of his power and possibly lead to impeachment.

Such an unstable environment gives pause to business expansion decisions while also worrying large investors. Thus, stocks are acting as a proxy for politics, which is not their best function, and the results could be devastating if the Democrats don't back down from their overly strident positions.

Given such a climate, is there any wonder stocks cannot gain traction, even with unemployment at historic lows?

Another concern is the state of foreign markets, which remain moribund at best, the DAX, Germany's main stock index has been falling in conjunction with US stocks, and it recently broke a key "neckline" in an obvious head-and-shoulders pattern according to analysts at FXEmpire.com. The German market could enter bear market territory in a matter of weeks, if not days, an important element in gauging world stock performance and a general indicator of economic health in the Eurozone.

These are just a few of the elements pushing hard against investors.

While the Dow is still 1000 points from an official correction, the NASDAQ re-entered the correction zone on Monday and the tech sector - which had been the driver of rallies - threatens to pull the entire stock complex down with it.

Amazon may be celebrating a coup in gaining sweet deals for its new HQ2 in Virginia and New York, but the rest of the tech world is not such a happy place.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72

At the Close, Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,080.50, -205.99 (-0.81%)
NASDAQ: 7,136.39, -64.48 (-0.90%)
S&P 500: 2,701.58, -20.60 (-0.76%)
NYSE Composite: 12,280.73, -47.57 (-0.39%)