Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's Not as Good as They're Saying; Lows-Highs Flip

To anyone who follows capital markets and the world of high finance closely, the material deficiencies in the US and global "growth" stories are glaring and have been for many months. While the financial press - CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg - and the spokespeople for the various central governments around the world continue to feed the public the "recovery" fable, the facts, now beginning to see the light of day, contend that the global economy is still, two-and-a-half years after the grand cascading crash of 2008, in precarious straits.

Five separate stories sealed the fate for global markets today, beginning with China's announcement late Wednesday night (in America) that their trade balance was negative for the month of February.

About the same time, RealtyTrac delivered news that foreclosures had come to nearly a halt in the United States, with their numbers for February dropping 14 percent from the previous month and a 27 percent decrease from February 2010. Normally, that would be good news, but in the current environment of illegal and unethical actions by large, foreclosing banks, it meant that the mess that began in October, 2010 with the robo-signing scandal, was keeping banks from courthouses and clogging up the real estate market in a worsening manner.

Prior to the market opening, two more news items spooked the investment community. First, Moody's downgraded Spain's debt (about time for that!) to Aa2 and then, at 8:30 am on the East coast, the double whammy of new unemployment claims (397,000) and the US trade deficit, which expanded to -$46.3 billion in January.

Then, in mid-afternoon, as if the market had not received enough bad news, a story out of Saudi Arabia said that protesters had been fired upon by government troops.

That final bit of news sent the major indices - which had recovered somewhat off the day's lows - down once more, and stocks finished the session breaking into new depths.

The Dow and S&P broke through various levels of support, with the Dow finishing under the 12,000 mark for the first time in two months and the S&P crashing through it's 55-DMA. The NASDAQ and NYSE Composite each suffered similar pain.

It's becoming plain and clear to everybody living in the real world - not the fantasy land of fund managers, politicians and central bankers - that things are not going so well. Housing is an absolute catastrophe, global trade is grinding down due to higher imput costs and soaring energy prices, Europe is a full-blown basket case on the brink of dissolving, and US stocks are so wickedly overvalued that the path of least resistance is to sell them all, hurriedly, on the first sign of negative news, and there certainly was plenty of that to go around today.

Dow 11,984.61, -228.48 (1.87%)
NASDAQ 2,701.02, -50.70 (1.84%)
S&P 500 1,295.11, -24.91 (1.89%)
NYSE Composite 8,200.07, -179.37 (2.14%)

Declining issues led advancers, 5501-1072, a ratio of better than 5:1. New highs on the NASDAQ were just 33, overtaken by 68 new lows. On the NYSE, just 27 new highs and 31 new lows. This is a critical juncture for the markets, because if the number of new lows remain higher than new highs on a daily basis for long, say, six to eight trading days, it would confirm a hard change of direction, which has been in the cards since the double-engulfing session last Tuesday.

Volume was elevated as is the usual case when sellers outnumber buyers.

NASDAQ Volume 2,374,073,000
NYSE Volume 5,320,324,500

Commodities also took it on the chin, though in not such a dramatic fashion as stocks. Crude oil futures on the NYMEX fell $1.68, to $102.70, due to massive oversupply in the US of unrefined crude. Gold slipped $17.10, but remained below the psychologically-important $1400 level, ending the day at $1,412.50. Silver also was sold off, losing $98 cents, to finish at $35.07, though it should be noted that on days of hard reversals, a lot of precious metals are liquidated by speculators to cover margin calls.

A final note should not be ignored. Bill Gross' PIMCO, the world's largest fixed income family of funds, has slashed its holdings of Treasuries to ZERO. This news, first reported by the avant garde financial blog,, holds unknown, but potentially damaging conditions. Gross and PIMCO have more or less registered a vote of "no confidence" on the policies of the US government and the Federal Reserve Corporation.

With stocks hammered down repeatedly over the past two weeks, the highs of February 18 look like specs on the horizon and the truth about the real conditions in the global and US markets is finally coming out. The cataclysm begun by the Wall Street banks in 2003-2006 and accelerated by then-Treasury Secretary's $700 billion holdup of the US mint in October, 2008, has many more acts still to be played out.

The rush for the exits began a week ago and the passageway out is beginning to get quite crowded.

No comments: