Monday, December 31, 2012

Wall Street Jumps the Shark as Washington Sends America Over the Fiscal Cliff

Washington's silliness continued to drive Wall Street's greed instinct, and, on the final day of the year of 2012, Washington called Wall Street's bluff, and the sharpies on the trading exchanges not only blinked, but may have gotten poked in the eye.

According to the most unreliable sources available (CNBC), Mitch McConnell, minority leader in the Senate, and Joe Biden, vice president, struck a deal on Monday and have initiated what appears to be a deal, the most salient parts being a tax increase for earners making over $450,000 per year, extension of unemployment benefits and a hike in the capital gains tax to 20%.

As of the close of markets, no legislation has actually hit either floor of congress, though it certainly seemed good enough for the money merchants in the pits and on the trading floors.

It's an incredible show, befitting a broken political process and an illegitimate market run mostly by computers with algorithms trained to scan headlines.

The House has already said it won't vote on the measure until after the New Year, meaning, technically, there is no deal in place, and, as if there ever was any doubt, Money Daily has been proven correct, maintaining all along that there would be no deal before the stoke of midnight on December 31, 2012.

Without a doubt, the hilarity will continue on January 1st, 2nd, and beyond.

Happy New Year, America. Your political and financial leaders are drunk with money and power, but haven't a single functional wit among them.

Dow 13,104.14, +166.03 (1.28%)
NASDAQ 3,019.51, +59.20 (2.00%)
S&P 500 1,426.19, +23.76 (1.69%)
NYSE Composite 8,443.65, +127.49 (1.53%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,515,324,375
NYSE Volume 3,546,216,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 5340-1240
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 163-59
WTI crude oil: 91.82, +1.02
Gold: 1,675.80, +19.90
Silver: 30.23, +0.252

Friday, December 28, 2012

America, Land of the Handout, Home of the Loser, by the Millions

Face it Americans, you've been suckered.

There's not going to be any "grand bargain," that's for sure, and any deal that gets done either over the weekend or on Monday, December 31, at the last possible minute, is going to fall well short of even the most pessimistic possible outcomes.

Money Daily has been saying all along that the deal always was to have no deal. The President, John Boehner, and all the other "leaders" in congress have been acting through this entire sickening tableau.

When and if some kind of resolution is arrived at, there will be very few happy about it. Almost everybody's taxes are going to rise, along with the 2% contribution to Social Security that was conveniently "excused" in 2012.

Washington is a complete clown show. If the American public had any kind of guts, the protests would surround the entirety of the mall, the thieves would be summarily kicked down the steps of the capitol and bankers would be hung from the nearest lampposts.

But that's not going to happen. Americans are too easily bought off (the number of people collecting food stamps, social security and other entitlements are numb and only want the checks and freebies to keep rolling in. Some day, those will stop because the government - at the behest of the international cartel of bankers (central and otherwise) - holds all the cards.

This is a sorry way to end the week. Wall Street has only begun to express their displeasure and discontent, with markets selling off for the fourth consecutive session, today's being the largest, after President Obama met with congressional leaders at the White House and once again did NOTHING.


If this is what you want, you've gotten it, in spades, and deservedly so, especially the baby boomers, some of whom fought the establishment in the 60s, more of whom stood idly by and did nothing, other than joining the status quo as adults.These are the fruits of apathy and "let the other guy do it" mentality.

2013 will be the year of every man, woman and child to fend for oneself.

Dow 12,938.11, -158.20 (1.21%)
NASDAQ 2,960.31, -25.60 (0.86%)
S&P 500 1,402.43, -15.67 (1.10%)
NYSE Composite 8,316.17, -83.66 (1.00%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,120,378,875
NYSE Volume 2,407,416,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1794-3750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 63-51
WTI crude oil: 90.80, -0.07
Gold: 1,655.90, -7.80
Silver: 29.98, -0.265

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Market Drops, Rallies on Fiscal Cliff Fears, Hopes

OK, now, this is getting interesting.

Stocks sold off severely in the early going, as Wall Street seems to be getting a little bit tired of waiting for the politicians to come to some kind of deal - any kind of deal - on the fiscal cliff issues.

Taking center stage today were Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and minority leader, Mitch McConnell.

Reid made some noises about the House not even being in session, and, late in the day, McConnell made comments about how the Republicans have been waiting months for the Democrats to meet with them, without success.

During the session, stocks were hit hard to the downside, with the Dow off by as many as 150 points, but, about 2:30 pm ET, when news broke that John Boehner was calling the House back into session on Sunday, stocks miraculously starting gaining ground, with all of the major indices eventually reaching positive territory before giving back a bit to close slightly negative, though the NYSE Composite ended with a gain of four points.

There was other news that may have caught the attention of traders, particularly, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence reading, which registered a disappointing 65.1, after last month's overly optimistic 73.7 was revised down to 71.5.

The number caught everyone off guard and triggered the initial sell-off.

As for negotiations on the fiscal cliff, there aren't any. Both sides have resorted to name-calling and jawboning precisely at a time both sides should be reaching compromise.

Having the House in session on Sunday, December 30, is a hopeful sign that there is some progress behind the scenes, even though nobody's reporting any.

The saga continues...

Dow 13,096.31, -18.28 (0.14%)
NASDAQ 2,985.91, -4.25 (0.14%)
S&P 500 1,418.09, -1.74 (0.12%)
NYSE Composite 8,399.84, -4.36 (0.05%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,314,243,625
NYSE Volume 2,816,814,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2473-3032
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 74-61
WTI crude oil: 90.87, -0.11
Gold: 1,663.70, +3.00
Silver: 30.24, +0.205

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fiscal Cliff: Wall Street Waits While Washington Waffles

Everybody knew that the politicians in the nation's capitol wouldn't get a deal on taxes and spending until the very last possible minute, right?

That certainly seems to be the case, as there are now only five days left in 2012, and most of congress is out of town, though President Obama has made arrangements to return to the White House from Hawaii on Thursday.

Whether or not there will be anyone for him to negotiate with in another question. And what exactly will they be discussing? A very, very, short term deal, most likely extending unemployment benefits and maybe keeping the Bush tax cuts intact for those earning under $250,000, for maybe a couple of months.

The real problem which is beginning to emerge is the upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling (again), and the Tea Party Republicans in the house still seem hell-bent on making that an issue by which they can twist the president's arm.

The debt ceiling will need to be raised before March, at the very latest, or the federal government will shut down, which, at this juncture, seems to be the best option. Just do away with all of it and let chaos reign. Why not? The solutions being bantered about by the half-crazed Republicans and Democrats aren't going to solve anything except to dole out a few more Obama bucks to those already with their hands out and keep marginal rates in pretty much the same range without meaningful changes to spending or structural reform to entitlement programs or defense.

Wall Street has displayed iron nerves throughout this entire fiscal fiasco, with stocks up for the month of December. The bankster criminals on the Street are probably in on what already is looking like the biggest tax increase in American history, so they're likely well-positioned to benefit from a market decline.

If they aren't, they soon will be, if that's how this is going to go down.

It's gotten well past ridiculous, especially in light of the report from Mastercard Advisors Spending Pulse today that saw retail sales up just 0.7% versus 2011. The report tracked sales from October 28 to December 24.

Happy Holidays. Not.

Dow 13,114.59, -24.49 (0.19%)
NASDAQ 2,990.16, -22.44 (0.74%)
S&P 500 1,419.83, -6.83 (0.48%)
NYSE Composite 8,395.49, -25.06 (0.30%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,059,561,875
NYSE Volume 2,273,327,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1959-3537
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 96-40
WTI crude oil: 90.98, +2.37
Gold: 1,660.70, +1.20
Silver: 30.04, +0.138

Friday, December 21, 2012

John Boehner's Political Apocalypse; the Secret of Oz

As far as one can tell, the Mayans were incorrect. With less than eight hours left in this winter solstice 21st day of December in the year 2012 (actually, it's already the 22nd in some parts of the world across the international time line), it's a safe bet that planet earth isn't going to meet up with a death star, tilt over on its axis or flip its poles in a magnetic firestorm.

Incidentally, in numerology, today's date is significant. The digits in 12/21/2012 reduce to 11, both a prime number and a master number in numerology, 11 is representative of great spiritual energy and a linking between mortal and immortal states. The Mayans may have been - according to their calendar supposedly ending on this date - predicting the end of an epoch, and the beginning of a great enlightenment.

Whether or not there's even a shred of believability in all of this Mayan "end of world" hysteria, simply the hope for change - to a more peaceful, spiritual existence -should suffice to empower some to good and better achievements.

For those who decry numerology as mere nonsense, one should be apprised that the most popular and widely-employed system was originated by none other than Pythagoras, who knew a bit about numbers, meaning and their relationship to our known existence.

In any case, life goes on unabated, though one could make a case that the evening of the 20th and the day of the 21st marked a personal political apocalypse for one John Boehner, Republican Speaker of the House, when he could not muster enough support from his caucus to pass his proposed Plan B spending and tax proposal last night in the US House of Representatives.

Around 7:30 pm Thursday night, a raucous meeting of the Republicans in the house adjourned with a lack of consensus on the Speaker's proposal and the measure was shelved, much to the dismay of Mr. Boehner, who has gotten nowhere in either negotiations with the president or within his own party.

The tightrope Mr. Boehner has been treading has developed either a knot or a twang, depending on one's own political outlook. In any case, Boehner's future as Speaker appears to be as much in doubt as his ability to harness his members to an agreement with the president on avoiding the fiscal cliff, the deadline for a solution now a mere ten days away.

So, while the world may not have ended today, in John Boehner's insular little world of Washington politics, it may seem like the end of the political road. That's how apocalypse usually works: bad for some, but not for all.

When the news hit that the Plan B measure would not come up for a vote in the House, along with a telling smirk on the face of Eric Cantor, the Marcus Junius Brutus to Boehner's status as Julius Caesar, futures took a nose-dive, Dow futures plummeting to more than -200 in a matter of minutes.

Cantor, incidentally, the House Majority Leader, has eyes on the Speaker's office, and while modern day politics may be more civilized than what took place in Roman forums, political assassinations can be easily more painful than actual ones. The knife is turned more slowly in the modern world.

Markets were not pleased when they opened this morning, though after the initial selloff, the decline was very limited, with stocks trading in a tight lower range throughout the day. There was little of the expected quadruple-witching volatility after the initial thrust lower, probably something to be expected with the algo-crunching computers in charge of the bulk of trading.

While volume was elevated, it was not outstanding and the end results of the trading day were hardly cognizant of the turmoil on Capitol Hill. Wall Street still appears to be holding out hope for a happy ending to 2012 and a solution to the nation's fiscal issues. Good luck with that.

As this week comes to a melodramatic close, Monday will be a half day, with markets closing at 1:00 pm ET. Money daily will not post on that day, taking some needed time off for the holiday, unless there is some event worthy of memorializing.

One bit of business to attend to is contained in the video posted below, the exceptional, award-winning documentary exposing the secrets of L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz," which, though a best-selling children's book, years later adapted for the big screen starring July Garland as Dorothy, the story was a scathing riposte of the banking system and a searing critique of the frailty of government.

Well worth the viewing time, if you do nothing else at all to educate yourself on the truth about fractional reserve banking and politics, this is must viewing.

Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Dow 13,190.84, -120.88 (0.91%)
NASDAQ 3,021.01, -29.38 (0.96%)
S&P 500 1,430.15, -13.54 (0.94%)
NYSE Composite 8,443.15, -73.28 (0.86%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,825,451,750
NYSE Volume 4,834,776,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1823-3704
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 118-45
WTI crude oil: 88.66, -1.47
Gold: 1,660.10, +14.20
Silver: 30.20, +0.525

Thursday, December 20, 2012

TEOTWAWKI, but, Stocks Gain on Boehner's Plan B

Since, according to myths and Mayan calendars, the world is supposed to end tomorrow, this will be a short post, because most people have better things to do to prepare for annihilation than read about stocks, bonds and commodities.

Apparently, Wall Street traders aren't buying the hype - but, they still believe the Republicans and Democrats in Washington will work out a deal before January 1, 2013, because they keep buying stock.

The joke will be on them if the world ends tomorrow, because all that trading they've done will not have done them any good. The upside for the world ending on December 21 is that anyone who hasn't done their Christmas shopping until now will have saved a bundle. Also, the end of the world kind of puts the kibosh on the Zombie Apocalypse. No world, no zombies... or maybe this would be the kickoff party.

The biggest event of today was John Boehner pushing ahead with "Plan B" which would keep the Bush tax cuts intact for anyone earning less than $1 million a year. Traders apparently were happy with that prospect, as a little rally ensued after Boehner spoke, never mind that Harry Reid said the House bill was already a dead issue in the Senate.

If there's no tomorrow, then this would be good-bye, but, just in case those crafty Mayans were wrong, we'll be back tomorrow. Darn, everybody will have to go to work on Friday.

Dow 13,311.72, +59.75 (0.45%)
NASDAQ 3,050.39, +6.03 (0.20%)
S&P 500 1,443.69, +7.88 (0.55%)
NYSE Composite 8,516.43, +52.61 (0.62%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,685,494,500.00
NYSE Volume 3,656,370,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3574-1921
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 250-32
WTI crude oil: 90.13, +0.15
Gold: 1,645.90, -21.80
Silver: 29.68, -1.438

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tip-toeing Along the Edge of the Fiscal Cliff (a melodrama)

This fiscal cliff nonsense is getting a little thick.

Just yesterday, it appeared that the president and John Boehner were coming together on a deal. Today, Boehner steps up to a mic in the Capitol and blurts out something about the president needing to get serious, which is exactly what he said two weeks ago.

Money Daily continues to cling to its creepy, cynical prediction that there will be no deal, never was going to be one, because the parties had already agreed to raise taxes on everybody (why not?) and blame each other.

At this point, all signals should be indicating that there will be no deal prior to the official deadline of midnight on December 31, and beginning with the first tick of the clock in 2013, we begin to slowly dip over the cliff.

The effect of going over the cliff will not be a sudden, recognizable event, but rather a series of widely distributed government outreaches directed straight at the wallets of American citizens. It's a horrible policy decision, but, seriously, could we have expected less from this particular gang of clowns.

Regular wage earners will be hardest hit, as both regular income tax rates will increase, but the government will put pack the 1/3 of the trust fund deductions (SSI) that they so generously didn't deduct from everyone's paychecks in 2012, which was part of last year.

This inconsistency in tax policy, government bickering and annual changes in rates, deductions, spending cuts and increases, et. al., is not anything any stable nation would entertain, the USA having proven to be anything other than stable the past four or five or twelve years as concerns fiscal and monetary policy, though the FED has been trying (ZIRP and QE1, 2, 3, infinity, 4, and likely, beyond... yessh, good luck).

Congress will be departing for the holidays en masse tomorrow and Friday, so who really among us still believes anybody in the Capitol is serious about making a deal, finding common ground (remember that quaint concept of "common good?") and relieving the American people from so much uncertainty, doubt and outright confusion.

These are questionable times with a questionable cast of characters, something along the line of the soap operas, but without doctors who return from the dead or schmaltzy, scheming middle-aged marionettes living in some alternate universe, even though Washington seems to be spinning in an orbit all its own.

So, if there's no deal by tomorrow, because the individual members in the congress have to read whatever bill is presented, no? And then they have to vote on it, pass it or turn it down. If its passed, the President's signature is a quick finish and on to more misadventures.

Whether the congress and the president agree to anything before New Year's Eve becomes New Year's Day is probably immaterial at this point. If they miss any deadlines, they'll just claim the law to be retroactive and everything will be fine. But a couple of things are virtual slam dunks. Whatever they come up with it will not be enough to revive the economy, which, after all, is the point of this exercise. Also, somebody's - and possibly everybody's - taxes will be going up and some government programs will not be funded or appropriated for as generously as before.

The Dow was off nearly 100 points today, which isn't much, in light of recent moves higher. A deal on the fiscal cliff has been priced into stocks. Today's action was a little bit of recognition that all may not be well in deal-land.

Denial. It's what's for New Year.

Dow 13,251.97, -98.99 (0.74%)
NASDAQ 3,044.36, -10.17 (0.33%)
S&P 500 1,435.81, -10.98 (0.76%)
NYSE Composite 8,463.82, -35.53 (0.42%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,938,485,625
NYSE Volume 3,838,595,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2752-2748
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 278-39
WTI crude oil: 89.51, +1.58
Gold: 1,667.70, -3.00
Silver: 31.12, -0.553

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Boehner, Obama Closer on Fiscal Cliff Negotiations, Prompting Exultant Wall Street Rally

In a piece of somewhat shocking news, considering the participants are both career politicians of the highest grade, it appeared today that President Obama and House Speaker, John Boehner, were getting much closer to reaching a compromise to end the fears of going over the fiscal cliff on January 1, 2013.

Essentially, Boehner has agreed to some tax cuts for wealthier individuals while Obama is making headway in spending cuts, bringing the two sides closer to an agreement that would, at the very least, provide a level of certainty about tax and spending policies for the near future.

While the roughly $1 trillion in tax increases and another $1 trillion in spending cuts is phased over 10 years, it represents some easing of the tense gridlock between the two parties that have plagued Washington for years.

Compromise being the key to negotiation on these issues, it appears both sides are ready to give a little as the December 31 deadline approaches.

Cynics might say that the politicians are closing in on a deal only because their party members don't want to stay in Washington or have to return to the capitol between Christmas and New Year to hammer out details of a deal.

Most indications are that the President and the Speaker are within a few hundred billion dollars of each other's targets and a bill could be brought to the House and Senate by Thursday, allowing time for votes, a few minor changes and all escaping back to their districts (and families) in plenty of time for the holidays.

What was for certain was Wall Street's enthusiastic response, sending stocks sharply higher on strong volume. The rally - despite fears stemming from the fiscal debate - over the past four-and-a-half weeks has been nothing short of remarkable with the Dow Jones Industrials advancing more than 800 points since the closing low on November 15 (15,542.38) and the S&P tacking on 94 points over the same time span.

Whether or not the politicians arrive at a compromise deal, shorting this market - coincident with the real potential for a blow-off Santa Claus rally - before year's end would not be a wise move right about now.

The Wall Street crowd can best be compared to college kids on Spring Break, where just about anything is ample cause for a party.

Dow 13,350.96, +115.57(0.87%)
NASDAQ 3,054.53, +43.93(1.46%)
S&P 500 1,446.79, +16.43(1.15%)
NYSE Composite 8,499.35, +92.34(1.10%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,017,737,875
NYSE Volume 4,116,356,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4078-1520
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 284-41
WTI crude oil: 87.93, +0.73
Gold: 1,670.70, -27.50
Silver: 31.67, -0.611

Monday, December 17, 2012

Magic Market Melt-up

Cliff? What cliff?


Oh, that one.

Empire Manufacturing (Dec.) Actual: -8.1; Forecast: 2.0.

Who needs reasons?

Dow 13,235.39, +100.38(0.76%)
NASDAQ 3,010.60, +39.27(1.32%)
S&P 500 1,430.36, +16.78(1.19%)
NYSE Composite 8,407.02, +73.29(0.88%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,873,997,750.00
NYSE Volume 3,415,913,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3776-1782
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 132-61
WTI crude oil: 87.20, +0.47
Gold: 1,698.20, +1.20
Silver: 32.28, -0.019

Friday, December 14, 2012

Up, Down? How About Sideways Equilibrium?

A relatively favorable set of numbers weere released today as Industrial Production for November rose at the robust rate of 1.1% after falling 0.7% in October (revised from -0.4) and Capacity Utilization shot up to a healthy 78.4% (October 77.7%), but what may have spooked markets was the fall in CPI of 0.3%, a deflationary indicator, which is the bogey man that central bankers and governments worldwide like awake at night fearing.

Deflation implies stagnation and decline, anathema for the "growth" economies, though in nature, it's a natural part of the cycle. And that is part - though not all - of the reason that economies (especially ones built on a fiat foundation) are all built to fail. They are unnatural creations and they eventually cannot compete with natural cycles, physics and math.

So, stocks fell today, despite some good news. On the other hand, the "lawmakers" (an obtuse term presently, as the congress-critter and the president haven't done much in the way of actual writing of legislation for about a year and a half) in Washington aren't actually there at the moment, many having already headed home to their respective districts, the regular house session actually having ended yesterday, though it is scheduled to resume on December 19 (five-day weekends... must be nice). Consequently, there was no business concerning the ongoing "fiscal cliff" negotiations.

Stocks have reached a level resembling a sort of equilibrium (just look at the A-D line or new highs-new lows), which is a nice way of saying that it's a bad time to be either a bull or a bear, because nothing's moving, though one might expect some fireworks as the year draws to a close and it becomes more and more apparent that whatever fix is applied to the nation's fiscal woes - if any - it will be a patchwork, quick-fix and probably insufficient.

Nothing could happen, though, with two straight losing sessions, the direction of the market could have subtly changed.

The markets should react, but they don't have to. What happens over the next two weeks is anybody's guess. There are just nine full trading days until year's end. The exchanges are closed on the 25th and the 24th is a half-session, closing at 1:00 pm ET.

Something's got to give, or maybe not. After all, we've been muddling through for four years and most of the sleep-walking sheeple haven't a clue what's going on and the people in charge don't seem to care, and that's not a new phenomenon.

Well, it's Friday, and it's Happy Hour somewhere.

Free houses (and $billion a month from the Fed) for everyone!

Dow 13,135.01, -35.71 (0.27%)
NASDAQ 2,971.33, -20.83 (0.70%)
S&P 500 1,413.58, -5.87 (0.41%)
NYSE Composite 8,333.74, -4.58 (0.05%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,806,388,500
NYSE Volume 3,177,329,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2627-2840
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 88-64
WTI crude oil: 86.73, +0.84
Gold: 1,697.00, +0.20
Silver: 32.30, -0.056

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stocks Slide on Fiscal Cliff Stalemate, Fed Confusion

As they've done after the occasion of every recent FOMC meeting, traders sold off on the news, though today's slide was exacerbated at least a little by angst over the ongoing stalemate in Washington over fiscal cliff issues.

John Boehner, Speaker of the House, went before the microphones this morning, followed by Senate leader Harry Reid, and the two of them managed to give Wall Street a dose of temporary depression, sending stocks lower throughout the session.

The major indices slid into the final hour, but rebounded off their lows of the day when news leaked that President Obama and Boehner were to meet at the White House late this afternoon. While it will probably amount to nothing, as have their previous talks, the markets viewed it as slightly positive.

Traders are still mulling over yesterday's FOMC announcement, in which Chairman Bernanke tied raising interest rates to the unemployment rate and inflation. It's something of a crude cobbling of numbers that may or may not make sense, but, in the best counterintuitive spirit, lower unemployment and a recovering economy wiht low inflation (all good) would probably send stocks screeching into the abyss because interest rates would be on the rise.

Whatever the case and however it eventually plays out, it's a scenario unlikely to arrive any time soon, probably not for at least another 12 months, but it still has investors somewhat spooked.

Some good news for the economy came in the form of lower initial unemployment claims dropped to 343K in the most recent reporting period, on expectations of 375K. Retial sales, however, were a little disappointing, up just 0.3% in November, though that was better than the -0.3% from October.

The PPI was downright deflationary, posting a decline of 0.8% in November. Tomorrow's CPI reading will give an indication of price pressure or the lack thereof at the consumer level.

Dow 13,170.72, -74.73 (0.56%)
NASDAQ 2,992.16, -21.65 (0.72%)
S&P 500 1,419.45, -9.03 (0.63%)
NYSE Composite 8,338.62, -42.26 (0.50%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,800,313,250
NYSE Volume 3,299,683,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1847-3671
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 85-58
WTI crude oil: 85.89, -0.88
Gold: 1,696.80, -21.10
Silver: 32.36, -1.427

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bernanke Drops Unemployment Bomb; Markets Get Cranky

After John Boehner chastised President Obama again from the floor of the House of Representatives in the morning, the markets got what they were so eagerly anticipating and pricing in for the last two weeks: Ben Bernanke's unveiling of QE4, the promise by the Federal Reserve to purchase an additional $45 billion in long-dated treasuries each month, commencing with the wind-down of a similar program known as "Operation Twist."

This new monetizing of government debt is in addition to the fed's commitment to continued purchasing agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month for the foreseeable future, which translates roughly into "forever, or until the fiat monetary system collapses."

What the market didn't expect was the Fed's statement tying interest rates to the unemployment rate. In the FOMC statement issued shortly after noon and prior to Bernanke's 2:00 pm ET press conference, the Fed announced, "the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than a half percentage point above the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored."

With inflation fairly tame and trending toward dis-inflation on the retail level, the Fed has finally embarked upon a robotic-like exit strategy, though with existential caveats and various loopholes and escape clauses.

After digesting the news, stocks were initially bought up, but, during the press conference, began to slip, finally ending the day with no gains.

While on the one hand the Fed is keeping the monetary floodgates wide open, they are anticipating economic recovery, though even the most ardent bulls don't see the official unemployment rate (U3) falling below 6.5% for at least another year. It currently stands at 7.7%, though that figure is largely due to the decline in the labor participation rate.

With baby boomers retiring at an estimated rate of 10,000 per day - many taking the offer of smaller benefits at age 62 - the labor market is in a state of generational flux unlike any seen in modern times, so there's literally no telling when unemployment might fall below the Fed's threshold level, if at all.

One thing's for certain: if the economy suddenly finds its legs and springs into a real recovery with job creation and rising GDP, Wall Street will be offended because the free money spigots will be turned off or borrowing costs will be significantly increased.

It's a double-edged sword of competitiveness vs. financial repression being played by Wall Street bankers against the population at large. Higher interest rates would tamp down rampant speculation and reverse the galloping higher market trends. In fact, the mere hint from the Fed that interest rates might rise already has seen some effect.

Withe the final Fed meeting of the year out of the way, all eyes will be on the Speaker and the President as they race against time to find a solution to their wide differences to solving the fiscal mess they've created (with ample assistance from Wall Street and the 2008 crash).

Time is running short on the politicians and Wall Street may not be so easily amused over the next few weeks.

Dow 13,245.45, -2.99 (0.02%)
NASDAQ 3,013.81, -8.49 (0.28%)
S&P 500 1,428.48, +0.64 (0.04%)
NYSE Composite 8,380.88, +14.40 (0.17%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,755,775,625
NYSE Volume 3,678,721,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2467-3083
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 204-45
WTI crude oil: 86.77, +0.98
Gold: 1,717.90, +8.30
Silver: 33.78, +0.765

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

HSBC Pays $1.9 Billion Fine for Money Laundering; Stocks Soar

If there ever was any doubt that our financial and political systems are as crooked as they ever have been, today's news that London-based HSBC agreed to pay a $1.9 billion fine in a deal with the US Justice Department to settle money laundering charges AND NOBODY WAS CHARGED WITH A CRIME, should dispel any remaining doubt.

Wall Street's reaction to the news was a giddy rally, celebrating the idea that banks and corporations can commit any crimes they like and suffer no criminal consequences.

And people think their investments are safe. And the government is working really hard to come to an agreement to avoid sending the economy over the fiscal cliff and raising everybody's taxes.

Think about it.

Dow 13,248.44, +78.56(0.60%)
NASDAQ 3,022.30, +35.34(1.18%)
S&P 500 1,427.84, +9.29(0.65%)
NYSE Composite 8,366.47, +43.79(0.53%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,933,253,500
NYSE Volume 3,650,410.250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3847-1695
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 215-48
WTI crude oil: 85.79, +0.23
Gold: 1,709.60, -4.80
Silver: 33.02, -0.36

Monday, December 10, 2012

Over the Cliff We Go, but Where Is the Fear?

America has finally been dumbed down enough so that the ruling elite can run roughshod over the nation unfettered by neither rule of law or unfortunate facts.

About a month ago, (first person singular here, so pay attention) I made a point (don't know whether or not I made the point in any blog posting or not) that my belief was that a deal on the Bush tax cuts' expiration and other "fiscal cliff" issues had already been cut. Today, I still hold to that belief and even more strongly than before.

Take, for instance, the measured pace of both the Washington politicians and the Wal Street traders. The politicians have done nothing, are no closer to a deal than they were a month ago and don't seem to be in a big hurry to resolve these "pressing" issues.

Wall Street, after a hissy fit bout of selling over "their man" Romney losing the election, have recouped most of the decline and keep gradually pushing stocks higher and higher, apparently oblivious to the threat of the entire nation falling (or being pushed) over said fiscal cliff come January 1, 2013.

The simple reason for believing that the politicians won't make a deal before January 1, 2013, are so obvious as to not even be worth mentioning and that is the exploding federal government deficit and ever-expanding national debt, due to surpass its limits within another month or so.

The government needs money. Let me say that again, with emphasis:

OK, maybe that was a little harsh on the eyes, but there's no doubting the veracity of that statement. And, since the government needs money, and, since the politicians express this nagging sentiment that they are two parties poles apart on ideology and methodology, when in fact they are one and the same party when it comes to self-survival, the best way to get more money is to raise taxes on everybody and blame each other, which, in the long run, means nobody gets blamed, nobody has to worry about torches, pitchforks and being run out of town on a rail, and everybody gets re-elected, eventually.

For Wall Street, it means more money for corporations, which can and do break every law imaginable in pursuit of profit, and largely get away with it. Or, the traders are just ramping up stocks on the backs of their muppet clients, while quietly cashing out and putting their money into tangible assets like gold, silver, real estate, or stashing it away in the Cayman Islands or some other off-shore tax haven.

Think, for a moment. According to recently released statistics, and demonstrated by this article, in August and September, over three times as many foodstamp recipients (over one million) were added to the economy as jobs (324,000). So, where's the recovery? For everybody who gets a low-wage, no-benefit, glorified part-time job, three people apply for and receive food stamps and become a burden on the working class.

Like so many other concepts and programs in these United States, this is unsustainable, yet the media keeps rminding us that all is well, and that we sould go out and buy the latest iWidget or iGadget for Christmas to keep the economy humming along. Really?

Take a look at the S&P Retail Index (^RLX), which, after a double bottom in late October and early November, has headed south again in the first six days of December.

This, my friends, is the Christmas season, the buying season, the make-or-break season for retailers. If everything is so honkey-dorey, then why is this index rolling over, right at the height of what should be its strongest season.

Maybe the market is just being counter-intuitive, but, more likely, the retailers are being slaughtered. Holiday buying is down, as some luxury retailers have recently expressed, like Tiffany and Nordstrom's, and Kohl's, a mainstream retailer, reported horrifying same-store sales last week. Cannibalization. Zombification. Call it what you will, but, if everybody - not just the rich, but, everybody - is going to pay more in taxes next year, because THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS MONEY, how then does the economy look going forward.

Happy Holidays my sweet, firm buns. We're heading over the fiscal cliff by design and the aftermath of crashing billions of dollars below is not going to be very pretty.

I may be completely wrong, but, believe what you like. By all appearances, the deal has already been struck, the politicians are just play-acting, and the deal is that there is no deal. Welcome to the next fork on the road to serfdom.

Am I the only one seeing this for what it is? Where's the fear of the economy rolling over into a recession in the first half of 2013, which the OMB has already expressed would happen were the Bush tax cuts to expire, unemployment benefits be allowed to expire, the reduced take out of Social Security be allowed to expire, and cuts in defense and other programs (the so-called "sequestration") occur all at once?

The congress is set to recess for the holidays on Friday, December 14, four days from now. There simply isn't time enough to craft a substantive deal before then, since nothing at all has been done.

Obama and the Democrats will blame House leader John Boehner and the Republicans, who will blame Obama and the Democrats, and the American people will be left holding the bag, once again, with less in it than before. Tax the rich, tax the poor, tax everybody in between and blame each other. What a plan! Absolutely brilliant!

Market Update at 4:50 pm ET...

Stuck on stupid is about the only way to describe today's market (non)activity. Narrow range (seriously, the Dow was between up 20 and 30 points for almost the entire session) on low volume with the full range of just 55 points was ugly. Totally dead money.

Dow 13,169.88, +14.75 (0.11%)
Nasdaq 2,986.96, +8.92 (0.30%)
S&P 500 1,418.55, +0.48 (0.03%)
NYSE Composite 8,322.68, +8.39(0.10%)
NYSE Volume 2,975,303,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,528,722,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3095-2408
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 139-61
WTI crude oil: 85.56, -0.37
Gold: 1,714.40, +8.90
Silver: 33.38, +0.246

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dow Gets Big Bump from BLS Jobs Data

Stocks got a boost from better-than-expected non-farm payroll data from the BLS, though the labor participation rate continued to slide. There were 146,000 net new jobs created in November, so no reason to blame Hurricane Sandy for anything. October's number was revised drastically lower, from 171K to 138K.

There was no movement on the fiscal cliff non-negotiations, which was supposed to be what Wall Street feared, though, as we've seen throughout the past 4+ years, anything pertaining to the economics of ordinary people or what happens on Main Street, simply gets brushed aside by Wall Street.

The NASDAQ was dragged down and the S&P weighted down by the continuing slide in shares of Apple (AAPL), a stock that is just plain broken after huge speculative plays over the past two years.

Whistling past the grave, indeed.

Dow 13,155.13, +81.09 (0.62%)
Nasdaq 2,978.04, -11.23 (0.38%)
S&P 500 1,418.07, +4.13 (0.29%)
10-Yr Bond 1.63% +0.05
NYSE Volume 3,086,974,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,612,160,125
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2797-2656
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 123-50
WTI crude oil: 85.93, -0.33
Gold: 1,705.50, +3.70
Silver: 33.13, +0.017

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bear Trap? Or Can the Markets Move Higher?

For all the sound and fury over the "fiscal cliff" this is a very orderly market, but that's what you get when there's no other asset classes worth owning (supposedly) and everything is neatly controlled and contrived by a select group of insider traders.

Perhaps this is just a well-conceived bear trap, set up perfectly (the Dow is up 522 points since the interim closing bottom on November 15) to ensnare the unsuspecting prey either with the release of tomorrow's non farm payroll figures for November (blame it on Sandy) or the congressional recess on December 14.

Bears can be very cagy. They may be lying patiently in wait. Tomorrow's number should be important, though this market - the levitational beast that it is - may not give a hoot. (OK, too many animal references for one day... good bye)

Dow 13,074.04, +39.55 (0.30%)
NASDAQ 2,989.27, +15.57 (0.52%)
S&P 500 1,413.94, +4.66 (0.33%)
NYSE Composite 8,280.96, +16.16 (0.20%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,680,487,250
NYSE Volume 3,176,728,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2814-2665
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 99-56
WTI crude oil: 86.26, -1.62
Gold: 1,701.80, +8.00
Silver: 33.11, +0.157

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wall Street and Washington's Theater of the Absurd

To say that the market is comical might be a bit of an understatement, as, under the current regime of endless QE, ZIRP, no-loss corporate interests and unlimited cash funding for all manner of speculation the entity that used to be known as the "stock market" is a sad comedy with wickedly tragic undertones.

Amidst the furor over "fiscal cliff" issues, Wall Street has managed to keep a straight face, as have most commentators and analysts, but today's activity was right out of the old PPT handbook.

Despite early morning futures pump-priming, actually solid economic data and no progress in Washington, stocks found themselves slumped into negative territory at 11:00 am ET.

However, this being a market typified by HFT and wing-and-a-prayer whimsical day-trading, that point in time marked low tide for the day.

Without warning and on absolutely no relevant news (we searched and searched and could not find a suitable catalytic argument), the Dow Industrials surged a massive 150 points in the next hour, making a v-bottom u-turn that was dazzling if for only its rapidity.

The news wires were touting the move as inspired by Bank of America, and, to a lesser extent, Citigroup, which today announced layoffs of 11,000, sending that stock up 2.17 (6.33%). It's a counter-intuitive world when slashing jobs causes such a huge run-up, but this is, after all, the bizarre world of Wall Street, where profits supersede humanity. BofA, for its part, surged 56 cents, to 10.46, a new 52-week high. The only caveat for the TBTF banks might be that they are in the midst of another round of stress tests, and, apparently, are set to receive passing grades despite having a multitude of unresolved bad debts residing both on and off their balance sheets.

Finally marking its zenith with a 137-point advance, the Dow meandered along through the afternoon, finally giving up the charade late in the session by cutting its gains nearly in half. The other laughable part was Apple (AAPL) which was hammered once again by profit-takers, taking down the NASDAQ - which remained in the red all session long - with it.

It's fairly common knowledge that over the past four years, rallies led by banks hae a kind of phantom character to them. Since banking's books are so opaque, only the select circle of insiders really know how to value them, and said values may or may not be realistic. Time only will tell.

Belying the rally, the advance-decline line was negative and the margin of new highs over new lows continued to tighten.

Meanwhile, Washington did its part to keep the comical nature of events going strong. Congressional members largely departed the Capitol at noon today, apparently having nothing to do and opting for a long weekend. Yes, a long weekend, just prior to what's planned to be a three-week holiday holiday beginning December 14.

Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange; stranger than fiction.
-- Lord Byron

Dow 13,034.49, +82.71 (0.64%)
NASDAQ 2,973.70, -22.99 (0.77%)
S&P 500 1,409.28, +2.23 (0.16%)
NYSE Composite 8,270.43, +46.56 (0.57%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,747,690,750
NYSE Volume 4,086,650,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2641-2821
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 121-65
WTI crude oil: 87.88, -0.62
Gold: 1,693.80, -2.00
Silver: 32.96, +0.149

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Markets Stall as Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Are a Nullity

Talk about tight trading ranges, the major averages barely budged off the flat line today, and, considering the backdrop of the fiscal cliff non-negotiating stances of the warring parties, it's actually quite remarkable.

The NASDAQ was the most volatile of the majors, trading in negative territory the entire session, trading in a narrow band of 22 points. The S&P, top to bottom, moved an entire nine points and change, finishing ever-so-slightly in the red.

By comparison, the Dow's movement was phenomenal, covering an entire 82 points throughout the day. However, after giving up an initial thrust higher of some 53 points, the Dow's trading range from 11:00 am ET until the close was a mere 46 points. Just in case anybody is keeping tack, the Dow crossed over the unchanged line 27 times.

There was no economic data released, but the president did take to the airwaves in his first one-on-one interview since the election, exclusively on Bloomberg (take THAT CNBC!).

Basically reiterating that he would not budge from his position the the Bush tax breaks for the highest two percent earners (making over $250,000 per annum) must be allowed to expire before he and his democratic counterparts would seriously consider any proposal.

That did not inspire any reaction in either direction from the markets. It could be early onset of "cliff fatigue," since the two sides have engaged mostly in verbal sparring and little else. Wall Streeters may be getting a bit worn out, playing the waiting game for the past four weeks.

Without any movement in negotiations, the investment community will look to a crush of economic data releases beginning with the ADP Employment Change index for November, at 8:15 tomorrow, followed in close order by Q3 productivity revision and unit labor costs, factory orders, ISM services and crude oil inventories.

At the least, the ADP figure will give the non-farm payroll junkies a little to chew on until Friday when the BLS makes its monthly estimate of job growth in the nation.

Between now and then, don't look for a quick resolution to the fiscal cliff issues, as both sides appear to take the fight to the very last minute, if not beyond. Most of the politicians are planning on heading home for the holidays on the 14th of December, but, staying in the nation's capitol to iron out an agreement might be preferable to dealing with angry constituents back home, so the chance that congress might delay their holiday by a week is a distinct possibility.

While there are many voices expressing that the politicians will prevent the economy from going "over the cliff" more and more analysts are predicting that neither side sees any gain from negotiating a settlement and appearing weak in the eyes of constituents, especially from the Republican point of view, which is, has been and likely will be, completely intractable.

Things could get interesting at any time, though it appears more and more likely that the politicians will stall, posture and delay, to the ultimate detriment of everyone.

One can hardly blame the president for sticking to his guns on wanting to raise taxes on the rich. It's a no-brainer and long overdue. Besides, he did win re-election largely on the idea that the rich should pay more. How much more is the most cogent question, though the Republicans continue to appear myopic and standing in defense of their campaign contributors, not the people of America.

If the politicians don't come to agreement, blame will fall squarely on the shoulders of the Republican party, primarily the out-of-touch tea partiers in the House.

Dow 12,951.78, -13.82 (0.11%)
NASDAQ 2,996.69, -5.51 (0.18%)
S&P 500 1,407.05, -2.41 (0.17%)
NYSE Composite 8,223.87, +0.33 (0.00%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,746,404,375
NYSE Volume 3,218,542,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2638-2837
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 94-55
WTI crude oil: 88.50, -0.59
Gold: 1,695.80, -25.30
Silver: 32.81, -0.951

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Cliff" Negotiations Going Nowhere; Wall Street Begins to Get the Message

Anybody who took the time to watch any of the Sunday morning comedy shows, otherwise known as "Meet the Press", "This Week" or "face the Nation could come to no other conclusion than the Democrats and Republicans were still miles apart on solutions to fixing issues pertaining to the "fiscal cliff" that has become the cause celebre in Washington, on Wall Street and just about everywhere else in America.

Alternating between Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, House majority leader, John Boehner and a parade of politicians, pundits and philosophers (notably, Grover Norquist), there was widespread agreement on one thing: that there was no middle ground upon which anybody was seen standing. The Democrats and Republicans are so far apart that the idea that there might not be a deal in time for all the Bush tax cuts to expire, sequestration of mandatory budget cuts would take place and the US economy - and with it the world - would fall into recession early in 2013.

It took Wall Street most of the day to figure out that a deal might not be forthcoming by the clowns they purchased in the last election cycle, a thought so pregnant with dire consequences that many in the (cough, cough) investment community might just be in denial on the topic.

By late afternoon, President Obama took his case to the Twitter-world, answering questions from his point of view. A little later, there was a counter-offer from Boehner's office, though it was much like the president's original proposal: having no chance of acceptance and merely a bargaining salvo, testing the waters, so to speak.

By the end of the day, there was some damage done, though it was nothing like what may occur should Wall Street types begin embracing the idea of actually plunging over the "cliff."

Incidentally, the Dow pooped out right at its 200-day moving average, especially in light of the somewhat stunning November ISM index, which drooped into contraction territory with a 49.5 reading, on expectations of 51.2. Naturally, hurricane Sandy was blamed for the bad read, though a number of analysts did not agree with that assessment, believing that Sandy might be responsible for 0.3 to 0.5 of the shortfall, which would still render a reading of 50, at best.

Spain requested a 39.5 billion euro bailout for its ailing banks, but fell short of making an official request for a sovereign bailout. In the best counterintuitive fashion, European stocks rallied and bond yields fell. Talk about denial! The Euros have that market cornered.

As the cliff diving enters a critical phase this week - because the politicians plan on making their escape from DC on the 14th of December, naturally, taking an extra week off on the taxpayer's dime - expect markets to get ever more jittery. Adding to the unusual noise, Friday's non-farm payroll report for November might rattle a few cages as well.

Dow 12,965.60, -59.98 (0.46%)
NASDAQ 3,002.20, -8.04 (0.27%)
S&P 500 1,409.46, -6.72 (0.47%)
NYSE Composite 8,223.54, -36.90 (0.45%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,666,248,500
NYSE Volume 3,060,504,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2307-3205
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 213-44
WTI crude oil: 89.09, +0.18
Gold: 1,721.10, +8.40
Silver: 33.76, +0.48

Friday, November 30, 2012

No Talk about Fiscal Cliff Means Stocks Go Nowhere

Is this what happens when politicians don't talk about the fiscal cliff negotiations?

Nothing? Well, except that gold and silver got mashed down. Central bankers really don't like the precious metals... until they own all of them, that is. Sick.

So be it. The weekend awaits.

Dow 13,025.58, +3.76 (0.03%)
NASDAQ 3,010.24, -1.79 (0.06%)
S&P 500 1,416.18, +0.23 (0.02%)
NYSE Composite 8,260.35, +4.28 (0.05%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,973,701,750
NYSE Volume 3,640,136,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2878-2592
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 176-34
WTI crude oil: 88.91, +0.84
Gold: 1,710.90, -16.30
Silver: 33.20, -1.144

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wall Street to Washington, the Clown Show Continues

OK, it's finally gotten officially stupid to invest any money at all in stocks, though judging by the massive outflows from stock-related mutual funds to bond funds, it seems that may be preaching to the choir as far as retail investors are concerned.

Today saw more ridiculous posturing and pontification by various US public office-holders, first by House Speaker John Boehner (who seems to relish in the publicity and his new-found super-power, capable of moving stock indices with a single phrase) who, after meeting with the president's chief negotiator - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner - said that there had been no substantive progress on the fiscal cliff issues in two weeks (no kidding!) and that the president needs to put his cards on the table.

Apparently, Geithner is stone-walling for Obama, insisting on allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on the wealthiest taxpayers - those earning over $250,000 - while allowing them to remain in place for everyone else, but Boehner is likely still insisting on concrete spending cuts. Both have good ideas, though the probability of a realistic compromise appears to be still a ways off.

So, Boehner steps to the microphone a few minutes after 11:30 am ET, says a few words and the Dow loses 50 points in about a minute. A little while later, Senate Leader Harry Reid takes his turn and stocks recover a bit. Maybe Harry has a gentler touch? But stocks went up even more when NY Senator Chuck (I represent Israel) Schumer took to the podium and said a deal was almost a certainty by Christmas, once again, overstating the obvious. Senator Schumer probably had an options straddle working, needed a few extra points on the SPY and he got them.

Nancy Pelosi threatened to speak nearing the close, but held off until after the final bell. Apparently, Mrs. Pelosi plays the futures markets. It's all so absurd, the great Saul Bellow could not have penned a more abstract, obtuse script.

Other than the fiscal cliff bad theater, existing home sales in October were reported to have increased by 5.2% percent over the previous month, third quarter GDP was revised upward from 2.0% to 2.7%, which the market had expected, though most of the gains came from government spending, inventory additions and hedonic adjustments.

Retail Sales for November were reported by a number of chain stores, showing an overall gain of 1.7%, well below the happy forecast of a 4-5% jump. Naturally, Hurricane Sandy was blamed for much of the shortfall, though actual sales declines at Kohl's (down 5.6%), Macy's and Nordstom's were more likely due to a combination of competition, poor marketing and overall sluggish demand by consumers, who can only buy so many 42-inch flat screens, iPods and clothes on limited budgets.

Also, this graphic caught some attention. It shows how former Goldman Sachs executives are now the central bankers of most of Europe. No wonder they're doing so well over there.

Gold was up sharply, as was oil and silver, a day after being belted down by unseen forces. Silver, in particular, is at a two-month high, and looks like its about to break out, though that's been said and seen before, with no follow-through, thanks to the suppressive work constantly being done at JP Morgan.

The big tent will open for the circus promptly at 9:30 am ET tomorrow.

Dow 13,021.82, +36.71 (0.28%)
NASDAQ 3,012.03, +20.25 (0.68%)
S&P 500 1,415.95, +6.02 (0.43%)
NYSE Composite, 8,256.07, +48.71 (0.59%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,758,355,875.00
NYSE Volume 3,337,720,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3963-1531
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 233-30
WTI crude oil: 88.07, +1.58
Gold: 1,727.20, +10.70
Silver: 34.35, +0.664

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Turnaround Tuesday on Fiscal Cliff Comments from Boehner, Obama

Stocks careened lower at the open, with the Dow down more than 100 points on data that showed the number of new homes being built (maybe a shovel in the ground somewhere) slowing to an annual pace of 368,000, well below the estimate.

Shortly thereafter, House Majority leader, John Boehner, emerged from a brief meeting with some wall Street corporate CEOs and said something to the effect that the Democrats need to get serious about solving the issues of the fiscal cliff.

Around noon, President Obama came out and delivered some equally algo-soothing words, sending the market even higher. While neither man said anything specific or anything which could even remotely be construed as closing in on a deal, Wall Street computers took their words as a cue to buy, enough for a 200-point move on the Dow, something that hasn't happened in over a year's time.

We certainly are playing in interesting times. A politician moves his or her lips and markets respond. How perfectly Pavlovian.

Gold and silver were inexplicably down sharply, but not to worry. Tomorrow or the next day, markets will begin to respond to celebrity raised eyebrows, the body language of sports stars and maybe even dog scratching.

Besides, according to the Incan calendar, the world will reverse polarity on the 22nd of December, and instead of a fiscal cliff, we'll have a monetary waterfall, courtesy of the Federal Reserve, of course, fixing everything for eternity, or at least until the next election.

Dow 12,985.11, +106.98(0.83%)
NASDAQ 2,991.78, +23.99(0.81%)
S&P 500 1,409.93, +10.99(0.79%)
NYSE Composite 8,207.36, +56.57 (0.69%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,726,631,875
NYSE Volume 3,324,916,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3606-1863
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 122-54
WTI crude oil: 86.49, -0.69
Gold: 1,716.50, -25.80
Silver: 33.68, -0.297

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Washington Gets Back to Work (Kinda); Stocks Slump Despite (Kinda) Positive Data

Tuesday began with a flurry of good news.

First, over in Bizzarro-world(aka Europe), EU ministers were glad-handing and slapping each other's backs for another successful bailout of Greece (really, is this the third, fourth or fifth? Who's counting?), then, at 8:30 am ET, durable goods orders came in better than expected.

At 9:00 am ET, the September Case-Shiller Housing Index showed another in a series of positive gains for housing. Better yet, consumer confidence hit a four-and-a-half-year high, reported at 10:00 am ET.

So, why were the markets in such a sour mood, why did they end lower, and why were they not even lower than where they finished?

Ah, grasshopper, so many questions...

First, that somewhat refreshing zero print on durables was, in fact, pretty ugly, once one ventured to peek under the hood. As Zero Hedge reports, a continued collapse in durable goods new orders virtually guarantees that we're already in a recession, fiscal cliff or not (more on that canard later).

The Case-Shiller data, which showed the average price of a home purchase up by 3.6% nationally, has to be faded a little, only because housing is not stocks, and, even though home-buying is a relevant statistic, it matters little in the broader scheme of things, especially when the banks are keeping massive numbers of homes off the market in what's known as "foreclosure stuffing." Those in the know, really, really do know.

As far as the consumer confidence number, well, anybody who allows themselves to be branded a consumer for purposes of a survey can't be all that bright, after all.

In the case of the nth installment of the Greek bailout, there were scant details, the IMF hasn't signed off on it yet, the "deal" has to be approved by each member (17) country, so, the Euro sold off, anathema to US markets.

And then, about 2:30 pm ET, US lawmakers (that's a joke, son) emerged from talks over the fiscal cliff (that's not a pun, son) and did what everyone thought they'd do, since their track record is so plain and clear on this point: point fingers at the other side for not playing fairly.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid: "...little progress with Republicans..."

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell: "...some difficulty turning off the campaign..."

Is it any surprise to anybody that working out a deal in DC was going to be a difficult, if not impossible, issue? After all, this whole "fiscal cliff" miasma started more than a year ago when the two sides failed to reach conciliatory postures on increasing the debt limit, and that puny increase of roughly $1.2 trillion is about to run out.

So, with no deal even remotely being discussed, the Titans of Wall Street started selling in earnest and continued selling into the close. They will probably still be selling when the opening bell rings on Wednesday and maybe even beyond that, because depending on Washington politicians to reach a concord on any matter of even insignificant importance is like getting cats and frogs to behave well together. It's just not going to happen.

Further, indispensable reading from the Wall Street Journal comes in the form of an editorial by Chris Cox and Bill Archer - respectively, former chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee and the Securities and Exchange Commission and former chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee - explaining why the fiscal cliff of $600 billion is merely a puff of smoke compared to the conflagration that is the real unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security, refreshingly written in language even a protesting Wal-Mart worker could comprehend.

The saga continues to unfold tomorrow. Oh, by the way, so many people did their holiday shopping on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and online on Cyber Monday this year, and, considering that since Turkey Day was so early this year that there's an extra week in the holiday shopping season, retail sales are going to be very slow for the one, two, three, four next weeks, until the last Saturday before Christmas (the 25th is a Tuesday), so, Happy Holidays! Free houses, Greek bailouts, durable goods and fiscal cliff-diving for everyone... including consumers!

Dow 12,878.13, -89.24 (0.69%)
Nasdaq 2,967.79, -8.99 (0.30%)
S&P 500 1,398.94, -7.35 (0.52%)
10-Yr Bond 1.65% -0.02
NYSE Volume 3,294,930,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,762,521,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2462-3041
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 154-40
WTI crude oil: 87.18, -0.56
Gold: 1,742.30, -7.30
Silver: 33.98, -0.156

Monday, November 26, 2012

Early Case of Holiday Blahs for Equities

Trading was sluggish and mostly to the downside in the morning session - likely on quick profit-taking from the Black Friday rally - but capital was re-allocated in the afternoon, as stocks rallied into the close.

Concerns over resolution to US fiscal issues and Europe's finalizing yet another round of financing for Greece kept stocks in the red for almost the entire day, except for the NASDAQ, which was boosted largely on trades in Apple (AAPL), which was up more than three percent on the day.

There was little in the way of economic data or corporate news to move markets, as trading volumes were at low levels.

Simply put, there wasn't even a left-over turkey leg to Friday's rally as traders were quick to pul the sell lever with so many issues overhanging the markets.

The Dow, down as much as 109 points before noon, rallied to close near the best level of the day, which, of course, means nothing.

Things should get more interesting as news of talks between Republicans and Democrats on the "fiscal cliff" issue begin to circulate throughout the week.

Dow 12,967.37, -42.31 (0.33%)
Nasdaq 2,976.78, +9.93 (0.33%)
S&P 500 1,406.29, -2.86 (0.20%)
NYSE Composite 8,197.48, -28.02(0.34%)
NYSE Volume 2,833,759,250
Nasdaq Volume 1,559,037,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2636-2880
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 124-40
WTI crude oil: 87.74, -0.54
Gold: 1,749.60, -1.80
Silver: 34.14, +0.021

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dumbest. Rally. Ever.

Will markets never learn?

Every year, on the half-day session that is Black Friday, stocks get a giddy bounce over the prospects of rabid holiday shopping frenzy and a warm, cozy, holiday feeling about consumer spending.

This year's half-day wonder was no exception. In fact, it was exceptional, as stocks soared at the open and added to outsize gains on extreme low volume. The gains were among the top five, point-wise, for the major averages this year, surging through overhead resistance, especially on the S&P 500, which broke above its 200-day moving averages. It was a sucker's rally to beat all suckers.

Priced into the advances were widespread, solid rumors that third quarter GDP would be revised upward from 2% to 2.8 or maybe even 3% next week.

These signs of exuberance may be tempered once the politicians get back into the mix. Republicans and Democrats are reportedly far apart on negotiations to solve fiscal cliff issues, with Republicans still demanding that Bush-era tax cuts on the rich remain in place, while Democrats wish to raise rates on earners over $250,000 per annum while keeping in place lower rates for the rest of American taxpayers.

Rest up and get some exercise to work off those additional pounds socked away on Thanksgiving. Everyone will be in need of extra energy to keep up with developments next week.

And just in case anybody thought the truce in the Middle East was one of lasting quality, Israelites and Palestinians barely took a break in killing each other. In response, silver tallied the biggest percentage gain of the day (2.23%) and gold rose by more than $23.00. So much for stability.

Black Friday Special: Free houses with zero down leases with no payments until the Fed raises interest rates, on new Cadillacs for everybody!

Dow 13,009.68, +172.79 (1.35%)
Nasdaq 2,966.85, +40.30 (1.38%)
S&P 500 1,409.15, +18.12 (1.30%)
NYSE Composite 8,220.31, 108.13(1.33%)
NYSE Volume 1,423,529,125
Nasdaq Volume 743,239,875
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4192-1058
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 135-37
WTI crude oil: 88.00, +0.62
Gold: 1,752.10, +23.90
Silver: 34.10, +0.745

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stocks Get Pre-Holiday Bounce on Israel-Gaza Truce

Looking as hard as possible for positive news upon which to launch a rally, the Wall Street casino got what it wanted from US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who brokered a truce in the ongoing warfare between the state of Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip.

Announced just after noon Eastern Time, the truce was to begin at 2:00 pm ET, or roughly 9:00 pm Tel Aviv time.

How long the truce will remain n force is anybody's guess. The conflict in the Palestinian area of the Middle East has been going on for as long as most of us can remember, so whatever is achieved will be short-term at best, just like almost everything else these days, a matter of how far down a given road one can kick a can.

Outside the news that Palestinians and Israelis won't be trying to kill each other overtly for a few days, there was little going on to make investors optimistic.

Hostess, which had been in bankruptcy and was the recent victim of an ill-advised strike by the baker's union, went through a day of mediation and returned to court, where the judge signed off on liquidation of the company that used to make Ho-Hos, Twinkies, Ding-Dongs and assorted junk foods that have contributed in no small way to the epidemic of diabetes in this country.

Probably, it's for the good of the country - and fata$$es worldwide - that the company goes under.

Looking ahead, there's a half-day session on Friday, following the Thanksgiving holiday, which usually results in an eventually meaningless Black Friday rally as millions of misguided Americans crowd stores, malls and shopping centers to buy worthless trinkets and electronic gadgets for friends and relatives.

Too bad Christmas will never get here, as the world is scheduled to end on December 22, according to the Incas, or Aztecs, or somebody.

Well, nobody likes a Scrooge at this time of year, so...

Free iPads and Houses for Everybody! And free Twinkies, too!

Happy Thanksgiving. Stay hungry, my friends.

Dow 12,836.89, +48.38 (0.38%)
Nasdaq 2,926.55, +9.87 (0.34%)
S&P 500 1,391.03, +3.22 (0.23%)
NYSE Composite 8,112.20, +25.78 (0.32%)
NYSE Volume 2,647,812,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,406,020,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3577-1856
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 108-71
WTI crude oil: 87.38, +0.63
Gold: 1,728.20, +4.60
Silver: 33.35, +0.42

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Amid Flurry of News and Rumor, Stocks End Flat

It's not official until Thursday, but we're pretty much in the holiday season, which means a few things:
1. Trading volumes should be low;
2. Volatility will not manifest (unless there's a war or no deal on the fiscal cliff);
3. A lot of people will be booking profits, i.e., selling;
4. Nobody will take anything with any enormous level of seriousness; people will be more concerned with shopping, eating and visiting relatives and friends.

While those are broad considerations, they more than likely point to a sideways-moving market for the next few weeks. Not to say that there won't be money to be made - there always is - but adroitness and nimble movements will be the key to staying just slightly ahead of the curve.

There's a very good possibility that although the general indices will remain somewhat range-bound, the actual swings could be large from lows to highs. Considering that the Dow is coming off an 1100 point decline, there's room on the upside as well as ample opportunity for the congress and president to blow the whole deal on the fiscal cliff - in fact, the likelihood of them posturing, fuming, arguing and delaying the deal until the last possible moment is paramount.

So, the advice for the remainder of 2012 is as follows: play along, keep tight stops, but look for opportunities as they present themselves. We're going nowhere but sideways to down, with the probability of an upside move of say, 500 Dow points, about zero, while the probability of a huge move in the opposite direction is about 30=40%.

During the recent pullback, every rally was sold into, and every sell-off was partially exacerbated by a little bit of panic - not over losing money, but losing what profits one had already achieved. There were two major downdrafts over the past month: the first, mid-to-late October, and the second, larger move, right after the election and lasting until yesterday.

Anyone paying attention will note that the Dow and the BASDAQ are both still mired below their 200-day moving averages, while the S&P continues to flirt with the up-and-downside of its own 200-day MA. These are difficult positions to maintain, and, in the case of all of the major indices, there is nearly unlimited potential to slide, as no solid support is evident. Today's scary mid-afternoon plunge was fought off by some spirited insider buying. If there's any clue to the action, it's that those heavily-invested in this market are not fully out, nor are they fully exposed. There's still too much on the table needing to be resolved.

Just as yesterday's rally was a one-off event, so too today's nothing finish after a number of major events, including a possible truce in the Israel-Hamas conflict (not gonna happen), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) writing down nine billion of an $11 billion investment and claiming fraud; the biggest insider trading scheme ever being exposed and set to be prosecuted. That was almost enough to tip the averages over the edge, but, for whatever reasons and whatever positions they are defending, the big money inside Wall Street was not about to let it happen. Not certainly just before a holiday and the start of the retail buying spree.

It's going to get more interesting, but not until next week. In the meantime, everybody's on pins and needles, not the kind of seat one would prefer for a Thanksgiving dinner.

Dow 12,788.51, -7.45 (0.06%)
Nasdaq 2,916.68, +0.61 (0.02%)
S&P 500 1,387.81, +0.92 (0.07%)
NYSE Composite 8,086.41, +6.12(0.08%)
NYSE Volume 3,182,159,250
Nasdaq Volume 1,585,562,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2870-2606
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 108-88
WTI crude oil: 86.75, -2.53
Gold: 1,723.60, -10.80
Silver: 32.93, -0.259

Monday, November 19, 2012

Washington Goes Home, Wall Street Throws a Party

President Obama is in the Far East on a multi-nation god-will tour. The rest of the politicians in Washington, the congress, have mostly gone back to their districts for a holiday break (that's why we love our "leaders" so much - while we get a four-day weekend, they take the whole week off.

With nobody around to moan and bemoan the national crisis known as the fiscal cliff, Wall Street took the opportunity to buy everything in sight - even before Black Friday, as sentiment has shifted from worrisome to ebullient and a majority of traders think that congress and the president will come to some kind of deal prior to the January 1 deadline.

While such optimism may be well-founded, it also may not be. There's still no deal to speak of, and the politicos won't get to work on one until next Monday at the earliest. One would think that people as smart as those on Wall Street would know better than to trust the words of politicians, especially this current bunch, which has a track record of disagreeing on just about everything, but the bulls took command on Monday and sent stocks soaring into the stratosphere.

It should figure. There are a full five weeks until the next payday, otherwise known as options expiration, on Friday, December 21, and plenty of time for stocks to rise or fall. Also, all the inside money made all the best moves, as stocks went skyward right at the open, locking out the less nimble and less-connected retail investors.

There was more good news on housing, as existing home sales rose 2.1% month-over-month and the homebuilders' index catapulted to levels not seen since the giddy, boom days of 2006.

So, all of a sudden, everything is rosy again. Until it's not, that is, which should be tomorrow or maybe some time next week.

It pays to pay attention to this attention-deficit market, though it may not pay to actually participate in it.

The show continues tomorrow...

Meanwhile, in the basement of the Federal Reserve, is Ben Bernanke quietly printing a gazillion dollars on his HP Officejet 4620 Wireless Multifunction Printer - Wireless Printers (Google Affiliate Ad)?

Dow 12,795.96, +207.65(1.65%)
NASDAQ 2,916.07, +62.94(2.21%)
S&P 500 1,386.89, +27.01(1.99%)
NYSE Composite 8,080.29, +148.74(1.88%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,766,584,880
NYSE Volume 3,335,809,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4681-872
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 75-85
WTI crude oil: 89.28, +2.36
Gold: 1,734.40, +19.70
Silver: 33.19, +0.819

Friday, November 16, 2012

John Boehner Rescues Markets... for Today

Stocks were slip-sliding away again on Friday until Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner, emerged from a meeting with the president sounding very conciliatory and committed to a deal on the fiscal cliff issues facing the federal government.

Boehner spoke to the press just before noon, as stocks reached their lows of the day. Following his remarks that there was a "framework" in the negotiations - which include fellow Republican Mitch McConnell, Nancy Peolsi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid - stocks took off on a tear, with all the major indices quickly erasing losses and turing positive, where they remained, for the most part, into the close.

The Dow, which had been sporting a loss of 71 points, rallied 120 points in a matter of twenty minutes.

Boehner has a tricky path to navigate, between playing hard ball with Democrats while keeping his fellow Republicans - especially those of the Tea Party denomination - from mutiny and potentially blowing up negotiations, but for today, at least, he played the part of a Wall Street superhero.

A couple of other salient points on which to close out the week:

October industrial production dropped 0.4% and capacity utilization fell from 78.2 to 77.8, a significant decline, suggesting that the economy may not be just limping along, but actually slipping.

The advance-decline line was positive for the first time this week, though new lows were once again ahead of new highs, for the eighth consecutive session, or, for those cynics in our midst, since the re-election of President Obama.

It was a real downer of a week for the bulls, especially being options expiry on Friday, a day usually reserved for back-slapping and rounds of drinks over big scores. There was probably more crying into beers late this afternoon than glad-handing fellow insiders.

That's a wrap, and don't expect much next week, as the market faces a short week with a half-day session on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Additionally, President Obama will be visiting the Far East during the week, so no meaningful negotiations are likely until his return and after the weekend, leaving the politicians just about four weeks before Christmas to work things out.

Good luck with that.

Dow 12,588.31, +45.93 (0.37%)
NASDAQ 2,853.13, +16.19 (0.57%)
S&P 500 1,359.88, +6.55 (0.48%)
NYSE Composite 7,931.55, +34.67 (0.44%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,191,482,500
NYSE Volume 3,991,566,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3638-1796
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 28-329
WTI crude oil: 86.67, +1.22
Gold: 1,714.70, +0.90
Silver: 32.37, -0.304

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stocks Stabilize, Still End Lower as More Trouble Looms

After Wednesday's wicked downdraft, cooler heads prevailed in Thursday's trading, keeping losses to a minimum as bargain-hunters swooped in to snatch up some shares of stocks which look to be marked down for a pre-Christmas sale.

Whether or not these so-called "bargains" will turn into winners is anybody's guess, though the real experts in market dynamics see more trouble ahead as Washington tries to come to a deal before January 1 of 2013, when mandatory spending cuts and tax increases are set to take place.

Placing one's hope - and one's money - on politicians in Washington actually accomplishing anything of such importance is akin to betting on a cheap claimer in a stakes race: the odds are very much against it.

As was the case with the battle over raising the debt limit last August, the DC crowd has shown no willingness to compromise on much of anything and the "fiscal cliff" issue is right up drama alley for our clownish elected leaders.

Eventually, the adult in the room seems to be the president, Barack Obama, who must navigate the press and the pressure of dealing with an intractable house of representatives, whose sole mission seems to be to spare the wealthiest two percent of earners any tax increases, even at the peril of the nation.

How this tableau will eventually play out is somewhat predictable. It will be taken out to the last possible moment, and quite possibly beyond. Word is that the legislators have until mid-February to actually come to their senses and a deal if the United States is to avoid an utterly avoidable recession, caused entirely by public policy.

This play has certainly caught Wall Street's attention, as evidenced by the sharp declines over the past month and especially since the election, just over a week ago.

What some market participants fail to realize - or won't say publicly - is that the market may well have already run out of gas, almost all of it supplied by the magnanimous Federal Reserve, whose QE policies have injected trillions into the hands of the banking cartel.

The Dow and S&P made double tops in mid-September and early October, then failed to surpass those highs later in the month, a classic chart pattern signaling a primary trend change and a bearish one, similar to the breakdown in the fall of 2007.

As for the NASDAQ, it didn't even bother to retrace the highs of September, simply capitulating in October and continuing a cascading fall, closing in quickly on the June lows.

If this is the beginning of a bear market, the foolery in Washington will be nothing more than a sideshow. The economy - both here and globally - is in a weakened condition already and may not be able to sustain even a medium shock, much less one that raises taxes and trims budgets, reducing head-count, and thus, overall spending.

Add to that the double-dip recession now official in the Eurozone and growing tensions in the Middle East and the recipe for disaster is laid bare.

Wall Street and its brokerage houses should emblazon their entrances with a warning sign: Beware Falling Stocks.

Today's minor decline could be seen as somewhat remarkable in the face of some disturbing economic events. Initial unemployment claims rose dramatically, from 361K to 439K this week, due partly to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey laid an egg as well, posting a reading of negative 10.7 on expectations of a fat zero.

Besides the internal damage done to markets, all of the major indices are now firmly moored below their 200-day moving averages, not a pretty sight until some catalyst comes along to change the dynamic, and none appears to be on the horizon.

The advance-decline line was still severely negative and new lows exceeded new highs for the sixth day in a row.

All signs point to further weakness, though a technical bounce could send stocks up briefly, but the holiday season, thus far, isn't shaping up to be a very jolly time.

Dow 12,542.38, -28.57 (0.23%)
NASDAQ 2,836.94, -9.87 (0.35%)
S&P 500 1,353.32, -2.17 (0.16%)
NYSE Composite 7,896.87, -6.56 (0.08%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,975,168,625
NYSE Volume 3,892,497,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1954-3591
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 25-456 (this is extreme!)
WTI crude oil: 85.45, -0.87
Gold: 1,713.80, -16.30
Silver: 32.67, -0.206

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stocks Take Another Beating; Dow Off 185, NASDAQ in Correction

All the issues and problems facing the US and global economies are coming home to roost in a perfect storm of excessive debt, fiscal intransigence, monetary experimentation, overpriced equities, general distrust of leadership, lack of growth, geopolitical tension and poor earnings prospects for corporations.

The selloff today was a continuation of what's been occurring since before the election, but has accelerated dramatically since. Wall Street is quite unhappy with prospects that President Obama will not budge from his position to eliminate the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest two percent of Americans, as emphatically spelled out in an early afternoon press conference.

The president was cool, calm and collected, fielding questions on a variety of topics, but, even though he mentioned compromise frequently, he did not waver in his commitment to tax the wealthy at more than their current rates, including gains on investments, particularly - Wall Street fears - regular income and dividends.

Taking their cue from the president's message, stocks, which opened briefly higher, but quickly fell deep into the red, made new lows nearing the end of his remarks and continued lower into the close, the Dow suffering a 185-point loss and the NASDAQ reaching levels 10% below their recent highs, crashing into correction territory.

With all of the major indices, including even the Russell 2000 of mostly small cap stocks, continuing their descent below their respective 200-day moving averages, bottoms were sought out, though none could be found.

The massive run-up which began in March of 2009 is being unwound, with most of the blame being laid upon the politicians in Washington, DC, though there are more than a few more scapegoats, notably the greed and feed crowd that started the entire mess - the irresponsible banking community and their masters of control, the Federal Reserve.

With the dual policies of ZIRP and massive monetization, the Fed enabled much of Wall Street's excess and continues to do so even today. The neo-Keynesian policies of Ben Bernanke and his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, has spawned a debt bubble deflation crisis that they cannot - as much as they try - spend their way out of.

Most individual investors have been fleeing the market or have already taken their seats on the sidelines, so the damage being done to stocks is going to impact the middle and upper classes the most, with 401k, investment and pension plans taking the brunt of the declines.

In particular, Dow stocks, seen by many as representing the core of American industrialism, have lost more than 1100 points since their highs in early October, erasing most of the gains made throughout the year.

While Washington politicians dither over negotiations to avoid massive tax increases and huge budget cuts (which some say are needed), investors are worried that whatever solution they arrive at will be too little, too late and more of a can-kicking exercise than real reform.

With the holidays fast approaching, Americans are not in a mood for more business as usual from either Wall Street or Washington, and the anger is growing, even on Main Street, where small businesses continue to suffer or skirt taxation completely.

The next few days and weeks could easily turn into a crisis more severe than that of 2008, since none of the improprieties produced by that financial peer into the abyss have yet to be resolved, and now there are fewer measures the Fed or the Treasury can employ to keep the economy afloat.

If anyone thought that the crisis in America was over - to say nothing of the even worse conditions in Europe - they should pay close attention to what happens over the next sixty to ninety days, because they will surely be replete with wild market swings, irony and recriminations from all sides against each other.

Surviving into and beyond 2013 will be a major test of not only the American spirit but of Americans' willingness to accept leadership. President Obama's election to a second term was probably the correct choice, but he alone cannot fix the mess others created.

After today, the bankers and the wizard genii of Wall Street should be running for cover they should have sought out years ago.

Today was a truly dark day, though, from the looks of things, there are many more to come.

Grow some crops if you can, stay close to home and loved ones, and remember our motto: FREE HOUSES FOR EVERYONE!

Dow 12,570.95, -185.23 (1.45%)
NASDAQ 2,846.81, -37.08 (1.29%)
S&P 500 1,355.49, -19.04 (1.39%)
NYSE Composite 7,903.42, -119.81 (1.49%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,103,531,000
NYSE Volume 4,062,878,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 822-4741
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 39-333 (WoW!)
WTI crude oil: 86.32, +0.94
Gold: 1,730.10, +5.30
Silver: 32.88, +0.393

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Slipping Over the Fiscal Cliff? Stocks Dumped at End of Day

Today's late day action isn't what has been the norm for this artificially-pumped-up market for the last three-and-a-half years. Normally, at the end of the session, the markets stage a "miracle" rally out of the blue, then send futures soaring into the next day's trading.

Today was a little bit different and investors better get used to it or get out, go short or just suffer losses.

Fear of the US going over the fiscal cliff and sending the economy into a tailspin recession would be an unabashed disaster, but that seems to be more on the mind of traders than anything else these days. The problem is that the issues facing the US government aren't going away soon and aren't likely to be solved by a president who's done little in four years and a congress that's done nothing good for the American public for the past 12.

So, after taking on a 67-point loss on the Dow in early trading, stocks regained their momentum (what little there was), based largely on results from Home Depot (HD) which beat third quarter estimates and was traded up to a 12-year high on the day. As has been the pattern recently, however, the rally which took the Dow up 83 points was quickly sold off, and, in the final hour of trading, stocks took the beating they so richly deserved in the morning.

If not for the bogus midday rally (which, remarkably, was a pan-Atlantic event, taking all European stock indices up sharply at the closes of their sessions), the Dow may well have suffered a 100+ loss, but the day-trading crowd that controls all buying and selling with their wickedly fast HFT computer algos couldn't have that, so, the small loss is what got cooked into the day.

With no economic news and very few significant companies reporting third quarter earnings, the markets are stuck with waiting on the government for solutions, and, from what we've seen here and in Europe and Japan, that can be a long and painful wait.

The action continues tomorrow, with just two days left before options expiration on Friday. This current round hasn't been pretty nor profitable for many.

It was the fifth straight day in which new lows topped new highs (and by a widening margin) and the same for the A-D line being negative. all of the major indices are trading below their 200-day moving averages, with no relief in sight.

Dow 12,756.18, -58.90 (0.46%)
NASDAQ 2,883.89, -20.37 (0.70%)
S&P 500 1,374.53, -5.50 (0.40%)
NYSE Composite 8,023.23, -30.83 (0.38%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,814,780,250
NYSE Volume 3,427,123,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1773-3741
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 56-249
WTI crude oil: 85.38, -0.19
Gold: 1,724.80, -6.10
Silver: 32.49, 0.035

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tug-of-War Continues on Wall Street as Stock Stay Flat

Is this the new, post-election normal, or, is there just so much uncertainty in the markets that half the crowd is buying while the other half is selling?

One thing is for certain: stocks have gone nowhere - eventually settling roughly where they started - for the second session in a row. This kind of directionless pattern leaves everybody shaking their collective heads, and, on a day like today - in which bond markets were closed in observance of Veteran's Day - it's assumed that nobody made much money, including the brokerages, because volume was so low.

Currently, there is a dearth of news and the markets seem to be waiting for some kind of resolutions in Washington over the issue of the "fiscal cliff," but if Wall Street waits until the politicians do a deal, it could be a long wait indeed.

With no catalyst to the upside and stocks sitting pretty much under resistance (the Dow and NASDAQ under their 200-day moving averages, S&P sitting right on its), there's a good probability that another leg downward could be forced by some outside event - a black swan, so to speak - though nobody has any idea where or what such an event would look like.

What is a little bit odd about the trading over the past two days is that it's so close to options expiry on Friday. One would normally be expecting a ramp-up, and, that could come on Tuesday or Wednesday, regardless of what anyone thinks, hopes or believes. Wall Street is still run on the dual emotions of greed and fear, and if there's no fear (the vix was well down today), greed will overtake it and move stoks higher. Traders have to trade, and they'd rather be advising clients to get in now, off the recent move lower, than be selling on their own or their clients' behalves.

The odd trading pattern that was evident on all the major exchanges saw the averages up for the first half hour, slide slowly to the lows of the day just after 11:00 am, bottom, and then race to highs of the day in a straight line between 12:15 and 1:15 pm.

That was all she wrote, however, as stocks took a stair-step pattern back to the break even line, making the day look like a day-trader's nightmare, which it may well have been.

There was virtually nothing notable to report in either Europe or the US, though Japan's economy shrank by 3.5% in the third quarter, further evidence of the global slowdown. On the other side of the ledger, China announced strong exports, but their data has been proven time and again to be often more fiction than fact.

China may well have increased exports recently, but to whom, and why? Global demand has been flat to declining, so maybe China has rediscovered McDonald's secret sauce to fuel its success.

None of that mattered a whit in the US or Europe, which was also lackluster.

Tomorrow may be different, but, it may be more of the same. That's just the environment we have.

A couple of indications may be worthwhile in the advance-decline line, which was marginally negative, and the fat that new lows outpaced new highs for the fourth day in a row, something of a trend developing, maybe.

Dow 12,815.16, -0.23 (0.00%)
NASDAQ 2,904.26, -0.61 (0.02%)
S&P 500 1,380.00, +0.15(0.01%)
NYSE Composite 8,059.68, +6.11(0.08%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,351,375,130
NYSE Volume 2,503,732,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2343-2901
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 89-174
WTI crude oil: 85.57, -0.50
Gold: 1,727.70, -3.20
Silver: 32.38, -0.147