Friday, September 27, 2013

Government Shutdown in 3... 2... 1... Is All Hype and Bad Theater

Stocks started the session in the red and stayed that way all day.

Pundits say the sell-off (Dow, S&P down six of the last seven sessions) is due to either the threat of a government shutdown or overvaluation.

The latter is probably closer to the mark, if only because the government taking a few days off next week isn't going to affect stocks very much; maybe a couple of select companies, but in general, a government shutdown is a big, fat nothing-burger, with fries.

However, as the current casino games are being played, stocks will rise the moment a deal is struck in Washington, hoping to pull in more retail suckers investors with indices at close to all-time highs and many stocks ridiculously valued, many of which are listed on the NASDAQ.

If the federal government does shut down, it will only be for a few days. By then the Republicans will save face, saying that they don't want any more suffering by ordinary people. The truth is they don't really care about ordinary people, except when they're within fifty feet of a voting booth and said politician's name is on the ballot.

The showdown in Washington is just another example of how servile and juvenile our federal government has become. It has far overstepped the bounds of the constitution and now plies the media in order to torment the citizenry.

Thank goodness it's Friday and one can tune out most of the noise and the nonsense.

And, someday, we'll actually have functioning, rational markets. Sure, someday.

Dow 15,258.24, -70.06 (0.46%)
Nasdaq 3,781.59, -5.83 (0.15%)
S&P 500 1,691.75, -6.92 (0.41%)
10-Yr Bond 2.62%, -0.02
NYSE Volume 3,224,407,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,664,139,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2278-4160
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 169-46
WTI crude oil: 102.87, -0.16
Gold: 1,339.20, +15.10
Silver: 21.83, +0.065

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Washington's Paper Tigers Just Do It and Churn

You've got to be kidding, right?

This non-market, completely underpinned by the $1.02 Trillion annual Bernanke Put, despite the usual theatrics from Washington's paper tigers who can stand around, do nothing, occasionally take to a podium to swear at the other side and eventually cave in to their bankster bosses, still hasn't made new highs.

Sad, really, even as Nike led all indices higher today, especially the Dow, now a worthless contraption engineered to be a perpetual motion machine. If the Dow doesn't go up, they'll just kick out the losers and put in a couple of winners, keeping everybody indexed and happy as clams.

The government isn't going to shut down, nor is it not going to raise the debt ceiling.

Relax. Buy stocks. You will thank Money Daily in December, just before you relinquish 20-40% of your gains to the government. That's how it works, and, if it doesn't, the government will fine you, a la JP Morgan or maybe some Japanese auto parts makers. Fines are the new tax because most intelligent people have already figured out how not to pay ordinary taxes.


Dow 15,328.30, +55.04 (0.36%)
Nasdaq 3,787.43, +26.33 (0.70%)
S&P 500 1,698.67, +5.90 (0.35%)
10-Yr Bond 2.64%, +0.03
NYSE Volume 3,008,154,250.00
Nasdaq Volume 1,755,595,375
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3943-2527
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 256-38
WTI crude oil: 103.03, +0.37
Gold: 1,324.10, -12.10
Silver: 21.77, -0.12

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

America's Economy - and Society - is Grinding to a Halt

What a mess!

Stocks were down for the fifth consecutive session on Wednesday as congress fails to grasp the seriousness of any situation, be it the budget (substitue a continuing resolution), Obamacare (possibly the worst law ever passed) or the debt ceiling (due to run out of extraordinary measures by October 17, according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew).

Meanwhile, the country does a slow burn; jobs aren't being created, business is stuck between bad choices and worse choices; governments - federal, state and local - can't make their budgets work.

Deflation has been taking hold in a rather large way, despite the best (wosrt) efforts by the Fed, through QE, to stimulate through inflation (another bad idea). There isn't any growth in manufacturing, the lifeblood of any economy, in the United States for thirty years. Our debts keep soaring. The Fed - and most other institutions - are failing the American people. Only the top 1% or maybe as little as 1/10 of the top 1% or as much as the top 10% are benefiting from centrally-planned economics.

There is no stock market, no price discovery mechanisms which can be reliably trusted, since the Fed now dominates all markets, from stocks to gold, silver, commodities, stocks and most especially, bonds, where the Federal Reserve is not only the buyer of last resort, they are also the first in line.

Obvious to anybody with an eye for such things, the recovery economics engineered over the past five years since the collapse of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers and assorted collateral damages, are simply not working, yet the government, in cahoots with the Fed, continues to support and maintain the same policies.

Maybe it's time for a reset, a revolution, some kind of change, but the NSA monitors every movement of the American public, keeping public protest to an absolute minimum, in shades strangely reminiscent of pre-war Germany in the late 1930s. we are all at risk, from the poorest to the richest, yet the richest feel secure that they are entitled to, and thus, have more, enough to sustain themselves through any crisis.

They are wrong, as history calmly reassures; the fall of the Roman empire, the French Revolution being only the two most prominent examples of mass chaos.

In five more days the federal government faces a shutdown of "non-essential" services. In two weeks after that, without authority for more borrowing, the US government will legally default on some of its obligations. Of course, those less-well-connected will feel the pinch first, the insiders, later, though by forces beyond the ken of their limited imaginations.

Here at Money Daily, we do not espouse default, disorder and carnage because it is damaging to everyone, but especially to those least able to protect themselves against it, which would include probably 90% of the population. Take a look around. How many of your neighbors can manage their own gardens, feed themselves, grow from seed, if necessary? How about you, yourself?

Sadly, the American public is so poorly educated in basic survival skills such as farming, gardening, water and fuel management, health and safety that a catastrophic condition renders most of the population at very high risk of disease and death.

Is this the kind of world we imagined to leave to the next generation? The human race is so deficient in so many aspects that survival of the entire species is questionable. The problems are enormous, but most will go back to their TV sets and TV dinners, ignoring the threats which are all around them, hoping beyond hope that government - the same one that caused and foments many of the issues and problems we face - will be there to support them and save them.

Readers of this blog may call us alarmists, but the signs of collapse of the system - of all systems - are abundant, though normalcy bias and cognitive dissonance prevent most from any meaningful understanding.

We could be days away from a complete tearing of the social fabric. Are you prepared? Do you even care?

The race to the bottom is accelerating, and there are no winners.

Here's the latest edition of the Keiser Report, for a glimpse into the kind of world in which we live:

Dow 15,273.26, -61.33 (0.40%)
Nasdaq 3,761.10, -7.16 (0.19%)
S&P 500 1,692.77, -4.65 (0.27%)
10-Yr Bond 2.61%, -0.04
NYSE Volume 3,403,673,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,791,265,125
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3174-3322
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 258-38
WTI crude oil: 102.66, -0.47
Gold: 1,336.20, +19.90
Silver: 21.89, +0.30

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Stocks Fail to Maintain QE Momentum; Dow Down Four Straight Sessions

After kicking up 148 points following the Fed's "no taper" announcement last Wednesday, it's been straight downhill for the venerable Dow Jones Industrials, even the addition of Goldman Sachs (GS), Visa (V) and Nike (NKE) to the mix unable to stem the outflow from the blue chip index.

The Dow has given back all of those gains and then some, falling for the fourth straight session on Tuesday with a 66.79-point loss after dropping 49 and change on Monday. The S&P followed the Dow to the downside, though not registering such a large percentage loss, while the NASDAQ continued to defy gravity - thanks largely to Apple (AAPL), up marginally on the day, though losing ground into the close.

What's troubling traders and the indices isn't by any means certain, though the about-face and duplicitous moves by the Fed certainly aren't helping. While chairman Ben Bernanke continually espouses openness and transparency, last week's decision to keep asset purchases at current levels was viewed by the street as opaque and insensitive to markets. A lot of people were short going into the FOMC meeting and came out losing their shirts, their covering of positions adding to the upward movement right after the announcement.

Also weighing heavily is the federal government's intransigence on doing anything constructive. Democrats and Republicans are at loggerheads over the budget (or, continuing resolution, as the case may be), Obamacare and the debt ceiling, issues which need to be urgently resolved lest the government become permanently the laughing stock of the world community.

With the Dow off by some 342 points over the last four days, one might suspect that smart money has already headed for safer ground, witness the rally in treasuries, especially the 10-year note, which has fallen precipitously from close to a 3% yield to stand at the end of today at a relatively tame and aesthetically-pleasing, 2.65%.

The government isn't about to work out its problems soon, with an October 1 deadline looming for a government shutdown, which looks more and more likely to occur. The politicians have used up whatever patience the American people have had, and now risk being completely distrusted by the populace as the gang of thugs and ignoramuses they are.

Wall Street may be beginning to awaken to the facts on the ground that the US economy is still in dire straits which are about to get progressively worse and the run on blue chip stocks is telling.

There are just four trading days left in the quarter and traders are, by nature, an impatient bunch, prone to distrust uncertainty. The rest of this week could be a real bloodbath because the politicians can't agree on anything at all.

Dow 15,334.59, -66.79 (0.43%)
Nasdaq 3,768.25, +2.97 (0.08%)
S&P 500 1,697.42, -4.42 (0.26%)
10-Yr Bond 2.65%, -0.06
NYSE Volume 3,480,190,750
Nasdaq Volume 1,731,125,375
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3563-2953
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 309-44
WTI crude oil: 103.13, -0.46
Gold: 1,316.30, -10.70
Silver: 21.59, -0.271

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dow Takes A Header on Realignment

It was a little like old times today. Back before there were supercomputers running the show, there used to be a term called, "late at the close," which signified the level of volume in the final frantic minutes of trading. Financial news announcers would say things like, "the tape was 12 minutes late at the close," meaning that the ticker tape that recorded trades ran past 4:00 pm due to the heavy volume.

Today, the Dow didn't settle out until well after ten minutes beyond the official close, due to the realignment. Bank of America, Hewlett Packard and Alcoa went out; Nike, Goldman Sachs and Visa went in.

It wasn't a fair exchange, and that had something to do with stocks closing at the lows of the day and the Dow outpacing the other averages to the negative. Bank of America is basically an insolvent holding company of the Fed, Hewlett Packard is a dead stock with limited upside potential and Alcoa is more or less nothing other than a proxy for the commodity price of aluminum.

The new entrants seem to have futures, though the addition of Goldman Sachs seems more sinister than anything else. After all, the company has been termed a "giant squid," because its tentacles reach into the netherworld recesses of business and politics.

Still stocks took a pretty good header today and prospects for the remainder of the month - just six more trading days - are not bright, since a government shutdown looms, Obamacare continues to move toward implementation and the complete catastrophe of the US health and labor markets and the country continues to spiral deeper into debt with a rancorous debate soon to come on raising the debt ceiling.

Nonetheless, the Fed has everyone's back, until, of course, they don't, at which time they will have the front, all sides and the keys to all of your property, real, personal and possibly intellectual, if they can strike a deal with Google, Yahoo, Amazon and the NSA.

The future is (fill in the blank... we're too afraid to).

And, BTW, when Warren Buffett says stocks are "fairly valued," it's time to sell, because that's what he's doing.

For the week:
Dow: +75.03
NASDAQ: +52.55
S&P 500: +21.92

Dow 15,451.09, -185.46 (1.19%)
Nasdaq 3,774.73, -14.66 (0.39%)
S&P 500 1,709.91, -12.43 (0.72%)
10-Yr Bond 2.73%, -0.02
NYSE Volume 5,065,868,500
Nasdaq Volume 2,335,355,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2339-4314
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 332-45
WTI crude oil: 104.67, -1.72
Gold: 1,332.50, -36.80
Silver: 21.93, -1.365

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Day After: Buyer's Remorse and the Tea Party Gambit

One day after the Fed did the unexpected - which really should have been expected, after all, since the Fed is so good at doing nothing - and kept its asset purchase program intact, stocks on Wall Street were shaken, not stirred, with the Dow and S&P posting modest losses and only the NASDAQ ahead at the close.

Since yesterday's post-announcement feeding frenzy was done at such a rapid pace, there was a feeling today that the party was great, but some may have overdone it, so positions were squared in front of tomorrow's quadruple-witching options expiry, locking in profits.

There was also a bit of nastiness coming out of Washington, DC, in the form of forty or so House Republicans promoting a bill that would fund the federal government, but only if a provision to defund the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) was included.

While that measure could survive a House vote, and well might, the chances of it making its way through the Senate are a different-striped animal altogether. And the chances of Obama signing it into law are absolutely zero.

If the House Republicans have their way, this stalemate could produce a partial shutdown of the federal government (please save your applause for the end of the performance) on October 1, which is just 12 days hence, so traders may have been taking a few chips off the table in advance of those ugly consequences.

Certain members of the House, known widely as Tea Partiers, would like to find a way to accomplish one of two goals: stopping ObamaCare before it is fully implemented, or, the more popular alternative, stopping the federal government from borrowing the Treasury into debt hell, a course which is already well-trodden. If the government cannot borrow any more, it stops the Federal Reserve's treasury purchases dead in its tracks and generally ends the economy as we know it, which, come to think of it, might be a brilliant idea, since the economy has strayed far from free market economics and is wholly controlled by the Federal Reserve and its vassals, the mega-bank primary dealers. Gains of all kind are generally flowing only to the top 3% or even the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans, with the rest of the populace nothing more than debt slaves.

If the Republicans in the House can stand their ground, force the government to pay its bills without further borrowing (a seeming impossibility), it could be the best thing that's happened in this country since Benny Goodman played Carnegie Hall in 1938, and that's a long time coming.

Sure, there will be dislocations and a massive depression, but on the other side would be prosperity and a more even playing field for entrepreneurs and citizens without the overarching dictates of an out-of-control oligarchy.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Let's see how this plays out, though nobody is betting that the House Tea Partiers could destroy the global economy with just one, grandiose, spectacular move.

Dow 15,636.55, -40.39 (0.26%)
Nasdaq 3,789.38, +5.74 (0.15%)
S&P 500 1,722.34, -3.18 (0.18%)
10-Yr Bond 2.75%, +0.04
NYSE Volume 4,047,428,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,742,718,375
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2837-3763
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 564-34
WTI crude oil: 106.39, -1.68
Gold: 1,366.20, -3.10
Silver: 23.10, -0.192

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Surprise! Fed Ponzi Scheme Not Working, Will Continue

No change in asset (ha, ha, ha, ha) purchases.

The Fed is content to continue buying worthless paper with make-believe money they create out of thin air.

Sending this money mainly to the primary dealers via zero interest rate policy and repo actions, the dealers become free to speculate in whatever assets they believe worth pursuing, driving prices, in the main, higher.

The next magic trick is more difficult. These primary dealers are supposed to lend out their unallocated capital into the market, creating debt, which is, after all, the only goal of fractional reserve bankers.

Essentially, by changing nothing - even though the Fed hinted strongly that asset purchases would be "tapered" and the markets expected as much - the Fed is telling the world that their stimulus programs have not resulted in the expected results. Inflation remains below their desired threshold, unemployment remains stubbornly high and economic growth continues to be muted, the GDP, even with hedonic adjustments and recent additions, failing to achieve three percent annualized in any quarter since the collapse of 2008-09.

So, everything stays the same. The Fed keeps buying $45 billion of worthless government debt and $40 billion of even more destructive and toxic mortgage debt (toxic because price, or par, is at an excessive, unrealistic level) every month, in hopes that the combined markets which fuel the economy will continue to stumble forward.

Contemporary and classic theories of economics both say this kind of activity can lead to no good. Eventually all assets become overpriced in terms of a depreciating currency to the point at which the currency is no longer accepted in trade. Until the malinestments are purged from the system, normalcy in markets cannot occur, and guess who is holding most of the bad investments.

Central banks, particularly the Bank of England, the European Central Bank (ECB), Bank of Japan (BOJ) and, surpassing them all by levels of magnitude, the US Federal Reserve will end up holding most of the world's assets. Central banks are cornered without escape. They must keep devaluing their currencies in order to service burgeoning debt set against faulty assets. In terms of bubbles, the central banks of the developed nations are the world's greatest bubble and when that pops, there will be true freedom in economies, currencies, prices and price discovery. Not until.

More than anyone else, David Stockman has captured the essence of the current economic climate by use of the word "deformation." The global economy is deformed, distorted, obtuse and opaque. All price discovery mechanisms have been distorted out of recognition by the continuing debasement of currencies.

Even though nothing changed, markets behaved as if something had. Stocks roared to new highs on the Dow and S&P 500, but, here's the kicker: by percentage, hard assets were the most appreciated on the day. Commodities, particularly crude oil, gold and silver all outpaced stocks by multiples. Gold surged 4.5%, silver up 7.5%, crude gained a paltry 2.5%, making the sloppy one percent returns in stocks look like a piker's paradise.

The ramifications of today's Fed (in)action are monumental and trend-setting. So much so, that they cannot be easily disseminated and pursued in a single blog post, though they will have enduring effects, which Money Daily will continue to report upon in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Happy Hunting! Free Houses for Everybody!

Dow 15,676.94, +147.21 (0.95%)
Nasdaq 3,783.64, +37.94 (1.01%)
S&P 500 1,725.52, +20.76 (1.22%)
10-Yr Bond 2.71%, -0.14
NYSE Volume 4,410,661,500
Nasdaq Volume 1,769,496,125
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 5052-1648
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 565-51
WTI crude oil: 108.07, +2.65
Gold: 1,366.40, +58.80
Silver: 23.18, +1.616

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tick Tock... Waiting on the FOMC to Send the World into the Abyss

We all know what's going on here.

The markets are in virtual limbo, as the world awaits tomorrow's action by the Federal Reserve, due out with an FOMC policy decision (rates won't change) and an announcement that they will begin tapering their bond purchases.

That they'll make an announcement is known. Whether they decide to cut back on Treasuries or MBS is still an open question, though the smart money is on $10-15 billion less in Treasuries, beginning no later than December (possibly October or November).

The mortgage-backed portion of the portfolio will probably not be changed, as the Fed is the first and last buyer of MBS, the market having collapsed in 2008 when Fannie and Freddie went belly-up and the rest of the nasty stuff of the great collapse happened.

Until then, volume has been dead, though there's still plenty of speculation to the upside, in the clustered thinking that any Fed move has already been priced in (ha, ha, ha). How one prices in liquidity compression with stocks at all-time highs and at nosebleed valuations is a matter for market historians to ponder. While we certainly live in interesting times, they are also warped by the interventionist policies of central banks, who are losing their grip on the global economy, their long-standing franchise of greed over the whole of humanity.

The taper will occur, but the next best question is who will succeed Ben Bernanke on the sinking ship that is the global banking cartel. Since Larry Summers pulled his name from consideration to the top money-man post in the world and sharp-tongued politicians have recently decried the relative value of QE and zero-bound interest rates, a sacrificial lamb must be chosen by President Obama, and that choice is likely to be Janet Yellen, sure to be confirmed by the Senate because she is as clueless about economic policy as all of her predecessors and will be unlikely to make independent decisions, since she has never done so heretofore.

We anxiously await the Fed's announcement that the economy is trudging valiantly toward self-sustainability and that monetary stimulus by the Federal Reserve can thus be gradually wound down.

The time is upon us. Our breath may be baited, though the collective thirst has not been sated.

Dow 15,529.73, +34.95 (0.23%)
Nasdaq 3,745.70, +27.85 (0.75%)
S&P 500 1,704.76, +7.16 (0.42%)
10-Yr Bond 2.85%, -0.02
NYSE Volume 2,971,334,750
Nasdaq Volume 1,480,300,875
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4406-2182 (2:1)
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 286-50
WTI crude oil: 105.42, -1.17
Gold: 1,309.40, -8.40
Silver: 21.78, -0.225

Monday, September 16, 2013

Larry Summers Departs Fed Chairmanship Sweepstakes; Markets Jubilant

You'd never think that a man turning down chairmanship of the Federal Reserve could be such a positive development, but that's exactly what sent stocks soaring today, as Larry Summers announced - in a letter to the president - that he was withdrawing his name for consideration.

It's actually another bit of pretzel logic at play, because while Mr. Summers is the ultimate insider, some folks on the inside also thought he is a hawkish sort in terms of economic policy (how misguided!), and would be likely to pull back QE quicker than most other nominees to succeed chairman Ben Bernanke.

Thus, with fear of the economic spigot being turned off being muted by his withdrawal from consideration, for now, at least, the punchbowl that the Fed so lavishly entertains its Wall Street patrons has been kept in placed and fully spiked.

That, and a severe lack of volume (again, old story), led stocks to gallop out of the gate on Monday, drifting a bit to the downside in the afternoon, with the NASDAQ being pulled down by Apple (AAPL), whose shine has lost much of its luster since the untimely death of founder Steve Jobs. Apple is no longer innovative, forward-thinking or focused on individuality; it is becoming just another greedy corporate factory, outsourcing jobs to China while reaping huge profits here in the USA. The best days of Apple as a company are long past.

Otherwise, the shootings in Washington, DC, did little to stem the orderly flow, though one might be somewhat suspect of the rally continuing, with a FOMC announcement on Wednesday and economic data floundering.

The Empire Manufacturing Index (New York) fell to 6.3 for September after posting a downwardly-revised 8.2 in August, and industrial production missed expectations for the fifth straight month, registering a flaccid increase of jut 0.4%, though even that ws better than the July reading of 0.0%. August Capacity Utilization remained fairly stagnant at 77.8%. It was 77.6% in July.

With Summers and Syria off the front pages, the market can now go back to handicapping the size of the Fed taper to be announced on Wednesday; most estimates are for the Fed to reduce bond purchases by $10 billion a month, mostly in treasuries. They have little choice but to taper, as they are gobbling up more than a third of all issuance by Treasury, and, despite rumors to the contrary, the US Treasury cannot continue borrowing ad infinitum.

Well, maybe not. Infinity is, actually, a long way off.

Dow 15,494.78, -118.72 (0.77%)
Nasdaq 3,717.85, -4.34 (0.12%)
S&P 500 1,697.60, +9.61 (0.57%)
10-Yr Bond 2.87%, -0.02
NYSE Volume 3,344,441,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,476,599,875
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4173-2429
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 430-38 (imbalance)
WTI crude oil: 106.59, -1.62
Gold: 1,317.80, +9.20
Silver: 22.01, +0.289

Friday, September 13, 2013

Retail Sales Miss, Consumer Sentiment Negative, Stocks Move Higher

Well, that's what happens when computers are doing 80% of the trading, of which there isn't much, anyway.

Prior to the market open - giving the insiders plenty of time to rig set their positions, retail sales for August were reported to have risen 0.2% (in some alternate universe) on expectations of a gain of 0.5% (in an even more bizarre universe).

Stocks took a bit of a dip at the open, but were revived when University of Michigan's September consumer sentiment registered a 76.8, on expectations of 81, after showing 82.1 in August. It was the biggest miss in the history of the survey and the lowest reading in five months.

Naturally, stocks recovered and the Dow quickly shot up to about a 70-point gain and stayed their the rest of the session.

It was one of the best weeks of recent memory for the indices. The Dow gained 453 points for the week, while the S&P was up almost two percent, posting a gain of 32.82 points. The NASDAQ was the laggard, up 62.17 or 1.70%.

All of this makes perfect sense when one understands that the average stock position is held for something like seven seconds and that volume was so low today that it scarcely registered.

Then again, Twitter tweeted that it had filed papers for an IPO. The initial valuation is rumored to be around $10 billion, but, Twitter, as far as can be surmised, is not a profitable enterprise. Shades of the dotcom bubble.

Seems there's still some summer remaining at the Hamptons.

Dow 15,376.06, +75.42 (0.49%)
Nasdaq 3,722.18, +6.22 (0.17%)
S&P 500 1,687.99, +4.57 (0.27%)
10-Yr Bond 2.90%, -0.01
NYSE Volume 2,931,141,750
Nasdaq Volume 1,421,610,875
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3975-2516
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 175-75
WTI crude oil: 108.21, -0.39
Gold: 1,308.60, -22.00
Silver: 21.72, 0.429

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dull Day for Stocks; So Everybody Sold Their Gold and Silver

It doesn't get much duller than today's action, but Friday, Monday and Tuesday - leading up to the FOMC announcement Wednesday - may qualify as even duller.

There's nothing pushing markets in either direction presently, but that will change soon, as the Fed announces (or doesn't) tapering of their monthly bond purchases and politicians in Washington begin the annual mud-slinging that so defines the budget and debt ceiling process.

For today, however, the Dow ended a string of three straight sessions in which it gained over 100 points and the S&P ended a string of seven consecutive days of gains.

Unemployment claims came in far lower than expectations, but the Labor Department said it was due to a couple of states faulty reporting and changes in methodology, so the market simply ignored what was an outlying, absurd number, which we won't even bother to post.

Gold and silver had their worst day in more than two months, the precious metals giving up most of their recent gains. One could supposedly blame that selloff on the cooling of tensions over Syria, but, then why didn't crude oil fall as well?

Not everything correlates perfectly anymore.

Get ready for fireworks the last two weeks of the month and especially on October 1, when the Affordable Care Act (ACA, ObamaCare) opens exchanges for individuals without coverage and, at the same time, the government might shut down. Those two occurring at the same time are mutually exclusive, so we'll side with the government shutdown and hope it lasts into the next century or thereabout.

We all could do with a LOT less government.

Dow 15,300.64, -25.96 (0.17%)
Nasdaq 3,715.97, -9.04 (0.24%)
S&P 500 1,683.42, -5.71 (0.34%)
10-Yr Bond 2.91%, -0.01
NYSE Volume 3,331,375,750
Nasdaq Volume 1,610,354,125
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2253-4282
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 261-71
WTI crude oil: 108.60, +1.04
Gold: 1,330.60, -33.20
Silver: 22.15, -1.023

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

President Backs Cautiously Away from Syria; Markets Exultant

Tuesday night's address to the nation was - for lack of a better term - illusory.

While President Obummer tried his best to appear calm and in control, he was anything but. Russia's Vladimir Putin had outmaneuvered him on the Syria strike issue by proposing that Syria put its chemical weapons under supervision of international parties.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives was backing far, far away from the unpopular choice to attack Syria, "in a measured way," as Secretary of State John Kerry might put it. A no vote on whether to give the president the authority to attack Syria was all but certain in the House and might have faltered in the Senate as well.

Thus, laughably, the president advised congress to delay its vote on authorization for use of military force for two weeks. Issue settled. Syria will not be assaulted by US arms, the president saves some face and congress gets off the hook as well. There probably will never be a vote on authorization. The Syria chemical attacks, which the administration so vociferously denounced as brutal, heinous, inhume and so outside the realm of civilized conduct that the Syrian government needed to be punished for them, will be back page news by the end of tomorrow so that congress and the president can move onto what they were trying to cover up with a war strike: the budget and debt ceiling twin fiascos.

Those will come soon enough and command daily, screechy headlines from the breathless media whores, but before them, the Federal Reserve's FOMC meets next Tuesday and Wednesday, after which it will purportedly announce the great tapering, or, as it's being called on Wall Street, taper-lite, suggesting that the Fed will reduce its monthly bond purchases from $85 billion a month to somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 billion. Ho-hum. One supposes that the world can survive without an additional $10 billion of monthly liquidity. Somehow, we'll all find a way to survive.

With all these grand developments, Wall Street pros took the opportunity to ramp up stocks in advance of the next options expiry, in hopes that can can make another quick buck before the Fed pulls away the punch bowl.

The Dow was up another 135 points on the day, the third straight session in which the blue chip average was higher by more than 100 points, giving it a gain for the week, thus far, of 404 points. The NASDAQ and S&P were weighed down by Apple (AAPL), whose latest "earth-shaking" announcement was not any new products but merely enhancements and new pricing for existing ones. The stock was punished severely, down 26.93 points on the day.

Back at the Dow Industrials, the index will be reshuffled after the close of trade on September 20. Being kicked out are Bank of America (BAC), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Alcoa (AA), replaced by Nike (NKE), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Visa (V). Because of the way the index weights stocks, giving more weight to high-priced ones than low-priced ones, Goldman Sachs will become the third most-important stock on the Dow, with Visa becoming the second most-important.

In other words, with five financial firms now represented in the 30-stock index, get ready for Dow 20,000. There's no stopping it now, especially when the index can arbitrarily kick out losers and replace them with their favorite pump primers.

There is no honor, nor shame, amongst thieves.

Dow 15,326.60, +135.54 (0.89%)
Nasdaq 3,725.01, -4.01 (0.11%)
S&P 500 1,689.13, +5.14 (0.31%)
10-Yr Bond 2.92%, -0.04
NYSE Volume 3,341,576,250
Nasdaq Volume 1,679,120,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3573-2957
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 344-80
WTI crude oil: 107.56, +0.17
Gold: 1,363.80, -0.20
Silver: 23.17, +0.156

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Syria Euphoria Sends Stocks Higher; Trading Volume Hits 15-Year Low

The Dow added more than 250 points over the past two days and the NASDAQ hit fresh 13-year highs, meaning only one thing: we're officially in vapor-land as S&P equity trading volume hits fresh 15-year lows.

Meanwhile, the Syria story gets more and more confusing and confounding, the President's address tonight at 9:00 pm EDT (we do hope he'll be on time for once) probably just adding more layers of confusion to this twisted international story presaging World War III, which is bound to happen anyway, one way or another, the crux of the argument being Iran's nuclear ambitions and the US (and Israel's) attempts to defuse them.

So, how's that 401K looking? Pretty peachy, huh? Well, that's until the authorities come to confiscate it as happened in Poland last week.

A major financial disruption is just weeks away, be it the default of Deutsche Bank on some of their massive, unregulated CDS, Italian bank defaults or maybe, just maybe a big resounding thud from the likes of JP Morgan, or, our favorite, Bank of America.

The system is completely stressed out, trading on razor-thin volume while Peace President O-Bomber gets an itchy finger over Syria and a false-flag operation that hasn't convinced anybody of anything. What could possibly go wrong?

Russia's Vladimir Putin is playing Obama like a banjo, plucking his strings with the talent of a virtuoso. Other outlets have compared the recent developments over Syria as Putin playing chess while OBozo struggles with checkers.

We think the analogy is apropos. The US government will soon be on its knees, begging forgiveness from a broken-hearted world and US population. There will be no mercy given to the betrayers of the constitution.

And, by the way, the NSA is FOS.

Dow 15,191.06, +127.94 (0.85%)
Nasdaq 3,729.02, +22.84 (0.62%)
S&P 500 1,683.99, +12.28 (0.73%)
10-Yr Bond 2.96%, +0.06
NYSE Volume 3,911,199,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,767,686,125
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4249-2265
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 403-52
WTI crude oil: 107.39, -2.13
Gold: 1,364.00, -22.70
Silver: 23.02, -0.701

Friday, September 6, 2013

NFP Jobs Data Disappoints; Fed-Taper in Question; Liesman's Big Lie

Following an early-session smack-down and a subsequent rally, stocks came right back to terra firma at the close, ending the session essentially flat.

Non-farm payroll data and Middle east posturing were the main catalysts for the early decline, the rally had little catalyst othe than empty reassurances from the president, or Bomber-in-Chief, who, after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his nation would support and defend Syria in the face of any attacks, promised, once again, that strikes against Syria would be measured and brief.

Mr. Obama speaks as if he's planning a family outing of some sort rather than an act of war against a sovereign nation and his posturing and promising is nauseating, misguided and insincere. While the congress dithers over whether to grant him authority - as it must under the War Powers Act - to bomb Syria, a nation that poses no imminent threat to US interests, the president continues to tiptoe toward conflict, one which is likely to inflame parties in an already-tense region.

Market reactions to the president and congress are equally superfluous and without much forethought. To date, the US has done nothing but threaten Syria. If it ever comes to actual bombing, then the market will make up its mind as to whether such actions have consequences for stocks and bonds.

The other contributing factor to today's rocky trade was the August Non-Farm Payroll report which showed the US gaining 169,000 new jobs, well below consensus, and revising June and July data lower. The BLS also advised that the labor force participation rate had fallen again, to 63.2%, a number not seen since 1978, thirty-five years ago.

This item in the BLS calculus continues to plunge, and many, including CNBC's Chief Economist, Steve Liesman, cite the aging baby-boomers retiring as the main culprit, though other economists disagree, and heartily so. The number usually thrown about is that 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day, though, if that were true, there would be something on the order of 300,000 jobs available every month and the labor condition would be booming, but those numbers are not showing up in the NFP reports.

A few of the prominent factors contributing to the lower participation rate are: 1) the coming of Obamacare, which is prompting more and more employers to hire only part-time workers; 2) a reluctance by companies large and small to replace workers lost through attrition or layoffs due to uncertainty in the economy or outright slowdown; 3) the ease by which individuals can qualify for public relief programs such as unemployment insurance, welfare or disability and the generosity of those programs, and; 4) a thriving underground economy of self-employed or off-the-books workers who simply aren't part of the statistical sample. It's been long known that government statistics are wildly faulty and unreliable, and the labor stats simply don't account for the literally millions of Americans who are making ends meet by working around, though or otherwise outside the system, a system which sucks the lifeblood, via taxation and regulation, out of both employers and workers.

The government's statistics may be relied upon by Wall Street investors, but the logic and realism of their assumptions is faulty at best and downright improper at worst. Americans have always found means to an end, and, when the government - all all levels - exerts undue, stifling restrictions upon the citizenry, the people quietly move on without them. Beating back the government by hook or by crook is an American tradition and it will remain that way, so long as people in power feel the necessity to invade every aspect of a citizen's life.

Dow 14,922.50, -14.98 (0.10%)
NASDAQ 3,660.01, +1.23 (0.03%)
S&P 500 1,655.17, +0.09 (0.01%)
NYSE Composite 9,439.66, +19.31 (0.20%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,668,595,250
NYSE Volume 3,384,952,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3718-2834
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 206-54
WTI crude oil: 110.53, +2.16
Gold: 1,386.50, +13.50
Silver: 23.89, +0.636

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Slow Day for Stocks

A Jewish holiday (Rosh Hashana), benign economic news and low volume all contributed to one of the weakest sessions of the year on the major markets.

ADP employment for August came in at 176,000 and initial unemployment claims were 323K in the most recent reporting period, setting up for the expected announcement of tapering by the Fed at their September 17-18 FOMC meeting.

The Dow traded in a skinny, 64-point range. The 10-year note hit 2.99%, the highest yield since July, 2011.

Dow 14,937.48, +6.61 (0.04%)
NASDAQ 3,658.78, +9.74 (0.27%)
S&P 500 1,655.08, +2.00 (0.12%)
NYSE Composite 9,420.41, +20.17 (0.21%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,510,979,125
NYSE Volume 3,171,252,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3485-3084
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 206-66
WTI crude oil: 108.37, +1.14
Gold: 1,373.00, -17.00
Silver: 23.26, -0.16

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Drums of War Bring Out the Traders

It didn't take long for Wall Street professionals to get over their fear of war in the Middle East, particularly Syria.

In fact, it took less than one day for the drumbeats of potential warfare to bring out the animal spirits and send stocks soaring.

Unfortunately, volume is still in the "new normal" range of moderate to dismal, and the Dow stopped ominously short of the magic 15,000 mark, a sign that there's still a healthy level of skepticism over the future of American empire.

Today's activity was really nothing of great consequence. Most traders are waiting until Friday's non-farm payroll report before the bell to establish positions or head for the hills. It's a very undecided market presently and that doesn't seem to want to change, especially considering the headwinds of the debt ceiling and Fed tapering on the agenda later in the month.

This little two-day rally did reverse the overall trend, for now, and the major indices are sitting close to key levels of resistance, though the Dow and S&P are still stuck below their 50-day moving averages.

Commodities acted very strangely, with significant losses in oil, gold and silver.

Dow 14,930.87, +96.91 (0.65%)
NASDAQ 3,649.04, +36.43 (1.01%)
S&P 500 1,653.08, +13.31 (0.81%)
NYSE Composite 9,400.20, +66.71 (0.71%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,812,184,125
NYSE Volume 3,516,943,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4510-2082
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 149-57
WTI crude oil: 107.23, -1.31
Gold: 1,390.00, -22.00
Silver: 23.42, -1.014

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Boehner, Pelosi Side with O'Bomber, Tank Markets

This past Friday, nearly the entire civilized world believed that US bombs would be falling on Syria over the weekend.

Abruptly, n Saturday, the president, in a true CYA moment, decided to get authorization from congress, which, according to our constitution (remember, we still have one, if in name only), is a necessity in order to attack any entity that does not pose a serious, immediate threat to the nation, and Syria easily qualifies.

With the congress winding down its month-long vacation (somebody remind us why are we paying them), a vote on the matter of whether or not to use offensive weapons against Syria couldn't occur much before September 9, the date upon which congress will officially resume to be in session. Thus, the inevitable bombing and unofficial start to World War III would have to wait.

On Tuesday, the house leadership of both parties - Nancy Peolosi and John Boehner - were back on the Hill, each making statements in support of the Bomber-in-Chief's proposal to use force against Syria.

So, if one is to believe in what the tea-leaves tell us, the president will get his authorization, despite some grandstanding by Tea Party members on the right and anti-war types on the left. Never mind that only nine percent of Americans support any kind of military action against Syria. The one-party rulers in Washington will have their way and theirs is the way of war.

Wall Street didn't take the news kindly. Up sharply early on, thinking that maybe, possibly, congress would not give the president the green light, markets did an about-face after the Boehner/Pelosi comments and stayed down for the remainder of the session. Everybody put away their "Dow 15,000!" hats and got back to thinking about how spiked oil and gas prices might negatively affect the economy, how bombing a nation essentially tearing itself apart in a civil war would benefit US interests, and how this might weigh on decisions surrounding the budget, the debt ceiling and whether the Fed would taper its bond-buying at its next meeting (Sept. 17-18).

With that, traders wiped 100 points off the Dow, albeit on volume that was hardly indicative of a back-to-work mentality. Come to think of it, since Obamacare is making work in America largely a part-time experience, maybe lower volume and shorter trading sessions might be just the ticket.

Dow 14,833.96, +23.65 (0.16%)
NASDAQ 3,612.61, +22.74 (0.63%)
S&P 500 1,639.77, +6.80 (0.42%)
NYSE Composite 9,333.50, +62.84 (0.68%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,568,192,750.00
NYSE Volume 4,111,344,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4025-2691
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 130-89
WTI crude oil: 108.54, +0.89
Gold: 1,412.00, +15.90
Silver: 24.43, +0.916