Friday, February 28, 2020

All Major US Indices Post Record Losses On Coronavirus (COVID-19) Shocks

This is how it always ends. A pileup on the interstate. Panic at the disco.

And this is only the beginning of the end of a bull market that's survived long past its sell-by date, the final six months being kept upright by oodles of fake bucks from the Fed via the repo market.

Prior to that it was stock buybacks and more Fed printing. It's over. Get used to it.

A couple of friends yesterday were in the first stage of he Kubler-Ross five levels of grief, denial, saying that the stock market would come back. This, despite evidence right in front of their faces of massive losses and still they won't move their money to a safer place.

Smart money will be making more all the way down. Most money will simply disappear.

All of the major indices suffered yesterday their worst point losses in stock market history. That's right, the worst ever.

The Dow Jones Industrials managed to dispose of 1,190.96 points, edging out the 1,175.21 trashing on February 5, 2018. The NASDAQ put down a marker that is likely to stand for a long time (if it's not broken sometime during the next few months), dropping 414 points, bettering the former record of -355.49 from April 4, 2000, by some 59 points. That's a lot.

The S&P 500 also crushed its previous record, ripping off 137.63 points, topping the old mark of -113.19 from February 5, 2018.

It's been a bad week for stocks as the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the globe.

Oddly enough, but with some historical precedence, precious metals have been bashed down over the past few days as well, just as they were at the height of the global meltdown of 2008. Everything lost value then. Same now.

Crude oil took another bump lower, with WTI crude as low as $45.25 pr barrel. Yield on the ten-year note fell to yet another record low, checking in at 1.30% at the end of the day. The 30-year was at 1.79%.

With the final trading day of the week on deck, there isn't much more to say than glad it's over, but the tide has turned, with all the major indices already - in the span of just five days - in correction territory, donw by more than 10%. Unless something changes quickly, there's a bear market staring investors in the face.

Cant say that it hasn't been apparent. This is no surprise. All the market needed was a good scapegoat and it found one in coronavirus and its aftereffects.

At the Close, Thursday, February 27, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,766.64, -1,190.96 (-4.42%)
NASDAQ: 8,566.48, -414.29 (-4.61%)
S&P 500: 2,978.76, -137.63 (-4.42%)
NYSE: 12,547.25, -499.35 (-3.83%)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Stock Rally Sizzles, Fizzles As COVID-19 Fear Spreads Globally Sell. Everything. Now.

From the outset, it looked like US stock investors were going to shed the fear of coronavirus effects and get back to the greed side of the equation, as all major indices roared back after a string of losses.

By midday, however, the rally lost steam as news from around the world indicated that the virus was continuing to spread, inflicting people in far-away lands as well as within the borders of the United States. When President Trump announced he was giving a press briefing at 6:00 pm ET (later moved to 6:30 pm ET) on the government's response to the virus, stocks faltered badly, as all but the NASDAQ gave up gains and ended in the red.
"Sell. Everything. Now. You may curse me today, tomorrow, and even next week, but a couple of months down the road, you'll see why I am telling you to get out of stocks now."
At the press briefing, the president appeared confident, though cautious, appointing Vice President Mike Pence to spearhead the federal government's response.

So much for hope, false hope, bravado, and confidence. COVID-19 already is worse than MERS or SARS in the number of inflictions and deaths, and there seems to be no stopping it. Even employing extreme measures such as travel bans and quarantines, is unlikely to completely halt the spread of this pathogen; governments are hoping at least to contain it and prevent it from becoming an overwhelming medical crisis as it already has become in China, and soon, South Korea, Japan, Italy, and elsewhere.

Underpinning the obvious threat to health and well-being, Wall Street and investment centers around the world are focused on the after-effects. Idled workers, slowing production, chinks in the supply chain, and slack demand are all tied to efforts to contain the virus and will certainly have adverse effects on the bottom lines of many companies.

Now, almost two months since the crisis began in China, fears of a near-global shutdown of financial and business activity is becoming a frightful scenario.

As one pundit wrote to friends yesterday, "Sell. Everything. Now. You may curse me today, tomorrow, and even next week, but a couple of months down the road, you'll see why I am telling you to get out of stocks now."

This is precisely the sentiment Wall Street hopes would never surface, but it's becoming more and more evident to more and more people that COVID-19 presents an existential threat to global commerce.

Oil was down sharply on the day, as WTI crude futures broke below $50 per barrel and fell into the $47 price range Thursday morning. The treasury yield curve continued its flat-to-inverted pathway, the yield on the 10-year note losing another two basis points before returning to its prior level at 1.33%, the lowest level in history.

At the Close, Wednesday, February 26, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,957.59, -123.77 (-0.46%)
NASDAQ: 8,980.77, +15.16 (+0.17%)
S&P 500: 3,116.39, -11.82 (-0.38%)
NYSE: 13,046.62, -97.10 (-0.74%)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bloodbath Continues As Stocks Respond To Coronavirus Fears; Bond Yields Achieve Fresh Lows; A Black Swan Moment?

So, is this "the big one?"

Is this the beginning of the inevitable late-stage bull market crash?

It very well could be, with the coronavirus taking up residence in market perceptions as the black swan, the mythical entity so eloquently devised and demonstrably argued in Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book by the same name in 2007.
Talib's tome is on the mark.

To those unfamiliar with the concept, black swans are rare, some say even non-existent, and Talib posits that rare, unpredictable events do happen, and their appearance can manifest itself in positive or negative ways.

Thus, the coronavirus (COVID-19) qualifies as a black swan event, as it appeared almost from nowhere, without warning, without announcement, and without restraint. It could be said that the virus itself is not the black swan, but what turned it into a major event for markets and economies was the fumbled handling of it and attempts to contain it in its early days of spread in China.

Had the virus been less contagious, less virulent, better contained, it might have had little to no effect on markets, but, as has been seen over the past two months, it managed to spread across almost all of mainland China, escaped its borders and eventually has been contracted in now forty countries, as far-flung as Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Finland, and the United States.

It is out there, it is virulent, it is deadly in some cases. Invisible, untouchable, it is an ideal psy-op by which the mainstream and financial media can whip up fear into a tornado of emotion, to whirl about Wall Street and global financial centers and create a panic.

The truth - and there have been more than enough variants of that to render objective opinion nearly moot - is that the virus is apparently not as deadly as other natural disasters might be. It is not even keeping pace with deaths by accident or from the more common flu, but the media coverage and government response to it has been nothing short of ghastly and draconian. Mass quarantines are not something most people alive today have ever experienced, but the world is getting a first-hand view - albeit somewhat clouded by China's command - of entire cities and provinces on lockdown, now followed by similar experience in South Korea and Italy and elsewhere, and possibly, we have been warned, coming to a neighborhood near you.

So, while fear is stoked in the general populace over the chance of catching the disease, possibly dying from it and possibly having to live isolated for weeks, the financial world sees disruption to the normal conduct of business, anathema of the first order.

Starting with the supply lines for parts to finished products out of China and ending with entire huge swaths of populations unable to transact in an orderly manner, the spread of the virus has the potential of putting the entire planet on hold, unable to work, pay bills, advance production, build, grow. COVID-19 is the potion, media and government the ice and the straw that sirs the drink (hat tip to Mr. October, Reggie Jackson for the apropos analogy), and it is all connected.

Whether or not the spread of the virus, its immediate health effects and reaction to it will be enough to send economies into reverse is still unknown, though it's looking more and more likely that whatever carnage it is producing is not about to stop soon and will continue until either it mutates itself out of existence or is contained to a level at which people can work, travel, and interact freely without fear.

So far, it has not been contained to any satisfactory level and appears to be spreading further into the general population in many countries.

With what we know, and the reaction thus far - by China first and the rest of the world after that - COVID-19 may not decimate the world's population, but the fear of it, the media coverage of it, and various government responses to it have the potential to crash markets around the world.

Note the variance between the rise in price (up) and the bottom panel.
That is the correlation with the S&P 500, which the Dow
underperformed all through 2019 and into 2020.
The financial environment has quickly shifted from greed over to fear and fear is not backing down. Investors are seeking safety rather than profit. Companies are reviewing disaster plans and procedures rather than seeking expansion and growth. These conditions will likely prevail for months, long enough to send stocks spiraling into a death trap, bonds soaring, and eventually gold and silver to unforeseen levels (though precious metals took a thumping on Tuesday thanks to the unseen hands of interlopers in the paper markets).

On Tuesday, the Dow took another huge step down, as did the NASDAQ, S&P, and other indices around the world, especially in Europe, which after China, looms the most precarious. Europe was already been on edge, close to recession, prior to the emergence of the coronavirus threat and they may be reeling uncontrollable into an abyss should the population experience widespread or even minor contraction.

In the United States, the slowdown has begun, with automakers concerned about parts en route from China and whether such essential production parts will arrive in an orderly manner. It's probable that they will not. Other industries have a similar connection to China and elsewhere, and anecdotal evidence suggests that slowdowns and possible layoffs lie straight ahead.

Bond yields have cratered like a failed bundt cake. Yield on the 10-year note crashed through its all-time low, stopping finally at 1.33%, two basis points below the prior low from July 5th and 8th of 2016 (1.37%). The 30-year bond dipped to 1.80%. The three and five-year notes mark the bottom of the treasury curve at 1.16, dangerous levels for capital markets.

In conclusion, unless events somehow take a radical turn for the better, conditions exist in spades for massive market turmoil to the downside. Beyond the idea that most liquid equity markets and individual securities have been extremely overbought and propped up by Fed injections and corporate buybacks, the effect from coronavirus and reaction to it should continue to offer nothing good in terms of upside impetus for the foreseeable future, though the first quarter and well into the second.

Global recession or worse is a viable consideration.

At the Close, Tuesday, February 25, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,081.36, -879.44 (-3.15%)
NASDAQ: 8,965.61, -255.67 (-2.77%)
S&P 500: 3,128.21, -97.68 (-3.03%)
NYSE: 13,143.73, -390.37 (-2.88%)

If all this is too much for you to bear, then sit back, relax, and enjoy music from a better time, the Beatles' Revolver album.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Takes a Bite Out of Europe and Wall Street

COVID-19 continues to rage, and on Monday, it took a bite out of global markets, especially in Europe and the Americas, with stock indices falling in a range around 3.5% on the day.

For the Dow Jones Industrial Average, it was the biggest decline in two years and the third biggest point drop in the history of the index, closing just short of the #2 all-time drop, −1,032.89 on February 8, 2018 a decline of 4.15%. Monday's rip was a 3.65% decline.

The S&P's 111.89-point loss was the second-worst ever on that index, nearly topping a 113.19 loss, also from February 8, 2018. The NASDAQ's 355.31-point decline was the second biggest on record. The worst day for the NASDAQ was on April 14, 2000, when the index plummeted nine percent, posting a loss of 355.49, kicking off what would be known as the dotcom bust.

There's a general theme around these kinds of outsized losses. Usually, there's follow-up, but it doesn't always come the very next day. It's usually another day later. That's likely because investors have become so accustomed to "buying the dip" that any major loss is seen as a buying opportunity, and this may well be, but it's probably going to be better to sit and watch on Tuesday and be ready to jump in (or out) on Wednesday or Thursday.

Another wave will come, and it's not going to be pretty. as pointed out in our Weekend Wrap, investors aren't concerned with the spread of the coronavirus per se, they're worried about the effect it is going to have on businesses, particularly, in this case, those with supply chains emanating out of mainland China, and there are plenty of them in addition to the airlines and cruise ship companies which have already been hard hit by the tail of the virus.

The after-effects from COVID-19 aren't going to emerge for months. Less than two months into the pandemic, the virus has yet to unleash its most virulent strain upon a host of countries outside China, but the list of countries seeing the number of new infections growing is getting larger. Italy, South Korea, Iran, Hong Kong, and Japan are the current hotspots, with cases doubling every day or two.

It will take some months for this to slow down and eventually be contained, but it's going to be very disruptive to the normal flow of business for some time. This is definitely not a time to be bullish, though the second half of the year may be.

With stocks battered around the world, bonds rallied, with yield on the 10-year note dropping eight basis points, from 1.46% to 1.38%. The 30-year bond hit another all-time low yield at 1.84%.

The yield curve remains inverted at the short to middle, with 1, 2, 3, and 6-month bills all posting yields higher than the 10-year, though the 2s-10s remained constant at a 12 basis point difference, the 2-year ending the day at 1.26. The curve is nearly flat, with 1.60% at one end (1-month) and 1.84% at the other, on the 30-year. A soft underbelly in the middle, with a 1.21% yield on the 3s and 5s, makes the entire trip one of just 63 basis points, or just more than one half of a percent. That's FLAT!

Oil hit the skids, with WTI dropping to 51.43 per barrel, though that's still higher than what is likely coming in months ahead, especially if widespread quarantines become fashionable in developed countries, particularly speaking of Europe and the USA.

Gold and silver were well bid, but smashed down at the end of the day. It's not yet the time for the almighty dollar to suffer. The yen and euro must submit first, along with China's yuan. When these fiat currencies are exposed, when negative interest rates are more an essential element than an experimental one, then the metals will soar. The world isn't there yet and nobody will be adequately prepared when that eventuality occurs, which could be six months from now or six years. It's looking like it may be closer to the latter, as the global machinery of finance isn't as fragile as it may appear on the surface.

Keeping a sharp eye out for emerging hotspots and especially on the US mainland, stocks ripe for shorting may be in the entertainment, hospitality, and dining segments.

At the Close, Monday, February 24, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,960.80, -1,031.61 (-3.56%)
NASDAQ: 9,221.28, -355.31, (-3.71%)
S&P 500: 3,225.89, -111.86 (-3.35%)
NYSE: 13,534.12, -441.66 (-3.16%)

Monday, February 24, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Providing Effective Cover For Profit Taking In Stocks; Bonds Rallying; Gold, Silver Flying

Making new all-time highs during the week were the NASDAQ and S&P, while the NYSE and Dow lagged, despite having reached a similar pinnacle earlier this year.

Market news is abuzz with coronavirus as the culprit for this week of losses, as stocks turned south mid-week. While the virus has yet to kill or infect significant numbers outside mainland China - less than 20 deaths worldwide, sans the red nation - it's the damage to supply chains and earnings that most bothers the money mavens of lower Manhattan.

Seriously, the people working the computers, phones, tickers, and squawk boxes could care less about 75,000 sick Chinese people or even the 2500 dead from the virus. They're much more concerned that critical parts in a just-in-time (JIT) production process won't be arriving from across the Pacific. The wheels of enterprise and consumerism need to be kept turning, and essential parts not being delivered puts a severe kink in those plans.

While much of China is under quarantine, some segments have gotten back to work, though the timeline continues to shift. Originally, communities under quarantine were supposed to get back to work in early February. As the virus spread and the severity of the situation sank in, those dates continued to be moved back later and later. Presently, many companies in China won't be getting back to full production before the second week of March.

Stocks haven't really suffered amid all the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD), but they are likely to in the immediate future. As of Monday morning of February 24, a global blood-letting is underway. Asian stocks were down in a range of one to two percent, but Europe is taking it harder, with indices in Germany, France, England, and elsewhere down more than three percent, making for one of the biggest one-day drops this century.

The US markets, set to open within the hour, are showing futures off by staggering amounts, indicating a serious decline at the opening bell. Indications are that the Dow could be down nearly 1000 points, while the NASDAQ may shed more than 300. Both would qualify as among the largest declines in history.

If markets panic, which appears to be what they're setting up for, a mixed message is going to be sent. While the money managers are concerned primarily with business disruption, the general population will read the message quite differently, assuming from the massive drops on Wall Street that the virus is a killer and is coming to a neighborhood or household near you, and soon.

This is the height of cognitive dissonance and what anyone with half a wit would like to avoid. Widespread public panic over a virus that has claimed ZERO deaths in the United States and far less infections than the ordinary flu is not a condition conducive to a functioning society. Further fears could be stoked by officials at the WHO and CDC, who readily dropped the ball on the virus from the start and are now becoming the leading cheerleaders for what is likely to be largely unwarranted despair.

What the virus represents is more a threat to sanity than one's physical health. Even taking the total number of cases including those in China, the chances of contracting COVID-19 are not even as good as getting into a traffic accident. People in America are more likely to suffer injury from slipping in a bathtub, falling off a ladder, or cutting themselves with a kitchen knife than catching Wuhan Flu.

So, when stocks crash on Monday, bear in mind that they were wildly overvalued and COVID-19 and its associated panic is providing a friendly cover for profit-taking. A rout is what this market is badly in need of, and, if stocks head into bear territory (a place they're not even close to approaching at this time), it's not likely to last much longer than the time it takes for coronavirus to spread worldwide, inflict disease and death, and finally peter out by June.

First quarter results for China are going to be horrendous, with GDP growth probably plummeting by 35-50 percent. In Europe, a quarter that avoids a negative number would be a surprise, while the US is likely to print something on the order of a onesie, in the range of 0.6 to 1.5 percent gain.

It's far too early to predict how the second quarter shapes up, but there's plenty of evidence that the first quarter is going to come in positive. Feeding that data into the political landscape, it suggests that even if the US does fall into a recession, it's not going to be confirmed until near the end of October, just in time to have an effect on US elections, as GDP would have to decline for two consecutive quarters.

There's a risk that the second quarter will be in the red, but prospects for the third are better if the virus carries along the same pathway as other similar infectious strains such as SARS and MERS. Warm weather and humidity are virus-killers.

It's getting interesting, though the fears of widespread infections are currently oversold.

Bonds have been and continue to take the situation with all due seriousness. The 30-year bond ripped lower on Friday to an all-time low yield of 1.90% and the 10-year is chasing it down, closing out the week at 1.45%, perilously close to its all-time low. The 10-year note yielded 1.37 on 07/05/16, and again on 07/08/16. That level could be tested this week and a sustained drop into the 1.15 to 1.25% range would not be unwarranted during a panic condition.

The curve, however, remains nearly flat for the 2s-10s, which are holding up a 12-basis point difference (2s at 1.34%), but the shortest duration paper, 1, 2, 3, and 6-month bills are all sporting yields higher than 10-year, so concern is evident that the US economy is vulnerable to a major shock.

Gold and silver made significant gains over the course of the week, as the flight to true safety accelerated. Gold ended at a seven-year high, at 1643.00 the ounce. Silver closed out on Friday at 18.45 per ounce. A good start to a real rally, but far away from a breakout point. Both are up sharply early Monday morning.

Crude oil had a relatively good week, though the price for WTI crude in Monday morning's futures are looking rather grim, down more than three percent and approaching the Maginot line of $50 per barrel. It's unlikely to hold that level. Speculators are currently eyeing the $45-48 range and the next support level.

All of this points to a near-term washout in stocks. While there's currently not any markers being set down for a sustained rout, it is possible, though considered unlikely, as is the case for what some call "the great reset" where markets crumble like in 2008 and the entire global financial edifice is blown asunder.

No serious person is calling for anything more than a short-term correction, though markets have a unique way of making everybody look like fools.

Stay informed, stay calm, prepare.

At the Close, Friday, February 21, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,992.41, -227.59 (-0.78%)
NASDAQ: 9,576.59, -174.37 (-1.79%)
S&P 500: 3,337.75, -35.48 (-1.05%)
NYSE: 13,975.78, -85.72 (-0.61%)

For the Week:
Dow: -405.67 (-1.38%)
NASDAQ: -174.38 (-1.79%)
S&P 500: -42.41 (-1.25%)
NYSE: -121.56 (-0.86%)

Friday, February 21, 2020

JP Morgan Says No Recession This Year; Professional Handicappers Likely To Want Some of That Action

What catches the eye this morning is the headline on Yahoo! Finance, "Recession odds haven't been this low in 15 months."

That's remarkable for any number of reasons, chief among them the idea that somebody actually calculates odds on whether or not the US GDP is going to go negative for two consecutive quarters (the classic definition of a recession) and the idea that these odds are so low.

The article goes on to tell that it's JP Morgan making the odds, as their quantitative model of the US economy is in a very positive state. The firm makes odds at 3:1 that the US economy will enter a recession this year. So, anyone wishing to plunk down a shekel, drachma, euro, or yen on JP Morgan's table would get three back if the economy tanks. It would not be too much of an assumption to think that Morgan would hold the bet, put it in an interest-bearing account and make a few bucks in the interim as the earliest this could possibly pay out would be well after the end of the second quarter, like August, or, in the event that a recession occurred in the thrid and fourth quarter, the firm could be holding the dough until well into 2021.

Anyone of the belief that the US economy will not turn down, gets short-ended to the tune of 1:3, putting up three units to make one. Morgan would surely like that wager, being that they'd be holding - and investing - three times the amount of the potential payout. It's always good for the house that punters like favorites. It's also well known amongst the brotherhood of gamblers that favorites only pay out 1/3 of the time at race tracks and less than half the time on flat wagers on say, sporting events.

Unless one has a doom and gloom attitude toward investing, the favored play would be the short side, even though the payout will be minimal. According to the boys at Morgan, this is about as sure a thing as Muhammad Ali in a 15-rounder against a 120-pond nun.

We'll pass. Oddsmakers are notorious for being wrong. Just ask Joe Namath, quarterback of the 1969 Jets, who went into Super Bowl III as a 15-point underdog, guaranteed a victory and managed to beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, 16-7. It's almost a sure thing that the analysts at JP Morgan are equally clueless about putting up ridiculous numbers on the chance of recession when the real issue is how long the continued depression will carry forward.

According to James Rickards, famous gold investor, the US economy has been in a depression at least since 2008, when the entire global economic structure came within 23 trillion dollars of complete meltdown. Those 23 trill were supplied after the fact by our friends at the Federal Reserve and their friends at other central banks. Rickards' assertion is that the US economy suffered a near-death experience in 2008 and economic activity, though not negative for long, has been sub-par, which qualifies, in his mind, as a depression.

He's got plenty of evidence to back up his claim, notably the Great Depression of the 1930s, in which GDP mostly grew year-over-year, but at a snails pace, not keeping up with population growth or inflation. Today's situation is different, in that population growth in the US is pretty much stagnant, but GDP growth since then has been bolstered by changes in definition and plenty of funny money printed up by the Fed. The 2-2.5 percent growth that has been the hallmark of the past 12 years has not kept pace with inflation, the official numbers be damned.

With evidence piling up that coronavirus will continue to spread and that industrial production and unemployment may have peaked, there's at least a distinct possibility that US GDP will slow to about 1.5 to 1.7 percent for 2020. While there may not be a recession, the economy is almost certain to struggle with slack demand caused by fear of catching something worse than the flu. People can't be blamed for not wanting to get sick or dying, but they will be, with certain segments of the population eschewing the occasional night out on the town, attending a sporting event or generally avoiding close human contact.

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) claims a few lives in the US, watch the panic. It's already well underway in China, with Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong about to be sharing the sentiment. The virus will plague the US and many other nations, particularly those in Europe, already on the brink of an actual recession, because quarantines have not been sufficiently enforced on most travel, particularly by air.

The virus has shown to have an incubation period of anywhere from five to 24 days, so there are likely multiple carriers everywhere. In a few weeks time, the number of reported cases will begin to spike in non-Asian countries and then it will be too late. The big hope is that warmer weather will slow the spread, as it usually does with these kinds of infectious diseases.

We'll see. But, if you're looking for better odds, better head to the race track. Long shots often arrive at the wire in time.

At the Close, Thursday, February 20, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,219.98, -128.05 (-0.44%)
NASDAQ: 9,750.96, -66.21 (-0.67%)
S&P 500: 3,373.23, -12.92 (-0.38%)
NYSE: 14,061.48, -25.65 (-0.18%)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Europe Is Sick and Dying

Coronavirus notwithstanding, investors appear confident about the US economy going forward, approaching record highs on a near-daily basis.

Over in Europe, however, the attitude is not the same. Following the nearly three-year Brexit disaster, the euro has fallen in value against the mighty US dollar, which, despite protestations from the Middle and Far East, continues to be the dominant currency of the planet.

Now featuring a 1.07+ handle in relation to the dollar, the euro has lost ground since the start of 2020, especially after Great Britain formally left the EU on January 31. The currency is at a 34 month low, ad is approaching its five-year low from December 2016 of 1.04. Dollar strength combined with euro weakness is making the two currencies approach parity, an unwelcome condition for millions within the EU, as the buying power of their currency declines.

This is a condition that was probably inevitable, and one that doesn't necessarily halt at an even exchange of euros for dollars. It's very likely that the euro could continue to decline in value against the dollar and other currencies, to a point at which the populations of the various countries in the EU will demand a better representation from their self-appointed overlords in Brussels.

As a political body, the European Commission is a poor representation of the will of the people of Europe. Armed with vast powers to legislate any manner of outrageous, capital-destroying laws, rules, and regulations, the Commission oversees a union that is disintegrating right before their jaded eyes.

Ruling over countries that have been battered by negative interest rates, migrant immigration that has overturned the values of the native countries, and a restive population that is ready for change and actively seeking a better way forward.

Europe is failing in many ways, but it will continue to fail so long as nameless, faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats rule over once-free populations.

At the Close, Wednesday, February 19, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,348.03, +115.84 (+0.40%)
NASDAQ: 9,817.18, +84.44 (+0.87%)
S&P 500: 3,386.15, +15.86 (+0.47%)
NYSE: 14,087.13, +48.11 (+0.34%)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Current Predictions On COVID-19's Market Effects Are Probably Unreliable

Predicting the future is a fool's errand.

There are some things about the future - depending upon the time span we're using - that are likely, probable, and some, almost certain to happen. The sun will rise and set, your car will start in the morning, sporting events will be played as scheduled, trains, boats, and planes will arrive and depart more or less on time, and so on with the more mundane, routine activities of day-to-day living.

What we're talking about are the more obtuse and difficult expectations and predictions about stocks rising or falling, which teams are going to make the playoffs, who's going to win certain political contests. Those kinds of events and occurrences are subject to more variables, some known, more unknown.

Six months ago, nobody was predicting that China would quarantine half of its population due to an outbreak of an infectious virus, such as COVID-19. Without factoring in the knock-on effects due to sickness, disease, and the Chinese government's efforts to contain it, prognostications concerning what is happening or will happen in coming days, weeks, and months will almost certainly be far off the mark.

Even today, with advanced predictive tools and advancements in medical understanding, extrapolation from the known has been made more difficult by questioning the veracity of data, the intentions of the people keeping score, and other factors that haven't even emerged as of yet.

Adding to the confusion is the quickened flow of information, much of which is nothing more than idle hyperbole or nothing less than outright lies. even less is known about where the virus started (still under investigation and likely to be never verified 100%), how fast and haw far it will spread and to what degree it will affect people's lives in countries and cultures as distinct as night and day. Information from various scientific sources still range across the spectrum in terms of the transmission rate, mortality rate, makeup of the virus, and potential for vaccines or cures.

All of this is making it difficult for investors and fund managers to gauge the downstream. Variables, upon which predictions could be made, aren't even in place, so most of what's being bantered about is just so much hot air and steam. Some people are scared to death of the virus; others believe that it's only about as harmful as the ordinary flu.

Enter the human condition. Rationality and emotion are playing tug-of-war in the macro as well as the micro sense. Nobody can be much more than 50% certain about anything a month, two months, six months or a year out.

What we've been able to discern already is a sense that the virus is not going to cause widespread disease and death of the magnitude of a Spanish Flu, Bubonic Plague or any other major pandemic. While there's widespread consensus that COVID-19 is unlikely to bloom into a massive killer, that does not mean that it won't, nor does it factor in other outside influences which are presently not apparent.

Thus far, merely a month into the coronavirus event, stocks have shown an incredible ability to withstand downside pressure while bonds have catalyzed into the safety play. The 10-year-note has rallied. From January 17 to February 18, the yield has fallen from 1.84% to 1.55%, a decline of 15.76 percent, a pretty good move under any circumstances.

Gold and silver had been less uniform in their price movement, with notable ups and downs. Spot gold has increased from 1557.60 on 1/17 to 15.89.85 on the 2/18. Silver, on the same span of time, began at 18.06 and finished at 17.89. Those are spot prices; action on the paper exchanges has been more volatile, though not significantly aroused.

On the surface, the market effect from COVID-19 appears to be not very eventful, but there are sure to be other variables coming into play which may make for an uneven ride into and through the future.

At the Close, Tuesday, February 18, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,232.19, -165.91 (-0.56%)
NASDAQ: 9,732.74, +1.56 (+0.02%)
S&P 500: 3,370.29, -9.87 (-0.29%)
NYSE: 14,039.01, -58.29 (-0.41%)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: No Panic in Markets As COVID-19 Story Unfolds

In the US, a long weekend offered the opportunity to assess and reassess positions, but, from Friday afternoon through Tuesday morning, nothing substantially changed in the macro picture of global markets.

COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines, though attention has begun to focus on the spread of the virus outside of mainland China. Johns Hopkins, which provides the most unbiased numbers available, shows 898 reported cases worldwide. For perspective, that number compares to 343 reported on February 8, just 10 days prior.

While there are plenty of alarmists touting this infectious variant as the second coming of the Spanish flu, the available evidence purports to something less deadly. While the mortality rate has remained in the neighborhood of 2-3 percent in China, only a handful of deaths (four) have been directly attributable to infection from the coronavirus.

Wall Street appears to share the view that the virus is not a deadly killing machine, having put together a solid week, however, realization of knock-on effects from the mass quarantines in China are beginning to strike home.

It's been about a month now since the outbreak became apparent in China and efforts to stop the spread of information about it turned to efforts to actually contain the virus itself. Mainland factories have been shuttered and many are not soon to open to full capacity just yet. That's causing disruptions in various supply chains, the effects being noted throughout the global marketplace.

Looking forward, stocks, still at or near record prices, are almost certain to come under some pressure in the coming short week.

Oil has rebounded slightly as the world comes to grips with a glut of crude on the market. WTI continues to trade just above $50 per barrel.

The US treasury bond curve remains flat, with the 10-year note closing out the week at 1.59 percent.

There's unlikely to be any more clarity within the next few days or even weeks as the situation involving the virus is still evolving. Investors looking for a reason to exit have a reasonable excuse to do so.

At the Close, Friday, February 14, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,398.08, -25.22 (-0.09%)
NASDAQ: 9,731.18, +19.21 (+0.20%)
S&P 500: 3,380.16, +6.22 (+0.18%)
NYSE: 14,097.34, -1.66 (-0.01%)

For the Week:
Dow: +295.57 (+1.02%)
NASDAQ: +210.66 (+2.21%)
S&P 500: +52.45 (+1.58%)
NYSE: +165.41 (+1.19%)

Correction: In earlier posts this January, Money Daily had mentioned that Yum Brands owned KFC and Pizza Hut locations through out China. That is incorrect. Yum's China properties were spun off in 2016. We regret being in error.

Friday, February 14, 2020

China Raises 108 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victims From the Dead

Roughly five weeks into the coronavirus (COVID-19) story and really nothing much has materialized. Stocks are making new all-time highs, gold and silver have barely budged, though bonds have rallied in recent days.

Much of the stagnation or up-and-down noise from the equity markets is probably tied to China's somewhat opaque rendering of figures relating to the virus. While the death rate to the number of reported cases has remained fairly constant around 2.1-2.5%, there are no footnotes on the data, nor is there any means by which to verify their accounting.

Additionally, after upping the total number of cases and deaths dramatically on Wednesday, China took some back on Thursday, essentially raising 108 people from the dead by what they dubbed "double counting."

This fumbling, feeble excuse and the fact that the Chinese government won't allow teams from the US CDC into the country to help, the obvious takeaway is that their numbers are wholly unreliable, most likely under-reported.

The media, along with the experts at WHO are about as in the dark as they can be, and are reporting from their backsides with information that is either inaccurate, misleading, or just plain lies.

With each passing day it becomes more and more apparent that ordinary people in this world are on their own when it comes to determining how to react and respond to this supposedly pandemic, deadly threat.

At the Close, Thursday, February 13, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,423.31, -128.11 (-0.43%)
NASDAQ: 9,711.97, -13.99 (-0.14%)
S&P 500: 3,373.94, -5.51 (-0.16%)
NYSE: 14,099.04, -37.94 (-0.27%)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

China Announces Massive Increase In Number of New Cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus, Wuhan Flu, WuFlu)

Money Daily claims no special powers, but, just by coincidence, after yesterday's post cried out to the Chinese for transparency, some actually was delivered.

Coming too late to affect the meteoric rise in US stocks on Wednesday, China's official propaganda wing may be coming to its senses, albeit quite late in the game.

Late Wednesday, instead of the usual 2500-3000 new reported cases and 90-100 fresh deaths from the newly-named COVID-19, China's Ministry of Truth instead announced 14,840 new cases and 242 deaths.

The new totals are being reported with some differences, but John Hopkins' usually-reliable counts have mainland China at 59,822, with worldwide reported cases at 60,349. There are 527 confirmed cases outside of China and a total of 1,370 deaths, all but two occurring in China.

These are alarming numbers, only now shedding some light on just how widespread the viral infection has gone on mainland China, and just how deeply Chinese officials have been trying to cover up the carnage. It's one thing to fudge economic numbers, which China does regularly and gratuitously, but quite another when human lives are at stake.

Revelation of the virus spreading faster, affecting more people by orders of magnitude and killing more than double the numbers previously reported raised eyebrows around the world, sending markets into reverse, though not to any alarming degree. Asian and European markets staged orderly retreats of less than one percent.

Hoping to avoid complete panic, international indices are being buoyed by central banks, no doubt furiously buying behind the scenes as the severity of the condition in China becomes more apparent. Supply chains already have broken down and this is only the beginning. With China looking to be out of commission for the better part of this and next month - possibly longer - the disruption to global trade and manufacturing cannot and should not be understated.

Being the global hub for manufacturing, China, by being late in its attempts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and then attempting to downplay the severity of the crisis it faces has put its own economy and that of the globalized world in jeopardy.

This story continues to evolve and the implications just became much more serious than the Chinese government, the WHO and health officials in other countries are admitting.

Money Daily will attempt to stay atop current developments on a daily, if not more frequent, basis.

At the Close, Wednesday, February 12, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,551.42, +275.12 (+0.94%)
NASDAQ: 9,725.96, +87.02 (+0.90%)
S&P 500: 3,379.45, +21.70 (+0.65%)
NYSE: 14,136.98, +82.88 (+0.59%)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wall Street Plays Wait-and-See On Coronavirus (WuHan Flu)

Without a source more trustworthy than the Communist Party of China (CPC) for accurate data on the coronavirus (Wuhan Flu), it's difficult to make an assessment of the threat from the disease which has spread to 25 countries and two cruise ships, but has so far resulted in only 517 confirmed cases and two deaths, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.

Inside mainland China, it's apparently a different story, what with 44,685 confirmed cases and 1114 deaths, the government is trying to maintain the people's spirit, but, with something on the order of 400 million people under quarantine orders, theres little doubt that patience is wearing thin.

Wall Street has, for the most part, faded the fallout from the virus's effect on China's economy and its part in the global supply chain until yesterday, when stocks slumped after an initial upside burst, leaving the Dow on the downside and the other indices hanging onto marginal gains. Notable was the NYSE, which led all the averages percentage-wise, an outlier occurrence, and possibly the beginning of a shift into small cap stocks.

Commodities were flat, with gold and silver barely budging from unchanged and oil settling around the $50 mark for WTI crude.

US treasuries escaped from inversion, with the 10-year note finishing at 1.59% yield and bills with maturities of less than a year all lower than that, albeit by only a few basis points. The 30-year bond is sitting precariously on a yield of just 2.05%.

China, notorious for supplying information that is either corrupted, massaged, or goal-sought to the pleasure of the Party, is difficult to gauge in terms of what it's telling the rest of the world. Are there 1100 dead from the virus or 11,000? Have over 4000 recovered, or more, or less? And what were the treatments involved?

None of this information is readily available as China is keeping a tight lid on the details. One thing is for sure: plants that were closed first because of the Lunar New Year holiday and had their closures extended by the threat of the virus are still closed, even though many were supposed to reopen on Monday, February 10. That's a worry Wall Street cannot overlook for long. With companies supplying component parts from everything from automobiles to washing machines, the effect of their closure will be felt up the chain. Car-makers outside of China, Nissan, Tesla, Kia, and others have already announced plant closures due to supply disruption. The longer the Chinese factories remain shuttered, the worse it is not only for the Chinese economy, but the global condition as well.

The overarching theme from the public start of the virus in early January to today has been one of questions about the virulence of the virus, the length of its incubation, the mortality rates. These questions have been answered in roundabout manners, but the big one, where does this all end? remains a mystery. China says the spread of the virus is slowing; the WHO says a global heightening of risk is on the horizon.

For the time being, everybody is playing a wait-and-see game.

At the Close, Tuesday, February 11, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,276.34, -0.48 (-0.00%)
NASDAQ: 9,638.94, +10.55 (+0.11%)
S&P 500: 3,357.75, +5.66 (+0.17%)
NYSE: 14,054.08, +69.60 (+0.50%)

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Bridgewater's Ray Dalio Thinks Coronavirus Fears Exaggerated; China Likely To Suffer Recession

Led by the NASDAQ's 1.13% rise, stocks on US indices ramped higher to open the week as fears of the spreading Wuhan Flu seemed diminished, at least in the Western Hemisphere.

Ray Dalio, founder of the world's biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, told an audience at a conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday that the impact from coronavirus (aka Wuhan Flu, WuFlu) is likely to be short-lived and won't have a lasting impact on the global economy.

Sorry, but Mr. Dalio sounds a little retarded here, telling people to be more concerned about wealth gaps and political gaps when most of China - the world's second-largest economy - has been shut down now for almost a month and will be for even longer. China is taking a huge gamble if they're going to send people back to work under these conditions, as the virus has yet to peak. All they'd need is an outbreak at an active factory and that would shut everything down for another month at least. Dalio is right to be concerned about gaps, like the ones in his thought process and the one between his ears. He's way off base here, probably talking this way to discourage a mass exodus out of his fund.

Dalio's fund lost money for the first time since 2000 last year, ironic, since US markets were up broadly, with the S&P sporting a 29% gain.

Let's try some math on Mr. Dalio's thesis. China is currently - how shall we put it - "screwed," which is probably the least-offensive descriptor. Consider that their GDP is probably going to come in at a zero at best for the first quarter of 2020, and probably come in as a negative number.

A third of the country is shut down and has been for more than two weeks, including all of Hubei province, a manufacturing hub. It's likely to remain that way for another month, with other cities and provinces falling under quarantine orders from now until April. That's going to put a severe dent in first quarter GDP. For instructional purposes, let's just say China's GDP for the first quarter of 2020 is going to be cut by a quarter, and that may be a generous assessment. That's a growth rate of -25%. Yes, that's right, minus twenty-five percent.

Let's assume they produce a miracle of some kind and get back to business in the second quarter. Will it be positive, compared to 2019. Unlikely, unless, as the Chinese are wont to do, they double and triple up production and totally kick butt. Let's give them a zero for the second quarter and an optimistic 5% gain in the third and 8% in the fourth, as they recover.

Add those up - -25, 0, +5, +8 - and you're still at -12, divided by four gives China a 2020 GDP growth rate of minus three percent (-3.0%). Again, that's just an example. Reality is likely to be worse than that. China will have a recession and a disruption of anywhere from two weeks to three months (maybe longer) in the global supply chain is going to produce adverse effects elsewhere. Some countries will be crushed, others just bruised, but, the overall picture is one with significant downside, not the roses and champagne scenario outlined by Ray Dalio.

Tracking other markets, crude oil futures continue their long descent as an outgrowth from reduced demand due to coronavirus in China. WTI crude fell below $50 per barrel on Monday. Despite renewed calls for production cuts from the OPEC+ nations, there seems to be little to stem the tide unless China gets a handle on their problem within days or weeks, a scenario that seems unlikely. If the virus spread in China is replicated elsewhere, oil, along with stocks and every other asset class, is likely to crater. Oil at anywhere from $45 to $35 a barrel is not out of the question.

Interest rates are also sounding an alarm, in deference to the sustained giddiness in stocks. The 10-year note dropped to 1.56% yield on Monday, just five basis points from its 2020 low of 1.51% (January 31), while the shortest-maturing bills all were higher, inverting the 1, 2, 3, and 6-month bills against the 10-year note. The 30-year bond is yielding 2.03%. Generally speaking, the yield curve is flat to inverted and looks like a complete, untamed disaster waiting to happen.

What looks to be a panacea for precious metals investors could be developing. Fear is rising, traders at JP Morgan Chase have been charged with rigging the gold and silver markets, and the effect from coronavirus is still unknown.

According to an article on FXStreet, not only have JP Morgan's traders been indicted, but the company itself is being probed, and the Justice Department is treating it as a criminal investigation, using RICO laws to investigate the bank as a criminal enterprise.

Coming days, weeks, and months appear to be headed toward more confusion, consternation, and discontent. The Democrat primary season is just heating up, and despite President Trump having just been cleared from impeachment by the Senate, there's little doubt Democrats in congress and even inside Trump's White House are still scheming against him.

Fed Chairman Powell is slated for a pair of engagements on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, he will face the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committees on Wednesday.

And, BTW, the words "retard" and "retarded" have been flagged in Yahoo Finance as unacceptable, despite one definition of the word retard is "to slow, delay." Peak Stupid has been achieved, again.

At the Close, Monday, February 10, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,276.82, +174.31 (+0.60%)
NASDAQ: 9,628.39, +107.88 (+1.13%)
S&P 500: 3,352.09, +24.38 (+0.73%)
NYSE: 13,984.48, +52.56 (+0.38%)

Monday, February 10, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Wuhan Flu Shunting Manufacturing Activity; Credit Woes Overflow

With coronavirus sweeping through mainland China, the country's leaders have imposed draconian quarantines on nearly a third of their entire population of 1.2 billion citizens, and, while factories in Hubei province and elsewhere were supposed to resume normal operations on Monday, February 10, this now seems to be not the case.

The Wuhan Flu is simply not cooperating. With the global hub of international manufacturing and commerce at a standstill, the ripple effects are being felt across the worldwide spectrum.

Apple computer's main assembly operations, FoxConn, has been shuttered for a month, while companies such as McDonald's (MCD), Starbucks (SBUX) and Yum Brands (YUM), owners of the wildly popular Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, have had many of their stores closed for as long as two weeks presently.

Beyond the human toll the virus is taking in China, where more alarmist estimates range as high as 25,000 dead, the economic toll is just beginning to be felt. China may not be as concerned about taking a hit to their GDP as the rest of the world, which may exacerbate the financial carnage down the supply chain. The Chinese are more concerned about catching up to a virus that they unfortunately were late in detecting and even later in trying to control. Official numbers have the number of infected at 40,573, and deaths at 910, the numbers still climbing.

Stocks, noting that the virus hasn't spread much beyond China's borders (fewer than 400 total cases reported worldwide), took their cues from economic data, especially in the United States, where the major indices marked their best showing since last June. The NASDAQ registered a four percent gain, the Dow and S&P, three percent, and even the laggard NYSE picked up two-and-a-third.

The enjoyment of good economic news, including Friday's January non-farm payroll data which smashed expectations of 160,000 jobs created by totaling 225,000, may turn out to be near the peak for markets as China's economy implodes.

Bond markets, which dwarf stock markets in size by orders of magnitude, are taking the condition more seriously, as the following clips from Doug Noland's Credit Bubble Bulletin present a gloomier outlook:

  • January 27 – Bloomberg (Sam Potter and John Ainger): “The global rush for safer assets has fueled a huge jump in the world’s stockpile of negative-yielding bonds, snapping months of decline in the value of subzero debt. The pool of securities with a yield below zero surged by $1.16 trillion last week, the largest weekly increase since at least 2016 when Bloomberg began tracking the data daily. Another injection looked certain on Monday, as investors worldwide ditched riskier assets and piled into bonds amid mounting fears over a deadly virus spreading from China.

  • January 30 – Bloomberg (James Hirai and Hannah Benjamin): “It sounds like a tough sales pitch: buy this debt to lose money for the next decade. Yet for bankers helping Austria raise money this week, it proved smart business -- investors threw more than 30 billion euros ($33bn) at the country as they vied for a chunk of the world’s first syndicated 10-year government bond to carry a negative yield. The order deluge meant Austria joined the likes of Spain and Italy in setting demand records this month as investors chase the safety of bonds.”

  • February 3 – Bloomberg (Liz McCormick): “It’s been more than six years since the U.S. bond market’s purest read on the global growth outlook was signaling this much concern. The so-called real yield on 10-year inflation-linked Treasuries fell on Friday to negative 0.147%, its lowest since 2013, when Europe’s sovereign debt crisis was raging. Now it’s the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus that’s fueling worries about the potential hit to the world economy.”

At the Close, Friday, February 7, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,102.51, -277.29 (-0.94%)
NASDAQ: 9,520.51, -51.64 (-0.54%)
S&P 500: 3,327.71, -18.07 (-0.54%)
NYSE: 13,931.93, -103.07 (-0.73%)

For the Week:
Dow: +846.48 (+3.00%)
NASDAQ: +369.58 (+4.04%)
S&P 500: +102.19 (+3.17%)
NYSE: +317.83 (+2.33%)

Friday, February 7, 2020

Wuhan Flu Can't Stop Stocks; January Added 225,000 Jobs

Stocks made reasonable gains on Thursday in advance of the monthly non-farm payroll data released Friday prior to the market open.

The news was solid for US employment, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 225,000 new jobs in the month of January, far outpacing expectations of 165,000.

Entering into the job market in January were 500,000 looking for work, though not all of them found it. The influx of new job seekers boosted the jobless rate to 3.6 percent, from a 50-year low of 3.5 percent in December.

On mainland China, both the death count and number of new cases of coronavirus, or Wuhan Flu, as it is now becoming known more colloquially, continued to rise, but the Chinese government announced that the number of people under observation was declining. This, according to Chinese officials, is an important turning point in efforts to control the spread of the virus. How well that prediction works out for the country of 1.2 billion people remains to be seen.

The roller coaster ride that has recently been Tesla stock abated, at least for a day, with shares of the electric car company settling around a price of $750 per unit. Whether that level proves to be support or resistance is another guessing game. Many are still short the stock, believing that the company is built largely on sand and promises, while rumors of a secondary offering continue to swirl.

President Trump lambasted his foes and praised his friends in a pair of very pubic appearances on Thursday, the day after the Senate voted overwhelmingly (2/3rds vote needed) in favor of acquittal from the charges of impeachment leveled against him by a partisan, Democrat-led House of Representatives. At a prayer breakfast, Trump had no kind words for Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, nor Mitt Romney, the only Republican to cast a vote of guilty against him.

Later in the day, Trump assembled members of the House, Senate, his legal team and others, in a round of congratulations and thanks that lasted well over an hour. Singling out many of his political allies with stories and minutia, Trump laid the groundwork for what is likely to be a counter-attack against the Democrats who tried to have him removed from office and public life, setting the stage for a wide open election campaign that will hold nothing back.

Politics, like money, is a hardball business and the Trump team intends to use the best equipment and the best players to take it to the opposition in the fall.

At the Close, Thursday, February 6, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,379.77, +88.92 (+0.30%)
NASDAQ: 9,572.15, +63.47 (+0.67%)
S&P 500: 3,345.78, +11.09 (+0.33%)
NYSE: 14,034.95, +10.09 (+0.07%)

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Stocks Continue to Soar as Threat of Global Pandemic from Coronavirus Fades

US stocks are so hot right now it's difficult to keep up with all the records and new all-time highs. Suffice to say that the Fed continues to pump billions of dollars into the hands of primary dealers, hedge funds, used car dealers, slot machines, you name it.

This market, because of the continuous flow of funny money from the central bank, is as phony as an Iowa caucus, but, if you're long, it's infinitely more enjoyable.

With the Dow up more than 1000 points in three days, most analysts and reporters have run out of superlatives.

Apparently, the threat of a global pandemic from the novel coronavirus has been discounted. Almost all of the reported infections and deaths have been centered in China. Only two deaths outside of China have been reported as having been due to the virus.

On Wednesday, President Trump was acquitted on both impeachment charges. Next time (probably in a few months or so) the Democrats might want to try accusing him of something more concrete than Abuse of Power or Obstruction of Congress, neither of which are crimes, much less high crimes. The only things high were the Democrat deep operatives who dreamt up their poor attempt at a coup d'etat.

In what has to be one of the more amusing stories of the past few days is the unprecedented rise and fall of Elon Musk's Tesla (TSLA) stock, which ran up from a close of 650.57 per share on Friday, January 30, to 887.06 at the close on Tuesday, February 4, and finished the session at 734.70 on Wednesday, the 5th, a loss of 152.36 points (-17.18%), and continues to fall in pre-market trading. One of the most widely-held and most-shorted stocks listed, everybody's a winner with the exploding electric car company.

Just in case there isn't enough juice in the markets to keep the rally alive, China announced overnight that it will cut by half tariffs on 1,717 goods imported from the United States beginning February 14 as part of its agreement to Phase 1 of the US-China trade deal.

Oil continues to hold steady near $50 per barrel of WTI crude, having fallen into a bear market from $64 just a month ago. The US national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is $2.47 a gallon, according to

At the Close, Wednesday, February 5, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,290.85, +483.22 (+1.68%)
NASDAQ: 9,508.68, +40.71 (+0.43%)
S&P 500: 3,334.69, +37.10 (+1.13%)
NYSE: 14,024.86, +162.02 (+1.17%)

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Stocks Rock Higher, Look to Extend Rally on Coronavirus Treatments, Upbeat ADP Report

Tuesday's rally was the best since August of last year, as the spread of the coronavirus appeared to be centered in China and has not advanced with great intensity to the rest of the world. While the situation in China is still dire, with 494 deaths cumulative totaled worldwide as of Tuesday night, the number of cases reported outside of its epicenter appears to have been mostly contained. In the United States, confirmed cases is holding at 11, and the global total outside of China is just 216. That compares well to the number of confirmed cases inside China, at 24,391 and still growing.

There is a very good interactive map and graphical overview from John Hopkins, here.

Also encouraging is news on treatments for the disease on various fronts. Chinese researchers have applied for a patent to employ Gilead Science's Remdesivir as a treatment, which was used to treat the first US patient in Washington state in late January. The first known case of coronavirus in the US was treated with the drug and continues to recover.

In the US, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is collaborating with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals on a coronavirus treatment.

These positive developments have driven stocks higher after a sudden collapse on the major indices last Friday.

Elsewhere, Nancy Pelosi, apparently still upset that Donald J. Trump is still president of the United States, tore up her copy of Trump's State of the Union speech, immediately after the president had delivered his positive message to the congress. Despite the hissy fit by Speaker of the House Pelosi, Mr. Trump's presidency appears to be sailing along nicely despite partisan Democrat attempts to derail it. The president is expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing on Wednesday at 4:00 pm ET, when the Senate will likely acquit him on impeachment charges brought by the House Democrats.

There was more good economic news prior to Wednesday's market open, as ADP reported January private sector job gains of 291,000, the largest upswing in four years.

Stock futures point to a positive open in New York.

At the Close, Tuesday, February 4, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,807.63, +407.82 (+1.44%)
NASDAQ: 9,467.97, +194.57 (+2.10%)
S&P 500: 3,297.59, +48.67 (+1.50%)
NYSE: 13,862.84, +184.91 (+1.35%)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Stocks Rebound As Coronavirus Scare Fades

Nothing to see here, move along.

At the Close, Monday, February 3, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,399.81, +143.78 (+0.51%)
NASDAQ: 9,273.40, +122.47 (+1.34%)
S&P 500: 3,248.92, +23.40 (+0.73%)
NYSE: 13,677.92, +63.82 (+0.47%)

Sunday, February 2, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Virus Fears Spark Selling Spree; But Preventive Measures May Be Slowing Advance of 2019-nCoV

It wasn't a particularly positive week for equities. In fact, it was negative, across the board, ending with a massive selloff on Friday, culminating in the worst week for US stocks since October, 2019.

The better part of the decline came on Friday, after the WHO had issued an international alert on the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and US stocks soared off lows on Thursday. Reality set in Friday and accounted for 75-80% of the total weekly decline.

As the weekend wore on (this is now Sunday noon in the US, Eastern Time), more reports proved encouraging. The official count from China confirmed 14,380 cases total, and 304 deaths. On Saturday, a death in the Philippines was suggested to have been caused by coronavirus but that has yet to be confirmed. Medical professionals are awaiting further testing. The patient died from pneumonia, but it may have come from normal, seasonal flu.

In the US, there's a better chance of dying from the common flu than the coronavirus, according to the CDC.

Preliminary considerations are suggesting that the spread of the virus is being slowed by China's quarantines and travel restrictions and monitoring around the world and that many reports on social media such as Twitter and Facebook have proven false, misleading or negatively hyperbolic.

Patient Zero, i.e., the first case of the disease to have been reported in the United States (Washington state), became quite ill, was treated intravenously with remdesivir (a drug produced by Gilead Sciences (GILD)) and was recovering.

Also on Friday, Great Britain finally extricated itself from the European Union via what's been known as Brexit, the referendum passed by the British public more than three-and-a-half years ago (June 23, 2016), and President Trump appeared on the way to being acquitted on charges of impeachment by the Senate, which voted 51-49 against calling additional witnesses. A final vote on acquittal or guilt will be held at 4:00 pm ET, Wednesday, February 5.

As frightening as the coronavirus and other news may be, people around the world can take heart in the video below: Nigel Farage's final speech at the European Parliament. As of 11:00 pm January 31, 2020, Britain formally withdrew from the European Union.

At the Close, Friday, January 31, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,256.03, -603.41 (-2.09%)
NASDAQ: 9,150.94, -148.00 (-1.59%)
S&P 500: 3,225.52, -58.14 (-1.77%)
NYSE: 13,614.10, -247.82 (-1.79%)

For the Week:
Dow: -733.70 (-2.53%)
NASDAQ: -163.98 (-1.76%)
S&P 500: -69.95 (-2.12%)
NYSE: -364.37 (-2.61%)