Showing posts with label 10-year note. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 10-year note. Show all posts

Friday, May 15, 2020

Stocks Post Weak Gains Ahead of April Retail; Gold, Silver Bid, Approaching Breakout Levels

Following a weak open, which looked to see stocks extend their losing streak to a third straight session in the red, stocks pivoted, gradually rising off the lows (the Dow down more than 400 points early on) to eventually finish with fair, though hardly secure gains, the advance prompted right at the Dow Jones Industrials' 50-day moving average.

For the seventh time in the past eight weeks, the major averages put on gains in the face of staggering employment losses, as new unemployment claims came in hotter than anticipated, with 2.98 million fresh filings, bringing the two-month total over 36 million out of work.

Equity moves were likely not correlated well to the unemployment data, as the gains all appeared after the news had been known for hours. The more likely scenario was one which has been playing out since the Federal Reserve stepped up its bond-buying activity, but quantitatively and qualitatively. Flush with cash, primary dealers and cohorts ramped into stocks, erasing some of the losses from the prior two sessions.

The move, which is mostly market noise rather than anything substantial, is likely to have been in vain. With investors eyeing what are certain to be horrific April retail sales figures Friday morning, futures are pointing down two hours prior to the opening bell.

Sensing weakness in equities, precious metals caught a long-overdue bid, with gold bounding as high as $1732.70, and silver breaking out to a high in early Friday morning trading of $16.48 per troy ounce.

Premiums on both gold and silver remain high, with popular one-ounce silver bars and coins selling in a range of $23-30, while gold fetches well above $1840 routinely for one ounce coins, rounds, or bars. Despite whatever nonsense the mainstream financial media is throwing out as justification for stocks over real money, demand for precious metals is, and has been, at extremely high levels since early March with no abatement seen on the horizon. The outsized demand has created a supply shortage and has miners and smelting operations working at breakneck speed to maintain at least some modicum of reliability.

With input costs around $1250 for gold miners, exploration and excavation should continue at a strong pace as prices rise and demand continues strong. Undervalued for the past seven years at least, gold and silver mining companies may be looking at solid, if not spectacular, profits in coming quarters.

Bond traders were also able to capitalize on the recent weakness in stocks. The yield on the 10-year note has fallen from a May high yield of 0.73% on Monday to close at 0.63% on Thursday. The 30-year closed Monday at 1.43%, its highest level since March 25, but finished Thursday yielding 1.30% and under pressure.

Oil continues to be a favorite plaything of the speculative class, making a two-month high at $28.25 on hopes that some pickup in demand has occurred since states began getting back to business from May 1 forward. Despite an enormous glut on the supply side, specs and oil company execs are latching onto any rumor or fantasy to get the price off the recent decades-deep lows.

The world continues in a state of shock and despair over the coronavirus debacle and various government attempts to both stem its advance and keep their economies on life support. Indications are that some of it's working, but not very well, overall.

Stocks will need a three percent gain on Friday to avoid a negative print for the week. Only the rosiest prognosis would believe that even remotely possible, though the Fed's heft has overcome dire predictions more than once during the current crisis.

Stay liquid. Next posting will be Sunday's WEEKEND WRAP. Life on Wall Street may be not so sweet if all the currency thrown into markets doesn't produce anything more than a 50% spike off the lows, but that head-and-shoulders pattern on the Dow - now with a sloping right shoulder - is beginning to appear ominous.

At the Close, Thursday, May 14, 2020:
Dow: 23,625.34, +377.37 (+1.62%)
NASDAQ: 8,943.72, +80.56 (+0.91%)
S&P 500: 2,852.50, +32.50 (+1.15%)
NYSE: 10,927.41, +97.97 (+0.90%)

Friday, May 8, 2020

Are Markets Awakening to Reality? Gold, Silver, Bonds Higher; Stocks, Oil Lose Momentum As Argentina Approaches Default, US April Job Losses 20.5 Million

Stocks, bonds, oil and precious metals all had their ups and downs on Thursday, as the focus early was on stocks, which put on impressive gains, only to give half of them back in afternoon trading.

Oil was higher in early trading, spiking to $26.27 a barrel for WTI crude before collapsing all the way down to $23.13.

With a turn right after noon, money began to flow away from riskier assets and into safe havens, with bonds, gold, and silver all being bid as the day wore onward.

Silver started the day at $14.81, languished early, and finished sharply higher, at $15.36. Gold was also cold in the morning, but found its legs later, moving from Wednesday's NY close of $1684.10 to finish at $1718.00.

Treasuries were bought with unusual gusto on the long end. The yield on the 5-year note moved from 0.37% to 0.29% on the day, the 10-year yield went from 0.72% to 0.63%, and the 30-year dropped 10 basis points, from 1.41% to 1.31%. The curve flatted out by 10 basis points, 121 bips covering the entire complex.

All of this activity was against a backdrop of 3.2 million initial unemployment claims, bringing the recent total to 33 million over the past seven weeks.

April non-farm payrolls were also on the mind, with the number - expected to be a record for one month - due out Friday morning.

Argentina (silvery) is about to default on $65 billion of its foreign debt today, Friday, May 8, as bondholders and the government are at loggerheads over a restructuring, though the government appeared to be willing to make some concessions late Thursday. A harder deadline comes May 22, when the country could enter certain default, as a grace period for $500 million of interest payments comes to an end. The clock is ticking for the nation that has defaulted on debt eight times previously.

Argentina could be the doomsday clock the financial world is watching. Other nations are sure to be on the brink of debt default and currency crises after weeks and months of lockdowns, supply chain breakdowns, social unrest, and deaths caused by COVID-19.

Is this the beginning of the end of the stock market rally and a rush to the safety of hard assets? The Dow popped above 24,000 intraday, but it's been unable to surpass the seven-week high of 24,633.66, which is roughly a half retrace of the March pullback. Another failure at this level would signal a short-term selling condition.

Just moments ago, the BLS reported April non-farm payrolls, registering a loss of 20.5 million jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to 14.7%.

With COVID-19 continuing to cause dislocations in everything from meat distribution to pro sports to education, the debate over whether this economic maelstrom will eventually result in a sharp rebound or a long, drawn out recession or even a depression.

Siding with the sharp rebound are those who gave up the ghost back in March with lockdowns, the government, media, and most of the financial community following the lead of the Federal Reserve.

Naysayers, viewing the global economy at a severe breaking point with no good solutions, include James Rickards, Mike Maloney of, Peak Prosperity's Chris Martenson, Peter Schiff (a fiat money perma-bear and gold perma-bull) and others.

Greg Mannarino, the Robin Hood of Wall Street adds some perspective:

At the Close, Thursday, May 7, 2020:
Dow: 23,875.89, +211.25 (+0.89%)
NASDAQ: 8,979.66, +125.27 (+1.41%)
S&P 500: 2,881.19, +32.77 (+1.15%)
NYSE: 11,121.67, +121.68 (+1.11%)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Americans Angered Over Lockdowns, Unfairness; Government Proposes Re-Opening

Was it a coincidence that the president released his guidelines for states to reopen their economies just as civil unrest was percolating across America?

Probably not. Very little happens by chance in the hyper-charged world of politics. The timing was no accident. From the looks of the well-prepared document sent out by the White House, these guidelines had been thought out and processed well in advance. Whether the co-mingled events of Thursday constitute conspiracy or just good planning is a debatable topic.

Whatever the case, most Americans won't be going back to work any time soon. The presidential guidelines call for 14 days of declining trajectory of COVID-19 cases or other criteria. Presently, the numbers are still rising in most states, so expect the level of unrest amongst the working class - what's left of it - to only increase in coming days.

At the same time, the fetid morass that came out of the recently-enacted relief bill is cause for even more dissent. While public corporations received government largesse instantaneously, small businesses suffering from shutdowns cited distressing experiences dealing with banks charged with administering their loans, and that was before the funding dried up and was gone. The so-called Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was availed to a very small percentage of businesses needing assistance, falling well short of anything approaching appeasement. Some lucky individuals began receiving $1200 direct deposits from the feds, and a good number of the 22 million unemployed started getting the extra $600 in weekly unemployment payouts.

Frustration with the rollout of the PPP small business loans was possibly ameliorated by the extra cash afforded unemployed people. There are more than a few people presently reporting a weekly windfall far in excess of what they were making while actually working, so where is the incentive for businesses to keep employees on the books - with the mandate of employers providing up to three months of paid family leave during the crisis - when the government is offering a better deal?

Again, the clashing narratives of extra unemployment compensation and forgivable loans to small business was not happenstance. It is no accident that the federal government gave generously with few strings attached to bail out Wall Street's darlings while confounding and confusing small business and wage earners.

It would take a monumental leap of faith to overlook either the government's gross incompetence or purposeful negligence. From the start, the entire coronavirus affair looks like, smells like, and feels like a deceitful scam, perpetrated to gloss over a multi-trillion dollar scheme to rescue the money center banks and their big corporation, stock-buyback, campaign contributing cohorts.

It worked, and so well that Americans are now clamoring and demanding to get back to their wage-and-tax slavery, otherwise known as a steady job. On Thursday, when the Labor Department reported another 5.5 million new unemployment claims, boosting the number since lockdowns and stay-at=home orders went into effect to over 22 million, stocks managed small gains on the day, but closed out the week on Friday with massive gains.

Over the course of the four weeks in which large numbers of unemployed were reported, stocks gained in three of them, accosting middle and lower class wage earners with an unhealthy kick in the teeth each time for their "sacrifice." The unfair collusion between big business and big government apparently is being tolerated for the time being, though the restlessness of the citizenry has become palpable, the bad taste becoming less palatable with each passing day of isolation and perceived abuse.

A less civil society would have already manned the ramparts and forced the issue. In Michigan, at least, the state house was under assault by thousands of protesters in what may be a sign of things to come. Americans shouldn't stand for such out-and-out double dealing by their government, but it looks like they will, at least until the unemployment money runs out. Or the food runs out. As it stands, they have already taken away Americans' right of assembly (banning large gatherings) to free movement, freedom of choice, and as the crisis commences, governors and bankers will be picking winners and losers, denying re-openings and/or loans to businesses that are deemed "non-essential."

When the Roman Republic transitioned to becoming the Roman Empire the will of the people waned and government fiat became law, with little to no public input or appreciation. Juvenal, a poet of the late first and early second century, decried the dreadful state of affairs in his satires, his most famous phrase coining the term for pacifying the masses, panem et circenses.

... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.

-- Juvenal

Since the government of the United States - and elsewhere around the world - has already mandated an end to the circus aspect of American life by outlawing public gatherings such as sporting events - no baseball, no basketball, hockey, or soccer, and no fans - how soon they take away the bread (food), or price it at unaffordable levels, remains to be seen. The audacity and mendacious aspects of the government response - federal, state, and local - to the coronavirus pandemic puts into play a popular uprising in opposition to government that is increasingly being viewed as unfair, uncaring, and unaccountable.

This viewpoint is not held in isolation. It is shared by many. For perspective, the most recent Keiser Report gives an outstanding testament for the general outrage. It may be Max and Stacy's best effort ever produced (and this is episode 1529). The message is clear, concise, and to the point. Having the brilliant economist, Dr. Michael Hudson, in the second segment is a significant bonus. America, and likely, the rest of the world, is about to enter a new age of unbridled financial repression unless the citizenry rises up to smite the government and rentier class. Max and Stacy hit the nail hard and directly on the head.

Now, to recap the week in what used to be markets, everything is either broken, controlled, or manipulated. Precious metals can no longer be realistically priced by the futures. For decades, they have been manipulated by central banks and the bank for International Settlements (BIS). If there is any doubt, read the extensive body of work done by the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA). Be forewarned. It is voluminous. Likely the most accurate, true market for gold and silver is on - of all places - eBay, where private parties and dealers buy and sell precious metals in an open, largely unregulated market.

Here are recent (April 18, 19) prices for 1 ounce silver and gold coins on eBay* (quote order is LOW, HIGH, AVERAGE and MEDIAN):
One troy ounce silver coin: 25.50, 61.00, 36.19, 31.89
One troy ounce silver bar: 23.75, 33.00, 27.74, 27.38
One troy ounce gold coin: 1,860.00, 2,004.19, 1,919.82, 1,917.97
One troy ounce gold bar: 1,826.00, 1,905.37, 1,860.95,1,858.34

*Prices were generated using eBay's sold (recently ended) function for the 12 most recent sales of standard (non-numismatic) bars, rounds and coins. Prices included shipping (often free).

Compare the public market price (eBay) to the futures prices and judge for yourself which standard should be used when pricing precious metals. In addition to many dealers being sold out of many popular items, for the past month to six weeks dealers have been imposing minimum order amounts and shipment delays of 15-45 days.

Futures (fake) prices (April 17):
Silver: $15.20/troy ounce
Gold: $1686.50/troy ounce

How about some US Treasury bonds for your portfolio? The benchmark 10-year note yielded between a record low, 0.61%, and 0.76% for the week, closing out on Friday at 0.65% The entire yield curve is 115 basis points end to end, from the 30-day (0.12%) and the 30-year (1.27%). The best that can be said for the treasury yield is that it's better than all other developed national debt, most of which offer negative yields through to 10 year bonds.

Those with faith in government might still want to drop $10,000 on a 10-year note for a whopping return of $76 a year and a grand total of $760 if held to maturity. Others might be hedging that the yield will drop even lower or into negative territory and then sell the bond at a profit. For such a paltry return, neither scenario offers much upside potential.

The one bright spot for the global population is the price of oil and gas. Some states are selling gas at the pump for under $1.00 per gallon as the price of WTI crude closed out last week at $18.12, the lowest in decades. That's overtly deflationary.

At the Close, Friday, April 17, 2020:
Dow: 24,242.49, +704.79 (+2.99%)
NASDAQ: 8,650.14, +117.78 (+1.38%)
S&P 500: 2,874.56, +75.01 (+2.68%)
NYSE: 11,208.29, +390.29 (+3.61%)

For the Week:
Dow: +523.12 (+2.21%)
NASDAQ: +496.57 (+6.09%)
S&P 500: +84.74 (+3.04%)
NYSE: +71.69 (+0.64%)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Stocks Gain Tuesday, Busy Fed Monetizes Stocks Amid Spreading COVID-19 Virus: Boeing Wants $60 Billion

On the heels of Monday's knee-knocking losses, Tuesday's trade to the upside was somewhat predictable, in that a dead cat bounce usually follows massive losses, so the major indices continued along their path of one step forward, two (or three, four, or five) steps back.

There has not been back-to-back gains on the majors since a four-day stretch from February 4-7, as stocks rose relentlessly to new highs, the general top coming on February 12, in itself a surprising date, since the coronavirus was already in the process of devastating China and its economy, already having disrupted the global supply chain. How could investors have been so short-sighted? Greed has a certain blinding element to it, as does the opposite market reaction, fear, which has taken firm hold in the US markets and around the world.

Tuesday's events surrounding the viral outbreak were more of the standard fare of shutdowns, closures, government-imposed rules, as Europe closed its borders, every nation inside the EU locking down, as did the city of San Francisco, soon to be followed, most likely, by a similar "shelter in place" order in New York City, hinted at by Mayor Bill DeBlasio, shutting down all commerce for the foreseeable future.

The global case count has no exceeded that of mainland China and continues to outpace it. China's figures are still suspect, as they claim to have all but conquered the virus, the number of new cases since February 18 having grown by only 7,000, leveling off in the 81,000 range, a minuscule percentage of China's 1.4 billion population. However, China did lock down more than half of the country, especially in the province of Hubei, he original epicenter. There's probably never going to be any way to verify China's figures, since they announced Tuesday that reporters from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post would have their media credentials revoked, essentially barring them from reporting on anything.

With the March FOMC meeting underway, the Fed was very busy, boosting QE, extending credit for commercial paper to businesses large and small, and, after the market closed, re-instituting a loan facility to primary dealers from the 2008-09 crisis.

Officially called the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, or PMDF, the program will supply primary dealers of equities and other financial instruments loans of up to 90 days for at least the next six months, essentially monetizing stocks by allowing the 24 primary dealers to use stocks as collateral for short-term funding.

Also making headlines were Secretary Steven Mnuchin and President Trump, who were touting a plan to send $1000 checks to most Americans, specifically singling out millionaires, who, according to their statements, would not receive any handouts.

Boeing (BA), besieged by their own errors, is asking for a $60 billion bailout from the federal government. Boeing stock has fallen from a high of 440.62 to 124.14 currently, but the aerospace and airplane manufacturer should not be afforded such generosity, given that the company has been derelict in its corporate money management. Over the past 12 years, Boeing has repurchased at least $40 billion of its own shares, so, if it is in need of capital, it should just sell those stocks in the open market.

Boeing's stock buyback scheme worked to enrich shareholders and top executives as the share price soared as available stock was taken out of circulation and dividends were increased. Instead of reinvesting their profits, Boeing executives showered themselves with lavish bonuses and stock options. Now that a rainy day has arrived, they come begging for money from US taxpayers.

The same is true of major airlines, who spent almost all of their free cash flow on stock buybacks since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09. It's a travesty beyond compare.

While stocks held their own private party, other parts of the economic landscape obviously didn't share in the celebratory mood. Crude oil was sent to fresh lows, WTI crude cratering to $26.95 on Tuesday, and falling even more, to $26.04, in early Wednesday trading.

Gold and silver have been ravaged for days, though gold rallied sharply on Tuesday while silver fell to new lows, sending the gold-silver ratio to unimaginable heights. The last spot silver price in New York was $12.56 per ounce. Gold settled Tuesday at $1527.90, leaving the ratio at 121.65, an unbelievable figure, far and away the highest level in the 5,000 years of gold and silver being used as money.

As investment grade (IG) spreads have blown out to crisis levels, the treasury curve steepened dramatically on Tuesday, as the short end was bought and longer-dated maturities were sold. The total spread from 1-month bills out to 30-year bonds increased from 109 basis points on Monday to 151 Tuesday, the 30-year yield spiking 29 basis points to 1.64%, the 10-year note yielding 1.02%, also 29 basis points higher. At the short end, the 1-month bill yields 0.12%, falling from 0.25% on the day.

Thus, with millions of Americans at home for the next two weeks, with no sports, little work, and high anxiety, high finance drama continues to play out daily in the markets, which, for better or worse, remain unfettered and open for business.

The world is witnessing a financial calamity in real time.

At the Close, Tuesday, March 17, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 21,237.38, +1,048.86 (+5.20%)
NASDAQ: 7,334.78, +430.19 (+6.23%)
S&P 500: 2,529.19, +143.06 (+6.00%)
NYSE: 10,063.36, +495.83 (+5.18%)

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Stocks Lose Record Amounts, Treasury Bond Yields Smashed As COVID-19 Begins Taking Its Toll

All of the major US indices posted record losses as coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rage through 115 countries, with 114,595 confirmed cases and a death toll now over 4,000 (4,028).

Adding to market grief, Saudi Arabia, in an effort to harm other oil producers sent crude futures plunging as it unilaterally slashed prices and raised production output. WTI crude fell below $30 a barrel, recovering slightly to above $34.00 a barrel prior to Tuesday's opening bell. Still, the price cut was mammoth, on the order of a 24.6% decline. WTI closed at $41.28 Friday, finishing at $31.13 on Monday.

The Dow, S&P, NASDAQ, and NYSE all recorded record point losses, blowing away earlier marks. The Dow's 2,013.76 loss nearly doubled the previous record from February 27 of this year (−1,190.95). On The NASDAQ, the 624.94-point loss topped the list, easily surpassing the February 9 drop of −414.30.

Losing 225,81, the S&P vaulted over its previous mark of −137.63, also on February 27 of this year, less than two weeks ago.

The treasury bond complex was not spared, with yields falling across the entire curve by enormous amounts. The 30-year bond finished at 0.99% yield, the first time ever it has been below one percent. The day's decline was an unprecedented 26 basis points. At the other end, one-month bills dropped 22 basis points, from 0.79 to 0.57%.

Offering the lowest yield is the six-month bill, at 0.27%. The 10-year note was absolutely shattered, down 20 basis points, from 0.74 to 0.54%. In terms of curve, the complex is exceedingly flat, with just 72 basis points between the top and bottom yields.

Gold and silver both were higher initially, but were beaten down over the course of the day.

In the United States, the number of new, confirmed cases are rising rapidly as tests from the CDC begin arriving in massive quantities to state and local hospitals and labs. There are now 755 cases of coronavirus in the US, and 26 deaths.

After China, the US ranks 8th overall. Italy has reported 9,172 cases with 463 deaths. Italy's death figures are the highest outside mainland China, as are the number of cases. The Italian government closed its borders completely on Monday after efforts to contain the virus to the northern provinces failed.

The other countries topping the list of most infected are, in order, South Korea, Iran, France, Spain, and Germany, after which comes the United States. All of the aforementioned countries are reporting more than 1,000 cases. Confirmed cases outside China has exceeded those inside China for nearly the past week and are doubling every three to four days.

In addition to the human tragedy, large events are being canceled worldwide. Ireland has canceled all St. Patrick's Day parades, and around the world sporting events, concerts and other large-crowd gatherings are being put on hold or canceled, including the huge South-by-Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas. The NCAA basketball tournament, commonly known as March Madness, which begins in a week, NBA basketball, and Major League Baseball, which opens its regular season on March 26, are all mulling the idea of playing games with no fans in the stands.

Businesses are gearing down due to the crisis, with many major firms instructing employees to work from home. School cancelations are on the rise globally, and will be widespread in the US in coming days and weeks.

The after-effects of the virus on the business community and the economy are just beginning to be felt according to many in finance, including hedge fund manager Kyle Bass, who believes the crisi will peak in about a month.

Even though the World Health Organization (WHO) is reluctant to call the worldwide spread of the pathogen a pandemic, it is surely one. The WHO does not want to use the world pandemic as it would trigger the default of "pandemic bonds," designed to provide $500 million to the organization should a pandemic be declared.

With less than an hour before the opening bell in the US, stocks seem to have caught a bid. Japan's NIKKEI was lower for most of the day but finished marginally higher on Tuesday. Other Pacific Rim bourses finished with gains of one to one-and-a-half percent, while European indices are currently sporting gains of around 2.5%.

US stock futures point to a higher open, as traders prepare for another stressful session. The so-called "dead cat bounce" applies, as the markets don't seem to have actually bottomed out. When all is said and done, many countries are going to report GDP losses for the first and likely, second quarters, plunging the world into what may be a prolonged recession.

At the Close, Monday, March 9, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,851.02, -2,013.76 (-7.79%)
NASDAQ: 7,950.68, -624.94 (-7.29%)
S&P 500: 2,746.56, -225.81 (-7.60%)
NYSE: 11,298.43, -1,053.60 (-8.53%)

Friday, March 6, 2020

Stocks Struck, Bonds Bought, Gold Soaring As COVID-19 Coronavirus Continues to Prompt Worldwide Response; Fed Powerless

While no records were broken on Thursday, US stocks gave back most of the gains made on Wednesday, as volatility remained elevated. The most-widely quoted measure of volatility, the VIX, spiked to 46.25, a level not seen since the onset of the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) in October 2008. A normal range for the VIX is between 12 and 18. The measure is currently indicating extreme stress in equity markets.

Another gauge of how severe this latest foray into and out of correction territory is the treasury yield curve and individual duration yields. The benchmark of the treasury complex is the 10-year note, which continues to be bought, sending the yield spiraling downward to unprecedented levels.

On Thursday, yields across the treasury complex were hammered lower. The 10-year-note fell from 1.02% on Wednesday to as low as 0.87% on Thursday, finally settling at another new record low of 0.92%. As long as equities remain under pressure - a timeline which could extend not just days or weeks, but months - bonds will be the safe haven and yields will fall.

The 30-year bond, which began the year at 2.33% and was at 2.09% as recently as February 12, crashed another nine basis points on the day, to a record low 1.56%. Shorter duration bills and notes were also being bought, sending yields skidding. The 2-year note was yielding 1.44% a month ago, closed out Thursday at 0.59%. The 1-year continues to offer the lowest yield, 0.48%, while the shortest duration, the 1-month bill yields 0.92. The short end is inverted, signaling economic chokepoints dead ahead.

All of this market turmoil has been the cause of the widely-spread coronavirus, or COVID-19, its official name. With worldwide cases now over 100,000, deaths over 3,400, and the increase in daily infections outside of mainland China now surpassing those from inside China, there's little doubt that the pandemic has reached crisis proportions.

The current hotspots continue to be South Korea (6,593 cases), Iran (4,747) and Italy (3,858), though countries in Europe are beginning to spike higher, especially in Germany, France, Spain, and Switzerland.

The United States is currently reporting 233 cases, though the lack of preparedness and test kits assures that the number is higher by orders of magnitude. With an asymptomatic (not showing obvious symptoms of infection) period of up to 27 days in which the carrier can spread the virus, the number of cases in the United States - as wel as everywhere else - is likely to spike higher within the next week or two. While this is speculation, it is based upon recognizable patterns of the virus, from evidence gathered in South Korea, Italy and on the cruise ship, Diamond Princess, which was ported in Japan for a month and served as a kind of petri dish for study of the disease.

With quarantine the most effective measure to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, the fear in markets is that entire communities will become isolated, workplaces shuttered, large events cancelled. Those scenarios and more have already been evidenced in China, South Korea, Italy and elsewhere. There's no escaping the realities of this global outbreak.

Along the lines of seeking out safe havens, gold has been a superstar, at a seven year high, $1,686.30 per ounce. Silver has lagged, but continues to appreciate, the current price $17.46 per ounce.

Crude oil continues to languish as global demand has collapsed. Even after OPEC announced a cut of half a million barrels a day, the price of WTI crude oil slipped further, currently at $44.06 per barrel.

In what has to be the most inconsequential data release in recent memory, the Labor Department released the February non-farm payroll report, which showed employers added 273,000 jobs nationwide, dropping the unemployment rate to 3.5%, though all of this data is viewed through a lens that was looking prior to the extreme global outbreak of COVID-19.

Markets will remain unsettled as long as the virus remains in its virulent form. With no good remedies or a vaccine readily available, fear will dominate financial markets and it is more likely to get worse before it gets any better. The United States has not yet seen the effects of widespread outbreak, which is all but certain to occur.

Even with Thursday's large losses, stocks are still ahead for the week from two to three percent, depending on the index in question. Bank stocks have suffered tremendous losses, as have airlines, but the damage to stocks has been pretty much an all-in matter. 90% of stocks on the S&P 500 are trading below their 10-day moving averages.

As of Friday morning, the Dow is still ahead by 2.80% on the week, but the market is poised for another down day and the near-term bottom of 24,681.01 (intraday) is certain to be tested in short order.

The Federal Reserve, which cut the federal funds rate by 50 basis points in an emergency cut on Tuesday, meets on March 17-18, with the market calling for a 50 to 75 basis point cut, which would bring the rate down below one percent. Even though the Fed will likely cut the rate at the meeting - and again at its April meeting - it is unlikely to offer much in the way of relief. The Fed cannot print a vaccine, nor halt the spread of an invisible, virulent virus which is rampaging around the world.

At the Close, Thursday, March 5, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,121.28, -969.58 (-3.58%)
NASDAQ: 8,738.59, -279.49 (-3.10%)
S&P 500: 3,023.94, -106.18 (-3.39%)
NYSE: 12,593.03, -416.93 (-3.20%)

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Fed Rate Cut Falls Flat, But Wait, Markets Set to Rebound; Super Tuesday Results Put COVID-19 On Back Burner

Super Tuesday lived up to its name, with a surprise rate cut from the Federal Reserve and a big night for Joe Biden, though Bernie Sanders scored enough delegates to keep the race close.

Mid-morning, the Fed cut the overnight federal funds rate by 50 basis points, from 1.50-1.75%, to 1.00-1.25%, actually settling for 1.10% as the official overnight rate, according to the Fed's implementation note.

What most people missed is that the rate cut does not take effect until March 4, or Wednesday, which may be why the market crumbled Tuesday, with a dull thud finish. Futures are pointing to a huge bump at the opening bell. Dow futures are up nearly 700 points as of this writing. The emergency rate cut was only the ninth time the Fed has acted outside the FOMC meeting framework, and the cut was probably unnecessary, though it is certain to give the market a bump, albeit a small one. The Fed's playbook has been seriously damaged since the 2008 crash. This move gives credence to those who argue that the Fed is a patsy to the stock market.

Stocks had been gyrating up and down until the Fed made its move. After a brief uptick, stocks sank, perhaps with the idea that if the Fed was cutting rates, then the brewing crisis over coronavirus may be worse than recognized. It also could be that banks and institutions are so tight, there just wasn't enough liquidity in the system to fend off waves of selling. The Fed's behind-the-scenes liquidity injections have done more to prop up the market than any rate cut possibly could, with their daily and weekly open market operations oversubscribed in recent days.

The bond market certainly wasn't buying into saving the stock market via rate cuts. The 10-year note dipped below the one percent threshold briefly on Tuesday, finally settling in at the close at another record low yield of 1.02%, a decline of eight basis points from Monday's reading. The short end of the curve was obliterated, with the shortest duration, 1-month bills, losing 30 basis points, down to a yield of 1.11% at the close.

Losing 13 basis points, the 2-year carries the lowest yield across the curve, which remains slightly inverted (1-and-2-month bills yielding higher than the 10-year). The 2-year note slipped from 0.84 to 0.71. The entire curve remains relatively flat at 93 basis points top to bottom, with the 30-year sliding just two basis points on Tuesday, to 1.64%.

Precious metals regained some of their shine after the rate cut announcement. Gold rocketed higher by nearly $50, closing the session in New York at $1644.40 per ounce. Silver advanced as well, though it is still quite depressed at a mere $17.19 per ounce.

The true "tell" throughout the day was crude oil. Both before and after the rate cut, WTI crude could scarcely muster a bid, finishing at $47.18 per barrel. Weakness in oil, the actual fuel of the world economy, speaks volumes and can be employed as a bleeding edge proxy for the general health or sickness of the word's financial condition.

Numbers to watch on Wednesday are pretty straightforward. Following a retreat of some 4725.74 points, the Dow ascended on Tuesday to the first Fibonacci retrace level (38%) at 26,476.79. The index actually floated beyond that point, gaining over 27,000 just after the open, but it settled in and remained below the initial Fibonacci level most of the day. If the Dow gains beyond that first retrace, the next stop would be the 62% level, at 27,610.97. Keep in mind that the intraday low was Friday's 24,681.01. If that level is breached to the downside, there's literally no support until around 22,445, the bottom of the December 2018 breakdown.

As for the Democrat race for the presidential nomination, Joe Biden was hailed on network TV as a rebounding hero, winning races in North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Massachusetts and elsewhere, thanks to two moderates - Pete Buttigeig and Amy Klobuchar - bowing out and endorsing slow Joe on the eve of Super Tuesday. While Biden picked up most of the votes that would have gone to Mayor Pete and Senator Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders was held down by the insistence of Elizabeth Warren to stay in the race when she actually has no hope of winning anything but more negative nicknames. Mike Bloomberg picked off some delegates, giving his campaign enough life to carry forward, but the DNC is hellbent on eliminating Sanders, over fears that he might actually win the nomination.

The possibility of a consistent socialist carrying the Democrat banner into the fall is not the look the party perceives for itself, despite it being the closest to reality in what it represents. From here on out, all the media will be signing the praises of Joe Biden - a deeply flawed individual - and downplaying the power of Sanders' campaign, which has widespread support in the most liberal camps and generates the most excitement of any candidate, bar Trump.

What's interesting about a Sanders versus Trump race is that Sanders, a lifetime liberal and Senator for nearly three decades, will be portrayed as the outsider and Trump as the establishment. Perception is everything in elections, and it's likely that Trump would turn that notion on its head.

Finally, Tuesday was a day in which the coronavirus, or COVID-19 was pushed to the back of the headlines. The death toll in the US reached nine, but those three additional deaths were all from the nursing home in Washington state that had accounted for the six prior fatalities. Look, a tornado that ripped through Nashville, Tennessee early Tuesday morning (around 1:30 am) killed at least 25 people in minutes and left a path of devastation unlike many people have ever witnessed. That's a tragedy. Nine deaths of people all over the age of 63 from a virus that spreads quickly and has a high mortality rate for seniors is a fact of life.

At the Close Tuesday, March 3, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,917.41, -785.91 (-2.94%)
NASDAQ: 8,684.09, -268.08 (-2.99%)
S&P 500: 3,003.37, -86.86 (-2.81%)
NYSE: 12,542.74, -285.25 (-2.22%)

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%)

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.

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%)

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 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%)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

WEEKEND WRAP: The World Might End, But Nobody Would Care

There were two major events this week, but hardly anyone cared about them.

First, President Trump was impeached. Well, at least that's what the House Democrats and Nancy Pelosi like to think, though they haven't actually sent the articles of impeachment over to the Senate for a trial.

Second, all of the major indices in the US reached new all-time highs. Not only did most people not care - it's become a foregone conclusion that stocks will always go higher, just like house prices in 2004-2007 - most didn't even notice. After all, it's close to Christmas and everybody is busy shopping, cooking, preparing to give people things they don't need, purchased with money they shouldn't be spending.

As laid back as the week was, the heat went down here at Money Daily and we didn't publish on Thursday. It was chilly and we were preoccupied with getting our trusty backup propane heater up and running. We did, it's warmer now, but the main heating unit is shot and needs to be replaced. That is supposed to happen Monday.

Another item not making any headlines was the spiking of the treasury yield curve. During the week it steepened, with the 10-year note striking a yield of 1.92% on Wednesday and holding there through Friday. The short end of the curve is a bit inverted, with one-year bills yielding more than shorter durations, though not by much. The Fed probably has all of this under control. No need to elaborate or give a darn.

If you're reading this and don't care, not to worry. Nobody else gives a hoot either, apparently.

Probably, this is what happens when markets are rigged, the media lies constantly, and politicians act like a crazed bunch of monkeys released from the local zoo. People get used to things being FUBAR and just tune out.

An asteroid could whack the earth and throw it off its axis, destroying most life on the planet and nobody would think twice about how horrible an end that would be. The remaining people would probably try to go to work the next day or turn on the TV and watch a blank screen, thinking that it's improved over what used to be broadcast.

And stocks would be up.

At the Close, Friday, December 20, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,455.09, +78.13 (+0.28%)
NASDAQ: 8,924.96, +37.74 (+0.42%)
S&P 500: 3,221.22, +15.85 (+0.49%)
NYSE Composite: 13,889.25, +57.58 (+0.42%)

For the Week:
Dow: +319.71 (+1.14%)
NASDAQ: +190.08 (+2.18%)
S&P 500: +52.42 (+1.65%)
NYSE Composite: +191.91 (+1.40%)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks Flat After Week Of Turmoil; Media Concentration Killing Free Press

Due almost entirely to a stunning November non-farm payroll report, Friday's massive gains offset the losses incurred on the main US indices earlier in the week, leaving the Dow and NASDAQ with minimal losses and the S&P and NYSE Composite with smallish gains for the week.

With the prior month's job gains calculated to be 266,000, there was a great deal of encouragement for the US economy, despite almost no progress in US-China trade talks.

Though the week was a tumultuous one, ending with a bang, the overall arc was about as noticeable as the earth's curvature from a three-story building.

While stocks were going nowhere, crude caught a bid, as Saudi Arabia and OPEC nations vowed to cut another 500,000 barrels a day production in the first quarter of 2020. The move was seen as bullish for crude, though the cohesion of OPEC members remains questionable. The Saudi's are convinced that some members are failing to meet promised production cuts, putting lid on global oil prices. WTI crude oil closed out the week at $59.07. Gas prices shot up across the United States and Europe.

As is usually the case, gold and silver were beaten down during Friday's stock ramping. Gold ended at $1,458.40 per ounce, while silver bit the dust at $16.49.

Bonds were also whipsawed, with the 10-year note lost 11 basis points on Monday, with yield dropping from 1.83% to 1.72%, only to see it all eviscerated by Friday, finishing the week at 1.84%.

All markets appeared to be on unstable ground as the holiday season progressed and such condition may persist for the foreseeable future. The impeachment of President Trump continues apace in the House of Representatives, the trade war is likely to get hotter, holiday shopping usually lulls during the second and third week of December, and protests in Hong Kong and France (and in many other countries, over various issues) are taking a toll.

Oddly enough, America's mainstream media wishes to have nothing to do with protests in other countries, perhaps hoping that by not airing real news, Americans will not get any ideas about speaking up on issues that affect them. None of the major TV networks allowed any air time to the French protests over pensions, nor did the Washington Post. It's as though 800,000 people protesting in Paris, while the massive public transportation system was halted due to striking workers, actually did not happen. Americans are being kept in the dark about international developments unless it somehow fits their narrow narrative of "impeach Trump" and "trade war bad."

It wasn't long ago - maybe 30 years or so - that the United States had a free, fair, and balanced press. Since media cross ownership rules were relaxed, first in 1975, again in 1996, and again in 2003, media ownership concentration has gotten to the point at which we are today, where six or seven companies control roughly 95% of all mainstream media. It's no wonder that Americans are perplexed about world affairs, economics, and politics. The powers in the media have conspired together to keep the general public blissfully ignorant.

The internet has changed where Americans look for news to some degree, but, the large media companies own or control much of that as well, making it difficult for the average person to discern what is real, what is opinion, and what is fake. Until the FCC rolls back the liberalization of ownership concentration rules, Americans are almost certain to be shielded from news and stories that those overseeing network conglomerates believe to be too dangerous, too damaging, or simply to controversial to air.

The status quo, deep-state owned media in America is second only to congress as its own worst enemy and it may become even worse during the coming election year.

At the Close, Friday, December 6, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,015.06, +337.27 (+1.22%)
NASDAQ: 8,656.53, +85.83 (+1.00%)
S&P 500: 3,145.91, +28.48 (+0.91%)
NYSE Composite: 13,588.29, +105.99 (+0.79%)

For the Week:
Dow: -36.35 (-0.13%)
NASDAQ: -8.94 (-0.10%)
S&P 500: +4.93 (+0.16%)
NYSE Composite: +43.08 (+0.32%)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Stocks Drop for Third Straight Session

For the third straight session, US stocks finished in the red, an occurrence that hasn't befallen US indices since the first week of August. Tuesday's losses were minimized by concerted buying after the indices bottomed out mid-morning. The Dow was down more than 450 points at its nadir.

More concerning than a mild adjustment in the value of stocks was the movement in US treasuries, as the 10-year note yield dropped 11 basis points on the day, falling to 1.72%, the lowest level since October 10. After spending the first seven months of 2019 with a yield in excess of 2.00%, the benchmark bond has steadfastly maintained a "one-handle" in subsequent months. A prolonged stock selloff would likely send yields to year-lows in a rush to safety.

The ten-year note bottomed out at 1.47% in late August, early September, closing at that yield on three separate occasions. That's still a way off, though there are signs that a repeat of last December's deep stock dive could be readying.

At the Close, Tuesday, December 3, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,502.81, -280.23 (-1.01%)
NASDAQ: 8,520.64, -47.34 (-0.55%)
S&P 500: 3,093.20, -20.67 (-0.66%)
NYSE Composite: 13,366.09, -82.17 (-0.61%)

Monday, November 25, 2019

WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks End Long Weekly Win Streaks; Negative Interest Rates Will Destroy Advanced Economies

Oh, Snap! Weekly winning steaks were ended with the first down week in the last eight on the NASDAQ. The S&P 500 and NYSE Composite saw their winning streaks ended at six weeks, while the Dow saw the underside of the unchanged line after four straight positives.

That US stock indices were all lower by less than one-half of one percent points up the resiliency and absurdity of the markets. Eminently malleable, stocks have been guided higher seemingly by Adam Smith's invisible hand, the one that keeps pension plans from imploding, sovereign governments from defaulting, and fiat currencies from the ruinous effects of unacceptability.

Putting into focus the NASDAQ, its seven-week upside move was the second-longest of the year. It began 2019 with an eight-week short-crushing rally on the heels of the final two weeks of 2018, which saw the index rise from the December ashes of a 6,190 low. While that 10-week advance boosted the index by some 1400 points, the most recent weekly gains accounted for only 800 additional points, although it recorded a new high in the week prior to the most recent and has backed down only slightly.

Anyone wise enough to have put all their money into the NASDAQ at the start of this year would be up a whopping 25% with just over a month remaining to add onto those lush profits. For ordinary folks locked into a buy and hold fund strategy, the gains since the highs of August-September 2018 to the present add up to only five percent. That's a more realistic figure for the real world and one which fits like a glove with the slowing pace of GDP and the generally dull data drops over these past 14 months.

While the stock markets may have the appearance of being big, bold, large and in charge, the truth is a somewhat more sobering landscape. Recovering so quickly from 20% losses has kept the investing public soothed and subdued, the politics of passive investing intact, and the wheels of industry churning, albeit at a lower crunch rate.

While stocks took this brief pre-holiday pause, interest rates were moving in the same direction, only with quickened pace. Negative interest rates rode across the plain of developed nations (Europe, Japan), suggesting that US treasuries were underpriced. Indeed, the long end of the curve was where most of the drama occurred, with the 30-year bond trimmed 21 basis points - from 2.41% to 2.22% - since November 8 (10 trading days). The 10-year note shed 17 basis points, slumping from 1.84% to 1.77% over the same period.

That's a trend sure to continue, as it represents a massive carry trade for investors outside the US. With yields in their native nations prefaced with minus signs, your bold-thinking French, German, Swiss, or Japanese investor is afforded a nearly risk-free two percent or more on money that otherwise would be eroded over time if held in sovereign securities. It's a neat trick that only the biggest and richest can perform. The rest of the population is unwittingly blinded by the stagnation and destruction ongoing behind the scenes.

Only a savvy few see negative interest rates for what they really are: a devious central bank device designed to wind down the fiat currency regime. In thirty to fifty years, the euro, yen, pound and even the dollar will be remnants of the industrial and information ages, replaced by something, we hope. while that may sound like a distant projection into the future, anybody in their 20s, 30s, or 40s might be best to be scared to death, because currency death-watches and funerals are morbid events played out over long periods of time.

Those of advanced age may better survive the utterly deflationary effects of negative interest rates and the impending currency decapitation in lower prices on everyday goods, but saving for retirement might best be measured in canned goods and precious metals instead of scraps of paper with important people on them or digitized numerical amounts on smart phone screens.

For many, the future is going to be destroyed before it arrives.

That's right. The world as it is now known will be a vastly different place in 2050 and it's unlikely to be prettier unless one has made the proper preparations into hard assets that will maintain value over harder times. Keeping up with the Joneses will be replaced by outrunning the Zombies. Fuel, food, water, shelter, and arable land - which, by the way, can be had on the cheap in some areas - are life-sustaining. Debt will be repudiated and rejected by a class of people similar to those of the depression era, whose lives were ruined by the influence of a currency they did not control, one which held neither value nor promise for a generation after 1929.

In case one is unconvinced of the effects of negative interest rates, just consider the math. Most pension plans in developed nations are already underfunded and have targets of six or seven percent annual gains written into their accountancy. If the best one can expect is two percent or less, a long-term shortfall is not only inevitable, it is assured.

All of this occurs over a long period of time, not all at once, but the effects on economies will nevertheless be devastating. Pension plans will not fail nor will sovereign debt default outright, but like rows of dominoes falling in super-slow motion, major currencies and first-world economies will gradually, inexorably decline and self-destruct.

Ah, but you say, these are negative thoughts marring the cheery landscape of the holidays.

Nay, if you get coal in your stockings this Christmas, consider yourself lucky. At least you will stay warm over the coming long winter.

At the Close, Friday, November 22, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,875.62, +109.32 (+0.39%)
NASDAQ: 8,519.88, +13.67 (+0.16%)
S&P 500: 3,110.29, +6.75 (+0.22%0
NYSE Composite: 13,440.95, +34.55 (+0.26%)

For the week:
Dow: -129.27 (-0.46%)
NASDAQ: -20.94 (-0.25%)
S&P 500: -10.17 (-0.335)
NYSE Composite: -52.01 (-0.39%)

Friday, November 15, 2019

Stocks Remain In Slumber Zone for Fourth Straight Session

The slowdown continues...

Rather, this is what happens when humans make poor decisions, over and over again, allowing computers to do most of the decision-making on trading. Now you're stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The rock: China's refusal to concede on many points in a trade deal.

The hard place: US insistence that a deal is "close."

This has been going on for months, about 16 to be precise, and stocks have been whipsawed in either direction depending on what the algos are going to interpret as good and/or bad news.

The latest, by presidential economic advisor and former financial talk show host, Larry Kudlow, has futures pointing higher prior to Friday's opening bell. But, we've seen this picture before. By he end of the day, there won't be a deal, and the Chinese will issue forth a press announcement that they don't agree to this or that or anything, maybe, and stocks will erase the gains they've made.

Count on it.

Judging by the figures below for Thursday's session, markets - outside of bonds - were essentially flat for the fourth consecutive day. Money Daily's headline yesterday, that this was about a dull a market as has ever been, was confirmed on Thursday.

Will Friday be any different, and, does it matter?

The chances that Friday will be different, and that stocks will find some direction, are good. It's an options expiration day, which usually adds some volatility, and it's the end of the week, so the market has those things going for it. On the other hand, there's nothing really new or different upon which to base trades.

As for the bond market, specifically treasuries, a rally is well underway. The selloff that saw yield on the 10-year note go from 1.54% on October 4 to 1.94% on November 8, is reversing course. The benchmark closed out yesterday at 1.82% and appears to have momentum heading into the holiday season. A slow-moving equity market at or near all-time highs (the S&P set another closing high yesterday) isn't helping inspire confidence, so there are many seeking the safety of government bonds.

As we head toward the opening bell in what can only be described as the welcome end to a week of insignificance, it's worth noting that even the phony impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill aren't even making headlines. That speaks volumes about how poorly the news media is perceived and even more about how loathsome our political leaders have become.

OK, you can go back to sleep now...

At the Close, Thursday, November 14, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,781.96, -1.63 (-0.01%)
NASDAQ: 8,479.02, -3.08 (-0.04%)
S&P 500: 3,096.63, +2.59 (+0.08%)
NYSE Composite: 13,392.00, +6.94 (+0.05%)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Stocks Stagger Into New Week

It was an unruly start to the trading week, as Veterans Day ushered in sellers of stocks and kept a lid on bids.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which opened at the low of the day, was off 164 points, but gathered momentum throughout the session and finished with the only positive close amongst the major indices.

Otherwise, everything else held fairly steady throughout the US session, with gold hitting a three-month low at 1448.90 and silver remaining below $17/ounce. The 10-year note held firm with a yield of 1.93% as bond markets were closed for the holiday.

As Mondays go, this one was lacking in luster. Big hitters in the market may be waiting for President Trump's speech on trade at the Economic Club of New York Tuesday afternoon, so Tuesday could also be something of a disappointment for those craving more excitement.

This temporary lull is likely a good thing for stocks, giving investors time to gather up the courage to trade stocks to even higher highs. Already at or near all-time highs, buying stocks at this level may be viewed as unnecessarily risky. The Shiller PE, or CAPE, stands at 30.01, nosebleed territory.

At the Close, Monday, November 11, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,691.49, +10.25 (+0.04%)
NASDAQ: 8,464.28, -11.04 (-0.13%)
S&P 500: 3,087.01, -6.07 (-0.20%)
NYSE Composite: 13,388.12, -19.69 (-0.15%)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks Set Records; Bonds, Precious Metals Battered

The three major averages - Dow, NASDAQ, S&P 500 - all reached record territory this week, and, despite some give-back on Wednesday, closed out the week with all-time high closing prices. The lone laggard was the NYSE Composite, which hasn't yet managed to get back to January 2018 levels, but it is close, within 250 points.

Catalysts for the massive run-up through October and into November were supposed breakthroughs in the ongoing US-China trade deadlock and the Fed's 25 basis point cut in the federal funds rate last Wednesday (October 30). Positive news, or even the hint of such, was enough to ignite stocks in the US while Europe tetters on the verge of recession.

Gains made during the past five or six weeks look to be locked in for year-end, but there's barely a sniff of selling among the investment crowd. New records could be set in the indices through Thanksgiving, Black Friday and beyond, especially if indications of renewed vigor in manufacturing develops. It's been dragging lately, but the sector is wide and varied. Some states are doing well as opposed to ones like New York, which has lost 10,000 manufacturing jobs this year, and some sub-sectors are outperforming. Metal tooling is seeing a revival thanks to tariffs on steel, while semiconductors are slumping.

While stocks continued on their merry way to equity nirvana, fixed investment took a beating, especially in the case of the benchmark 10-year note, which appears headed back above two percent, closing out this week with a yield of 1.94%, the highest since July 31 (2.02%). The long end of the curve is certainly steepening, and in a hurry. The 30-year bond checked out on Friday with a yield of 2.43, just a basis point below the closing on August 1 (2.44%).

The short end of the treasury yield curve is still flat, with the difference between 1-month bills and the 5-year note a mere 18 basis points (1.56-1.74%). The curve has maintained an un-inverted posture for nearly three months now, since the 2s-10s crossed for three days in August of this year. That brief period of inversion did engender some recession fears at the time, but they have been allayed by the curve settling into a more orderly regimen.

Recession still being a possibility, always, chances of it occurring anytime soon were quelled when third quarter GDP came in hotter than expected, at 1.9%. Not a good number, the fact that it was above most estimates (1.6%) was enough to hold off the bears. If the measurement holds for the next two estimates of third quarter GDP, the absolute earliest recession bells could ring would be after the first quarter of 2020, if both the fourth quarter of 2019 and first of 2020 were negative, and those are some pretty big ifs.

Thus, it's unlikely that the US will encounter a recession - or at least have one reported - until after the second quarter of 2020, but the economy is looking like it will continue to grow, albeit modestly, until at least the elections in November, good news for President Trump and Republicans in general, and not-so-good for Democrats who wail about everything, even when nothing is amiss in any major way.

Also hammered were precious metals, with silver falling below the Maginot line of $17/ounce late in the week to close out at $16.77. Gold fell from right around $1500/ounce to end the week at its lowest level since the start of October, at $1458.80.

If interest rates continue to climb, it could exacerbate the bearish tone already developing in the metals. To holders, it may not be such a big deal, but more of an opportunity to buy more on the supposed cheap. Precious metals have been out of favor since their massive run-up from 1999 to 2011, and there seems to be no end in sight for the overall bear regime that has taken hold.

One has to consider the rationale for gold or silver as one of protection, so, from a buyer's standpoint there's absolutely nothing wrong with holding or storing some of the shiny stuff. It still maintains value, though it has been fluctuating greatly over the past 20 years, but what hasn't. Gold and silver still provide peace of mind and a store of value that is better, over the longest of terms, than any other investment, save possibly real estate, the difference being that no taxes have to be paid on the shiny metals.

Outlooking for the next seven weeks through Christmas is decidedly positive for stocks, which is all anybody really seems to care about these days. Pension funds are all in, as many have to be, in hopes that there will not be massive underfunding for the retiring baby boomers.

In the most simplistic of ways, stocks may be overvalued, but the rising yields on bonds may tempt some of the less-daring speculators to dive into a safety play. Worse things have happened, but, for now, there seems to be a nice balancing act between the Fed, the government, business, and heavily-indebted consumers, the latter group buoying and buying into the great money scheme of the longest bull market in history.

Some day, it will all come to a screeching halt. By most measures, it's not stopping any time soon.

At the Close, Friday, November 8, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,681.24, +6.44 (+0.02%)
NASDAQ: 8,475.31, +40.80 (+0.48%)
S&P 500: 3,093.08, +7.90 (+0.26%)
NYSE Composite: 13,407.80, +12.26 (+0.09%)

For the Week:
Dow: +333.88 (+1.22%)
NASDAQ: +88.92 (+1.06%)
S&P 500: +26.17 (+0.85%)
NYSE Composite: +107.54 (+0.81%)

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Precious Metals Scrapped; Bonds Sold; Stocks Flat

Prospects for a breakthrough and potential finality to phase one of the US-China trade negotiations did little to move markets Tuesday. By midday, most of the hope and all of the hype had been wrung out of headlines, stocks staged a half-hearted rally, and slumped into the close.

The days activity in stocks was best described as sluggish, or possibly uneventful. The Dow Jones industrials were in the green all day but never higher by more than 100 points. Other indices were equally quiet. A mixed bag of earnings reports for the third quarter from mostly mid-cap companies did little to inspire confidence on the heels of fresh record closes on Monday.

Bonds were generally sold, with yield on the benchmark 10-year note rising six basis points, to 1.86%, the highest they've been since September 13. In stark contrast to the the Fed's recent rate cut, the long end was whipped, with yield on the 30-year bond reaching 2.34%. The short-dated end of the curve was well-behaved, with everything from one-month to two years yielding in a range from 1.56 to 1.63, extremely flat.

As yields were rising on less risky fixed income, precious metals were hammered lower, with silver dripped under $18/ounce to end New York trading at $17.58. Gold, too, was kicked to the curb, falling from $1505 to 1483 by the end of the day.

The entire day seemed to be one of selling just about anything that may have had value. That sentiment stood in sharp distinction to the ongoing narrative. It's likely that markets overall had been overbought and due for a letdown. The potential for continued upside still exists, though mixed messages are coming through the data.

Still, with holidays just a few weeks ahead and money conditions so easy, the possibility of a breakout rally prior to and/or inclusive of Black Friday is very strong. There remains a convincing argument for the ownership of stocks over all other asset classes and there is significant force - and money - behind that argument.

At the Close, Tuesday, November 6, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,492.63, +30.53 (+0.11%)
NASDAQ: 8,434.68, +1.48 (+0.02%)
S&P 500: 3,074.62, -3.65 (-0.12%)
NYSE Composite: 13,339.59, -15.81 (-0.12%)