Showing posts with label BAC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BAC. Show all posts

Sunday, June 21, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Fake COVID Data, Faulty HCQ Studies, Bailouts for Zombies, Secret Handshakes, Excessive Lying and Bunk

The level of fraud in the scientific community is absolutely out of control. It's even beyond that of the government and media, though the media probably holds the title of most disingenuous as it lies or distorts on practically everything.

On Friday, yet another clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine was halted, this time by the National Institutes of Health.

Citing that the drug has no ill effects on hospitalized patients - in opposition to previously unfounded claims that HCQ was dangerous - a data and safety monitoring board (DSMB) said the drug offered no benefit to hospitalized patients.

It's too bad that the mainstream medical authorities have to be so obviously stupid. HCQ is used as a preventative medicine. It helps the immune system fight off coronavirus, especially when used in a regular regimen with zinc and Azithromycin when asymptomatic or in early stages of infection as this study and many others have clearly shown.

Instead, the NIH, CDC, WHO and other "official" medical bodies refuse to release the proof of the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as what doctors call a prophylactic remedy, insisting that COVID-19 is a deadly disease and that billions must be spent in search of a vaccine, when they know a vaccine will likely never be developed.

These people, who first told the world that wearing a mask was a waste of time, then promoted the use of masks when it suited their purposes, should all be met with swift justice because it is they, not the virus, who are causing countless deaths that could have been saved if proper preventive measures had been taken. They, and the media which continues to promote COVID-19, lockdowns, quarantines, social distancing, absurdities like not allowing fans into sporting events, keeping restaurant customers six feet apart and other ridiculous notions should be tried for operating a criminal conspiracy.

Even this post, because it violates the dictatorial policy of Google, Twitter, or Facebook may be deemed conspiracy theory or in violation of their standards may be labeled with a warning or removed from public view.

The virus is a total scam. The rising cries of a coming "second wave" are nothing more than another attempt to scare people into rash behaviors using slanted statistics while playing on emotions. Places like Georgia, Texas, and Arizona have been cited as possible new hotspots for the virus, but the truth of the matter is that more testing has produced more cases, therefore increasing the daily bogus coronavirus counts. Additionally, all of the various tests have proven to show an abundance of false positives. Hospitalization and death statistics have been overstated since the beginning of the pandemic.

In other words, almost all of the data and scare-mongering from the media is bunk. Complete rubbish. Take off your masks and start living like a human being again. The chances of catching the virus are slim. It has mutated numerous times and most strains circulating are severe or deadly only to people over the age of 60 who have pre-existing health conditions or are obese, suffer from diabetes or heart disease. The general population is in no more danger from COVID-19 than from the common flu.

Get over it. Move on. Tell anybody who disagrees to take their opinions elsewhere. As it stands, there's no baseball this summer and there may not be football this fall. All this pandemic nonsense is about as important and vital as the BLM/Antifa protests. All of it needs to stop and the media is largely to blame for promoting false narratives.

The absurdities were on display at yesterday's Belmont Stakes, where no spectators were allowed into the sprawling Belmont Park facility and everybody on the grounds - except the horses - were required to wear masks. Even jockeys had to wear masks during the races. Please, somebody explain how a rider traveling at 25 to 40 miles per hour is going to catch the virus. It's as bad as the idiots who wear their masks while driving in their cars with the windows rolled up. Stupid. Banal. Idiotic. Is the world really populated by that many morons? If so, maybe the virus should relieve us of 30-40% of the population. More room for everybody. Happy days!

It's just all so annoying and stupid. This post was originally going to be about gold and silver, but the news of yet another HCQ trial being shut down changed those plans.

Go and check your local pharmacy or drug store or vitamin center. They're out of ZINC. Yeah, ZINC. Apparently, some people aren't buying the "we're all gonna die" narrative being shoved down the throats of the unsuspecting public. As the thrust of Money Daily posts over the past few days and weeks have been stressing, the media and government are doing you no good. You need to extricate yourself and your family from the clutches of creeping socialism and outright tyranny.

Let's get away from those who wish only to control everything and move forward to better lives. There is so much the word has to offer, having it ruined by a small minority of psychopathic monsters is a sin and an outrage.

Moving on to the markets and financial world from the week just past, stocks seem to have hit a stall space. The major indices, while all advancing for the week, have not recovered fully from the downdraft of Thursday, June 11. This week's gains were made mainly on Monday and Tuesday. Things slowed down in midweek and by Friday the bloom was off the rose once again.

Not to worry. There's a huge chance that the news will be cocked forward to produce a running start for the major averages and bourses around the world Monday morning. It's just how the Fed and the algorithm-pumping mechanisms operate these days. There's no market. There's no need to study charts or engage in fundamental analysis. Everything is fake, crooked, corrupted.

There is somewhat of a silver lining approaching for people who don't appreciate ever-rising stock prices when companies are showing dwindling profits or actually losing money, however. In a few weeks, publicly-traded companies will be releasing their second quarter financial reports and many of them figure to be absolute dumpster-diving material.

There's been a chart circulating recently showing the number of "zombie" corporations steadily increasing to a point at which nearly one in five US companies are insolvent. A zombie company is loosely defined as a business that has to borrow to survive and doesn’t make enough profit to cover the cost of its debt service. Simply put, these are companies being kept afloat by banks, or the Fed, or both. If it were possible to actually make sense of the books of large commercial banks like Wells Fargo (WFC), Bank of America (BAC) and Citibank (C) it's probable that the banks themselves would be zombies, underwater and headed to bankruptcy if not for the largesse afford them by the Federal Reserve.

The outcome from keeping zombie companies afloat is lower, slower growth in the overall economy. The Fed is actually exacerbating the effects of ultra-low interest rates and keeping insolvent companies alive with the most recent emergency measures that have the Federal Reserve buying debt from ETFs and corporate paper of individual (healthy and failing) companies. The Fed is also buying up municipal debt and may be positioning itself to fund states and cities that have deep budget deficits and buying individual stocks. Yes, the Fed may soon be buying stocks. And who said the markets weren't manipulated?

The bottom line is that we have a central bank producing counterfeit currency to buy assets offered by insolvent companies. Making matters worse, is that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow believe the companies that have received bailouts or funding from the Cares Act should not be disclosed to the public. So, on top of it all, the underhanded workings of the government, the Fed and big business should be kept secret. Nice. Not.

Treasuries basically spent the week flopping around like a landed fish. The yield spread for the entire curve, from 1-month to 30 years ended at 1.31% on Friday, June 12. As of this past Friday (June 19) the spread was 1.34%. Some steepening, but not notable. The 10-year note ended the week one basis point lower than the previous Friday, at 0.70%.

The July futures contract for WTI crude oil closed at a three-month high Friday, at $39.75 a barrel. Like the stock market, oil prices have engaged in a V-shaped rebound, the bottom coming in mid-April when oil hit $11.57 a barrel. While there has been some demand recovery, there's still a worldwide overhang of supply. The price of oil, with almost a direct pathway to gas prices, is another manufactured number. Most US shale producers can't survive below $50 a barrel, much less $40. Thanks to renewables like solar, wind, and hydro-electric, the oil business is dying a slow death. There's abundant resources available, but inroads have been made by so-called "green energy", and efficiencies in newer vehicles are crimping the use of oil and distillates. In an economy on a slowing glide path, there's no good reason for oil prices to rise other than to support the ailing old companies that rely on pumping and consumer use of the greasy stuff.

In the precious metals space, both gold and silver were dumped in the futures market on Monday and then rallied over the course of the week. Silver, despite a generally positive end to the week, closed at the lowest week-ending price ($17.52) since May 11. Since the March 19 bottoming at $12 an ounce, the trend has been higher, though it's been a slow grind despite high demand, shortages, huge premiums, and shipping delays.

Gold was flattened to $1710.45 on Monday, but rebounded to the high of the week at the close of business in New York Friday, at $1734.75. Like silver, gold has been rangebound since mid-April, suggesting a breakout on the horizon, though it could go either way.

Here are the latest free market prices for select items on eBay (prices include shipping, which is often free):

Item: Low / High / Average / Median
1 oz silver coin: 26.50 / 39.90 / 31.52 / 31.12
1 oz silver bar: 24.75 / 46.00 / 31.35 / 28.70
1 oz gold coin: 1,803.85 / 1,963.52 / 1,875.30 / 1,865.36
1 oz gold bar: 1,780.00 / 1,852.38 / 1,833.92 / 1,840.45

Finally, Fearless Rick nailed the trifecta in the Belmont Stakes, making a public pick prior to the race for everyone. Such generosity! What a guy!

At the close, Friday, June 19, 2020:
Dow: 25,871.46, -208.64 (-0.80%)
NASDAQ: 9,946.12, +3.07 (+0.03%)
S&P 500: 3,097.74, -17.60 (-0.56%)
NYSE: 11,980.12, -92.48 (-0.77%)

For the Week:
Dow: +265.92 (+1.04%)
NASDAQ: +357.31 (+3.73%)
S&P 500: +56.43 (+1.86%)
NYSE: +112.95 (+0.95%)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Stocks Stumble After Mnuchin Trade Remarks; JPM, Citi Earnings Solid

After Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin remarked that tariffs on many Chinese goods would remain in place until later in the eyar and possibly beyond, only the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to remain positive, as the major indices erased solid gains from earlier in the day, sending stocks sliding through the afternoon.

Mnuchin maintained that import tariffs would remain in place until the US and China agree on Phase 2 of their trade arrangement. His remarks came a day before the leaders of the world's two largest economies are set to sign a Phase 1 deal on Wednesday.

Washington and Beijing agreed to suspend tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese-made cellphones, laptop computers and other goods that were due to take effect on Dec. 15, and to cut in half existing tariffs on $120 billion of other goods to 7.5%. The Phase 1 deal keeps 25% tariffs on $250 billion of other Chinese goods in place. Mnuchin did not offer a timetable for when Phase 2 would be worked out, but the consensus believes such a deal would not be fully negotiated until after the November US elections.

A formal signing of Phase 1 documents is slated for 11:30 am ET, Wednesday at the White House.

Trade and tariffs continue to be the hot topic by which to move stocks and it seems likely that trend will continue through most of - if not all of - 2020, though with lesser impact. The Chinese representatives are sure to engage in some foot-dragging, hedging that President Trump may not be around for the completion of Phase 2. For its part, the administration will be busy with the politics of a presidential election, which will divert resources and attention away from trade dealings.

Those are positive developments in the larger scheme of things. The public is weary of Democrat attempts to weaken the president or impeach him. Business leaders largely view the entire political spectrum with jaded skepticism, believing that the poorly-managed impeachment proceedings initiated by the House of Representatives is a waste of time.

Right on cue, the House will debate and then vote on a resolution to advance articles of impeachment - which were passed nearly a month ago (December 18) - on Wednesday. Normally, no such vote is needed, though this impeachment process has been anything but normal. Another vote in the House gives Democrats another opportunity to bad-mouth the president while taking attention away from the signing of the trade accord. The measure is likely to sail through along party lines, with a Senate trial to begin on Tuesday of next week (January 21).

House Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi's stalling of the process seems to have benefitted nobody except possibly President Trump. By not immediately handing over the articles of impeachment and naming managers, Pelosi comes off looking petty, conflicted, and frankly, ridiculous.

It is widely considered that President Trump will be acquitted by the Senate in short order, allowing democrat presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders to get back on the campaign trail before the Iowa caucuses the first week of February.

Until then, some market surprises could come in the form of earnings from various companies. Mega-banks JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup reported on Tuesday, with JPM showing EPS of $2.57, which smashed expectations for $1.98. Citi boosted revenues above consensus to over $18bn while EPS came at $1.90, beyond expectations for $1.83. Wells Fargo bucked the trend, reporting earnings below consensus. Share prices for JPM and Citi were up +1.17% and +1.56%, respectively, but Wells Fargo closed lower, down -5.39%.

Prior to the opening bell Wednesday morning, Bank of America said earnings for the fourth quarter were 74 cents per share, up 5.7% from the same period last year and better than the 68 cent consensus forecast.

Goldman Sachs (GS) reporting on Wednesday morning, showed quarterly earnings of $4.69 a share, trailing the $5.56 average of estimates from analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. Net income tumbled 24 percent to $1.92 billion. Those results sent stock futures tumbling further into the red.

The FOMC is scheduled to meet the last week of January. Their meeting is scheduled for the 28th and 29th.

At the Close, Tuesday, January 14, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,939.67, +32.57 (+0.11%)
NASDAQ: 9,251.33, -22.60 (-0.24%)
S&P 500: 3,283.15, -4.98 (-0.15%)
NYSE Composite: 14,037.13, -5.47 (-0.04%)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Bank Stocks Boost Market; Vanguard's John Bogle Dead At 89

On the backs of earnings from Bank of American (BAC) and Goldman Sachs (GS), stocks took another step forward as January 2019 is beginning to look a lot like January 2018.

The Dow has already added 880 points in the new year, the NASDAQ, 400, the S&P 500, 110. Of the 11 trading sessions so far in 2019, the major indices have finished in positive territory in eight of them.

On the day, point gains were minimized in late selling, suggesting that the bank earnings were not out of the ordinary nor any indication that the economy was picking up speed, only that money needs to be parked somewhere, there's plenty of it sloshing around and BAC and GS had been beaten down recently.

In some sad news, John C. Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard Group and the inventor of the index fund, has died at age 89. Bogle was one of the great financial minds of our time and a very decent human being. His wisdom and wit will be missed.

Dow Jones Industrial Average January Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
1/2/19 23,346.24 +18.78 +18.78
1/3/19 22,686.22 -660.02 -641.24
1/4/19 23,433.16 +746.94 +105.70
1/7/19 23,531.35 +98.19 +203.89
1/8/19 23,787.45 +256.10 +459.99
1/9/19 23,879.12 +91.67 +551.66
1/10/19 24,001.92 +122.80 +674.46
1/11/19 23,995.95 -5.97 +669.49
1/14/19 23,909.84 -86.11 +583.38
1/15/19 24,065.59 +155.75 +739.13
1/16/19 24,207.16 +141.57 +880.70

At the Close, Wednesday, January 16, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,207.16, +141.57 (+0.59%)
NASDAQ: 7,034.69, +10.86 (+0.15%)
S&P 500: 2,616.10, +5.80 (+0.22%)
NYSE Composite: 11,907.61, +38.93 (+0.33%)

Joke of the Day: NY junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announces Presidential bid. This woman barely qualifies as a Senator, elected to the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, she was only viable as a shoe-in in one of the most liberal states in the country. Her list of accomplishments includes the shaming of Al Franken.

Gillibrand, in addition to praising voters last year that she would not run for president and would serve out her full term in the senate if re-elected (probably true, that), has often changed her views. When she was a member the House of Representatives in 2008, she received an "A" rating from the NRA for her positions on gun control. In 2018, the NRA gave her an "F."

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Stocks Close Lower On Retail Sales Disappointment

Despite a sharp bounce-back rally on Friday, US stocks resumed their declines on Monday as disappointing retail sales and in-line earnings reports kept investors' animal spirits in check.

Retail sales for September were up just 0.1% on expectations of a rise of 0.6%, putting a damper on the market at the open and throughout the session.

Financial stocks were in focus as Bank of America (BAC) and Charles Schwab (SCHW) reported third quarter earnings on Monday. Bank of America said its earnings per share came in at 0.67 cents, above expectations of 0.62. Schwab's earnings were in line at 0.65 cents per share.

Globally, stocks in Europe were flat to slightly higher, as were Pacific Rim bourses. Japan's NIKKEI was down significantly, while the Hang Seng - Honk Kong's market - suffered a marginal loss.

Nothing new here. Significant developments may come later in the week as more companies report third quarter earnings.

Dow Jones Industrial Average October Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
10/1/18 26,651.21 +192.90 +192.90
10/2/18 26,773.94 +122.73 +315.63
10/3/18 26,828.39 +54.45 +370.08
10/4/18 26,627.48 -200.91 +169.17
10/5/18 26,447.05 -180.43 -11.26
10/8/18 26,486.78 +39.73 +28.47
10/9/18 26,430.57 -56.21 -27.74
10/10/18 25,598.74 -831.83 -859.57
10/11/18 25,052.83 -545.91 -1405.48
10/12/18 25,339.99 +287.16 -1118.32
10/15/18 25,250.55 -89.44 -1207.76

At the Close, Monday, October 15, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,250.55, -89.44 (-0.35%)
NASDAQ: 7,430.74, -66.15 (-0.88%)
S&P 500: 2,750.79, -16.34 (-0.59%)
NYSE Composite: 12,425.68, -13.74 (-0.11%)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Retail Sales Improve In March, Stocks Respond

Apparently, Amazon hasn't killed all of Main Street just yet.

After three straight monthly declines, US retail sales rose in March by 0.6%, beating consensus forecasts, with Americans spending more on big-ticket items.

Following a drop of 0.1% in February and a revised -0.2% in January, consumers stepped up to the plate in March, boosting hopes that the economic expansion would continue. Year-over-year, retail sales improved by 4.5%.

While those figures are encouraging, they're likely not much more than inflation, which, depending on where one resides and what one spends money upon, could be as high as 6-8% according to anecdotal reports. Other, more frugal consumers routinely report lower costs for food, though rent, gasoline, mortgage interest, health care, education, and taxes in general have been on the rise.

On the earnings front, Bank of America reported smashing numbers, with EPS up 51% to 62 cents a share versus the prior quarter. Adjusted revenue rose nearly four percent, to $23.1 billion, but the stock barely budged on the news, up just 13 cents (0.44%) to 29.93. While banking is back to being less risky after washing out all the bad debt from the sub-prime catastrophe, investors are still skeptical of the large banks, especially after revelations of many misdeeds at Wells-Fargo.

Banks like JP Morgan Chase, which has a better focus on wealth management, have fared better than standard retail operations such as BofA.

Dow Jones Industrial Average April Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
4/2/18 23,644.19 -458.92 -458.92
4/3/18 24,033.36 +389.17 -69.75
4/4/18 24,264.30 +230.94 +161.19
4/5/18 24,505.22 +240.92 +402.11
4/6/18 23,932.76 -572.46 -170.35
4/9/18 23,979.10 +46.34 -134.01
4/10/18 24,407.86 +428.76 +294.66
4/11/18 24,189.45 -218.55 +76.11
4/12/18 24,483.05 +293.60 +369.71
4/13/18 24,360.14 -122.91 +247.80
4/16/18 24,573.04 +212.90 +460.70

At the Close, Monday, April 16, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,573.04, +212.90 (+0.87%)
NASDAQ: 7,156.28, +49.63 (+0.70%)
S&P 500: 2,677.84, +21.54 (+0.81%)
NYSE Composite: 12,628.21, +82.16 (+0.65%)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stocks Flat on Monday, BofA, Goldman Sachs Report Improved Earnings

Stocks finished flat in a very dull session, which is not surprising following the blockbuster that was last week. With scant economic news, traders are likely looking forward to the FOMC meeting next week (Tuesday and Wednesday), the last one before September.

Corporate earnings will be taking the spotlight over the next two weeks, as the majority of companies will be reporting second quarter results.

Prior to the open on Tuesday, a couple of major financial institutions reported, with excellent results.

Bank of America (BAC) posted $5.3 billion in net income, up 10% from a year ago. BofA’s earnings per share for the quarter increased 12% to 46 cents. Analysts expected the bank to earn 43 cents per share.

Goldman Sachs (GS) EPS: $3.95 vs. $3.39 expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Revenue $7.89 billion vs. $7.521 billion expected by Reuters.

Despite those solid figures, futures on the main indices are drifting lower prior to Tuesday's opening bell.

At the close, 7/17/17:
Dow: 21,629.72, -8.02 (-0.04%)
NASDAQ: 6,314.43, +1.97 (0.03%)
S&P 500: 2,459.14, -0.13 (-0.01%)
NYSE Composite: 11,890.51, -6.80 (-0.06%)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Stocks Continue Relentless Drive Toward New Highs; Mass Hysteria Cited

It's still April, so there's still a possibility that the ongoing rise in stock prices is the result of a wickedly good April Fool's prank. There may be better explanations for the phenomena, but fundamental valuations surely isn't one of them.

With today's close, the Dow Industrials crept back to within a mere 250 points intraday of all-time highs made in May of 2015, which begs the question, "what took it so long?"



Since the second half of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 wasn't a recession, nor were there any earth-shattering geopolitical events which could have precluded an incessant rise to new all-time highs, those with more reason than most will just consider the long stalled out "recovery" something of a market hiccup, as opposed to a burp, or something stinky coming from somewhere else on the body of finance.

Surely, the financial world is still functioning at full tilt, with greater fools born into the market without interruption. The manic buying of shares representing companies whose earnings are smaller than last year's suggests a new - or newer - paradigm shift, from simple speculation to outright gambling, naturally, with other people's money, mind you.

Strangely enough, the stocks which have led the charge in the past seven trading days have been banks. The largest, including Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), and Wells Fargo (WFC), all reported last week and were less-than-encouraging, typically with marginal beats on lowered EPS expectations, and lower revenue overall, especially in their trading units.

Not to worry, stocks fell off their highs late in the day, ending with small gains. After all, since today is 4/20, there's incentive to chill out and eat Cheetos.

Wad up, Mon?
S&P 500: 2,102.40, +1.60 (0.08%)
Dow: 18,096.27, +42.67 (0.24%)
NASDAQ: 4,948.13, +7.80 (0.16%)

Crude Oil 43.92 +3.41% Gold 1,244.80 -0.76% EUR/USD 1.1299 -0.50% 10-Yr Bond 1.8540 +3.98% Corn 396.50 +1.80% Copper 2.23 +0.49% Silver 16.99 +0.08% Natural Gas 2.07 -0.81% Russell 2000 1,142.82 +0.23% VIX 13.29 +0.38% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4339 -0.36% USD/JPY 109.77 +0.44%

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Stocks Topped Out Again? Bank Earnings A Mixed Picture

After racking up impressive gains the first three days of the week, stocks took Thursday off, trading in a narrow range that may suggest to some that another topping pattern is forming.

The Dow, in particular, is retesting the highs from the end of October, when the index failed at a run to 18,000, and began a slow descent that accelerated in January to near full-blown panic.

As for the S&P, it remains just above water for the year, although analysts have repeatedly stressed the area of 2080-2090 as a key resistance level.

With another FOMC meeting in less than than two weeks (April 26-27), traders may be suffering from a case of frayed nerves, though considering the dovish tone coming from Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, any fears of a rate hike before June - at the earliest - seem unfounded.

Bank stocks have done well, with JP Morgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) both reporting earnings in line or above estimates, though revenues have fallen short for both firms.

Wells Fargo also reported before the open on Thursday, citing loan loss reserves in their energy portfolio putting a damper on first quarter profits. That was perhaps the souring tone the street did not expect nor want to hear.

Citigroup reports prior to the opening bell on Friday, looking for 1.03 per share for the quarter.

S&P 500: 2,082.78, +0.36 (0.02%)
Dow: 17,926.43, +18.15 (0.10%)
NASDAQ: 4,945.89, -1.53 (0.03%)

Crude Oil 41.43 -0.79% Gold 1,229.30 -1.52% EUR/USD 1.1265 -0.07% 10-Yr Bond 1.78 +1.08% Corn 373.50 0.00% Copper 2.17 0.00% Silver 16.18 -0.86% Natural Gas 1.96 -3.83% Russell 2000 1,128.59 -0.12% VIX 13.72 -0.87% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4154 -0.37% USD/JPY 109.4000 +0.10%

Monday, April 11, 2016

Amid Economic Unease, Former Fed Chair Bernanke Proposes MFFP (aka Helicopter Money)

We must be nearing the end of the current monetary system, since there is no growth, no prospects, and the entirety of the future has been mortgaged to the tune of $19 Trillion in US debt, and much, much more in unfunded liabilities via entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

Adding to the belief that the end is nigh, former Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, now working for the Brookings Institute, penned a blog post today entitled, What tools does the Fed have left? Part 3: Helicopter money, wherein he openly advances the idea of direct money drops to the public. That would, ideally, include you, me, your poor uncle Tony, aunt Gracie, your neighbors, the weird guy in the run-down house on the corner, and everybody else who could use a few extra c-notes in the mail, ostensibly, tomorrow, and maybe, a few times a year, or month, or maybe even weekly...

You see where this is going, right? Bernanke is not convinced that US economic growth is kaput, yet he throws this out there for public consumption because, well, maybe he's grown weary of downloading porn, or he has to do something to make him seem relevant to the people paying his salary, or, perhaps he actually believes this is a realistic solution should the US economy completely stall out, or, heaven forbid, enter recession (like the one we've been in for the past eight years).

Not to make too much fun of the poor, old coot, but Bernanke was the Fed chairman during the last financial crisis, and his policies didn't do much to relieve anybody but the one percenters from economic repression, so it's unlikely that anything he suggests in his new role as wizened sage overseeing the global economy from some ivory tower will accomplish anything more than perverting the economy more than it already has been.

The most favored paragraph from Bernanke's flight of fancy is this one:
In more prosaic and realistic terms, a “helicopter drop” of money is an expansionary fiscal policy—an increase in public spending or a tax cut—financed by a permanent increase in the money stock. [4] To get away from the fanciful imagery, for the rest of this post I will call such a policy a Money-Financed Fiscal Program, or MFFP.

Yes, he coined a new acronym, MFFP, which I, Fearless Rick, a junior economist at best, reconfigured to mean Mother-(a vulgar word for copulating)-Foolish-Policy, and I think my naming makes more sense than anything any former Fed chairman could conjure. After all, I have been a writer for newspapers and blogs for many years, while Fed-heads only talk about money, interest rates, and other arcane foibles of economics. They're not very creative; I have to be (or I'll die, but that's another issue for another time).

So, choose whichever wording your little heart desires, I think Bernanke's just another old fart with a Ph.D., which these days are a dine a dozen. Being a doctor of anything these days isn't what it used to be. Doctors don't make that much, especially since the US has adopted a socialized system of medicine, which you all know and swear at when you receive your monthly health care statement, as Obamacare.

Being a doctor is over-rated. So is the Fed. What a bunch of morons. Seriously.

My point is simple. Handing out money, no matter to whom you bequest, or whatever you call it, or whatever cutesy acronym you paint on it, or whichever "mechanism" you use to do it, is just bad policy, and just plain stupid.

Moreover, Bernanke exposes himself as a completely dull ignoramus for even suggesting "money drops," not once, not twice, but now at least three times in his esteemed career as a monetary theorist. As Mark Twain once said,
It's better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.

I guess Bernanke never read that line, or worse, failed to understand it.

Geez. Just put your hand out. Somebody will magically fill it with cash. Yeah, and the queen of England is a babe.

CAUTIONARY NOTE. WARNING.

PAY ATTENTION TO TODAY'S MARKET RESULTS. MARKETS POPPED AND DROPPED, FINISHING IN THE RED, PRIOR TO THE KICKOFF OF EARNINGS SEASON. ALCOA ANNOUNCED AFTER THE CLOSE - 0.07/share; $4.95B Rev. - AND ALL THE MONEY CENTER BANKS - JP MORGAN CHASE (Wed), BANK OF AMERICA (Thurs), WELLS-FARGO (Thurs), CITIGROUP (Fri) - REPORT THIS WEEK.

BE ALERT FOR FALLING STOCK PRICES.

Today's market noise:
S&P 500: 2,041.99, -5.61 (0.27%)
Dow: 17,556.41, -20.55 (0.12%)
NASDAQ: 4,833.40, -17.29 (0.36%)

Crude Oil 40.38 +1.66% Gold 1,259.40 +1.25% EUR/USD 1.1408 +0.05% 10-Yr Bond 1.72 +0.23% Corn 356.75 -1.52% Copper 2.08 -0.19% Silver 15.93 +3.55% Natural Gas 1.93 -3.07% Russell 2000 1,094.34 -0.27% VIX 16.26 +5.86% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4233 +0.77% USD/JPY 107.9395 -0.11%

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Stocks Finish Flat, But Internals Signal Something Is Seriously Wrong

US Stocks closed today marginally on the downside, though appearances can be deceiving, as there was outright catastrophe in Japan which spilled over into worried European markets.

With Chinese markets (including the SSE and Hang Seng) the Nikkei took a magnificent beating on Tuesday, losing 918 points, a 5.40% loss on the day, sending the main index of Japan further into bear market territory. Perhaps even more significant, the JCB 10-year note yield fell to a negative number, under ZERO, for the first time in history. This marks Japan and Switzerland as the only countries in the world with negative yields out to ten years, though other countries are rapidly approaching that benchmark, in particular, Germany.

European bourses all finished their session with losses of one percent or more, and, at the open in the US, the situation appeared dire, with Dow futures down more than 150 points. Stocks quickly gained traction, turned positive near midday, flirted with the unchanged line throughout the session until finally giving it up late in the day.

But, the story is not the minor loss the major indices took, but the skew of all manner of metrics toward the negative. Bond yields continued to collapse, with the ten-year down to 1.71%. The spread between the ten and two-year note compressed down to 1.04, something of a danger zone, as the two-year actually rose two bits, to yield 0.67%.

Bank stocks were unhappy spots, with Bank of America (BAC) closing at 12.20, a new 52-week and multi-year low.

Advancers were also far behind declining stocks by a margin of more than 2-to-1. Also of note, the number of new lows (NASDAQ and NYSE combined) dwarfed new highs, 812-70, with only six of those new highs on the Naz. The central planners at the central banks can pin their hats on the day as they successfully halted the manic rallies in silver and gold, for a day, anyway.

Additionally, oil was sent back well below the $30 mark, finishing in New York at $28.38 a barrel.

The VIX is also signaling more turbulence, hanging steadily in the mid-20s range.

The rout in stocks, however, like the gains for the metals, is far from over. Consensus view on Wall Street is still concerned, but not yet panicked. Stocks are still about 5-7% away from official bear market territory, though a few bad days could send the indices reeling in the wrong direction.

In a story by Bernard Condon (AP) about how much money companies have lost doing stock buybacks, we find that the stock buybacks which goosed the market and individual stocks higher over the past six to seven years has been nothing short of a colossal flop and threatens to become an even heavier weight stopped to the stock market.

What stock buybacks did accomplish was to allow executives to boost their companies' earnings without devoting capital to expansion, while at the same time justifying their extraordinary salaries and cashing out their outrageous stock options and/or bonuses.

Investors should be outraged, and righteously so, because these companies should have been either expanding their capital base or market share or distributing dividends to their shareholders. What these stock buyback kings have done is nothing short of a fiduciary failure, which in other industries would be cause for criminal indictments.

Of course, since this all occurred within the cozy regulatory environment that is Wall Street, nothing even close to that will happen. The executives who personally profited from corporate paper profits will walk away with their cash after hollowing out scores of once-healthy companies. It may turn out to be good overall, if a few of the giant multi-nationals like Wal-Mart, Yum Brands and ExxonMobil get cut down to more reasonable sizes and markets open up for more nimble - and honest - competitors.

Tuesday's Cracker-jack pot:
S&P 500: 1,852.21, -1.23 (0.07%)
Dow: 16,014.38, -12.67 (0.08%)
NASDAQ: 4,268.76, -14.99 (0.35%)

Crude Oil 28.38 -4.41% Gold 1,189.20 -0.73% EUR/USD 1.1294 +0.86% 10-Yr Bond 1.7290 -0.35% Corn 360.50 -0.48% Copper 2.04 -2.61% Silver 15.23 -1.30% Natural Gas 2.10 -2.01% Russell 2000 964.17 -0.53% VIX 26.71 +2.73% BATS 1000 20,030.11 -0.07% GBP/USD 1.4468 +0.29% USD/JPY 115.0020 -0.51%

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bank Stocks Lead Market Rout as Bond Yields Plummet; Gold, Silver Soar

If anyone critical of the US economy is - as the great and almighty economic genius, President Obama recently posited - "peddling fiction," then why is Wall Street peeling away from equity positions like it's the Tour de France?

Relentless selling was the order of the day, especially in financials, until the final hour, as specs stepped in or shorts covered, cutting losses by 1/3 to 1/2.

While fiction writers may not think the stock markets are the modern day equivalents of "Moby Dick," they do have something of a beached whale quality to them. Germany's DAX is already in a bear market, as is China's SSE and Japan's NIKKEI, and the US markets are catching down somewhat quickly, with all three major indices already in correction territory.

With no real catalyst to move stocks higher, the prognosis is for further losses through the first quarter.

Banks were particularly ugly today, with Deutschebank (DB, -8.00%) teetering on the brink of insolvency, and losses suffered by Bank of America (BAC, -5.25%), Goldman Sachs (GS, -4.61%), Citigroup (C, -5.14), Wells-Fargo (WFC, -2.84%), and JP Morgan Chase (JPM, -2.10%).

At issue, as usual with banks, is interest rates, which soared today, pushing the 10-year note to an 18-month low yield of 1.74%). Credit spreads also continued to narrow, forecasting a recession, if not this quarter (and possibly last quarter), then almost surely in Q2.

Underlying the banking sector are questions of general solvency, quality of collateral, and, the size of their respective derivative books. Deutsche has the largest, estimated to be a total exposure of $75 trillion, with the US banks heavily into the game. Derivatives - CDS and other "bad bets" are what nearly took the entire Western economic system down in 2008, and they haven't gone away. Bank balance sheets are larger now and filled with just as much, if not more, toxic derivative soup.

When the financials lead the market down, it's usually not a good sign. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citi are already in bear markets (down more than 20%), while Wells-Fargo and JPM are within one percent of being in the same sinking vote.

Following the underwhelming jobs report Friday, stocks have done nothing but decline and that trend doesn't look to be about to change anytime soon.

The world may be months - if not weeks - away from complete capitulation in stock markets, the precursor to a global depression.

Another telling sign is the rise of gold and silver, two of the top-performing assets (along with bonds) for 2016. Both were up smartly again today and have broken through strong points of resistance.

The day's damage:
S&P 500: 1,853.44, -26.61 (1.42%)
Dow: 16,027.05, -177.92 (1.10%)
NASDAQ: 4,283.75, -79.39 (1.82%)

Crude Oil 30.11 -2.53% Gold 1,191.40 +2.91% EUR/USD 1.1193 +0.30% 10-Yr Bond 1.74 -6.11% Corn 362.00 -1.03% Copper 2.09 -0.52% Silver 15.35 +3.90% Natural Gas 2.13 +3.30% Russell 2000 969.34 -1.65% VIX 26.00 +11.21% BATS 1000 20,045.01 -1.29% GBP/USD 1.4432 -0.47% USD/JPY 115.8500 -0.93%

Monday, January 25, 2016

Gold, Silver Rise as Banks, Energy Stocks in Market Crosshairs

Being that the US equity markets are almost 100% likely to end the month with losses, the opening of the final week of January trading may have been significant if only for the direction of a select number of trading vehicles.

Obviously, energy stocks were once again in focus after last week's faux rally on actual inventory builds, though the pundits of oil slickery are blaming today's demise on the record weekend blizzard that decimated the Northeast.

As lame as it may sound, having the I-95 corridor out of commission for the better part of three to four days is certain to result in growth of the oil and distillate glut that has been plaguing the markets for the past 18 months. The logic is simple: if people aren't driving, nobody's buying gas, and that is exactly what the market doesn't want to hear, especially those of the camp who still believe in the peak oil myth and would like nothing better than to cripple the middle class with another round of crushing gas prices at the pump.

Sadly for them, no such thing is about to occur, and, after being goosed nearly 20% last week, WTI crude took a turn to the downside again, off almost 6% on the day, closing just a nod above $30 per barrel. With the canard of higher oil prices (last week was a serious short squeeze) out of the way, oil majors Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) - both Dow components - both declined by more than three percent.

Also taken down a few notches were banks, especially Bank of America (BAC), which closed below 13 at 12.96, a one-day four percent drop, now down a solid 30% from its recent 52-week high (18.48). Investors and specs are concerned not only with BAC's exposure to the oil patch and fracking concerns, which have been going belly-up since last Autumn, but with the overall health of the banking sector. Reminded that the nation's largest banks had to be bailed out during the sub-prime crisis just eight years ago, stock players don't need much to arouse their worst suspicions, that the balance sheets of the big money center banks are still not exactly transparent.

Citigroup (C) also was on the chopping block, losing 3.35%, extending its decline since May to a third of its value, from 60.95 to today's close at 39.55.

Meanwhile, gold and silver put on tidy gains, with gold edging up nearly $10, from $1098/oz. at Friday's close to a finish in US markets at $1107.90 today. Silver gained, from an even $14 to $14.23 on the day.

Overall, stocks were exposed again, with US indices staying in the red all day long, the selling accelerating during the afternoon and into the close. It was an inauspicious start to the week in a month that has been nothing short of embarrassing for Wall Street's perms-bulls.

Today's Closing Prices:
S&P 500: 1,877.08, -29.82 (1.56%)
Dow: 15,885.22, -208.29 (1.29%)
NASDAQ: 4,518.49, -72.69 (1.58%)

Crude Oil 30.33 -5.78% Gold 1,105.60 +0.85% EUR/USD 1.0849 +0.47% 10-Yr Bond 2.0220 -1.27% Corn 369.25 -0.27% Copper 1.99 -0.47% Silver 14.23 +1.23% Natural Gas 2.16 +0.84% Russell 2000 997.37 -2.28% VIX 24.15 +8.10% BATS 1000 19,941.58 -1.78% GBP/USD 1.4246 -0.19% USD/JPY 118.3035 -0.36%

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Stocks (and Oil) Can't Catch a Break

It was another ugly day on Wall Street, not because stocks finished higher, but because of how they got there.

Right out of the gate, the major averages were soaring, but all of the early gains were wiped away shortly after 11:00 am. Stocks zig-zagged through the midday, going positive, then negative, and, finally, just after 2:00 pm, decided that upwards would be the most-favored path, so the bid was in.

However, prior to that late-afternoon spike, there were more than a fair share of winners and losers, most of them being of the losing variety. Of the top ten most actives, nine of them were in the red, even with the indices moving decidedly positive. Only Apple (AAPL) was a winner, for reasons of which nobody could rightfully discern.

Of those nine losers, eight of them were energy or materials-related. The oddball in the group was Bank of America (BAC), which continues to shed market cap and is now in the early running for dog stock of the year (but, it's early, though since it's a bank, our money is on them).

Energy and material stocks were actively trending lower because of the all-too-obvious drop in the price of crude oil and just about anything else that falls into the commodity sphere. Oil continued to decline, price-wise, today reaching below $30/barrel for WTI crude as inventories rose and demand fell, giving the slick stuff a double whammy of bad news.

On the NYSE, losers and winners were nearly even, and there the disparity between the new highs (9) and new lows (564) was cause for alarm. On the NASDAQ, a similar story was unfolding, though breadth was slightly better. New highs numbered only 12, with 352 hitting new lows. That's where the real story is taking place. There are far too few stocks leading the market (large caps) and far too many small and mid-caps weighing it down.

These imbalances have much to do with the ongoing debate over wealth inequality. The policies of the Fed not only have benefitted the richest individuals in the society, they've also been particularly advantageous to the larger, better-established listed companies. The big firms have better access to big money for stock buybacks, primarily, while the smaller firms languish in the all-too-real mundane world where profits matter and cost-cutting continues.

Smaller firms have a harder time making their numbers in a slumping economy and are first hit when business begins to slide, or, at least that's how the current crop of traders has been conditioned. Slumping oil prices has morphed into an all-around slap-down of commodities in general, which, in normal times would be good for business, but today the low prices for everything from aluminum to copper to zinc has spread over to consumer goods, most of which are manufactured overseas in sweatshops at minimal cost.

The other side of the equation, that being consumer demand, has been hollowed out by years of fleecing by giant corporations and the Fed's insistence that nobody earn a dime in interest. While Wall Street could afford to speculate and spend because the spigot was wide open, Main Street tightened its belt until consumers are able to only afford the bare necessities after paying more in taxes, fees, credit card interest, student loans and, especially, health care. If there's one culprit upon which most of the blame can be laid for the rottenness of the general economy, it has to be the misappropriately-named Affordable Care Act, which acted as a wealth transfer mechanism from the pockets of ordinary citizens into the health care morass of hospitals, providers, big pharma and insurance companies. It has drained the economy of whatever excess had been created by reduced gas and fuel prices.

Today's closing quotes:
S&P 500: 1,938.68, +15.01 (0.78%)
Dow: 16,516.22, +117.65 (0.72%)
NASDAQ: 4,685.92, +47.93 (1.03%)


Crude Oil 30.57 -2.67% Gold 1,086.00 -0.93% EUR/USD 1.0849 +0.01% 10-Yr Bond 2.1020 -2.59% Corn 358.00 +0.35% Copper 1.96 -0.63% Silver 13.77 -0.69% Natural Gas 2.26 -5.68% Russell 2000 1,044.70 +0.27% VIX 22.47 -7.53% BATS 1000 20,630.49 +0.55% GBP/USD 1.4440 +0.04% USD/JPY 117.7805 +0.04%

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

President Backs Cautiously Away from Syria; Markets Exultant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no honor, nor shame, amongst thieves.

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, by the way, the NSA is FOS.

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

For a Change, Some Gains; Stocks Nearly Recover Monday's Losses

Stocks shook off Monday's downdraft, nearly reversing all of Monday's losses, but not quite, and the effort was very half-hearted on low-to-average volume.

This was wholly expected, as markets seldom go straight up or down. Some buyers saw value in beaten-down names; banking stocks were particularly strong with names like Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C) and JP Morgan Chase (JPM) all sporting solid gains.

Stocks were buoyed by early-day catalysts in the form of fairly robust data on durable goods, the S&P/Case-Shiller residential real estate series and an exceptionally high level of consumer confidence of 81.4 from the Conference Board, the highest such reading since January of 2008, which is somewhat ironic, as that high confidence figure came just months before one of the worst stock market crashes in history and a lengthy, deep recession.

New home sales showed gains in May up from 466K in April, to 476K, though figures may be skewed somewhat as they are for signed contracts, not closings, and are for a reporting period prior to interest and mortgage rates rising.

The major indices are still in a dicey spot, well off the May 28 highs and showing losses for the month of June, historically the weakest month for stock returns. And, with August and September - also weak months by historical standards - just ahead, the stage is set for earnings to move the market one way or the other, though indications are that the second quarter will not be favorable for stocks. Pre-announcements are running 7-1 on the negative side, a chilling effect on taking positions in advance of earnings and perhaps an element of today's less-than-awe-inspiring one-day bounce.

Plenty of technical damage has been done to markets over the past 2 1/2 weeks and the Federal Reserve is employing the only pokicy tool it has remaining - jawboning the market by trotting out one Fed governor after another with carefully crafted speech-lines, jokingly referred to as the "other" FOMC, or Federal Open Mouth Committee.

The question of the day was whether good news on the economy is actually bad news for stocks, insofar as Bernanke has promised to taper bond purchases if the economy shows strength, a move that in all likelihood will continue the rise in rates and place bonds in a much better position, vis-a-vis stocks. If such is the case, the market should have turned lower, but the recent selling prevented that, though in the back of every traders mind, the new reality of a market without artificial stimulus from the Fed looms largely.

Dow 14,760.31, +100.75 (0.69%)
NASDAQ 3,347.89, +27.13 (0.82%)
S&P 500 1,588.03, +14.94 (0.95%)
NYSE Composite 8,996.01, +103.98 (1.17%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,556,236,875
NYSE Volume 3,720,042,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4983-1582
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 105-185
WTI crude oil: 95.32, +0.14
Gold: 1,275.10, -2.00
Silver: 19.53, +0.033

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

INEVITABLE: Dow Sets New All-Time Closing High

Without a doubt, this headline news story is about the least anticipated - because it was such a sure thing - of this or any recent year.

With unemployment at 7.9%, 47 million Americans on food stamps and after millions of foreclosures, bank bailouts, company bailouts (GM, Chrysler, AIG, others), a downgrade of the US from AAA to AA+, Wall Street has its new record high.

Big whoop.

That's the good news.

Keeping a level head and household, as prices rise and wages stagnate, that's the tough part. Not everyone in America has participated in this miraculous four year rally off the March, 2009 lows. The main beneficiaries have been the big Wall Street brokerages, which, thanks to the magnanimity of the Federal Reserve - whose balance sheet has more than triple in that time period - were able to at least partially repair their broken balance sheets and claim victory over the evil financial crash.

At this level the Dow Jones Industrials are up a stunning 117% off the lows, as good a period for stocks as ever has been, though one might argue that it was bought on the backs of homeowners, many of whom are still trapped in their domiciles, with prices well below what they owe or what they paid back in the heady days of the early to mid-2000s.

It would be a different story were the US economy growing at a pace of better than two percent - where it's been stuck for these past four to five years, but, realistically, there aren't many Americans who can camly state that they've doubled their net investment value over the past four years. Most of the gains were made on Wall Street or close to it, by the traders, players and hedge funds who expressed their blind faith that the system would not - could not - fail, and dove headlong into stocks.

Bully for them, and may they enjoy their profits. There's absolutely nothing wrong with making money. But, the evidence that the majority of Americans are not participating is clear. Average daily volumes are less than half what they were in 2007, the last time the Dow posted a record close.

There's also the fear that keeps people out of markets. It's no coincidence that after making new highs, stocks have lately had the nasty habit of recoiling and falling back, as was the case in both 2000 and 2007.

So, this may be short-lived if recent history is a guide, or, are we on the path to a new and glorious epoc of American exceptionalism?

One would be hard-pressed to find anyone of that undiluted opinion... except maybe on CNBC or Bloomberg TV, where "guests" are paid handsomely to talk their book.

Buy, buy, buy at the new all-time high?

You're kidding, right?

And, not to rain on anybody's parade, here are the changes to the makeup of the Dow Industrials since 2007.

On February 19, 2008, Chevron (CV) and Bank of America (BAC) replaced Altria Group (MO) and Honeywell (HON).

On September 22, 2008, Kraft Foods (KRFT) replaced American International Group (AIG).

On June 8, 2009, General Motors (GM) and Citigroup (C) were replaced by The Travelers Companies (TRV) and Cisco Systems (CSCO).

On September 24, 2012, UnitedHealth Group (UNH) replaced Kraft Foods (KRFT).

It seems, especially in that September 22, 2008 swap, that some bad was replaced with good. GM was restructured and salvaged by the US government. Citigroup went through a 1:10 reverse split in 2010. Where would the Dow be today, without these changes? Travelers alone is up over 100% since joining the Dow.

And, lest we forget that little thing called inflation, which, experts tell us, has been running at about 2.5% for the past five years, today's record for the Dow is a nominal one, not a real one, and, just to throw some more fuel on the fire, measured in gold instead of dollars, it's not even close. In fact, measured against gold, the Dow has barely budged off the bottom.

It's all a matter of which metrics you want to use.

No matter what, though, let's see how high it goes from here. With the Fed backing it at the rate of $85 billion a month, it should rip right through 15,000 before even breaking a sweat.

Dow 14,253.77, +125.95 (0.89%)
NASDAQ 3,224.13, +42.10 (1.32%)
S&P 500 1,539.79, +14.59 (0.96%)
NYSE Composite 8,978.12, +77.07 (0.87%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,849,814,250
NYSE Volume 3,686,912,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4532-1728
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 688-50
WTI crude oil: 90.82, +0.70
Gold: 1,574.90, +2.50
Silver: 28.60, +0.108

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dow Hits Five-Year High; Why Isn't Anyone Celebrating?

Money has to go somewhere, and today it went straight into equities, pushing the Dow to a five-year high.

Whether or not this euphoric advance was based on anything more than the Fed's continuing POMO operations remains to be seen.

Housing starts and building permits for December were figuratively "through the roof," though on Main Street America, people are wondering just who it is that is buying all these new homes.

In the real economy - the one that functions on dollars and cents, not swaps, repos, debt financing and accounting fantasies - it still feels like a recession. Stores are largely empty, incomes are still declining overall and the bulk of the US consumer class has just been hit with a 2% tax increase, thanks to the assembled dunces in congress and at the White House.

Unemployment claims today came in at a multi-month low of 335,000, though continuing claims increased from 3127K to 3214K in one week, so, something at the BLS isn't quite adding up, though that's largely been the case since 2006 or before.

The Philadelphia Fed index of economic activity printed a -5.8 for the current month, following a positive 4.6 in December. This reading comes on the heels of Empire Manufacturing (NY state) showing a -7.8 after a -7.3.

If none of this makes any sense to you, consider that Boeing (BA), after having all of their 787 "Dreamliners" (make that "Nightmare Flight") grounded by the FAA (note: this is after years and years of delays and missed deadlines), shares of the nation's top plane builder finished up 92 cents (1.24%).

Beyond that, ZeroHedge notes that if you strip out the gains made by Bank of America - the top performing Dow stock of 2012 - for releasing loan loss reserves (an accounting trick), the bank actually lost something on the order of $2.5 billion last year.

Regular readers (or at least those who check the stats at the bottom of each post) will take note that new highs - new lows has today reached the pinnacle of absurdity.

Even in the very, very, very best of times there were always more than eight stocks hitting new 52-week lows, it's only natural in a normal, competitive environment. The number of new lows since the first of the year has been hovering in the teems for the most part. The money gushing from the Federal Reserve to the primary dealers to the stock market is causing the most unbalanced market ever witnessed.

And the debt ceiling increase that needs to be approved, but just seems to sit there, like a 300000000-ton weight over the US economy, ah, don't worry about that. Our "leaders" will find a way to ix that, certainly, positively, without a doubt.

We live in Wonderland. Sadly, only those who pad their wallets on Wall Street get to be either the Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter or Alice.

Dow 13,596.02, +84.79 (0.63%)
NASDAQ 3,136.00, +18.46 (0.59%)
S&P 500 1,480.98, +8.31 (0.56%)
NYSE Composite 8,766.54, +55.98 (0.64%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,734,349,250
NYSE Volume 3,966,953,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4628-1787
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 525-8
WTI crude oil: 95.49, +1.25
Gold: 1,690.80, +7.60
Silver: 31.81, +0.268

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wall Street and Washington's Theater of the Absurd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama Wins; Stock Market Sinks on Tax Hike, Fiscal Cliff Fears, Europe

Tuesday was an early night in terms of presidential politics as President Barack Obama was elected overwhelmingly to a second term, whipping Republican challenger in almost every battleground state and winning the popular vote handily.

With the vote in Florida still being tallied (anybody surprised?), the Sunshine State turned out to be mostly inconsequential as the president swept the key states of Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania (which never really was in play), New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada. Romney's sole win in the so-called "swing states" was in North Carolina, a state which Obama took by a narrow 0.3% in 2008.

Once the midwest states of Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio were declared for Obama, the race was over, but it wasn't until after midnight in the East that Mitt Romney gave his concession speech and later, President Obama gave a ripping, rhetorical speech extolling the virtues of freedom of choice, tolerance and working together toward shared goals and the great creation of our founders, the United States of America, individual states bound together by social compact.

In the House and Senate races, the makeup of congress remained largely the same, with Republicans dominating the House and Democrats strengthening their grip on the senate, winning key races in Virginia, Florida, and, especially, Massachusetts, where Elizabeth Warren, the fiery consumer rights advocate, took the seat away from Republican incumbent Scott Brown, in a major setback for big banks.

Warren, who worked on TARP and other reforms in Washington, especially the implementation of a consumer protection division at the Federal Reserve, will likely end up on the Senate banking Committee, possibly winning the chairmanship.

Another critical Senate race was won in Connecticut by Christopher Murphy, who defeated Linda McMahon, who wrestling millionaire who spent $100 million on her own campaign.

Jon Tester retained his Senate seat from Montana in a close race with Republican challenger Denny Rehberg, keeping the balance of power firmly in their control with 55 seats, along with one independent, Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The Democrats likely gained another ally when former governor, independent Angus King of Maine, won an open Senate seat that had been held by Republican Olympia Snowe. King has not indicated which party he would caucus with, though most believe it will be with Democrats. King won on the simple idea of making filibusters less of an effective measure in killing legislation, believing that excessive filibustering by Senate Republicans had blocked almost all significant legislation over the past four years.

There was little change in the House, as Reublicans retained control with 232 seats to 191 held by Democrats with a number of vacancies.

It wasn't long before other voices began to be heard, especially those on Wall Street who had been counting on a win by Republican Romney. Before the market opened, futures began a steep decline, though the catalyst may have nad more to do with comments by ECB president Mario Draghi and some dismal production figures from Germany, regarded as a stronghold in the recession-plagued continent.

Shortly after Germany's industrial production was reported to have fallen 1.2% in September, Draghi said that the crisis in Europe was beginning to take its toll on the industrial powerhouse that is the German economy.

Heading into the first post-election session, Dow futures were pointing toward a loss of more than 100 points at the open, and the result was worse, with the 132-point gain from Tuesday wiped out in the opening minute.

Stocks continued their descent until bottoming out just before noon, down 369 points, the biggest decline of the year, though some strengthening took all of the indices off their lows as the day progressed.

Still, the losses were dramatic and especially in the banking sector, where ank of America (BAC), Goldman Sachs (GS), JP Morgan Chase (JPM) and other big bank concerns were off more than five percent. All 10 S&P sectors finished in the red, the S&P could not defend the 1400 level and nearly bounced off its 200-day moving averages, the NASDAQ - aided by Apple's continued decline into bear market territory - broke down below its 200-DMA and the Dow closed below its 200-DMA for the first time since the beginning of June.

In Greece, rioters threw fire bombs at police in anticipation of another vote on austerity measures designed to pave the way for another round of financing from the troika of the IMF, EU and ECB. The vote, scheduled for midnight in Greece (5:00 pm ET), is expected to pass, though the populace has seemingly had enough of policies dictated by outsiders.

For Wall Street, the day presented a perfect storm of disappointment, fears of higher taxes on dividends, tighter regulations of banks, uncertainty over tax and spending policies heading into 2013, and renewed concerns over our trading partners in Europe.

The steep declines may have only been a beginning, however, as no policies have changed, and, actually, the political makeup in Washington remained the same as it had been the day before. The continued gridlock coming from the White House and Capitol Hill may be the most disconcerting factor of all.

Some internal damage was done to markets, with the advance-decline line showing a nearly 5-1 edge for losers and new highs being surpassed by new lows, 94-174.

With none of the important initiatives nearing resolution, there seems to be nowhere for the market to go but down, now that the election is over, earnings season is just about finished and the market must focus on fundamentals and locking in gains for the year. The remainder of 2012 may prove to be quite challenging to investors.

Dow 12,932.73, -312.95 (2.36%)
NASDAQ 2,937.29, -74.64 (2.48%)
S&P 500 1,394.53, -33.86 (2.37%)
NYSE Composite 8,138.80, -173.55 (2.09%)
NASDAQ Volume 4,322,112,500
NYSE Volume 2,059,028,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 961-4613
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 94-174
WTI crude oil: 84.44, -4.27
Gold: 1,714.00, -1.00
Silver: 31.66, -0.373