Showing posts with label C. Show all posts
Showing posts with label C. Show all posts

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%)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Dull Monday

Stocks took a negative turn on Monday, with no rationale for the move other than general sentiment. Citigroup (C) missed on revenue when they announced fourth quarter earnings prior to the opening bell.

More bank stocks will be reporting as the week progresses, so this small downdraft may be just the start of something larger. The major indices seem to be nearly out of steam from the recent rally. Expectations for earnings season have been muted, and some earnings and revenue misses are to be expected, and, if that's the case, nothing kills rallies better than earnings misses.

Stay tuned.

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

At the Close, Monday, January 14, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,909.84, -86.11 (-0.36%)
NASDAQ: 6,905.92, -65.56 (-0.94%)
S&P 500: 2,582.61, -13.65 (-0.53%)
NYSE Composite: 11,799.11, -48.90 (-0.41%)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Stocks Gain, Dow Approaching Resistance Around 25,000

Stocks ramped higher on Thursday, taking back all of the losses from the prior day and advancing to its highest level since June 18. What lay ahead for the industrials is a trading areas that has proven to offer some resistance around and above 25,000.

In mid-June, at the tail end of a four-day rally, the Dow topped out at 25,322.31 (June 11), then stalled, sending the index tumbling more than 1200 points to 24,117.59 by June 27.

Will the pattern repeat? Obviously, it's too early to tell, but charts are suggesting that there will be some selling in this area. What may prompt any trading action are the emerging second quarter earnings reports, especially those on Friday from major banks.

Prior to Friday's open, the nation's largest bank by assets ($2.6 trillion), JP Morgan Chase (JPM) reported adjusted revenue of $28.39 billion, beating estimates of $27.34 billion and EPS of $2.29, also topping expectations of $2.2. Net income rose 18%, to $8.3 billion.

Citigroup (C) reported higher EPS, but missed on the revenue line. Shares were selling off slightly in pre-market trading.

Wells-Fargo (WFC) was down sharply prior to the opening bell after reporting a decline in net income applicable to common stock, which dipped to $4.79 billion, or 98 cents per share, in the quarter ended June 30, from $5.45 billion, or $1.08 per share a year ago. Analysts expected $1.12 per share.

Mixed results from the financial sector come as no surprise. Squeezed margins from the flattening yield curve has put pressure on bank stocks for some months. The financial sector has been one of the weakest through the second quarter and the pressure does not appear to be relenting any time soon.

Friday should be full of fireworks.

Dow Jones Industrial Average July Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
7/2/18 24,307.18 +35.77 +35.77
7/3/18 24,174.82 -132.36 -96.59
7/5/18 24,345.44 +181.92 +85.33
7/6/18 24,456.48 +99.74 +185.07
7/9/18 24,776.59 +320.11 +505.18
7/10/18 24,919.66 +143.07 +648.25
7/11/18 24,700.45 -219.21 +429.04
7/12/18 24,924.89 +224.44 +653.48

At the Close, Thursday, July 12, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,924.89, +224.44 (+0.91%)
NASDAQ: 7,823.92, +107.30 (+1.39%)
S&P 500: 2,798.29, +24.27 (+0.87%)
NYSE Composite: 12,761.46, +79.87 (+0.63%)

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.




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%

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%

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Stock Stories: Best Buy, Intel, Citi, more; What Does Friday Hold; Up or Down?

Markets reversed direction again on Thursday, evening out the week at two down, two up sessions with a weekly gain or loss for the major averages hanging in the balance, all coming down to Friday's closing bell.

The Dow Jones Industrials are 20 points below break even for the week, the S&P is already in the green, by a scant 3.52 points and the NASDAQ is defiantly 44.02 into positive territory, so unless Friday is dramatically lower, there's a very good chance that all three averages will finish the week with positive returns. Jolly good.

Interest rates, particularly the 10-year note, have been trending gradually lower through the first two weeks of 2014, with the lid fully on inflation expectations after this week's PPI and CPI nothing-burger-type data.

Making headlines was Best Buy (BBY), the remaining national electronics retailer, was absolutely bludgeoned, down more than 28% on the day, after reporting total holiday same-store sales dropped 0.8% from the previous year, while analysts so an increase of 0.5%. Total revenue declined to $11.45 billion in the holiday period from $11.75 billion a year earlier, and the company lowered its fourth-quarter guidance. With fourth-quarter and full-year results still forthcoming, investors took a quick exit, en masse, leaving many searching for answers to the retail conundrum that was the 2013 holiday season.

Citigroup reported adjusted earnings of $0.82 a share which missed on estimates of $0.96. Revenue also missed coming in at $17.94 billion versus estimates of $18.18 billion, down from last year's $18.66 billion. The company also announced it will replace all customer debit cards involved in the Target data breach last month, sending shares down 2.39 to 52.60 at the close, a loss of 4.35%.

After the bell, Intel reported a slight miss at 0.51 cents per share on estimates of 0.52 and issued some downbeat guidance, sending shares lower by more than 3% in after-hours trading.

American Express (AXP) and Capital One (COF) each missed on their fourth-quarter reports, sending shares down in the after hours. American Express reported a one-cent miss (1.25 vs. 1.26), while credit provider misses by a solid dime - 1.45 versus expected 1.55 - prompting the question from investors, "what's in their wallet?" Clearly, it was not what they were hoping.

DOW 16,417.01, -64.93 (-0.39%)
NASDAQ 4,218.69, +3.80 (+0.09%)
S&P 1,845.89, -2.49 (-0.13%)
10-Yr Note 99.15, +0.91 (+0.92%) Yield: 2.85%
NASDAQ Volume 1.83 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.46 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3069-2613
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 382-38
WTI crude oil: 93.96, -0.21
Gold: 1,240.20, +1.90
Silver: 20.05, -0.08
Corn: 428.00, +2.25

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

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

Did Retail Sales Power a Rare Monday Rally?

Retail sales for September, as reported on Monday prior to the opening bell, were up sharply year-over-year and were up 1.1% after a 1.2% rise in August.

So, did the retail sector fuel the rare Monday rally, which was only the third time stocks had shown gains on a Monday in the past 20 weeks?

Well, yes they did, as the Consumer Cyclical space gained 1.11%, the best sector gain of the day. Following were Health Care and Financials, the latter based largely on an earnings beat by Citicroup (C), which beat solidly on revenue as well.

The timing could not have been better for options players as October monthly options settle this week, on Friday, just in time for stocks to head to new highs and savvy options professionals cash in on their bets.

Trading on this Monday was a radical departure from last week's broad decline, with the advance-decline line repairing itself and new highs beating new lows by a 2-1 ratio.

Oddly enough, the market wins either way in the currently-convoluted presidential debate regime that is market psychology. With retail and stocks doing well, one would envisage an Obama victory on November 6, anathema to the markets, but, good numbers are good numbers, so, stock traders went along for the ride.

Sticking with the current thinking, even if retail sales had been poor, stocks would probably have risen anyway, because the poor numbers would indicate a Romney victory, which the market is said to love.

In either case, stocks win, even on a day when commodities were hit hard across the board, especially in the precious metals segment, as gold and silver were pounded lower right from the opening of trading.

That seems to be the game plan, at least for today, by the central bank stock market cartel controlling markets worldwide. Buy riskier assets and sell off those things that are proven to be a reliable store of value.

It's working, as stocks are within 5-8% of all time highs on the S&P and the Dow. It's a very interesting time for both political junkies and market watchers, but should get even more intense during the week and after options expiry on Friday. There's still unfinished business in Europe, mostly regarding Greece and Spain, and a shock from the land of the socialists could easily upset any balancing act currently taking place in the markets.

Most of the attention is focused on Tuesday night's presidential debate, the current wisdom saying that another poor performance by president Obama would practically hand the election over to Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger, making the event must-see TV for all, despite the thinly-veiled sarcasm in that statement.

The debates are largely political porn, with many voters having already made up their minds. If Obama purposely throws Tuesday's debate, as he did the first one, it would give Romney an edge, so, considering how the media whores need to keep the American public on the edge of their seats right up until - and beyond - election day, count on the President to deliver some serious body blows Tuesday night, followed by a negative market reaction Wednesday.

With the election just three weeks away, expect the rhetoric and noise to rise to a crescendo in coming weeks. Along with it could be a climactic rise in stocks, with the Dow touching off new all-time highs and the S&P hot on its heels, or, a dramatic turndown heading into the big fiasco that is election day in America.

Dow 13,424.23, +95.38 (0.72%)
NASDAQ 3,064.18, +20.07 (0.66%)
S&P 500 1,440.13, +11.54 (0.81%)
NYSE Composite 8,296.97, +69.89 (0.85%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,536,536,250
NYSE Volume 3,257,196,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3596-1897
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 133-65
WTI crude oil: 91.85, -0.01
Gold: 1,737.60, -22.10
Silver: 32.74, -0.926

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bankster Kleptocrats At It Again: Bank Stocks Up, Gold, Silver Down

One of the more tried and true methods of tape-watching is what's known in the business as "follow-through" - the tell-tale next day move in a stock or an index following a bold rally.

A lack of follow-through or extension of the rally usually means that the initial move was either false, poorly-constructed, had less-than-optimal participation or a combination of all of those.

If the tape is correct the day after the biggest one-day upside move in stocks this year, then today's trading certainly did little to confirm the veracity of the rally. With the Dow and NASDAQ up marginally at best, the slight decline in the S&P and the pretty healthy drop on the NYSE Composite reveal the tell-tale signs of a market rally surred on entirely by insiders, those of the Wall Street bankster crowd commonly known as the kleptocracy.

Their aim, obviously, was to instill a desire for individual investors to jump into those juicy big bank stocks like Bank of America (BAC), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Goldman Sach (GS) and everybody's favorite, Citigroup (C), which incidentally was one of the four which failed the Fed's marginally-constructive stress tests on Tuesday.

The other fairly obvious feature of the Tuesday rally was the often overlooked calendar, which shows clearly that Friday is the third Friday of the month, meaning, yes, siree!, Tuesday's move was decidedly correlated to making oodles of cash on front-end, expiring call options.

Want proof? Take a look at the imbalance of open interest puts to calls on the 40 and 41 strikes of Friday's expiring options in JP Morgan. There were nearly 69,000 calls at those two strike prices, compared to about 25,000 puts. Since we all know there's no free lunch in America - unless you're a school-kid with cheap parents or a bankster will plenty of one-percenter street cred - the imbalance should be a tip as to what happened late yesterday afternoon, when Jamie Dimon jumped the shark and released his firm's (JPM) dividend upgrade before the Fed could expel the stress tests of the other banks. Talk about front-running! Jaime wrote the book with that move.

And for more proof, look below at the Advance-Decline line for today. The rally was definitely sold into by money smarter than that of most people. Volume was at its usual dismal level again today as well.

Just in case anyone thinks the Fed's stress tests were anything more than a call to action from the Fed to individual investors who don't believe a word that comes from ben Bernanke's mouth, one should definitely take a read of Chris Whalen's excellent article at Zero Hedge, Bank Stress Tests and Other Acts of Faith

One needn't be a bank examiner or financial wizard to understand what Whalen means when he says things like,
So when I look at the Fed stress tests, which seem to be the result of a mountain of subjective inputs and assumptions, the overwhelming conclusion is that these tests are meant to justify past Fed policy.
But as we have written over the past several weeks in The Institutional Risk Analyst, the Fed does not want to believe that there is a problem with real estate.

Face it, the Fed's stress tests of 19 of the nation's largest banks were nothing more than a pimp act for their favorite bailout buddies, designed to boost their share prices so insiders could profit at the expense of smaller, less-savvy investors and traders.

If that wasn't enough - and you know it wasn't - the raid on gold and silver today speaks volumes about the un-American policies the Fed pursues. According to the Fed, holding near-worthless scraps of paper like stock certificates of shares in illiquid banks or constantly-devaluing Federal Reserve Notes is far more prudent for us "little people" (or as Goldman Sachs executives like to call their clients, "muppets") than holding onto those relics of the past, gold and silver.

The gloves are off, folks. The Fed, the banksters, the kleptocracy of corporate America has had them off for a long time, bare-knuckling the American middle class like a punch-drunk patsy. It's time Americans with brains (maybe 30% or so of the population) rip off the Everlasts and land a roundhouse on the chops of these wealth thieves.

Close out the 401k, pension plan or whatever vehicle they're "managing" your money in and go buy some silver coins or bars, gold, or land, raise some chickens or pigs, grow some corn or tomatoes or broccoli, but at least stop putting your money into the wall Street Ponzi scheme.

That's going to be easier said than done for a lot of people who have their futures tied into their government sponsored pension plans, which, by the way, will pay out a lot less than expected when the s--- hits the fan, but, if the outflows from mutual funds over the past four years is any indication, you don't want to be one of the last players in the market (otherwise known as bagholders) when the rugs gets pulled out and the bottom drops out of the bottomless pit the financial "industry" has created.

It could be two years, two months or two weeks before the next market "event" but you don't want to be around when it happens and you definitely don't want it all to fall on your pretty little head, now do you?

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the moves in bonds, and why what they're telling us is very, very bad.

Dow 13,194.33, +16.65 (0.13%)
NASDAQ 3,040.73, +0.85 (0.03%)
S&P 500 1,394.28, -1.67 (0.12%)
NYSE Composite 8,180.17 54.30 (0.66%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,627,102,500
NYSE Volume 4,446,792,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1631-4036
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 318-38
WTI crude oil: 105.43, -1.28
Gold: 1,642.90, -51.30
Silver: 32.18, -1.40

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wall Street Starts Week on Down Note, Sluggish Volume

There was no follow-up to last week's furious upside rallies on Monday, as traders sought catalysts for profit but found few. Oddly, given that the news over the weekend indicated something of a simmering in the ongoing European debt crisis, volume was at mid-summer levels or lower, marking one of the lowest trading volume days of the year.

Just as everything was up on Friday, just about all asset classes showed losses on Monday, including stocks of all flavors, led lower by shares of financial companies, including the world's favorites, Goldman Sachs (GS -2.37, 99.29), Citigroup (C -0.95, 28.38) and Bank of America (BAC -0.16, 6.05), which just can't seem to get out of the six-dollar range, to the chagrin of Warren Buffett and countless speculators who believe that bank stocks are a bargain (like uber-bank-bull, Dick Bove).

All sectors finished in the red, with consumer cyclicals showing the smallest loss (-0.31%).

Still, the most pronounced factor of the session was the sheer lack of velocity, as though some of the big brokerages had turned off the HFT computers and handed the trading back to humans. The trading marked the third-lowest volume of the year.

It would be nice if that actually happened, but one can hope and dream. Meanwhile, there just doesn't seem to be much interest in buying or selling much of anything, at least for today.

Dow 12,079.44, -74.24 (0.61%)
NASDAQ 2,657.22, -21.53 (0.80%)
S&P 500 1,251.88, -11.97 (0.95%)
NYSE Composite 7,496.71, -79.47 (1.05%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,401,417,000
NYSE Volume 3,075,054,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1384-4266
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 81-82
WTI crude oil: 98.14, -0.85
Gold: 1,778.40, -9.70
Silver: 34.02, -0.66

Monday, May 9, 2011

Citi Reverse Split Causes Volume Dump; PPT Still Engaged

Covering the daily machinations of a stock market that is now nearly a vast wasteland of swap trades, churning and "gotcha" moves seldom offers much of anything substantive of which to report, but today's reverse split of Citigroup (C) may turn out to be a watershed moment for our contrived and trivial stock markets.

With Citi now a $44 stock instead of a $4.40 stock - and it being the nearly indisputable daily volume leader for many months - America's 3rd largest bank has cost the NYSE about 450,000 trades on a daily basis, today, tomorrow, forever. This dramatic upside-down-sizing caused today's NYSE volume to dip to its second-lowest level of the year.

It is more than dismal on Wall Street; it is so scary that the PPT was brought in today just before noon for a quick fixer-up, sending all the indices close to their highs of the day in a 20-minute ramp job that is certain to destroy what little remains of confidence in the veracity of US markets.

From about 11:50 am to 12:10 pm, the Dow gathered itself up for an 80 point gain, the NASDAQ gained about 27 points and the S&P added nine. The indices had been hugging the flat line until the PPT (yes, we're absolutely certain they're still working) showed up. Afterwards, stocks drifted along the new highs and closed near those newly-elevated levels.

Yet another fantastic display of why nobody trusts these markets and nobody should be trading here: the stocks are all traded between the biggest brokerages and selected hedge funds, and the whole game is rigged for their benefit. Someday, we can only hope, the whole miasma gets thrown a loop by the HFT computers and never recovers. Maybe then, the greed, corruption and utter uselessness of US stock markets can be exposed.

Dow 12,684.68, +45.94 (0.36%)
NASDAQ 2,843.25, +15.69 (0.55%)
S&P 500 1,346.29, +6.09 (0.45%)
NYSE Composite 8,478.19, +52.29 (0.62%)

For the record, advancing issues beat decliners, 4534-2055. NASDAQ new highs: 81; new lows: 39. On the NYSE, there were 120 new highs and 17 new lows. Combined volume for the NYSE and NASDAQ was at or below the lowest level of the year. While the trading volume on the NYSE was expected, the absurdly low number of trades on the NASDAQ is telling market timers that now is the time to get out of Dodge.

NASDAQ Volume 1,654,697,000.00
NYSE Volume 3,366,898,000

Commodities must be the new playground, because they had a banner day. Forget the massive drop in crude oil from last week. Today's ramp job of $5.37 on NYMEX WTI crude futures brought the price back to $102.55 at the close. One wonders whether it's actual volatility driving the wild price swings or just plain revenge by the traders who were nearly wiped out in last week's plummeting decline. In any case, the price of oil has absolutely nothing to do with fundamental. It's almost as though price discovery has become a function of speculation. There is no real price for a barrel of oil, only that which appears or appeases for the day. These markets are broken beyond repair. Time to dust off and oil up that old bike. You'll need the energy boost in order to stay ahead of the coming rolling panics in cities across America.

Gold buyers were back in earnest, raising the price $18.20, to $1513.60. Silver recovered as well, gaining $2.28, to $37.90.

If anybody can make sense of any of this, please call 1-800-CONFUSED and leave a long, descriptive message.

Monday, October 18, 2010

POMO Monday! Stocks Soar! BofA in the Clear!

The Fed executed a little $6.3 Billion POMO, which, as we have mentioned, is tantamount to giving the largest banks and brokerages free money with which to play the market. "Game on, dudes!" was heard in the offices of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, et. al., about five to seven minutes into the session.

Gotta love that funny money! Let's dance!

Dow 11,143.69, +80.91 (0.73%)
NASDAQ 2,480.66, +11.89 (0.48%)
S&P 500 1,184.71, +8.52 (0.72%)
NYSE Composite 7,571.10, +50.50 (0.67%)

Up, up and away went the stock indices, with 80% of the trading being done by HTF "flash" computers using algorithms designed by NASA, DARPA or the CIA, no doubt. Advancers absolutely crshed decliners, 4249-2216. New highs bettered new lows, 440-56. Volume was on the wrong side of the toilet rim, but with the Fed pumping money into the system, and the computers all programmed to react to volume buying as a buy signal, there's almost no downside to this market, which, of course, is the whole big idea, anyway.

It's absolutely absurd, but, I would be remiss not to advise at least some jumping in at any level right now, but with the implicit understanding that stops have to be set very judiciously and that means just under your buy price. (Disclaimer: setting stops may alert the HTF computers to your trades and take them out with all due haste.)

NASDAQ Volume 1,642,727,625.00
NYSE Volume 4,996,276,500.0

It was a great day to own oil futures. The front-end contract flew ahead by $1.83 on no news or data, to $83.08. Late print on gold was up $3.40, at $1372.30. Silver also gained 11 cents, to $24.43.

Add this last bit of news to the "and you thought Usain Bolt was fast" file. Bank of America, which just announced a self-imposed halt to foreclosure proceedings in all 50 states last week, today announced that they would resume foreclosures in 23 judicial-foreclosure states. The bank says that they found NO ERRORS in the 102,000 cases they reviewed, but added that they would begin submitting new affidavits by October 25th.

Now, call me silly or just plain dumb, but why, if they found no errors, would they begin filing "new" affidavits. Just saying, if the old ones were OK, why do you draw up new ones. Incidentally, I wonder just how many people spent the last ten days reviewing these 102,000 documents, which, I'm assuming were scattered around offices in those 23 states?

If you had 1000 people reviewing those documents, they'd have to have done 100 apiece, or about ten per day. If it were 100 people, that would escalate to 100 pr day, and what kind of review could one perform at the rate of about 15 per hour?

As usual, that smells fishy to me, but what do I know? Well, I know that the nation's largest banks are rotten, crooked and exist only to separate Americans from their money and property, so excuse me if I don't buy BofA's argument that they've already undone some of their dirty work.

Not so incidentally, Bank of America (BAC) shares were up 0.36, or 3% on the day. Other major bank stocks, like JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Citigroup (C), were up similarly. Wells Fargo and Citgroup both posted gains in excess of 5%.

Happy daze!

Late add: Just found this nifty publishing tool, which allows you to make animated movies. Here's today's post:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Thousand Points of (False) Hope

Stocks on the major indices closed near their highs of the day, pushing the averages ahead for the 14th time in the last 21 sessions - about a month's worth.

Most of the upside movement since the 4th of July holiday has been on lighter-than-normal volume, and today was certainly no exception. Out of a universe of over 3000 stocks, the top five most active on the NYSE accounted for 12.5% of the volume, a skewing to the degree of magnitude of nearly 100 times normal, proving that when analysts say that most people trade the same stocks, they surely aren't lying about it.

Those five stocks - Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC), Motorola (MOT), Pfizer (PFE) and Ford (F) all trade for under $20 per share and have since Autumn of 2008, when the systemic financial collapse made everyone rethink valuation models. It's patently clear that investors have gotten stuck in a routine, especially in the case of Citi and BofA, two stocks which, under better-managed conditions would have been bankrupted and de-listed long ago. The pair of zombie banks consistently lead the most actives, as gamblers attempt to profit from fairly large percentage moves in what have become, essentially, penny stocks.

Another interesting side note on those top five is that all but Bank of America posted a gain, though Citigroup's was only a slim penny advance. BofA dropped by 14 cents, making the two most actively traded stocks the worst of the bunch. One can only speculate as to why so many trades occur on these two dogs, but there are, almost without a doubt, plenty of sellers, long-term holders who a quietly slipping their money out of them.

The advances over the past three days have pushed the Dow to a 1000-point gain over the past month, putting them right at (for Fibonacci fans) a 67% retracement of the 1500-point decline which commenced from mid-April to the first days of July.

At what appears to be a key inflection point, stocks face an uphill battle to surpass the April high of 12,200 on the Dow. Since the latest move has been fueled largely by excellent second quarter results from a wide swath of companies (notably, neither BAC nor C among them), the propellant seems to be missing for the final push, replaced by two key data points: Thursday's unemployment claims figures and Friday's July non-farm payroll report.

There were an equal amount of groans and cheers this morning when ADP released its own private payroll report for July, showing 42,000 new jobs being created during the month. Since the report does not include government employment, it serves as a proxy for Friday's figures, which are likely to come in only slightly on the positive side or even negative, due to layoffs from expired census employment. Thursday morning's unemployment data will provide another clue.

It's probably safe to say, barring any outsize surprise on the upside, that stocks are ready for a reversal after a month in a fantasy zone, though those of the bearish camp will contend that the stock market does not represent the US economy, and thus will continue to climb on their own.

There is some degree of truth to that argument, but if US-based companies refuse to hire US citizens, as they have for the past two years (ad for some, much longer than that), there will be bottom-line damage eventually, unless the companies in question are doing 75% or more of their business outside the USA, in which case they should be listed on another, non-US exchange. The US market is still the largest and most important, and people without jobs cannot continue to buy good and services at a steadily-growing rate. Of course, should congress deem that unemployment benefits should continue indefinitely, beyond the currently-absurd 99 weeks, companies might as well just lay off all US employees and allow the government to pick up the tab.

ISM services index rose from 53.8 in June, to 54.3 in July, eliciting another big whoop from perma-bulls, various tea-partiers and clueless analysts, who seem to be everywhere at once this summer.

Dow 10,680.43, +44.05 (0.41%)
NASDAQ 2,303.57, +20.05 (0.88%)
S&P 500 1,127.24, +6.78 (0.61%)
NYSE Composite 7,182.14, +35.15 (0.49%)

Advancing issues dominated decliners on the day, 4577-1880; new highs soared past new lows, 408-68; but volume, as previously mentioned, was the real story, well below normal levels and embarrassingly below what used to serve as average prior to the 2008 meltdown.

NASDAQ Volume 1,881,489,125
NYSE Volume 4,293,061,500

Commodity traders seemed unable to gain traction. Oil paused, dropping 8 cents, to $82.47. Gold gained $8.50, to $1,193.70, though silver did not follow on, losing 14 cents to $18.26.

With new economic data on the horizon, there appears to be no new catalyst with which to lift equities near-term, and longer-term prospects, heading into 2011, also seem pinned to dim, or even false, hopes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Got Bank Stocks? Sell Them on Monday.

Ever since the financial meltdown - which actually began in August of 2007 (Trust me, I'm a doctor.) when the Primary Trend in the Down Jones Industrials turned from a bull to a bear - the banks have gotten a lot of attention. Many of us do our banking at either a locally-owned bank or a friendly Credit Union. If you're smart enough to have made the decision to keep your money out of major national banks, good or you.

The too-big-to-fail national banks - Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase - also known as money center banks, are the main reason for the economic calamity which still grips this country, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the world. These were the ones engaged in all that risky behavior with sub-prime mortgages, credit default swaps and, more recently, the bailouts. Add to them Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and you have the gang of six which nearly brought down Western capitalism as we know it.

Two of their brethren - Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros. - could not be saved, and were more than likely swallowed up more or less whole to hide the extent of the fraud, inside dealings, manipulations and other horse-trading that was so widespread during the late 90s and though the first years of the new millennium. What's troubling is that they are nowhere near out of the woods. The four big banks mentioned above are nearly insolvent. Only free money from the Federal Reserve, in the form of overnight loans at just about ZERO percent, has kept them from complete collapse. They are still poring though the toxic assets on their books, hiding and keeping off market millions of foreclosed homes and struggling to stay in business.

In case you're unaware of the ongoing problems with the big banks, just consider: JP Morgan's provision for credit losses totaled $7.28 billion during the fourth quarter.

That's about all you have to know... well, and that the other banks will report similar losses. Somehow, through financial alchemy which only the banks can perform, JP Morgan Chase posted a 4th quarter profit. Let's face it, They're full of brown stuff. Credit card delinquencies were at 8.64% in the 4th quarter. People are defaulting on credit cards at an historic rate. They're also walking away from homes in droves, many of them because they are upside-down, in other words, the amount of the mortgage exceeds the fair market price of the home.

Without work and with mortgages higher than the value of their homes, the latest trend is to make a strategic default, either through bankruptcy or by just failing to make mortgage payments, leading to the eventual foreclosure. This is what's known as a self-reinforcing feedback loop. The more home prices fall, the more people default, leading to more foreclosures and lower prices again. Soon enough, it's going to become cheaper to rent than to own as vulture landlords scoop up the foreclosed properties at a fraction of their value and rent them out to strapped, credit-less former homeowners.

The banks will never survive the onslaught of foreclosures that are due to escalate once again this Spring. Common practices by the banks now are to offer buy-downs, short sales, loan modifications and extensions in order to avoid foreclosure. Once a property is foreclosed upon, the banks are on the hook for the upkeep of the property and the taxes. With homes in some areas sitting on the market for a year to two years, eventually selling for much less than the foreclosed value, the banks are in a tough spot and doing all they can to prevent foreclosure, a lengthy, expensive process which seldom produces a positive result.

Eventually, in a foreclosure, the bank gets the property, the homeowner is put out and the vacant property deteriorates, leading to further losses. There are numerous reports, especially in the Northeastern "rust belt" of banks starting foreclosures but never finishing the process. Homeowners, thinking they have to bail, leave the property, only to receive tax bills later on, because the bank did not proceed with the sheriff's sale.

The whole mess is not going to end soon or well. It's going to take 6-10 years for the banks to work off the excesses of the sub-prime credit expansion. In The meantime, property values and interest rates will remain at historically low levels. If you own shares of any of the aforementioned banks, you should dump them if you haven't already. In fact, with the market close to highs, today could have been a warning shot for further declines to come. The economy continues to stumble along and eventually, the stock wizards will get out of the way, Government bailouts and stimulus have only paved the way for another round of declines in the stock market and in prices generally.

Dow 10,609.65, -100.90 (0.94%)
NASDAQ 2,287.99, -28.75 (1.24%)
S&P 500 1,136.03, -12.43 (1.08%)
NYSE Composite 7,356.79, -91.73 (1.23%)

Losers beat winners by a wide margin, 4664-1864; there were still 340 new highs, to just 44 new lows. Volume was substantially better than it has been all week. Uh, oh.

NYSE Volume 5,426,332,500
NASDAQ Volume 2,662,195,750

With the dollar stronger, oil took a nosedive, losing $1.44, to $78.00 (still too high). Gold lost $12.00, to $1,131.00. Silver was down 22 cents, to $18.44. The pause in the rise of the precious metals may be signaling a buy. If the economy worsens, the dollar should weaken (though as gauged against other currencies, some of which aren't doing very well themselves, the dollar may just waffle around), sending gold and silver higher. Even if the dollar doesn't lose value, the metals may still be the play as more and more people look for their perceived safety.

Tip for the day: Go to a coin dealer and buy a common silver dollar, or, as many as you can reasonably afford to put away for a couple of years. It's a near-certainty they'll be worth just as much or more in 2012. You can't say that about any other asset class, except maybe bonds.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Short Session, Big Losses on Dubai Debt

Friday's abbreviated session answered the question of why stocks did not advance much in Wednesday's pre-holiday trading, when all of the economic news was positive. Overhanging the market was word from Dubai - on Wednesday - that the government was requesting a six-month moratorium on interest payments, mostly from its major real estate developer, Dubai World.

While the news did not noticeably affect markets in the US, the news shook Asian and European markets violently on Thursday. US stock exchanges were closed for Thanksgiving.

Quoting the NY Times:
According to data from the Bank for International Settlements, foreign banks have $130 billion of exposure to the United Arab Emirates, with Britain having the largest exposure, $51 billion. Banks in the United States have debts of $13 billion.

At the open on Friday, stock futures were indicating a massive sell-off, with Dow futures down more than 200 points. After an initial selling spree which sent the Dow down more than 230 points, cooler heads prevailed for a time, bringing the indices back to some level of respectability and calm. By the close, however, fears of another round of banking crises had investors scurrying for the exits, not wanting to hold positions over a weekend in which many of these issues would be pondered.

Dow 10,309.92, -154.48 (1.48%)
NASDAQ 2,138.44, -37.61 (1.73%)
S&P 500 1,091.49, -19.14 (1.72%)
NYSE Composite 7,070.09, -162.03 (2.24%)

On the day, declining issues far outpaced advancers, 5211-1086. New highs held a slim edge over new lows, 98-85. Volume was only average, indicating a hope that markets would return to a more normal tone in days ahead. There was little panic to speak of, though every sector finished in the red.

NYSE Volume 2,846,343,000
NASDAQ Volume 972,038,750

Commodities took the bigger hit. Oil tumbled $3.06, to $74.90, its lowest close in months. Gold fell $12.60, to $1,176.00, though the price had fallen by as much as $30 during the day. Silver slipped 47 cents, holding at $18.34.

What Dubai means to US banking interests is a relatively small matter, as only Bank of America (BAC) and Citigroup (C) hold anything approaching what would be considered large obligations. The general fear - a holdover from last year's major meltdown - is a more severe liquidity issue, cascading across the financial landscape in unpaid loans and the roll-over of resultant guarantees (Credit Default Swaps) which would put more banks at risk.

While it is possible that another severe shock could ensue, it's more likely that central banks will intervene in the interest of the banks, propping them up with more guarantees and looser credit facilities, much like last year's rescue. Still, there are palpable fears out there, that the entire system is prone to disruptions like this as more emerging markets face similar issues.

Paper money rolling off printing presses at high speed can only delay the inevitable. Eventually, losses must be taken or parties made whole. The most probable outcome is continuation of the deflationary spiral, which the central bankers of the world wish to avoid.

The simplest way to understand the issue is in terms of mortgages. As more money is pumped into the system, chasing the bad, assets - everything from stocks to houses - become less valuable. The home purchased for $200,000 a year ago is only worth $160,000, an so on. Devaluing currencies to reflect lower asset values, a hard, painful choice, seems the proper medicine, but one which world banking and political leaders have yet refused to consider.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's in Your Wallet? Not Much, Says Capital One

I'm not sure, but probably more than 30% of all adult Americans have a Capital One credit card. I used to have two, before the company - kicking and screaming all the way - finally acceded to my demands to combine them into one.

While checking some financial sector stocks earlier today, I noticed that Capital One (COF) has taken a hellacious beating this year. Since closing at 31.05 on December 31, 2008, the stock has received a 67% haircut, down to 10.13. Capital One is the nation's largest purveyor of individual credit cards, but also dabbles in making new car loans, home equity loans and other, similarly risky endeavors.

The company is notably the subprime credit lender of nearly last resort to consumers who have tapped out their home equity and are now piling up credit card debt, typically at rates of 15% and higher, and now it appears that many are not paying back their lender, as Forbes reports:
The company also reported its annual net charge-off rate a measure of credit default, for U.S. credit cards rose to 7.82% in January from 7.71% in December.

Apparently, when it comes to paying their debt to Capital One, there really isn't much left in people's wallets, much to the displeasure of COF shareholders, as the company wiped out all of the year's gains in 2008 with a 4th quarter loss of $3.74 per share.

Much of Wall Street was sharing the pain with Capital One, as stocks took yet another drubbing, with the Dow falling to within a whisker of the November 20 low (7552.29), closing right at the lows of the day, 7552.60.

This sets the stage for an interesting remainder of the week, as today's close is undeniably a double bottom on the Dow. The other majors are close to their previous lows, but not quite there.

Dow 7,552.60, -297.81 (3.79%)
NASDAQ 1,470.66, -63.70 (4.15%)
S&P 500 789.17, -37.67 (4.56%)
NYSE Compos 4,939.12, -267.64 (5.14%)

The NASDAQ has another 154 points to go, the S&P would have to shed another 36 points and the NYSE Composite is still 288 above its November 20 close. Obviously, the bank and financial stocks of the Dow have weighed heavily of late.

Bank of America (BAC) crossed the $5 Rubicon again, closing at 4.90, down 67 cents. CitiGroup (C) continued down the rat hole, losing 43 cents, to 3.06. even venerable JP Morgan Chase (JPM) lost 3.04, to 21.65. Each of those company's shares were down by more than 12% on the session.

Market internals verified just how rough a day it was for US stocks. Declining issues absolutely slammed advancers, 5803-775. New lows expanded to 555, versus a paltry 18 new highs. Volume was outstanding, signaling more selling dead ahead. Only one issue of the Dow 30 closed with a gain: Wal-Mart (WMT). For more on that, see below.

NYSE Volume 1,590,783,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,395,914,000

Commodities were split down the middle. Anything consumable, from unleaded gas to pork bellies, was down, while the precious metals shot to short term highs. Crude oil for March delivery were down $2.58, to $34.93; natural gas was off 22 cents, to $4.22, and wholesale unleaded gas closed at $1.11, begging the question as to how most consumers are paying roughly $2.00 at the pump. Look for another record quarter for the oil companies.

Gold gained $25.30, to $967.50. Silver broke 39 cents higher, to $14.01. With deflation clearly the issue, one has to wonder how far the bulls will push the metals. They are, after all, investment hedges - primarily against inflation - but commodities at heart.

Investors find themselves at a critical crossroad at the open tomorrow. Considering that only the Dow has retraced its low, it should be a pretty safe bet that all indices are heading lower in the short term.

Want to know why Wal-Mart was the only Dow component to show a gain on the day? Watch the video below:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Google, Caterpillar Sink Dow

After the close on Thursday, Google - for the second time in its brief 2-year existence as a public company - missed analyst expectations and sold off wildly in after-hours trading. On the open, Google (GOOG) was down 36 1/2 points, at 511.90, from the previous day's close. The stock regained some of the loss during the trading day, closing at 520.12, for a loss of 28.47.

With Google still fresh in the rear-view mirror, Caterpillar released second quarter results prior to the open, sinking the general market. The company earned $823 million, or $1.24 per share, in the three months ended June 30, down from $1.05 billion, or $1.52 per share during the same period last year. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.49 a share on revenue of $11.12 billion. The miss was staggering and shares traded lower by 3.78, closing at 83.20.

Dow 13,851.08 -149.33; NASDAQ 2,687.60 -32.44; S&P 500 1,534.10 -18.98; NYSE Composite 10,072.93 -121.08

Damage was widespread, as declining issues outpaced advancers by a 7-2 margin. New lows retook the edge over new highs for the second time in the last three sessions, 368-228.

Other issues reporting on the day were:

  • Citigroup Inc. (C): Net income rose to $6.23 billion, or $1.24 per share, in the second quarter, from $5.27 billion, or $1.05 a share, in the same period a year earlier. Analysts had sought 1.13 per share, but, shares of the nation's largest bank still were down 40 cents on the day, closing at 50.73

  • Schlumberger (SLB): Amid the dour tones of the day, the oil services company posted net income for April-June of $1.26 billion, or $1.02 per share, compared with $856.9 million, or 69 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose to $5.64 billion from $4.69 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected earnings per share of 95 cents on revenue of $5.53 billion. Shares rose 3.23 to 96.68.

  • Wachovia Corporation (WB): Net earnings increased 21.1% to $2.3 billion, or $1.22 per share, from $1.9 billion, or $1.17 per share in the year-earlier period. Those results were in line with analyst expectations of 1.22 per share. The stock, however, sold off sharply, finishing the session down 1.63, at 49.98

Microsoft (MSFT) was also in line with estimates, but was punished after a series of upside surprises. Shares of the software maker declined 0.35 to 31.16 on volume that was nearly double the average.

Oil dropped 35 cents to settle at $75.57. Gold rose another $6.60 to end at $684.70, while sister silver added 3 cents to $13.40. Friday was the culmination of the best week for the metals in at least 3 months.

Monday will witness more earnings reports with a number of heavyweights, including American Express (AXP), Halliburton (HAL), Merck (MRK), Schering-Plough (SGP) and Texas Instruments (TXN).

Results thus far have been less-than-inspiring, with a fair share of misses and few clear winners. The week will be important as the majority of US companies will have reported by Friday.

Economic indicators will also be in focus, with existing home sales at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, new home sales on Thursday and a preliminary reading on GDP for the 2nd quarter out prior to the market open on Friday. Analysts are expecting GDP to show a 3.2% gain. This, on the heels of first quarter's dismal 0.7% showing, may be a bit optimistic. Anything below 2.5% may signal further weakness and precipitous losses in stocks.