Showing posts with label Democrats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Democrats. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 2, 2019

On Black Friday, Wall Street Saw Red

Stocks finished the week with gains, even though the shortened session on Friday saw widespread declines.

While shoppers were out at retail locales seeking the big deals, Wall Street types were squaring their books in an attempt to get out ahead of what looks to be disconcerting news on the US-China trade front. Issues in the ongoing trade and tariff tete-a-tete have expanded beyond economics, spilling over into the political realm as Washington passed - and the president signed - resolutions in support of the Hong Kong protestors and human rights, roiling top Chinese officials who issued sharp rebukes on Thanksgiving Thursday.

Hong Kong's reliance upon and distancing from the Chinese political apparatus has served as a launching board for US rhetoric on freedom and rights, the interjection of which can only make what were already-tense negotiations even more complicated. US-China relations now overshadows all other conceptual and practical conditions and Wall Street has taken notice.

Shoppers snapped up $7.4 billion worth of online holiday goodies on Black Friday and are poised to spend another $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday. The numbers for online spending were records. Including Thanksgiving Day sales, online retailing grossed $11.6 billion.

Figures for brick and mortar retailers were not readily available, and may be somewhat blurred by innovations such as "buy online, pick up in store," an outreach by physical stores to combine the best of online shopping and foot traffic to stores.

It's shaping up to be a solid holiday shopping season, unsurprising, due to the robust economy, low unemployment, and the rising stock market. Consumers are not only feeling buoyant, the actually have more money in their wallets from the tax cuts made law in 2017 and implemented in 2018 and 2019.

Otherwise, the week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday was notable only for Friday's slide in the stock market. Normally, equity buyers rush in on a wave of enthusiasm. This year, however, the trade situation with China has cast a long shadow on any enthusiasm.

That dour mood may turn out to be misplaced. While the Chinese continue to foot-drag and seek rollbacks of existing tariffs before signing onto any phase one deal, American negotiators stick with the hard line established early on by President Trump. His contentions that China needs our dollars more than we need their goods, and that China has taken advantage of weaknesses by his predecessors for decades continue to guide trade policy. At the end of any deal, there has to be appreciation for not necessarily an even playing field, but one which is not slanted East. The president has made it clear that he will not acquiesce to Chinese demands or bullying and that steadfastness has kept the two countries from reaching even the most rudimentary agreements.

The likelihood of the trade war continuing through the Democrat party primaries and into the general election season are strong. China appears to be playing the long game, believing that Trump may not win re-election and that they will get a better shake from an incoming Democrat president.

Whistling in the wind is what trade negotiators are calling China's hopeful stand-offishness. Even while impeachment is being bandied about the House of Representatives, the White House sees it as no real threat since Republicans in the Senate would be highly unlikely to find Trump guilty in an impeachment trial, even if the House gins up watered-down articles of impeachment.

The entire impeachment fiasco has been nothing more than an annoyance for the White House and President Trump. Meanwhile, public sentiment for removal from office has peaked and is falling. The latest polls find fewer people engaged on the impeachment issue as the numbers in favor of impeachment have begun to slide.

In the House this week there will be more grandstanding by Democrats, whining by Republicans, and less interest by te American people, whose approval of congress is so low it hardly registers a positive number. Americans would like their government to actually do something constructive on anything outside of politics, health care being the most-often cited issue that warrants attention, along with immigration.

Flailing about and waving hands about "high crimes and misdemeanors" isn't cutting it for huge swaths of the American electorate, especially when the "evidence" produced by the anti-Trump forces consists largely of hearsay, innuendo, third party opinions, and actions that aren't even considered criminal.

Insistence by Democrats to pursue impeachment of Mr. Trump may turn out to be one of the worst political strategies ever devised, by some of the most disingenuous politicians ever to have disgraced the halls of congress.

At the Close, Friday, November 29, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,051.41, -112.59 (-0.40%)
NASDAQ: 8,665.47, -39.70 (-0.46%)
S&P 500: 3,140.98, -12.65 (-0.40%)
NYSE Composite: 13,545.21, -62.39 (-0.46%)

For the Week:
Dow: +175.79 (+0.63%)
NASDAQ: +145.59 (+1.71%)
S&P 500: +30.69 (+0.99%)
NYSE Composite: +104.26 (+0.78%)

Sunday, November 3, 2019

WEEKEND WRAP: Fed Delivers, S&P, NASDAQ Make All-Time Highs

With the FOMC decision Wednesday to reduced the federal funds overnight lending rate another 25 basis points, to a range of 1.50-1.75%, stocks took a the rest of decision day and Thursday to digest the news, then ramped stocks on Friday, sending the NASDAQ and S&P 500 to record closings and the Dow Jones Industrials and NYSE Composite near all-time highs.

While the third consecutive rate cut was able to reawaken some of Wall Street's animal spirits, it may be the last one for a while. Changing the wording in some parts of their statement, the Fed took on a more hawkish stance concerning rates going forward. Fed policy will remain data dependent, but not necessarily active. That didn't bother stock traders, who saw the opportunity to ignite what may extend into a holiday rally, and ran with it.

Wall Street's enthusiasm came a day after the US House of Representatives voted along strict party lines to make their impeachment inquiry against President Trump just a little more public than it has been up to this point, wherein Democrats, led by Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Adam Schiff, held secret, closed door depositions and heard hearsay testimony from various witnesses in connection with a phone call the president made to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky back in July.

The charges the Democrats have alleged against Mr. Trump may be scurrilous at worst and inconsequential at best, but that hasn't prevented the Democrats to continue to spread stories to their friends in the corrupt mainstream media to smear the president in the run-up to the 2020 election. Not a single Republican voted in favor of the resolution which formally enshrined the inquiry and expanded it to other committees.

Washington being thus rendered impotent as it wastes the taxpayer dime on ridiculous accusations and pointless investigations - along the same lines as the 2+ years of the infamous Mueller probe - it does give Wall Street some relief, understanding that the government will be introducing no new laws or regulations that might impede the current, long-standing bull run.

Elsewhere, outside the United States, the world is burning, either through popular strife in countries and places as diverse as Chile, Hong Kong, and Spain (Catalonia), or by economic policy, especially the brunt instrumentality of negative interest rates, in many European countries.

China's economic slowdown became an issue this week as well, demonstrating that the Chinese hard-line stance on trade negotiations with the United States is a charade. The Chinese government knows full well that it needs cooperation with its main trading partner, but insists on slow-walking any formal agreement. President Trump is well aware of China's condition and has maintained his equally-tough positions through whatever negotiations have been made or planned. China is eventually going to lose its grip and be forced to come to terms with the United States or risk popular uprisings of its own people.

Ignoring the background noise of geopolitics, companies continued to roll out third quarter earnings reports which were modest, but nowhere near disastrous. Additionally, US GDP came in at a stronger-than-expected 1.9% in the first estimate, and October job growth was muted, but well beyond expectations, delivering a non-farm payroll report that saw job gains of 128,000, following an upwardly revised 180,000 increase in September, easily beating market expectations of 89,000. Even though the BLS report is a damaged documentary on true economic growth, the trading community saw this as a positive one and responded accordingly.

Bonds rallied. The yield curve, having un-inverted in early August, continued to steepen, with the 10-year note at 1.69% on Thursday before closing out the week at 1.73%. The longer-duration, 30-year bond, which had fallen under two percent in July, and was being sold off until this week, rallied sharply, with yields falling from 2.34% on Monday to 2.17% on Thursday, settling on Friday at 2.21%.

Gold and silver were also bid, gold regaining the $1500 per ounce level and silver shooting beyond $18 per ounce.

The week ahead features more madness from Washington, a slew of earnings reports, including some popular names like Shake Shack, Uber, UnderArmor, Sprint, Hertz, Groupon, Mariott (Monday), Chesapeake Energy and Newmont Mining (Tuesday), Roku, CVS Health, Square, Humana, Qualcom (Wednesday), Teva, Planet Fitness, AMC Entertainment, Cardinal Health, (Thursday), and Duke Energy and US Concrete (Friday). The Walt Disney Company (DIS), a Dow component, reports Thursday.

Barring any unforeseen negative developments like bank runs (China), riots and street killings (Hong Kong), or desultory commentary on negative interest rates (Denmark), all appears to be smooth sailing through Black Friday, which approaches rapidly, just 19 trading days hence.

Happy Holidays? Too soon?

At the Close, Friday, November 1, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,347.36, +301.13 (+1.11%)
NASDAQ: 8,386.40, +94.04 (+1.13%)
S&P 500: 3,066.91, +29.35 (+0.97%)
NYSE Composite: 13,300.27, +128.46 (+0.98%)

For the Week:
Dow: +389.30 (+1.44%)
NASDAQ: +143.28 (+1.74%)
S&P 500: +29.35 (+0.97%)
NYSE Composite: +154.03 (+1.17%)

The following is dedicated to California Rep. Adam Schiff:

Sunday, October 6, 2019

WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks Bounce Badly, Bonds Rally In Charged Political, Economic Environment

Stocks ripped higher on Friday after September non-farm payrolls missed estimates, stoking expectations of another 25 basis point rate cut by the FOMC in their upcoming, October 29-30, meeting.

All US indices posted gains over one percent, offsetting about half of the losses made during Tuesday and Wednesday sessions. Despite the huge Friday gains, three of the four major indices finished in the red for a third straight weekly decline as fears of an upcoming recession, continued parlor games in Washington fueling fears of an impeachment of President Trump, and ongoing fits and starts in trade negotiations with China outweighed monetary politics and policy direction.

The NASDAQ was the lone survivor, with a gain of just over 1/2 percent.

Jittery as it has been, US equity markets continue to show signs of weakness but not of breaking down in a capitulating move. With third quarter earnings about a week away, there's optimism that corporate America still has not lost its profitable manner, meanwhile, the flight to US treasuries and corporate bonds continued apace throughout the week, with the yield on the 10-year note dropping 17 basis points - from 1.69 to 1.52% - for the week, and losing 38 basis points since the recent bond selloff sent to 10-year yield to a high of 1.90 on September 13.

Friday's closing bond price for the benchmark 10-year is nearing the lows made in late August and early September of 1.47%.

There seems to be little standing in the way of the 10-year note heading below its historic low yield made on July 5, 2016, of 1.37%, as comparable notes in developed nations - Germany, Japan, Switzerland - are all offering negative yields.

How long the treasury complex can withstand the onslaught of buying worldwide is a minor concern since the Fed has already signaled to markets that they were willing and able to offer negative yields, like the rest of the world's developed nations.

The specter of negative yielding bonds looms closer in the US, but is probably at least two years away, if it develops at all. A recession, such as has been predicted for 2020 (and also was predicted for 2019), could push the 10-year below one percent, but it's a long way down to zero for the world's most popular bond and the world's largest economy.

Unless Democrats succeed in unseating President Trump through impeachment or other means, the onus of recession remains, though it could very well be short-lived, since the US has plenty of untapped capital and productivity.

For the present time, it would be prudent to keep a close eye on the impeachment fiasco underway in congress. There's a strong likelihood that push-back by the Trump administration could send the entire bag of nonsense and dubious Democrat claims into the courts, pushing the narrative through the Democrat primaries in Spring 2020 all the way to November's presidential and congressional elections.

That actually could be the plan for Democrats, since they have made some very spurious allegations about the president, but, the mainstream media loves a circus and promotes the impeachment mantra in an unalterable, monotonous, fallacious chorus.

The American public has grown tired of the repeated attempts to besmirch the duly elected chief executive and the result could be an historic landslide victory for Republicans in the fall of 2020. The alternative, should the Democrats and their obedient lackeys in the media succeed is more than likely to cause a rift in the populace - generally between urban liberals and rural conservatives - that could foment tremendous civil unrest and lawlessness. That is the disruption Wall Street - and most of the civilized world - fears most.

Bumpy will be the ride for the economy, politics, and society over then next 12 to 16 months unless the Democrats are exposed and soundly defeated.

At the Close, Friday, October 4, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,573.72, +372.68 (+1.42%)
NASDAQ: 7,982.47, +110.21 (+1.40%)
S&P 500 2,952.01, +41.38 (+1.42%)
NYSE Composite: 12,831.54, +145.78 (+1.15%)

For the Week:
Dow: -246.53 (-0.92%)
NASDAQ: +42.85 (+0.54%)
S&P 500: -9.78 (-0.33%)
NYSE Composite: -140.43 (-1.08%)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Investors Unconcerned Over Impeachment, Recession

As end-of-quarter trading sessions go, this one was quite on the tame side.

Sure enough, funds bought up some of the most-favored names as "window dressing" for clients, present and future, pleasure. It's an age old tactic to garner new business. "Look what we have," is how funds tout their portfolios to prospective investors, since there are no regulations prohibiting such misleading behavior.

Nonetheless, the practice is commonplace, but less and less significant as consumers become more aware of some Wall Street tactics.

Otherwise, most of the buzz on Monday was over the ongoing impeachment coup against President Trump being conducted in the House of Representatives. The Democrats are using unnamed sources in second-hand, hearsay-colored, whistleblower complaints as their latest weapon against the president.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also changed House rules back in December to allow committee members to take depositions from interviewees and people subpoenaed without minority (Republican) representation, which is why the Democrats are working swiftly to take statements while they are actually in recess. Clearing out the opposition is a truly underhanded tactic, not worthy of the US congress, though the Democrat party has apparently now sunk to new levels of sleaziness. More on all of this in an article authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog.

Much of what's occurring in DC is apparent to the sharpest minds on Wall Street, and there's certain to be monitoring of events as the happen. Taking wall Street's apparent unconcerned posture as a clue, there's likely less than a 10 percent chance of the Democrats succeeding in impeaching President Trump. Their narrative is weak, not all members of the party are in agreement with approach and, further, if the House actually voted to impeach, a trial would have to be held in the Senate, where a 2/3rds vote is needed to convict and that is highly unlikely, given that Republicans are in the majority.

The weeks ahead will surely be replete with accusations and arguments about the president's "unfitness." A spirited counter-attack from the administration is also expected, and that should be a spectacle to behold.

Wall Street seems confident that the tremors in Washington, DC will not result in a political earthquake. While a positive outcome from their proceedings is far from assured, it is probably best to keep a level head, understanding that much of what the House Democrats are calling "crimes" are actually the president investigating the root causes of the non-stop witch hunt against him.

At the Close, Monday, September 30, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,916.83, +96.58 (+0.36%)
NASDAQ: 7,999.34, +59.71 (+0.75%)
S&P 500: 2,976.74, +14.95 (+0.50%)
NYSE Composite: 13,004.74, +32.76 (+0.25%)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Impeachment of President Trump Is Irresponsible and a Vile Attack by Desperate Democrats

Markets were roiled throughout the session on Tuesday, as the Fed continued overnight repo operations, Europe appeared headed for a recession, and, late in the day, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced an impeachment enquiry would commence against President Donald J. Trump, ostensibly for comments (or, promises, as Democrats allege) made during a telephone call to the president of Ukraine.

Sadly, the Democrats in the House (and, loosely, the Senate) have lost all hope of winning the presidential election in 2020, so they've resorted to the most vile political weapon available and are willing to drag the citizens of the United States through an arduous and ridiculous process that in the end will yield nothing.

The Democrats have no crime to pin on President Trump. Rather, they see no chance of beating him in the upcoming election, so, being as desperate for power as they are, seem willing to abandon all sense of propriety and decency.

For his part, President Trump had already agreed to make the entire, unredacted transcript of the phone call in question prior to Pelosi's announcement. It's apparent to most legal scholars - and apparently to Wall Street investors - that the president has done nothing wrong and that the impeachment call is merely another step away from responsibility by the Democrat party, continuing a vendetta against Trump which began on election eve, 2016, when he defeated their darling, Hillary Clinton, in the presidential election.

Wall Streeters understand well that more turmoil from Washington, DC is unwarranted, unnecessary, and potentially disruptive to markets. Whatever President Trump has done during his nearly three years in office, he certainly has not undermined American business interests. For the most part, he's battled the fake Russia-gate hoax investigation, and this is being viewed by interested parties as a continuation of Democrat hatred of the president.

What may be even worse than launching an impeachment enquiry on flimsy grounds is that the Democrats currently do not have enough votes to pass the impeachment onto the senate. A simple majority is needed for referral to the senate for a trial, but, while the Democrats do have a majority, they may not have the full support of their members.

Thus, unless charges against President Trump are solid and can show intent and criminality, House Democrats may have bitten off more than they can chew. It's nowhere near certain that any evidence will be enough to indict the president and charge him with a crime. It's even less clear that moderate Democrats will support the effort.

In the end, the president is likely to run roughshod over the Democrat haters in congress, as he did with the Mueller investigation, now relegated to ancient history. As Bill Clinton famously said during his impeachment hearings, "there's no there there."

Impeachment is an issue that should be taken with the utmost seriousness and only be entertained in the interest of the American citizenry. There is not one shred of evidence that President Trump is anything but a true patriot, an honorable American, doing his best - against violent opposition by the democrats and the press - to serve the American people.

Pelosi's green-lighting of an impeachment investigation is both irresponsible and likely to fail.

And it should.

At the Close, Tuesday, September 24, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,807.77, -142.22 (-0.53%)
NASDAQ: 7,993.63, -118.83 (-1.46%)
S&P 500: 2,966.60, -25.18 (-0.84%)
NYSE Composite: 12,992.26, -93.07 (-0.71%)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Year That Was: Investors Bid 2018 GOOD RIDDANCE; Worst Year Since 2008

Should all acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind,
Should all acquaintance be forgot and the days of auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet for the sake of auld lang syne.
Let's have a drink or maybe two or maybe three or four
Or five or six or seven or eight or maybe even more.

A cup of kindness, indeed. It's what some investors would have liked in December, or October, or maybe February or March.

Those were the worst months for stocks.

Dow loss, February, 2018: -1120.19
March, 2018: -926.09
October, 2018: -1341.55
December, 2018: -2211.10

As the year wore on, conditions proceeded to deteriorate for holders of US large cap equities. On the S&P and the NASDAQ, some stocks suffered losses of 30, 40, 50% or more.

Facebook (FB) was the poster child for tech stocks breaking bad. On July 25, the famous brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg topped out at 217.50. As of December 24, it bottomed out at a closing price of 124.06, a 43% loss. It wasn't a very merry Christmas for Facebook. Still, Zuckerberg is still one of the richest persons in the world, just not quite as rich as he used to be.

Netflix (NFLX) was another one being hammered in the second half of the year. Closing at 418.97 on July 9, the streaming video service lost 44% by December 24, closing that session at 233.88.

Stocks weren't the only asset class that was sucker-punched during the year. One standout of the commodities class was crude oil, where the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) shot up from $60 to $76 in October - coincidentally, on the same day the Dow peaked - before retreating to under $45 nearing the end of December, striking a low of $42.53 on Christmas Day.

In similar manner, precious metals were abused during the year. Gold spent the early part of the year fluctuating in the $1300-1350 per ounce range, never closing above $1352. By June, signs of weakness were appearing, with the metal of kings dipping into the $1200 range, eventually bottoming out at $1178 by August. With stocks on the decline in the fourth quarter, gold was the beneficiary, ending the year at $1278 per ounce.

Silver was damaged more severely. Peaking at $17.52 per ounce on January 25, silver slumped all the way to 13.97 in November. December was the best month of the year for gentleman's coin, as it closed at a five-month high on December 31, with a price of $15.46. Both gold and silver ended the year on high notes, suggesting that they are due for a long-overdue rally.

Bonds were perhaps the most entertaining of the financial assets, with investors watching for an inversion in the treasury yield curve between the two and 10-year notes. While that did not materialize, a smaller inversion between 2 and three-year and the five-year yield presented itself in December, but only persisted for three weeks. The five-year was actually yielding less than both the 2s and 3s on December 4, but corrected back to normalcy - with yields rising over duration - on December 21. Still, it was a wake-up call to investors fearing a recession in 2019 and may have contributed to some of the panic selling during the final month of 2018.

Yield on the barometric 10-year note ended the year at an 11-month low, checking in at 2.69% on New Year's Eve. The 30-year was also pushed lower. By year's end, it was yielding a mere 3.02%, all of this occurring in the face of four quarterly federal funds rate hikes over the course of the annum. Surely, the bond vigilantes are out in force, and as the year of 2018 comes to a close, fear is winning out over greed in rather obvious manner.

What 2019 will bring is anyone's guess, considering the continuing dysfunction coming out of the nation's capitol. Republicans and Democrats are at war, leaving the American people to fend as best they can as casualties or collaterally-damaged bystanders. Rhetoric from both sides of the aisle has been inflamed to a combustible state, and, with the partial government shutdown already in its second week, when the Democrats seize control of the House of Representatives on January 3, chaos will reign.

Despite honest effort from President Trump, nothing good will come out of Washington this year, unless one considers complete rejection of government by the people to be constructive, because that is precisely where the swamp dwellers inside the beltway - with ample assistance from a media that operates as a free press in name only - are taking the country.

2019 may be a year worse than the one preceding it, perhaps much worse, as the political leaders of the greatest nation on the planet can do no better than bicker, posture, and fail in their duties.

Until and unless Washington changes its ways, the financial picture will be clouded by the politicians, whose only aim seems to be one of destroying anything good in the country. While the Democrats can largely be blamed for inciting division, Republicans in the Senate share nearly equal responsibility for not standing up for the public.

Sadly, Washington has made it clear that it wants to be all-important, all the time. The cost will be borne by the people in ways that exceed mere finance.

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51
12/10/18 24,423.26 +34.31 -1115.20
12/11/18 24,370.24 -53.02 -1168.22
12/12/18 24,527.27 +157.03 -1011.19
12/13/18 24,597.38 +70.11 -941.08
12/14/18 24,100.51 -496.87 -1437.95
12/17/18 23,592.98 -507.53 -1945.58
12/18/18 23,675.64 +82.66 -1862.92
12/19/18 23,323.66 -351.98 -2214.90
12/20/18 22,859.60 -464.06 -2678.96
12/21/18 22,445.37 -414.23 -3093.19
12/24/18 21,792.20 -653.17 -3746.36
12/26/18 22,878.45 +1086.25 -2660.11
12/27/18 22,878.45 +260.37 -2399.74
12/28/18 23,062.40 -76.42 -2476.16
12/31/18 23,327.46 +265.06 -2211.10

At the Close, Monday, December 31, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,327.46, +265.06 (+1.15%)
NASDAQ: 6,635.28, +50.76 (+0.77%)
S&P 500: 2,506.85, +21.11 (+0.85%)
NYSE Composite: 11,374.39, +83.44 (+0.74%)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Wall Street Gives Election Results Thumbs Up

Gridlock assured as Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and Republicans held sway in the Senate, Wall Street roared with approval sending stocks to their best levels in nearly a month, October's declines a fading memory with major indices posting solid two percent-plus gains across the board.

Out of the election results, there was no blue wave or red dawn but rather a kind of purple haze hanging over Washington, with the usual noise an rancor interrupted only temporarily on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. By 11:30, President Trump was at the podium, singing his own praises and sending congratulatory messages to the politicians he helped get elected to federal positions.

It didn't take long for the news media to begin hectoring the president over immigration, dealings with Democrats, the Mueller probe, and various other needling, needless issues. Trump was at his usual boisterous best, telling some reporters to sit down and lambasting others.

Shortly after Trump left the press gaggle, news that Jeff Sessions would step down as US Attorney General broke across the wires, and stocks continued their march higher. Sessions' letter of resignation began with the words, "At your request..." signaling that Trump had planned for the removal of Sessions in advance of the midterms and timed his resignation for immediately following results of the elections.

Trump quickly named Matthew Whitaker, Sessions' chief of staff, as acting Attorney General. Whitaker has been openly critical of the Mueller probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, echoing Trump's oft-repeated message that the entire investigation amounts to nothing more than a "witch hunt."

With the path ahead for President Trump more clearly defined, Wall Street can look forward to something resembling sanity in Washington. With Whitaker now in charge of the DoJ, the Mueller probe will likely be reigned in and shortly concluded, ending one of the lengthiest politically-inspired goose chases in American history.

The midterms past, Trump will aggressively advance his agenda, though the rancor from the opposite side of the aisle is likely to become even more manic, illogical, and contrived. Trump has made no friends in the media, and, with the Democrats in control of the House, the politicking leading up to the 2020 presidential election will become more pronounced than ever.

In the meantime, President Trump and his team will plow ahead with initiatives on trade, jobs, infrastructure, and regulatory reform, and there's little the Democrats can do about any of the administrative functions guided by the chief executive. With control of the Senate, Trump also can find smooth sailing for appointees, the Republican majority assuring confirmation of just about anybody he sends up for approval.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54

At the Close, Wednesday, November 7, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,180.30, +545.29 (+2.13%)
NASDAQ: 7,570.75, +194.79 (+2.64%)
S&P 500: 2,813.89, +58.44 (+2.12%)
NYSE Composite: 12,678.17, +198.10 (+1.59%)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

WEEKEND WRAP: Bombs Away, Markets Crack, Mid-Term Turmoil

October is always full of surprises, whether they be political or financial in nature.

This week was not an exception, but, rather, the rule. Losses being sustained this month - since a topping out on October 3 - have been more severe and more significant than those encountered during February and March of this year.

That's saying quite a bit, since those winter months were quite scary. President Trump was under assault from Robert Mueller, the Special Prosecutor assigned to look into allegations (not a crime, mind you, but mere allegations, an unprecedented situation in American jurisprudence) of collusion with Russian operatives in the 2016 presidential election. Since there's been no mention of "Russia, Russia, Russia" for more than a few months now, it's safe to say that Trump was right all along: the entire investigation was a massive witch hunt.

Fast forwarding to October, Trump is still being assailed, though lately it's been over what really rankles Democrats and other detractors of the billionaire in the White House: his manners, or lack thereof, his incessant tweeting, and his very obvious disdain for liberals, Democrats and especially the media at his campaign rallies. Trump gets under people's skins. Some of it is by design. He likes making people uncomfortable. It's a way of seeing what they're made of; whether they'll lash out emotionally or display grace under pressure. For the most part, the people he's attacked, prodded, and called out have reacted with a modicum of restraint, though astute observers of the political class can tell that some, like Nancy Pelosi or Maxime Waters, are becoming unhinged or already were and Trump's thumping on them is only exacerbating their conditions of unease.

Not to belabor the point, but Trump hasn't been a bad president. In many regards, he's been good for the country. It's his rhetoric that annoys people, even his supporters. He's just not very mild-mannered or even-tempered as Americans are used to in their politicians. Some people actually enjoy his brash, unvarnished behaviors, taking them as a breath of fresh air and realism, apart from the usual stultified, superficial, and, yes, condescending attitude so popular among the Washington, DC elite.

Wall Street has taken a semi-political stance on Mr. Trump. Largely, they'll tolerate his decisions and commentaries on trade, tariffs, jobs, the economy, the Federal Reserve, and unemployment. Beneath the surface in many board rooms, however, there's a distaste for his bluster and boldness. It's just not the way things are done in higher-up circles of business. C-Suite executives prefer evenhandedness couched in cloudy rhetoric, ensconced in data points. Thus, there's a willingness to blame corporate shortfalls on this president. He presents himself as a convenient scapegoat and Wall Street honchos are more than willing to cast blame his way.

More than a few earnings reports this week included references to Trump's tariffs - those either in place or those he's only proposed - as excuses for shortfalls in revenue or earnings, or, most often, in forward guidance. There is a not-so-cleverly-disguised blame game being played at the highest levels of corporate America. Executives in growing numbers are calling out Trump's trade policies as a rationale for their own failures, and, for some, rightly so.

President Trump never promised Wall Street or anybody else a Rose Garden party. He always knew, and often made clear, that his imposition of tariffs on a variety of trading parties - but particularly, China - were going to have some negative effects. Naturally, he was right. Prices for many things made outside US borders are going up, a direct result of tariffs, but the end goal is not higher prices, but fairer trade, and that is not going to occur without some pain, and some of that will be significant.

Laying ahead for the economy, Wall Street and US consumers are higher prices right at the most inopportune time, the holiday buying season. When the final tallies from the fourth quarter are posted via retail sales figures and fourth quarter earnings in January, 2019, the numbers are likely to cause an even bigger shock. With all of America preconditioned for ever-expanding economic data, the fourth quarter of 2018 may look to some like the end of the world, if certain conditions are met, those being, retailers will slash prices to boost demand, resulting in lower profit margins and poor performance for some major companies. Trump and his terrible tariffs will be blamed.

This week was also overwhelmed by the "one big story" about the mad bomber from Florida who sent poorly-designed pipe bombs to former presidents and officials, presidential detractors, and a few current office-holders, all of whom shared one characteristic: they disliked or disagreed with President Donald J. Trump. Fortunately, the bomb-maker was highly unprofessional. None of his masterpieces of terror actually detonated.

Nevertheless, the "suspicious" packages that appeared all at once in mailrooms, postal facilities and elsewhere engendered a media frenzy and resulted in a quick arrest of the very obvious suspect, Cesar Sayoc. His background and the continuing investigation and eventual trial will extend well beyond the mid-term elections. For those wearing tin-foil caps and assigning this event to the "false flag" files, Sayoc's timing appeared to be too coincidentally close to election day. There's all sorts of spin. Most of it is not worth a moment's reflection.

Which brings up the matter of the mid-term elections, as if they were some world-changing event upon which the ultimate survival of American democracy and the rule of law hinged. That's how the media would have us view it, though contention for House of Representative seats occurs every two years without fail. Which party controls it gives power over committees to the winning side, the losers left to plot ways to undermine and unseat their successful opponents. This one's a little different, as it is something of a referendum on the Trump presidency, or so we've been told. The results won't matter much in the larger scheme of things since Washington DC politicians seldom do anything well, or right, or, at all. The mid-terms are just an excuse for advertising companies to make money and for politicians to claim they're on the right sides of various issues. Generally speaking, the American public would be better off if there were less politicking, less government overall, and less preening and posing for cameras by the stuffy types that populate the interior the DC Beltway.

How does politics affect stock prices: a little, but, in the end, not much at all. The mid-terms are all about bloviating and posturing and ballot-box stuffing, and boasting. Whoever wins will claim the juicy committee chairs. Should the House flip from Republican to Democrat this year, though, it will be an unmitigated mess, rom media crowing about the victory of globalism over nationalism, to absurd proposals to impeach President Trump. That is the one scenario that even Wall Street is afraid to embrace. It could unhinge everybody and everything.

Notwithstanding any such Democrat miasma, the mid-terms will come and go in another 10 days or so, and with it any chance to blame either party for the downfall of the economy (which is actually doing quite well) or for particular industries or companies. They'll be done and the media can dance around the implications until the new political faces are sworn in come January. None of it will make any difference to stocks, bonds, or the prices of oil, natural gas, gold, silver, sugar, tea, coffee, or Diet Pepsi. Nothing. Unless the Democrats take control of the House. Then, look out.

As far as stocks are concerned, well, they're still largely overvalued by most traditional measures, those being straight up PE ratios or the more in-vogue CAPE (Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings) ratio, a Robert Schiller concept that measures PE over a 10-year period rather than just the most recent one. It's sensible, and now, widely employed. According to the current chart, the CAPE is at 30.00, down a little due to the recent sliding, but still above 2008 levels and about even with 1929's Black Tuesday, from which the stock market crashed and was a contributing factor in the Great Depression.

That said, this bout of volatility in markets is not about to abate. Not by any means. All of the major indices closed out the week below their 200-day moving averages, and, maybe more importantly, the weekly charts put them below their 40-month moving averages, something that hasn't happened since 2008-09.

Stating the all-too-obvious, markets move in cycles, and the bullish cycle is about over. The bearish case - and this again is confirmed by Dow Theory, and we will spare readers the explicit numbers for now - has been signaled and is already underway. The only way up from here is to get to the bottom. There will be bumps, grinds, irrational exuberance, toil, trouble, relief rallies and false alarms, but the trend is your friend and the trend, friend, is down.

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 -1,405.48
10/12/18 25,339.99 +287.16 -1,118.32
10/15/18 25,250.55 -89.44 -1,207.76
10/16/18 25,798.42 +547.87 -659.89
10/17/18 25,706.68 -91.74 -751.63
10/18/18 25,379.45 -327.23 -1,078.86
10/19/18 25,444.34 +64.89 -1,013.97
10/22/18 25,317.41 -126.93 -1,140.90
10/23/18 25,191.43 -125.98 -1,265.88
10/24/18 24,583.42 -608.01 -1,873.89
10/25/18 24,984.55 +401.13 -1,472.76
10/26/18 24,688.31 -296.24 -1,769.00

At the Close, Friday, October 26, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,688.31, -296.24 (-1.19%)
NASDAQ: 7,167.21, -151.12 (-2.06%)
S&P 500: 2,658.69, -46.88 (-1.73%)
NYSE Composite: 11,976.95, -141.90 (-1.17%)

For the Week:
Dow: -756.03 (-2.97%)
NASDAQ: -281.81 (-3.78%)
S&P 500: -109.09 (-3.94%)
NYSE Composite: -480.32 (-3.86%)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Stock Investors Taking Advantage Of Calm Conditions

So much for summer doldrums.

In the first six trading days of July, the Dow Industrials have tacked on a hefty 648 points, leading many to begin believing that the minor correction from February was just that, minor, and now stocks are ready to be bought again nilly-willy. There has been only one negative close for the Dow this month and that came on the shortened session on the Tuesday prior to the Independence Day holiday.

For the past few days, an odd dynamic has taken place, with the Dow leading the other indices - especially out-performing the NASDAQ - which may be signaling a reversal from the prior three months. This change probably has little to do with the recent favorite whipping-boy: tariffs, but, there is the possibility that after closer analysis, many of the Dow stocks may be in position to benefit.

This is at least what seems to be occurring, though another possibility is that NASDAQ stocks have been overbought while the Dow was being oversold, thus the change in positions.

Whatever the case, investors in blue chips have been enjoying excellent gains and nobody is going to complain about that. With earnings about to take center stage in the Wall Street drama, Dow stocks may continue to rise, given optimistic projections for second quarter GDP and the part Dow stocks have played in this mini-rally.

Realistically, geopolitics have calmed for the time being, though under the surface there are relevant issues, not the least of which being England's struggle with post-Brexit negotiations, which has left Prime Minister Teresa May in quite the quandary.

May is promising a "soft Brexit" plan, due to be announced on Thursday via a white paper outlining the plan. Whatever May offers is sure to anger many and placate few, as nobody appears to be happy with half-measures, which has been the norm since the vote to leave the European Union two years ago. Not much has changed on the island nation and the process has been slow, disorderly, and generally lacking direction.

Look for the story to take on new life later in the week.

Back in the United States, President Trump seems to have thwarted almost all of his opponents, especially the ill-concieved Mueller investigation into Russia collusion in the 2016 presidential election. The entire affair is nothing but a complete farce, and the tide has turned against the special prosecutor and any friends he many have left in the deep state, liberal, leftist, obstructionist Democrats in congress.

With mid-term elections less than four months ahead, desperate Democrats have tried every conceivable attack on Trump and have come up empty-handed, even with a compliant press corps which seems also intent on demonizing Mr. Trump.

Meanwhile, some tariffs have already gone into effect, though the real implications are unlikely to be felt for some time, giving traders, fund managers and speculators ample time to play whatever games they feel fit to capture gains in this see-saw market.

If there is trouble ahead, it hasn't yet materialized, as unemployment remains low and the economy continues to show nascent signs of improvement. Inflation also has not truly had much effect, though the Federal Reserve's simultaneous deleveraging and rate hiking could cause significant problems.

For now, the market is maintaining a good demeanor and bonds are behaving, despite the ever-flattening yield curve. 2s-10s persist at 28 basis points, while 5s-10s and 10s-30s each sport a decade-low 10 basis point spread.

The summer may turn out to be one of pleasant recreation, though veteran traders and market analysts should be always vigilant for abrupt changes in sentiment.

Right now, it's smooth sailing and everybody's along for the ride.

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

At the Close, Tuesday, July 10, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,919.66, +143.07 (+0.58%)
NASDAQ: 7,759.20, +3.00 (+0.04%)
S&P 500: 2,793.84, +9.67 (+0.35%)
NYSE Composite: 12,814.64, +37.71 (+0.30%)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Trump and Republicans Carry the Day (and Water) for Wall Street

Just to be certain that the big government shutdown over the weekend was a big puff of smoke that left nothing other than a fog and stench, here is a comment made by a presumably knowledgeable person on how big business perceives the machinations and meanderings of the politicians in Washington, DC.

So far Wall Street is the dog that didn't bark in the night time. Indeed, all of Big Business is.

I work coordinating business meetings, mostly for Fortune 500 companies; the companies that spend enough on meetings to bother hiring professionals to handle them. I'm usually pretty busy during these meetings, but I keep an ear open for interesting tidbits when I can, and sometimes I have nothing to do but listen to every word.

Usually these companies do discuss politics, and how they plan to position themselves vis-a-vis the political climate. Not lately, they haven't been. Almost nary a peep. And that includes pharmaceutical companies, which usually are about as attuned politically as anyone.

The companies I work for, and you've heard of them, are ignoring:

- Attempts to change ACA (they know the entire healthcare finance system is already broken anyway, and they have to buy their employees health insurance no matter what happens so they don't care);

- Efforts to raise the US minimum wage to $15/hr. (they're already planning to raise pay because they can't hire people at the prevailing suppressed wages);

- The tax bill (they already pay corporate taxes at an effective rate so much lower than the headline rates it doesn't matter, and their top executives already mask most of their income from the tax system so effectively no legislation conceivable in the current political climate matters at all to them);

- Immigration (they simply don't care because they have no liability or consequences no matter what);

- Carbon-based fuels (they're all getting out of them anyway because they're too expensive and inefficient; if Trump wants to subsidize them while they're doing it they're fine with that);

- Government regulations (they pay their way out of them anyway, one way or the other, and write off the costs);

- Global trade agreements (all the methods they use to evade existing duties, tariffs and sanctions supersede such things anyway); etc.

- War and rumors of war (None of the wars involve or will involve anything they have an interest in. They have deep enough contacts to know there isn't going to be a nuclear war, and no other wars on the table pose more risk than profit opportunities to corporate interests);

- Ethics investigations, "RussiaGate," Uranium 1, PizzaGate, FISA-gate, or any of the popcorn nonsense dominating the partisan media (who invented ad campaigns in the first place?).

Indeed, most of the issues we concern ourselves with don't even interest the executives of the biggest corporations in America.

This is reflected in Wall Street. Where it matters, they know they've got the system dicked. It simply doesn't matter to them one way or the other, which faction of the Oligarchy has the upper hand today or tomorrow.

Here's the link to the comment (from a site on which the Money Daily staff has been banned twice for speaking truth to power).

Thus, stocks gained on the eve of the shutdown and also on the end of the shutdown. The shutdown was bad theater engineered by obstructionist Democrats who have nothing left in their quiver of attack arrows outside of assiduously assaulting the sitting president.

...and, apparently, it wasn't even close to being enough, as their gambit blew up in their collectivist faces, and especially so on the visage of one NY Senator Chuck Schumer, a sell-out to his constituents and to his party.

At the Close, Monday, January 22, 2018:
Dow: 26,214.60, +142.88 (+0.55%)
NASDAQ: 7,408.03, +71.65 (+0.98%)
S&P 500: 2,832.97, +22.67 (+0.81%)
NYSE Composite: 13,470.37, +85.91 (+0.64%)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Stocks Slide for Week as Wall Street Sees Little Hope for Tax Reform

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.50% finishing with its first weekly decline after eight straight weekly gains, though the blue chip index remained less than 150 points from an all-time closing high set on Wednesday, November 8.

The S&P 500 finished the week lower as well, but only marginally so. It was the S&P's first weekly decline in nine weeks. The NASDAQ posted its first weekly loss in seven weeks. Both the NASDAQ and S&P closed at record highs on Wednesday as well.

The one index that did not reach record highs during the week past was also the broadest. The NYSE Composite index closed down for the second week in the past three, but those losses were more than offset by gains in the prior six weeks.

In general, analysts blamed congress for the poor performance in equities, citing the lack of a clear path to a tax overhaul that was a cornerstone of President Trump's winning strategy of a year ago. The House and Senate both introduced measures that vary widely and seem unlikely to offer much in the way of relief for individuals or businesses. Rolled out on Thursday, the Senate version pushes for a permanent (until they change it) tax rate of 20% for corporations, but delays implementing the proposed rate until 2019.

Both versions increase the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples filing joint returns, but the congress and the media fail to mention that both versions cut out the personal exemption, which was $4,050 in 2016. That leaves the net gain for most single taxpayers at $1,650, and $3,300 for couples.

The standard deduction for 2016 was $6300 for singles, and $12,600 for married couples.

With Democrats generally understood to oppose any Republican plan, the chances for passage this year of either bill remain slim. President Trump and conservative leaders in the Senate face any number of challenges from the likes of Ted Cruz, John McCain, Bob Corker and others who have either stated their opposition to the measures or are likely to vote against any changes to the intricate, pitfall-ridden federal income tax code.

As far as Wall Street is concerned, lowering the corporate tax and the tax on offshore profits are at the top of the wish list, but, little is being done to address their concerns with a congress largely already focused on being re-elected in the 2018 midterms, now less than a year away.

It has become more than obvious to most Americans that congress is an inept, bought-and-paid body, loyal only to special interests which fund their expensive campaigns. Any thoughts of providing relief to beleaguered taxpayers or companies are beyond their admittedly limited legislative scope.

Thus, investors should treat any talk of reform coming from the mouths of elected officials in Washington as nothing more than make believe rhetoric, designed solely to make themselves appear to be working when they are, in fact, not.

At the Close, Friday, November 10, 2017:
Dow: 23,422.21, -39.73 (-0.17%)
NASDAQ: 6,750.94, +0.89 (+0.01%)
S&P 500: 2,582.30, -2.32 (-0.09%)
NYSE Composite: 12,322.60, -17.06 (-0.14%)

For the Week:
Dow: -116.98 (-0.50%)
NASDAQ: -13.50 (-0.20%)
S&P 500: -5.54 (-0.21%)
NYSE Composite: -50.46 (-0.41%)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Stocks Hit Roadblock as House Tax Plan Falters in Senate

With Rand Paul absent due to injury, senators John McCain and Ted Cruz already announced no votes, the much-ballyhooed house-Trump tax plan looks to be dead on arrival and investors are not pleased.

Tuesday's action in the markets were punctuated by a pronounced leveling of the yield curve, with 2-10 and 5-30 spreads plumbing new lows.

Just in case the bickering in Washington continues towards implosion - a highly likely event horizon - with Democrats aligning with no-vote Republicans, forward looking people will next look to the upcoming December deadline for the debt ceiling and an anticipated increase to the federal funds rate by the Fed's FOMC.

That's putting pressure on stocks as the market opens Wednesday, though the declines are far from substantial. Also of note is crude oil's decline off recent three-year highs, while precious metals continue to the upside, a split in the commodity complex.

President Trump continues his extensive Pacific tour, in China for the time being, as news flow should slow to a crawl as the week closes in on Friday. With stocks fluctuating, it may be time to seek out undervalued equities, if any are to be found. Stocks remain wildly overpriced with backing by central banks preventing any potential cascading declines.

At the Close, Tuesday, November 7, 2017:
Dow: 23,557.23, +8.81 (+0.04%)
NASDAQ: 6,767.78, -18.65 (-0.27%)
S&P 500: 2,590.64, -0.49 (-0.02%)
NYSE Composite: 12,371.25, -29.68 (-0.24%)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Wall Street Stalling As DC Politicians Fight Over Nothing, Threaten Shutdown

The NASDAQ recorded another record close (6,048.94), but stocks struggled to remain positive Thursday as politicians in Washington continued to wrangle over funding the government and a potential vote on a replacement for Obamacare.

Democrats have called for a government shutdown if the Republicans bring a health care bill to the House floor before passing a continuing resolution for federal government funding.

This seems to be all that the politicos in Washington - and, apparently, the wizards of Wall Street - care about at present, though first quarter corporate earnings continue to be largely impressive.

Amazon (AMZN) and Alphabet, parent of Google (GOOG), released impressive first quarter results. Both stocks were up sharply on the day, but there was little luster elsewhere.

With gridlock having become the norm for the sacred cows of congress, investors need to begin looking beyond the sham that is government, which loses money all the time and is generally a burden to taxpayers rather than a benefit, for other catalysts to keep the eight-year bull market ramping along.

Nothing good is going to come out of Washington, DC, for the foreseeable future. Investors should turn a blind eye toward the nation's capitol and focus in on business, the true creator of capital.

At The Close, Thursday, April 27, 2017:
Dow: 20,981.33, +6.24 (0.03%)
NASDAQ: 6,048.94, +23.71 (0.39%)
S&P 500: 2,388.77, +1.32 (0.06%)
NYSE Composite: -11,578.52, -14.39 (-0.12%)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

WARNING: Congressional Democrats Are Detrimental To The Health Of The Stock Market

Just in case anybody's keeping score, Monday marked the eighth straight day of losses for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Only the buoyant NASDAQ finished with gains, a sign that there are still plenty of speculative players plying "animal spirits" despite evidence to the contrary, i.e., the VIX spiked above 13, stocks cannot maintain momentum. The eight straight losing sessions is the longest for the Dow since August 2011.

Primary drivers for the recent about face from all-time highs are politicians in Washington, now about to erupt into all-out war between the two parties over everything from the fake "Russians hacked the election" story, to blocking the confirmation of Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, to walking back and away from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R). Claiming he is unfit for the job, Democrats are calling for him to step down, amid accusations that he met secretly with President Trump over concerns that the incoming president was bugged by outgoing president Barack Obama's administration in November, December and January.

The Kafkaesque nature of recent developments in congress can only help make Wall Street even more jittery than it already is. Democrats have been bolstered by the stumbling attempt by Republicans in the House to overturn Obamacare, as Speak of the House, Paul Ryan, cancelled a vote on the proposed measure, which was hastily prepared and loaded with amendments and proposals that left the bill dead on arrival.

It has become crystal clear that Democrats in congress are still upset of losing the presidential election last November and trying to obstruct and delay any attempts by the current administration to fix what is wrong with the country. The new delaying tactics are designed to extend to the next recess, on April 7, at which point the Democrats can return to their districts and/or devise new tactics to thwart the smooth operation of government over a two-week span. Congress won't reconvene until the 25th of April once the recess is called.

The obvious battle being waged in Washington is not good for anyone investing in anything (except safe havens: bonds silver, gold), until one side emerges victorious and a path forward can be envisioned. Since there's little to no chance of either side claiming a decisive victory, investors should be aware and prepared for a long period of indecision and therefore, wild swings in markets and individual stocks. Nothing is safe within an environment of stealth, obfuscation, denial, lies, and feigned surprise as exists in the halls of congress leading the political sphere.

A well-defined move of funds to cash, bonds, and precious metals will offer a signal that a bear market is dead ahead, something which should be expected to occur in any case, as the current bull run is overextended and built upon mountains of debt and stock buybacks.

Developments to come - both from Washington and Wall Street - may prove deadly to bullish sentiment and frightening to anyone who still has a memory of what "normal" should look like.


At The Close 3.27.17:
Dow: 20,550.98, -45.74 (-0.22%)
NASDAQ: 5,840.37, +11.64 (0.20%)
S&P 500: 2,341.59, -2.39 (-0.10%)
NYSE Composite: 11,414.33, -4.56 (-0.04%)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

America And The World Approaches The Brink Of Disaster

Let's get back to business here.

Whether or not anybody wishes to admit or observe it, America is in the midst of a crisis of almost unimaginable proportions.

We have a federal government teetering on complete disintegration over a variety of issues, including, but surely not limited to: the repeal/replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or ObamaCare); a runaway, subversive intelligence community; a Democrat party that is intent upon destroying the presidency of Donald Trump and thwarting him at every opportunity, with capable assistance from the fake media establishment in the guise of the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, ABC and especially CNN (Criminally Neurotic Network); a Treasury nearly $20 trillion in debt and congress not even close to any agreement on any kind of fiscal budget or even discussion of such as the debt ceiling is being superceded.

There's more with which to deal, like crime, illegal aliens, Trump's temporary immigration ban, terrorism and such, but the issues before our broken congress are the main drivers taking the nation to the brink of disaster and quite possibly over the edge.

Not wishing to sound too pessimistic concerning the current state of affairs in the former land of the free, individual freedoms are at the core of what ails this country. If anything can be accomplished by our elected representatives, it would be first to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or, at the very least, permanently remove the individual mandate that requires every taxpayer to purchase health care or face increasingly punitive fines for failing to comply.

As it stands, the IRS is reportedly not enforcing the "law", conforming to President Trump's first Executive Order, issued on the day of his inauguration, in which he instructed all federal agencies "to exercise authority and discretion available to them to reduce potential burden..."
The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
-- Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome

So, we have lawlessness being visibly encouraged, though it is directed against a law, the ACA, that carries within it, in the form of the individual mandate, a certain unconstitutionality, codified by a corrupted federal judiciary, i.e., the Supreme Court. Incidentally, that same Supreme Court is hopeless, deadlocked with eight justices, until, perhaps, the Senate decides to confirm the President's nominee, Neil Gorsuch, to take the positioned vacated by the late Antonin Scalia.

While Washington continues to devolve and approach the gates of hell, apparently driving chariots of fire, like gawkers and bookmakers, Wall Street insiders drives the market up, down, sideways and to its breaking point. The entire retail sector - with Sears leading the charge - is collapsing. Radio Shack recently re-entered bankruptcy, hopefully for the final time, and Payless Shoes is on the block. Malls across America are fast becoming nothing more than exercise walking routes for seniors rather than the shopping "experiences" for which they were designed.

We are changing, but we are not growing. The bulk of any profit is eaten alive by taxes, regulations, corporate executives, hackers and other thieves. In the end, there's little left for the common man.

And that's a crying shame, because the common man (and woman) is the person who built the country, who made it great, who is watching it self-destruct and who has nothing to do with the great default that is upon us.

The government is the problem, and seeking solutions from that very same government, be it federal, state, or local, is not a winning strategy. We will only get more of the same, and the same will only sink the nation further into the morass of stupidity, overspending, and normalcy bias with which we are currently plagued.

Our current malaise is not a democrat or republican issue. It is not liberal nor conservative. It is purely greed, avarice and corruption at every level that has besieged our once-great nation and if ever the United States of America is going to become - as the current resident of the White House proposes - great again, we must begin to call out the corrupt, the purposefully vague, the unequivocally deceitful, rapacious legislators and governors and bureaucrats that have lain waste to our nation, and all those who either back them, encourage them, enable them or act as apologists for them.

We are as close to systemic breakdown in our culture, our politic, and our economy than at any time since World War II, and that is a frightening prospect. More frightening, however, is the idea, the very concept, that ordinary people expect positive results from the very people who promulgated the predicament in the first place.

If Mr. Trump, the preeminent deal-maker of this generation, is unable to come to grips and compromise with the congress and the judiciary, it's likely that all that America has stood for will have been for naught, for we will bear witness to the destruction of the world's greatest constitutional republic in history.

But, if the wise and courageous among us will act, the destruction may yet be avoided. We face the fight of our lives over the next few years, and we cannot afford to fail.

It's not just economy at stake, but liberty and life.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dow Closes Below 18,000, S&P Under 2100, Trendiing Lower; Fed Null

Stocks took the usual FOMC do-nothing antics in stride but sold off late in the day, with the Dow Jones Industrials finishing below 18,000 and the S&P 500 under 2100.

For the S&P, it was the first close below 2100 since early July, leaving the broad index up just five percent on the year, floating just above its 200-day moving average.

Cause for such grief in stocks is likely tied to the presidential election, now less than a week away, and the continuing surge of Donald J. Trump in the polls as more and more dirt is coming up from under the Hillary Clinton rug.

Investors are worried that their fair-haired, lying, cheating, scandal-ridden candidate will not make it to the finish line ahead of Trump, whom the media and Clinton camp have tried in vain to paint as misogynist, racist, rapacious, in bed with Russia, and other flights of fantasy.

As sad as the media bias and misrepresentation has been, what is potentially more disturbing is how poorly the media and Democrats think of the American public as gullible, malleable and utterly useful only to the ends of the elite.

As was stated more than three weeks ago right here in Money Daily, it now appears that Trump is going to win the election in a backlash landslide.

And stocks don't like it. Too bad.

Hump Day or Trump Day?
17,960.60, -76.50 (-0.42%)

5,105.57, -48.01 (-0.93%)

S&P 500
2,097.95, -13.77 (-0.65%)

10,349.57, -64.48 (-0.62%)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

In Run-Up To Election, Markets Remain Shaky

As outlined in yesterday's post, US stock indices have been down since the beginning of August, presaging to the positive for the challenger party in the presidential election race.

While the outcome of a Trump victory is far from certain, what is clear is that traders and speculators are taking note of the fragile condition of the US and global economies, both of which have been side-stepping into the future since the crash of 2008-09.

Markets function largely on faith and hope, despair and confusion, greed and fear, and there seems to be ample supplies of all emotions all around. Puzzling analysts is how exactly a Clinton presidency would benefit markets, if only to keep the controlling interests in charge for another four years.

That may not be the best of circumstances, as Mr. Trump points out, because the global condition is quite completely on edge politically and likely over the edge financially. Nation-states are overburdened in debt, which has found its way back to the minions, a cause for unrest and potentially explosive social events.

With all that in the marco view, US companies, in the midst of third quarter earnings season, are, as has been the case for the past three years, struggling to find profits and any reason to be upbeat for the remainder of 2016 and into 2017.

There seems to be a dull thud re-occurring in the offices of CFOs and CEOs, that being the repeating sound of falling EPS and missed revenue figures, a double whammy for investors, though not many have fled the market as of this writing.

Thursday represents perhaps the biggest day of earnings season. Alphabet (GOOG), (AMZN), LinkedIn (LNKD) and Baidu (BIDU) are among companies set to report after the bell. Colgate-Palmolive (CL), Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMY), Ford (F) and UPS (UPS) all report prior to the opening bell.

These results and some economic data (durable goods, pending home sales) will shape the day's trading. With just two days left in October, there's a slim chance that markets could rally back to positive for the past three months, which would be a good omen for the Hillary camp, but it is unlikely to happen unless some major news breaks that would spur a buying panic. It's happened before, but expect more oddities prior to election day next week.

Wednesday's Final Score:
Dow Jones Industrial Average
18,199.33, +30.06 (0.17%)

5,250.27, -33.13 (-0.63%)

S&P 500
2,139.43, -3.73 (-0.17%)

NYSE Composite
10,528.19, -22.00 (-0.21%)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fearless Rick Predicts: Trump To Win In Landslide Victory

Dispensing with the usual market noise and fury, today let’s look at the political spectrum, in particular, the presidential race.

In the aftermath of the leaked Trump video, the further Wikileaks of Hillary Clinton’s speeches to the Wall Street elite, and Sunday night’s debate, a common theme has emerged. The Democrats have, as usual, nothing more than empty rhetoric and the politics of personal destruction.

Republican candidate Trump has been dealt a bag of lies, dirty tricks, one-sided media reportage and bias, inaccurate, dubious polling data, slurs, baits, and typical trash talk, but he has not folded, not has he bent to the pressure in the least.

While Donald Trump may not be the ideal Republican candidate, he is largely better than his Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton, whose over 30 years of public service have yielded no tangible, positive results for the majority of Americans.

Trump is correct in pointing out that the Democrats - for whom the African-American populace slavishly vote for in every election, be it local, state or national in scale - have done nothing to enhance the ling conditions of the black community. The same goes for nearly every other minority. The Democrats are full of promises and negligent on deliverance. It is the same tactic trotted out year after year, in election after election. Democrats preach equality and tolerance, but demonstrate neither.

It’s time for Americans to see through the Democrat party as nothing more than socialism on steroids. Every problem is solved by more policies, more spending, higher taxes, greater regulation. The majority of taxpaying people in this country (and even tax-avoiders) are - or should be - fed up with the dictates and policies promulgated by the left and they should be energized enough to put an end to it next month, when millions will make their voices heard through their votes.

There are no sure things in life, but if ever there was a moment for a complete convulsion in the fabric of American life, it is now. Eight years of Obama’s socialism has led to this moment. Mr. Trump has prevailed over all his Republican rivals, many of whom - as much a part of the elite status quo as the Democrats - have withdrawn their support or never supported the nominee at all.

Hillary Clinton is another empty suit. Donald Trump is a businessman who has had great success and celebrity over the years. The Democrats have tried in vain to denigrate and demonize him precisely because they are afraid of losing the election and increasingly desperate.

If the truth be known, most of the polls are so wickedly biased toward the Democrats (see this story by Sharyl Attkisson for more) they cannot be believed. This race is not even close. More and more people are being swayed by the power of Trump’s persuasion for a greater America, for a return to traditional values, for supporting the constitution, lowering taxes, eliminating regulations and improving the quality of life for the middle class.

There should be no doubt when the buttons are pushed or levers pulled. Donald Trump will win the presidential election in an absolute, stunning landslide on a scale of Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980.

The only caveat - and it is a serious one - is if the election is rigged and stolen outright by the Democrats or the powers that be. Both sides have done it and there is a very good chance that if Clinton is seen as losing midday on November 8, all bets are off, all votes will be nullified electronically or by other means. It’s a real threat, but, otherwise, Donald Trump will win convincingly.

Monday's Markets:
Dow Jones Industrial Average
18,329.04, +88.55 (0.49%)

5,328.67, +36.27 (0.69%)

S&P 500
2,163.66, +9.92 (0.46%)

NYSE Composite
10,682.71, +55.79 (0.53%)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

As Hope For Hillary Fades, So Will Prices of Stocks

Another listless day was had on the equity exchanges, as stocks slipped in early (rigged) trading, then magically gained ground all day, with the Dow ending in the red while the NASDAQ and S&P posted incremental gains.

Oil continued to slip further away from recent, month-ago highs of $50 per barrel, closing in NY just above $41/barrel, roughly a 20% decline in a very short time. Drivers should begin to see the effects at the gas pump, as soon as higher-priced inventories are extinguished. Expect gas prices to fall back to levels seen in early Spring. Many areas in the Midwest and South are already seeing prices below $2.00 per gallon, a level seen as a panacea for economy.

The highest prices in the country are undeniably in the West, especially California, where high taxes and regulations push the price of fuel far beyond its production and profit price. Once again, we have our beneficent government to thank for wasting our money.

Winding down tonight is the Democratic National Convention, where Hillary Clinton will accept her party's nomination for president of the United States, along with running mate Tim Kaine, whose speech on Wednesday night is being criticized as being dull and boring.

More and more, it appears that the national mood is not pleasant, a boon to the campaign of Republican Donald Trump, who advocates for change.

Expect more slippage in stock prices as the elite begins to realize that their days in power may truly be numbered. Clinton is a miserable candidate, and, while Trump is no darling of the right, he is at least forthright and hopeful.

Clinton isn't getting any bump in the polls through the convention, which is usually the case. That's a bad omen for the status quo and the left.

Dow Jones Industrial Average
18,456.35, -15.82 (-0.09%)

5,154.98, +15.17 (0.30%)

S&P 500
2,170.06, +3.48 (0.16%)

NYSE Composite
10,744.16, +4.40 (0.04%)