Showing posts with label EU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EU. Show all posts

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Europe Is Sick and Dying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Follow Through for Stocks Beyond New Highs; European Pensions In Deep Trouble

After Friday's epic melt-up brought last week to a positive conclusion, traders on Monday though the diea of higher asset prices a good one, so pushed stocks to even higher all-time highs, a trend that could easily accelerate as the holiday season of irrational goodness begins.

At the bottom of rising equity valuations is the need to keep economies afloat for as long as humanly possible. By enhancing the price of stocks, asset values create the perception of wealth, though the main beneficiaries of higher asset values happen to be the top 10% of the income spread, mostly focused in the top one percent, who own the majority of equities. For the bottom 90% of the population, the effect of increased stock prices is negligible at best.

A corollary to stock market gains being the only game in town (or, There Is No Alternative, TINA) is the pain felt by savers, both individual and institutional. Pension funds have been under stress to keep assets growing. As employees retire and become not contributors, but receivers as pensioners, funds need to increase their asset base, a task made more difficult by lower and negative interest rates.

Funds have charters that require they purchase certain types of investments, making their job even more difficult, as they are forced into negative-yielding government bonds, especially in Europe, but also in the US, where the pain has yet to be felt in any real way outside of places like Detroit, which cut pension benefits massively in order to rebalance the city's finances.

Europe is already in the throes of a crisis, the latest victims being Dutch pensioners in the Netherlands, where cuts are planned or already in the works. Europe's fascination with negative interest rates have wreaked havoc in the pension universe.

A one percentage point fall in long-term interest rates will increase liabilities of a typical pension scheme by around 20 per cent, but the value of their assets would only go up by about 10 per cent, estimates Ros Altmann, a former UK pensions minister.

The current condition is nothing compared to what is coming if the ECB and member nations of the EU don't reverse course on interest rates. They are clearly having more negative consequences than anticipated when the Dutch first entertained negative yields in 2009, to be followed quickly by Japan and a slew of other European nations.

Pension problems haven't happened overnight. Money Daily was warning about them as early as 2006, and conditions have deteriorated exceedingly since then.

Don't expect the politicians and bankers to change their tune, however. As Money Daily has repeatedly noted, negative interest rates are currency killers, and they are quickly becoming much more of a destructive force than initially imagined.

As investing and economies become more and more intertwined, complex and convoluted, don't look for concrete solutions from politicians, bankers, or financial advisors. They created these problems and should not be relied upon to provide solutions. They will offer blankets for the cold, soup for the hungry, and limited shelter for the homeless. In other words, they will only be able to limit the suffering, not eliminate it.

To accentuate the level of madness permeating through the financial class consider this:

“In 20 years we may find ourselves with a real global crisis where we haven’t saved enough money for retirement,” says Calstrs’ Mr Ailman. “Returns can fluctuate, but longevity has been extended dramatically . . . We just have to explain to millennials that their parents might have to move back in with them.”

Somebody needs to point out to Mr. Ailman that many millennials are already living in their parents' basements!

At the Close, Monday, November 18, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,036.22, +31.33 (+0.11%)
NASDAQ: 8,549.94, +9.11 (+0.11%)
S&P 500: 3,122.03, +1.57 (+0.05%)
NYSE Composite: 13,483.81, -9.15 (-0.07%)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Washington's Impeachment Addiction, Trade Fiasco, Brexit, Global Condition Damaging Wall Street

The headline says it all. Things are coming apart at a rapid rate. Anybody who is even the least bit jittery is moving out of stocks as fast as possible. Rerun of last year's fourth quarter massacre is commencing apace. This iteration may be comparable to the New England Patriots playing a football game against a high school girl's rugby team.

More than caution is needed. A little panic would do the world's markets some good and maybe get the back-slapping bureaucrats and politicians to actually do some thing constructive (fat chance).

China will not negotiate fairly and especially so until the impeachment chorus is silenced for good. Even if President Trump is elected to a second term, Democrats will not stop their harassment, but likely accelerate efforts to remove him from office by any means. One saving grace could come from Republicans recapturing the House of Representatives, but that's a real Hail Mary.

In England, the anti-democratic forces are pushing ahead toward four years since the original referendum to leave the European Union was approved by the general population (June 23, 2016). Since, there has been a non-stop war waged against the wishes of the people. With no apparently-workable deal in sight, it may be the case that Britain won't leave the EU at all until the people rise up against their government. All is needed is a spark, in Britain, in the US, in China, everywhere, for the global condition to turn to global contagion and conflagration.

The global condition - which has generally been worsening since September 11, 2001 - is deteriorating at a quickened pace. There will be pain, but, in the end, if one is consistent, conservative, and constructive, a better future lies just ahead.

At the Close, Monday, October 7, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,478.02, -95.70 (-0.36%)
NASDAQ: 7,956.29, -26.18 (-0.33%)
S&P 500: 2,938.79, -13.22 (-0.45%)
NYSE Composite: 12,777.74, -53.81 (-0.42%)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Stocks Flat; Britain Should Leave The EU ASAP

Markets - whatever is left of them - seemed to be running on fumes Monday, as no Trump tweets nor economic news were sufficient to move stocks in general either way.

This kind of quiet may be just what investors are seeking: less volatility, less media madness, a more sanguine environment and some degree of security and safety. With all the talk of recession, the past few months have spooked some of the more ardent longs, but the market is still not conducive to short trades in any form.

One could conclude from recent action that stocks will hold their ground and move to new highs, as has been the case throughout the run from 2009 (buy the dip philosophy), and with another 1/4 point rate cut from the Fed a sure thing next week, that is the likely trading strategy for the day-trader and short-termer. Long term investors should be seeking value or growth, best, a combination of the two. With interest rates so low, dividend-yielding stocks with long track records are the safest and surest, plus, many will survive well under difficult conditions, should a recession actually arrive.

Central banks still have control of markets, a condition that may persist for quite a long time. It should serve memory well to reconsider the aftermath of the 2008 crash, wherein central banks coordinated to save everything, even unworthy companies, from default.

This might be a prime time to move from passive to active investing, with individual stocks preferred over ETFs or mutuals. Expect some noisy ups and downs over the next few months, though the next major event is Brexit, with a hard-line, no-deal escape from the EU by Great Britain set for October 31 by Boris Johnson, the most recent Prime Minister of the country.

It's been more than three years since jolly ole' England voted to leave the EU. Parliamentarians and stubborn bureaucrats have delayed the wishes of the people for too long and the wait may soon be over. Anything short of England removing itself from the EU - without onerous conditions - will be very bad for markets. The hyperbole of the media and those on the "remain" side of the issue have played the hysterics card for all it's worth.

Time is up. Populism should prevail in England and the result of leaving the EU, while dramatic, does not have to be traumatic.

At the Close, Monday, September 9, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,835.51, +38.05 (+0.14%)
NASDAQ: 8,087.44, -15.64 (-0.19%)
S&P 500: 2,978.43, -0.28 (-0.01%)
NYSE Composite: 12,960.72, +27.34 (+0.21%)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Stocks Crumble As Treasury Yield Curve Inverts; 30-year Tumbles Below 2%

It is certainly getting interesting in terms of global economics.

National currencies are in a race to the bottom, and Japan and the EU are winning.

With more than $14 trillion worth of bonds holding negative yields (you get back less than you invested), the world is looking like a place headed for disaster. European and Japanese bonds have the most negative yielding bonds. Their economies are not just heading for a recession, they're diving into depression territory.

There is no growth and that's not to blame on Trump's tariffs. In fact, the tariffs have little to nothing to do with the state of global trade. All economies are slowing. There's entirely too much uncertainty, piled atop too much malinvestment, coupled with an aging demographic, for which to promote any kind of meaningful growth.

By this time next year, expect to see at least six of the major developed nations in recession. The most likely candidates would be Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Greece. Notably absent from the list are the US, Australia, Great Britain, and Canada. Since China claims to be still growing, they will admit only to slowing down, to about 3% growth, which might as well be a recession. India, which is not a developed nation (nor is China), is already a basket case.

These recessions will not end easily, and the US, Britain, and Canada will likely recede as well, but not quite as soon as the other nations, mostly European, because Brexit is going to change the dynamic to some degree. The EU is going to lose Britain as a trading partner come October 31. That is a near certainty and long overdue.

The US, Australia, and Canada will sign agreements with Britain to continue trade on a reasonable, fair basis. Europe will be shut out of any such agreement, due to their unwillingness to allow Britain an orderly exit for some three years running. The genii in the EU parliament have made their beds and will have to sleep in them. The populations of the EU countries should rightly riot since EU governance, in conjunction with their national leaders have sold them down the proverbial river via lax immigration standards and horrible economic policies.

In the end - though it may take some time - the EU will dissolve, disintegrate. It may take war, or it may take anger from the Greeks, Spanish, Irish or Italians to tip the EU contract overboard, but it will happen.

For the present, however, the world is focused on stocks and bonds, and stocks are not faring well. Wednesday's disaster was the worst trading day of 2019, rivaling some of the hours of last December.

With a global recession looming, investors may be rushing the exits at various stages over the coming months. Adding to the malaise is the upcoming US elections, whereby strident Democrats seek to unseat Mr. Trump. None have shown the qualities to lead or offer any reasonable path to a stable future. Trump should rightly win in a landslide.

With that, the 30-year bond became the latest victim of upside-down economics and the flight to safety, dipping below 2.00% in yield for the first time EVER. The entire treasury curve is now not only yielding less than two percent, it is inverted, and all of it is yielding lower returns than the effective overnight federal funds rate (2.11%).

We are witnessing the death of fiat money in real time. In the meantime, look for a short-lived relief rally which could extend through the rest of August. Real selling should commence after Labor Day.

At the Close, Wednesday, August 14, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,479.42, -800.49 (-3.05%)
NASDAQ: 7,773.94, -242.42 (-3.02%)
S&P 500: 2,840.60, -85.72 (-2.93%)
NYSE Composite: 12,368.05, -356.32 (-2.80%)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Weekend Wrap: Stocks Whacked At Week's End, NASDAQ Suffering Most; Global Condition Questionable

Back-to-back down sessions left the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower for the week and month, though only by 11 points, the dual declines amounting to a 380-point loss after the Dow had recorded three-straight all-time highs, so a pullback was not only likely, but probably helpful in the long term.

Stocks have been soaring due to strong economic data, but, at some point, valuation becomes an issue, and that point may have been reached this week. By far, the NASDAQ suffered more than the other indices as investors fled speculative positions in favor of more defensive ones, especially as treasury bond prices tumbled, sending yields on the 10-year note to their highest point since 2011.

The 10-year note closed out the week yielding 3.23, while the 30-year bond offered a yield of 3.40. Better yet, spreads widened, as the 2-year bill finished at 2.88, widening the spread on 2s-10s to 35 basis points, allaying some of the fears for an inversion in the curve, a condition that normally precedes a recession.

Friday's September non-farm payroll data from the BLS came in below expectations of 180,000, at 134,000 new jobs, adding to the shifting sentiment late in Wall Street's week. Unemployment ticked lower, however, from 3.9% to 3.7%, keeping the jobs picture still very much a positive one.

Losses on the NASDAQ (-3.21%) were the worst since March. Such a large loss, especially in the leadership group, may cause investors to reconsider their allocations, especially since October is normally a very volatile time. Besides the risk of further declines on valuation, many speculative tech stocks offer no dividends, an important element for stability in any portfolio.

Globally, markets were lower, with Europe suffering steep declines. The stock index of Europe's leading economy, Germany's DAX, is already in correction territory. Tremors from Italy's burgeoning funding crisis have caused concern in European bourses as the runaway Italian government continues to criticize the European Central Bank's (ECB) practices.

While Italy is unlikely to withdraw from the EU, there is mounting pressure on recently-elected leaders for more autonomy, citing the disastrous condition in Greece, following years of bailouts and forced austerity by EU leaders.

Emerging markets, including behemoths China and India, have been suffering from banking and regulatory malaise, and from a growing suspicion that the official data cited by governments is often fudged to appear better than reality.

The dollar eased late in the week against some currencies, a relief to those emerging markets, though not enough to avoid wholesale capitulation of home currencies, especially in Turkey and Argentina, two basket-case economies on the verge of inflationary and solvency collapses.

Those are the leading factors which has prompted investor flight to US equities and bonds, considered a global safety net, though the crowding of those markets has led to what currently is the condition of overvaluation in some sectors.

Gold and silver were bid slightly through the week, though the precious metals still remain close to there-year lows with no bottom having been found.

While general economic news in the US is good and should continue to be so, global conditions are far from rosy, which is leading to some shift in sentiment and flights to safety.

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

At the Close, Friday, October 5, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,447.05, -180.43 (-0.68%)
NASDAQ: 7,788.45, -91.06 (-1.16%)
S&P 500: 2,885.57, -16.04 (-0.55%)
NYSE Composite: 12,991.95, -50.35 (-0.39%)

For the Week:
Dow: -11.26, (-0.04%)
NASDAQ: -257.91 (-3.21%)
S&P 500: -28.41 (-0.97%)
NYSR Composite: -90.67 (-0.59%)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Change of Sentiment; Something Bad In Tech-land

As of a week ago, the leading index was the NASDAQ, up more than 11 percent on the year, as opposed to the Dow Industrials, which had been lagging. Prior to this week, the Dow was up less than four percent and it was down for the year much of the time between February and early July.

Something snapped in the minds of investors this week. Maybe it was the high valuations on some of the more speculative stocks sporting the NASDAQ. Perhaps, in the search for yield, investors sought the safety of dividend producers on the Dow. Whatever the case, the Dow, this past week, was up 1.41%, while the NASDAQ shed 0.29%. It was a radical shift that appeared, magically, Wednesday morning, when the Dow was trading below 24,000.

In a matter of less than three trading session, the Dow tacked on a whopping 687 points, much of it at the open on Thursday, when the Dow popped higher and stayed well into the green the rest of the day.

Skeptics of the market will point to the radical rise on Wednesday and Thursday as proof of manipulation, or even - everybody's favorite word this season - collusion, by central banks and their ancillary brokers, to boost the share prices of the staid and steady heavy industrials. Such speculation cannot be bought off easily in this environment. It's apparent to just about everybody that the Federal Reserve and their counterparts in Japan, China, and the European Union will not stomach a severe downturn, at least not at this time. The bull market is just a few trading days from becoming the longest in American history, something the head honchos at the Fed wish to pin on their beanies before they ride triumphantly into some economic sunset.

The shifting sentiment was stunning, however. As the Dow soared, the NASDAQ soured. Many of the grand tech bonanza stocks like Netflix (NFLX) and Telsa (TSLA) were down hard for the week. Netflix dropped nearly 10%, from 345 per share to 316 at the close of business Friday. From its peak just a month ago (July 11), Netflix is down more than 100 points.

Tesla is another story altogether. The darling little electric engine that could is rapidly approaching bear territory, down to 305 at the close Friday from 379 on August 7, a span of just nine trading sessions.

Facebook, everybody's favorite ranting and raving lunatic asylum, is already in bear territory, dropping from a high of 217.50 on July 25, to a close of 173.80 Friday afternoon. That's precisely a 20.1% decline. Be sure to post to your friends, family, and anybody who gives a hoot, rat's behind, or beaver dam.

None dare call is collusion, so maybe collision is the correct word for what happened on Wall Street this week. It was nothing short of a collision of rational thinking and emotional yield-chasing.

Next week may be more or less intriguing, but after Labor Day, this market is going to become very interesting indeed.

Dow Jones Industrial Average August Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
8/1/18 25,333.82 -81.37 -81.37
8/2/18 25,326.16 -7.66 -89.03
8/3/18 25,462.58 +136.42 +55.05
8/6/18 25,502.18 +39.60 +94.65
8/7/18 25,628.91 +126.73 +221.38
8/8/18 25,583.75 -45.16 +176.22
8/9/18 25,509.23 -74.52 +101.70
8/10/18 25,313.14 -196.09 -94.39
8/13/18 25,187.70 -125.44 -219.83
8/14/18 25,299.92 +112.22 -107.61
8/15/18 25,162.41 -137.51 -245.12
8/16/18 25,558.73 +396.32 +151.20
8/17/18 25,669.32 +110.59 +261.79

At the Close, Friday, August 17, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,669.32, +110.59 (+0.43%)
NASDAQ: 7,816.33, +9.81 (+0.13%)
S&P 500: 2,850.13, +9.44 (+0.33%)
NYSE Composite: 12,908.26, +66.98 (+0.52%)

For the Week:
Dow: +356.18 (+1.41%)
NASDAQ: -22.78 (-0.29%)
S&P 500: +16.85 (+0.59%)
NYSE Composite: +64.77 (+0.50%)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Weekend Wrap: Dow Slammed, Wiping Out August Gains

Against the backdrop of news that Turkey's lira was crashing against foreign currencies, stocks were hammered lower in nearly every market around the world Friday, the hardest hit regionally being Germany's DAX (-1.99%), Brazil's Ibovesta (-2.86%), and Japan's NIKKEI 255 (-1.33%).

The lira, Turkey's official currency fell 20% on Friday, a dramatic move seldom seen in FX markets.

The American bourses being the last to finish out the week, the results were expectably negative, though not nearly approaching the levels seen in Europe and Asia.

The decline was, however, significant enough to send three of the four major US indices to weekly losses. For the Dow, S&P, and NASDAQ Composite, this week ended a string of five consecutive winners. The NASDAQ posted its fourth gain in the past six weeks. Even though Friday's 52-point loss on the NAZ was harrowing, the tech-laden index still closed within 100 points of its all-time high.

The issue of Turkey's lira crashing is made all the more intriguing by its geographical location, at the nexus of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. With a population of 80 million, the diverse ethnicity of its population has trended more toward Islam in recent years, troubling to the visionaries of the greater world's economies, especially since it is a NATO ally and member of the European Union, though it does not share the common euro currency.

Some European banks with heavy exposure may be at risk from the turmoil in the crossroads nation, though the financial concerns run side by side with political and military issues.

While stocks took a hit, the US dollar was bolstered, rising to 96.27, its highest level in over a year. That reaction translated to lower prices for crude oil. Gold and silver, along with other commodities, trended lower. Gold closed out the week at 1,219.20. Silver ended at 15.28, trending at levels not seen in two years.

In a general sense, the week served as a reminder to traders that despite optimistic sentiment, troubling, nettlesome issues are bubbling up just beneath the superficial veneer of global economies.

Dow Jones Industrial Average August Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
8/1/18 25,333.82 -81.37 -81.37
8/2/18 25,326.16 -7.66 -89.03
8/3/18 25,462.58 +136.42 +55.05
8/6/18 25,502.18 +39.60 +94.65
8/7/18 25,628.91 +126.73 +221.38
8/8/18 25,583.75 -45.16 +176.22
8/9/18 25,509.23 -74.52 +101.70
8/10/18 25,313.14 -196.09 -94.39

At the Close, Friday, August 10, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,313.14, -196.09 (-0.77%)
NASDAQ: 7,839.11, -52.67 (-0.67%)
S&P 500: 2,833.28, -20.30 (-0.71%)
NYSE Composite: 12,843.49, -113.17 (-0.87%)

For the Week:
Dow: -149.44 (-0.59%)
NASDAQ: +27.10 (+0.35%)
S&P 500: -7.07 (-0.25%)
NYSE Composite: -109.85 (-0.85%)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Which Way Is Up? Markets Careen As Trump Makes Deal With EU, Facebook Falls From Grace

It's too early to call it a trend, but the Dow broke out of the trading range in which it had been ensconced for over four months after President Trump met with European Commission president Claude Junker and announced a breakthrough on trade and tariff negotiations between the European Union and the United States, forestalling what many feared would become a trade war.

The Dow, which had been lumbering below the unchanged line most of the session, broke above it shortly after 3:00 pm EDT, and then rocketed higher, gaining over 150 points in the final half hour of trading.

The other indices responded in similar manner, though after hours, Facebook (FB) took a severe lashing, losing 24% at one point, after its second quarter earnings failed to meet expectations. Facebook's fall sent NASDAQ futures into a 1.5% nosedive, though they're recovering prior to Thursday's opening bell.

What is most important to note about these developments is the movement in the Dow. According to Dow Theory, the index entered bear market conditions on April 9, when the Dow Jones Transportation Index confirmed the Industrial Average's February-March double-dip off January highs. Besides the reliability of Dow Theory in gauging market movement and primary trends, stocks have not readily behaved as they would in an ordinary bear market, with both the NASDAQ and S&P recovering to make all-time highs, the most recent, just Wednesday, as the NASDAQ set a new, high-water mark at the close.

The current episode of market mania is being driven by forces both unforeseen and unseen, most of it emanating from Washington, D.C., where, on one hand, President Trump's audacious approach to governance and world politics has thus far returned positive results, including Wednesday's breakthrough with the EC.

Thus, the number that bears watching continues to be the January 23 all-time closing high on the Dow of 26,616.71. While the index has broken above what was considerable resistance, it still has a wall of worry - and about 1200 points - to climb before the existence of bearish conditions can be eliminated.

On the other side of the coin, Facebook's woes may only be the beginning for the tech sector, the NASDAQ and the market as a whole. Next up on the chopping block appears to be Tesla (TSLA), whose CEO, Elon Musk, has been raising concerns about the company as a whole by his strange and possibly bi-polar behavior. Tesla is under considerable pressure to produce positive results after months of scrutiny over its cars exploding, production questions, quality concerns and the general mental well-being of its founder and CEO.

Tech stocks have largely been the driver behind the rise of the NASDAQ, whereas President Trump has been generally holding down the Dow. Now those two elements appear to be working in reverse, and the result could be a shock to both the upside on the Dow and the downside on the NASDAQ.

It's hard to imagine the two indices diverging for very long, but the future is unknowable. With Trump "winning" on many fronts, he still faces a massive horde of opposition in Washington, not only from Democrats and the so-called "deep state," but from members of his own party as well.

Add the Fed's unwinding of its balance sheet and relentless quarter-by-quarter raising of interest rates and you have an imperfect storm through which stock and bond speculators and investors must navigate.

Rough seas ahead, for certain, but in which direction? With so much on the deck and cross-currents blowing in every direction, trading should become volatile and choppy until November, when the midterm elections will likely determine the ultimate direction of not just the stock market but of the US and global economy as well.

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
7/13/18 25,019.41 +94.52 +748.00
7/16/18 25,064.36 +44.95 +792.95
7/17/18 25,119.89 +55.53 +848.48
7/18/18 25,199.29 +79.40 +927.88
7/19/18 25,064.50 -134.79 +793.09
7/20/18 25,058.12 -6.38 +786.71
7/23/18 25,044.29 -13.83 +772.88
7/24/18 25,241.94 +197.65 +970.53
7/25/18 25,414.10 +172.16 +1142.69

At the Close, Wednesday, July 25, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,414.10, +172.16 (+0.68%)
NASDAQ: 7,932.24, +91.47 (+1.17%)
S&P 500: 2,846.07, +25.67 (+0.91%)
NYSE Composite: 12,933.63, +86.14 (+0.67%)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Stocks Turn Ugly In Short Session: Time Out On Wall Street

The Dow took a nearly 300-point round trip from top to bottom on the second trading day of the third quarter, rising by more than 137 points before collapsing in the final hour to close 1/2 percent lower. The NASDAQ was beaten down further, off 65 points on the day (-0.86%).

Markets can become discouraged by many factors, but for this current one, it seems to be merely a matter of during out after nine-plus years of unprecedented fantasy. Speculators, those eager early-day traders who took it on the chin today as they have on many other recent sessions, have to be concerned that investors might catch on to the fact that the global economy is not all roses and unicorns, but rather a patchwork of central bank machinations that have distorted what used to be free markets into stealthy, clandestine, controlled entities.

If that becomes the case, the second leg of the bear market will commence in short order and likely not cease until well after the Dow falls 20% from the January 26 high (26,616.71), a process that could last anywhere from three to six months. This is shaping up to be a long drawdown of asset values, considering that the central bankers will not readily abandon their chosen "low unemployment and moderate inflation" narrative, of which practically everyone who matters is in disbelief already. The proof is in stock market and bond returns, both of which suggest contraction instead of a healthy growth environment.

July 4, Independence Day in the United States, will be an anchor on foreign markets because there will be no trading on the day. China has already intervened in their equity markets to stem the outflows. Italy, and thus, all of the EU, is staring directly at a major solvency crisis which could explode and uncouple the southern nation from the rest of Europe. Already, the new Italian government has ECB officials on edge.

Argentina is already a basket case, as is Venezuela, with Brazil close to chaos as well.

Maybe it's time the politicians in Washington stop focusing on the "evil" Russians (who are doing quite well, despite sanctions and expulsions of their diplomats by the US), and begin taking account of the rest of the world, which seems to be not right at all.

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

At the Close, Tuesday, July 3, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,174.82, -132.36 (-0.54%)
NASDAQ: 7,502.67, -65.01 (-0.86%)
S&P 500: 2,713.22, -13.49 (-0.49%)
NYSE Composite: 12,494.70, +9.12 (+0.07%)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Going Nowhere Fast: Stock Churning a Wall Street Tool; Buy the Dip, Sell the Rip

Denial is NOT a river in Egypt, but, those who wish to traverse their world wearing blinders, colored glasses or even virtual reality goggles have been observed in the general vicinity of Wall and Broad Streets in lower Manhattan and their numbers are growing.

Stocks staged a strong dead cat bounce rally after three straight days of losses, the largest being Tuesday's nearly 400-point loss on the Dow Industrials that had the world shaking on stories of disunity and anti-EU behavior coming out of Italy.

Of course, in the United States, Italy, despite being the world's ninth largest economy (hard to imagine that) is taken as something of an outlier, as in "not our problem," so stocks were sent skyward by idle speculators, offsetting the mechanical smart money distribution that has been a feature of the markets since late January.

Just in case the recovery narrative is not taken seriously, the stock jockeys still have plenty of equities to alternatively pump, dump or hold, depending on the circumstance of the day. The bulls are attempting to extend the long bull market to ten years when in fact it ended - almost to the day - at nine years and one month, on April 9, 2018.

Since then, the Dow (and largely the other major averages) have travelled in a pretty tight range. On April 9, the Dow closed at 23,979.10, going as low since then to 23,924.98 (May 2) and as high as 25,013.29 (May 21). That 1088 point range (roughly 4%) has persisted for some seven weeks and shows no sign of breaking out anytime soon.

With May looking like a good bet to produce positive returns in the range of 300-650 points (Thursday is the final trading day of the month), the players in this Broadway-stlyed farce should be patting each others backs vigorously for a job well done, the losses of February and March now overshadowed by the plus signs for April and May.

All the bad stuff - like Wednesday's lowered first quarter GDP estimate to 2.2% from 2.3% or the weak ADP payroll report (178,000 May jobs) is, according to the churning crowd, behind us and it's roses and unicorns from here to eternity.

Naturally, anyone with a handful of functioning brain cells knows that the government and media are conspiring to deliver all manner of propaganda - from Russian collusion and election interference to "tight" employment conditions when 93 million Americans do not work for a living - so any mention of good times should probably not be taken too seriously.

The truth is somewhere in between what the government and media spoon-feed and wha tone sees and hears with one's own eyes and ears. The economy isn't great, nor is it about to collapse, though, admittedly, it's been 10 years since the last recession, so "bad times" are pretty much overdue. Unless one is conditioned to a Pavlovian reaction to headlines, such as the algorithms that drive market activity are, seeing the markets bouncing in a tight range should be cause for at least some caution, especially since that range is well below the last market high (26,616.71, Jan. 26).

The last trading day of the month shouldn't be anything notable as far as volatility is concerned, unless May's non-farm payroll numbers (due out Friday, June 1) are not pleasant and leaked. Even then, the rangebound Dow will remain.

And the deniers of a bear market will still be in denial.

Dow Jones Industrial Average May Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
5/1/18 24,099.05 -64.10 -64.10
5/2/18 23,924.98 -174.07 -238.17
5/3/18 23,930.15 +5.17 -233.00
5/4/18 24,262.51 +332.36 +99.36
5/7/18 24,357.32 +94.81 +194.17
5/8/18 24,360.21 +2.89 +197.06
5/9/18 24,542.54 +182.33 +379.39
5/10/18 24,739.53 +196.99 +576.38
5/11/18 24,831.17 +91.64 +668.02
5/14/18 24,899.41 +68.24 +736.26
5/15/18 24,706.41 -193.00 +543.26
5/16/18 24,768.93 +62.52 +605.78
5/17/18 24,713.98 -54.95 +550.73
5/18/18 24,715.09 +1.11 +551.84
5/21/18 25,013.29 +298.20 +850.04
5/22/18 24,834.41 -178.88 +671.16
5/23/18 24,886.81 +52.40 +723.56
5/24/18 24,811.76 -75.05 +648.51
5/25/18 24,753.09 -58.67 +589.84
5/29/18 24,361.45 -391.64 +198.20
5/30/18 24,667.78 +306.33 +504.53

At the Close, Wednesday, May 30, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,667.78, +306.33 (+1.26%)
NASDAQ: 7,462.45, +65.86 (+0.89%)
S&P 500: 2,724.01, +34.15 (+1.27%)
NYSE Composite: 12,625.87, +183.18 (+1.47%)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Stocks Drop, Rally In Split Session; Dow Down Three Straight; Apple Beats; Gold, Silver Rally

Beginning just after 2:00 pm ET, a furious rally brought US stock indices back from the depths of despair, finishing up Tuesday with a split decision, the S&P and Dow down, the NASDAQ and NYSE Comp. positive.

In close focus was the Dow Industrial Average, which was lower by as much as 186 points, but gathered back nearly half of that in the final two hours of the session. Leading the way lower were financial stocks, Goldman Sachs (GS) and JP Morgan Chase (JPM), the same companies that boosted the averages during the "Trump Rally" following November's election.

Now, it appears the euphoria over the presidency of Donald J. Trump is waning and enthusiasm for making America great again is falling prey to the harsh realities of economics, politics, and a divided country. Also weighing on stocks ae Trump's own bold initiatives, Twitter tweets and statements which appear to indicate that the 45th president is about to engage in an all-out, no-holds-barred currency and trade war with America's largest trading partners, in particular, China, Mexico and the European Union.

It just so happens that what President Trump is doing is exactly what he promised all during his campaign for the high office. Trump is truly an agent for change, but his changes - and the execution of them - are almost certainly not going to be smooth or predictable.

Today's targets of Trump ire included pharmaceutical companies, Germany and congress. Among other things, Trump told pharma execs to lower prices and move their operations back to the US.

Early in the day, President Trump's top trade advisor, Peter Navarro, said Germany was benefiting from a "grossly undervalued" euro, that gave Germany an unfair edge over US and fellow EU trading partners.

As for congress, Trump continues to hoot over the Democrats' stalling tactics on his cabinet nominees. In a procedural move, Democrat senators walked out on committee votes for nominations for Health and Human Services nominee, Tom Price, and Treasury pick, Steve Mnuchin. Democrats also delayed a vote (reportedly only until tomorrow) on Attorney General choice, Jeff Sessions, a position which has been the focus of vigorous debate.

All of this is providing cover for sellers and considerable confusion in global markets, sending the Dow into the red for a third straight day. Since the top tick of 20,125.58 on January 26 (last Thursday), the Dow has dipped 340 points intraday, or about 1.6%.

While it's still not enough to call a trend, it is worrying to some, especially since anybody with even marginal knowledge of stock valuations has to understand just how overvalued equities are, especially under the current changing environment.

Amid the carnage in stocks, gold and silver rallied sharply as the dollar slipped. Bond yields fell, with the 10-year note holding at 2.45%.

It's been often said that Wall Street hates uncertainty, and there's more than enough of that fueling the current dips and dives.

Just in after the close are Apple's (AAPL) earnings for its fiscal 2017 first quarter. Apple had $78.4 billion in gross revenue on expectations of $77.4 billion, and reported earnings of $3.36 per share on expectations of $3.21. IPhone sales were well beyond expectations. Shares of Apple were up more than three percent in after-hours trading, which should provide at least a temporary boost to stock prices tomorrow.

At the Close, Tuesday, 1.31.17:
Dow: 19,864.09, -107.04 (-0.54%)
NASDAQ: 5,614.79, +1.07 (0.02%)
S&P 500: 2,278.87, -2.03 (-0.09%)
NYSE Composite: 11,222.97, +17.73 (0.16%)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Throwing Caution To The Wind, Stocks Power Higher

Stocks surged worldwide for the second straight day as investors seem determined to make Brexit an afterthought.

They're probably correct in their assessment, as, following the initial panic selling, the reality that an orderly exit from the EU by the UK will be an ongoing process.

Stocks in the US remain largely rangebound, since breaking through to new all-time highs would seem boorish and gaudy, which is why it is completely possible.

With every passing political, emotional, and economic event, the will of investors of equities continues to defy basic common sense and rudimentary risk caution. A side effect, or perhaps a direct one, is that short sellers have been thoroughly routed for the umpteenth time. Covering by shorts has been a bloody bath the past two session.

Mind the Gap.

Carry On.

In case you haven't noticed, with today's gain to 18.38, silver is up a whopping 33% YTD, from a December 31, 2015 close of 13.82.

S&P 500: 2,069.62, +33.53 (1.65%)
Dow: 17,679.34, +269.62 (1.55%)
NASDAQ: 4,778.10, +86.23 (1.84%)

Crude Oil 49.42 +3.28% Gold 1,324.20 +0.48% EUR/USD 1.1101 +0.23% 10-Yr Bond 1.48 +1.10% Corn 383.50 -2.73% Copper 2.19 +0.80% Silver 18.38 +2.74% Natural Gas 2.85 -1.31% Russell 2000 1,131.48 +2.18% VIX 16.90 -9.87% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.3432 +0.76% USD/JPY 102.8385 +0.10%

Reviving a prior feature, here's the Rolling Stones:

Friday, June 24, 2016

As Britain Votes To Leave European Union, The Establishment Is Losing Control

Just a few days ago, our Fearless Editor, Rick Gagliano, penned a post here at Money Daily espousing the belief that the Brexit/Bremain vote and the US presidential election were sideshows and being overblown in importance by the media. Perhaps it was a faux pas or even a veiled negotiation maneuver designed to keep "remain" voters away from the polls (we doubt the latter to be true). In any case, voters in Great Britain did - in establishment terms - the unthinkable, voted to depart from the European Union, and quite possibly delivered a verdict on the perilous future of the EU.

We now present the post mortem.

All hail Nigel Farage, head of the UKIP party and leader of the "Brexit" movement in Great Britain, for he has brought the nation out from under the Orwellian totalitarianism that is essentially the bloated bureaucracy of the European Union, and unshackled the common Briton from enslavement to the status quo.

Here is what Farage said as the tally was coming in, looking favorable for Britain exit from the EU:
If the predictions now are right, this will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people. We have fought against the multinationals, we have fought against the big merchant banks, we have fought against big politics, we have fought against lies, corruption and deceit. And today honesty, decency and belief in nation, I think now is going to win. And we will have done it without having to fight, without a single bullet being fired…. Win or lose this battle tonight, we will win this war, we will get our country back, we will get our independence back and we will get our borders back.

Having fought the good fight as an MEP and a representative to the European Parliament for nearly two decades and yesterday, Farege's unwavering rhetoric for freedom and against oppression struck the first salvo for the people against the leading technocratic superstate of the EU, headquartered in Brussels.

For Farage, the victory may have greater consequences. With PM David Cameron admitting defeat and promising to step down come October, Farage figures to be a natural candidate for the vacated post of Prime Minister. Already the mainstream press has put the face of Boris Johnson, former mayor of London, front and center, ahead of Farage, who has said openly that he doesn't want to be Britain's PM.

That battle has a long way to go, but, for now, a rundown of just what Brexit has meant to markets around the world.

The Final Tally:
Vote share 51.9%
Votes 17,410,742 Votes

Vote share 48.1%
Votes 16,141,241 Votes

Stocks indices around the world were pounded:
Nikkei 225: 14,952.02, -1,286.33 (-7.92%)
Hang Seng Index: 20,259.13, -609.21 (-2.92%)
SSE Composite Index: 2,854.29, -37.67 (-1.30%)
Straits Times Index: 2,735.39, -58.46 (-2.09%)
S&P/ASX 200: 5,113.20, -167.50 (-3.17%)

FTSE 100: 6,138.69, -199.41 (-3.15%)
DAX: 9,557.16, -699.87 (-6.82%)
CAC 40: 4,106.73, -359.17 (-8.04%)
EURO STOXX 50 Index: 2,776.09, -261.77 (-8.62%)
EURONEXT 100: 819.99, -59.09 (-6.72%)

Some other interesting notes from early after the voting:
British pound falls as much as 11 percent to $1.3229, weakest since 1985
Yield on 10-year Treasuries drops 29 basis points to 1.46 percent, set for biggest daily decline since 2009
New York crude oil retreats 5.1 percent to $47.56 a barrel, poised for biggest loss since February
Gold rallies as much as 8.1 percent to $1,358.54 an ounce, highest since March 2014

By the end of trading in the US, the day's damage had been assessed, though it was hardly what anybody would call a bloodbath. After all, this was only the first salvo against the establishment, though it does set in motion a complete disintegration of the EU and all of its strictures, laws, rules, regulations and burdensome bureaucracy.

For Americans, it's a good day to be a supporter of Donald Trump for the presidency. Much of what Mr. Trump has been campaigned for was contained in the Brexit platform: an end to open immigration, more civil liberties for common people, smaller federal government, less regulation, lower taxes, more power to people and localities (state's rights in the US).

While the damage to stocks was minimized, the press fell all about itself in once again over-hyping the damage. Britain and her people will not vanish from the earth. New trade arrangements will be made with the countries still remaining in the EU, but it is notable that more than a few EU member states are now calling for exit votes by the people, especially in France, Spain, Italy, the Czeck Republic, Hungary, and elsewhere.

The word on the European Union: Done. It's now become not a matter of if the EU will disintegrate, but when, and how. Those will be the real fireworks. But, between then and now, expect the establishment status quo to fight like mad dogs to retain and enhance their positions of power and prestige. In the end, they too will fail.

US stocks got mangled, with a hefty drop at the open and further displeasure for bulls in the late afternoon, with the Dow - just one day after it broke through the 18,000 upper barrier - closing below 17,500, the long-standing support threshold, on heavy volume. Losses were widespread; banks and financial stocks took the worst of it.

The Dow finished the week lower for the third time in the last four; the S&P and NASDAQ each notched their third straight week of decline.

US Stocks Got Socked:
S&P 500: 2,037.41, -75.91 (3.59%)
Dow: 17,400.75, -610.32 (3.39%)
NASDAQ: 4,707.98, -202.06 (4.12%)

Crude Oil 47.57 -5.07% Gold 1,319.10 +4.43% EUR/USD 1.1118 +0.13% 10-Yr Bond 1.58 -9.20% Corn 391.50 -1.57% Copper 2.11 -2.27% Silver 17.77 +2.40% Natural Gas 2.70 -1.32% Russell 2000 1,127.54 -3.81% VIX 25.76 +49.33% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.3684 +0.06% USD/JPY 102.2550 0.00%

For the Week:
Dow: -274.41 (-1.55%)
S&P 500: -33.81 (-1.63)
NASDAQ: -92.36 (1.92)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Too Much Drama: Brexit/Bremain And US Presidential Elections Are Sideshows To Be Ignored

Kids love drama. That's why they put on little shows for their friends, parents, grandparents, other siblings. They are also expert at throwing tantrums and acting out to get their own ways on things they like and/or don't like, or want to or don't want to do.

Typically, kids don't like certain foods (think vegetables), going to bed early or being cooped up in a classroom for 6-7 hours a day from the time they're six until seventeen or eighteen. If kids decide to go on to college, they may actually find themselves in classrooms until they're 21, 22 or even longer should they decide to attend graduate school, become a lawyer, doctor, or pursue a doctorate in any field of endeavor.

Of the three things kids don't like, it can be readily assumed that at least two of them are actually good for them, even after they cease being kids. For instance, vegetables (especially the non-GMO varieties) are proven to be good for overall health, vitality and longevity. Getting a good night's sleep is also a very healthy, albeit numb in the main, activity.

Going to school for a significant percentage of one's formative years is questionable. A solid education is admirable and achievable, though what constitutes such in public schools may not exactly fit the billing. Thus, the love of and use of drama to achieve ends is largely unjustified in the case of the wants (not needs) of people under the age of 20, i.e., kids.

Expanding this concept - that drama is unjustifiable - into adult life and interaction with mass media, might be useful in assessing current events, particularly the upcoming vote or referendum (tomorrow, Thursday, June 23) on whether Great Britain sh
ould remain or leave the European Union (otherwise known as Brexit or Bremain, depending upon one's point of view) and the drawn out affair that has become a nearly two-year ritual in choosing a president in the United States.

In terms of both events, the media time allotted to examining, reporting, tweeting, broadcasting, dissecting, analyzing, and otherwise trying to understand the issues has been, in a word, excessive.

In other words, the media, obsessed with having to fill countless hours of broadcast time (radio, TV, internet) and print space (newspapers, magazines, internet) has committed the undeniable sin of "too much drama." The British and American people have been overwhelmed with "news" on the impact of the British referendum and the American election.

Both events will take place in the span of one day, yet the time allocated to it by the media exceeds that period by orders of magnitude.

Like kids, the media clamors for attention, trying to convince the public (and maybe even themselves) of the overall importance of these events. Truth is, neither will matter that much to the normal functioning of an average adult life. Whether Britain remains in the EU or not will not have dramatic impact on one's individual day-to-day activities, nor will the choice of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for Americans.

Mainstream media would rather have you and I and everyone else in the world glued to their TVs and radios and internet sites and newspapers non-stop, forever and ever, no matter how trivial or important the current crop of stories, analyses, and perceptions.

Most adults (and kids, too) have a routine in their lives which goes something like this: get up, clean up, work, eat, relax, sleep. In between those major activities - and it is possibly an amazing discovery that roughly a third of that time is devoted to sleeping, and maybe another third to working - people do everything else, including, in no particular order, having sex, voting, playing, raising kids, tending a garden, pursuing a hobby, reading, listening to or viewing things other than what the mainstream media spouts effusively, and a plethora of other mundane activities.

The point is that the elections fall into this diffuse area occupied in the large by "everything else." Brexit and the presidential elections barely even register on the life radar in terms of importance, meaning that whatever way it goes, individuals (aka, people) will go about their lives in largely the same way as before the "monumental" voting.

That the media devotes so much time, effort and money to events which are, in general terms, non-eventful, uncovers the abject failure of life in the information age. If you're in your 60s, for instance, you've lived through the administrations of as many as 12 presidents (Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama) and are now on the cusp for a 13th. Whether the choice is Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will, in the long route of history, be conspicuously inconsequential.

From that timely perspective, each and every one of these presidents has done a fair job of keeping the American public somewhat safe, secure and happy, protected the constitution to varying degrees, and also kept the American public in check, or, kept the general population from violent rebellion. On that final point, we're probably a bit more civilized these days, choosing to simply ignore the government as much as possible than openly rebelling against it. That kind of stuff generally gets one killed, maimed, or jailed, none of which are desirable outcomes.

As for the Brits, Money Daily doesn't have much interaction with our former colonial masters, but England seems to be a somewhat genteel and fair place to live. The current living residents of England will cast their votes tomorrow, but the effects will be barely noticeable, likely for decades. People will adjust and adapt.

While Brits and Yanks alike are concerned about the deterioration of their civil liberties - a theme common to the Brexit/Bremain vote and the US presidential election - it seems a slow, drawn-out process and also one to which one can adjust. Just like eating your vegetables and getting a good night's sleep are desirable and contribute to a better life, ignoring elections and votes and avoiding government at all levels is probably the most prudent behavior.

And prudence, from Aristotle to Aquinas to Pascal, is a vastly more desirable human trait than relying on personal drama to achieve one's desires.

+++++++++++ +++++++++++

Today in the markets, perhaps taking an unattributable cue from the above essay, there wasn't much in the way of panic, fear, greed, avarice, sloth, joy, or any other emotion. Equity markets were fairly flat, owing to the unforgivable media rhetoric surrounding tomorrow's Brexit/Bremain referendum having wrung out every possible trading scheme or maneuver.

Panic? Thy Name is Brexit:
S&P 500: 2,085.45, -3.45 (0.17%)
Dow: 17,780.83, -48.90 (0.27%)
NASDAQ: 4,833.32, -10.44 (0.22%)

Crude Oil 48.95 +0.20% Gold 1,269.10 -0.27% EUR/USD 1.1294 +0.41% 10-Yr Bond 1.69 -0.71% Corn 395.00 -0.32% Copper 2.13 +0.78% Silver 17.28 -0.23% Natural Gas 2.91 -2.70% Russell 2000 1,148.97 -0.42% VIX 21.22 +14.83% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4691 +0.15% USD/JPY 104.4400 -0.32%

Monday, June 20, 2016

Markets Get Boost On Brexit Opposition; Fake Move Fades Throughout Trading Session

When equity prices jump suddenly at the opening bell by one percent or more - as they did today in New York - the only ones who benefit are those already in the market, with positions in the "selected" stocks.

Average investors have no opportunity to partake in the market's sudden generosity. Hedgers and speculators who played properly prior to the open are the big winners. Wealth is not created in any way, shape, or form, other than in a paper manner. It's a trade and soon enough it vanishes.

Stocks, for whatever they're worth (caveat emptor), lost half of their gains over the course of the day. The NASDAQ was up 88 points and closed up 36 and change. The S&P was up 29 points - hitting the magic 2100 spot, again - before falling throughout the day to close up a mere 12 points.

Blue chips fared no better. The Dow was up a whopping 271 points by 10:00 am EDT, but ended the day disappointing to all but the HFTs, who were no doubt front-running every single trade (it's rumored that there were a few hundred bettors in the game), ahead by only 129.

Most of the euphoria at the open was due to a media frenzy over the prospect of England remaining in the European Union. Polls have been tight, but the mainstream media continues to portray Thursday's upcoming vote as a referendum on patriotism for Brits. Vote to stay in the EU, you're a good citizen; vote to leave, or Brexit, you may just be a terrorist sympathizer.

Of course, the media spin is just that, all noise and no substance. Not only would leaving the EU be better for most working Britons, it would also send a powerful message to the status quo that their form of governing is no longer working, and must go. With so many government jobs on the line, the mainstream is pushing hard for a "stay" vote.

Last laugh of the day went to silver holders. Even the best efforts of the central bank cabal could not keep gold's little brother down, closing at 17.52 per troy ounce.

On that note, Hugo Slainas Price proposes a Silver Ruble for Russia. Interesting reading for anyone considering honest money.

Stormy Monday?
S&P 500: 2,083.25, +12.03 (0.58%)
Dow: 17,804.87, +129.71 (0.73%)
NASDAQ: 4,837.21, +36.88 (0.77%)

Crude Oil 49.17 +2.48% Gold 1,292.70 -0.16% EUR/USD 1.1307 -0.11% 10-Yr Bond 1.67 +3.21% Corn 422.75 -3.43% Copper 2.09 +1.80% Silver 17.52 +0.63% Natural Gas 2.97 +2.67% Russell 2000 1,158.05 +1.17% VIX 18.20 -6.23% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4685 +1.52% USD/JPY 103.8550 -0.84%

Monday, June 13, 2016

Markets Lower On Brexit And Rate Hike Fears

Of the various events that might cause investors to give pause to buying stocks, or, worse, start selling en masse, the two most terrifying are probably the threat of the UK leaving the European Union (aka, Brexit) and the ongoing dialogue from the Federal Reserve concerning raising the federal funds rate.

Between the two, a 25 basis point rise in rates is likely the more disruptive, but it is also the least plausible, at least for the foreseeable future.

The Fed meets on Tuesday and Wednesday, delivering their rate announcement at 2:00 pm EDT Wednesday, after which will be a press conference with Chair Janet Yellen. This figures to be an absolute snoozer, since the May non-farm payroll disaster - a meager 38,000 jobs - pretty much put the kibosh on any rate hikes this month.

As for the Brexit, the fears are real, though the people most affected will not be Americans nor Brits, but the technocrats which comprise the burdensome bureaucratic behemoth of the EU apparatus and its various rules, regulations, and assorted busy work.

For Britain to exit the European Union would be a bold maneuver for the people of the island nation, freeing them from outside influence and regaining a smidgen of national identity, something that has been seriously eroded since adoption of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

What it would do for business is unknown, though Britain could conceivably become a trading partner with the EU, as is the USA and many other nations, rather than a member. Years would pass before all the effects are known and felt, but the fear mongering by Prime Minister David Cameron and others who wish to keep the status quo alive and well are largely overblown.

There, however, is the proverbial rub. The elites in control don't want to give up their power and a Brexit is seen as a direct assault on the powers that be. Common people would be wise to vote to leave the EU, eliminating a large, burdensome bureaucratic malaise. The referendum for Great Britain is to take place on Thursday, June 23. Polls show those favoring leaving and those favoring staying in the EU about even and that has people on Wall Street jumping out of their pants... for no good reason.

Fear and Loathing Monday:
S&P 500: 2,079.06, -17.01 (0.81%)
Dow: 17,732.48, -132.86 (0.74%)
NASDAQ: 4,848.44, -46.11 (0.94%)

Crude Oil 48.58 -1.00% Gold 1,287.10 +0.88% EUR/USD 1.1291 +0.37% 10-Yr Bond 1.62 -1.40% Corn 429.75 +1.60% Copper 2.05 +1.13% Silver 17.43 +0.61% Natural Gas 2.92 +0.24% Russell 2000 1,150.70 -1.14% VIX 20.97 +23.14% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4247 +0.05% USD/JPY 106.1975 -0.56%

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Topped Out? Stocks, Oil Fall On Stronger Dollar

Concerned over fears that the Fed might actually raise rates at the April FOMC meeting, investors took some long-overdue profits after five straight weeks of gains on the S&P and Dow Jones Industrials.

Nearly everything else was in the red on the day as the dollar strengthened against major currencies, most notably the British Pound, sent reeling over fears that UK residents might vote - in an upcoming June referendum - for Britain to leave the EU, a new poll showed.

Such cracks in the facade of the status quo are troubling for elite investors clinging to their one and two-percent dividends in stocks and bonds while the rest of the world crumbles under the weight of central bank intransigence.

Adding to the worries are the recent attacks by ISIS in the heart of the EU, Brussels, where Tuesday's terrorist bombings occurred at the airport and in a subway station just blocks from the EU parliament building.

Gold, silver, bond yields and oil also fell sharply on the day as a reassessment of priorities seems to be underway. The rout of Hillary Clinton by Idaho and Utah by insurgent candidate, Bernie Sanders, also weighed. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump split the vote on Tuesday, as Cruz captured all delegates in Utah and Trump took home the prize in Arizona's winner-take-all primary.

Oil stockpiles expanded for a fifth straight week, as the US glut expanded by 9.4 million barrels last week to 532.5 million barrels, an amount triple what analysts had expected.

While one day's slipshod results may not be nearly enough data to imply anything other than market noise, the alternative argument figures that, having made back all the losses for the year, it's time to book early profits and head for safer havens. Bonds, where yields fall as their price improves, seems to be wagging the tail of the stock market at present. The benchmark 10-year note has rallied for the better part of a month, though it still remains below two percent since dipping under that line on February 1st.

With the rest of the developed world embracing negative interest rates at the short end of the curve (though Japan's now-inverted curve has the ten-year JGB lower than the overnight rate), the Us continues to try to buck the trend by implying rate hikes ahead.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Fed has already seen what a mere 25 basis point hike in the federal funds rate produced - a sharp decline in stock prices - and they're not about to embark upon that trip now that those losses have been retaken.

As many analysts have pointed out, the Fed is trapped, with an economy not strong enough to warrant rate increases and a base rate too low to offer any resistance to recessionary or deflationary forces. Their only resource available in the case that the economy creaks and cracks is negative rates, a subject they have already publicly broached.

Today's Setback:
S&P 500: 2,036.71, -13.09 (0.64%)
Dow: 17,502.59, -79.98 (0.45%)
NASDAQ: 4,768.86, -52.80 (1.10%)

Crude Oil 39.80 -3.98% Gold 1,220.80 -2.23% EUR/USD 1.1182 -0.32% 10-Yr Bond 1.88 -3.10% Corn 367.25 -0.74% Copper 2.24 -2.23% Silver 15.27 -3.90% Natural Gas 1.78 -4.29% Russell 2000 1,075.70 -1.97% VIX 14.94 +5.43% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4116 -0.71% USD/JPY 112.4155 +0.07%

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wonder: Getting Past Greece, the Euro, Varoufakis, Travie McCoy and My Best Friends (BFFs)


It's a beautiful word. Maybe not as beautiful a word as White or Bird (It's a Wonderful Day... it's all right, go ahead and listen), but one should always be in wonder at the world -- if only because we DO NOT KNOW.

Events of recent weeks have left some - not many, and certainly not all - bewildered, confused, and wondering what is next to come. Life in Greece has become complicated because of their commitment to debt, and that is the only reason. Not politics, not currency, but only debt has enslaved the peoples of the southern European archipelago, and only because they continue to accept it as a constant, as a commitment, a purpose, an underlying principle of existence.

Long ago, in the days of Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras and Socrates, Greece became the cradle of Western civilization and democracy. Culture flourished with fresh ideas. Freedom of speech, freedom of identity, freedom of thought found roots, grew, and prospered.

The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.

-- Thucydides

Today, as the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF divvy up the remnants of a once-great culture and country, there is no secret, no happiness, no freedom. The Greeks are slaves to money, to the Euro, to the US dollar, and that condition will not change because the Greeks themselves - and all of Europe - have lost their ways, their wills, their collective courage. The 20th and 21st centuries have been witness to the willful slavery of entire populations, a kind of "Stockholm Syndrome", in which vast swaths of people are overwhelmed by money, power, greed, corruption and debauchery. It has happened before - in Rome, in London, Berlin, Tokyo - but never before has it happened as quietly and easily as today.

Without will, people have nothing. The people of Greece have no will. Even their "courageous" vote to reject the demands of their creditors a week ago was directed, will-less and rhetorical. As we have seen since then, voting meant exactly nothing, as it always has, when the choices are bad, or worse. Greece chose "bad." By decree of the technocrats and debt-holders of the EU, they are to receive "worse."

Greece Matters.

Greece matters because it is our fate, our shared existence, our future. Anyone believing that "it can't happen here," or "Greece is contained" is a dunderhead, a dolt, a fool, or a psychopath bent on escapism. The woes of Greece will visit every shore. First Europe, then South America, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, and eventually, North America. Canadians may be spared the worst of it, especially those in the hinterlands, but come it must, devour assets it must, devalue life it must. Greece is coming home to you, and me, and yours.

Not wanting to sound depressing or disheartening, but only realistic, this prose offers comfort to those who take heed. Not all is evil. There is good in the world. Life in the United States of America, for instance, has neve been more prosperous, full and enjoyable. If not for odious debt, the USA would be paradise on earth. But it is the odious debt, all $18 trillion on the official books and the countless billions in loose, unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare, that threatens with slavery of the masses. The rich will escape, virtually unharmed, The middle class will be skimmed, as always, without protection. The poor will suffer.

Central banks, which control the capital, have offered solutions. BUY STOCKS. WITH BOTH HANDS. Since March of 2009, Money Daily has been right to some degree, but wrong on a large account, decrying stocks as risky, unsound, unfair, unfulfilling, and dangerous.

Stocks, verily, the riskiest of them all, have never been more wildly valued, but they also have never been more protected than today. An article by John Hussman, here, spells out the current conditions for investment opportunities in lurid detail. While Greece may, and likely, will, get a haircut proportional to that of former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (a complete sellout and traitor to the people of Greece), the remainder of the world does not have to suffer a similar fate.

One only has to play along with the monetary authorities and the central banks for a time, and then... release. Such an investment strategy will require a heavy doses of discipline, and certain timing, which is why most will not even try, and many of those who do will try and fail, and fail, and fail.

The lucky, the daring, the living, and the brave will survive, and prosper, but only if they act boldly, with the conviction in their heart that all is fleeting, money is worthless, and hard assets are still worth having. The single most important asset one can hold, now, and generally, throughout history, is LAND. Real Estate. It's called that because it is REAL and it is an ESTATE asset. The only liability to owning real estate is taxation, which is why the choice of purchase should be well considered, and, beyond living quarters, consist of raw acreage.

Silver and gold one can hold in one's hand, but they cannot produce a single carrot, potato, bean or spinach.

It would also be wise to have good friendships, and to nurture them, cherish them, and honor them. Good friendships will outlast all manners of currency or money, bring more joy and happiness than blood relationships, and sponsor more spiritual wealth than all the gold that even King Midas could conjure.

Good friendship is why I write, why I live, why I try to spread some wisdom, if there is any to be spread.

I have three friends. Two are dogs. The other... I leave to the imagination of the reader.

Go now. Buy stocks, and prosper. Even better, play options or bet on horses. Use massive leverage if it is available. If you lose, you can blame me, because I don't actually care. I will only be here a short while. Besides, there are countless methods for recovery. The central bankers have made it as easy as a day at the beach.

I urge everyone to become self-sufficient. Some solar power and a garden are requisite to peace and happiness.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Afternoon Quarterback: The Day After the Great January Stock Slide

OK, it's Saturday, and the world hasn't ended, but what's important is to keep abreast of developments over the weekend in places like Argentina and Turkey, both of which are experiencing significant currency issues.

The other part of today's exercise is to see if there is anything that might give a clue to the future, and as to whether the massive selloff on Friday (and all week on the Dow) was a one-off, or if it is going to lead to more dislocations in stocks, a further decline, a 10% correction, or a bear market, which is where the fun really starts for those bent on restoring some semblance of sanity to stock valuations.

Yes, Cry for Argentina

Argentina, a country already shut off from foreign credit markets (could be a blessing in disguise) after the financial collapse of 2001-2002, has been in crisis mode for most of the past three years, with citizens unable to purchase US Dollars with their local currency, the peso, except on black markets, where the going rate is roughly 11-1 or 12-1.

Other restrictions on the movement of money have been imposed by the autocratic government of Christina Kirchner during the recent past, but on Friday, the government was said to be lifting the ban on the purchase of dollars, with an official rate of 8-to-1, and a 20% surcharge, pushing the "official" exchange rate closer to black market prices, though not equal to them. The new policy is said to take effect on Monday, though local chatter is that the government won't have enough dollars available by then to meet expected demand.

The black market is thriving in Argentina's cities, the Euro and US Dollar being the main currencies accepted for millions in hidden transactions. With inflation running at about 30% over the past year, this crisis seems to have legs, eventually resulting in full-blown currency rejection, prompting various economic, social and political problems, likely precisely what the overlords at the World Bank and IMF have in mind.

Argentina is Greece writ large, without bailouts. The take-away is that this is nothing short of economic warfare, with the citizenry being the victims via inflation, social unrest, political uncertainty, with the goal being having the government succumb to the demands of international bankers, who will grind the country down with crushing debt packages disguised as "aid."

Turkey Stew?

In a nutshell, Turkey, a country that is a geographic crossroad between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, is at more crossroads - economic, social and political - than its current leaders can handle. While the country is mostly Sunni Muslim, most of its neighbors to the South (Syria, Iran and Iraq) are Shiite. On the other side to the West is Europe, and the struggle to admit Turkey to the EU has been ongoing for nearly a decade.

The rapid devaluation of the lira, the country's official currency, was a design of European technocrats, who seek to weaken the country's finances to a point at which acceptance of the Euro as the "new" currency would be greeted with cheers of economic progress and stability, though opponents of entering into full-blown Euro acceptance consider that a move characteristic of failure, and point to the loss of sovereignty that would result.

To the North, lies Georgia, Russia and, across the Black Sea, the Ukraine, which has descended into a condition close to civil war, mostly over the issue of whether to join the European Union or throw in with Russia, which holds sway over the country's gas supply. This is somewhat of the same situation facing the Turks and makes the situation all the more confusing. With so much turmoil in the region already, it wouldn't take much of a spark to turn Turkey into a pretty large battlefield, some of it, mostly the southern region, already torn up by the Syrian conflict.

It doesn't take much imagination to see the Turkish situation spiraling wildly out of control. Al Queda already runs arms and terrorists through the country, and Russia also smuggles weaponry to Syria through it. If Turkey were to erupt into violence, one could easily see a wide swath of nations - from Egypt all the way to the Ukraine - as a war zone, much of it already engulfed by violence.

The Wider View

If the situation in Turkey, Syria and the Ukraine wasn't enough to destabilize markets, Argentina and the brewing banking crisis in China certainly have to be rankling the money-handlers.

Here is a brief clip and transcript (about eight minutes) that describes the shadow banking problems in China. Essentially, shadow banking enterprises are financing loans made to companies who borrowed from official channels and have run out of credit or the ability to borrow more on good terms from China's official banking system has been exhausted. The issue is one of rolling over credit in order to avoid default, but, as the article explains, China is going to slow and some industries will be negatively affected, and whole businesses shuttered.

With the difficulty of getting straight information out of China still a huge problem, it's unclear how bad China's debt-to-GDP ratio has become, though it is certainly more than the officially reported 125%.

Of course, with debt-to-GDP at that level or higher in the bulk of developed and emerging nations, China's problems just add to the mix, though it's like dropping a whole stick of butter into a small bowl of flour and milk. It's so big, it threatens to clog up the entire operation and that's what is most worrisome.

There are, naturally, many more reasons why stocks plunged on Friday, from Italy's unemployment at an all-time high of 12.7%, to Spain's unemployment dwarfing that, at 26.8%.

Other indicators include the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), which collapsed in the two weeks after the holidays by an unprecedented amount, and, China's most recent PMI, which the financial media give a wide berth for the cause of the selloff in US stocks. The PMI fell to 49.6, indicating contraction in the manufacturing sector, the lifeblood of the Chinese - and to a great degree, the global - economy.

Here at home, retailers are feeling the pinch from a horrid holiday shopping season, the worst since 2008. JC Penny and Sears have already announced store closings and layoffs. Target and Wal-Mart announced layoffs on Friday, though they were small in number.

Technicals Matter

Technically, US indices are in pretty good shape, overall. The Dow and S&P had been making new all-time highs at the end of 2013, but the performance in the first three full weeks of 2014 are not encouraging. With Friday's decline, the Dow ripped right through its 50-day moving average. On just Thursday and Friday, the Dow more than tripled its losses for the year. The two-day decline was more than 500 points, a number that represents a roughly 3% loss, but, since the index has risen so high, the point total of over 300 points on Friday has a psychological impact.

Imagine the Dow Jones Industrials as a 1600-pound animal, maybe a small hippo. A one-percent loss in weight - 16 pounds - wouldn't seem to matter much, but a 3% loss is close to 50 pounds, possibly worth notice. If the animal were to lose 10% (a correction, in market terms), or 160 pounds, veterinarians would be consulted, and, if a 20% loss in weight were to occur (indicative of a bear market), some might the 320-pound loss in weight was indicative of the animal having a severe disease.

The S&P likewise fell through its 50-day moving average, though the NASDAQ remained in suspended animation above its 50-day moving average, buoyed by Netflix and Google in recent days, though that position may be in jeopardy if the declines from the past few weeks persist and morph into something larger.

Key support areas on the Dow are at 15,450 and 1700 on the S&P, both the 200-day moving averages.

Also, the number of new lows exceeded new highs on Friday, the first time that has happened this year.

Forward Thinking

With earnings season in full gallop, next week should provide more fireworks. Apple and Google will be reporting, and those will be the big ones to watch. Since they are techs, they'll likely give the markets some pause and reason to ignore the declines of the past week, but the big enchilada is the two-day FOMC meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 28 and 29, Ben Bernanke's last.

While the Fed didn't expressly say so when it announced the tapering of their bond purchase program by $10 billion last month, the fear on the Street is that they will announce another $10 billion reduction, bringing their monthly purchases down to $65 billion in February, from $85 billion in December.

Nowhere in its press release from last month
did the Fed even mention further cuts, so a reasonable expectation is that they will continue asset purchases at a rate of $75 billion per month, which, seriously, is more than enough, though market crybabies would like to see even more artificial stimulus.

Interest rates are also normalizing again, with the 10-year dropping to its lowest yield since prior to the "taper" announcement, closing Friday at a yield of 2.72%

Essentially, the turnback on Friday wasn't such a big deal, though any downturn is viewed with skepticism since the Fed is still supplying so much liquidity. If stocks can't maintain their current valuations, it means one of a couple of things. One, the Fed's policies are a complete failure, or, two, the economy is much weaker than anyone thought, or, three, stocks ran up to a highly overbought level and investors are just taking profits, albeit, at a rapid pace.

What's important to watch is how stocks act next week, the final week in January. The Fed announcement will be key, though they shouldn't influence markets considerably unless they taper even more, an unlikely event. If the major indices make it through the week without losing much or actually making gains, keep a close eye on the recent all-time highs on the S&P and the Dow. If these levels are not surpassed, that's a plain signal of a primary bear market. That should surprise nobody except perma-bulls, because this bull market will be a full five years old - 60 months - on March 9th. If the market makes a V bottom and rebounds past the highs (a correction and rebound), short at your own risk, because that would be a sign of a continuing liquidity-driven push higher.

One other indicator to consider is the January Barometer, which, at this juncture, looks certain to be negative. The direction of stocks in January has about a 90% correlation to direction for the rest of the year, so, unless there's a miracle rally this coming week, 2014 appears to be heading South.

For now, it's too early to call direction, but this brief summary of some of the key issues should provide background for all investors.