Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 9, 2020

Weekend Wrap: This Is Bad; Oil Crashes; Stock Futures Limit Down; Global Market Panic in Progress

Thanks to a late-day ramp on Friday afternoon, the week turned out to be mostly positive for the investor class, though it certainly didn't seem to be that way most as the days wore onward.

With a 600-point buying spree on the Dow Jones Industrial Average - which pulled all the other indices higher as well - stocks finished with gains instead of substantial losses. After a week of wild swings, the mood had turned ugly, accentuated by cascading drops on Thursday and Friday at the opening bells both days and concerted selling in airline stocks, banks, and hospitality.

As pronounced as the near-panic over the prior five trading sessions was, what's ahead on Monday will be worse by orders of magnitude.

Beginning with the coronavirus (COVID-19) decimating economies and social structure from China to Italy to South Korea, Iran, and beyond, slumping demand and forecasting of a bleak near-term future prompted extreme action from Saudi Arabia over the weekend. On Friday, when Russia refused to go along with a planned 1.5 million barrels a day reduction in crude production by OPEC+ nations, the Saudis decided to put the screws to everyone in the oil business by slashing their rates and ramping up production.

The impact of this momentous decision on Saturday was immediately felt across not just the oil futures markets but equity and credit markets around the world. With all major indices closed as usual on Sunday, focus was attuned to futures, which were being hammered lower by as much as seven percent in some cases. In the US, futures trading was halted when the Dow, S&P, and NASDAQ futures fell by five percent, otherwise known as limit down.

Crude futures were down by extreme amounts. WTI crude was last seen at $32.07 per barrel, a 22% loss from Friday, when it was selling in the low 40s per barrel.

Bonds were being battered as well, with reports that the benchmark 10-year note was trading with a yield below 0.48% (at one point yielding an all-time low of 0.31%) and other bond yields were being destroyed in markets that began to open, first in Japan, China and the Far East, then to Europe. If fear of COVID-19 contagion was palpable, the contagion from the economic fallout had become all to real.

With US markets set to open in an hour, the condition is dire.

A quick rundown of the carnage on major indices around the world:

  • NIKKEI (Japan) -5.07%

  • Straits Times Index (Taiwan, Pacific Rim) -6.03%

  • SSE Composite (China) -3.01%

  • Hang Seng (Hong Kong) -4.23%

  • BSE Sensex (India) -5.17%

  • All Ordinaries (Australia) -7.40%

  • KOSPI (South Korea) -4.19%

  • MOEX (Russia) -3.45

  • Jakarta Composite (Indonesia) -6.58%

  • FTSE Bursa (Malaysia) -3.97%

  • DAX (Germany) -7.00%

  • CAC-40 (France) -7.14%

  • FTSE 100 (England) -6.93%

  • EuroNext 100 (Europe composite) -7.50%

Suppression of the precious metals, the only remaining asset class that may hold some value, continues unabated as global economies come under severe pressure. Gold gained marginally, to $1678.00 per ounce, following a banner performance last week. Silver is under even more pressure, trading at $16.83 on futures markets, making a mockery of the gold/silver ratio, which is nearly 100:1. In more measured times - as in all centuries prior to this one - the gold silver ratio was pretty steady at 12:1 to 16:1. The current measure is a bad joke on a bad day, told by bad people with nothing but evil intentions (central banks).

Silver would have to rise to $100 per ounce for the gold/silver ratio to be anywhere near historical norms. With gold on the verge of a major breakout above $2000 per ounce, silver should - some day, maybe - be worth over $150 per ounce or similar equivalent in some other currency.

Monday's open should be epic. The aftermath, and the expected coordinated response by central banks figures to be a complete clown show, highlighted by massive injections of cash, POMO, TOMO, market-neutral rates, negative rates, and eventually, some collapsing banks. Couldn't happen to a more deserving crowd.

Money Daily will provide updates as time allows. Panic is a mild term for what's about to occur.

At the Close, Friday, March 6, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,864.78, -256.52 (-0.98%)
NASDAQ: 8,575.62, -162.97 (-1.86%)
S&P 500: 2,972.37, -51.57 (-1.71%)
NYSE: 12,352.03, -240.97 (-1.91%)

For the Week:
Dow: +455.42 (+1.79%)
NASDAQ: +8.25 (+0.10%)
S&P 500: +18.15 (+0.61%)
NYSE: -28.94 (-0.23%)

Friday, March 6, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 5, 2020

A Day Without Coronavirus Headlines Produces Massive Rally, But It's Probably False Hope

With much of the news focus on the results from Super Tuesday's Democrat primaries and the Fed's 50 basis point cut to the federal funds rate, for a day, market participants had their heads turned toward something other than the evolving coronavirus crisis.

That little bit of relief allowed stocks to rise by roughly four percent across the major indices. The gains were not record-breaking, but they were close. The NASDAQ's 334-point rise was the third-best on record; the Dow's gain exceeded only by the 1,293.96 rip on Monday. The S&P's number was also the second-best day ever.

These kinds of wild swings, to both the upside and down, have become a trademark for not just US markets but many international stock indices since the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, but especially so since the virus has spread beyond the borders of the world's most populous nation. Most developed nations are currently flirting with 10 percent drops off recent highs, crossing the point of correction level at various times, above and below it.

Following Wednesday's romp, news on the coronavirus front just got worse and worse as the day turned to night and night to Thursday morning. A health screener at LA-X in Los Angeles tested positive for the virus; in New York, six more cases emerged. Seattle is quickly becoming an epicenter for an outbreak, and by morning, California had declared an emergency due to the treat from the spreading infection. 1000 people in New York are being screened for possible infection.

Schools are closing in various places across the country, Amazon and Microsoft employees are being advised to work from home, soccer games in Europe are being played in stadia devoid of fans, Italy has urged anyone over the age of 60 to stay home as much as possible to avoid contracting the virus. Despite the WHO's failure to officially declare a pandemic, COVID-19 has swept around the planet and is showing no signs of abating.

As for the World Health Organization failing to label the current condition a pandemic (it is, even according to their own standards), the reason may lie more in the ghastly world of finance rather than health. Unconfirmed reports say there are "pandemic bonds," which are bets against a pandemic outbreak declaration. If the WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic, it will trigger bets made on a pandemic, as credit default swaps (CDS), along the lines of those which paid off magnificently when the sub-prime crisis blew up, will explode, blowing up the underpinnings of global finance.

If true, it would prove not only that bankers and financiers on Wall Street and elsewhere learned nothing from prior default events, but that they continue to make sickening, revolting wagers on extreme events. When coronavirus destroys the economy, the usual suspects will be found in lower Manhattan, probably toasting their bonuses, as they have in previous episodes of moral bankruptcy.

That said, anybody who has not taken action to remove their investments from the stock market casino over the past few weeks (if not sooner) is likely to suffer in the most severe economic manner possible over the next six to 12 months. There is no evidence of containing the virus and only the hope that its viability will be reduced with the advent of warmer and more humid weather. Unfortunately, it's only March. Warm mid-Spring weather is still months away in much of the developed world.

According to the painfully-slow-to-react CDC, there are 13 states that have identified persons infected. Those are New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. Add Rhode Island, New Jersey and Utah as of today, making it 16 with more to come. Already an even 1/3 of mainland states, there are no physical barriers to where the virus can spread. Eventually, it's likely that there will be high incidence of the virus in every state, with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska, due to their unique locations, far from mainland populations.

News on COVID-19 is developing quickly and reported cases are mounting now nearly by the hour. According to John Hopkins, there are 159 cases in the United States. A week ago there were fewer than 25. The same pattern of doubling every two to three days - as was the case in China early on - is becoming evident in European countries, especially Italy, followed by France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and Norway. South Korea and Iran have become epicenter outbreak areas with the number of cases exploding higher every day.

As the disease progresses, the news is likely to be substantially worse before it gets even slightly better. While it is possible that the health outcomes may not be as severe as predicted, the economic pain is almost certain to be severe.

It was more than a week ago that Money Daily advised to Sell. Everything. Now. Wednesday's upswing provided a late get-out-of-jail-free card for procrastinators or non-believers. After Thursday, it may be too late. A 2000-point decline Thursday is more than a passing possibility.

Late edit: With so much happening, let's not forget that gold is rising, silver also, but not to any great degree, oil demand has plunged and will slide further. WTI crude oil prices are at $46 and change per barrel. Treasury yields were stable on long-dated maturities with yields on the 2-year through 30-year issues all rising or falling four basis points or fewer. The 10-year note stabilized at 1.02%, but is again below 1.00% (0.95%) prior to the opening bell (1/2 hour). The short end of the curve, 1, 2, 3, 6-month and one-year bills cratered, the one-year sporting the lowest yield on the entire complex, dropping for 0.73 to 0.59 on Thursday.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000 for the week ended Feb. 29, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was unrevised.

At the Close, Wednesday, March 4, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,090.86, +1,173.45 (+4.53%)
NASDAQ: 9,018.09, +334.00 (+3.85%)
S&P 500: 3,130.12, +126.75 (+4.22%)
NYSE: 13,009.96, +467.22 (+3.73%)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Stock Rally Sizzles, Fizzles As COVID-19 Fear Spreads Globally Sell. Everything. Now.

From the outset, it looked like US stock investors were going to shed the fear of coronavirus effects and get back to the greed side of the equation, as all major indices roared back after a string of losses.

By midday, however, the rally lost steam as news from around the world indicated that the virus was continuing to spread, inflicting people in far-away lands as well as within the borders of the United States. When President Trump announced he was giving a press briefing at 6:00 pm ET (later moved to 6:30 pm ET) on the government's response to the virus, stocks faltered badly, as all but the NASDAQ gave up gains and ended in the red.
"Sell. Everything. Now. You may curse me today, tomorrow, and even next week, but a couple of months down the road, you'll see why I am telling you to get out of stocks now."
At the press briefing, the president appeared confident, though cautious, appointing Vice President Mike Pence to spearhead the federal government's response.

So much for hope, false hope, bravado, and confidence. COVID-19 already is worse than MERS or SARS in the number of inflictions and deaths, and there seems to be no stopping it. Even employing extreme measures such as travel bans and quarantines, is unlikely to completely halt the spread of this pathogen; governments are hoping at least to contain it and prevent it from becoming an overwhelming medical crisis as it already has become in China, and soon, South Korea, Japan, Italy, and elsewhere.

Underpinning the obvious threat to health and well-being, Wall Street and investment centers around the world are focused on the after-effects. Idled workers, slowing production, chinks in the supply chain, and slack demand are all tied to efforts to contain the virus and will certainly have adverse effects on the bottom lines of many companies.

Now, almost two months since the crisis began in China, fears of a near-global shutdown of financial and business activity is becoming a frightful scenario.

As one pundit wrote to friends yesterday, "Sell. Everything. Now. You may curse me today, tomorrow, and even next week, but a couple of months down the road, you'll see why I am telling you to get out of stocks now."

This is precisely the sentiment Wall Street hopes would never surface, but it's becoming more and more evident to more and more people that COVID-19 presents an existential threat to global commerce.

Oil was down sharply on the day, as WTI crude futures broke below $50 per barrel and fell into the $47 price range Thursday morning. The treasury yield curve continued its flat-to-inverted pathway, the yield on the 10-year note losing another two basis points before returning to its prior level at 1.33%, the lowest level in history.

At the Close, Wednesday, February 26, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,957.59, -123.77 (-0.46%)
NASDAQ: 8,980.77, +15.16 (+0.17%)
S&P 500: 3,116.39, -11.82 (-0.38%)
NYSE: 13,046.62, -97.10 (-0.74%)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bloodbath Continues As Stocks Respond To Coronavirus Fears; Bond Yields Achieve Fresh Lows; A Black Swan Moment?

So, is this "the big one?"

Is this the beginning of the inevitable late-stage bull market crash?

It very well could be, with the coronavirus taking up residence in market perceptions as the black swan, the mythical entity so eloquently devised and demonstrably argued in Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book by the same name in 2007.
Talib's tome is on the mark.

To those unfamiliar with the concept, black swans are rare, some say even non-existent, and Talib posits that rare, unpredictable events do happen, and their appearance can manifest itself in positive or negative ways.

Thus, the coronavirus (COVID-19) qualifies as a black swan event, as it appeared almost from nowhere, without warning, without announcement, and without restraint. It could be said that the virus itself is not the black swan, but what turned it into a major event for markets and economies was the fumbled handling of it and attempts to contain it in its early days of spread in China.

Had the virus been less contagious, less virulent, better contained, it might have had little to no effect on markets, but, as has been seen over the past two months, it managed to spread across almost all of mainland China, escaped its borders and eventually has been contracted in now forty countries, as far-flung as Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Finland, and the United States.

It is out there, it is virulent, it is deadly in some cases. Invisible, untouchable, it is an ideal psy-op by which the mainstream and financial media can whip up fear into a tornado of emotion, to whirl about Wall Street and global financial centers and create a panic.

The truth - and there have been more than enough variants of that to render objective opinion nearly moot - is that the virus is apparently not as deadly as other natural disasters might be. It is not even keeping pace with deaths by accident or from the more common flu, but the media coverage and government response to it has been nothing short of ghastly and draconian. Mass quarantines are not something most people alive today have ever experienced, but the world is getting a first-hand view - albeit somewhat clouded by China's command - of entire cities and provinces on lockdown, now followed by similar experience in South Korea and Italy and elsewhere, and possibly, we have been warned, coming to a neighborhood near you.

So, while fear is stoked in the general populace over the chance of catching the disease, possibly dying from it and possibly having to live isolated for weeks, the financial world sees disruption to the normal conduct of business, anathema of the first order.

Starting with the supply lines for parts to finished products out of China and ending with entire huge swaths of populations unable to transact in an orderly manner, the spread of the virus has the potential of putting the entire planet on hold, unable to work, pay bills, advance production, build, grow. COVID-19 is the potion, media and government the ice and the straw that sirs the drink (hat tip to Mr. October, Reggie Jackson for the apropos analogy), and it is all connected.

Whether or not the spread of the virus, its immediate health effects and reaction to it will be enough to send economies into reverse is still unknown, though it's looking more and more likely that whatever carnage it is producing is not about to stop soon and will continue until either it mutates itself out of existence or is contained to a level at which people can work, travel, and interact freely without fear.

So far, it has not been contained to any satisfactory level and appears to be spreading further into the general population in many countries.

With what we know, and the reaction thus far - by China first and the rest of the world after that - COVID-19 may not decimate the world's population, but the fear of it, the media coverage of it, and various government responses to it have the potential to crash markets around the world.

Note the variance between the rise in price (up) and the bottom panel.
That is the correlation with the S&P 500, which the Dow
underperformed all through 2019 and into 2020.
The financial environment has quickly shifted from greed over to fear and fear is not backing down. Investors are seeking safety rather than profit. Companies are reviewing disaster plans and procedures rather than seeking expansion and growth. These conditions will likely prevail for months, long enough to send stocks spiraling into a death trap, bonds soaring, and eventually gold and silver to unforeseen levels (though precious metals took a thumping on Tuesday thanks to the unseen hands of interlopers in the paper markets).

On Tuesday, the Dow took another huge step down, as did the NASDAQ, S&P, and other indices around the world, especially in Europe, which after China, looms the most precarious. Europe was already been on edge, close to recession, prior to the emergence of the coronavirus threat and they may be reeling uncontrollable into an abyss should the population experience widespread or even minor contraction.

In the United States, the slowdown has begun, with automakers concerned about parts en route from China and whether such essential production parts will arrive in an orderly manner. It's probable that they will not. Other industries have a similar connection to China and elsewhere, and anecdotal evidence suggests that slowdowns and possible layoffs lie straight ahead.

Bond yields have cratered like a failed bundt cake. Yield on the 10-year note crashed through its all-time low, stopping finally at 1.33%, two basis points below the prior low from July 5th and 8th of 2016 (1.37%). The 30-year bond dipped to 1.80%. The three and five-year notes mark the bottom of the treasury curve at 1.16, dangerous levels for capital markets.

In conclusion, unless events somehow take a radical turn for the better, conditions exist in spades for massive market turmoil to the downside. Beyond the idea that most liquid equity markets and individual securities have been extremely overbought and propped up by Fed injections and corporate buybacks, the effect from coronavirus and reaction to it should continue to offer nothing good in terms of upside impetus for the foreseeable future, though the first quarter and well into the second.

Global recession or worse is a viable consideration.

At the Close, Tuesday, February 25, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,081.36, -879.44 (-3.15%)
NASDAQ: 8,965.61, -255.67 (-2.77%)
S&P 500: 3,128.21, -97.68 (-3.03%)
NYSE: 13,143.73, -390.37 (-2.88%)

If all this is too much for you to bear, then sit back, relax, and enjoy music from a better time, the Beatles' Revolver album.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Takes a Bite Out of Europe and Wall Street

COVID-19 continues to rage, and on Monday, it took a bite out of global markets, especially in Europe and the Americas, with stock indices falling in a range around 3.5% on the day.

For the Dow Jones Industrial Average, it was the biggest decline in two years and the third biggest point drop in the history of the index, closing just short of the #2 all-time drop, −1,032.89 on February 8, 2018 a decline of 4.15%. Monday's rip was a 3.65% decline.

The S&P's 111.89-point loss was the second-worst ever on that index, nearly topping a 113.19 loss, also from February 8, 2018. The NASDAQ's 355.31-point decline was the second biggest on record. The worst day for the NASDAQ was on April 14, 2000, when the index plummeted nine percent, posting a loss of 355.49, kicking off what would be known as the dotcom bust.

There's a general theme around these kinds of outsized losses. Usually, there's follow-up, but it doesn't always come the very next day. It's usually another day later. That's likely because investors have become so accustomed to "buying the dip" that any major loss is seen as a buying opportunity, and this may well be, but it's probably going to be better to sit and watch on Tuesday and be ready to jump in (or out) on Wednesday or Thursday.

Another wave will come, and it's not going to be pretty. as pointed out in our Weekend Wrap, investors aren't concerned with the spread of the coronavirus per se, they're worried about the effect it is going to have on businesses, particularly, in this case, those with supply chains emanating out of mainland China, and there are plenty of them in addition to the airlines and cruise ship companies which have already been hard hit by the tail of the virus.

The after-effects from COVID-19 aren't going to emerge for months. Less than two months into the pandemic, the virus has yet to unleash its most virulent strain upon a host of countries outside China, but the list of countries seeing the number of new infections growing is getting larger. Italy, South Korea, Iran, Hong Kong, and Japan are the current hotspots, with cases doubling every day or two.

It will take some months for this to slow down and eventually be contained, but it's going to be very disruptive to the normal flow of business for some time. This is definitely not a time to be bullish, though the second half of the year may be.

With stocks battered around the world, bonds rallied, with yield on the 10-year note dropping eight basis points, from 1.46% to 1.38%. The 30-year bond hit another all-time low yield at 1.84%.

The yield curve remains inverted at the short to middle, with 1, 2, 3, and 6-month bills all posting yields higher than the 10-year, though the 2s-10s remained constant at a 12 basis point difference, the 2-year ending the day at 1.26. The curve is nearly flat, with 1.60% at one end (1-month) and 1.84% at the other, on the 30-year. A soft underbelly in the middle, with a 1.21% yield on the 3s and 5s, makes the entire trip one of just 63 basis points, or just more than one half of a percent. That's FLAT!

Oil hit the skids, with WTI dropping to 51.43 per barrel, though that's still higher than what is likely coming in months ahead, especially if widespread quarantines become fashionable in developed countries, particularly speaking of Europe and the USA.

Gold and silver were well bid, but smashed down at the end of the day. It's not yet the time for the almighty dollar to suffer. The yen and euro must submit first, along with China's yuan. When these fiat currencies are exposed, when negative interest rates are more an essential element than an experimental one, then the metals will soar. The world isn't there yet and nobody will be adequately prepared when that eventuality occurs, which could be six months from now or six years. It's looking like it may be closer to the latter, as the global machinery of finance isn't as fragile as it may appear on the surface.

Keeping a sharp eye out for emerging hotspots and especially on the US mainland, stocks ripe for shorting may be in the entertainment, hospitality, and dining segments.

At the Close, Monday, February 24, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,960.80, -1,031.61 (-3.56%)
NASDAQ: 9,221.28, -355.31, (-3.71%)
S&P 500: 3,225.89, -111.86 (-3.35%)
NYSE: 13,534.12, -441.66 (-3.16%)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Stocks Rocked As Europe Burns, Political Skepticism Soars; Globalism Grips As Populism Rises

With all the good news that's been spreading of late, the magnitude of this most recent setback was, for some, a little overdone. Others, who see the planet for what it is, see populism on the rise and globalism fading into history.

Prepare for some over-the-top hyperbole in 3...2...1...

Besides wealth inequality reaching heights heretofore unseen, taxation of the general populace in developed nations has reached catastrophic proportions. As seen in the European protests, the civility of the average man and woman, having been grossly abused, has been stretched beyond the limits of many whose toils seem to barely keep pace with the endless panoply of regulations, fees, fines, taxes and penalties. This is how epochs end.

In France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Italy and elsewhere, the citizenry has had enough of misrepresentation by so-called officials, elected, selected, or otherwise, and they are seeking economic and social freedom. The forces of globalism have been resolute in obfuscating reality and distorting the obvious all the while raking in the spoils of their pernicious policies and decietful politics.

In the United States, the working class has seen through the flash narrative surrounding the demonization of the popularly-elected President Trump. Americans no longer want illegal migration across their borders, handouts to the poor or the rich, nor policies that do them no good. The entire planet is on the verge of an emotional and psychological breaking point. It has been many years in the making, but, every day that goes by is rife with lies, innuendo, untruths, double-talk. Within the next year or two, everything is going to go sideways. The politics have simply outpaced the usefulness of the ruling class. It's apparent to just about anybody who give a damn and the wisest of the monied class on Wall Street are running for the proverbial hills.

Who knows what causes stocks to zig-zag on a day-to-day basis, for the Dow to pick up 600 points one day and drop nearly 800 the next?

In any case, the point drop on the Dow was the fourth-largest in market history. The other three larger also occurred this year. For the NASDAQ, it was the sixth largest. All of the 11 largest point declines on the NASDAQ occurred in either 2000 or 2018.

The Dow transports (DJT, -4.39%) tumbled 476.37 points, or 4.4%, with all 20 components closing lower. The previous biggest-ever point decline was 445.16 points on Oct. 10. At its intraday worst, the index was down as much as 565.23 points, or 5.2%.

Analysis of the recent volatility is sure to take on obscene forms from a parade of wizened economists, generalists, and hobbyists. None of them will have it exactly right. One day, all the world's full of unicorns and honey. The next, it's going to hell in a hand basket.

Whatever your particular niche or trading style, the current offers a uniquely volatile and confounding proposition for traders, speculators, or even the casual investor.

For the coming months, expect more of the same.

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

At the Close, Tuesday, December 4, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,027.07, -799.36 (-3.10%)
NASDAQ: 7,158.43, -283.09 (-3.80%)
S&P 500: 2,700.06, -90.31 (-3.24%)
NYSE Composite: 12,221.98, -355.56 (-2.83%)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Dow Closes With Losses; Is This 2007 All Over Again?

The Dow spent the day criss-crossing the unchanged line - 20 times to be exact - before finally capitulating late in the day, closing lower for the third time in four days, the losing sessions outweighing the sole winner by a margin of some 398 points.

Among the various reasons for the recent declines are the usual suspects: trade and tariffs, emerging market weakness, soaring bond yields, and widespread political unrest, not only in the United States, but elsewhere in the world, particularly Europe, where nationalism is on the rise in opposition to hard-line European Union bureaucracy and technocrats.

Italy is the most recent focal point, where the latest government consists of parties warring within themselves, with each other, and with the political apparatus that overarches all things European from Brussels. The Italian government, like most modern nations, is saddled with largely unplayable debt, seeking solutions that preclude involvement from either the ECB or the IMF, a task for only the brave or the foolhardy.

As much as can be said for the political turmoil within the Eurozone, it remains cobbled together by an overtaxed citizenry, ripe for revolt from the constraints upon income and general freedom. As was the case with Greece a few years back, the EU intends imposition of austerity upon the Italians and is facing stiff resistance from the general population and government officials alike.

Political sentiment aside, the canary in the US equity coal mine is the downfall of the treasury market, which has seen rising yields almost on a daily basis since the last FOMC meeting concluded September 26, the well-placed fear that the Fed has reached too far in implementing its own brand of monetary austerity by flooding markets with their own overpriced securities. The resultant condition is the most basic of economics: oversupply causes prices to fall, yields to rise.

Adding to investor skittishness are upcoming third quarter corporate reports, which promise to be a bagful of not-well-hidden disappointment, given the strength of the dollar versus other currencies and corporate struggles to balance their domestic books with those outside the US. Any corporation with large exposure to China or other emerging markets is likely to have felt some currency pressure during a third quarter which saw rapid acceleration in the dollar complex. Most corporations are simply not nimble enough to adjust to quick changes in currency valuations, leading to losses on the international side of the ledger book.

Valuations could also matter once again. Since the economy in the US is seen as quite robust and strong at the present, investors may want to question their portfolio allocations. Good things do not last forever, and while the current rally under President Trump has been impressive, it has come at the end of a long, albeit often sluggish, recovery period.

All of this brings up the point of today's headline, the eerie similarity to the market of 2007, which presaged not only a massive recession, but a stock market collapse of mammoth proportions, a real estate bust, and vocal recriminations directed at the banking cartel, which, as we all know, came to naught.

In 2007, the Dow peaked on July 11, closing at 14,000.41, but was promptly beaten down to 12,845.78 at the close on August 16. It bounced all the way back to 14,164.53, on October 16, but was spent. By November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, the industrials closed at 12,743.44 and continued to flounder from there until the final catastrophic month of October 2008.

The chart reads similarly, though more compressed in 2018. The Dow made a fresh all-time high on September 20 (26,656.98) and closed higher the following day. On October 3, a new record close was put in, at 26,828.39, but the index has come off that number by nearly 400 points as of Tuesday's close.

It is surely too soon to call for a trend change, but, if 2018 is anything like 2007, the most recent highs could be all she wrote, the proof not available for maybe another month or two, but the Dow bears watching if it cannot continue the long bull run.

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

At the Close, Tuesday, October 9, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,430.57, -56.21 (-0.21%)
NASDAQ: 7,738.02, +2.07 (+0.03%)
S&P 500: 2,880.34, -4.09 (-0.14%)
NYSE Composite: 12,960.57, -39.56 (-0.30%)

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%)

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%)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Will May End With A Bang Or A Thud? Italy And Tommy Robinson Creating European Chaos

Following a three-day weekend, US markets caught up to the panic that was gripping Europe, adding onto the global rout in stocks by sending the Dow Jones Industrials lower by nearly 400 points.

Tuesday's big fallout left the Dow's gains for the month at great risk. The Industrial Average was close to erasing all of May's gains before a late-stage rally brought the index back up by 147 points into the close.

With only two trading days left in the month, May looks to follow April with a gain of less than one percent. April's total gain was a mere 50 points, following massive losses in February (-1120.19) and March (-926.09). With Europe's problems far from over (Italy being the main culprit), selling in May could turn out to be the most prudent - if not cliched - advice as global events are continuing to tarnish the shine on America's nascent economic rebirth.

Italians, struggling with immigration issues, have seen their government devolve into autocracy, as president Sergio Mattarella unilaterally quashed the creation of a right-leaning government coalition.

Chaos in Italy has sparked a run on bonds and European banks, spreading to stocks. On Tuesday, most of the major national exchanges saw losses in excess of one percent, adding onto previous declines.

News out of Britain also contributed to the sea of madness, as authorities arrested activist Tommy Robinson and immediately sentenced him to 13 months in prison, adding a media ban on his arrest and the pedophile grooming trial on which he was attempting to report. The unjustified jailing of Robinson has sparked outrage and rallies for his release throughout Britain and some European capitals.

Overarching political events are merely masking the underlying weakness in global markets which still seem incapable of forgetting the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 and Europe's own mini-crisis in 2011. Since little to nothing was done to correct the issues which plagued the world's largest economies, the past appears to have risen from the crypt and threatens to plunge economics and nations into another depressing episode.

With the Dow taking its worst loss in over a month, January 23rd's all-time high of 26,616.71 is now four months off in the fading distance. Bear market dynamics continue to drive a stake into the heart of the "recovery" narrative.

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

At the Close, Tuesday, May 29, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,361.45, -391.64 (-1.58%)
NASDAQ: 7,396.59, -37.26 (-0.50%)
S&P 500: 2,689.86, -31.47 (-1.16%)
NYSE Composite: 12,442.69, -192.25 (-1.52%)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Long and Short of the Approaching Recession (Depression)

For those out there reading this short missive, a warning that time and space are constraints upon the lives we live, the bread we bake, the food we eat, the products we produce, the jobs that sustain us and the government that pretends to cater to us.

Time and space - according to most adherents of pure physics - are not constraints upon thinking, thought, creativity and imagination.

Indulgence should be given more, in these days of financial peril and social inequality, to solutions derived in the mind, translated to the body by practicality and functionality.

In both the long and short discussions of current finance, there can be little doubt that the system of capitalism by which the developed world has grown and prospered is under severe strain and the solutions offered by the central bankers and government entities who pretend to know how it all works are nothing more than stop-gap measures intended solely to prevent, or at least, delay, a complete collapse of a fragile, human-made system.

Economics, being mostly theoretical, and therefore, unbound, unfortunately needs to operate in a closed, bound, system, restrained by those old devils of time and space. As has been frequently mentioned in higher-level economic discussions, "infinite growth is unsustainable in a finite world."

With that in mind, this weekend edition of Money Daily offers but a brief insight into the unraveling of the world order of finance already well underway.

On the whole, Friday was a washout to a week in which the major indices - with the notable exception of the NASDAQ - vacillated around the unchanged line. In the current nomenclature, stock indices - wherein the vast bulk of trading is performed by computer algorithms and central banks - are a control mechanism. So long as they are stable or going higher, the general population feels comforted and won't look around for cracks in the not-so-golden facade of global finance. As such, this week was very much like the previous six, or eight, or eighty. It was, in general terms, a big nothing-burger.

But, what does the outsize gain on the NASDAQ tell us, when the other indices were going exactly nowhere fast?

It says that the NASDAQ is where the speculation exists, where all the funny money or phony money is going to seek yield, mostly in tech-land, but also in energy stocks and in short-squeezes on the most-shorted list. It's how the game is being played at the top. If shorts are numerous on a particular equity, that where the money flow will be most pronounced, on the long side. Boom! Instant profits and a great weekend in the Hamptons awaits.

For the rest of us, we are placated with the rest of the market going sideways. At least - we comfort ourselves in saying - it didn't go down, much.

An expanded view looks at a couple of issues. Oil took another beating this week as the glut continues, though this fact is not to be promulgated to the general population. We are led to believe that oil is scarce and the price of gas with which to fill our cars should remain at elevated levels.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A variety of factors, including, but not limited to, better fuel consumption, an aging population, alternative energy sources, stagnant or slowing employment, and a more stay-at-home, economically-depressed middle America, is leading to the reality of oversupply meeting slack or declining demand. Oil will continue to fall until it becomes apparent that the big energy companies are squeezing every last nickel and dime out of consumers in the form of stubbornly high gas prices. At some point, the price of gasoline will merit a meeting with reality and then, gas will average, nationally, under $2.00 a gallon, notwithstanding the absurdly-high state and federal taxes on each and every gallon pumped. It's coming. It cannot be denied.

Overseas, the demise of two Italian banks on Friday was, typically, underreported. Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca, with combined assets of roughly 60 billion euros, were green-lighted by the ECB on Friday for liquidation. In other words, these banks are belly-up, bankrupt, kaput!

The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg, the AP, all reported the story. The mainstream media, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, et. al., i.e, the fake news propagandists, did not.

There you have it. The general public will not be told the truth about the fraility of the banking system for fears people would recall the horrors of the GFC of 2008-09.

Two Italian banks failing may not make the radar of disinterest parties such as the 98% of Americans who don't pay attention to nor understand economics or finance. Neither did the closure of two Bear Stearns funds back in the Spring of 2008. You are now forewarned and forearmed, with knowledge.

The world'd financial system is unwinding and the pace is quickening. Disruptions are already apparent in the forms of capital controls - mostly overseas, but heading to US shores soon - supply chain disorder, falling tax receipts, social unrest, and, most importantly and glaringly obvious, income disparity.

Stay informed, not from the mainstream sources, but from outside. The internet is s treasure trove of information that you're not supposed to know about. It will help you form opinions and strategies by which you can deal with the coming hard times.

Your thoughts and ideas have no limits. Time and space cannot prevent you from thinking, strategizing and planning for your won welfare.

At the Close, 6/23/17:
Dow: 21,394.76, -2.53 (-0.01%)
NASDAQ: 6,265.25, +28.56 (0.46%)
S&P 500: 2,438.30, +3.80 (0.16%)
NYSE Composite: 11,733.20, +20.68 (0.18%)

For the Week:
Dow: +10.48 (0.05%)
NASDAQ: +113.49 (1.84%)
S&P 500: +5.15 (0.21%)
NYSE Composite: -38.83 (-0.33%)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Coincidence Or Conspiracy? The Art Cashin - Fearless Rick Echo Chamber

Not one to expectantly toot one's own horn, Money Daily continues to display some market sense, the latest iteration being the confluence of the weekly market recap post from Sunday, February 26, Dow At Record Highs 11 Staight Sessions; Eye On PPT, Central Bank Intervention dovetailing with legendary floor trader Art Cashin's commentary at King World News the same day.

In the nearly 15-minute audio, Cashin, Director of Floor Operations for UBS, touched (near the end of the broadcast) on the very same subject matter as Money Daily, namely, central bank intervention in markets.

Like Fearless Editor and Publisher, Rick Gagliano, Cashin - undeniably a more expert analyst than our own - sees intervention as unsettling to markets, comparing the intrusion to a rigged poker game, and sees danger in such action. As is the usual case, Mr. Cashin plows some new ground as well, coining the phrase "intellectual civil war" in describing the conditions in Northern vs. Southern Italy and touching upon other established, mostly European nations.

In defense of his moderate style, Cashin opines that his success has been largely based upon, quoting him,
...because the first thing I do when I enter a room is look for the exit signs.

Good stuff, indeed, and well worth a listen.

Keeping in mind central bank intervention, i.e., buying at all-time highs, the Dow made a new record close for the 12th straight session, that, in itself, should be cause for alarm... the one that never goes off at market tops (Old Wall Street saying: "they never ring the bell at the top").

The Dow has never closed higher for 13 straight sessions, the most recent run tying the mark set in January 1987, which, as market observers know well, was the precursor of one of the most devastating crashes in market history.

At the Close, 2.27.17:
Dow: 20,837.44, +15.68 (0.08%)
NASDAQ: 5,861.90, +16.59 (0.28%)
S&P 500: 2,369.75, +2.41 (0.10%)
NYSE Composite: 11,558.35, +17.06 (0.15%)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Markets Becoming More Volatile By The Day; Italian Banks, British Real Estate Hit Hard

It's getting a little scary out there in finance-land.

Following the epic exercise in individual democracy in Great Britain, the world's elitist bankers and political forces have been scampering from one impaired asset class to another, the latest and most prominent being Italian banks and British Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

Since Monday, three separate REITs in Britain have shut down redemptions in the wake of panicked outflows since the Brexit vote.
On Tuesday, Standard Life and Aviva both halted redemptions in their U.K.-focused property funds, which are pooled investments that hold real estate, similar to a REIT. Later in the day, M&G Investments joined them.

As for the Italian banking sector (recall that Mario Draghi, current head of the ECB, mismanaged most of Italy's financial escapades a decade ago), FUGGEDABOUTIT!

Just today, short-selling was banned in shares of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy's third-largest bank. Other banks in Italy are in crisis mode, with a huge amount of non-performing loans hanging over a weakening economic picture.

Here in the new world, stocks were slammed as investors suddenly noticed that the major indices were once again closing in on all-time highs. Realizing that the fundamentals didn't support such extreme valuations, it was risk off all day, with the three biggies spending the entire session in the red.

Silver continued its impressive run, closing at 19.91 in New York (where the manipulation occurs, though lately isn't working), but gunning up as trading opened in the Far East.

Here are the results, suckers:
S&P 500: 2,088.55, -14.40 (0.68%)
Dow: 17,840.62, -108.75 (0.61%)
NASDAQ: 4,822.90, -39.67 (0.82%)

Crude Oil 46.65 +0.11% Gold 1,364.10 +0.40% EUR/USD 1.1061 -0.05% 10-Yr Bond 1.37 -6.11% Corn 356.75 -0.35% Copper 2.18 -0.21% Silver 20.28 +1.87% Natural Gas 2.78 +0.43% Russell 2000 1,139.45 -1.50% VIX 15.58 +5.48% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.2961 -0.45% USD/JPY 101.1910 -0.51%

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, by the way, the NSA is FOS.

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hard Times for America and the World; Harder Choices for Americans

Today, we stand at an important crossroad of history.

The United States is about to make one of the greatest strategic blunders of all time, even after lessons should have been learned from military misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq.

With support from congressmen and congresswomen from both sides of the aisle, the current administration is preparing to plunge the United States into another Middle East military conflict, centered on the civil war - that is none of our business and serves no national interest - in Syria.

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.
-- Ernest Hemingway

Recently-appointed Secretary of State, John Kerry, kicked off the relentless banging of war drums late Monday afternoon, with a press conference, highlighting America's "undeniable" evidence that the regime of Bashir Assad had used chemical warfare against its own citizens last week.

Kerry, one of the richest politicians in the world thanks to his marriage to Heinz heiress, Teresa Heinz in 1995, spoke of "additional intelligence" which would indicate that Assad was behind the chemical attack that killed hundreds in a Damascus suburb. Estimates had ranged to over 1000, but recent estimates fall between 150 and 355, which is the number of deaths quoted by Doctors without Borders.

Kerry said that this additional evidence would be released in coming days. In the meantime, the US has expressed concern that UN inspectors have not been given unfettered access to the attack site, which is contrary to published reports that the Assad government is complying with UN requests.

Additionally, Kerry made a comment, supposedly directed at Russia, but ostensibly aimed at anyone who believes the chemical attack was a "false flag" engineered by CIA or other undercover agents under direction from the United States, in order to heat up the situation and foment conditions for war in Syria.

Kerry said, "Anyone who can claim that an attack of this staggering scale can be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass." However, Assad has repeatedly and steadfastly denied that his government was behind the attack. Besides, Assad has been seen as winning the civil war against home-grown rebels and outside agitators from the Muslim Brotherhood and groups associated with Al Queda, so there was no direct benefit for the use of chemical warfare, especially since President Obama said months ago that such use would "cross a red line."

In Kerry's "moral compass" statement, in response to words from the Kremlin that the situation mirrored that in Iraq, centered around non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that led the US into war 10 years ago, lies the seed of disingenuousness.

In more genteel times, such as prior to 2001, such comments would not even be given an airing, but, since 9/11, and even before, the scenario has been set. Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, knows exactly which button to push in order to riase the ire of the US, and he is pushing them. As far as "strong evidence suggesting" (a term Kerry, and compatriots like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell like to use) is concerned, there's a recurring pattern emerging out of Washington DC, starting with the Gulf of Tonkin incident which plunged us into the Vietnam War, to the events of 9/11/2001, around which skeptics still abound, to the Iraq invasion based upon what is now called "flawed intelligence," to the present condition in Syria.

It seems like every time the economy is in trouble (read on, there's more of that to come) or the US needs to exploit the resources of a weaker nation (Egypt and Libya come immediately and recently to mind), there's some "event" that brings out the president, the Secretary of State, various members of congress, especially war-mongers John McCain and Lindsay Graham rattling the sabers like medieval warlords.

The US is once again on the same path, with the media lapping it up and spitting it out to the trusting American public. These are truly the hardest of times, and the hardest of decisions face the American public just ahead. Will they continue to support these elected leaders who act more like psychopathic killers than men and women of judgement and compassion, or will Americans stand up and resist, though protests in the recent past have gone for naught because the media has been purchased in whole by the banking-political cartel and will not give protests their proper airing.

It is inconceivable in this day and age of an open internet and mass communications that governments be allowed to run roughshod over a country's constitution and its people, but that is precisely the path America is upon, and there seems to be little to apprehend the runaway war machine.

As for the market reaction to the beating war drums - or, maybe more precisely, the market condition aside from them - stocks have taken a severe beating over the first two sessions of the final week of August, with the NASDAQ in freefall, taking its biggest loss of the year on Tuesday, while the Dow, NYSE Composite and S&P 500 continue to plunge well below their 50-day moving averages. Meanwhile, the WTI oil price has spiked to six-month highs, gold and silver have returned to their traditional status as safe havens and are experiencing a bull market, and the recent rise in interest rates has been temporarily reversed.

While it may be easy to blame "war tensions" for the recent price declines, there's much, much more to the story, including whether or not the Federal Reserve will cut back its bond buying program (tapering) in September, the upcoming budget and debt ceiling debates - also in September and October - a potential collapse of the Italian government, a slowdown in housing, continuing high unemployment and the effects of Obamacare on the entire labor and health care complex.

Indications are already in place that the markets are taking a severe turn, possibly signaling an end to the 54-month-long bull run since March 2009. The Dow has lost nearly 900 points this month alone, ending in the red 13 of its last 17 sessions. The advance-decline line continues to deteriorate, today reaching a level of more than 4:1 losers to winners, and new lows slammed new highs yet again, a continuing, troublesome trend.

Weeks and months ahead could well become a turning point for the country, though there's a strong sentiment that the federal government, deeply in bed with the Wall Street bankers and global elite will continue a glide path to insolvency, decimating the middle class from both sides, by the rapacious practices of the upper class ("one percenters") while keeping the dregs of society quelled with bread and circuses (food stamps and football).

America has reached a greater incline on the slippery slope to serfdom and tyranny. This is a dangerous time, and each American must examine his or her conscience and decide which course of action is best for themselves and their families. These will not be easy decisions, but momentous even in singularity. America is being ripped apart by the powers at the top and there may be no reasonable means of stopping the carnage already underway.

Unfolding events in Syria and the wider Middle East, along with the operational side of the federal government may present the nation with veritable breaking points and an irreversible trajectory.

Dow 14,776.13, -170.33 (1.14%)
NASDAQ 3,578.52, -79.05 (2.16%)
S&P 500 1,630.48, -26.30 (1.59%)
NYSE Composite 9,288.11, -144.40 (1.53%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,570,917,625
NYSE Volume 3,629,879,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1236-5415
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 43-106
WTI crude oil: 109.01, +3.09
Gold: 1,420.20, +27.10
Silver: 24.65, +0.641

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Terrific Turnaround Thursday Presages Friday's Key Jobs Report

Whipsawing the markets today in the US were a variety of cross-currents that send stocks screaming into the red in the morning and elevating to new heights in the afternoon.

Most important of all was probably the US$/Yen carry trade, in which the dollar, weakening over the past few days against the Yen took a very large hit just prior to the noon hour in New York, sending the pair below 97 (it had been as high as 105 recently), shaking investors and proponents of Abenomics, the massive stimulative package that has the imprimatur of Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

The Nikkei had closed modestly lower, keeping intact the downside move that has been in place the past few weeks, but the slide in the dollar was against more than just the Yen. The Euro was especially strong, after comments from ECB head Mario Draghi buoyed European markets. On the dollar dive, stocks also took it on the chin, with the Dow losing 117 points at the bottom of the day's trading range.

Also weighing on the markets were the week-long riots and demonstrations in Turkey, a key player in world markets and something of a hinge between the Middle East and the European Union. Turkey also borders Syria, as dangerous a place as there is in the world today, and tensions in Turkey could signal more widespread discontent of the citizenry from Ireland to Ethiopia, to say nothing of its value as a NATO ally and buffer against Russia, with whom we are still at war in a protracted, proxy kind of way.

Earlier in the morning, figures on initial and continuing unemployment were released, and though they were moderately improved, investors were looking past them, toward tomorrow's non-farms payroll release by the BLS.

That number is supposed to come in at around 165,000 new jobs created in the month of May, and speculators are placing bets on both sides of the coin. If the number comes in below 140,000, it will be viewed as a weak labor market, meaning that the Federal Reserve cannot - or at least should not - begin tapering its massive bond purchases. Any number over 190,000 would register as a strengthening of the employment market, meaning that the Fed could begin considering tapering as soon as their June meeting in less than two weeks (June 18-19).

Thus, a stronger US economy (unlikely) would be bad for stocks, and a weak employment picture would be good. Such is the strained logic permeating Wall Street in these strange days.

From top to bottom, the range on the Dow was nearly 200 points, but even with the rise - set off when the S&P and Dow Industrials almost simultaneously pierced their respective 50-day moving averages - the rally (or was is just a dead cat bounce) failed to erase half the losses from Wednesday's melt-down.

Sentiment appears to be changing slightly, however, as more and more speculators become aware of the inept nature of the Fed and central banks everywhere, unable to stem the tide of deflation and a sluggish global economy.

Tomorrow's jobs reports may be important to some, though it is more than likely to be a non-event, with a wide berth given to gauge the response of the Federal Reserve. Besides, it's going into a weekend and none of those Wall Street hotshots want to head to the Hamptons in a bad mood.

Of course, there's more at stake than just jobs and the economy and whether stocks should be the primary asset in one's portfolio. Bonds, buffeted about by the changing paradigm of currency devaluation and rapidly escalating trade wars have firmed up somewhat, with the ten-year closing just above a two percent yield.

On Tuesday, the EU imposed stiff tariffs on Chinese solar panels, and yesterday, the Chinese retaliated by suggesting levies on imports of French, Italian and Spanish wines, hitting the Europeans where it hurts.

With the late-day rally, the advance-decline line was positive and new lows - new highs were nearly even. Much of today's rally was likely built off of short-covering, as shorts remain gun-shy, stung by the continued beatings they've taken over the past four years, though that condition appears prime to undergo some significant change.

The wheels are beginning to come off, as Fed policies are being seen as largely ineffective and a massive waste of money, while world events should continue to heat up in coming weeks and months. Volatility could not be subdued forever and the risk that the bull market is over continues a distinct possibility.

Volume in equities was strong. Gold and silver had solid showings, especially gold, which breached the key $1400 mark to the upside.

Dow 15,040.62, +80.03 (0.53%)
NASDAQ 3,424.05, +22.58 (0.66%)
S&P 500 1,622.56, +13.66 (0.85%)
NYSE Compos... 9,260.47, +82.05 (0.89%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,732,547,125
NYSE Volume 4,008,892,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4676-1833
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 89=87
WTI crude oil: 94.76, +1.02
Gold: 1,415.80, +17.30
Silver: 22.71, +0.235

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Valentine's Day Mascara

No, that's not a misprint in the headline. The word is "mascara" - the stuff women apply to darken, thicken, lengthen, and/or define their eyelashes. It's a cosmetic, as in rouge, or lipstick, as in lipstick on a pig, which is exactly what the algos and buy-siders did to today's undeniably weak, directionless market.

Face it, Europe is a bona-fide basket case, Japan is devaluing its currency so fast that George Soros made nearly a billion dollars on the trade in just over three months.

The news coming out of Euro-fantasy-land was less than encouraging. Eurozone fourth quarter 2012 GDP fell by 0.6%.

Making matters a little more interesting - and more frightening - were the figures for the zone's three largest economies - Germany, France and Italy - whose own GDP fell by 0.6%, 0.3% and 0.9%, respectively.

The Eurozone, even after all the bank and sovereign bailouts, pledges of doing everything possible to promote growth by the likes of Germany's Angela Merkel and EU President Mario Draghi, has resulted in three consecutive quarters of negative GDP. Europe is already in the throes of an economic collapse, thanks largely to protectionism for banks and excessive liquidity from European central bankers (most of whom are Goldman Sachs alum, BTW).

While the GDP numbers may be bad enough, consider youth unemployment (ages 15-25) in the Eurozone to be spreading like the bubonic plague. Greece reported youth unemployment over 60%; Spain over 50% and Portugal just topped 40%. Thirteen of the 27 EU member states are reporting youth unemployment over 25%. Austerity: it's what's for dinner.

Europe is solid proof that the elite class is making up the rules as they go along, and the general public is viewed as collateral damage only. Here in the good old USA, we have our own concerns with the sequestration schedule to commence March 1, which will result in massive federal budget cuts. The president and congress haven't even begun to discuss how they'll handle that, though they uniformly say that sequestration (it doesn't rhyme with castration for no reason) is something they'd prefer to avoid.

Have they acted? No. Will they? Probably, but, like the fiscal cliff deal this past December, it will be a stop-gap measure and cost taxpayers more. Nobody ever cuts anything in Washington, only the rate of growth of programs, because what's important to them is keeping lobbyists and voters (government employees and beneficiaries of government largesse) dumb and happy.

So, on what does this algo-concocted market focus? Berkshire Hathaway's buyout of Heinz. Poor suckers that Americans are, they put ketchup on their chicken and pork hot dogs on day old buns while Uncle Warren reaps the profits. If ever there was a crony capitalist, Warren Buffet's picture belongs next to the definition.

Sure, unemployment claims were down - from 368K to 341K - but aren't those figures still too high? The new normal means just doing better than expectations, even if those expectations are sub-par. It's akin to taking your kid out for ice cream because he got a C in math instead of a D. As a nation, we've lowered our standards in everything from our political leaders to what passes for entertainment.

Along with everything else, we've lowered our standards for rational markets. Today's split decision is just another shining example of the truth hiding in plain sight. Sooner or later, even the talking heads on CNBC are going to come to the realization that making new all-time highs with a -0.1% GDP and unemployment at eight percent doesn't really pass the smell test. Someday. Maybe. Note the video below with Rick Santelli, everyone's favorite financial ranter, extrapolating out on what we've been saying nearly every day on this blog: that being a trader is nearly impossible under current conditions.

And, just as a side note, New York Mayor Bloomberg, who first banned drink containers larger than 16 ounces, has proposed a ban on styrofoam containers, and... it's likely to pass his rubber stamp city council.

Let's see, smokes are $10-12 a pack in NY, you can't smoke in any of the bars, night clubs or public buildings; you must drink from small containers and those soon cannot be made of styrofoam. All this makes one pine for the good old days of the seventies. Ed Koch was mayor. Son of Sam was shooting kids in parking lots. Reggie Jackson was blasting balls out of the original Yankee Stadium and you could buy just about any kind of drug - from weed to cocaine - on just about any street corner. Bloomberg. He's just not a fun guy.

Dow 13,973.39, -9.52 (0.07%)
NASDAQ 3,198.66, +1.78 (0.06%)
S&P 500 1,521.38, +1.05 (0.07%)
NYSE Composite 8,951.33, -4.27 (0.05%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,884,832,750
NYSE Volume 3,867,864,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3259-3130
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 505-39
WTI crude oil: 97.31, +0.30
Gold: 1,635.50, -9.60
Silver: 30.35, -0.516