Showing posts with label Kim Jong-un. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kim Jong-un. Show all posts

Monday, June 11, 2018

Dow Soars Past Rivals; Upcoming: Trump Talks, Fed Rate Decision (Weekend Wrap & Monday Briefing)

Ripping past rival indices, the Dow Jones Industrial Average scored its biggest point increase since January, adding 681 points while boosting its June increase to 900 points, also the best monthly gain since January.

Whether the bullish sentiment will prevail through the remaining 15 trading days of June may be addressed in the week ahead, one which will witness President Trump's negotiating skills at work when he meets with North Korea's Kim Jong-un in Singapore, an epic event that looks to end nearly seven decades of armed confrontation on the Korean peninsula.

Since taking the oath of office in January, 2016, Trump has made North Korea a significant priority, alternating between insulting tweets (calling Jong-un "Little Rocket Boy," for instance), displays of military force, and back-room preliminary negotiations through surrogates from China, Japan, South Korea and US diplomats.

Official negotiations begin Tuesday, 9:00 am Singapore time, which translates nicely to 9:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time, assuring that late-night political junkies will have their plates full for the better part of the week.

Also on the agenda for the upcoming week is the Tuesday-Wednesday FOMC policy rate meeting, in which the Federal Reserve will likely hike the federal funds rate another 25 basis points, an action which is likely to have great impact on stocks as well as bonds. After hiking rates earlier this year, Fed officials have gone to great lengths to keep their rate increase policy in front of investors and the general public, with various officials parroting the themes that the economy is strong and that now is the right time to increase lending rates.

As opposed to normal Fed operations being somewhat behind the curve, the current roster seeks to appear out in front of the economic realities, though critics maintain that all the Fed is doing is preparing for a looming recession, arming themselves with enough interest rate ammunition to staunch an eventual downturn.

If the Fed does as expected it will hike rates from 0.00 to 0.25 to 1.75% to 2%. This will be the second rate hike this year and the seventh move since the start of the tightening cycle which began in December 2015.

While the small increases have been well-spaced, it's assumed that the Fed will continue to increase rates every three months, meaning that they will hike again in September and once more in December.

The trouble with such an optimistic outlook is that an increase in their base rate to 2.25-2.50 by year-end would put increased pressure on the stock market, as treasury yields would likely rise to levels above and beyond those of many dividend-paying stocks, without the associated risk.

Another anticipated action this coming week is the response from G7 members following their weekend meeting in which President Trump insulted the leaders of other nations in person and via Twitter. Trump's claim that G7 countries like France, Canada, Germany, and Italy have long been taking advantage of the US via unfair trade practices. The US president has been slapping tariffs on friends and foes alike and the backlash in tit-for-tat tariffs has already been forwarded by Canada, with the EU nations likely to impose their own retaliatory trade taxes on US goods.

While the trade wars have been building, the financial media has routinely blamed the tension for declines in the stock market. However, as trade talk went ballistic in the past week, stocks continued their ascent without interruption, proving once again that snap analysis of stock market moves are nothing other than pure fakery by an inept, disingenuous media elite. Trading decisions are largely not the result of current events, but rather, are outward-looking, with longer-term event horizons than a few days or weeks.

The effects of trade interruptions, tariffs and retaliation are unlikely to be felt in any meaningful way for many months, making the premature effusions of guilt by presidential association by the financial and mainstream press a rather large canard.

So, the first full week of trading in June went spectacularly for stocks, with the NASDAQ breaking to new all-time highs on Wednesday, before profit-taking took it back down on Thursday. Friday's 10-point gain on the NAZ left it roughly 50 points off the new closing high.

As for the benchmark Dow Industrials, they are cumulatively 1300 points behind the January record high of 26,616.71. There is a great deal of ground to be made up in any effort to convince investors that the bull market will continue, while those of the bearish camp point to the range-bound cycle of the past three months following the cascading February fall.

June may turn out to be a watershed month for stock pickers, as tech stocks have regained much of their luster while financials have languished. Due to the somewhat incestuous nature of Wall Street trading, all boats may rise or fall in coming days as the second quarter draws to a close and fed managers square their books in anticipation of second quarter reports.

While the prior week may have been a banner for bulls, the week ahead promises to be full of surprises, intrigue and potential pitfalls for investors.

Dow Jones Industrial Average June Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
6/1/18 24,635.21 +219.37 +219.37
6/4/18 24,813.69 +178.48 +397.85
6/5/18 24,799.98 -13.71 +384.14
6/6/18 25,146.39 +346.41 +730.55
6/7/18 25,241.41 +95.02 +825.57
6/8/18 25,316.53 +75.12 +900.69

At the Close, Friday, June 8, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,316.53, +75.12 (+0.30%)
NASDAQ: 7,645.51, +10.44 (+0.14%)
S&P 500: 2,779.03, +8.66 (+0.31%)
NYSE Composite: 12,832.07, +43.56 (+0.34%)

For the Week:
Dow: +681.22 (+2.77%)
NASDAQ: +91.18 (+1.21%)
S&P 500: +44.41 (1.62%)
NYSE Composite: +211.24 (+1.67%)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Stocks Bounce Back, Set To Continue Gains

After posting losses the first two trading days of March, stocks opened the new week with fresh gains, nearly erasing the red ink for the month. The Dow is still down more than 150 points for the month and much more than that from all-time highs (January 26 is looking smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror), but stocks are poised to push higher on Tuesday on good news from the Korean Peninsula.

Talks between the North and South are apparently proceeding well, with the North - according to published reports - willing to denuclearize if the US and its allies can ensure its safety. The thought of nuking North Korea, being more of a paranoid construct in the mind of leader, Kim Jong-un, than any substantive reality, should not be a major obstacle should talks continue apace.

If the North and South states do eventually settle their differences, it would amount to nothing less than a complete coup for President Trump and his negotiating team, which has talked alternatively tough and sensible to the North Koreans. Resolution of the 65-year-old standoff would seem to be positive for all parties, depending on the terms of any definitive pact.

A re-emergence of North Korea into the union of so-called civilized nations might also pave the way for other countries, such as Ukraine and Iran, to proceed with normalization of policies, taking a step back from the brink of war or annihilation, nuclear or otherwise.

Dow Jones Industrial Average March Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
3/1/18 24,608.98 -420.22 -420.22
3/2/18 24,538.06 -70.92 -491.14
3/5/18 24,874.76 +336.70 -154.44

At the Close, Monday, March 5, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,874.76, +336.70 (+1.37%)
NASDAQ: 7,330.70, +72.84 (+1.00%)
S&P 500: 2,720.94, +29.69 (+1.10%)
NYSE Composite: 12,680.73, +122.74 (+0.98%)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stocks Bounce, but Fail to Erase Previous Losses; Congressional Republicans in Shock

Stocks rebounded from Tuesday's drubbing, but not nearly enough to erase the damage done, a classic dead cat bounce.

News was heavy, most of it coming out of Washington, where President Donald Trump reportedly reached agreement with congressional democrats on not only a debt ceiling increase but funding for hurricane Harvey victims and at least the outline of a continuing resolution. The proposed legislative deal would fund the government through December 15, upsetting - only in Washington - Republicans, who hoped for a longer debate on all of the issues.

Obviously, Trump has determined that with friends like his fellow Republicans in congress, he doesn't need enemies, thus making compromises with Democrats. It's actually - for a fellow who's supposedly not a politician - pretty smart politics. Republicans, included Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell and House leader, Paul Ryan, were reportedly angered over the development.

Wall Street was immediately impressed, though stocks tailed off noticeably into the close.

Trump also tamped down recent bellicosity toward North Korea, hoping that China would do more to keep leader Kim Jong-un on a short leash.

Federal Reserve vice-chairman, Stanley Fischer announced that he would retire from his position on October 13, a surprise leaving open one of the most prestigious seats in Washington and a puzzler for Fed watchers. Fischer cited personal reasons for his decision, but speculation is that the departure has more to do with health than money, but suspect that Janet Yellen will be out at the culmination of her term in February.

Hurricane Irma continued to barrel towards Florida, the Fed's beige book revealed that members thought the economy was showing signs of improvement, though the continuing bemoaning over a lack of inflation was prominent.

While stocks improved modestly, the effect was greater on fixed income and precious metals. Gold and silver halted their recent advances and bond yields rose, with the 10-year note increasing to 2.11%

Overall, nothing was settled, except that Washington might actually avoid the drama that usually surrounds debt ceiling and budget debates, which is actually quite a positive development.

Trump making deals? Who knew?

At the Close, 9/6/17:
Dow: 21,807.64, +54.33 (+0.25%)
NASDAQ: 6,393.31, +17.74 (+0.28%)
S&P 500: 2,465.54, +7.69 (+0.31%)
NYSE Composite: 11,872.92, +45.77 (+0.39%)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

War Talk Fading, Markets Rallying

As the sun breaks above the horizon in the Eastern US, it's becoming readily apparent that the recent war of words and threats between North Korea's Kim Jong-un and US President Trump were nothing more than well-orchestrated (either intended by the principals or promoted by the deep state) banter designed to allow release of a pressure point in the markets.

In other words, stocks were completely overpriced and the rally exhausted, so a selling excuse was necessary.

Nothing like the threat of a thermo-nuclear holocaust to clear the books.

With the main protagonists backing off their bellicose behavior, stocks rallied sharply on Monday and are prepared for another moon shot Tuesday.

Just in case one is unconvinced of the machinations of the deep state and international financiers, be reminded that markets worldwide - and not just equities - have been under the various thumbs of central bankers since the GFC of 2008-09.

As has been pointed out here more than a few times, nothing is as it seems. While the appearance of a roaring stock market is a great image to project, in all likelihood, that's all it is, an image. Thus, just about everything related to the mirage of a booming economy must be held in contempt as false.

Piling falsehood upon falsehood is not a great practice in the long run. It produces a massive complex of overlapping lies, or, as Sir Walter Scott wrote in the 19th century poem, Marmion :
Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we practice to deceive.
There is truth in life and in nature.

Nowhere in finance nor politics is more than a shred of honesty to be observed or heard.

The choices are simple: play along, play outside, or be played, but beware that there are no moral underpinnings in money or politics. That's been true for longer than anyone can remember.

Sadly, it remains the same today.

At the Close, 8/14/17:
Dow: 21,993.71, +135.39 (0.62%)
NASDAQ: 6,340.23, +83.68 (1.34%)
S&P 500: 2,465.84 +24.52 (1.00%)
NYSE Composite: 11,856.06, +92.85 (0.79%)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Much Ado About Nothing As War Rhetoric Fades

Could anything less have been expected?

Since we have fake news, fake boobs, fake money, fake legislators making fake laws, and fake outrage, why not have a fake war?

North Korea's Kim Jong-un recent bombast directed at the United States was remarkable only in the way world markets reacted to it. The tin-horn, third world dictator has been test-firing missiles and boasting about bringing Western civilization to its knees for months, but only this week did his war-mongering behavior result in stock market losses, which, in the grand scheme of things, were minor.

While vacationing President Donald Trump made headlines with his responses, the markets did an abrupt about-face midweek, ending a streak of ten straight positive closes on the Dow Tuesday with a small skid to the red, followed Wednesday by a more broad decline and Thursday with a cascading sell-off, which sent the major indices down the most in three months or longer.

The Dow didn't suffer much damage, though it was the worst week in the past 12, but the narrow, 30-stock Dow Industrials are still up almost 10% on the year. Where the impact was greatest was on the broader measures, specifically, the NYSE Composite, which fell nearly two percent. By comparison, the Dow was off just more than one percent for the week.

With the finger-pointing and threatening behavior by various world leaders dropping off to background noise as the weekend approached, stocks in the US rebounded slightly, as expected, since few astute geo-political minds actually believe we're anywhere closer to war with North Korea than we have been for the past sixty years.

Thus, it is likely to be back to business as usual for the markets on Monday, though one side effect during the recent tantrum has been the rise of gold and silver as safety bets and the fall of the price of oil, as the global glut continues. Gold reached its highest point since June, closing out the week about ten dollars below $1300. Silver managed to stay above $17 for the first time in two months, but crude oil ended below $49 per barrel, a price seen by many as still too high considering the global oversupply.

At the Close, 8/11/17:
Dow: 21,858.32, +14.31 (0.07%)
NASDAQ: 6,256.56, +39.68 (0.64%)
S&P 500: 2,441.32, +3.11 (0.13%)
NYSE Composite: 11,763.21, -8.39 (-0.07%)

For the Week:
Dow: -234.49 (-1.06%)
NASDAQ: -95.01 (-1.50%)
S&P 500: -35.51 (-1.43%)
NYSE Composite: -221.68 (-1.85%)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Stocks Extend Slide Amid Noth Korea, US Bombast, But It's Not Serious

Just in case there needs to be an excuse to sell overpriced stocks, there's always North Korea and the nit-wit leader Kim Jong-un.

A bone fide nutjob, the second child of Kim Jong-il, 33-year-old Jong-un has, in his brief stint as self-appointed supreme leader of North Korea, managed to elevate himself and his gulag of a nation onto the global stage and capture the spotlight with various treats, missile launches, nuclear ambitions and plenty of help from international media seeking sensationalism with which to scare an unsuspecting public.

With bombastic President Trump entering the fray earlier this year, Jong-un has found the perfect Dean Martin straight man for his Jerry Lewis-like antics. A master of the tweet-storm, Trump takes Jong-un seriously, which helps amp up the rhetoric with bold statements and unveiled threats in response to Jong-un's madness. The two could make a fortune on the stages of Las Vegas, if only the State Department would allow Jong-un entry to the US mainland.

What the international war of words has to do with stocks is roughly nothing. Until actual bombs start raining down, the prattling between the leaders of the United States and North Korea is more about television and radio ratings than the prices of Apple, Alphabet, or Alcoa.

However, as stated at the top of this missive, Wall Street specialists are taking the opportunity to dump out of high-flying stocks with near-reckless abandon, sending the major indices to their biggest losses in six months on Thursday, extending the minor losses from Wednesday into something worth noticing.

The selling has also not been limited to just US stocks. As the talk has become more bellicose, the drops on major foreign markets in Europe, Asia, and the Americas have been extended. As of Friday morning in the US, most of Asia and Europe are suffering losses of between one and two percent, though the Nikkei 225 is bucking the trend, down only slightly, nearly flat on the day.

That brings up an interesting topic: if Japan's major market isn't taking this "international nuclear stand-off" with the requisite seriousness, should anybody else?

Probably not, but, this is as good a time as any to take profits. The congress and the president are pretty much on vacation until after Labor Day, but, when they get back to pretending they're doing something constructive, they'll be tackling the ticklish issues of the debt ceiling (along with the attendant threats of shutting down the government - yeah!) and coming up with something resembling a federal budget.

On the latter, hashing out a budget between the Trump administration and the overwhelmingly free-spending congress ought to be some serious comedy. Trump would love to balance the federal budget, but congress intends to drown the nation in even more debt. In case anybody is still keeping score, the federal debt burden stands at close to $20 billion, but, according to the US Debt Clock, it's been stuck there for a few months due to extraordinary measures taken by Treasury and some unforeseen savings on the administration's end.

The congress is not happy about this and will make sure to pile up more debt in the months ahead, making the budget process the go-to, must see entertainment venue for the fall TV season.

So, unless the bottom falls out of the market on Friday, August 11, this is nothing more than profit-taking by people who actually know what they're doing and don't respond in knee-jerk fashion to the pronouncements of madmen and the tweets of presidents.

Meantime, the recent news frame has been good for bonds, gold and silver, all of which have had three straight sessions of unimpeded gains. Gold is approaching $1300 an ounce, the 10-year note is yielding 2.21% and silver broke through $17 per ounce on Thursday. What is not working, still, is oil, which appears unable to pierce the $50/barrel level, which shouldn't be an issue. There remains a massive glut, oversupply, slack demand due to slow economic growth globally and no pricing power anywhere from Riyadh to Russia. Oil should be less than $40 per barrel, though resistance is great, led by the global energy cartel with the help from central bankers who simply cannot stomach any more deflation in anything.

With that, stocks in the US are setting up for another scary open to the downside, but it's probably nothing more than a bump in the road. The real action is still a month away, and even then, the Fed has Wall Street's back. Unless something really serious occurs, there's likely not to be any major turn in the stock markets, though the same cannot be assumed about commodities, bonds, precious metals, or even crypto-currencies like Bitcoin.

At the Close, 8/10/17:
Dow: 21,844.01, -204.69 (-0.93%)
NASDAQ: 6,216.87, -135.46 (-2.13%)
S&P 500: 2,438.21, -35.81 (-1.45%)
NYSE Composite: 11,771.60, -157.87 (-1.32%)