Showing posts with label New Jersey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Jersey. Show all posts

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Caution Thrown To (Bitter Cold) Wind, As Investors Ignore Tech and Weather Threats

Across the board gains were the order de jour on the second day of trading in the new year.

As on Tuesday, the NASDAQ outpaced the other major averages, continuing its meteoric rise beyond the 7,000 mark with tech stocks leading the way despite an admission from Intel (INTC) that their chips have a serious flaw, affecting nearly all chips made by the company over the past ten years.

The world's largest chipmaker was not immediately taken to the woodshed and whipped, though shares of the company were down more than three percent and are off another one-and-a-half percent in pre-market trading on Thursday.

Rival chipmaker, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), was the main beneficiary of the Intel news, its stock advancing more than five percent on the day, though it appeared that AMD chips are also vulnerable, though not to the same extent nor by the same exploits as Intel chips.

While the immediate impact may be slim, the long-term repercussions of this revelation may be significant. The world's major chip manufacturers may be facing a black swan event once hackers devise attacks that could legitimately effect computers and servers worldwide, for years.

Traders were not on the defensive, however, as the lure of early gains overwhelmed any concerns for troubles ahead, such as the massive snowstorm and bitter cold that is expected to affect most of the Northeast in days ahead. The storm - being called a Bomb Cyclone - is primarily focused off the Eastern coast of mainland North America, though New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts were making preparations for a major winter weather event which has already bettered Southern cities such as Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA.

The apparent complacency of equity speculators is somewhat confounding, given the potential for severe disruptions from weather and technology in coming days.

On the other end of the asset spectrum, precious metals responded to a slight rise in the dollar index, blunting a strong run for gold and silver over the past three weeks, though the selling seemed to be transitory, with the metals recovering early on Thursday morning as the dollar fell to fresh lows (91.933).

On Thursday morning, prior to the opening bell on Wall Street, ADP private payroll data for December showed a massive 250,000 job gain for the final month of 2017. While the AMD numbers are preliminary and subject to revision, they are sending a strong signal in advance of Friday's BLS non-farm payroll dataset for December.

With caution being thrown largely to the (bitterly cold) wind, Friday and/or Monday could be a day of "selling the news," or, as has been the case for the past nine years, the stock market rally will not be impeded by facts nor insinuations of negativity.

At the Close, Wednesday, January 3, 2018:
Dow: 24,922.68, +98.67 (+0.40%)
NASDAQ: 7,065.53, +58.63 (+0.84%)
S&P 500: 2,713.06, +17.25 (+0.64%)
NYSE Composite: 12,957.28, +54.55 (+0.42%)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Maine, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey Run Out of Time and Money

Stocks managed to end the week, and the month, without a complete and total collapse, with the Dow actually posting a substantial gain.

However, a Friday turned to Saturday and June to July, at least four states have failed to pass budgets, facing enormous deficits, the worst of the bunch being Illinois, currently with $15 billion in overdue payments backlogged.

In New Jersey and Maine, state governments went into shutdown mode, while Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy took over control of the state's spending after the legislature failed to pass a budget on time.p

In New Jersey, state parks and other public areas were closed on Saturday, sending a painful message to citizens of government overreach on a four-day Independence Day weekend supposedly celebrating freedom.

Illinois was dealt another crushing blow when US District Court Judge Joan Lefkow ruled that the state must begin making larger payments to Medicare providers that are owed billions of dollars.

These developments have been years in the making, from bloated statehouses, county, and city offices which overpay employees, offer golden medical and pension packages that the citizenry pays for in the form of higher taxes, and promotes schools that provide delicious salaries benefits for teachers while providing substandard education to forced-enrolled students.

Cops and firefighters collecting $100,000+ pensions are not unusual in any of these states, and the pensions and medical benefits of government employees overall have caused fiscal crises that could have - and should have - been handled years ago. None of this comes as a surprise, but the outcomes will be different from state to state. Some may plead to the federal government for a bailout of sorts, with the implied proviso that they will give up some of their sovereignty in the process.

Others may choose to raise taxes, implement austerity measures, but eventually, all of them will have to default on over-generous pension promises made to prior government employees. Many will also have to cut pay to current employees, which will prompt reactions from the public service unions, which should be outlawed under federal law, and eventually, if there is any sanity remaining in government at all, will be.

Enjoy what there is of your Independence Day weekend, but bear in mind, the United States of America has reached a turning point, a breaking point. States are reeling from decades of uncontrolled spending and liberal policies and the taxpayers are fleeing or simply giving up.

The policies of overspending which began in Washington, DC, and has trickled down to the states have bled the nation dry and hard choices are already at hand. Whether or not the politicians can muster the courage to make the needed changes - a dubious prospect at best - the American people must respond with vigor.

At the Close, 6/30/17:
Dow: 21,349.63, +62.60 (0.29%)
NASDAQ: 6,140.42, -3.93 (-0.06%)
S&P 500: 2,423.41, +3.71 (0.15%)
NYSE Composite: 11,761.70, +21.72 (0.18%)

Monday, May 2, 2016

All-Time Highs Likely Not Attainable, Nor Sustainable

Let's take a stroll down memory lane.

It's a short stroll, to just over a year ago, when the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ each made all-time highs.

The dates, and the levels are shown below:

S&P 500: 2134.28 (intra-day); 2130.82 (close), May 21, 2015 (both)
Dow Jones Industrials: 18,351.36 (intra-day); 18,312.39 (close), May 19, 2015 (both)
NASDAQ: 5164.36 (intra-day, June 24, 2015); 5160.09 (close, June 23, 2015)

For the first trading day of May, the forward move was largely based on nothing other than bad economic data (manufacturing output is at its lowest level since 2009), other than the "good" news that Atlantic City avoided defaulting on a $1.8 million bond obligation and possible bankruptcy.

When the Jersey shore city announced they were making good on their scheduled payment to creditors - right around noon - that was enough for the markets to get off the proverbial flat-line and go diagonal the rest of the session.

Stocks ended the day with solid gains, erasing nearly half the losses from the prior week, putting some skepticism to the time-worn "sell in May and go away" adage.

Anyone believing that the US averages are going to meet or exceed the all-time highs from one year ago are betting against the odds simply because the May through October time frame historically offers the lowest returns of any six-month period, based on data from 1928 to the present. [See chart at right]

Not only that, but the continued creep of deteriorating business conditions presages a continuation of the slow growth that's been typical for the past seven-plus years at best or a slide into outright recession, at worst. Recall that the first estimate of first quarter GDP was a disappointing 0.5%, which is pretty darn close to going backwards.

Thus, with the numbers above as targets, it is clear that the indices would have to move more than two percent between May and October - and sustain those levels - in order to attain and hold new all-time highs, an unlikely event.

For hard-core stock investors, this is a cold truth, one which promises to inflict a high degree of pain and loss for those who play against the odds.

Monday's Millings:
S&P 500: 2,081.43, +16.13 (0.78%)
Dow: 17,891.16, +117.52 (0.66%)
NASDAQ: 4,817.59, +42.24 (0.88%)

Crude Oil 44.77 -2.50% Gold 1,293.00 +0.19% EUR/USD 1.1533 +0.62% 10-Yr Bond 1.8650 +2.53% Corn 390.00 -0.45% Copper 2.26 -0.90% Silver 17.57 -1.40% Natural Gas 2.04 -6.57% Russell 2000 1,140.92 +0.89% VIX 14.68 -6.50% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4674 +0.56% USD/JPY 106.3950 +0.08%

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stocks Finish Flat to Lower; Alcoa, Sears Roil Markets After-Hours

2014 is not starting out the way 2013 ended. Stocks spent most of the day in the red, with only the S&P finishing with a fractional gain of 0.64 points.

Focus was on initial unemployment claims prior to the opening bell, as those seeking unemployment benefits fell 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 330,000, but the numbers failed to ignite any fire under stocks. Investors are still largely on the sidelines, awaiting Friday's non-farm payroll report for December from the BLS.

Stocks languished throughout the sluggish session, though after the close a number of important earnings reports generated a good deal of fear.

Alcoa (AA), traditionally the first company to report, said per share earnings for the fourth quarter were below estimates of .06 per share, coming in at .04 after extraordinary items, including $384 million to settle allegations that one of its units bribed members of Bahrain’s royal family and officials at a state-owned company to win business in 2004. The company, outside of arcane and often absurd bookkeeping rules, experienced a massive loss.

The net loss was $2.34 billion, or $2.19 a share, compared with net income of $242 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier, New York-based Alcoa said today in a statement. Profit excluding a settlement in a bribery case and other one-time items was 4 cents a share, trailing the 6-cent average of 16 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales declined to $5.59 billion from $5.9 billion.

Shares of the world's largest aluminum manufacturer were down nearly four percent in after-hours trading.

Sears Holdings (SHLD), operators of Sears and K-Mart stores, was equally disappointing, maybe moreso, when it reported same-store sales declines of 7.4% during the quarter ended January 6. Amid the depressing holiday season miss, the company projected losses of between $2.35 and $3.39 for the quarter ending Feb. 1.

Shares of Sears Holdings were down more then 14% after-hours.

If those economic stories weren't enough to turn one's stomach, New Jersey governor and leading 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Chris Chistie, proved today that he is not only an overbearing, obnoxious, obese bully, but a terrible liar and scapegoater, capable of throwing even his highest-ranking administrators under any fast-approaching bus, as well.

DOW 16,444.76, -17.98 (-0.11%)
NASDAQ 4,156.19, -9.42 (-0.23%)
S&P 1,838.13, +0.64 (+0.03%)
10-Yr Note 97.87, +0.57 (+0.59%) Yield: 2.96%
NASDAQ Volume 2.10 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.56 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2878-2807
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 415-42
WTI crude oil: 92.00. -0.33
Gold: 1,229.40, +3.90
Silver: 19.68, +0.144
Corn: 412.00, -5.00

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wall Street Taketh Away: Jobs, Sandy Aftermath Not Pretty

Remember the big ramp-up in stocks yesterday, based upon the new, revised-metholdology ADP October jobs data?


That is despite a big beat in the non-farm payroll data released prior to Friday's open. The BLS said that the US created 171,000 net new jobs in the month of October, and, initially, the stock jocks loved it, pushing futures higher and sending the Dow Jones Industrials up 57 points at the open.

Trouble was, however, that the positive jobs data had already been priced in, off of the ADP beat. So, sorry, Charlie, no profit for you if you're a dollar short and a day late, as is the case. By 10:00 am, the Dow was flat. It and the other indices crawled lower through out the day, with the losses accelerating in the final two hours of the session.

There were other factors to stocks - and commodities - giving back everything on the final day of trading for the week. Corporate reporting for the third quarter has been seminally sour. Today's miss was by Chevron (CVX), a Dow component, which saw third-quarter net income fall to $5.25 billion, or $2.69 per share, from $7.83 billion, or $3.92 per share, a year earlier.

Chevron earned $2.55 per share, compared with the analysts' average estimate of $2.83. Oops! Poor babies, their efforts to skin every last dollar from the pockets of US consumers weren't quite as good as last year. The price of oil is down and headed even lower today.

Somebody send a memo to the CEOs of the energy companies and other Fortune 500 CEOs: there's a global slowdown going on, mostly because you guys have overpriced everything from baby formula to burials, and people simply can't foot the bill any more.

Other than sliding corporate earnings (note: Most major corporations are still massively profitable, just not as profitable as last year, or, in some cases, last quarter, but some, like Sharp and Panasonic are close to bankruptcy, with more to follow), there's a litany of issues facing the global economy, like the fiscal cliff and mountains of debt and unfunded liabilities worldwide (no small matter), the continuing crisis in Europe (still unresolved and getting worse), the uncertainty of the presidential election in the US (hint: Obama's going to win easily, which is another reason Wall Street is unhappy), and this little inconvenient storm called Hurricane Sandy, which still has most of the New Jersey shoreline, Long Island, Staten Island and lower Manhattan still without power and people suffering in cold weather, without fuel, food, and gas lines extending for miles in Jersey and New York, not because there's no gas, but no electricity to power the pumps and stations, many of which remain closed.

Yep, things are not good overall, and, from the looks of things, they're not getting any better. The damages from Sandy will easily exceed those of Katrina. It doesnt take a genius to figure out that a massive storm which wreaked havoc on the most densely-populated area of the country is going to cost more than the laughable estimates of $20 billion that have been bandied about by so-called experts. Try $60 billion or more, maybe in excess of $100 billion, and that number is going to pt a serious dent in fourth quarter GDP.

The current wisdom being foisted upon the supposedly-knowledgeable investing community - that all the destruction from Hurricane Sandy will eventually be a net positive for the economy a la Frederic Bastiat's "broken window" parable - is complete media hogwash put forward by economist goon-whores like Moody's Mark Zandi, Mesirow's Diane Swonk and Deutsche Bank's Joe LaVorgna (yes, the Germans always like to have Italians do their dirty work), and are completely off base.

While NYC Mayor Bloomberg has been catching considerable flak - most of it well-deserved - for pushing ahead with the New York City Marathon this weekend, the long tail of Hurricane Sandy is likely to help push the US economy into recession in the fourth quarter of 2012 and beyond. Unlike Katrina, which concentrated its wrath upon New Orleans and the Southern shores, Sandy hit the highest income folks in the country, and that's not something that's going to be erased from the memory or the bottom line very easily. Just to make sure everybody's on the same page here, expect every fourth quarter profit miss to mention - at least in part - the effects of the hurricane on profits, whether real or imagined. Hurricanes and weather overall make for great scapegoats.

So, this week on Wall Street was more or less a wash. Two days closed, a flat day Wednesday, up Thursday and down Friday. The sharpie day-traders made a huge buck to be sure, but America and the global economy suffered terribly, NY marathon or not.

And, not to forget, Apple's iPad Mini was released for sale globally today. Lines were much shorter than for other Apple product launches, which goes to figure: you introduce a mini-tablet, you get mini-lines.

And, just to rub some salt into already open wounds, another storm is setting up to hit the Northeast next week.

Just what we all need.

Dow 13,093.16, -139.46 (1.05%)
NASDAQ 2,982.13, -37.93 (1.26%)
S&P 500 1,414.20, -13.39 (0.94%)
NYSE Composite 8,234.91, -76.45 (0.92%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,820,933,250
NYSE Volume 3,576,460,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1575-3880
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 211-87
WTI crude oil: 84.86, -2.23
Gold: 1,675.20, -40.30
Silver: 30.86, -1.391

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wall Street Reacts to the Devastation of Hurricane Sandy with Flat Session

It's morally repugnant that Wall Street would profit from the human suffering of others, though, in reality, it happens all the time. Stocks go up and down on the fortunes and foibles of people, many integral parts of larger corporations.

Thus, it was a time of joyous celebration for the professionals trading at the New York Stock Exchange that, for the first time in two days, equity markets were actually up and functioning. But, that euphoria, which resulted in a wholly predictable, end-of-month window dressing rally at the open, soon turned an eye toward the reality of the devastation and destruction left behind by hurricane Sandy.

Most of lower Manhattan is still without power, the NYSE operating off backup generators, and most of the areas contiguous to Wall Street for many miles to the North, South, East and West, are just beginning to evaluate the extent of the losses.

Most of the New Jersey coast is either underwater, under piles of sand or otherwise devastated; Long Island is a crushed, mangled mess as is Connecticut and most of the other New York boroughs.

Many in the area are still without power, which is slowly returning to some areas, but the losses sustained by people and companies is only now beginning to be felt. Restoration and reconstruction will take months and billions of dollars, the hit to the economy unmistakable, as Wall Street fully understands and began coming to grips with as stocks began to slide shortly after the initial burst leveled off at about 80 points to the good on the Dow.

The rapid turnaround was classic Wall Street hustle, as fund managers snapped up shares at the open to close their books for the month - some for the year - while the sharpies were already shorting the very same shares. There's profit to be made on the downside, and the environment is target rich and ripe for plucking by short-sellers, call sellers and put buyers.

By 10:30 all of the major indices were trading in negative territory, led by the NASDAQ, which itself was brought down by particularly vicious selling in Apple (AAPL), in the aftermath of the firing of two top executives by CEO Tim Cook. It's becoming apparent to everyone that the loss of Steve Jobs was not only a human tragedy, but nobody is there to replace his unique genius and business acumen.

In Europe, which remained open for business as usual over the past two days of Wall Street's shutdown, stocks were mostly down on Monday, up on Tuesday and rallying early Wednesday until finally giving up the ghost late in the sessions, the major indices - England's FTSE, Germany's DAX and France's CAC - all closing lower.

Just about 12:30 pm EDT, a reminder of just how tenuous the entire situation around New York was came from Knight Capital, when the firm, operating under backup power in Jersey City, was forced to shut down for the day, citing that their generators were failing.

Volumes were moderate, considering that many traders were without proper equipment, cell phone service spotty and some traders actually functioning from alternate locations, at home or at satellite offices, though, by the close, the volume ramped up, and the day was one of the better recent volume sessions.

Midday, stocks balanced just above the lows of the session, but buying was timid. As has been the usual mode of operation around Wall Street, traders generally ignored the world around them, sending the S&P and Dow back into positive territory in the final hour, as if nothing at all had occurred, but the move proved unsustainable.

As it has for the past four sessions running, the major indices finished mostly flat, which is patently absurd, as there are corporations taking serious losses from the storm. Reality may set in as time carries onward, but there's no telling how the detached traders in lower Manhattan will treat what will eventually turn out to be one of the costliest natural disasters of all time.

Perhaps the psychology of the control crowd is to not panic, despite evidence to the contrary as pertains to investments, but there is a price to be paid, though, as usual, the analysts will simply lower their expectations for all, and when those are exceeded, will celebrate the great success of what are more and more becoming hollowed-out shells of companies.

There will be days if not weeks of lost productivity, wages and competitiveness across six states: Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Smaller pockets of destruction have hit West Virginia (blizzard) and some New England states, such as Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, maine and Massachusetts.

Getting markets up and running is a fine accomplishment, but registering a slight decline is almost laughable, if the thought of it weren't so warped and disturbing.

Dow 13,096.46, -10.75 (0.08%)
NASDAQ 2,977.23, -10.72 (0.36%)
S&P 500 1,412.16, +0.22(0.02%)
NYSE Composite 8,221.40, +31.20(0.38%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,806,794,500
NYSE Volume 3,542,963,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3106-2429
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 198-124
WTI crude oil: 86.24, +0.56
Gold: 1,719.10, +7.00
Silver: 32.32, +0.50

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You Owe the Fed $312,606.56; Net is Still Neutral; NJ vs. BofA

As Wall Street slowly wends its way to a year end with a blow-off topping Santa Rally, a few news items - that you won't get on CNBC, promise - were worth noting.

First, the Federal Reserve bought another $9.5 billion in Treasuries today, bringing their total to over $1 Trillion, or, for those who like lots of zeroes, $1,000,341,000,000. The Fed passed China as the largest holder of US government debt a few weeks ago, and now has surpassed the magic $1 Trillion mark, making everybody in the country indebted to the Federal Reserve (well, if you believe we are the government and thus responsible for their debt) to the tune of $312,606.56, roughly speaking.

So, rube, pay up!

The second of the day's big issues was the proposed FCC rules on Net Neutrality, or how the government will allow the big media companies to slice up the internet. What the FCC board did was pass, by a 3-2 vote, new rules, which are essentially the same as the old rules, except that they didn't publish them (rumored to be 100 pages long) and they don't apply to wireless services (phones, iPads, etc.). So, really, what they did isn't really news at all, but might be some day, like when the FCC gets sued again because most people don't believe they have the authority to regulate the internet at all. Larry Downes' guest column on Cnet has most of the dirt.

Our third newsy item is really juicy, however. It appears that some judges in New Jersey's Supreme Court haven't taken kindly to being abused and hoodwinked by some of the nation's largest banks.

The court has ordered a halt to all foreclosure proceedings in the state and has given the largest lenders, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, GMAC, Wells-Fargo and OneWest, until the 19th of January, 2011, to “show cause why the processing of uncontested residential foreclosure matters they have filed should not be suspended.”

Apparently, the judges are not convinced that the robo-signing and other frauds perpetrated on the state's courts were mere technicalities and wants the full mea culpa from the banks along with admissions of guilt. This really puts the banks in a tough spot, because they have to honestly and steadfastly assert their positions, which are largely lies and falsehoods about their fatally-flawed foreclosure practices.

Should they fail to convince the justices, they'll face a very long uphill road to ever be heard without prejudice in New Jersey courts. This also opens up the possibility that hundreds of thousands of flawed - and already settled - foreclosures could be reopened if New Jersey's stand becomes a precedent, not only in the state, but across the country.

Get ready for round two of fraudclosure-gate, or whatever they're calling it these days. In a similar vein, the 50 state Attorneys General investigating the foreclosure practices of the biggest banks, have said nothing since rumor broke three weeks ago that they were nearing a settlement with the offending and offensive banks, thus making the current rumor that all deals are off the table, especially since the states of Nevada and Arizona have separately sued Bank of America and Iowa AG Tom Miller, who heads the 50 states' AG investigation, has, together with the US Attorneys office, formed the Iowa Mortgage Fraud Working Group.

The Working Group will "identify and investigate targets for criminal prosecution" and, on the federal level, "will utilize the investigative expertise of agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development--Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG). Other federal agencies that may participate in the working group include the Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Social Security Administration."

Ouch, double ouch and triple ouch! Of course, Julian Assange, the operator of WikiLeaks, also contends that he has information that could bring down executives from a major bank, widely assumed to be none other than Bank of America, which, from all appearances, may be in need of a bigger bandage. The bank is currently involved in no less than 35 major lawsuits, most stemming from their mortgage business.

The question then arises, why are people buying Bank of America (BAC) stock, or, the shares of any of the big banks embroiled in the mortgage business, like JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Wells-Fargo (WFC) or Citi (C)?

One would assume, with all of the aforementioned issues, that investors would shun these stocks, yet the reality is that they have been leading the December rally. Since November 30, Bank of America is up 15%; JP Morgan up more than 9% and Wells-Fargo and Citigroup are both up 13%. Either the investor class is being sold a phony bill of goods (wouldn't surprise anybody) or they know something most of the casual-viewing public don't.

They were all up better than two per cent today, leading a broad-based rally.

Dow 11,533.16, +55.03 (0.48%)
NASDAQ 2,667.61, +18.05 (0.68%)
S&P 500 1,254.60, +7.52 (0.60%)
NYSE Composite 7,906.10, +59.14 (0.75%)

Advancing issues trampled decliners, 4680-1871. NASDAQ new highs were 213, to 26 new lows. On the NYSE, new highs led new lows, 257-34. Of course, all of this movement was on dismally-low volume levels.

NASDAQ Volume 1,680,521,625.00
NYSE Volume 3,925,677,000

Oil pushed higher by 45 cents, reaching $89.82. Gold was held in check, losing 30 cents, to $1385.50, while silver posted a two-cent gain, to $29.37. Copper reached an all-time high of $4.3626 per pound, making pennies minted between 1909 and 1982 worth $0.28, nearly triple their face value.

Time to break out the kid's piggy bank?