Showing posts with label Nicolas Sarkozy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nicolas Sarkozy. Show all posts

Monday, April 23, 2012

Storm of Events Leading Markets and Economies Down Financial Abyss

As far as headwinds were concerned, the Spring storm which raged across the Northeast was nothing compared to the global typhoon of financial and economic news on Monday.

On Sunday, the French people went to the polls and pulled more levers for Socialist candidate Francois Hollande than for current conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of voting. Sarkozy and Hollande will compete for the presidency in the next round of voting, in two weeks time, but the results are being characterized as investor-unfriendly, not only because Hollande's stance will be less favorable toward the Euro than Sarkozy's, but also because far right candidate Marine Le Pen took third place with 17.9 percent of the vote, signaling that French anger over unemployment and austerity are reaching fever pitch.

Overnight, China's "flash" PMI showed a sixth straight month of contraction at 49.1. Even though the reading was better than expected, the news fueled continued fears of a hard landing for China's economy.

As the week began in Europe, two events sent European stocks into a tailspin. The Central Bank of Spain reported that it was officially in recession, as its GDP shrank for the second straight quarter, down 0.4% for the first quarter of 2012, while in the Netherlands, the government collapsed - Prime Minister Mark Rutte and all cabinet members resigning - after failing to reach agreement on an austerity plan within EU strictures.

As if that wasn't enough for the opening of markets in the US, the scandal that Wal-Mart executives bribed Mexican officials for favorable results on building permits was exploding late Sunday into Monday after the New York Times broke the story on Sunday.

While the fact that a large American corporation would bribe officials in a foreign country to receive favorable treatment - the same is done legally in the US, though here it is called "lobbying" - is nothing new, the idea that Wal-Mart executives chose to cover up the scandalous behavior was a bit of an eye-opener.

However, as everyone in big business knows, payola, bribes, payoffs and other forms of cheating are all just part of the global domination game played every day around the world. It's like saying the recent Secret Service dalliances in Columbia were the first time that kind of activity ever occurred.

So, with enough negative news to shake down even the most ardent perma-bull, futures blazed red prior to the open and stocks fell quickly at the opening bell, reaching the lows of the day right around 11:00 am EDT. Even though stocks recovered in the afternoon, technical damage was done, with all four major indices closing below their 50-day moving averages, with the broadest measures - the NYSE Composite and NASDAQ - suffering the worst of it.

With all that news sloshing about, Wall Streeters were in no mood to hear that the nation's largest entitlement programs - Social Security and Medicare - would be running out of money sooner than expected. The trustees of the plans released their annual statements, saying that the Social Security trust fund would be exhausted in 2035, three years sooner than stated just last year. It added that the trust fund for its disability program, which serves 11 million people, would run out in 2016, just four years from now. Medicare was slated to go bankrupt in 2024, the same estimated date as last year's forecast, though the projections were based on very conservative considerations.

The impact of these projections are based on congress making no changes to any of the programs, though both Republicans and Democrats have proposed various plans to keep the Ponzi-scheme entitlements going. The reaction to this announcement should be a loud hue and cry from the American public, with proponents and detractors on both sides of the issue, but the reality is that any man or woman aged 45 or less should expect absolutely nothing in future years and consider the "deductions" from their weekly or bi-weekly paychecks nothing more than outright theft by decree.

Overall, today's news and events only paint the picture of global economic collapse in darker shades, with the rush toward implosion seeming to accelerate with each passing day.

One has to consider that having only papered over the immense losses from the 2008 crash, the next serious event could have ramifications far more severe than what was encountered just four years ago. Global leaders are at a loss for solutions other than adding more liquidity to problems that are solvency-based. Metaphorically, it's similar to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, hoping that long-term environment problems would somehow be magically whisked away by vastness of the body of water diluting the harmful effects of the toxic spill.

Throwing more money at insolvent institutions - most major banks and the governments of developed and developing nations - won't fix the problems. It will only delay the ultimate solution and make conditions worse for even larger numbers of people.

Meanwhile, in Washington, all the politicians currently care about is getting re-elected, whereas on Wall Street the bankers to the world have proven to be numb to even the most stark global conditions.

Dow 12,926.86, -102.40 (0.79%)
NASDAQ 2,970.45, -30.00 (1.00%)
S&P 500 1,366.94, -11.59 (0.84%)
NYSE Composite 7,938.82, -86.72 (1.08%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,736,082,250
NYSE Volume 3,568,057,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1439-4198
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 47-147
WTI crude oil: 103.11, -0.77
Gold: 1,632.60, -10.20
Silver: 30.53, -1.12

Monday, January 9, 2012

Euro a Bit Higher; Stocks Barely Respond as Sinking Feeling Persists

After the first week of trading turned out to be one big cork pop on January 3rd - when the Dow soared 180 points, mostly at the open - and a slow melt lower, the first Monday of the new year was more evidence of just how sick, tired and moribund global markets have become. It's as though everybody is just waiting for the other shoe to drop, that some seismic implosion - most likely in Europe - is about to send stocks into a prolonged tailspin that ends in repudiation of sovereign debt and another huge blow to the fiat-based banking system.

Evidence exists that all is not well in Euroland, while pundits here in America point to the only positive metric they can see, higher corporate profits, though even there, signs are beginning to emerge that the record profits from 2011 are as fleeting as the passage of a few moments in time.

Estimates for 4th quarter corporate earnings have been slashed, and the number of pre-announcements from companies is at a three-year high, harkening back to the dismal days of early 2009, when there was nothing anybody or any company could do to halt the continuing downturn.

Even today's rather slow-moving market was full of tepid trading, highlighted by fractional moves in the averages, suggesting that nothing short of a complete overhaul of Europe's finances - and maybe even our own - can provide the kind of stimulus needed to restore investor confidence, which has waned severely since the middle of last year.

Even the bold joint pronouncement today by France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel failed to inspire any confidence. The two leaders set a timetable of March 1 for Euro-zone leaders to detail a plan of stricter budgetary restraint among member nations. Of course, critics and skeptics claim to have heard that song before. In the original agreement, a nation's current deficit was not supposed to exceed 3%. Any claims that sovereign states will clean up their balance sheets and act responsibly is met with jeers and, soon, tears.

America met a seminal moment in its own history today, as the nation's debt equalled its GDP, putting the world's powerhouse economy on a level approaching that of Italy, Greece or Portugal.

For its part, the White House appears ready to jettison all the bad residential loans held at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by turning them over to investors in bulk, with an eye toward turning over two million foreclosed and now-delinquent homes into rental properties, overseen by a hand-picked, large, well-capitalized property management firms.

The plan was first introduced by the Federal Reserve last week, though our friend Jim Willie, aka, the Golden Jackass, has been predicting such a move for the past two years, with deleterious effects abundant. The problems, from even a casual point of view, range from traditional homeowners being shut out of owning affordable housing and being forced to rent at increasingly-expensive rates, to the potential of default on property taxes should one of these "well-financed" firms going bust. It's almost the sub-prime crisis in reverse and is a radical departure from the American dream of home-ownership.

The property managers will likely receive sweet-heart deals from the government, slashing the prices to be paid on the homes instead of offering principal write-downs to strapped homeowners or new, qualified applicants because banks have been steadfastly denying mortgages and credit to even the most risk averse individuals and families.

We are quickly heading into a bleak, black hole of socialism, wherein the next shoe to drop won't be a ballet slipper but rather the boot of the storm trooper landing squarely on the necks of millions of tax-and-debt slaves, while the rich get bailouts and the poor get handouts.

Fairness is a word that seems to have permanently departed the American scene. Economic ugliness and despair approaches at breakneck speed all in the name of keeping up appearances.

After the closing bell, Alcoa (AA) kicked off earnings season with a disappointing, yet fitting, loss of three cents per share.

Dow 12,392.69, +32.77 (0.27%)
NASDAQ 2,676.56, +2.34 (0.09%)
S&P 500 1,280.70, +2.89 (0.23%)
NYSE Composite 7,583.76, +26.08 (0.35%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,777,449,250
NYSE Volume 3,248,196,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3385-2189
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 170-62
WTI crude oil: 101.31, -0.25
Gold: 1,608.10, -8.70
Silver: 28.78, +0.10

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Markets Rebound as Fed Stands Pat; Greece in a Bind over Bailout

Dow 11,836.04, +178.08 (1.53%)
NASDAQ 2,639.98, +33.02 (1.27%)
S&P 500 1,237.90, +19.62 (1.61%)
NYSE Compos 7,461.10, +123.96 (1.69%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,942,050,875
NYSE Volume 4,062,845,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4528-1072
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 47-45
WTI crude oil: 92.51, +0.32
Gold: 1,729.60, +17.80
Silver: 33.94, +1.21

Recapping the days events in no-frills fashion:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with the IMF and Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou to discuss the Greek leader's abrupt call for a national referendum on whether or not to accept the Euro bailout and associated austerity measures. According to early, unconfirmed reports, Papandreou would not budge on a plebesite early next year, pushing the EU leaders to issue a freeze on Greece's $8 billion in bailout funds, a move which could send the whole European debt crisis into a new, more dangerous phase as the Greek government will surely run out of cash prior to the proposed referendum.

The Federal Reserve chose to take no policy action on the federal funds rate, keeping the effective rate between 0.25% and zero. The Fed added some language to its statement, highlighting more positive tones as the US economy gathered steam in the 3rd quarter.

The ADP private payroll survey estimated that US employers added 110,000 private sector jobs in the month of October, after a revised 116,000 job gains in September.

Stocks ended a two-day losing streak, though the Fed's announcement and subsequent news conference didn't move markets much in either direction.

Volatility remains quite high, with the S&P Volatility Index (^VIX) ending the day at 32.74.

All interest will turn to employment over the next two days, as unemployment claims are announced Thursday morning and the BLS' non-farm payroll data come out on Friday, both releases timed for prior to the markets' opening bell. Continuing news from Europe is also likely to be at the top of investor interest.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Greece, Italy Send Stocks Overboard Again

Doings on the Continent have been keeping traders on their toes for months, but today's antics bordered on the bizarre.

First Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called for a public referendum on the latest bailout plan, just approved days ago in late-night negotiations by European leaders. Making matters even more confused, Papandreaou scheduled the referendum for some time early next year, which would hold global markets hostage for months while the Greeks decide their own fate.

A "NO" vote on the austerity plans tied to Greece receiving more funds from the EU and IMF, would scuttle months of planning and negotiations and would likely result in Greece being tossed from the European Union. Such an outcome would surely roil markets terribly, though the mere thought of waiting two to three months for what almost certainly would be a negative result sent shock waves through European bourses and US exchanges today.

Reacting to the news, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy planned emergency talks with leaders of the EU and the IMF, though it was not clear whether Mr. Papandreou would be invited.

And, if Greece's gambit wasn't enough to turn investors away, there's a confidence vote set for Friday, in which Papandreou's Socialist Party could lose control of the government, which it holds by only two seats in the parliament. The situation in the Mediterranean nation have moved from bad to worse to bizarre over the past few months.

In Italy, despite the agreements worked out last week, bond yields continued to spike higher, with the 10-year Italian bond reaching upwards of 6.22%, a more than 400-basis point difference over the stable German Bund. The bond spread blowout added to fears that Italy might be in more danger than previously thought - which, in itself was already severe - as the Italian government has to roll over nearly $2 trillion in bonds over the next year, a hefty sum.

Under the leadership - if one can call it such - of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italy has failed to act on measures set down by the EU in August and leaders of two main banking and business associations have called on the prime minister to act swiftly or step aside. For his part, Berlusconi has made promises to act quickly, though many doubt he has the emotional or political will to implement the harsh austerity measures called for by other European leaders. As can-kicking goes, Berlusconi is world class, a foot-dragger with a penchant for putting off the obvious, though most of the other leaders in the EU have displayed similar inability to act courageously or quickly.

Also nagging US markets was the early-in-the-day report on ISM Manufacturing Index, which showed a marked decline, from 51.6 in September to 50.8 in October, another sign that the US economy was in danger of falling into another recession.

Stocks were pounded right from the opening bell, though a late day rally was attempted and then scuttled as news from Greece suggested more of a guessing game than any kind of deliberate policy action.

Speaking of policy, the Federal Reserve is locked in meetings on rate policy, which will be announced at 12:30 pm Wednesday, a deviation from the usual 2:15 pm time. The policy decision will be followed by a press conference with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. While it is virtually assured that the Fed will not change the federal funds rate from levels approaching zero, some are betting that another round of QE will be announced in some form, though the effectiveness of such an undertaking - already tried twice since the 2008 financial crisis, without effect - is very much in doubt.

Prior to that, ADP will release its private payroll data for October, which serves as a proxy for the "official" non-farm payroll data release by the Labor Dept. on Friday.

Not surprisingly, some of the biggest losers on the day were the large banks, such as Wells-Fargo (WFC), Bank of America (BAC), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C) and Goldman Sachs (GS), the usual culprits now caught between a sagging economy, exposure to Europe and the unwinding of MF Global, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday.

The silver lining for consumers came from a two-day rally in the dollar - mainly against the Yen and Euro - sending commodity prices lower across the entire complex.

Dow 11,657.96, -297.05 (2.48%)
NASDAQ 2,606.96, -77.45 (2.89%)
S&P 500 1,218.28, -35.02 (2.79%)
NYSE Composite 7,338.48, -226.55 (2.99%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,314,571,500
NYSE Volume 5,656,978,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 859-4813
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 24-89 (flipped)
WTI crude oil: 92.19, -1.00
Gold: 1,711.80, -13.40
Silver: 32.73, -1.62

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harrisburg, PA Bankrupt, Max Keiser, Angela Merkel, Nicolas Zarkozy, Switzerland WIR, Google Earnings

Stocks vacillated today somewhat like they're supposed to in normal times, though these are no normal times in which we are living. Tape-watching in the age of high frequency trading and intellectual dispiritedness has an intoxicating allure and can become addictive.

Sparing the details, stocks were lower in the morning and staged a half-hearted rally on low volume in the afternoon. Sound familiar? Yes, computers. Kind of just going with the flow, or lack thereof. These last two days of trading could also be interpreted as outward manifestations of the liquidity, solvency and currency confidence crises as various macro sectors of the global economy grind inexorably toward a perceived halt, the term "perceived" included to indicate that markets are not entirely frozen, that there is always some urchin of trade lurching about, no matter how unwieldy the underlying system.

A few news items:
From Wednesday: City of Harrisburg, PA, capitol of Pennsylvania, declares bankruptcy. This is a sad, though poignant story of our times. A city of 46,000 with about $500 million worth of bad debt, or, debt that won't be repaid. Will there be a follow-on effect? Actually, there has to be and the situation is fluid, with the state trying to tell the Harrisburg City Council that they cannot declare bankruptcy. But they did, anyway...

Google Earnings (after the bell, today) - nice, 26% profit increase and other nice metrics. They're rocking, but for search, Bing is better.

Also after the bell, Fitch puts Barclays Bank plc, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse AG, Deutsche Bank AG, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale on Rating Watch Negative. At the same time, Fitch has placed the short-term IDRs of four of the banks on Rating Watch Negative.

Dow 11,478.13, -40.72 (0.35%)
NASDAQ 2,620.24, +15.51 (0.60%)
S&P 500 1,203.66, -3.59 (0.30%)
NYSE Composite 7,229.08, -34.61 (0.48%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,683,142,125
NYSE Volume 4,397,526,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2755-3644
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 20-35 (reversal signal)
WTI crude oil: 84.23, -1.34
Gold: 1,668.50, -14.10
Silver: 31.67, -1.12

I love it when a plan comes together and the clip of the Kaiser Report below fits like a favorite pair of jeans. Plenty from which to watch, enjoy and learn.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stocks End Three-Day Win Streak; Shopping the Dollar Stores

The Markets

Another day passed by without Europe imploding from excessive debt and they're still drinking plenty of Ouzo over in Greece, even as the country dives into desperation and poverty.

The economic climate hasn't much bothered the titans of industry and banking who populate the environs of Wall Street, but maybe the lingering doubt and uncertainty over economic issues is starting to get to them a little bit. Days like today show the strain a long, drawn out economic slide can have on markets. Stocks and indices don't just do straight down in a day or two; bear markets, like all good things, take time and patience to play out and this current one, which started just a few short months ago, looks to have a lot of downside over many months ahead.

There was little in the way of news concerning the global powers and their attempts to deal with the continuing crisis. No mutterings of sentiment from the ECB or Angela Merkel or French president Sarcozy. Even our own President Obama was pretty hushed up, and for him, that's saying something.

It was like the Harry Potter movie when they speak about "he who shall not be named"; nobody was interested in talking about the economy any more, but it surely was on the minds of traders, who sold off everything as the market entered the home stretch, making all the talk about a bounce, or end of quarter window dressing sound a little foolish.

Perhaps it was just more old-fashioned profit taking, by those who know that it's best to get out of the way of oncoming trains, like the one coming when third quarter earnings reports begin to hit the Street.

Whatever it was, stocks took a pretty solid body blow and after enough of these, with conditions still uncertain or deteriorating, volatility high and the leaders of the civilized world unable to get themselves and their banker buddies out of the mess they created, stocks and indices will stay down, move lower and not recover for a long time.

The happy part is that there will then be bargains galore amid a stock pickers paradise. Good companies will fall alongside bad ones, and prices will be so cheap and the competition so slim, that bargains stocks will appear all over the market.

All that has to happen is for the political leaders and global banking interests to make a few more policy mistakes and WHAM! stocks will be hit with the same ton of bricks that have already shuttered hundreds of thousands of small businesses around the world. Money will be scarce, people scared and unsure and institutions and governments will tumble.

Start making plans now, because this great drama of economics is playing out in the present and conditions for it getting really ugly are already in place.

Have faith in the bankers and politicians. They've screwed up before, and they're certain to do so again.

Dow 11,010.90, -179.79 (1.61%)
NASDAQ 2,491.58, -55.25 (2.17%)
S&P 500 1,151.06, -24.32 (2.07%)
NYSE Composite 6,876.94, -166.18 (2.36%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,912,622,750.00
NYSE Volume 4,787,752,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1179-5322
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 16-231
WTI crude oil: 81.21, -3.24
Gold: 1612.00, -37.70
Silver: 29.96, -1.92

Idea: Shop Dollar Stores for Big Savings

We all know people who refuse to shop at, say, Wal-Mart, in the belief that they are somehow superior to the rest of the inhabitants of the planet and the low-cost experience is "beneath them."

When the economic tsunami blows through their part of the world, they'll likely be unprepared to make do with less or reconfigure their lifestyle to accommodate the new financial realities. For the uninhibited types and those without pretensions, there is life after Sak's, the GAP and JC Penny's and it can be found at strip malls and shopping centers around the country. They are known as dollar stores, where everyday items are sold at a discount, every day.

In case you missed it, Wal-Mart doesn't really promote their "lowest price" guarantee much any more, and that's because they're often not the lowest. The dollar stores - particularly Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Family Dollar - crush Wal-Mart and all other competitors on general merchandise all the time.

Whether it's laundry detergent (you do wash your own clothes, occasionally, no?), tomato juice (who doesn't love a good Bloody Mary?) or sunglasses, you can find good deals ($1 is good no matter what it is.) at these bustling retail establishments, plus hundreds of everyday items from cookware to spices to party and gift ideas to personal grooming products and much more.

Now, you can go to Home Depot and spend $2 to $3 for a roll of duct tape or buy two or three rolls of comparable quality for the same price. You can buy your snacks and chips at the local supermarket chain for $1.79 and up, or find the same selection for less at any of the dollar stores. These places are popping up all over the place.

In fact, Family Dollar plans to open 450-500 new stores in the coming twelve months. The others are expanding at a steady clip, even in this down economy. These companies have found a niche market that will only get bigger as the economy deteriorates and will hold their own in any economic environment, because there are always going to be people who will seek out bargains.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Euro Fears Still Making Markets Shaky

As today's post title suggests, trading continues to focus on events - or the relative lack thereof - in Europe, where today French President Nicolas Zarkozy met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, announcing some coordination of efforts, but fell short of endorsing the concept of Eurobonds to shore up shaky finances on the Continent.

"We want to express our absolute will to defend the euro and assume Germany and France's particular responsibilities in Europe," said Sarkozy.

In what has to be the most humorous statement to date concerning sovereign fiscal policies, the two leaders said they would push for balanced budget amendments for all 17 nations which use the Euro as their primary currency. The irony is that, excepting possibly Germany, none of the member nations have had a balanced budget in at least five years, most of them running continuous deficits since the Euro became the continental currency in 2000.

The specific proposals coming from the leaders of the two most powerful members of the Europen Union were slim. They said their finance ministers would meet four times a year and proposed that the member nations coordinate income tax policy and begin taxing financial transactions by 2013, kicking the proverbial can a bit further down the road to perdition.

By the time the two leaders met with the press, European markets had already closed, so the brunt of the effect from their statements was felt primarily in the US.

Stocks took a nose dive after the press conference, and fell to their lowest levels of the day just after 1:00 pm EDT. The Dow was off by 190 points at its bottom.

But, as usual, the mechanics of controlled markets took over, as all the major indices rallied for the final three hours, still closing down for the day, but with reasonable losses.

Stocks had gotten off to a shaky start, after economic data was mixed prior to the opening bell. July housing starts fell off to 604,000 on an annualized rate, after posting a figure of 613,000 in June. Building permits dropped by 20,000 from the annualized rate of 617,000 in June.

However, industrial production came in with a better-than-expected gain of 0.9% and capacity utilization also showed a bit of strength, with a reading of 77.5%, following a 76.9 figure in June. Of course, these are estimates prepared by an inept and failing government and should not be trusted as any true guide to financial conditions in the United States, even though they remain mired in the minds of traders and fund managers as the most reliable gauges.

Without any determinant structure of reform or policy coming from Europe, expect this see-saw battle of bulls and bears to rage on for weeks until something concrete cracks across the pond. There seems to be about the same level of political will over there as there is in the US to entertain policies that actually address structural issues in the economy - none - as the leaders on both sides of the Atlantic are easily more enthusiastic about getting re-elected than they are at doing their jobs well.

With the majority of the politicians on vacation this month (the NY Times reports that 80 members of the house of representatives have or will be visiting Israel this month) our political class appears quite cavalier when called on to solve pressing problems.

Until there is real political leadership (in other words, we better hope we make it to November, 2012 and then elect Ron Paul as our next president) markets will continue to stumble along and economies will continue to run up debt and deteriorate.

That's how it goes. Prepare.

Dow 11,405.93, -76.97 (0.67%)
NASDAQ 2,523.45, -31.75 (1.24%)
S&P 500 1,192.76, -11.73 (0.97%)
NYSE Composite 7,394.49, -88.22 (1.18%)

Declining issues got the better of advancers on the day, 4939-1664. On the NASDAQ, there were six (6) new highs, but 51 new lows. The NYSE showed 10 new highs and 15 new lows, keeping the bias to the downside, with the combined figure of 16 new highs and 66 new lows. Expect the gap between the few new highs and increasing new lows to expand as the crisis nobody wants to handle grows even deeper.

Volume was moderate, which, after the events of last week, shows a general lack of interest overall in staking out any new, long term positions.

NASDAQ Volume 2,085,979,250
NYSE Volume 5,009,345,000

Oil closed down $1.23, to $86.65, though gas prices at filling stations across the country have seen hardly any price decline at all.

The continued unease over macro-economic issues produced a renewed push into gold, which traded higher by $27.00, to $1,785.00, a new closing record, while silver also gained, finishing up 51 cents, at $39.82, though it traded above $40/ounce both earlier in the day and after equity markets had closed.

Tomorrow brings PPI numbers for July, the Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Index and a reading on crude oil inventories. Other than that, bonds look very good, as they continue to hold near low levels, but remain one of the primary safety plays.