Showing posts with label Nikkei. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nikkei. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Crash Much? All 2018 Gains Wiped Out In Global Stock Rout

Where to begin?

Today's stock market rout was worldwide, starting in Japan, as the NIKKEI fell 238 points, the Hong Kong's Hang Sent slid 531 points and China's SSE Composite Index closed at 2,645.85, down 57.66 points, or -2.13%.

Europe was next up on the hit list, as the Germany's DAX was off 178.13 points (-1.58%), closing in on a 20% decline for the year. Other European stock indices were down between one and one-and-a-half percent.

As markets opened in the Western Hemisphere, the selling accelerated, sending the Dow down more than 400 points at the open and other North and South American indices falling sharply. By the end of the day, it was absolute carnage, a veritable sea of red. Every equity index on Yahoo's Major World Indices page was lower, save Malaysia's KLCI, which managed a 4-point, 0.25% gain.

Seriously, though, today's crash began in the fall of 2008, when stocks were wiped out in the face of the Lehman Brothers collapse and the sub-prime housing crisis, and also had roots from April 9, 2009, when stocks finally bottomed out as the FASB loosened accounting rules, issuing an official update to rule 157, allowing companies to deviate from standard mark-to-market principles in valuing assets.

The Fed and its central bank cohorts had their dirty little fingers in the dikes as well, conjuring up trillions of dollars in liquidity, effectively bailing out financial institutions that were, essentially, bankrupt. That's what brought us here today, ten years and trillions of dollars later. The everything bubble has finally popped.

This is a rolling crash, not a hard one, like on Black Tuesday in 1929. There have been - in just the past eight trading days - losses on the Dow of 201, 602, 100, 206, 395 points and today's 552. There were gains of 201 and 124 points on Thursday and Friday of last week, but the cumulative effect comes to a loss of 1731 points since November 8, roughly a seven percent dribble.

Tuesday's losses sent the S&P 500 hurtling toward correction territory. From the close of 2,930.75 on September 20 to today's finish at 2,641.89 is a 9.86% loss. For those in the rounding up-or-down crowd, that's 10 percent, or, close enough for horseshoes or hand grenades.

For those keeping score, the Dow is down 8.81% from it's closing high on October 3 (26,828.39). The NASDAQ, which has been in and out and back into correction since October 24, is still up on the year... a whopping five points and change. The index is down 14.82% since August 29. Albeit marginally, the Dow Industrials, S&P, NYSE Composite and the Dow Transports are all lower for the year.

The NYSE Composite which peaked at 13,637.02 on January 26 and never regained that height, is down 11.61%, reaching down to correction levels today, though, like the NASDAQ, it had breached the 10% down level on October 24 and since recovered.

Lastly, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished today with a loss of 321.52 (-3.05%), at 10,212.94. That's an 11.74% drop from the all-time high close of 11,570.84, September 14.

In the commodity space, oil was crushed again today, as WTI crude futures ended at 53.22, down $3.98 per barrel (-6.94%). According to, that's the lowest price since mid-October of 2017.

Where do stocks go from here? That question almost answers itself.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46
11/9/18 25,989.30 -201.92 +873.54
11/12/18 25,387.18 -602.12 +271.42
11/13/18 25,286.49 -100.69 +170.27
11/14/18 25,080.50 -205.99 -35.72
11/15/18 25,289.27 +208.77 +173.05
11/16/18 25,413.22 +123.95 +297.00
11/19/18 25,017.44 -395.78 -98.78
11/20/18 24,465.64 -551.80 -650.58

At the Close, Tuesday, November 20, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,465.64, -551.80 (-2.21%)
NASDAQ: 6,908.82, -119.65 (-1.70%)
S&P 500: 2,641.89, -48.84 (-1.82%)
NYSE Composite: 12,054.17, -226.74 (-1.85%)

Friday, November 2, 2018

Buyers Emerge, Sending Stock Rally To Third Straight Day Of Gains; World Markets Higher

Experts had been saying that once the earnings reporting blackout ended, many companies would begin share repurchases, and that seems to be exactly what has occurred, as stocks extended their rally to three days, opening the month of November with a rip higher on all the major exchanges.

This factoid does nothing to explain the rise in stocks around the world, other than perhaps they are following the US lead. Overnight the Hang Seng jumped by more than four percent in Hong Kong and Japan's NIKKEI posted a 2.50% gain, boosting the index by 556 points.

Early trading in Europe has all the major indices higher as well, with Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 leading the move.

With non-farm payroll data due to roll out at 8:30 am ET, stocks are poised for another big move up at the open. Expectations are for a jobs gain of more than 200,000 in October.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98

At there Close, Thursday, November 1, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,380.74, +264.98 (+1.06%)
NASDAQ: 7,434.06, +128.16 (+1.75%)
S&P 500: 2,740.37, +28.63 (+1.06%)
NYSE Composite: 12,356.50, +148.44 (+1.22%)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Stocks Rebound, 11 Major Stock Indices In Correction, Down 10% Or More

Knee-jerk. That's all today's trading was. It evolved as an opportunity to see how many trades could be made on the assumption that stocks will continue to rise, that they are still good values, that despite the fact that major indices of at least 10 different important countries are in correction (down 10%), the US is still the best dirty shirt in the laundry, or something like that.

Just to placate the unbelievers, here is a partial list of stock indices already in correction or worse:

  • DAX, Germany
  • FTSE, Great Britain
  • CAC 40, France
  • Nikkei 225, Japan
  • Hang Seng, Hong Kong
  • SSE Composite, China
  • SENSEX, India
  • KOSPI, South Korea
  • Jakarta Composite, Indonesia
  • MERVAL, Argentina
  • IPC, Mexico

Ummm, that's 11, but who's counting?

Bear in mind, some of the biggest gains are made during periods of volatility and the beginnings of bear markets. For proof of that, just go back to the NASDAQ in 2000, or the Dow in October of 2008. There were plenty of big days to the upside. Unfortunately, for those taking positions in stocks during those periods, the downside prevailed, and in vey large ways.

Put in perspective, today's broad gains covered about 2/3rds of yesterday's losses. That's not enough, and there is absolutely no guarantee that tomorrow is going to be a repeat performance.

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
10/10/18 25,598.74 -831.83 -859.57
10/11/18 25,052.83 -545.91 -1,405.48
10/12/18 25,339.99 +287.16 -1,118.32
10/15/18 25,250.55 -89.44 -1,207.76
10/16/18 25,798.42 +547.87 -659.89
10/17/18 25,706.68 -91.74 -751.63
10/18/18 25,379.45 -327.23 -1,078.86
10/19/18 25,444.34 +64.89 -1,013.97
10/22/18 25,317.41 -126.93 -1,140.90
10/23/18 25,191.43 -125.98 -1,265.88
10/24/18 24,583.42 -608.01 -1,873.89
10/25/18 24,984.55 +401.13 -1,472.76

At the Close, Thursday, October 25, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,984.55, +401.13 (+1.63%)
NASDAQ: 7,318.34, +209.94 (+2.95%)
S&P 500: 2,705.57, +49.47 (+1.86%)
NYSE Composite: 12,118.85, +149.11 (+1.25%)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Global Rout Continues; All 30 Dow Components Lower; China A 50% Loser Since 2015

Stocks took another beating on Thursday, though not quite as extensively on the tech side as was the case in Wednesday's rout. The Dow Industrials took another two percent hit, sending the 30 blue chips down another 546 points. The combined losses in the six sessions following the all-time high close of 26,828.39 on October 3rd at 1,775.56 or 6.69%, a figure that should not, in and of itself, inspire much fear, though the rapidity, persistency, and consistency of the losses are not exactly inspiring much in the way of investor confidence.

All 30 Dow stocks finished in the red. Spared from most of the carnage was Microsoft, which closed at 105.91, down a mere 0.25 points, or 0.24%. No other Dow issue reported a decline of less than one half percent. Leading the way down was Phizer, with a 3.82% loss. Other stocks finishing down three percent or more included JP Morgan Chase (3.00%), Traveler's (3.01%), Proctor and Gamble (3.16%), McDonald's (3.21%), Cisco Systems (3.31%), Chevron (3.40%) and Exxon Mobil (3.45%). The Dow's gain year-to-date is a now a mere 333 points, or less than two percent. There was nothing even approaching good news as third quarter reporting approaches.

The NASDAQ fared much better than the three percent decline it made on Wednesday, dropping less than 100 points, though that was hardly cause for optimism. Having reached a peak of 8102.04 on October 1, the index has shed some 673 points, putting it close to correction (-10%). NASDAQ shares are down a cumulative 8.3%.

On the S&P 500, the percentage decline was almost identical to that of the Dow, losing 57.31 points, down 2.06 percent. The losing streak of the S&P has now reached six straight days. It also closed at an all-time record of 2947.25 on October 1, but has since fallen 219 points, a 7.4% loss in just eight sessions.

Year-to-date, the S&P is up by only 55 points, a gain of just over two precent.

Stocks were also being sold off in droves on foreign exchanges. In Germany, the DAX continued its descent with a loss of 173.15, another 1.48% drop, sending it further into correction. Joining the DAX in the down 10 percent or more club was Britain's FTSE, losing 138.81 points (-1.94%). France's CAC 40 is teetering on the brink, down more than nine percent off recent highs.

On Pacific Rim exchanges, Japan's NIKKEI was down 3.89%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 3.54%, but both were outdone by China, where the SSE Composite Index closed down 5.22%. China's stock market is the world's basket case, down a full 50% from its all-time high of 5,166.35 in June of 2015, the chart bearing a striking resemblance to the NASDAQ's dotcom bust of 2000. The SSE closed Thursday at 2,583.46.

What comes next for markets is anybody's guess. Analysts and economists range from complacency to panic and everything in between. The losses this week rival those from February of this year, when major US indices touched briefly into correction.

Bonds firmed on the day, with the 10-year note finishing with a yield of 3.13%. Oil was hit hard again, with WTI crude losing nearly three percent, closing just a shade under $71/barrel.

The only bright spots were in precious metals. Gold had its best day in months, gaining $34 to $1,227.70 per troy ounce. Silver followed along dutifully, picking up 28 cents per troy ounce, at $14.61.

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
10/10/18 25,598.74 -831.83 -859.57
10/11/18 25,052.83 -545.91 -1405.48

At the Close, Thursday, October 11, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,052.83, -545.91 (-2.13%)
NASDAQ: 7,329.06, -92.99 (-1.25%)
S&P 500: 2,728.37, -57.31 (-2.06%)
NYSE Composite: 12,349.53, -272.61 (-2.16%)

Smackdown! Stocks Crushed; Dow Loses 859 points, NASDAQ Drops 315

Stocks were battered on Wednesday as investors fled stocks in droves, sending the Dow to its worst loss in eight months and extending the S&P 500's losing streak to five straight days.

The Dow suffered its biggest point decline since February 8 (-1,032.89). The NASDAQ's 315-point loss was the largest since the Brexit vote in England on June 23, 2016. Global markets responded the following day with huge losses, the NASDAQ dropping 202 points. Wednesday's decline on the NASDAQ was the third-largest point drop, the 4.08% loss ranks 13th all-time.

Wednesday's sudden collapse was not completely unpredictable. It came exactly two weeks after the Federal Reserve hiked the federal funds rate for the eighth consecutive time, when it's FOMC meeting concluded on September 26. Since then, stocks initially gained, with the Dow making successive all-time highs on October 2nd and 3rd. On the 4th and 5th, however, the direction reversed, with the Industrial Average losing 380 points over those two sessions.

With Wednesday's losses, the Dow has shed 1230 points and futures on Thursday are pointing to more declines.

Markets around the world have been trending lower in recent weeks, with some already in correction territory, most notably, the German DAX, Argentina's MERVAL and the KOSPI of South Korea. England's FTSE has been suffering losses of late and is more than nine percent off recent highs.

Tuesday's post here at Money Daily referenced a market action in 2007 as a comparison to the current condition, noting that in the year preceding the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, the Dow made new highs in quick succession before taking a plunge that lasted a year-and-a-half, finally reversing course in March 2009. A similar set-up occurred recently on the Dow, though the new highs were more compressed.

Large one-day declines are often event-driven. This shellacking can be tied most closely to the September interest rate hikes. With the 10-year note yielding 3.23%, there are few stocks offering that percentage level in dividends, thus, investors seeking to ameliorate risk are selling stocks and buying bonds, which are not subject to the kinds of wild price swings typical in stocks.

When markets open in the US, investors will see that the rout has spread globally. Japan's NIKKEI was down nearly four percent on Thursday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 3.5% and China stocks ripped more than five percent lower.

With closing prices on Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has wiped out most of the year's gains. The Dow is up just over 800 points on the year, a gain of less than four percent.

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
10/9/18 25,598.74 -831.83 -859.57

At the Close, Wednesday, October 10, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,598.74, -831.83 (-3.15%)
NASDAQ: 7,422.05, -315.97 (-4.08%)
S&P 500: 2,785.68, -94.66 (-3.29%)
NYSE Composite: 12,622.13, -338.32 (-2.61%)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday The 13th Sell-Off Nearly Breaks Through Downside Range On Dow Industrials

Yesterday, Money Daily extolled the virtues of ignoring intra-day movement on the major indices and pointed out that the last time the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed below the magic mark at 17,500, was nearly two months ago, on March 18 (17,481.89).

The waterfall decline on Dow stocks Friday put an exclamation mark on that post, as stocks fell to within a whisper of the bottom end of the tight range with 18,000 as the top and 17,500 as the bottom.

Friday's trading also assured that US indices would end the week in the red for the third straight week and fourth time in the past seven, suggesting the five closes above 18,000 in mid-April were aberrations rather than normative market behavior.

Thus, despite a completely phony report from the US Census that saw sales by U.S. retailers leap 1.3% in April, marking the biggest month-over-month gain in a year, the exodus from stocks continued unabated. While the indices have regained all of their losses from January and early February, institutional money has been selling all along, leaving the market largely in the hands of small investors and... please be seated, because this is a shocker... central banks.

It's widely understood that the Bank of Japan, that country's central bank, is heavily invested in its own stock market, propping up prices on the Nikkei, apparently to no avail, since the benchmark index is down sharply this year, and, unlike its counterpart in the US, has not rallied back to glory.

The Nikkei made a triple top last summer with peak closes in the 20,860 range. On Friday, the Nikkei closed at 16,412.21 and is down sharply on the year (it closed out 2015 at 19,033). Make no mistake, off its highs from June through August of last year, the Nikkei has fallen into bear market territory, even though the Bank of Japan has been furiously buying shares in the largest companies, as explained in this article by none other than the Wall Street Journal.

It was reported just the other day that the Swiss National Bank was wisely using some of its money to buy shares of Apple (AAPL) as Carl Icahn was liquidating his holdings in the company and the stock was slumping to two-year lows.

Is there any wonder that people have little faith in their governments and are rapidly losing faith in other institutions, especially those which conjure money out of thin air. When central banks are actively bidding in markets of all sorts - from precious metals to oil to stocks and bonds - how can there be any rational approach to investing or any kind of reasonable price discovery. Everything is subject to the inane whims of people in ivory towers who think they know more than anybody else about how the world should operate. In truth, they are destroying the system that spewed out their jobs and paychecks.

When people finally awaken to the massive misallocation of capital and enormous malinvestments by the issuers of paper money it's going to be too late. Central banks cannot - at least not in a rational world - buy up shares of everything in order to keep the global economy humming along while at the same time issuing critical mountains of debt in the form of digital deposits and bonds (which they are, in effect, also buying from themselves).

There will be a crash, a day of reckoning, probably multiple ones, when the cnetral bank global ponzi scheme is finally exposed, and that could happen at any time.

If the stock markets begin breaking down, it should be seen as a sign that the final chapter of extraordinary central bank policy which began with the financial crisis in 2008, is underway. The endgame is likely to resemble 50-70% declines in major stock indices, 10-year interest rates at zero of less (already there in some countries) and massive disruptions of businesses, bank closures, or worse, outright confiscation of deposits by the banks holding trillions of dollars, yen, yuan, euros and pounds.

This is not fiction, but the reality of the past eight years of nightmare economics spawned by the Federal Reserve and their brethren central bankers.

But, as it has been since the collapse of the global economy in 2008, when central banks have endless supplies of fictional fiat to spend, crashes like Friday's can be aborted, as was this one, right at 3:00 pm, with just an hour left in the trading day. Agents of the Fed stepped in at the most dangerous moment to hold the line at 17,500.

André Maginot would be impressed.

The only problem is that this kind of madness cannot go on forever without incredibly dangerous distortions and serious, lasting repercussions.

For the week:
DOW: -205.31 (-1.16%)
S&P 500: -10.53 (-0.51%)
NASDAQ: -18.48 (-0.39)

Friday's Fall:
S&P 500: 2,046.61, -17.50 (0.85%)
Dow: 17,535.32, -185.18 (1.05%)
NASDAQ: 4,717.68, -19.66 (0.41%)

Crude Oil 46.32 -0.81% Gold 1,274.80 +0.28% EUR/USD 1.1308 -0.58% 10-Yr Bond 1.70 -2.96% Corn 390.50 +0.39% Copper 2.08 +0.14% Silver 17.16 +0.30% Natural Gas 2.10 -2.55% Russell 2000 1,102.44 -0.56% VIX 15.04 +4.37% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4359 -0.61% USD/JPY 108.6400 -0.40%

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How To Tell The Economy Is Really Horrible

A number of interesting developments highlighted today's off-the-street action concerning US stock markets and the general global economy. They were all internet-related, but have nothing to do with the share prices of the companies affected, but first, let's take a recap of the actual carnage in the markets today.

Asia was awash in red ink, as Japan circles the monetary drain (must be Adam Smith's "invisible hand" pulling the plug) sending the Nikkei down to new depths, as noted below, along with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, which suffered an even more severe loss in points and percentage:
Nikkei 225: 15,713.39, -372.05, -2.31%
Hang Seng Index 18,545.80, -742.37, -3.85%

With China's markets closed for the week as the country celebrates Chinese New Year, over in Hong Kong, it was back to work after a three-day hiatus. The HSI fell out at the open and never recovered. As many in the US apparently do not know, all of Asia's major markets - including Australia, recently - are in bear market territory. The Hang Seng topped out at 28,588 in late April, 2015. Today's loss puts it down 35% from its highs.

While the Asian markets were spitting up blood, Europe opened with a bang to the downside, as Sweden announced its central bank was cutting interest rates further into the negative. Sweden’s Riksbank cut its benchmark interest rate from -0.35% to -0.5%. So, theoretically, anyone wishing to keep 100,000 Krona in a Swedish bank has the awesome privilege of paying the bank 500 of those Krona for the year.

That, in addition to the ongoing banking collapse (Duetshe Bank, in particular), sent Euro stock bourses reeling. Germany's DAX was off 2.93%. In England, the FTSE was down 2.36%. France's CAC 40 fell by 4.05%, and the Euro Stoxx 50 was battered some 108 points, a 3.90% downside.

US traders left no stone unturned, sending the markets close to the August lows and the NASDAQ within 50 points of the magic bear market line (-20%), until a spurious story about Saudi oil cuts saved the day around 2:30 pm. The Dow was down more than 400 points at the lows, and there was some talk about the S&P bouncing off a key level at 1812. Truth be told, key levels and support lines aren't going to matter much in coming days, weeks and months, because there is growing evidence that recession has arrived in the US, just as it has washed up on the shores of Asia and Europe.

Now, back to those off-Wall Street developments that offer many clues on how to know the economy isn't doing very well.

First, there was the outage at just as the market was opening. Anybody who wants the straight, uncensored, bearish view of markets instinctively heads for "the Hedge" as it is known, the site famous for it's inveterate grinding on the wheels of finance. An apparent DDOS attack took the site offline for about 30 minutes and was the second such attack in as many weeks.

While the culprit is unknown, tin-foil cap types point to the NSA or another government agency which wishes to keep at least a leash on the unruly junkyard dog.

Second, MSN Money disabled comments on all its stories. While news of this was not reported widely, its unknown exactly when the company decided it didn't want to hear from its readers. MSN Money follows the lead of Bloomberg, which disabled commenting across its web properties last year. Censorship. It's what's for dinner, and you can't complain about it.

Third, Janet Yellen completed her annual testimony to congress today with a visit to the Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Richard Shelby (R-AL), and failed to goose the markets. When the Fed Chair has less influence on markets than a teen beauty queen at a gay pride rally, take that as a sign markets are more than a little jittery.

Gold and silver continued to rally, with gold up more than $50 at one point in the day. Silver was fast approaching $16/oz. It was under $15 as of Monday's fix. The two precious metals are the best-performing assets (along with select bonds) of 2016.

And finally, Yahoo Editor-in-Chief, Andy Serwer, had to pen this little gem of statist nonsense, explaining that nobody knows why stocks are going down. Server proves that he has quit an imagination, or none.

All in all, it appears the media, government, and the financial world are not about ready to let the muppets get a feeling that something bad is heading their way, despite Yellen fielding questions about the Fed being "out of bullets" and negative interest rates.

The status quo is getting very, very nervous and it's beginning to show. With the US heading into a three-day weekend (Monday is President's Day. In case your boss didn't tell you, you don't have to come in.) and China's markets re-opening on Monday, tomorrow's trading might be more than just a little interesting. The week has gone badly so far, and it is doubtful many will want to head into the break long.

Hate Crime for Thursday:
S&P 500: 1,829.08, -22.78 (1.23%)
Dow: 15,660.18, -254.56 (1.60%)
NASDAQ: 4,266.84, -16.76 (0.39%)

Crude Oil 27.30 -0.55% Gold 1,247.00 +4.39% EUR/USD 1.1316 +0.32% 10-Yr Bond 1.64 -3.58% Corn 360.00 -0.07% Copper 2.01 -0.72% Silver 15.80 +3.36% Natural Gas 1.99 -2.79% Russell 2000 953.72 -1.01% VIX 28.14 +7.04% BATS 1000 19,734.69 -1.33% GBP/USD 1.4484 -0.35% USD/JPY 112.5900 -0.01%

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Stocks Finish Flat, But Internals Signal Something Is Seriously Wrong

US Stocks closed today marginally on the downside, though appearances can be deceiving, as there was outright catastrophe in Japan which spilled over into worried European markets.

With Chinese markets (including the SSE and Hang Seng) the Nikkei took a magnificent beating on Tuesday, losing 918 points, a 5.40% loss on the day, sending the main index of Japan further into bear market territory. Perhaps even more significant, the JCB 10-year note yield fell to a negative number, under ZERO, for the first time in history. This marks Japan and Switzerland as the only countries in the world with negative yields out to ten years, though other countries are rapidly approaching that benchmark, in particular, Germany.

European bourses all finished their session with losses of one percent or more, and, at the open in the US, the situation appeared dire, with Dow futures down more than 150 points. Stocks quickly gained traction, turned positive near midday, flirted with the unchanged line throughout the session until finally giving it up late in the day.

But, the story is not the minor loss the major indices took, but the skew of all manner of metrics toward the negative. Bond yields continued to collapse, with the ten-year down to 1.71%. The spread between the ten and two-year note compressed down to 1.04, something of a danger zone, as the two-year actually rose two bits, to yield 0.67%.

Bank stocks were unhappy spots, with Bank of America (BAC) closing at 12.20, a new 52-week and multi-year low.

Advancers were also far behind declining stocks by a margin of more than 2-to-1. Also of note, the number of new lows (NASDAQ and NYSE combined) dwarfed new highs, 812-70, with only six of those new highs on the Naz. The central planners at the central banks can pin their hats on the day as they successfully halted the manic rallies in silver and gold, for a day, anyway.

Additionally, oil was sent back well below the $30 mark, finishing in New York at $28.38 a barrel.

The VIX is also signaling more turbulence, hanging steadily in the mid-20s range.

The rout in stocks, however, like the gains for the metals, is far from over. Consensus view on Wall Street is still concerned, but not yet panicked. Stocks are still about 5-7% away from official bear market territory, though a few bad days could send the indices reeling in the wrong direction.

In a story by Bernard Condon (AP) about how much money companies have lost doing stock buybacks, we find that the stock buybacks which goosed the market and individual stocks higher over the past six to seven years has been nothing short of a colossal flop and threatens to become an even heavier weight stopped to the stock market.

What stock buybacks did accomplish was to allow executives to boost their companies' earnings without devoting capital to expansion, while at the same time justifying their extraordinary salaries and cashing out their outrageous stock options and/or bonuses.

Investors should be outraged, and righteously so, because these companies should have been either expanding their capital base or market share or distributing dividends to their shareholders. What these stock buyback kings have done is nothing short of a fiduciary failure, which in other industries would be cause for criminal indictments.

Of course, since this all occurred within the cozy regulatory environment that is Wall Street, nothing even close to that will happen. The executives who personally profited from corporate paper profits will walk away with their cash after hollowing out scores of once-healthy companies. It may turn out to be good overall, if a few of the giant multi-nationals like Wal-Mart, Yum Brands and ExxonMobil get cut down to more reasonable sizes and markets open up for more nimble - and honest - competitors.

Tuesday's Cracker-jack pot:
S&P 500: 1,852.21, -1.23 (0.07%)
Dow: 16,014.38, -12.67 (0.08%)
NASDAQ: 4,268.76, -14.99 (0.35%)

Crude Oil 28.38 -4.41% Gold 1,189.20 -0.73% EUR/USD 1.1294 +0.86% 10-Yr Bond 1.7290 -0.35% Corn 360.50 -0.48% Copper 2.04 -2.61% Silver 15.23 -1.30% Natural Gas 2.10 -2.01% Russell 2000 964.17 -0.53% VIX 26.71 +2.73% BATS 1000 20,030.11 -0.07% GBP/USD 1.4468 +0.29% USD/JPY 115.0020 -0.51%

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Stocks Gyrate; Gold and Silver Rally Continues

It's beginning to look a lot like a global currency endgame, with stocks in Japan taking a brutal beating overnight - down 559.43, (-3.15%); along with Hong Kong, as the Hang Seng wasn't singing, losing 455.25, (-2.34%). The Shanghai Stock Exchange got an ominous boost from its own version of America's PPT, losing a mere 10 points, closing at 2739.25.

European bourses likewise were battered, with the majors down between one and 1 1/2%. The US session looks ugly early, but turned around abruptly mid-morning, coinciding with the crude supply report. In what can only be perceived as a counter-intuitive, short-covering move (otherwise known as fake, or phony), oil closed nearly 8% higher on the day, despite the crude supply growing to an all-time high.

The desperation of central banker manipulation of markets to forestall the unavoidable defaults is palpable.

Advice, for whatever it's worth, is to flee stocks or sell rallies, if one must continue to play in the global money casino.

Bank stocks were down once again, with the bank index already in a bear market. It's difficult to mask the issues facing oil production firms with unplayable debts and the banks that issued them oodles of cheap credit over the preceding six to seven years. Defaults are already happening and the pace can only increase.

Meanwhile, gold and silver investors are finally feeling good about their precious metals. Gold touched $1145 an ounce, the best price since late October.

Silver ramped to 14.80, closed in NY at 14.65, the best level in more than three months.

While not quite a breakout, the metals seem an obvious choice in a world of fraud, overvalued equities and treasuries issuing notes with negative interest rates.

Today's fiasco:
S&P 500: 1,912.53, +9.50 (0.50%)
Dow: 16,336.66, +183.12 (1.13%)
NASDAQ: 4,504.24, -12.71 (0.28%)

Crude Oil 32.10 +7.43% Gold 1,139.90 +1.13% EUR/USD 1.1082 +1.42% 10-Yr Bond 1.8810 +0.91% Corn 370.50 -0.54% Copper 2.10 +2.09% Silver 14.65 +2.56% Natural Gas 2.04 +0.64% Russell 2000 1,010.30 +0.14% VIX 21.65 -1.50% BATS 1000 20,553.93 +0.97% GBP/USD 1.4591 +1.27% USD/JPY 118.04

Monday, January 4, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now? MONEY DAILY Predictions Prove Prescient As Stocks Drop on First Trading Day of 2016

As 2015 drew to a close, Money Daily put forward a number of predictions for what 2016 would bring as pertaining to economies and financial markets.

While one day's trading cannot be considered anything more than market "noise," the historic sell-off of January 4 - the first trading day of the new year - proved to be the worst performance to start a year since 2008, and one of the top ten worst starts to a year in market history.

While stocks were down large in the US, they were worse in Asia and Europe. The Shanghai Composite was shaved by 6.9%, Japan's Nikkei tumbled nearly 600 points, a loss of 3.06%.

Germany's DAX was the hardest hit of Europe's majors, losing 4.28%. England's FTSE 100 fell 2.39; France's CAC-40 was down 2.47%.

In the US, most of the carnage was done by midday. Stocks drifted into the closing hour, and were boosted substantially off their lows by a face-ripping, short-covering rally in the last half hour of trading.

It was an unnerving beginning to a year which promises much in the way of surprises with limited upside for stocks, which have been and continue to be wildly overvalued.

Some of the bigger names were high on the list of losers. Netflix (NFLX) fell 3.86%; Alphabet (Google, GOOG) dropped 2.25%; Amazon was the biggest of the tech wrecks, dropping 38.90 points, a 5.76% loss.

WTI crude oil first rose, but came back to earth and was down for the day, finishing around 36.80 on the day.

S&P 500: 2,012.66, -31.28 (1.53%)
Dow: 17,148.94, -276.09 (1.58%)
NASDAQ: 4,903.09, -104.32 (2.08%)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Global Markets Tanking, US Stocks Down Again as Emerging Market Crisis Deepens

Little changed over the weekend to affect stocks, though the major issues remained. If you missed out Saturday Special Edition, it gives a good overview of what's occurring in world markets and what to expect.

Monday's action started on ominous beginnings as the Nikkei tumbled, along with all other Asian indices, most of them sporting losses of between one and two percent. When the world turned to European bourses, selling was the primary move, though losses in Europe were less severe than in Asia.

US indices opened higher, but quickly gave up their paltry gains. The NASDAQ was hardest hit, going negative and staying below the flat line for almost the entire session. The Dow - which closed lower for a fifth straight day - and S&P were up in the morning, down by midday, back up in the afternoon, but late-day selling finished them lower.

Word out of Turkey that the central bank is about to ratchet up interest rates offered some encouragement, and in Argentina, capital controls were announced, to the effect that citizens can buy up to $2,000 of US Dollars per month if their monthly salary is over 7,200 pesos ($900), after a two-year ban on buying dollars. Large businesses and investors were still barred from purchasing US Dollars as a hedge against Argentina's spiraling inflation.

The reaction to Friday's steep decline was more selling of US stocks, with declining issues beating advancers by more than a 3:1 ratio and new 52-week lows surpassing new highs for a second straight session.

The raging currency crisis did not prevent the powers that be from standing on precious metals, which were pounded down after gains in the Far East and again smoked at the NYMEX close and into the thinly-traded Globex session. At 4:00 pm ET, gold was down nearly $10 from its NYMEX high, with silver down more than 15 cents from its high mark.

After the close, tech monster Apple (AAPL) announced earnings that narrowly beat estimates, but, lagging iphone sales and a downbeat guidance for the current quarter sent shares down in after-hours trading by more than five percent.

If the Apple earnings are viewed negatively, it will only add fuel to the fire sale in stocks going forward. More companies are reporting this week, though much of investor focus is on the Fed meeting Tuesday and Wednesday. If the Fed maintains their stance of purchasing $75 billion in bonds per month - which is likely - that could provide some relief, though there seems to be a generally-mistaken idea that the Fed plans on cutting an additional $10 billion from their bond purchasing program each month. Such a move would, under current conditions, only exacerbate the flight of capital from equity markets and possibly plnge the global economy into a wide-ranging recession, which, on its own, may not be avoidable.

DOW 15,837.88, -41.23 (-0.26%)
NASDAQ 4,083.61, -44.56 (-1.08%)
S&P 1,781.56, -8.73 (-0.49%)
10-Yr Note 100.21, +0.13 (+0.13%) Yield: 2.76%
NASDAQ Volume 2.21 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.98 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1410-4350
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 63-119
WTI crude oil: 95.72, -0.92
Gold: 1,263.40, -0.90
Silver: 19.79, +0.028
Corn: 431.75, +2.25

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stocks Decline Globally as QE and ZIRP Show There are Limits

With losers outpacing gainers by a 4:1 margin, stocks got trashed today around the globe, starting in Japan - which triggered the entire equity rout - and ending here in the USA where the Dow lost 108 points, and, despite that stiff selloff, was still easily the best performer of the major indices on a percentage basis.

The NASDAQ and NYSE Composite took the day's losses the worst, off 1.06% and 1.10% respectively. The S&P dropped by just more than one percent.

The worldwide selling spree was set off when the Japanese leadership declined to extend their bond and market easing measures past what was already in place. Speculators expected the BoJ to increase bond and ETF purchases, but came away disappointed.

That sent the Nikkei and Topix tumbling to the downside, and greeted European investors with markedly negative prospects as their trading day began.

In the US, futures were heavily to the downside, resulting in the indices hitting their lowest points just minutes into trading. Remarkably, stocks came nearly all the way back - with the Dow going positive for a few moments before noon, but the low-volume rally fooled nobody and sellers came back in force to take stocks back down for the rest of the session.

Adding to the already nervous environment, the 10-year note bounced up as high as 2.28%, but ended the day at a relatively benign 2.18%, though fear of higher rates and a tapering of the Fed's bond buying program remained a key market driver in both stocks and bonds.

A fortnight of protests in Turkey finally exploded into a somewhat violent repression by government forces, who used water cannons and tear gas to disperse about 10,000 protesters. Also, late in the day, news broke that the ACLU had filed suit against the US government over the NSA's recently-exposed monitoring of nearly all domestic communications, calling the activity unconstitutional.

This is truly a dangerous environment, both for investors and ordinary citizens. Stocks are hovering in a range just below all-time highs and recent lows, while Washington is awash in scandals ranging from covering up the assassination of a diplomat and others in Libya (Benghazi), to wiretapping reporters to having the IRS harass political opposition. In another time, there would be protests all over the Washington Mall and cries for impeachment of president Obama would be drowning out reasonable discourse. But, Americans have grown so used to government malfeasance and the country has become so dependent on government entitlements that nobody seems capable of raising their voice to an administration and a congress that has trampled the constitution ever since 9/11/2001.

What will it take to shake things up and clean the garbage out of our corrupt-to-the-core political and financial system? A severe market crash? A politician with will and integrity? A hot war in Syria? Something else?

Stay tuned for what should develop into a very contentious, heated summer of pandemonium in markets and politics. The events of the past two to three weeks have been just the warm-up act. The main attraction begins when the cronies turn on each other.

Dow 15,122.02, -116.57 (0.76%)
NASDAQ 3,436.95, -36.82 (1.06%)
S&P 500 1,626.13, -16.68 (1.02%)
NYSE Composite 9,255.44, -102.56 (1.10%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,477,085,500
NYSE Volume 3,854,662,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1286-5251
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 131-308
WTI crude oil: 95.38, -0.39
Gold: 1,377.00, -9.00
Silver: 21.65, -0.279

Friday, May 31, 2013

Where's the Money? Sellers Swamp Market Late on Last Day of May

The only major index that finished up on the last day in May was the Nikkei, but, that index closed the month in negative territory - not by much - but that was a result the "unlimited" QE by the BOJ was supposed to make impossible.

Impossibility. It's a word tossed around until the impossible become possible, then probable, then actually happens. The Titanic sank. Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson. Secretariat lost (I was there, at the whitney Stakes at Saratoga in 1973). Sometimes, the Yankees don't make the playoffs, let alone win the world series.

As impossible as it may seem for the Dow Industrials to reverse course in the final 2 1/2 weeks of May and lose all the momentum supplied by $85 billion a month in bond purchases by the Fed, it happened. Unlimited money printing, when al is said and done, may not be the panacea for free market capitalism. In fact, it may be just the opposite, and Mr. Market may finally have seen enough, though we probably won't know, at the earliest, until Friday of next week, when the June employment data is released in the BIS non-farm payroll figures.

If this is the beginning of the end for failed central bank policy-making, that may take longer to discern.

In any case, stocks meandered in the early going on Friday, before settling into selling mode at 2:00 pm EDT, and really accelerating in the final hour of trade. There doesn't need to be a reason, just a sentiment, which could be a reality: that the general world economy is slow at best, receding, at worst.

It could be technical, since the US indices were making new all-time highs on just about a daily basis until just about a week ago.

The culprit could be bonds, as the 10-year's spike to 2.18 intra-day had some investors and speculators re-examining the stocks versus bonds paradigm.

Or it could be Ben Bernanke, whose exit strategy from the relentless easy money will be to retire from the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve. We wish him... well, we're not going there.

In any case, stocks sold off to give the Dow and S&P back-to-back losing weeks for the first time this year, with possibly more to come. Volume on the day was quite robust, the A-D line was better than 4:1 losers over winners, and, no, the number of new 52-week lows did not exceed the new highs, but it was close.

To finish off what could be a watershed week, here's Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks performing part of today's title, "Where's the Money" from the 1972 album of the same name:

Dow 15,115.57, -208.96 (1.36%)
NASDAQ 3,455.91, -35.38 (1.01%)
S&P 500 1,630.74, -23.67 (1.43%)
NYSE Composite 9,302.27, -157.79 (1.67%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,879,071,500
NYSE Volume 4,366,197,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1358-5007
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 215-182
WTI crude oil: 91.97, -1.64
Gold: 1,392.60, -18.90
Silver: 22.24, -0.447

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Global Equity-Ponzi Bubble Expands (except in Japan)

Apparently, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda just don't have the same financial panache as maybe Barack Obama and Fed head, Ben Bernanke.

If they did, their stock market - the Nikkei - would not have fallen five percent on Thursday, in a continuing downdraft in Japanese equities. Had they the skills of Bernanke, their stocks would have been up, like in the US, where the major averages shrugged off Wednesday's declines and rallied throughout the session.

Then again, maybe the Japanese have something up their sleeve, issuing new foreign exchange margin trading rules within the final hour of trading in New York, which prompted the markets - especially the Dow Industrials - to discard most of the gains on the day and cause the Dollar/Yen carry trade to slip into the red.

In today's economic landscape, controlled almost entirely by central banks, these kinds of things aren't supposed to happen. Stocks are always supposed to go up, the Yen must fall against the mighty US dollar (and all other currencies), bonds stabilize at historical low levels and unicorns puke up skittles and gold nuggets.

Maybe it's that last part - those gold nuggets - that have everybody nervous. Everyone knows that the spot, or paper, or futures gold price has nothing to do with the actual price of gold in physical terms and this disconnect, though held well below the surface purposely, because, in the words of the Great Bernanke, gold is not money and is something of an "ancient relic" in financial terms.

Well, that's just too bad, because gold has always been money, along with silver, and the price one pays for actual physical metal has become disjointed from all those other artificial prices, none of which entitles the holders of some precious scrip to actual, physical metal, and that's all that really counts in the end.

A promise to buy gold or silver or to have gold or silver or to receive gold or silver is not the same as actually holding it in one's possession.

In the long run, gold and silver will always be money. All the paper "equivalents" and substitutes will be about as worthless as... well, pieces of paper.

The wheels of the global Ponzi train to Zimbabwe are about to come off and the differences between that useless spot price and the real price of gold and silver are acting as the catalysts. When the markets finally collapse, which they - by mathematical certainty - must, fingers will be pointed everywhere: at the Fed, at the government, at the rich, at the poor, at Social Security, at China. But gold and silver will be blameless because, THEY ARE MONEY, and they will forever be money, despite Mr. Bernanke's views on the subject.

Dow 15,324.53, +21.73 (0.14%)
NASDAQ 3,491.30, +23.78 (0.69%)
S&P 500 1,654.41, +6.05 (0.37%)
NYSE Composite 9,460.05, +37.56 (0.40%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,746,768,625
NYSE Volume 3,812,669,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4070-2380
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 295-80
WTI crude oil: 93.61, +0.48
Gold: 1,411.50, +20.20
Silver: 22.69, +0.237

Thursday, May 23, 2013

US Stocks Reverse Early Losses; How Buy-Backs Distort Corporate Earnings; John Cleese Plays Merchant Banker

After yesterday's Fed comments, overnight, Japan got whipsawed, with the Nikkei down more than 7% on the session. Markets in Europe also tanked, but here in America, where any news is regarded as good, markets erased massive losses garnered out of the gate (Dow was down 127 points early in the session) and finished nearly flat, though the major indices finished in the red (not enough POMO, one assumes).

What a horrible joke this market continues to be. It is amazing and disgusting at the same time. No matter what, however, it will never go down until the big players deem it is time to do so, and, obviously, today was not that time.

Today brings more information about how the rally in equities has been manufactured by corporations buying back record amounts of stock and thusly skewing earnings reports, making them appear positive when they are nothing but figments of creative accounting.

For simplicity purposes, when a company buys back its own stock, it takes it out of circulation, lowering the number of shares by which earnings are gauged, i.e., EPS or "earnings per share."

So, if Corporation A has 1000 shares outstanding, and profits of $2000, their EPS is calculated thus, $2000 (earnings) divided by 1000 (shares) = $2.00 earnings per share.

When corporation A buys back 100 shares and actually does a little worse, with profits of $1900, this looks positive because EPS is up, because $1900 in earnings is now divided by just 900 shares, not 1000, so the resultant EPS is now $2.11, even though the company is actually shrinking.

This will only become a huge problem when people en masse realize that most corporate profits these days are nothing more than financial trickery, though that could be a long time coming, considering how 95% of America is financially illiterate.

Bottom line, this will eventually be a great thing for America, when the fraud and rot is finally rooted out, because most of these giant corporations will be nothing but hollowed out shells and real Americans can begin rebuilding a real economy.

Max Keiser has the rundown in today's edition of the Keiser Report:

Here's a a comment from ZH, that explains a simple philosophy of life (with a few edits) in response to a comment to this article:

Having wasted the time it took to read most of this article, I found your example to be most profound and gave you the second up arrow. If I could somehow bestow more "ups" I would, but the point is that the article bases the plight of an entire generation - X, in this case - on luck, timing and the evils of the "system."

The article, like most presented by CHS, is more socialist bullcrap and your comment proves him 100% wrong. Anyone with initiative and a little bit of smarts and some skills can become self-sufficient and perhapes even "wealthy" or prosperous, as is the ongoing discussion with MachoMan.

Here's how I define prosperous (for myself, and I think I'm the richest guy in the world): No debt, paid-in-full domicile, with enough land to grow enough food for 1/2 a year for self or family. Steady income stream, few, or no employees. Obviously, I run my own business.

There are many ways to make more money - and keep almost all of it out of the hands of the government leeches - than having a "job." A job or career is like a yoke around one's neck; one is forever tied to that particular skill set. When that skill set becomes antiquated or overtaken by technology, one immediately becomes lost. Those who do for themselves almost never reach this state; instead, they find new ways to do things, are constantly in search of better ways to escape the tyranny of the system. Stay in the system and your life gets ruled by it. You become a slave to debt, government or keeping up with your peers, any one of which will suck the life out of you.

Stop measuring success by money and you'll find a richness of life right in your own back yard. I strongly recommend reading anything by Gene Langsdon, but especially the Contrary Farmer's Invitation to Gardening. Lots of insight on life, living and growing stuff you can EAT.

As an aside, I broke up with a gal eight months ago who was totally materialistic, to whom nothing mattered except how much one made, how new one's car was and how many cool gadgets you had. Life is so much richer since I began reading Langsdon (last year) and left that simple-minded troll behind. (And, no, I'm not bitter. I am justified.)

Bottom line, ditch that dead-end job and become your own boss. Take some responsibility for your own life and stop whining. You'll feel better and might just thrive on your own.

Since it's only Thursday and the major indices are already staring at losses for the week, a bit of humor at the expense of bankers seems most appropriate, as in the clip below wherein Monty Python's John Cleese plays Merchant Banker.

Dow 15,294.50, -12.67 (0.08%)
NASDAQ 3,459.42, -3.88 (0.11%)
S&P 500 1,650.51, -4.84 (0.29%)
NYSE Composite 9,466.81, -41.24 (0.43%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,720,003,000
NYSE Volume 4,272,195,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2807-3659
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 85-59
WTI crude oil: 94.25, -0.03
Gold: 1,391.80, +24.40
Silver: 22.51, 0.036

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Disaster Dominates Markets

The general perception of the disaster in Japan - caused by a massive 9.0 earthquake and the resultant tsunami - is, as it should be, one that measures the human tragedy above the resultant damage to property and goods. Surely the people whose homes have been either crumpled by the force of the quake or simply washed away by the flooding sea waters face unknown futures.

It is still too early to tell how the government in Japan will deal with the now-homeless residents of the region most-affected, but the initial response has been less-than-heartening. The most glaring examples of ineptitude and unpreparedness have come in the form of communications surrounding the still-unfolding nuclear disaster, the third leg of the crisis and possibly the most severe.

Whether it is unwilling or simply unable to assess the situation at the various reactors that have been damaged, the government's response has been self-contradictory and incorrect at worst or unreliable and confusing at best. What is known is that two reactors at the Fukushima facility have suffered irreparable damage, suffered explosions and possibly begun to partially melt down. Radioactive gasses have been released both on purpose and by accident, though the danger of a full-blown nuclear nightmare still exists, despite many reports to the contrary.

Barring complete and concise factual information, a commodity in quite short supply in the island nation, there is simply no way of knowing exactly the conditions on the ground. As nuclear power events go, this one is still closer to the beginning than the end, though many experts are hopeful that the unstable rods can be quieted with a combination of sea water and boric acid. In any case, reactors #1 and #3 at the facility are kaput, with #2 also reportedly damaged.

An evacuation zone of some 20 kilometers suggests the release of radiation into the atmosphere has already gone well beyond a dangerous level to making the area in a 12-mile radius of the plant temporarily uninhabitable, as is the situation along miles of coastal land subsumed by the tsunami.

Capital and financial markets have done their level best to downplay the short and long term effects of the total disaster, though they too are fishing in a deep and muddied stream of information. There are still too many unknowns to make critical assessments and business decisions. One thing is for certain, that the costs will run much higher than initial estimates of $180 billion. Close to 10% of Japan's population has been directly affected, while the rest of the population has, and will, suffer tangential effects.

To a country as small - geographically - as Japan, this disaster is a game-changer. Even in well-protected Tokyo, there's incidental damage to personal property in addition to a high emotional toll, which would be a mistake to underestimate.

Being one of the largest economies in the world, though one of the least stable, Japan will recover and rebuild, but the effort will take years, not months, after the effects have long since dropped off the top of the news. That's why the markets probably will be unsettled to lower for the near term. The issues facing the Japanese people have the potential to have long-reaching effects into the global economy.

As such, stocks were off world-wide with a few exceptions; the Nikkei was down more than 6%.

In New York, the major indices reversed Friday's gains with a gap-down open, plunged through the morning, settled at resistance and gained into the close, though the effort was more day-trading than anything else. Volume was lower even than Friday, bordering on being one of the slowest trading days of the year.

Dow 11,993.16, -51.24 (0.43%)
NASDAQ 2,700.97, -14.64 (0.54%)
S&P 500 1,296.39, -7.89 (0.60%)
NYSE Composite 8,193.96, -54.57 (0.66%)

Losers backed down winners by a pretty healthy degree, 4416-2088. On the NASDAQ, new lows topped new highs for the third straight session, 75-33. Over on the NYSE, new highs narrowly nipped new lows, 37-30. It is advised to keep a close eye on the daily new highs/lows, because the markets are in flux and seeking direction. It's still looking like a 65-70% probability that the markets have already made a turn and the dominant direction for the next six to eighteen months will be lower.

NASDAQ Volume 1,810,942,250
NYSE Volume 4,571,130,500

Commodities were affected by the Japan disaster, though to a much smaller degree. Front end crude oil on the NYMEX spent most of the day under pressure, but ended up with a marginal gain of just 3 cents, at $101.19. Between the reduced demand in Japan and the still-unsettled situation in the Middle East, prices could go either way, but the trend seems to be following global trends lower.

Gold was up $3.10, to $1,424.90, but silver shed 10 cents, to $35.84. Both of the dominant precious metals are trading near record highs, consolidating for another leap forward. Any major global event of consequence will send both gold and silver off like bottle rockets, though with the momentum already built in, no further catalyst is really needed, as the continual, non-stop printing of fiat dollars, yen, yuan and euros is providing more than enough fuel for the PM fire.

Markets don't get much more distorted and unpredictable than when a major natural disaster unfolds. Putting that on top of an already shaky foundation and wasteful stimulus is a witches brew of unknowable mystical monetary force.