Showing posts with label PPI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PPI. Show all posts

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Markets Finish Week On Positive Note

Stocks shrugged off Thursday's minor descent with a ho-hum advance in Friday's session, the Dow ending the week at record highs and its fifth straight week of gains.

After PPI and CPI data showed inflation on the rise, market participants were content to trade upwards, as inflation expectations are supposedly a key to the Fed keeping their promise to raise interest rates again this year, purportedly by 25 basis points in December.

The Fed has been desperately seeking consumer inflation, targeting two percent, but prices have remained stubbornly low according to the widely-used government data.

So long as inflation continues to rise and unemployment remains at historically-low levels, the Fed sees a path to higher interest rates and a cushion against any economic headwinds.

Of course, the Fed needs to continue their narrative for normalization of interest rates, which have been one percent or lower for almost all of the 21st century and have been in that range continuously since the crash of 2008.

All of the major indices ended the week with gains, albeit small ones of less than 1/2 percent.

The level of complacency in the financial community is mind-boggling.

At the Close, Friday, October 13, 2017:
Dow: 22,871.72, +30.71 (+0.13%)
NASDAQ: 6,605.80, +14.29 (+0.22%)
S&P 500: 2,553.17, +2.24 (+0.09%)
NYSE Composite: 12,352.00, +13.26 (+0.11%)

For the week:
Dow: +98.05 (+0.43%)
NASDAQ: +15.62 (+0.24%)
S&P 500: +3.84 (+0.15%)
NYSE Composite: +34.31 (+0.28)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Adam Smith, Grains, Silver, the PPI, and Deflation

For months, if not years, Federal Reserve officials have been harping on the absence of inflation during their era of unrelenting quantitative easing (money printing). This phenomenon has baffled the pointed heads of the Fed, since it would be only natural for prices to rise with the advent of scads of fresh money hitting the market.

The problem for the Fed is simple. Their transmission lines have been blunted for the past eight years, with their easy money stopped at the bank level, never actually reaching commercial or consumer participants in the general economy. Thus, stocks, bonds and various currencies have experienced outsize gains - those assets experiencing above average appreciation, i.e., inflation - while the more mundane elements of the vast economic landscape have wallowed in a regime of low inflation, disinflation or outright deflation.

As the Fed prepares to sell off assets from its enormous ($4.4 trillion) balance sheet, the matter of price inflation has once again become a major concern. Fed officials disingenuously mutter on and about wage growth, seeking to convey the impression that they are somehow concerned for the welfare of workers (labor). Wage growth, which has stagnated since the year 1999 if not earlier, is a false argument for inflation. what the Fed wants is price inflation for everyday goods, commercial mid-production products, and base goods.

It's not happening.

In his magnificent tome, "The Wealth of Nations," author Adam Smith takes pains - and many pages - in discussion of nominal prices, concerning himself in his writings with the price of corn. Scholars rightfully insist that Smaith's intention was to show how prices in base goods are more important a measurement of economic health than pricing in currency.

With that knowledge, variations in currencies and base grains - wheat, corn, rice - can serve as an impressive measurement of real inflation, since the cost of producing marketable grain from hectares of farm land is somewhat non-variable, considering that the labor and fuel costs are relatively static.

In other words, since farmers are paying their hired hands roughly the same wage and the cost of operating the machinery to harvest the grains is also somewhat static, the price of finished grain in terms of currencies of choice - in his case, silver, can determine whether the environment is inflationary, deflationary, or neutral.

This morning's release of PPI data showed an increase of 0.4% month-over-month and a rate of 2.6% year-over-year. The increase puts the PPI at a level last seen in 2012. CPI (Consumer Price Index) remains mired in mediocrity, at a rate of 1.9% annually. That is the final inflation number, though it is hardly a reliable one.

Since the US economy is so vast and dynamic, it's difficult to get a grip on the overall flow of anything, though it's fairly certain that the inflation rate is higher than what the government is reporting.

On the other hand, taking into account Adam Smith's famous measurements, grains - the basis for much of what Americans and animals of husbandry eat - have crashed in recent weeks and months, along with silver, which has been rangebound for the past four years and is thus a benign measurement, useful in actual discussions of nominal prices.

On that basis, the Fed is likely to be disappointed in their inflation expectations. Since their data is so badly maligned, it cannot be trusted, while Adam Smith's has stood the tests of time.

It's deflation, as far as the eye can see, no matter what the Federal Reserve officials - who have proven, time and again, to be nothing more than dunces with degrees - try to squeeze out of the economy. The deflation is especially evident considering the levels of price suppression in silver. Were silver to rise to somewhat more realistic levels, the cost of buying a bushel or wheat or corn or rice would fall substantially.

Stocks made new all-time highs on Wednesday, but are pulling back in early trading Thursday morning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pre-FOMC Forecast: Stocks Steady, Sell Bonds, Buy Silver And Gold

There's an interesting set-up to today's expected FOMC 25 basis point (0.25%) hike in the federal funds rate.

The Yen has collapsed 19% in the last few months, the $USD is now at a 13-year high and stocks are at one of their most overbought levels in 100 years.

If that last statement about stocks being wildly overvalued doesn't give one pause, consider the situation the last time the Fed raised interest rates. It was a year ago, last December. On the day of the rate increase, December 16, the Dow Industrial Average closed at 17,749.09. The index dipped and dodged for two weeks, re-rallying back to close at 17,720.98, December 29, never quite getting back to previous highs.

But, when the new year dawned, the floodgates opened as sellers emerged from the shadows, many of them likely taking advantage of tax rules on profitable trades, mostly allowing those profits from 2015 to float tax-free until April of 2017 (the future) if sold in 2016. Tricky, allowable, rational and fully legal was this tactic which in effect dropped the Dow by a shade over 11 percent to a closing quote of 15,766.74 on January 20.

That was officially correction territory, and, while the rest of the trading community was wondering if this was going to be a 2008 redux, the Fed and its central banking brethren quietly began undermining market fundamentals (again, surprise!) by surreptitiously buying equities through proxies, particularly, the Bank of Japan, notorious for market meddling in everything from auto parts to currencies to yes, Virginia, stocks.

As it turned out, the trade was a worthwhile one for those central banking and insider trading folks. The Dow is now hurtling headlong towards 20,000, so, depending on which stocks the proxies were buying, they may have profited upwards of 25%.

Is the market rigged, or is it ready to face the awful reality of a federal funds rate at 0.50-0.75% The horror! One is amazed at not only the audacity of the central banking cartel, but also its awesome good fortune on all matters regarding their (your) money.

Getting back to the set-up from last year, the yen was down only 10% from September through December of 2015, about half of its decline this year. Can history repeat, and with even better results? That's one heck of a bet, if one is so inclined. For the rest of us, it looks like sitting on the sidelines for the rest of 2016 might turn out to be a profitable move.

It's of dubious probability that stocks are going to stage any kind of dramatic rally, so, what's the play, and when.

It's not often that Money Daily offers specific investment advice, but, taking a gander at what's happened to gold and silver the past few months (gold dropping from above $1300 to below $1160 and silver dipping from near $20 per ounce to around $17 currently), the opportunity is available to not necessarily make a killing, but to preserve some wealth in precious metals, you know, those things that have been considered money for thousands of years, gold and silver.

Being that Money Daily is more of a silver surfer than a gold bug, the recommendation is for silver at any price below $16.00. The market will not likely tolerate downside below $14.50, and the potential is there for a fabulous move upside, without the prerequisite dip.

So, here's the scenario. Stocks will remain steady or turn upwards for the remainder of December. After all, what's Christmas without a Santa Claus rally? Remember, stocks are wildly overpriced and overdue for some corrective medicine. The dollar should get a good, hard beating, but it probably won't because other major economies are in much worse shape.

It gets more complicated, because a strong dollar makes US goods more expensive overseas, and, if our newly-elected president has his way, imports are going to be heavily taxed, and soon. A trade war is likely to erupt by mid-2017.

Bond yields should benefit from rising interest rates, whereas gold and silver should see further price deterioration.

The wild cards are many, but the obvious one is inflation. If the Fed continues resolutely on course to foment inflation above two percent (impossible, say some, though the PPI came in today with a surprising gain of 0.4% for November, at the same time industrial production dipped 0.4% and capacity utilization also fell, to a six-month low of 75.0%.

While the majority of mainstream idiot economists pay scant attention to the latter two data points, CEOs and real economists take these numbers seriously. How is there going to be inflation when industrial production is slowing or stagnant and utilization is only 75% when the norm for growing economies is closer to 85%? Yet, there it is, with producer prices advancing at an annualized rate of 4.8%. Tomorrow's release of CPI for November will be the final nail in the coffin of controlled destruction economics engineered by the Fed and foreign central bank proxies.

Sorry if there's hardly anything positive in this report, but the era of central bank meddling, manipulating and needling intervention is in need of departure. They've managed to create an economy that benefits only those in the know, at the expense of taxpayers and citizens worldwide. It's like a giant plantation, with a healthy portion of worker paychecks - via taxes, fees, inflation and other theft - as the harvest.

You're being fattened and groomed for the slaughter or shearing, in a world which allows most to gain marginally but not substantially. Those without an escape hatch like a side business or secret gold vault are victims of mediocrity, though most will never notice and hardly ever complain.

So, off we go to FOMC land, with the big announcement (that's sarcasm, friend) fewer than two hours away.

Reiterating the call for silver surfing, WAIT. It's difficult with silver at such bargain levels, but it's almost sure to go lower, especialy if it goes a little higher. The central bankers - who hate competition from other forms of money - simply won't have it, and, since they have complete control over the paper silver market, they'll crush the price. If silver spikes above $19, it's a missed opportunity, but, bonus, your holdings are now worth more of those teeny-weeny Federal Reserve Notes.

The best timing may be the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, when nobody is paying much attention, or within the first three weeks of January. After the inauguration on the 20th, it's possible that markets will experience some serious turmoil, so there may be more time available to stock up on the stuff that powers solar panels and is the best electrical conductor in the universe, besides being the money of gentlemen.

“Gold is the money of kings; silver is the money of gentlemen; barter is the money of peasants; but debt is the money of slaves.”
-- Norm Franz in his book Money and Wealth in the New Millennium (2001).

More after the market close.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Stock Market Losses Will Not Be Tolerated

In a world which is prodded, directed, managed, and ultimately controlled by central banks and government authoritarians, the narrative is often more important than the reality of life under the thumb.

A case in point comes today - a day after the NASDAQ, S&P 500, Dow Industrial Average each set new all-time highs - in which actual economic data diverged from the preferred narrative of "everything is peachy-keen."

Two important data sets were released prior to the opening of US equity markets, July PPI and July retail sales. Both were disappointing.

PPI came in at -0.4% and retail sales posted a sluggish 0.0% (zero) growth, with the core - ex-autos - down 0.3%. These figures not only suggest deflation, but are actually indicative of a deflationary environment, the sole condition which can awaken central bankers from sound sleep in cold sweats and is, at the same time, a relief for cash-strapped, income-stagnant workers and consumers.

According to the book of central bank policy, should one actually exist, the wants and needs of the average working Jane or Joe is to be disregarded in such an instance, preference given to fat-cat Wall Street types who do no work, produce nothing of value, but rake in billions of dollars in fees, profits, and commissions for their trading activities in the stock market casino.

So it came to be that since stocks had just made all-time highs, a major setback could not and would not be tolerated. The major indices slumped most of the session, but were boosted higher going into the close, with losses trimmed on the Dow and S&P, the NASDAQ actually closing positive, as deemed appropriate by the masters of the the universe.

The rigging of markets is never going to work out long term. Massive mis-allocation of capital has been taking place since the last financial crisis, setting the global economy up for a colossal, catastrophic, cataclysmic collapse. Maybe it won't be as bad as our alliterative case suggests, if only because ordinary people have had time to adjust and prepare, but, for anyone owning stocks at current altitudes, losses are nearly a certainty. That is, unless the entire world remains in a state of suspended animation, normalcy bias, and cognitive dissonance, and the wild-eyed central bankers of the world are allowed to continue their insane policies of negative interest rates, naked purchasing of equities (already a de facto policy of the BOJ and ECB, still a clandestine operation by the US Fed), stimulus, and maybe, if we're really lucky, helicopter money.

The week ended well for the titans of Wall Street. Have a (few, lots of, keg of) beers, enjoy the weekend, and sleep on it.

Friday's Figures:
Dow Jones Industrial Average
18,576.47, -37.05 (-0.20%)

5,232.89, +4.50 (0.09%)

S&P 500
2,184.05, -1.74 (-0.08%)

NYSE Composite
10,820.79, -15.26 (-0.14%)

The weekly figures weren't all that impressive, though the NASDAQ recorded its seventh consecutive weekly gain.

For the Week:
Dow: +32.94 (+0.18%)
NASDAQ: +11.77 (+0.23%)
S&P 500: +1.18 (+0.05%)
NYSE Comp.: +37.92 (+0.35%)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Retail Sales, Inventory, PPI Fall; Stocks Full Steam Ahead

Events of the day no longer matter, as we are clearly in the final stages of a global financial catastrophe, one which few will see coming, though signs of malaise and deconstruction are everywhere.

On the day, March retail sales were reported to be off by 0.3%, that being a negative, as opposed to a positive, which was expected. Despite the obvious collapse of the consumer pocketbook, stocks disregarded the data - as per usual - and marched higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average arching towards the magic 18,000 mark, a number that has not been seen on Wall Street or anywhere since mid-July of last year.

PPI, an inaccurate guide to wholesale inflation, fell 0.1%, on expectations of a rise of 0.3%, another blow to the Fed's inflation targeting of two percent, and yet another arrow in the quiver of the punchy speculators who view all bad economic news as good.

Business inventories for February also fell, by 0.1%, a result of over-ramping holiday buying without the resultant sales. Businesses find themselves largely overstocked, and have no need to build inventories, especially at a time in which the global economy is either not growing at all or actually contracting.

Meanwhile, anecdotal reports of falling food prices are rafting throughout the US economy. One consumer reported a dozen eggs at $1.50, when they were $3.00 or more just six months ago, due largely to a 2015 bird flu which decimated the nation's chicken population.

Therein lies the conundrum: with gas prices low, food prices falling, consumers are still finding difficulty opening their wallets and spending. Primary culprits include excessive taxation, health care (Obamacare), college tuition, and high housing costs, be they either renting or owning, and, since making ends meet via interest on savings has become a relic of a bygone era, people are also paying down debt.

It doesn't matter to Wall Street. Main Street could shrivel up and die - which, in many smaller cities it already has - and stocks would still enjoy the speculative splendor of negligible interest rates.

Splurge, baby, splurge.

DJIA: 17,908.28, +187.03
S&P 500: 2,082.42, +20.70
NASDAQ: 4,947.42, +75.33

Crude Oil 41.55 -1.47% Gold 1,244.10 -1.33% EUR/USD 1.1277 -0.95% 10-Yr Bond 1.76 -1.07% Corn 373.75 +3.03% Copper 2.17 +1.14% Silver 16.24 +0.08% Natural Gas 2.04 +1.80% Russell 2000 1,129.93 +2.19% VIX 13.84 -6.80% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4206 -0.43% USD/JPY 109.3075 +0.67%

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are We Recovering Enough?

Editor's Note: Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. Well, it's now March, 2015, and, after a year off, little has changed, but Fearless Rick is once again re-charged to begin making daily (Monday - Friday) posts. This is, with hope, the first of many...

The following list is courtesy of the good squids over at Goldman Sachs.

From the start of February through March 2, these are the misses and beats of various US macro data.


1. Personal Spending
2. Construction Spending
3. ISM New York
4. Factory Orders
5. Ward's Domestic Vehicle Sales
6. ADP Employment
7. Challenger Job Cuts
8. Initial Jobless Claims
9. Nonfarm Productivity
10. Trade Balance
11. Unemployment Rate
12. Labor Market Conditions Index
13. NFIB Small Business Optimism
14. Wholesale Inventories
15. Wholesale Sales
16. IBD Economic Optimism
17. Mortgage Apps
18. Retail Sales
19. Bloomberg Consumer Comfort
20. Business Inventories
21. UMich Consumer Sentiment
22. Empire Manufacturing
23. NAHB Homebuilder Confidence
24. Housing Starts
25. Building Permits
26. PPI
27. Industrial Production
28. Capacity Utilization
29. Manufacturing Production
30. Dallas Fed
31. Chicago Fed NAI
32. Existing Home Sales
33. Consumer Confidence
34. Richmond Fed
35. Personal Consumption
36. ISM Milwaukee
37. Chicago PMI
38. Pending Home Sales
39. Personal Income
40. Personal Spending
41. Construction Spending
42. ISM Manufacturing


1. Markit Services PMI
2. Nonfarm Payrolls
4. Case-Shiller Home Price
5. Q4 GDP Revision (but notably lower)
6. Markit Manufacturing PMI

OK, so the US economy is going backwards at a 7:1 ratio of Misses to Beats, but stocks, since the beginning of February, have been roaring (today excluded).

The point is that stocks are ignoring the somber truth that the US economy is running on fumes and Wall Street is running on pretty much less than nothing (kinda like the motto for the NY Lottery - a dollar and a dream).

There are collapsing scenarios unfolding everywhere, from the disgusting behavior of executives at Lumber Liquidators (LL), who were exposed on 60 Minutes this past Sunday. There, the CEO says he didn't now that the below-cost flooring coming out of China didn't meet California (and much of the rest of the US states) standards for toxic emissions, especially formaldehyde. Sad fact is that after being punched down on Monday, the stock rallied more than 5% on Tuesday, but, worry not, it was at nearly 70 about a week ago, and was punished well before the TV coverage, down to around 40 now. Somebody knew something and obviously was front-running. Nothing new there, move along...

The award for most disgusting public display over the past few days is split between three distinct candidates:

  • 1. The US congress, for cheering on the speech of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in a joint meeting.
  • 2. The utter stupidity of millions on Twitter over whether some dress was white and gold or blue and black. Hasn't anyone ever heard of distortion?
  • 3. The cops who shot the homeless guy in Los Angeles.

Like I said at the outset, not much has changed over the past year (or five years, for that matter). We're still kicking the can down the road, entrapped in a senseless bout of normalcy bias which is allowing the elite segment of society (Wall Street and DC, mostly) to trample on our freedoms and steal every last cent from the middle and lower classes, along with every shred of dignity.

Yep, like I said when I stopped writing daily diatribes a year ago, nothing is going to change until the Fed stops pumping money into the system. Well, they actually did stop, in the third quarter of last year, but the QE baton was quickly raised by Japan, and will shortly be taken up by the ECB, so, don't expect much to change any time soon. We've got at least a year and a half before the federal funds rate (you know, that one that seems to be permanently stuck between 0 and 0.25%, the rate at which the TBTF banks borrow) gets anywhere close to one percent, and even that could cause a panic in stocks.

In the meantime, the Baby Boomers are trying to figure out how to retire without any interest income, and that's an increasingly difficult trick, since the only reasonable yield one can get is at the far end of the curve, in 30-year bonds, currently hovering around 2.75%. $100,000 invested at that rate returns a whopping $2750 a year, so, you have to put up (and tie up) a million bucks just to live barely above the poverty level. Not much fun when you're 70 years old.

Deflation... it's what's for dinner (after the cat food).

Dow: 18,203.37, -85.26 (-0.47%)
S&P 500: 2,107.78, -9.61 (-0.45%)
Nasdaq 4,979.90, -28.20 (-0.56%)

More tomorrow...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Stock Stories: Best Buy, Intel, Citi, more; What Does Friday Hold; Up or Down?

Markets reversed direction again on Thursday, evening out the week at two down, two up sessions with a weekly gain or loss for the major averages hanging in the balance, all coming down to Friday's closing bell.

The Dow Jones Industrials are 20 points below break even for the week, the S&P is already in the green, by a scant 3.52 points and the NASDAQ is defiantly 44.02 into positive territory, so unless Friday is dramatically lower, there's a very good chance that all three averages will finish the week with positive returns. Jolly good.

Interest rates, particularly the 10-year note, have been trending gradually lower through the first two weeks of 2014, with the lid fully on inflation expectations after this week's PPI and CPI nothing-burger-type data.

Making headlines was Best Buy (BBY), the remaining national electronics retailer, was absolutely bludgeoned, down more than 28% on the day, after reporting total holiday same-store sales dropped 0.8% from the previous year, while analysts so an increase of 0.5%. Total revenue declined to $11.45 billion in the holiday period from $11.75 billion a year earlier, and the company lowered its fourth-quarter guidance. With fourth-quarter and full-year results still forthcoming, investors took a quick exit, en masse, leaving many searching for answers to the retail conundrum that was the 2013 holiday season.

Citigroup reported adjusted earnings of $0.82 a share which missed on estimates of $0.96. Revenue also missed coming in at $17.94 billion versus estimates of $18.18 billion, down from last year's $18.66 billion. The company also announced it will replace all customer debit cards involved in the Target data breach last month, sending shares down 2.39 to 52.60 at the close, a loss of 4.35%.

After the bell, Intel reported a slight miss at 0.51 cents per share on estimates of 0.52 and issued some downbeat guidance, sending shares lower by more than 3% in after-hours trading.

American Express (AXP) and Capital One (COF) each missed on their fourth-quarter reports, sending shares down in the after hours. American Express reported a one-cent miss (1.25 vs. 1.26), while credit provider misses by a solid dime - 1.45 versus expected 1.55 - prompting the question from investors, "what's in their wallet?" Clearly, it was not what they were hoping.

DOW 16,417.01, -64.93 (-0.39%)
NASDAQ 4,218.69, +3.80 (+0.09%)
S&P 1,845.89, -2.49 (-0.13%)
10-Yr Note 99.15, +0.91 (+0.92%) Yield: 2.85%
NASDAQ Volume 1.83 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.46 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3069-2613
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 382-38
WTI crude oil: 93.96, -0.21
Gold: 1,240.20, +1.90
Silver: 20.05, -0.08
Corn: 428.00, +2.25

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stocks Rocket Higher as Government Begins Falling Apart; Warp Speed, Bennie!

OK, here are some facts and figures.

The White House is embroiled in three separate scandals (Benghazi, IRS, AP wiretaps), any one of which could be cause for impeachment (which is the preferred action, right now).

Attorney General Eric (Worthless) Holder testified and was grilled by congressmen before the House Judiciary Committee on a variety of issues, not the least of which were questions surrounding the wiretapping of AP reporters and editors. Holder, a typical administration slime-ball, who has prosecuted exactly zero criminal bankers, has recused himself from the AP investigation. How convenient!

The PPI for April was a massive misfire, signaling deflation in the face of the Fed's relentless, non-stop money printing. Expectations were for a reading of -0.5, which in itself would be anti-inflationary enough - and in direct opposition to the wishes of the Fed - but the number came in at a depressing -0.7.

Empire State Manufacturing was supposed to improve from a depression-era-level of 3.1 in April to 3.5 in May, but, surprise, manufacturing contracted in the New York region, dropping to -1.4.

April Industrial Production was off 0.5% and Capacity Utilization fell from 78.3 to 77.8%.

That's three scandals, each with its very own investigation about to be launched and four misses on economic data out of four. It's like a baseball hitter on steroids striking out four times and making three errors in the field. Not very impressive.

So, how do equity markets continue to march higher?

If anyone has answers please call 1-800-LUV-FRAUD, 1-866-2-WEIRD or 1-877-I-RIGGED.

A computer algorithm will answer your call and assimilate your responses, after which they will be discarded.

Thank you.

Dow 15,275.69, +60.44 (0.40%)
Nasdaq 3,471.62, +9.01 (0.26%)
S&P 500 1,658.78, +8.44 (0.51%)
NYSE Composite 9,551.32, +35.47(0.37%)
NYSE Volume 3,946,509,500
Nasdaq Volume 1,786,600,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3592-2883
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 806-41 (!!!!!!)
WTI crude oil: 94.30, +0.09
Gold: 1,396.20, -28.30
Silver: 22.66, -0.721

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stocks Slide on Fiscal Cliff Stalemate, Fed Confusion

As they've done after the occasion of every recent FOMC meeting, traders sold off on the news, though today's slide was exacerbated at least a little by angst over the ongoing stalemate in Washington over fiscal cliff issues.

John Boehner, Speaker of the House, went before the microphones this morning, followed by Senate leader Harry Reid, and the two of them managed to give Wall Street a dose of temporary depression, sending stocks lower throughout the session.

The major indices slid into the final hour, but rebounded off their lows of the day when news leaked that President Obama and Boehner were to meet at the White House late this afternoon. While it will probably amount to nothing, as have their previous talks, the markets viewed it as slightly positive.

Traders are still mulling over yesterday's FOMC announcement, in which Chairman Bernanke tied raising interest rates to the unemployment rate and inflation. It's something of a crude cobbling of numbers that may or may not make sense, but, in the best counterintuitive spirit, lower unemployment and a recovering economy wiht low inflation (all good) would probably send stocks screeching into the abyss because interest rates would be on the rise.

Whatever the case and however it eventually plays out, it's a scenario unlikely to arrive any time soon, probably not for at least another 12 months, but it still has investors somewhat spooked.

Some good news for the economy came in the form of lower initial unemployment claims dropped to 343K in the most recent reporting period, on expectations of 375K. Retial sales, however, were a little disappointing, up just 0.3% in November, though that was better than the -0.3% from October.

The PPI was downright deflationary, posting a decline of 0.8% in November. Tomorrow's CPI reading will give an indication of price pressure or the lack thereof at the consumer level.

Dow 13,170.72, -74.73 (0.56%)
NASDAQ 2,992.16, -21.65 (0.72%)
S&P 500 1,419.45, -9.03 (0.63%)
NYSE Composite 8,338.62, -42.26 (0.50%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,800,313,250
NYSE Volume 3,299,683,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1847-3671
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 85-58
WTI crude oil: 85.89, -0.88
Gold: 1,696.80, -21.10
Silver: 32.36, -1.427

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stocks Continue Roller Coaster Ride; Google Pops on Earnings

In this space a couple of days ago, it was theorized that stocks were not offering directional signs to investors, and that was on a nearly 200-point drop on the Dow.

Since then, just two days hence, the major indices have erased those ugly losses and added to the upside, with gusto.

Despite the highest number of initial unemployment claims since January (380,000) being announced prior to the opening bell stocks started a slow progression to the upside which lasted all session long, no doubt spurred on by the whirring computer algos which, as machines, only do as they are programmed.

The paucity of trades didn't slow the market in the least, as volume was, as per usual, non-existent for the most part. Somewhere in between the flat PPI reading (no kidding, PPI was unchanged for March) and Google's first quarter earnings announcement, somebody let slip a rumor of more QE from the Fed, or something like that, at the computer-traders lapped it up like so much cheery data, even though none of the recent spate of speeches by Fed governors included any mention of further easing, except on an iffy basis, that being a severe downturn in the economy.

The markets being more akin to a roller coaster rather than the usual casino-like environment of late, the day-trading brokerages and hedge funds had a field day skewering shorts until they screamed for mercy.

As for the aforementioned Google (GOOG) earnings report, the company - which reported after the bell - blew away estimates by earning $10.08 per share, well beyond the expected $9.66 offered by analysts. The company also announced a 2-for-1 stock split, though the proposal will not be voted on until June, though it is widely considered that it will meet with shareholder approval.

The beat goes on, despite occasional dissonance along the way.

Wells Fargo (WFC) and JP Morgan Chase (JPM) are next up on the earnings parade, reporting well before the bell on Friday morning.

Dow 12,986.58, +181.19 (1.41%)
NASDAQ 3,055.55, +39.09 (1.30%)
S&P 500 1,387.57, +18.86 (1.38%)
NYSE Composite 8,039.95, +127.10 (1.61%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,491,138,875
NYSE Volume 3,543,994,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4410-1193
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 103-39
WTI crude oil: 103.64, +0.94
Gold: 1,680.60, +20.30
Silver: 32.52, +1.00

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stocks Scream Higher on Positive Economic Data

This one will practically write itself.

Stocks were buoyed today by falling initial unemployment claims (down to 348,000 after 361,000 last week), rising housing starts (699K) and building permits (676K), and a very tame PPI number of 0.01. The Phialdelphia Fed's survey of regional economic activity was also up, to 10.2 in February from 7.3 in January.

All of this good news - and the absence of anything untoward from Europe - sent stocks on a day long rally that just kept rising steadily throughout the session. Naturally, the Euro was higher, as that correlation remains wholly intact.

Whether or not one agrees with the numbers, Wall Street made sure to boost stocks one day before options expiry, which may have been the plan all along, since there aren't enough individual investors or opinions other than those espoused by the powers that be, to matter.

Never mind what I said yesterday about the possibility of a nasty correction and repeat after me: "the market must go higher."

The original JP Morgan would be flummoxed. Once, when hounded by rabid reporters asking what the market would do, Morgan casually tossed out an all-time classic. "The market will fluctuate," he said.

We sure could use a dose of Mr. Morgan's common sense, or, at least a few of the silver dollars named after him.

Keep in mind that this is an election year, so that whatever outcome has already been determined, the markets will provide the proper narrative. It appears that Barack Obama is their guy, so it should surprise nobody if unemployment is at 7.3% come November 2nd and the GDP is growing at 3 1/2 - 4%, no matter how convoluted the exercise to get to those numbers.

Which leads to another great quote: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." The phrase was popularized by Mark Twain, who attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli, though the quote never appears in any of Disraeli's published works.

Could Twain have made it up himself? After all, his real name was Samuel Clemens.

And, by the way, since the US seems intent on making Iran a whipping boy, $4/gallon gas is coming, sooner, not later, just in time to eat up the payroll tax cut extension which the congress agreed to this morning and will likely pass on Friday. No free lunch, kiddies.

Dow 12,904.08, +123.13 (0.96%)
NASDAQ 2,959.85, +44.02 (1.51%)
S&P 500 1,358.04, +14.81 (1.10%)
NYSE Composite 8,092.61, +93.96 (1.17%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,890,777,750
NYSE Volume 4,022,471,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4275-1405
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 230-16
WTI crude oil: 102.31, +0.51
Gold: 1,728.40, +0.30
Silver: 33.37, -0.04

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Amazing Stock Market Rally Rolls Along

One of the oldest adages of stock market investing is the time-honored, "the markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent," or something to that effect.

This is particularly poignant in the midst of the current Wall Street "melt-up" which has been ongoing since the middle of December and shows little sign of letting up.

While corporate earnings continue to flow, the latest being from two big banks, Morgan Stanley (MS) and Bank of America (BAC), both of which met or exceeded expectations, though the accounting tricks and tactics employed by the mega-banks leave much to the imagination.

As far as Bank of America is concerned, their beat of expectations of 13 cents per share with a reported 15 cents included a bunch of one-time items and useful reserve and loan loss calculations, embedded deep within their monstrous 110-page quarterly report. Despite the discrepancies in the quarterly, Bank of America bounced higher again today, closing at 6.95, a 15 cent gain, after popping above $7 per share for the first time since Warren Buffett invested $5 billion in the bank in early 2011.

Morgan Stanley actually lost money for the quarter, but lost quite a bit less than expected. The firm’s net loss was $250 million, or 15 cents a share, compared with profit of $836 million, or 41 cents, a year earlier. The consensus expectation was for a loss of 57 cents per share. Traders took the data in stride, boosting the stock to its highest level since October. In this case, even P.T. Barnum would be proud, noting that "there's a sucker born every minute." All the better for momentum chasers in this beat-up financial.

There was a dose of economic data that surprised some and annoyed others, notably bearish investors. Initial unemployment claims came in at a sparkling 352,000 - the lowest number in months - after last week's upwardly revised 402,000. The unemployment figures continue to be a topic of some debate, in that the "seasonally-adjusted" model used by the BLS seems to have forgotten that December was holiday season, chock full of part time and temporary hires. Whatever the case, traders seemed less-than-satisfied with the numbers, as the markets began slowly but ground slowly higher through the session.

December CPI came in flat, after yesterday's -0.1% drop in the PPI, sparking fears of "disinflation" (a Federal reserve governor term) or deflation, the bogey man that haunts Fed chairman Ben Benanke.

Housing starts and building permits were flat to lower, though new home builders have been leading this rally, up more than 10% as a group since the first of the year.

How much longer can the rally last? Tomorrow being options expiration, one would think a major sell-off is in the cards for either Friday afternoon or Monday, though, as stated at the top of this piece, rationality is generally not a hallmark of recent rallies.

If you've not already taken part in this wild market ride, it may be a little late. Stocks are getting extremely overbought, as the advance-decline and new highs vs. new lows figures have been telegraphing lately.

Adding to the upside has been the unusually quiet tones coming out of Europe, as opposed to the rather hysterical daily dispatches that typified the latter half of 2011. Nothing's really changed over there, except perception, perhaps. Europe is mostly headed for a recession, which will hit the middle classes, though Greece, in particular, in already in the throes of a fiscal straightjacket which some might say is emulating a full-blown depression. To the Greeks, most of europe is saying "pay up," to which the Greeks respond with "shut up" or some other suitable and more demonstrable phraseology.

The long and short of it, if one is of the camp that believes a strong stock market is a proxy for a strong general economy, 2012 is shaping up to be a banner year or at least a good effort at kicking the can of economic woes down the road until after the elections in November.

Throwing a bit of cold water on the rally parade, as expected, Eastman Kodak (EK) filed for bankruptcy protection today, and Republican presidential nominee hopeful Mitt Romney has been found to have a number of accounts and holdings in off-shore banks, notably in the Cayman Islands, setting the stage - if he's the nominee - for a battle of ideologies between him as the ultimate one percenter and President Obama as the champion of the 99%.

While that may make for great TV, it's hardly honest, as President O'banker is about as 1% elitist as one can get without actually admitting to it.

Dow 12,625.19, +46.24 (0.37%)
NASDAQ 2,788.33, +18.62 (0.67%)
S&P 500 1,314.50, +6.46 (0.49%)
NYSE Composite 7,819.36, +52.41 (0.67%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,974,862,250
NYSE Volume 4,442,754,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3454-2119
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 261-26 (yes, 10-1 is a bit extreme)
WTI crude oil: 100.39, -0.20
Gold: 1,654.50, -5.40
Silver: 30.51, -0.03

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Market Pops on Bogus ESFS Euro Report; Apple Misses, Tanks

You've got to love this market.

Any little statement or rumor that European Union leaders might throw significant money at their pan-continental debt crisis sends stocks soaring into the stratosphere, and today was one for the record books.

An unusually quiet day, stocks had regained a foothold after Monday's sudden reversal. But, shortly after 3:00 pm EDT, the UK's Guardian reported that France and Germany had agreed to boost the Euro bailout fund - the ESFS - to EURO 2 Trillion, a significant rise, and one that might just help kick the debt can down the road a few months, or even years.

Shortly after the story broke, however, Dow Jones reported that the 2 Trillion Euro figure was actually "still under debate," so, who really knows? At least the market machines and mechanics got what they wanted, a nice 100-point spike in the Dow in about ten minutes time and an S&P close over 1224. Mission accomplished. Now, move along, folks, nothing to see here.

In a day (week, month, year) full of bogus reports, before the open, Bank of America (BAC) reported 3Q earnings of 57 cents per share, but, because of the new math, which includes such exotic flavors as fair value adjustments on structured liabilities and trading Debit Valuation Adjustments (DVA), according to our friends at Zero Hedge, who usually have the best and most-believable dirt, BofA actually had earnings of 0.00, otherwise known as ZERO, Zilch, Nada, Nothing.

Of course, when CNBC and the rest of the supine financial media report, bare-faced, that the nation's largest bank by deposits more than doubled the analyst estimates (0.21) for the quarter, it was off to the races, with somebody shocking BAC shares up 10% by day's end, a stunning 0.61 gain, to the imposing figure of 6.62. While it's technically a 10% gain, it's still rather silly, considering the accounting nonsense being roundly applauded by the criminal bankster elite, and hardly any comfort to those who bought BAC when it was 7, or 8 or even 12. Make no mistake, we've entered the Twilight Zone of financial accounting and there's no turning back.

Along those lines, the Giant Squid otherwise known as Goldman Sachs (GS), also reported before the bell, but it's results were almost believable, showing a loss of 84 cents per share, with losses spread across the company's proprietary trading division, to the tune of $2.5 billion. Ouch. The market's response to the trending data of a company heading decidedly south: a gain of 5.25 (5%) to 102.25 and the financials led all other sectors in the faux rally du jour.

Also before the bell, PPI was reported to be up 0.8% in September on expectations of a rise of only 0.2%, which just happened to be how much the core PPI was up for the month. Somebody obviously missed the memo from the Fed that inflation was transitory, or something along those lines. Inflation in the US is running at an annual rate well over 6%, something the mainstream media hopes you don't notice.

One company which may be adversely affected by the loss of its CEO - the truly brilliant Steve Jobs - is Apple, which announced today after the bell that the company had an outstanding quarter as usual, but, uh, oh, they missed the estimates of 7.39 per share by a bit, reporting earnings for the quarter of 7.05 per share and also came up about a billion dollars short on the revenue end.

As of this writing, Apple shares were trading at 394.13, -28.11 (-6.66%). Not a very pretty picture there.

So, to recap, Goldman Sachs reports a massive loss, Bank of America releases what amounts to a fraudulent earnings report, inflation is about ready for lift-off into hyper-inflation and the market gets a jolly from a questionable report on the size of the European bailout fund. All good fun, no?

With Apple's miss in the after-hours and another couple of big banks - Morgan Stanley (MS) and PNC Financial Services (PNC) - due to report tomorrow, somebody might want to take a closer look at the number of companies that have missed or merely met estimates this earnings season, and maybe add in those who just plain fudged the numbers. But, not to worry, Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) and Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) are also reporting tomorrow and should provide sufficient caloric excess to fuel another rally in the markets.

Wow! You cannot make this stuff up.

Dow 11,577.05, +180.05 (1.58%)
NASDAQ 2,657.43, +42.51 (1.63%)
S&P 500 1,225.38, +24.52 (2.04%)
NYSE Composite 7,341.73, +153.07 (2.13%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,988,896,750
NYSE Volume 5,669,232,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 5211
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 52-65 (Really? No kidding. extremely bearish)
WTI crude oil: 88.34, +1.96
Gold: 1,652.80, -23.80
Silver: 31.83, +0.01

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Greece Will Not Default... This Week, Maybe Next

The Markets

All you need to know about today's "out of the blue" rally.

According to a Bloomberg report:

"Greece is an integral part of the euro area and recent decisions to meet budget targets will help shield the economy," the Greek government said in a statement today following a call between Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

...and with that, it was off to the races for the algo-spitting machines which double for a perfectly-functioning market.

Seriously, there was nothing other than that, oh, well, both PPI and retail sales figures were unchanged from the prior month, so nothing to see, there, really, move along. Something (not sure what) spooked the machines at about 3:30, just after the major indices hit their highs of the day and were careening toward an even bigger ramp up, but whatever it was, it took 140 points off the Dow and made today's extraordinary rally look... ordinary.

So, if reading the Wall Street tea leaves correctly, all that has to happen is for Greece not to default and we'll see Dow 20,000 in a matter of months. That appears to be the general herd mentality.

Just for a reference point, take a look at how far below the April highs the S&P, NASDAQ and Dow are and then rethink that strategy of buying everything that has momentum, like Netflix or Apple or maybe LuluLemon. Here's a hint: the Dow closed at 12810.54 on April 29, the high for the year, and, since we're checking, the close on Decembre 31, 2010 was 11557.51, so we're down for the year and about 1500 points off the high.

So, when Greece does default - because they surely will at some point - whether it be orderly or not, what will stocks be worth then?

Dow 11,246.73, +140.88 (1.27%)
NASDAQ 2,572.55, +40.40 (1.60%)
S&P 500 1,188.68, +15.81 (1.35%)
NYSE Composite 7,199.12, +89.17 (1.25%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,300,166,500
NYSE Volume 4,961,128,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4804-1800
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 52-110
WTI crude oil futures: 88.91, -1.30
Gold: 1819.70, -14.50
Silver: 40.69, -0.44

Thursday, January 13, 2011

No POMO, No Follow-through, BTFD

For the uninitiated, BTFD is an acronym for Buy The F---ing Dip, as relates to stocks in the Bernanke free-money era in which we are currently ensconced. Today's dip, though not great, may be yet another buying opportunity for the momentum-chasers still convinced that buying stocks presents the best profit potential with limits to the downside.

One can hardly argue with the reasoning of the Mo-mo crowd over the past 4 1/2 months, as stocks have been on a tear since Labor day, 2010, and are up whopping amounts from their March 9, 2009 lows. Since it's still smartest to buy low and sell high, any decline, no matter how tiny, represents another chance to cash in on short-term trades, especially those of long duration, which today means a day or longer.

What may have riled markets today were a raft of displeasing data, beginning with a ramp up in initial unemployment claims, reported at 445,000 for the week, as opposed to the "expected" 415,000 and prior week of 410,000. Those figures are seasonally adjusted, with non-seasonally adjusted coming in some 230,000 higher, thus laying sufficient ground that the BLS figures are mostly for show and have not been trustworthy since the early days of the Bush administration.

While the mainstream media continues to drone on about the nascent recovery of the US economy, more than just casual observers are noting that said recovery has never much existed on Main Street and the various stimuli applied to the economy have benefited most Wall Street bankers and politicians who favor the status quo over real action or reform.

On top of the sorry-looking unemployment claims numbers came a PPI that was not very surprising, up 1.1% in December, with the core, which excludes food and energy, up a mere 0.2%, again unsurprising since just about anyone who drives or eats - and that would include just about everybody - has seen rocketing prices at the pump and the checkout counters in supermarkets. Food and fuel prices are accelerating far faster than the economy is growing, which is the express intent of Ben Bernanke's QE efforts, so we are now seeing the first signs of runaway inflation, with surely more to follow.

Stocks took a nose dive at the open, recovered, fell again and then raced higher into the close on short-covering by deft day-traders, which is just about everyone these days. Buy and hold and the former principles of investing have long ago been thrown unceremoniously out the window along with transparency and fair markets. The pre-planned hike by the Fed and Wall Street is working according to plan, and that plan is to squeeze every last dollar out of the middle class until they are on the verge of bankruptcy, starvation or revolt, or a combination of all three.

It is widely assumed that once the middle class is put under such dire conditions, the Fed will ease off the monetary gas pedal and all will return to the normalcy of peace, prosperity, milk, honey, wine and roses. This is assuming much, including that the bankers and other .01% of the population that benefits from the deprivation of the middle class will be sated and allow prices to lower and people to eat, breathe and drive freely without undue economic or political restraint. That is a rather large and unwieldy assumption and the Fed is asking for major trouble should they not know when to apply the brakes, which, if we are to take the nearly 100 years of Fed history as a guide, will not occur as planned, sending the economy careening into a wall of higher prices, stagnant wages, permanent high unemployment and lowered standards of living. Of course, this is all well and good, if you are a globalist, which our leaders in congress, the White House, on wall Street and at the Fed most certainly are.

Dow 11,731.90, -23.54 (0.20%)
NASDAQ 2,735.29, -2.04 (0.07%)
S&P 500 1,283.76, -2.20 (0.17%)
NYSE Composite 8,119.43, -3.55 (0.04%)

As one would expect, declining issues led the charge over advancers, 3530-2909. There were 208 new highs and 10 new lows on the NASDAQ; on the NYSE, 246 new highs to 108 new lows was something out of the ordinary, with the new lows ramping up to levels not seen this year. Volume remained stagnant at low levels as usual.

NASDAQ Volume 1,960,601,750
NYSE Volume 4,822,930,000

Commodities trended lower, except in the agriculture space, where all grains were higher. Crude oil for February delivery shed 46 cents on the NYMEX, to $91.40, still at elevated levels despite storms slowing the rate of travel for the past three weeks. Gold took a major hit, down $14.00 late in the day, to $1374.00. Silver also was bombarded by selling, losing 91 cents, to $28.74. The metals, not conforming to a massive drop in the dollar index - off 0.85, to 79.20, are telling us nothing about current conditions except that the markets simply aren't making much sense right now. Stocks normally would have been up on such a large (>1.0%) move, though the effects of the unemployment condition and inflation gauge may have ameliorated such effect.

Global populations are in for a double-kick of inflation, with energy and food prices leading the way. If this is somehow good for global growth - a starving, immobile mass of humanity - it is beyond the scope of most economic experts. It is only in this new age of never-ending money supply inflation that the world now turns, for better or for worse, 'til death, taxes or $4/gallon gasoline do we part.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Extending Gains, Stocks at 18-month Highs

Oh, Happy Day! If you haven't bothered to pay much attention to this space, you should be well off following the seventh straight advance for the Dow Jones Industrials, which broke and closed above the January highs and now sit at their best levels since October, 2008, when the bear market took its most prominent downside path.

What this would infer is that the financial crisis is fully behind us, recovered from and prosperity is now priced into the market to a substantial degree. Never mind that high unemployment persists and that housing remains in the throes of its worst extended period since the 1930s, money - as measured by the Fed funds rate of ZERO - is dirt cheap and stocks are flying.

Instead of looking this gift horse squarely in the mouth and playing this leg of the rally for all its worth, some of us have serious doubts going forward, though naysayers during spectacular bull trends (this is a bear market rally) are usually shuffled onto the last trains to loserville. No difference this time around, as sentiment has grown overwhelmingly positive. Stocks are the only investment with little risk and high reward, and that's what on everyone's plate.

While those viewing the macro-economic condition as less-than-healthy and still riddled with structural time-bombs, short-term, stocks have provided a great deal of upside action and quality trading plays. Note that the word "trading" was substituted for "investment," as the latter is no longer viewed with much respect. The money is there for the taking today, and take it is what most traders will do.

One tiny detail many may have missed here is that Friday marks a quad-witching day in which stock index options and futures and individual stock options and futures all expire. Being that the betting (note "betting" rather than "investment") has uniformly been to the high side, insider market participants will conclude their self-fulfilling prophecy with healthy gains, just as they have nearly every month and on every such quadruple-witching event of the past four quarters.

Also of note is that the Dow Industrials have now confirmed the breakout by the Transports, keeping Dow Theorists firmly in the back of the bus until such time as another aberration is recognized and then swiftly reconciled. If you expected stocks to rise, then you've hit the bulls-eye, though the reasons for gains may matter more than the actual finished product.

In other words, with easy money, bullish sentiment and no headwinds blowing against them, stocks had little to do but wait until people bid them higher. It's all so neat and simple when a plan comes so sweetly to fruition, no matter the underlying fundamentals.

Dow 10,733.67, +47.69 (0.45%)
NASDAQ 2,389.09, +11.08 (0.47%)
S&P 500 1,166.21, +6.75 (0.58%)
NYSE Composite 7,474.02, +47.32 (0.64%)

The internals were possibly even better than the headline numbers, with 4328 advancing stocks to 2196 losing value. New highs exploded to 1073, versus 77 new lows. That's the largest margin of difference - in either direction - in 16 months, and the best showing for new highs since prior to the bear market which began in late Summer of 2007.

Volume was very strong, owing again to the quad-witching condition.

NYSE Volume 5,549,815,500
NASDAQ Volume 2,166,110,750

Crude oil traders must be thinking there's a boom coming soon, because their pricing is out of this world. Crude closed up another $1.23, to $82.93, close to 18 month-highs itself. Gold was not so lustrous, but still up $1.80, to $1,124.00. Silver closed higher by 17 cents, to $17.50.

A few of the less-noticed economic data sets from the past few days may shed light upon why not everyone is sold on the recovery story. Capacity utilization ticked up a fraction in February, to 72.7%, still horrible. In a robust economy, that number would be over 90%. Consequently, industrial production saw a gain of only 0.1% in February, barely moving the needle.

Housing starts fell to 575,000 in January, again, a feeble number, and PPI, released this morning, showed a decline of 0.6%, or, in other words, outright deflation. However, instead of considering this a portent of a weak, stumbling, or at best, stagnant economy, the take was to call it "tame inflation" as though inflation would magically re-appear in time to rescue the pricing power of businesses.

This bear-market rally has now gone on for 13 months with only two near-corrections of 9% - in June, 2009 and February of this year - hardly the kind of performance one would expect from economic conditions such as exist today. But, Wall Street does as it pleases, and what pleases it most is stuffing more money into it's already lavishly-lined pockets.

Party on, Garth.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is Resistance Futile?

Chartists and technical analysts are fond of using the terms support and resistance when tracking trends in either individual stocks or indices. The terms are widely understood by the investing community, representing key levels for buying and/or selling.

The S&P is said to be close to resistance at 1108, though it appears very likely that this level could be taken out quite easily, if the market remains on its current trajectory. Seems like stocks are all the rage right now, the media having convinced enough people that the economy is on the mend and all will be good down the road of recovery.

Now, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary, especially the absurd notion that producer prices are rising at all. This was expressed in glaring terms by the PPI data from january, which showed a rise of 1.4% in annualized terms. That number had the inflationistas bellowing, though their howling was largely dinned by the shrieks from the initial unemployment claims figures, which, incidentally, were reported during a wicked snowstorm in the Northeast, though most of the reporting is actually done by phone or computer. The number of new unemployment filings was 473,000, a big jump from the 442,000 reported the week prior.

Normally, in a 3.5% GDP, 5% unemployment environment, those number would be about 200,000 or less, so the economy still appears to be bleeding jobs rather than creating them. We were all informed countless times by the financial literati that unemployment was a lagging indicator, though that's a suspect notion, so, we shouldn't be too concerned, should we?

Government and media sources also declared the recession over in the third quarter of last year, when Cash of Clunkers helped push the GDP to somewhere around 2.1% for the quarter. Since that, was, OK, September, we'll say, shouldn't the employment data be more robust, now that we are five months hence?

Of course none of this matters if you question the actual numbers that are routinely tossed about by the feds, states, media and other organizations which track such things. Jobs should not be lagging if US BUSINESSES are growing. Otherwise, it's just accounting gimmicks, cost-cutting and downsizing.

Nevertheless, those intrepid Wall Street investors continue to dive into equities, mostly on any decline in the US dollar, like today, and Tuesday. The bad, unsustainable and eventually self-destructive carry trade is still on, so they party on.

Dow 10,392.90, +83.66 (0.81%)
NASDAQ 2,241.71, +15.42 (0.69%)
S&P 500 1,106.75, +7.24 (0.66%)
NYSE Composite 7,080.38, +45.18 (0.64%)

Advancing issues led decliners, 4177-2270, while new highs beat new lows, 202-30. Once again, the new lows are being squashed by comparisons to last year's bottom. Realistically, there should be very few, and there are. Give this indicator wide latitude in your analysis because it is very skewed to the positive right now. After March 9, and especially by June, the numbers will be much more reliable. Volume was light. The NYSE recorded its third slowest trading day of the year. A good deal of positioning is taking place, and certainly, players are hedged to the max. News flows and data will be critical over the next 30-45 days for determining direction.

NYSE Volume 4,480,385,500
NASDAQ Volume 2,048,994,500

Crude oil continued its ridiculous path, gaining $1.12, to $78.45. Gold dropped $1.10, to $1,119.00. Silver fell 8 cents to $16.02.

Unless stocks really tank on Friday, this week will go down as the second straight gainer and third overall, against four losing weeks. Good luck.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Double Top Breakout for Stocks; Silver Tops $17

The markets continued to tack on gains Monday and Tuesday, confirming a double top breakout on the latter, promising more gains straight ahead. Tuesday's trade was touch-and-go early on, as the market digested solid August retail sales figures (up 2.7%, +1.1 ex-autos) and an uptick in the Producer's Price Index (PPI), which was up a solid 1.7% (+0.2% core). What gave investor's caution was Best Buy's (BBY) quarterly report, in which the nation's largest electronics retailer missed earnings estimates - 0.37 actual vs. 0.42 estimate - but raised guidance for the year.

Expecting much more from the retailer, especially since Best Buy was poised to benefit greatly from the demise of Circuit City, which went bankrupt and closed all its stores earlier this year, the stock sold off, losing 2.09, to $38.32, a dip of more than 5%. The overall market viewed this as another sign that the consumer is not yet ready to open the wallet for discretionary purchases such as LCD TVs, game consoles and other electronic and high-ticket items.

Shortly after 10:00 am, during a question-and-answer period, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke let it slip that the recession was "probably over" which gave everyone a small boost of confidence. Markets really didn't begin to take off until after President Barack Obama's first speech of the day, which ended about 11:30 am. It was as though traders were waiting to see if eithre Bernanke or Obama would drop a verbal bomb. When they didn't, it was off to the races in a broad-based strong rally.

Dow 9,683.41, +56.61 (0.59%)
NASDAQ 2,102.64, +10.86 (0.52%)
S&P 500 1,052.63, +3.29 (0.31%)
NYSE Composite 6,917.07, +37.08 (0.54%)

Advancing issues outpaced decliners by a solid margin, 4183-2254, while new highs registered their highest one-day total since October 2007, at 412. There were 87 new lows, with only 8 of them appearing on the NASDAQ. Volume was once again above normal, as investors rushed to get into equities. The rally continued almost through the end of the session, with stocks closing near their highs. Longer term, the current bull run is more than six months old, though the performance for September, thus far, has been exceptional and in strong opposition to many who were calling for a pull-back.

NYSE Volume 1,496,974,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,400,533,000

Commodities got in on the action as well. Crude oil for October delivery gained $2.07, to $70.93. Gold rebounded, up $5.20, to $1,006.30, but silver was the star of the day, picking up 38 cents per ounce, to $17.00, and higher after the close in New York.

In general terms, this six-month-old rally is getting a little bit winded, as daily gains are measured and not overly large, though by and large the bull market seems to be intact and booming, though a blow-off top could occur at any stage, now that the double top has been confirmed over 9650 on the Dow.

Investors have been taking some money off the table, though much seems to be going right back in to the market, either in sector rotation or buying the same shares on dips, even though there hasn't been much of a break in the upside action.

All the data and speeches by the Fed Chair and the President have set a very positive tone heading into fall and the upcoming earnings season. The downside is that any disappointments will likely be dealt with in rather harsh manners. Companies which fail to meet expectations in the coming weeks could see their share prices slashed without mercy. On the other hand, data continues to point towards recovery. The issue is whether companies can extract profits as a normal function of business, since the past two quarters' profits have come largely from cost-cutting.

Housing and employment continue to underpin the markets, keeping a lid loosely over stocks, for now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stocks Bombed Second Straight Session

The turning point for the stock market has finally come. Stocks sold off broadly and sharply for the second straight session as investors increasingly take profits and head for the sidelines. Others, specifically speculators, have quite literally been shut out of the market by excessive valuations, which, as anyone who has ever done any kind of investing knows, is a path to ruin. Buying after a significant rally, such as the one which lasted from March 10 to June 12, will almost always lead to sizable losses mounting quickly.

Technical indicators have presaged the end of the rally astonishingly well. Just as the S&P 500 50-day and 200-day moving averages converged, the selling commenced. Today's market action was particularly acute and different from the usual fare. Instead of a positive response to benign PPI figures for May (a gain of 0.2%, against an expected rise of 0.5%) analysts took this as a sign that the economy was not recovering as quickly as some might hope and that inflation fears have been wildly overblown. Stocks were up mildly at the open, and after vacillating across the break even line for most of the morning, finally began to fall off just before noon. By 2:00 pm, the indices were striking new lows, and, instead of a late day rally, stocks sold off wildly in the final 15 minutes, closing at the lows of the day.

This should come as little surprise to anyone following the money. The Fed has more than doubled the size of its balance sheet since fall of 2008, the money supply has been ramped up gigantically, yet the banks still aren't lending, defaults on credit cards and auto loans are now matching up to the foreclosure numbers, and wages remain flat, if not declining. Companies are finding little in the way of pricing power, except in industries which have virtual, government-allowed monopolies, such as energy and utility companies.

Where has all this money gone? Directly into the hands of the banks, and much of it was certainly used to pump up stock prices. The timing of the rally and the second round of TARP funding were surely more than coincidental. Now that the money has been spent and distributed through the market, it has to be removed and put back on the banks' balance sheets. There is one fatal flaw to the government-Wall Street scheme: nobody's buying on the way down, just as nobody was buying during the secondary crash in early 2009, nor during the subsequent run-up. The entire three-month rally was nothing more than massive self-dealing, a complete sham, with the bank CEOs, the Fed, the Treasury and high-ranking government officials fully complicit in the charade.

While there's nothing implicitly illegal about buying stocks cheap and selling them a few months later at a profit, the obvious questions to ask are, first, how prevalent among the insider banking community and the government was the knowledge that stocks weren't really worth the asking prices of recent weeks and, second, what was being to to the general public and the banks' clients?

Telling clients to buy securities at the same time your own brokerage is unloading them is fraud, though, as far as Wall Street practice is concerned, it happens all the time, day in and day out. Seemingly, the only way to make money in this environment is to play along with the big money. Buy when they are buying, sell when they are selling. It's now time to sell.

Dow 8,504.67, -107.46 (1.25%)
NASDAQ 1,796.18, -20.20 (1.11%)
S&P 500 911.97, -11.75 (1.27%)
NYSE Composite 5,886.76, -80.50 (1.35%)

Once again, decliners beat back advancing issues, 4475-1914. For the second straight day, new lows outnumbered new highs, 68-26. Volume remained subdued, so get used to this level of activity. It's summer, and many of the usual heavy players are not involved.

NYSE Volume 1,176,238,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,262,585,000

Commodities were mixed. Oil spent most of the day with gains, but closed down 15 cents, at $70.47. Gold was up $4.70, to $932.20. Silver, after Monday's 85 cent bludgeoning, was up just a dime, to $14.13. Natural gas was down slightly. Pork bellies continued to price higher.

Other economic data of note included industrial production, down 1.1%, and capacity utilization, checking in at 68.3% for May, after posting a revised 69.0% for April. These numbers are continuing evidence of the severity of the recession. Rather than seeing "green shoots," of potential recovery, the latest round of figures suggests what reality is really showing us, a deepening and swelling depression which threatens to take down every segment of the US economy, and with it, much of the world's.

The banks and other far-flung, covert, secluded monied interests are hoarding capital. The only way to wring it from their cold, clammy hands is through inflation, and that's not happening. Nobody knows where the bottom is, but a good bet would be that we're nowhere close to one. Government bailouts and stimulus have only quieted the rout for the time being. Unemployment continues to increase and deficits are growing as far as the eye can see. Now is definitely not a time to be speculating for stock gains.