Showing posts with label Spain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spain. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Stocks Lose Record Amounts, Treasury Bond Yields Smashed As COVID-19 Begins Taking Its Toll

All of the major US indices posted record losses as coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rage through 115 countries, with 114,595 confirmed cases and a death toll now over 4,000 (4,028).

Adding to market grief, Saudi Arabia, in an effort to harm other oil producers sent crude futures plunging as it unilaterally slashed prices and raised production output. WTI crude fell below $30 a barrel, recovering slightly to above $34.00 a barrel prior to Tuesday's opening bell. Still, the price cut was mammoth, on the order of a 24.6% decline. WTI closed at $41.28 Friday, finishing at $31.13 on Monday.

The Dow, S&P, NASDAQ, and NYSE all recorded record point losses, blowing away earlier marks. The Dow's 2,013.76 loss nearly doubled the previous record from February 27 of this year (−1,190.95). On The NASDAQ, the 624.94-point loss topped the list, easily surpassing the February 9 drop of −414.30.

Losing 225,81, the S&P vaulted over its previous mark of −137.63, also on February 27 of this year, less than two weeks ago.

The treasury bond complex was not spared, with yields falling across the entire curve by enormous amounts. The 30-year bond finished at 0.99% yield, the first time ever it has been below one percent. The day's decline was an unprecedented 26 basis points. At the other end, one-month bills dropped 22 basis points, from 0.79 to 0.57%.

Offering the lowest yield is the six-month bill, at 0.27%. The 10-year note was absolutely shattered, down 20 basis points, from 0.74 to 0.54%. In terms of curve, the complex is exceedingly flat, with just 72 basis points between the top and bottom yields.

Gold and silver both were higher initially, but were beaten down over the course of the day.

In the United States, the number of new, confirmed cases are rising rapidly as tests from the CDC begin arriving in massive quantities to state and local hospitals and labs. There are now 755 cases of coronavirus in the US, and 26 deaths.

After China, the US ranks 8th overall. Italy has reported 9,172 cases with 463 deaths. Italy's death figures are the highest outside mainland China, as are the number of cases. The Italian government closed its borders completely on Monday after efforts to contain the virus to the northern provinces failed.

The other countries topping the list of most infected are, in order, South Korea, Iran, France, Spain, and Germany, after which comes the United States. All of the aforementioned countries are reporting more than 1,000 cases. Confirmed cases outside China has exceeded those inside China for nearly the past week and are doubling every three to four days.

In addition to the human tragedy, large events are being canceled worldwide. Ireland has canceled all St. Patrick's Day parades, and around the world sporting events, concerts and other large-crowd gatherings are being put on hold or canceled, including the huge South-by-Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas. The NCAA basketball tournament, commonly known as March Madness, which begins in a week, NBA basketball, and Major League Baseball, which opens its regular season on March 26, are all mulling the idea of playing games with no fans in the stands.

Businesses are gearing down due to the crisis, with many major firms instructing employees to work from home. School cancelations are on the rise globally, and will be widespread in the US in coming days and weeks.

The after-effects of the virus on the business community and the economy are just beginning to be felt according to many in finance, including hedge fund manager Kyle Bass, who believes the crisi will peak in about a month.

Even though the World Health Organization (WHO) is reluctant to call the worldwide spread of the pathogen a pandemic, it is surely one. The WHO does not want to use the world pandemic as it would trigger the default of "pandemic bonds," designed to provide $500 million to the organization should a pandemic be declared.

With less than an hour before the opening bell in the US, stocks seem to have caught a bid. Japan's NIKKEI was lower for most of the day but finished marginally higher on Tuesday. Other Pacific Rim bourses finished with gains of one to one-and-a-half percent, while European indices are currently sporting gains of around 2.5%.

US stock futures point to a higher open, as traders prepare for another stressful session. The so-called "dead cat bounce" applies, as the markets don't seem to have actually bottomed out. When all is said and done, many countries are going to report GDP losses for the first and likely, second quarters, plunging the world into what may be a prolonged recession.

At the Close, Monday, March 9, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,851.02, -2,013.76 (-7.79%)
NASDAQ: 7,950.68, -624.94 (-7.29%)
S&P 500: 2,746.56, -225.81 (-7.60%)
NYSE: 11,298.43, -1,053.60 (-8.53%)

Thursday, March 5, 2020

A Day Without Coronavirus Headlines Produces Massive Rally, But It's Probably False Hope

With much of the news focus on the results from Super Tuesday's Democrat primaries and the Fed's 50 basis point cut to the federal funds rate, for a day, market participants had their heads turned toward something other than the evolving coronavirus crisis.

That little bit of relief allowed stocks to rise by roughly four percent across the major indices. The gains were not record-breaking, but they were close. The NASDAQ's 334-point rise was the third-best on record; the Dow's gain exceeded only by the 1,293.96 rip on Monday. The S&P's number was also the second-best day ever.

These kinds of wild swings, to both the upside and down, have become a trademark for not just US markets but many international stock indices since the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, but especially so since the virus has spread beyond the borders of the world's most populous nation. Most developed nations are currently flirting with 10 percent drops off recent highs, crossing the point of correction level at various times, above and below it.

Following Wednesday's romp, news on the coronavirus front just got worse and worse as the day turned to night and night to Thursday morning. A health screener at LA-X in Los Angeles tested positive for the virus; in New York, six more cases emerged. Seattle is quickly becoming an epicenter for an outbreak, and by morning, California had declared an emergency due to the treat from the spreading infection. 1000 people in New York are being screened for possible infection.

Schools are closing in various places across the country, Amazon and Microsoft employees are being advised to work from home, soccer games in Europe are being played in stadia devoid of fans, Italy has urged anyone over the age of 60 to stay home as much as possible to avoid contracting the virus. Despite the WHO's failure to officially declare a pandemic, COVID-19 has swept around the planet and is showing no signs of abating.

As for the World Health Organization failing to label the current condition a pandemic (it is, even according to their own standards), the reason may lie more in the ghastly world of finance rather than health. Unconfirmed reports say there are "pandemic bonds," which are bets against a pandemic outbreak declaration. If the WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic, it will trigger bets made on a pandemic, as credit default swaps (CDS), along the lines of those which paid off magnificently when the sub-prime crisis blew up, will explode, blowing up the underpinnings of global finance.

If true, it would prove not only that bankers and financiers on Wall Street and elsewhere learned nothing from prior default events, but that they continue to make sickening, revolting wagers on extreme events. When coronavirus destroys the economy, the usual suspects will be found in lower Manhattan, probably toasting their bonuses, as they have in previous episodes of moral bankruptcy.

That said, anybody who has not taken action to remove their investments from the stock market casino over the past few weeks (if not sooner) is likely to suffer in the most severe economic manner possible over the next six to 12 months. There is no evidence of containing the virus and only the hope that its viability will be reduced with the advent of warmer and more humid weather. Unfortunately, it's only March. Warm mid-Spring weather is still months away in much of the developed world.

According to the painfully-slow-to-react CDC, there are 13 states that have identified persons infected. Those are New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. Add Rhode Island, New Jersey and Utah as of today, making it 16 with more to come. Already an even 1/3 of mainland states, there are no physical barriers to where the virus can spread. Eventually, it's likely that there will be high incidence of the virus in every state, with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska, due to their unique locations, far from mainland populations.

News on COVID-19 is developing quickly and reported cases are mounting now nearly by the hour. According to John Hopkins, there are 159 cases in the United States. A week ago there were fewer than 25. The same pattern of doubling every two to three days - as was the case in China early on - is becoming evident in European countries, especially Italy, followed by France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and Norway. South Korea and Iran have become epicenter outbreak areas with the number of cases exploding higher every day.

As the disease progresses, the news is likely to be substantially worse before it gets even slightly better. While it is possible that the health outcomes may not be as severe as predicted, the economic pain is almost certain to be severe.

It was more than a week ago that Money Daily advised to Sell. Everything. Now. Wednesday's upswing provided a late get-out-of-jail-free card for procrastinators or non-believers. After Thursday, it may be too late. A 2000-point decline Thursday is more than a passing possibility.

Late edit: With so much happening, let's not forget that gold is rising, silver also, but not to any great degree, oil demand has plunged and will slide further. WTI crude oil prices are at $46 and change per barrel. Treasury yields were stable on long-dated maturities with yields on the 2-year through 30-year issues all rising or falling four basis points or fewer. The 10-year note stabilized at 1.02%, but is again below 1.00% (0.95%) prior to the opening bell (1/2 hour). The short end of the curve, 1, 2, 3, 6-month and one-year bills cratered, the one-year sporting the lowest yield on the entire complex, dropping for 0.73 to 0.59 on Thursday.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000 for the week ended Feb. 29, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was unrevised.

At the Close, Wednesday, March 4, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,090.86, +1,173.45 (+4.53%)
NASDAQ: 9,018.09, +334.00 (+3.85%)
S&P 500: 3,130.12, +126.75 (+4.22%)
NYSE: 13,009.96, +467.22 (+3.73%)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Sliding Oil, Spanish Crisis, Mid-Week Ramp-Fest May Produce A Dizzying Friday Plunge

Just for the heck of it, let's look at the markets from a trader's perspective as the entire US population prepares to end the work week and head off for a three-day, fun-in-the-sun weekend.

Now, this trader, call him Bob, yeah, Trader Bob, has to be looking at the charts from Wednesday and Thursday, seeing that the Dow took a deep dive on both days before recovering, but also that Thursday's dive was deeper than Wednesday's and the closing level significantly lower as well. So, Trader Bob may be thinking, "This looks suspiciously like the work of the PPT or maybe even short-covering."

Scanning the headlines for Friday morning on his Bloomberg terminal, Trader Bob takes interest in a story out of Spain that is saying Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is facing a vote of no confidence in that country's parliament, meaning that an entire country could be soon plunged into a chaotic situation. Bob also recalls that part of Spain - Catalonia - tried, unsuccessfully, to secede from the nation last year.

Then, Trader Bob sees the price of oil dropping off the chart, and notes that Saudi and Russian oil officials are stating that crude supply increases are likely in the near future.

Trader Bob, considering how much he's made for clients by going long oil futures, produces the following thought bubble:

Amazing, isn't it, that even Saudi government people and those pesky Russians understand some of the principles of economics?

Whoda thunk that if gas prices go up from about $2.30 a gallon to roughly $3.00 a gallon (a 30% increase), some people might not have as much disposable income?

And, if that lessened amount of disposable income is not spent on consumer goods, then whole industries might suffer?

And, if whole industries suffer, that might affect the greater economy?

It's not rocket science, it's the dismal science called economics.

So, what's Trader Bob likely to do Friday morning when the opening bell rings?

Well, for one thing, since he has 24-7 access to the futures market, he's dumping all his WTI crude futures calls. Fast. When the market opens, he's probably going to sell some stocks, just to get out in front of the herd, where he won't be trampled by the rush to the exits.

But, Trader Bob isn't actually convinced that a selloff is a done deal, so he's not going to get too far out in front, just enough to trim some of his more speculative positions. He doesn't want to be, as surfers call it, "hanging ten."

Trader Bob will be patient, with one eye on oil but a more focused eye on the US equity markets. If things go from bad to worse, he'll consider whether or not it's time to bail. 200 points down on the Dow would be a test of Thursday's low (24,605.40). Breaching that level might produce the stampede everyone on Wall Street fears.

An hour prior to the opening bell, at 8:30, Bob sees the Dow, S&P, and NASDAQ futures plunging into the red. He sells more oil futures. He looks around the trading floor. Some of the younger traders are looking a little queasy, green in the face. The older, more experienced guys are handling it better, having coffee and donuts while taking up substantial short positions is selected stocks, some of them whacking away at oil companies, others focused on Facebook (FB) and Apple (AAPL).

Trader Bob's hands are getting sweaty. He knows that he's prone to panic attacks, but so is all of Wall Street. He's not thinking about a three-day weekend. He's thinking about selling everything and moving to Maine.

Dow Jones Industrial Average May Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
5/1/18 24,099.05 -64.10 -64.10
5/2/18 23,924.98 -174.07 -238.17
5/3/18 23,930.15 +5.17 -233.00
5/4/18 24,262.51 +332.36 +99.36
5/7/18 24,357.32 +94.81 +194.17
5/8/18 24,360.21 +2.89 +197.06
5/9/18 24,542.54 +182.33 +379.39
5/10/18 24,739.53 +196.99 +576.38
5/11/18 24,831.17 +91.64 +668.02
5/14/18 24,899.41 +68.24 +736.26
5/15/18 24,706.41 -193.00 +543.26
5/16/18 24,768.93 +62.52 +605.78
5/17/18 24,713.98 -54.95 +550.73
5/18/18 24,715.09 +1.11 +551.84
5/21/18 25,013.29 +298.20 +850.04
5/22/18 24,834.41 -178.88 +671.16
5/23/18 24,886.81 +52.40 +723.56
5/24/18 24,811.76 -75.05 +648.51

At the Close, Thursday, May 24, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,811.76, -75.05 (-0.30%)
NASDAQ: 7,424.43, -1.53 (-0.02%)
S&P 500: 2,727.76, -5.53 (-0.20%)
NYSE Composite: 12,696.69, -46.71 (-0.37%)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Terrific Turnaround Thursday Presages Friday's Key Jobs Report

Whipsawing the markets today in the US were a variety of cross-currents that send stocks screaming into the red in the morning and elevating to new heights in the afternoon.

Most important of all was probably the US$/Yen carry trade, in which the dollar, weakening over the past few days against the Yen took a very large hit just prior to the noon hour in New York, sending the pair below 97 (it had been as high as 105 recently), shaking investors and proponents of Abenomics, the massive stimulative package that has the imprimatur of Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

The Nikkei had closed modestly lower, keeping intact the downside move that has been in place the past few weeks, but the slide in the dollar was against more than just the Yen. The Euro was especially strong, after comments from ECB head Mario Draghi buoyed European markets. On the dollar dive, stocks also took it on the chin, with the Dow losing 117 points at the bottom of the day's trading range.

Also weighing on the markets were the week-long riots and demonstrations in Turkey, a key player in world markets and something of a hinge between the Middle East and the European Union. Turkey also borders Syria, as dangerous a place as there is in the world today, and tensions in Turkey could signal more widespread discontent of the citizenry from Ireland to Ethiopia, to say nothing of its value as a NATO ally and buffer against Russia, with whom we are still at war in a protracted, proxy kind of way.

Earlier in the morning, figures on initial and continuing unemployment were released, and though they were moderately improved, investors were looking past them, toward tomorrow's non-farms payroll release by the BLS.

That number is supposed to come in at around 165,000 new jobs created in the month of May, and speculators are placing bets on both sides of the coin. If the number comes in below 140,000, it will be viewed as a weak labor market, meaning that the Federal Reserve cannot - or at least should not - begin tapering its massive bond purchases. Any number over 190,000 would register as a strengthening of the employment market, meaning that the Fed could begin considering tapering as soon as their June meeting in less than two weeks (June 18-19).

Thus, a stronger US economy (unlikely) would be bad for stocks, and a weak employment picture would be good. Such is the strained logic permeating Wall Street in these strange days.

From top to bottom, the range on the Dow was nearly 200 points, but even with the rise - set off when the S&P and Dow Industrials almost simultaneously pierced their respective 50-day moving averages - the rally (or was is just a dead cat bounce) failed to erase half the losses from Wednesday's melt-down.

Sentiment appears to be changing slightly, however, as more and more speculators become aware of the inept nature of the Fed and central banks everywhere, unable to stem the tide of deflation and a sluggish global economy.

Tomorrow's jobs reports may be important to some, though it is more than likely to be a non-event, with a wide berth given to gauge the response of the Federal Reserve. Besides, it's going into a weekend and none of those Wall Street hotshots want to head to the Hamptons in a bad mood.

Of course, there's more at stake than just jobs and the economy and whether stocks should be the primary asset in one's portfolio. Bonds, buffeted about by the changing paradigm of currency devaluation and rapidly escalating trade wars have firmed up somewhat, with the ten-year closing just above a two percent yield.

On Tuesday, the EU imposed stiff tariffs on Chinese solar panels, and yesterday, the Chinese retaliated by suggesting levies on imports of French, Italian and Spanish wines, hitting the Europeans where it hurts.

With the late-day rally, the advance-decline line was positive and new lows - new highs were nearly even. Much of today's rally was likely built off of short-covering, as shorts remain gun-shy, stung by the continued beatings they've taken over the past four years, though that condition appears prime to undergo some significant change.

The wheels are beginning to come off, as Fed policies are being seen as largely ineffective and a massive waste of money, while world events should continue to heat up in coming weeks and months. Volatility could not be subdued forever and the risk that the bull market is over continues a distinct possibility.

Volume in equities was strong. Gold and silver had solid showings, especially gold, which breached the key $1400 mark to the upside.

Dow 15,040.62, +80.03 (0.53%)
NASDAQ 3,424.05, +22.58 (0.66%)
S&P 500 1,622.56, +13.66 (0.85%)
NYSE Compos... 9,260.47, +82.05 (0.89%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,732,547,125
NYSE Volume 4,008,892,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4676-1833
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 89=87
WTI crude oil: 94.76, +1.02
Gold: 1,415.80, +17.30
Silver: 22.71, +0.235

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Europe, Ratings Agencies In Focus as Markets Zig-Zag

Editor's Note: Our regrets and apologies to readers for missing our regularly-scheduled post after the close on Monday. There were negotiations from which we could not extricate ourselves in a timely manner.

Stocks took a dive on Monday, but rebounded sharply on Turnaround Tuesday, raising the indices nicely, but not back to levels seen before Monday's decline.

In the news on Monday was Europe (remember them?), once again rearing its ugly, socialist head over stories emanating from Spain over alleged corruption in the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (no, really?), which the Spanish PM has denied. While there's little doubt that corruption exists in all levels of government worldwide, especially at the sovereign or federal level, proving such becomes a task not for the feint of heart, as there are vested interests which will defend their salaries, positions and perks like maddened pit bulls.

Italy was also in the news Monday, as fraud and conspiracy charges are being levied against the world's oldest bank, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, and are slowly but surely finding their way to the top of government, eventually to land in the lap of Prime Minister Mario Monti.

National elections are slated for February 24-25, with former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, 76, gaining on front-runner Pier Luigi Bersani. Unemployment and rampant waves of criminality are among major issues in Italy.

On the US home front, the Justice Department finally found some level of damming evidence over which to bring charges against Standard & Poor's. The rating agency is alleged with fraud over their ratings of sub-prime loans in the 2004-06 period, helping bring about the 2008-09 market crash and financial panic. The government is seeking $5 billion in damages.

While the DoJ has reportedly combed through two million pages of emails and internal documents, the real reason for the agency to now bring charges is that - after four months of negotiations with the firm - it wants and needs the money that fines will bring to the federal coffers. Besides that, statues of limitations on fraud are expiring quickly, prompting action. It's a shame this is happening so late in the game and also that the banks which originated and packaged the faulty loans aren't being prosecuted as well.

There was a rush of earnings news, mostly positive, though YUM Brands (YUM) was hard hit on Tuesday even though the company beat on both the top and bottom lines. At the heart of the company's issues is KFC, and tainted chicken sold though their Chinese outlets. The government is continuing its probe of the company which guided forward flat earnings due to the issues arising from the problematic cluckers. KFC is highly profitable in China. More than 40% of YUM's profits come from China.

Dow 13,979.30, +99.22(0.71%)
NASDAQ 3,171.58, +40.41(1.29%)
S&P 500 1,511.29, +15.58(1.04%)
NYSE Composite 8,920.13, +67.31(0.76%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,150,602,500
NYSE Volume 3,859,714,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4674-1828
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 386-22
WTI crude oil: 96.64, +0.47
Gold: 1,673.50, -2.90
Silver: 31.88, +0.159

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Cliff" Negotiations Going Nowhere; Wall Street Begins to Get the Message

Anybody who took the time to watch any of the Sunday morning comedy shows, otherwise known as "Meet the Press", "This Week" or "face the Nation could come to no other conclusion than the Democrats and Republicans were still miles apart on solutions to fixing issues pertaining to the "fiscal cliff" that has become the cause celebre in Washington, on Wall Street and just about everywhere else in America.

Alternating between Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, House majority leader, John Boehner and a parade of politicians, pundits and philosophers (notably, Grover Norquist), there was widespread agreement on one thing: that there was no middle ground upon which anybody was seen standing. The Democrats and Republicans are so far apart that the idea that there might not be a deal in time for all the Bush tax cuts to expire, sequestration of mandatory budget cuts would take place and the US economy - and with it the world - would fall into recession early in 2013.

It took Wall Street most of the day to figure out that a deal might not be forthcoming by the clowns they purchased in the last election cycle, a thought so pregnant with dire consequences that many in the (cough, cough) investment community might just be in denial on the topic.

By late afternoon, President Obama took his case to the Twitter-world, answering questions from his point of view. A little later, there was a counter-offer from Boehner's office, though it was much like the president's original proposal: having no chance of acceptance and merely a bargaining salvo, testing the waters, so to speak.

By the end of the day, there was some damage done, though it was nothing like what may occur should Wall Street types begin embracing the idea of actually plunging over the "cliff."

Incidentally, the Dow pooped out right at its 200-day moving average, especially in light of the somewhat stunning November ISM index, which drooped into contraction territory with a 49.5 reading, on expectations of 51.2. Naturally, hurricane Sandy was blamed for the bad read, though a number of analysts did not agree with that assessment, believing that Sandy might be responsible for 0.3 to 0.5 of the shortfall, which would still render a reading of 50, at best.

Spain requested a 39.5 billion euro bailout for its ailing banks, but fell short of making an official request for a sovereign bailout. In the best counterintuitive fashion, European stocks rallied and bond yields fell. Talk about denial! The Euros have that market cornered.

As the cliff diving enters a critical phase this week - because the politicians plan on making their escape from DC on the 14th of December, naturally, taking an extra week off on the taxpayer's dime - expect markets to get ever more jittery. Adding to the unusual noise, Friday's non-farm payroll report for November might rattle a few cages as well.

Dow 12,965.60, -59.98 (0.46%)
NASDAQ 3,002.20, -8.04 (0.27%)
S&P 500 1,409.46, -6.72 (0.47%)
NYSE Composite 8,223.54, -36.90 (0.45%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,666,248,500
NYSE Volume 3,060,504,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2307-3205
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 213-44
WTI crude oil: 89.09, +0.18
Gold: 1,721.10, +8.40
Silver: 33.76, +0.48

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Another Leg down for Stocks; BTFD or Correction Coming?

As a fllow-up to Tuesday's dip into the red, stocks could not forge into positive territory on Wednesday, as the NASDAQ suffered its first three-day losing streak since August 2nd, and the other major averages fell in unison.

Losses were not deep, but steady throughout the afternoon session, closing near the lows. Topping concerns was renewed tension in Europe where protests in Spain overnight and in Greece during the day turned violent.

In Madrid, youths turned out in large numbers to protest parliament's ongoing forays into austerity and to voice anger of the 50% unemployment rate plaguing Spanish youth. Police beat protesters with batons and scores of arrests occurred.

Greece's protests were union organized, as many as 200,000 people from the largest public and private unions marched through the capitol. The demonstration was largely peaceful until anarchists began throwing molotov cocktails at police and media stations. Police responded with tear gas and pepper spray.

By comparison, markets were less jittery in the US as compared to Europe, where Spanish stocks slid by more than three percent and the majority of developed nations' bourses suffered losses of between 1.5 and 2.5 percent.

Commodities were also hit, with gold down sharply and oil closing below $90 per barrel for the first time in more than two months. Silver, which slipped nearly one percent in early trading, rebounded to finish the day close to unchanged.

Losses in risk assets prompted questioning over whether the Fed's new QEternity policy would be effective in boosting or maintaining asset prices in the near term or whether the global economies might be sinking further into a condition of malaise and ill-investment. Some analysts saw the pull-back as technical in nature; others thought a correction was overdue and about to commence.

That left traders in a quandary over where to move next: either out of stocks and back into bonds, or, to stay invested in equities.

Sadly, most people being sheeple, risk assets such as stocks are likely to remain in favor until a more robust, sustained devaluation takes place. Such a scenario could very well play out within the next two weeks. The third quarter is quickly drawing to a close, though the overall strength or weakness of the US economy cannot be measured accurately by the stock market.

Anecdotally, new home sales failed to meet expectations, another cause for concern on Wall street.

Hey, it's only money.

Dow 13,413.51, -44.04 (0.33%)
NASDAQ 3,093.70, -24.03 (0.77%)
S&P 500 1,433.32, -8.27 (0.57%)
NYSE Composite 8,221.75, -53.03 (0.64%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,725,565,750
NYSE Volume 3,535,526,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2145-3341
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 136-48
WTI crude oil: 89.98, -1.39
Gold: 1,753.60, -12.80
Silver: 33.94, -0.01

Monday, July 30, 2012

Markets Flat Ahead of Fed, ECB, Jobs Data

Following the two-day, euro-induced-free-money rally that closed out last week, stocks to a breather on low volume Monday, ahead of three key events later in the week.

On Wednesday, following the Fed's FOMC policy meeting, it is widely expected that Bernanke and friends will have found sufficient weakness in the US economy to promote another round of QE, which will probably take the form of a furtherance of Operation Twist, plus continued handouts of low interest rate money to the major banks to keep the carry trade going.

While the anticipated Fed action has already been widely lauded and traded upon on Wall Street, their efforts up to this point have done nothing to repair the damaged economy. Rather, it's created a kind of non-virtuous cycle wherein banks get money, don't lend it and the main street economy continues to suffer.

Evidence was seen in Friday's announcement that the economy grew at a rate of just 1.5% in the second quarter and continued weakness in the jobs and real estate markets.

Meanwhile over in Euro-land, the finance crowd awaits some kind of firm action by the ECB when the leaders meet on Thursday. At issue is setting up a credit facility large enough to recapitalize Spain's ailing banking sector, most of which is already insolvent and nearing an illiquid state.

As in the US, central bank debt schemes have been largely insufficient to boost the economies of Europe; all these can-kicking efforts seem to be doing is forestalling the inevitable collapse of the Euro, which fell to $1.2258, retreating from a three-week high of $1.2390 made on Friday against the US dollar on Monday.

News out today suggests that Thursday's meeting will be more style than substance and that any bold action may be as many as five weeks away. A formal request for a bailout by Spain, in addition to the already-proposed bailout of their insolvent banks, and approval on technical issues by a German high court are still issues that will not have been resolved by the end of this week.

On Friday, the BLS reports non-farm payroll data for July, which also could throw sand on the perma-bullish fire of the central bankers.

Considering last week's big run-up, there may be a bit of "sell the news" sentiment afoot, regardless of what decisions and announcements are made by the Fed and the ECB.

Dow 13,073.01, -2.65 (0.02%)
NASDAQ 2,945.84, -12.25 (0.41%)
S&P 500 1,385.30, -0.67 (0.05%)
NYSE Composite 7,911.04, -1.13 (0.01%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,482,648,250
NYSE Volume 3,197,376,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2384-3161
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 262-65
WTI crude oil: 89.78, -0.35
Gold: 1,619.70, +1.70
Silver: 28.03, +0.54

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More Losses For European, US Markets; Apple Misses Big on Earnings, Revenue

As per the usual, US stocks pared much of their losses in the final fourty minutes of trading, the Dow shaving its decline in half, with the other major indices following suit.

The trend has been lower for three straight sessions, with the Dow losing somewhere in the vicinity of 100 points a day. Catalysts for the declines are various and diverse, from poor US data - the Richmond Fed manufacturing index came in at -17 on expectations of -1, the lowest level since April 2009 - concerns over the Spanish government needing a bailout, or Moody's lowering the outlooks for Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg to negative late Monday.

Even China got some play as their flash PMI number rose to the best level in five months, though at 49.5, still showed contraction. The blip from the Far East was seen as a positive, though more than likely, a minor one, as one month's data surely does not make a trend and data from China is widely regarded as highly unreliable.

In Europe, most of the stock indices took losses, though not as heavily as on Monday. The mood on the continent is extremely guarded, as yields on benchmark 10-year notes in Spain and Italy have hovered around or exceeded the 7% mark.

Here in the states, the 10-year yield continues to fall, as predicted by Paul Craig Roberts and other astute economists (see yesterday's post), to a record low yield of 1.39, while the 30-year bond closed at 2.46, also a record low.

Market conditions and sentiment appear to be quickly worsening, with the advance-decline line negative for three straight days and the new highs - new lows metric having reversed to negative on Monday and continuing to worsen with Tuesday's session.

Commodities were mostly lower, with the notable exception of oil, which continues to be boosted by ongoing uncertainty over Iran, though the corn and soybean futures markets were notably nixed, as slack demand seems to be trumping even the effect of the worst drought since the 1950s.

All of the data and market moves seem to be pointing toward Friday's initial reading of second quarter GDP, slated for release at 8:30 am EDT on Friday. Forecasts range from 0.3% to 1.7% growth, though estimates have been coming down from a variety of sources in recent days and third quarter and second half GDP outlooks have been routinely revised lower.

As it turns out, however, the biggest news of the day came may have come after the markets had already closed, when Apple (APPL) reported a fiscal third quarter earnings miss that sent the stock markedly lower.

From the LA Times:
The technology giant said profit rose 21% to $8.8 billion, or $9.32 per share, on revenue of $35 billion, up 22% from a year earlier. The results were less than what analysts had expected. Shares plummeted in after-hours trading, falling $34, or nearly 6%, to $566.78.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated that Apple would post earnings per share of $10.36 on revenue of $37.2 billion. A year earlier, the Cupertino, Calif., technology behemoth reported record quarterly revenue of $28.6 billion and record profit of $7.3 billion, or $7.79 a share. That was a 121% increase over its third-quarter 2010 earnings per share.

If Apple, the bellwether for all tech stocks and a major component of the S&P 500 and NASDAQ 100, cannot beat lowered expectations, then perhaps the idea that a global deflationary slowdown is well underway might finally dawn on not ony the wizards of Wall Street but the average Joe and Jane Sixpacks, who likely already have gotten the memo, having not enough income to afford an iPad or iPhone, essentially spending whatever income they have on survival items like food and fuel.

Good grief! Can it get any worse?

We already know the answer to that.

Dow 12,617.32, -104.14 (0.82%)
NASDAQ 2,862.99, -27.16 (0.94%)
S&P 500 1,338.31, -12.21 (0.90%)
NYSE Composite 7,590.61, -79.92 (1.04%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,735,519,125.00
NYSE Volume 3,853,596,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1484-4064
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 118-210
WTI crude oil: 88.50, +0.36
Gold: 1,576.20, -1.20
Silver: 26.81, -0.23

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fed Minutes Leave Kleptocrats with Less Hope of QE3

There was so much in the news today affecting markets, just headlines (with links) seemed appropriate:

Against the backdrop of a constant stream of news that goes against the "all's well" narrative so enjoyed by the media elite and sheeple of the world, when the Fed's FOMC minutes from the June meeting appeared at 2:00 pm EDT, what was a sleepy, little decline became a bit more pronounced, with all of the major averages taking on losses.

Traders, zealots, cheaters and stock manipulators of all stripes were shocked and horrified that the super-secretive FOMC minutes did not offer any more insight into more easing by the Fed, despite the near-unanimous conclusion that the US economy was beginning to deteriorate in the prior months.

In other words, even though current economic conditions in the US stink, Wall Street wants things to get even uglier, so that they can continue to feed at the trough of the Federal Reserve's unlimited free money supply and speculate even greater amounts, with more leverage on overpriced equities.

At the lows, the Dow was down 119 points, the NASDAQ off 35, but, as is often the case in the Ponzi-schemed markets, the indices erased most of the declines in the final half hour of trading, actually pushing the S&P briefly back into positive territory and hiking the NYSE Composite to a small gain.

Volume was rather tame, but the Dow and S&P have traded lower for five straight sessions, the Dow having now given up all but two points of the massive June 29 gain spurred by the false "everything is fixed in Europe" summit statement.

Despite the continuing losses, the new highs-new lows indicator is still leaning heavily toward the bullish case, though the number of new highs is falling, while the new lows continue to build.

Markets continue to be uneasy, but the correct catalyst could produce a significant move in either direction, even though one would have to be deaf and blind to not see the inordinate pressures building around the world.

Dow 12,604.53, -48.59 (0.38%)
NASDAQ 2,887.98, -14.35 (0.49%)
S&P 500 1,341.45, -0.02 (0.00%)
NYSE Composite 7,685.32, +17.75 (0.23%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,543,879,125
NYSE Volume 3,391,219,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2869-2673
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 171-80
WTI crude oil: 85.81, +1.90
Gold: 1,575.70, -4.10
Silver: 27.02, -0.14

Monday, June 25, 2012

Europe's Pain Keeps World Markets in Red as Week Begins Badly

Back in the headlines again, Europe's continuing woes took front and center position in Monday's investment landscape.

Spain kicked off the festivities with a formal request for aid of up to 100 billion euros for their busted banking sector as they await a ratings cut from Moody's on all Spanish banks, expected to be delivered after the close of US equity markets.

The reality of another bank bailout by the EU and the rumors of the Moody's downgrade was enough to send all European indices lower, lead by the Athens Index Composite, which fell 6.84%. The Swiss Market was harmed the least, down on 0.75%, while the French and German bourses fell by more than two percent.

Greece added to the downside momentum as newly-appointed Finance Minister Vassilis Rapanos resigned his post due to ill health. The tiny island nation of Cyprus became the latest victim, telling the EU that it needs a bailout for its banks - heavily exposed to Greece - and its public sector economy. Estimates call for immediate funds of between 5-10 billion Euros to keep the nation banks and government operating.

US markets fell out of bed like a drunk with a bad hangover, down right from the opening bell through to the close, with the NASDAQ leading the way lower, followed closely by the S&P 500.

Stocks staged a small, uninspired rally near the end of the day, but there was little support to the buying. The evidence that the world is on the brink of a catastrophic global depression are simply too obvious to mask further. Investors are running scared money into the meat-grinder that is otherwise known as the capital markets in hopes that the European leaders will offer some kind of plan to end the crisis, one which has already spread across the nations on the southern periphery.

Internals suggested that today's moves could be a turing point for US markets as losers led gainers by a more than 3:1 margin and new lows outnumbered new highs by nearly 2:1.

The new highs to new lows reading, which has been consistent over the years as an early indicator of bullish and bearish trends has recently vacillated between positive and negative, so a sustained period in which new lows exceed new highs would point toward a more severe downturn and a return to bear market conditions.

As of today's close, the Dow is resting at 6% below the May 1 highs, so a move below 11,000 would have to be reached before true bear market conditions (-20%) would prevail. With the situation in Europe continuing to unravel and conditions in the US not gathering any momentum and actually, according to the latest data, already showing signs of stress and weakness, a downturn of that severity cannot be ruled out through the summer months, which are traditionally a slow period for stocks.

Whether the pain comes in the form of a sudden event or as a slow, painful, prolonged ordeal depends greatly upon how panicked investors become. With news and events so highly unpredictable, but bordering on crisis levels, a major happenstance could come from any quarter, be it Syria's upheavals, Germany contentious position or the collapse of Greece or Spain or even the unthinkable, Italy or France.

Once again, it cannot be stressed too much that events may be politically manipulated to coincide with the US presidential election in November, so great caution is urged, especially into the latter stages of the election cycle, late September into October.

Of course, media control being practically omnipresent, the outbreak of war or economic apocalypse could be spun into a positive, though that kind of propagandizing would only satisfy the controllers wishing to make a quick killing as it would likely be unsustainable in light of the true picture.

Following Friday's phony fermentation to the upside on global banks' repudiation of Moody's massive, across-the-board downgrades, it's a very good possibility that the manufactured rally was nothing more than another scam on the public to the profit of the banking cartel, who went long and then short, winning on both sides of the trade.

With that kind of perfidious behavior prevailing in nearly all capital markets, day-to-day movements should be greatly discounted and longer term trends the focus of greater scrutiny.

Dow 12,502.66, -138.12 (1.09%)
Nasdaq 2,836.16, -56.26 (1.95%)
S&P 500 1,313.72, -21.30 (1.60%)
NYSE Composite 7,491.90, -124.69 (1.64%)
NYSE Volume 3,433,923,250
Nasdaq Volume 1,432,183,125
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1362-4261
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 87-163
WTI crude oil: 79.21, -0.55
Gold: 1,588.40, +21.50
Silver: 27.52, +0.86

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Positive Rumors Drive Speculative Bets Higher

While world leaders at the G20 conference in Los Cabos, Mexico, dithered over Syria and mostly glad-handed each other over a draft outline for a closer European Union (isn't it already a "union?" How much closer can these failing countries and their failing economies get?), both European and US stock markets looked to the rumor mills for reasons to buy more stocks.

They found them in the usual places: various reports suggesting that the Federal Reserve would commence another round of QE with their announcement of ZIRP - for the umpteenth time - Wednesday, just after noon; ideas being floated around that Greece is close to forming a government that would agree to austere terms dictated by Germany and stay in the Eurozone; and, more elitist propaganda that Spain's banks would somehow be saved, thus keeping the Spanish government in power and that Germany would find a way to soften its stance on that awful austerity in Greece.

Some of the nonsense being thrown around world financial news desks may actually come to fruition, most likely among them the Fed's unwillingness to stop printing worthless US dollars non-stop and the European impulse to keep Spain's insolvent banking system from imploding - at least for a few more weeks or months.

With rumors running rampant on a day that was largely devoid of real news, speculators took the signals (make that, "the HFT algos were tuned up to high volume risk on frequencies") and bid up stocks to a five-week high on the Dow, with the other major indices following along for the ride, before fading late in the session and into the close.

It appears that the markets and their insider specialists are trading on some faint hope that the global financial system will not be melting down over the long, hot summer, and the first signs should be available as early as non-ish on Wdnesday, when the Fed makes a policy statement.

We shall stay tuned.

Dow 12,837.33, +95.51 (0.75%)
NASDAQ 2,929.76, +34.43 (1.19%)
S&P 500 1,357.98, +13.20 (0.98%)
NYSE Composite 7,766.25, +103.97 (1.36%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,828,591,375
NYSE Volume 3,784,083,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4529-1105
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 250-29
WTI crude oil: 84.03, +0.76
Gold: 1,623.20, -3.80
Silver: 28.37, -0.30

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Welcome Back, Volatility: Miracle Market Melt-up

Noting that the markets in the US were markedly higher this (turnaround) Tuesday, one would generally assume that some of the conditions that caused Monday's share collapse had been addressed and causing markets and investors to return to a more benign trading regimen.

Such an assumption would be, of course, dead wrong, because nothing really changed overnight. In fact, one could even go so far as to suggest that issues regarding the bailout of Spain's insolvent banks - which loan money to the insolvent Spanish government - had actually worsened, in Europe, at least.

First, there's the widespread assumption that the 100 billion euro bailout was already a done deal. It's not; not by any means. The German parliament still has to pass legislation to approve whatever funding is made available, and by which facility.

Second, the deal was supposed to have no strings attached, i.e., Spain would not have to agree to any austerity measures or fiscal controls. After all the deal was for the banks, not the government. Not so fast, my friends. Germany wants some guarantees of fiscal control and Finland has also made overtures about the need for substantial collateral.

And, if those two points are not enough, Spain will have to finance some of the bank debt itself, which is the epitome of the twisted pretzel that is the Eurozone. The Spanish government will borrow money to loan to the banks, which in turn fund the government. It's like borrowing money to loan to a friend who loans you money to pay off your debt, and we all know how those kinds of schemes turn out.

Additionally, in the utmost of ironies, Italy, the next nation in line for a likely bailout, will be borrowing money at 6% to loan to Spain at 3%. Lovely. Apparently, the Italians have been taking in a bit too much vino and forgot their 4th grade math.

So, what really changed to reverse the one-day trend lower and turn it up a few notches? Algos, naturally, the computer software that takes care of more than 85% off all trades on a daily basis, were re-programmed for a risk-on event, even though none actually took place. Around about 10:30 am EDT, with the major averages stumbling into the red, the correct knobs were turned and presto! all was well again at the Wall Street Zombie Casino.

From that time-stamp until the close, it was nothing but champagne and roses. Whoopie! Of course, the underlying theme of day-trading in both stocks and options by the hedgies and brokerages in advance of Friday's quadruple-witching event may have had a little to do with today's wicked upside.

Therein we have the week's trading strategy: Short Monday, long Tuesday, short Wednesday, long Thursday, and Friday, you're on your own, because over the weekend, Greece will once again go to the polls to see if they can elect a government in a country that neither has one nor - in the rare event that it will - heeds its dictates.

Greece could go belly up and back to the drachma, go pro-Euro and stick with the asset-stripping austerity, or alternately devolve into complete anarchy or continue to function on a day-to-day basis, essentially going sideways and solving nothing. Whatever happens in Greece, one thing is for certain: it's not going to be the final solution.

There was something of a "tell" to today's trading that belied the effectiveness of the rally. New lows beat new highs nearly 2-1.

Party on!

Dow 12,573.80, +162.57 (1.31%)
NASDAQ 2,843.07, +33.34 (1.19%)
S&P 500 1,324.18, +15.25 (1.17%)
NYSE Composite 7,557.82, +98.55 (1.32%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,589,679,500
NYSE Volume 3,400,954,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4156-1436
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 64-113
WTI crude oil: 83.32, +0.62
Gold: 1,613.80, +17.00
Silver: 28.95, +0.33

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spanish Bank Bailout Has Bad Odor; Week Ahead Looks Fascinating

Following last week's magnificent vapor rally on the lightest volume of the year, the new week started off gangbusters with news of a $125 billion (100 billion euros) bailout of insolvent Spanish banks sending US equity futures up on a sugar high prior to the opening bell.

Asia rallied strongly on the same news, followed by significant upside on the European exchanges. However, once Wall Street got a whiff of the real stench coming from Europe (Spain's bailout is hardly anything to cheer about; the loans from either the ESM or EFSF are uncertain and have not been approved by the German parliament, which is a must; Greece's elections loom on Saturday), it didn't take long for the best minds, algos and short sellers on Wall Street to sell the rally and start taking profits from last week's big run.

The Dow was up 96 points in a flash, but by 10:00 am EDT was already under the unchanged line, dragging down the other major indices with it. Stocks took a breather during the middle of the session, but, after 2:00 pm, it was pretty much all downhill, as investors went scurrying for cover in defensive stocks and treasuries.

Fear of the impending and eventual full retard global financial collapse were once again front and center, and, with good reason.

Whatever the euphoria over endless money printing out of thin air, be it by the US Federal Reserve, the ECB, China or any other nation, it appears that most people with sense have come to ignore it, at least, and abhor it, at worst. This same story has been playing since the fall of 2008 - throwing more debt at bad debt - and, since the Spanish banks were about the only suckers buying the debt of the Spanish government, recapitalizing them was just another in a long, futile line of can-kicking efforts, far from a real solution to the global crisis caused by long-term issuance of excessive debt.

The centrally-planned, central bank model of piling more bad debt upon already bad debt is coming to a furious conclusion and there seems to be nothing to prevent a complete reset of the world's capital structure. Hard line Keynesians continue to pretend that there's a way to avoid a catastrophic global meltdown, but the reality is that very little has been done thus far, and it's probably now too late to change tactics.

What has passed muster in the past now seems old hat, the results already known, that more bailouts and printing of money will not suffice; old, tried and true methods such as default, bankruptcy, selling off of remaining assets and new management of failed institutions - be they financial or governmental in nature - are the only prescriptions that will cure the ailing patient that is the global financial system.

There is already a great deal of talk circulating about subordination, of soured notes and bonds taking a back seat to newer issues. Spain's stock market, up nearly 6% early on, ended the day in the red and in tatters, the Spanish benchmark 10-year note yielding above 6.5%, a danger area. Greece's 10-year has already achieved escape velocity, with a yield of more than 28%, probably not even ample considering the risk. The Euro finished below 1.25 to the dollar, which is still 20-30% too high, crude was pounded down to eight-month lows, and a quadruple-witching day awaits markets on Friday.

It's either ironic or appropriate that rich and poor dads alike will have one more day in the sun on Father's Day, June 17, upon which day Greeks vote once again to try to form a government in an ungovernable situation. By this time next Monday, there may well have been a 500-point decline on the Dow, with Europe slitting apart at the seams, US and other developed nations exhibiting no growth and Italy waiting in the wings to be the next major casualty.

This week promises to be one of the most interesting - from a macro perspective - though, with more than $800 billion being pulled out of equities in the two years following the May 2010 "flash crash," there may not be anyone left around the trading floor to turn off the lights.

The entire mess has been the product of government gone fiscally wild and banks more than willing to take on excessive, often foolish risk over the years and into today. There comes a reckoning, and that day will arrive eventually, without fanfare or pretense. Then the planet will tremble as great swaths of wealth are obliterated by the same system that made the unrealistic promise of endless growth on a finite planet.

Volume was once again horrifyingly absent, breadth was extremely negative and new lows crept up on new highs after a brief reversal last week.

Dow 12,411.23, -142.97 (1.14%)
NASDAQ 2,809.73, -48.69 (1.70%)
S&P 500 1,308.93, -16.73 (1.26%)
NYSE Composite 7,459.29, -94.49 (1.25%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,477,944,250
NYSE Volume 3,383,333,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1206-4401
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 144-94
WTI crude oil: 82.70, -1.40
Gold: 1,596.80, +5.40
Silver: 28.62, +0.15

Friday, June 8, 2012

Week's Events Point to Global Collapse; Max Keiser Speaks Out on Germany Bank Downgrade, Global Economy

Editor's Note: This was a particularly trying and nervous week for the markets, as political and economic tensions seemed to escalate on daily basis. From China's interest rate easing to the downgrade of Germany's banks to the rising wave of racism and bias, the swirl of history seemed to take on an unusually pungent aroma, one which permeated all levels of discussion and event horizons.

I am horrified at my own - and that of Max Keiser and many other non-mainstream journalists - prognosis for the future of the global financial system, which is being rendered apart by self-created forces which have taken on unforeseen lives of their own. A complete crash could occur almost at any time without warning, with a ferocity that would make 2008-09 look like a leisurely stroll. With all my heart, I wish my predictions turn out to be 100% incorrect, though continuing and recent developments point in the opposite direction.

Of course, the elitist coalition of bankers and sovereign leaders will continue to apply bandages and tourniquets as needed, even though they must know that a mortal wound cannot be patched, that wound being the complete insolvency of the world's largest banks, begun in 2008 and proceeding this week to completely engulf all of Spain's mightiest financial institutions.

As the week drew to a close, US markets garnered further gains on what had to be the lowest trading volume day of the year. (Money Daily does not keep complete records of much, but the daily volume reports at the end of each daily post provide that statistic - though scrolling through five-plus months of posts is a bit of an arduous task late on a Friday afternoon. Trust in the fact that if today was not indeed the lowest volume of the year, it was in the lowest three.)

Zero Hedge ( reports that volume for the week was the slightest of the year, in a week which produced the year's best gains. This kind of rigged result is exactly what's wrong with markets and the economy in general: they aren't functioning. Today's plaster to the upside, accompanied by abysmal volume is manifestation of the banker Ponzi in full bloom, trading amongst each other in a rigged game to the detriment of formerly-free markets.

At some point, the manipulation will come to an end, and likely an abrupt one, fully engineered by Rothchilds and fellow Illuminati types.

A point of reference is the upcoming November US presidential election, which incumbent president, Barack Obama, is purposely throwing, having done his job for his bankster allocators. The first hint that Obama was not fully engaged or committed to winning a second term came in the form of his absurd opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline. His stance to block the project - which would bring oil from Canada's oil sands to America, but, as of last notice may be headed to China instead - until after the election, baffled all but the mainstream press, who haven't the collective mind power or journalistic will to delve into matters that involve anything more than rehashing the contents of official news releases.

Today's statement that the private sector in America is doing "OK" is the second nail in the defeat of Obama at the polls. Such obvious policy blunders and plainly unfounded statements point to nothing less than self-imposed defeat to the weakest Republican candidacy since Bill Clinton's second term re-election. Mr. Obama is an eloquent, intelligent speaker, but he has failed to ignite any fire of passion in either Democrats or independents. It's a very good bet that handing the presidency to the biggest shill for the 1%, in the person of Mitt Romney, is a reality.

For the week - again, the best of the year on the lightest volume - the Dow gained an ungodly 456 points, this on the heels of the month of May in which the blue chips gave back more than 800 points. Bear in mind that this gain comes as global conditions worsen, with little to no positive data or news.

The same kind of ride-up occurred on the NASDAQ, up 110 points, and the S&P, which registered a gain of 45 points. The whole affair is nothing more than a dog-and-pony show, and one which is not particularly well-staged. The sheeple of the world take it all in without question, that being one of the keys to the problem.

Along with the low volume, the session was characterized by slender breadth and a slight edge for new highs over new lows. Commodities, which began with oil down by more than $2.00 on the current futures price, were relatively flat by day's end.

In line with developments of the past few weeks - and years, for more perspective - the contagion from banking to sovereigns to currencies is accelerating, nearing an extremely dangerous global condition of collapse.

If implosion happens within weeks, it would be no surprise to the growing number of people who view the past four years of currency manipulation and incessant printing with disdain and skepticism. Global elites are desperately clinging to largely Keynesian ideas and potential solutions which have little to nothing to do with solving the epic calamity unfolding in real time.

There's no telling how much longer the global condition can be restrained as events in areas around the world are spiraling out of control at a rate of speed that is nearly impossible to track.
The Nicholas Brothers

Forget about the press reports and news conferences with governmental/political leaders like Obama, Merkel, Draghi, et. al. Issues on the ground are overtaking the ability of the political process to deal with the expanding crisis. The powerful are becoming less so, and eventually will be held responsible, and thus, powerless as populations erupt in wave upon wave of tension, uprising, catastrophe. Greece is just the most visible example, while Syria is already a lost cause due to the inaction or inability of bodies such as NATO or the loosely-aligned Euro-American force majure to act properly - and promptly - to quell the spreading genocide. Spain, Italy and France continue their joint descent into anarchy which will eventually pull all of Europe down with it.

Must see TV: Host of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser, brilliantly lays out the present and near-future in this six-minute segment courtesy of Russia Today.

In keeping with our new-found hobby of digging up rich pieces of joyful Americana from bygone eras, the following clip from the 1942 film, Orchestra Wives, featuring the Glenn Miller band with Tex Beneke performing "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" along with the fast-talking, high-stepping dancing duo, the Nicholas Brothers, the elder Fayard, and Harold.

It's a real piperoo! Enjoy.

On a strictly personal note: Many thanks to the two saints on earth who appeared today as needed. Whatever one's personal beliefs, there is a power in faith that is beyond our small level of comprehension.

Dow 12,554.20, +93.24 (0.75%)
NASDAQ 2,858.42, +27.40 (0.97%)
S&P 500 1,325.66, +10.67 (0.81%)
NYSE Composite 7,553.77, +33.94 (0.45%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,396,691,125
NYSE Volume 3,497,203,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3810-1757
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 111-78
WTI crude oil: 84.10, -0.72
Gold: 1,591.40, +3.40
Silver: 28.47, -0.06

Friday, May 18, 2012

Stocks Smashed Again; Facebook Flops on IPO

For three weeks running, it's been the same story: stocks down, and today's malaise was particularly embarrassing to the NASDAQ and to the underwriters of the Facebook (FB - which should stand for Fail Badly) on a Friday that most traders would likely rather forget.

The Dow Jones industrials closed down for the 12th time in the last 13 sessions, while the S&P and NASDAQ recorded their 10th down day in the last 12. All of the major averages finished in the red every day this week an occurrence so unique that barely a broker or trader can recall the last time it happened. Even on major declines, there's usually a day or two of snap-back rallies, but the current condition is such that all confidence is being shattered as events unfold without a whimper of defiance from the usual monied or political oligarchs.

For the week, the Dow lost a cumulative 451 points, easily the worst performance of the year; ditto for the S&P and NASDAQ, which lost, respectively, 52 and 155 points, while the NYSE Composite shed 388, the broadest measure taking the worst percentage loss.

As for the Facebook IPO, which priced Thursday night at a robust $38 per share, finished the day ahead a measly 23 cents, one of the poorest showings ever for a major tech stock right out of the box. The trading, which was supposed to have begun at 11:00 am EDT, didn't open until after 11:30, the culprit being the usual "system glitches." Traders reported throughout the day that they were not receiving confirmations of their orders, the earliest of which had bought in at levels of 41 and 42 dollars per share, and were, thus, stuck at whatever price they placed their orders. It was a complete embarrassment for all parties - the company, the underwriters and the NASDAQ - though it's almost certain that newly-minted billionaire Mark Zuckerberg will lose little sleep over today's fiasco.

All told, the week, and especially the last two days, have been particularly painful for all involved, though gold and silver investors have enjoyed two consecutive days of gains after prolonged weakness. With precious metals beginning to show strength again, the dynamics of a failing global economy based on fiat dollars are showing their true colors.

Over the weekend, members of the G8 will be meeting at Camp David, purportedly to issue some kind of proclamation that all is well, or, ostensibly, to hammer out some new paradigm for global economic salvation. With any luck, they'll all agree to go home and do nothing, something for which they're all well trained.

In European news, the woes for the Southern states continued as Moody's downgraded 16 of the nation's banks and Fitch cut Greece's banks to CCC (big surprise there).

The weekend at hand, two words known well to hoarders of gold and silver: keep stacking.

Dow 12,369.38, -73.11 (0.59%)
NASDAQ 2,778.79, -34.90 (1.24%)
S&P 500 1,295.22, -9.64 (0.74%)
NYSE Composite 7,413.01, -67.42 (0.90%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,571,980,000
NYSE Volume 4,450,551,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1470-4143
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 22-345 (worst since March of '09)
WTI crude oil: 91.48, -1.08
Gold: 1,591.90, +17.00
Silver: 28.72, +0.70

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dark Day for Wall Street as Financial System Stressed to Limit

Compared to the preceding twelve days of market meltdown, today's finish qualified as the worst on a number of different levels.

The paucity of buyers produced something of a free-fall right from the opening bell, which accelerated in the final hour of trading. There were a couple of attempts at rallies - at 10:00 am and again just after noon - but both failed horribly as there was no support and traders, many of whom have been in the "buy the dip" camp until recently, sold into the brief upticks.

Volume was also noticeably higher, an indication that the selling has more room to run over the next days and weeks. The causes of today's particular collapsing equity valuations were the same that have dominated the markets over the past three weeks and are no nearer resolution than they were at the beginning of the month.

Greece continues to slide into anarchy and chaos, taking the rest of the EU - and the world - along for the careening ride to oblivion, unemployment fears in the US remain high, global growth may be nearing stall-out speed and an inactive congress and Federal Reserve - both eerily quiet - are doing nothing to alleviate any of the political, tax and regulatory issues.

The 156-point loss on the Dow was the second worst since the slide began on May 2nd, beaten only by the 168-pont decline of Friday, May 4th, the day the BLS disappointed everybody with poor April jobs numbers. That such a massive decline would come nearly two weeks later, without a respite rally in between, displays clearly how weak and uncertain markets are at the present juncture.

Through today's close, the Dow has lost a stunning 837 points since the May 1 close; the NADSAQ, with a loss of more than two percent today alone, has been beaten back 246 points since May 2nd, while the S&P 500 has given back just over 100 points since May 1st, finishing just above the technically-insignificant 1300 mark, though emotionally, the number carries great sentiment weight.

Adding to the existing problems were a couple of key economic data points released today. Initial unemployment claims came in flat for the most recent reporting week at 370,000, still stubbornly high. The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index, which was supposed to ring up a slightly higher reading, to 8.8, from 8.5 in April, was a sorry disappointment when it printed at a devastating -5.8. And the index of leading indicators, which was expected to post a gain of 0.2%, actually fell by 0.1%, all of this adding up to excessive worry and a rush to get out of equities for the safety of bonds.

The 10-year benchmark bond closed at an historic low of 1.702, which is probably a solid number considering the level of deflation that is expected over the coming months. A yield approaching 2% against an environment of low to no growth - or even a recession or worse - is likely to be a pretty good hedging instrument.

JP Morgan Chase's (JPM) continuing drama with its $2 billion portfolio loss has expanded by another billion according to the NY Times, while the FBI and SEC have both opened inquiries into the trade and CEO Jaime Dimon has been called to testify before the Senate Banking Committee on the matter.

Mr. Dimon, whose firm also faces a number of shareholder lawsuits stemming from the trade, continues to maintain the position in the trade, attempting to slowly unwind the derivative bet from hell while counter-parties turn the screws tighter. It would not be a surprise to see eventual losses from this blunderbust approach the $5 or $6 billion figure, wiping out the entire quarter's profit for the bank with the supposed "fortress balance sheet."

Dimon will have to do some fancy tap-dancing when he appears before the Senate inquiry, because the trade, widely known as the "London Whale" was the furthest it could have been from an outright hedge, being a pure speculation trade, exacerbated by piling in deeper as the losses worsened.

On brighter notes, gold and silver did an abrupt about-face, despite the dollar index continuing to rise and the Euro settling nearly flat on Forex markets, while oil slid again, along with wholesale gasoline prices, which will eventually result in further price declines at the pump.

The widely-anticipated Facebook IPO, slated to hit the street Friday morning, priced at $38 per share, at the upper end of the expected range. While Mark Zuckerberg and others will become instant billionaires tomorrow, the timing for such a lucrative cash-out day could not have come at a worst time. Facebook will almost certainly reward early investors, but the story of one good stock will do little to alleviate long-term, long-standing economic issues that have plagued the markets for weeks.

Greek banks are seeing devastating outflows of capital, as are those in Spain. Europe's descent into economic hell has accelerated and the EU ministers and ECB economists have found now way out.

Widespread defaults, from sovereign nations, to banks, to businesses will be at the top of the news for at least the next six to 12 months.

It's been 41 years since then-president Richard M. Nixon closed the gold window and nations have been trading on pure fiat - backed only by promises - ever since. The promises now broken, the era of debt-money is quickly drawing to an unseemly and devastating end.

Real estate, precious metals and cash are all that stand between personal devastation for not millions, but billions of people worldwide. All paper assets, including stocks, bonds, letters of credit and contracts will be blown away by winds of economic chaos and change.

Dow 12,442.49, -156.06 (1.24%)
NASDAQ 2,813.69, -60.35 (2.10%)
S&P 500 1,304.86, -19.94 (1.51%)
NYSE Composite 7,480.75, -112.07 (1.48%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,915,098,500
NYSE Volume 4,597,205,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 915-4734
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 31-310 (1-10 on the wrong side; never good)
WTI crude oil: 92.56, -0.25
Gold: 1,574.90, +38.30
Silver: 28.02, +0.82

Monday, April 23, 2012

Storm of Events Leading Markets and Economies Down Financial Abyss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Apple Bifurcates Markets on Big Sell-off; Spain, Housing in Focus

Before getting to why the major indices were all over the map today, a couple of key economic data points:

The NAHB Housing Market Index fell for the first time in seven months, from 28 in March to 25 in April. A figure of 50 is considered "break even" wherein more builders are more confident. Obviously, this latest dip leasves new hoe builders nowhere close.

Regionally, the Northeast posted a four-point gain to 29 (its highest level since May of 2010), the West saw no change at 32, the South declined three poins to 24 and the Midwest was the weakest, posting an eight-point decline to 23.

With new home sales on tap for tomorrow, housing appears to be as weak as it ever has.

Retail sales for March posted an unexpected 0.8% gain on expectations of just a 0.3% rise, somewhat of a surprise considering high fuel costs and other issues facing consumers (no jobs, no homes, high debt, etc.).

On the downside, the Empire Manufacturing Index nose-dived from 20.21 in March to 6.56 in April. The collected wisdom of forecasters expected a decline - to 17.6. New orders and shipments were down, while the employment situation was mixed with more jobs, but for shorter durations.

Taken together, these data sets reveal a US economy that is crawling along and possibly sputtering to stall speed.

Investors in Apple (AAPL) took some long-overdue profits on Monday, sending the world's largest company by market cap down 25.10 points (4.15%), to close at 580.13, the worst decline for Apple in more than six months. Investors were buoyed by a 45% gain in the company stock since October, however.

The weight of Apple on the various indices was obvious, with the NASDAQ the most severely affected, the S&P less so. Meanwhile, the Dow registered a strong showing, with 24 of the 30 components sporting gains, led by Travelers (TRV), Proctor & Gamble (PG), Wal-Mart (WMT) and DuPont (DD).

Otherwise, it was a straightforward session, with much of the focus centered on Spain's 10-year note, which spiked back above 6% on the day and sent bond holders scrambling for the safety of the German Bund, which is nearing historic lows. The pressure on Spain's funding continues to fuel speculation that the country will need a Greek-style bailout soon.

Dow 12,921.41, +71.82 (0.56%)
NASDAQ 2,988.40, -22.93 (0.76%)
S&P 500 1,369.57, -0.69 (0.05%)
NYSE Composite 7,949.57, +18.47 (0.23%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,566,279,375
NYSE Volume 3,444,850,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3083-2500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 109-106
WTI crude oil: 102.93, +0.10
Gold: 1,649.70, -10.50
Silver: 31.37, -0.02

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Markets Offering Few Directional Clues Amidst Continuing Crises

Spain today, tomorrow jobs, next day China. Wholesale inventories are growing.

That's how the markets seem to be lurching from one crisis to the next, though overall performance in equity markets has - until the past five days - been outstanding.

Today's deep declines in Europe and the US notwithstanding, global economies have withstood more than three years of relentless pressure and are still standing.

This kind of vacillation leaves most analysts red-eyed and weary at the ends of most weeks and casual market observers in a state of dumbfounded blurriness.

Recapping the losses in US equity markets today need not lead one to conclude that the economy is falling over a cliff; indeed, stocks have been on a 30% tear since October, and the recent five-day decline has only clipped off a small percentage. And, it's just the start of earnings season for the first quarter, one which is predicted to be less-than-outstanding, withe the estimate for earnings growth to be less than one percent.

The Dow is on its worst five-day losing streak since August of 2011; meanwhile the S&P and NASDAQ have suffered their biggest drops since late November. The S&P broke through support at 1370 and continued down from there, slicing through its 50-day moving average, while the NASDAQ busted below 3000, a beachhead just recently breached.

Fear? Greed? Take your pick. Stocks finished close to their lows of the day, setting up just about anything for Wednesday, though the overhand from Spain's 10-year bond hovering around 6% is troubling to all.

On the bright side, Alcoa (AA) opened earnings season with a surprise, posting a nine-cent per share first quarter profit on expectations of a four-cent loss. On the other hand, last year's first quarter profit was 27 cents per share.

The 10-year US treasury closed below 2% (1.98%) for the first time in a month and WTI crude oil ended the day at roughly the same level it was at on December 30 of last year.

Most corporate economists are calling for 2-3% growth for 2012, though their track record is of misses so wide that one would be a fool to invite them onto the bar darts team.

A couple of clues to keep on the radar over the next few days, because they will be telling: the advance-decline line has been anemic for the past two weeks and the past two days have been decidedly bearish; the VIX has spiked 30% in the past eight sessions; Dow transports never confirmed the recent rally and have been taking a beating recently; new highs - new lows has rolled over in three of the past four sessions; and, crude oil has tanked.

All of these indicators are important, but it's still too early to call a trend, especially as we head into the heart of earnings season over the next two weeks. It will pay to keep a very close eye on developments. The recent downturn could easily be nothing more than profit-taking or the forerunner of a severe downturn.

So, take your pick. Up, down, left, right, forward, backwards. If you have a job, keep it. If you have some money, save it. If you need to eat, buy some food (it's still relatively cheap), if you don't have to drive, don't, and, if you think life is still pretty good, enjoy it, because, in this environment, one never knows how long the good times will last.

Keep an eye on sunrise and sunset times and any variance from published expectations.

Dow 12,715.93, -213.66 (1.65%)
NASDAQ 2,991.22, -55.86 (1.83%)
S&P 500 1,358.59, -23.61 (1.71%)
NYSE Composite 7,842.00, -150.32 (1.88%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,916,928,125
NYSE Volume 4,651,426,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 924-4713
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 45-157
WTI crude oil: 101.02, -1.44
Gold: 1,660.70, +16.80
Silver: 31.68, +0.16