Showing posts with label Syria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Syria. Show all posts

Monday, April 16, 2018

Stocks Close Out Week on Sour Note, But Still Post Weekly Gains

For the superstitious, Friday the 13th was not a disaster, but it wasn't particularly pleasant either, as stocks spent the entire session underwater, unable to follow through on gains from the previous day.

The up-and-down, give-and-take between bulls and bears has been a feature of the equity markets since late January. Thus far in April, the Dow has finished with gains in six session, closing down in four. An overview of the market presents a picture of a market without direction, as geo-political events, fundamental conditions, and economic data collide.

Being the middle of earnings season, the bulls appear to have at least a short-term advantage, especially since the US - along with France and Great Britain - chose to launch targeted attacks on Syria late Friday, giving markets ample time to digest the ramifications, which, at this point, appear limited.

Heading into the third full week of the second quarter, earnings from top companies will provide the catalyst for traders. There's a widely-held assumption that companies are going to put up good - if not great - first quarter reports, aided by tax benefits from the overhaul provided by congress and the president in December.

This would be a good week to take account of positions and perhaps take some profits off the table. Markets tend to be a little less volatile and generally trade higher during earnings seasons.

There isn't a FOMC rate policy meeting during April, and the May 1-2 meeting is probably going to result in no action being taken. The next Fed-driven stock market move won't be until the June 12-13 affair, when the Fed is expected to raise the federal funds rate another 25 basis points. While it doesn't sound like much, it will be the seventh such hike since the Fed got off the zero-bound in December 2015. It will push the rate to 1.75-2.00%, a significant figure sure to have an impact not only on stocks, but on the finances of individuals, families, businesses and governments.

Presently, this is the proverbial calm before the storm.

Dow Jones Industrial Average April Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
4/2/18 23,644.19 -458.92 -458.92
4/3/18 24,033.36 +389.17 -69.75
4/4/18 24,264.30 +230.94 +161.19
4/5/18 24,505.22 +240.92 +402.11
4/6/18 23,932.76 -572.46 -170.35
4/9/18 23,979.10 +46.34 -134.01
4/10/18 24,407.86 +428.76 +294.66
4/11/18 24,189.45 -218.55 +76.11
4/12/18 24,483.05 +293.60 +369.71
4/13/18 24,360.14 -122.91 +247.80

At the Close, Friday, April 13, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,360.14, -122.91 (-0.50%)
NASDAQ: 7,106.65, -33.60 (-0.47%)
S&P 500: 2,656.30, -7.69 (-0.29%)
NYSE Composite: 12,546.05, -34.17 (-0.27%)

For the Week:
Dow: +427.38 (+1.79%)
NASDAQ: +191.54 (+2.77%)
S&P 500: +51.83 (+1.99%)
NYSE Composite: +196.94 (+1.59%)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Blackrock, Delta Boost Stocks; Dow Gaining Momentum As Syria Threat Fades


That's the only number any macro investor needs to know. That was the January 26 all-time high on the Dow.

Since that time, the world's most widely-followed stock index has fallen on some lean times, and getting back to its level days of glory isn't going to be easy, if at all possible over the near term.

Today was an effort to allay the fears of those looking at their 401k statements from the first quarter, which showed losses, possibly, for many, for the first time in years, perhaps as long as nine years.

Stocks continued to ramp higher throughout the day without any discernible news other than the usual flow of corporate earnings reports, most of which were positive, and the thought that President Trump won't actually send missiles into Syria. The tail is truly wagging the dog on this one.

The gain today on the Dow was close to 300 points. Putting that in perspective, if the Dow was to go straight up at the rate of 300 points per day, it would only take seven trading days to get back to the all-tme high.

But, how likely is that?

Not very.

What is likely is that the Dow will continue to gain through the month, as corporate earnings continue to fuel a rally, as visceral and fleeting as that may be. Something negative will come along to upset the status quo, as it usually doesn't, but investors are keen to ignore the negative and trade on the positive. That's because everybody likes to be positive, whether the reality supports it or not.

Examining a couple of representative corporate earnings reports, Delta (DAL) and Blackrock (BLK) stood out, both reporting before the bell.

Delta gained 74 cents per share, down from 77 cents a year ago. The stock gained 1.51 points (+2.93%). That's some wishful thinking there. The company is in the midst of a $5 billion stock repurchase, begun just over a year ago and scheduled to be completed by 2020. Putting this most-recent quarter in perspective, the company's EPS would be declining if the number of shares outstanding had held steady.

Blackrock was expected to hit 6.39 per share. The New York-based company's net income rose to $1.09 billion, or $6.68 per share, in the first quarter, up 28 percent from the year-ago period.

Adjusted for special items, BlackRock earned $6.70 per share. They have money (yours) and know how to put it to good use. The stock was up 7.70 (+1.47%) on the day. Blackrock executives - including CEO Larry Fink - are Washington and Fed insiders, expert at employing the most extreme accounting tactics, thus making up extraordinary investment opportunities. They are hardly saints, but they are well-protected.

Dow Jones Industrial Average April Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
4/2/18 23,644.19 -458.92 -458.92
4/3/18 24,033.36 +389.17 -69.75
4/4/18 24,264.30 +230.94 +161.19
4/5/18 24,505.22 +240.92 +402.11
4/6/18 23,932.76 -572.46 -170.35
4/9/18 23,979.10 +46.34 -134.01
4/10/18 24,407.86 +428.76 +294.66
4/11/18 24,189.45 -218.55 +76.11
4/12/18 24,483.05 +293.60 +369.71

At the Close, Thursday, April 12, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,483.05, +293.60 (+1.21%)
NASDAQ: 7,140.25, +71.22 (+1.01%)
S&P 500: 2,663.99, +21.80 (+0.83%)
NYSE Composite: 12,580.22, +65.63 (+0.52%)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Stocks Close Friday Flat Ending Wild Week As Trump's Immigration Ban May Kill The Rally

Stocks cautiously ended the first full week of the Donald Trump presidency just as Mr. Trump unveiled his most audacious edict via executive order, barring immigration from countries embroiled in the throes of radical Islam such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen and four others.

While market participants have been somewhat encouraged by a number of first-week moves made by the new president, the promised immigration shutdown may have more implication globally than anybody may have wished. Stocks finished mixed in a week which witness a number of new all-time highs, particularly the Dow, which surpassed and held above the 20,000 level for the first time ever.

At the Close 1.27.16:
Dow: 20,093.78, -7.13 (-0.04%)
NASDAQ: 5,660.78, +5.61 (0.10%)
S&P 500: 2,294.69, -1.99 (-0.09%)
NYSE Composite: 11,283.19, -29.93 (-0.26)

On the week, all major indices sported gains, led by the NASDAQ and Dow Industrials, though the ramifications from the immigration ban were yet to be fully appreciated. As markets set to open in the US on Monday, futures indicated a negative open while markets around the world were suffering significant losses despite China and Hong Kong markets being closed all week for the Lunar New Year holiday. The tenor of trading suggests that markets may not be going along for the protectionist ride that the Trump administration has in mind. "America First" may well turn out to be the death knell for globalization, but the results of such radical policy changes is sure to increase market volatility, which, to this point has been benign.

For the week:
Dow: +266.53 (+1.34%)
NASDAQ: +105.45 (+1.90%)
S&P 500: +23.38 (+1.03%)
NYSE Composite: +90.39 (+0.81%)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Afternoon Quarterback: The Day After the Great January Stock Slide

OK, it's Saturday, and the world hasn't ended, but what's important is to keep abreast of developments over the weekend in places like Argentina and Turkey, both of which are experiencing significant currency issues.

The other part of today's exercise is to see if there is anything that might give a clue to the future, and as to whether the massive selloff on Friday (and all week on the Dow) was a one-off, or if it is going to lead to more dislocations in stocks, a further decline, a 10% correction, or a bear market, which is where the fun really starts for those bent on restoring some semblance of sanity to stock valuations.

Yes, Cry for Argentina

Argentina, a country already shut off from foreign credit markets (could be a blessing in disguise) after the financial collapse of 2001-2002, has been in crisis mode for most of the past three years, with citizens unable to purchase US Dollars with their local currency, the peso, except on black markets, where the going rate is roughly 11-1 or 12-1.

Other restrictions on the movement of money have been imposed by the autocratic government of Christina Kirchner during the recent past, but on Friday, the government was said to be lifting the ban on the purchase of dollars, with an official rate of 8-to-1, and a 20% surcharge, pushing the "official" exchange rate closer to black market prices, though not equal to them. The new policy is said to take effect on Monday, though local chatter is that the government won't have enough dollars available by then to meet expected demand.

The black market is thriving in Argentina's cities, the Euro and US Dollar being the main currencies accepted for millions in hidden transactions. With inflation running at about 30% over the past year, this crisis seems to have legs, eventually resulting in full-blown currency rejection, prompting various economic, social and political problems, likely precisely what the overlords at the World Bank and IMF have in mind.

Argentina is Greece writ large, without bailouts. The take-away is that this is nothing short of economic warfare, with the citizenry being the victims via inflation, social unrest, political uncertainty, with the goal being having the government succumb to the demands of international bankers, who will grind the country down with crushing debt packages disguised as "aid."

Turkey Stew?

In a nutshell, Turkey, a country that is a geographic crossroad between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, is at more crossroads - economic, social and political - than its current leaders can handle. While the country is mostly Sunni Muslim, most of its neighbors to the South (Syria, Iran and Iraq) are Shiite. On the other side to the West is Europe, and the struggle to admit Turkey to the EU has been ongoing for nearly a decade.

The rapid devaluation of the lira, the country's official currency, was a design of European technocrats, who seek to weaken the country's finances to a point at which acceptance of the Euro as the "new" currency would be greeted with cheers of economic progress and stability, though opponents of entering into full-blown Euro acceptance consider that a move characteristic of failure, and point to the loss of sovereignty that would result.

To the North, lies Georgia, Russia and, across the Black Sea, the Ukraine, which has descended into a condition close to civil war, mostly over the issue of whether to join the European Union or throw in with Russia, which holds sway over the country's gas supply. This is somewhat of the same situation facing the Turks and makes the situation all the more confusing. With so much turmoil in the region already, it wouldn't take much of a spark to turn Turkey into a pretty large battlefield, some of it, mostly the southern region, already torn up by the Syrian conflict.

It doesn't take much imagination to see the Turkish situation spiraling wildly out of control. Al Queda already runs arms and terrorists through the country, and Russia also smuggles weaponry to Syria through it. If Turkey were to erupt into violence, one could easily see a wide swath of nations - from Egypt all the way to the Ukraine - as a war zone, much of it already engulfed by violence.

The Wider View

If the situation in Turkey, Syria and the Ukraine wasn't enough to destabilize markets, Argentina and the brewing banking crisis in China certainly have to be rankling the money-handlers.

Here is a brief clip and transcript (about eight minutes) that describes the shadow banking problems in China. Essentially, shadow banking enterprises are financing loans made to companies who borrowed from official channels and have run out of credit or the ability to borrow more on good terms from China's official banking system has been exhausted. The issue is one of rolling over credit in order to avoid default, but, as the article explains, China is going to slow and some industries will be negatively affected, and whole businesses shuttered.

With the difficulty of getting straight information out of China still a huge problem, it's unclear how bad China's debt-to-GDP ratio has become, though it is certainly more than the officially reported 125%.

Of course, with debt-to-GDP at that level or higher in the bulk of developed and emerging nations, China's problems just add to the mix, though it's like dropping a whole stick of butter into a small bowl of flour and milk. It's so big, it threatens to clog up the entire operation and that's what is most worrisome.

There are, naturally, many more reasons why stocks plunged on Friday, from Italy's unemployment at an all-time high of 12.7%, to Spain's unemployment dwarfing that, at 26.8%.

Other indicators include the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), which collapsed in the two weeks after the holidays by an unprecedented amount, and, China's most recent PMI, which the financial media give a wide berth for the cause of the selloff in US stocks. The PMI fell to 49.6, indicating contraction in the manufacturing sector, the lifeblood of the Chinese - and to a great degree, the global - economy.

Here at home, retailers are feeling the pinch from a horrid holiday shopping season, the worst since 2008. JC Penny and Sears have already announced store closings and layoffs. Target and Wal-Mart announced layoffs on Friday, though they were small in number.

Technicals Matter

Technically, US indices are in pretty good shape, overall. The Dow and S&P had been making new all-time highs at the end of 2013, but the performance in the first three full weeks of 2014 are not encouraging. With Friday's decline, the Dow ripped right through its 50-day moving average. On just Thursday and Friday, the Dow more than tripled its losses for the year. The two-day decline was more than 500 points, a number that represents a roughly 3% loss, but, since the index has risen so high, the point total of over 300 points on Friday has a psychological impact.

Imagine the Dow Jones Industrials as a 1600-pound animal, maybe a small hippo. A one-percent loss in weight - 16 pounds - wouldn't seem to matter much, but a 3% loss is close to 50 pounds, possibly worth notice. If the animal were to lose 10% (a correction, in market terms), or 160 pounds, veterinarians would be consulted, and, if a 20% loss in weight were to occur (indicative of a bear market), some might the 320-pound loss in weight was indicative of the animal having a severe disease.

The S&P likewise fell through its 50-day moving average, though the NASDAQ remained in suspended animation above its 50-day moving average, buoyed by Netflix and Google in recent days, though that position may be in jeopardy if the declines from the past few weeks persist and morph into something larger.

Key support areas on the Dow are at 15,450 and 1700 on the S&P, both the 200-day moving averages.

Also, the number of new lows exceeded new highs on Friday, the first time that has happened this year.

Forward Thinking

With earnings season in full gallop, next week should provide more fireworks. Apple and Google will be reporting, and those will be the big ones to watch. Since they are techs, they'll likely give the markets some pause and reason to ignore the declines of the past week, but the big enchilada is the two-day FOMC meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 28 and 29, Ben Bernanke's last.

While the Fed didn't expressly say so when it announced the tapering of their bond purchase program by $10 billion last month, the fear on the Street is that they will announce another $10 billion reduction, bringing their monthly purchases down to $65 billion in February, from $85 billion in December.

Nowhere in its press release from last month
did the Fed even mention further cuts, so a reasonable expectation is that they will continue asset purchases at a rate of $75 billion per month, which, seriously, is more than enough, though market crybabies would like to see even more artificial stimulus.

Interest rates are also normalizing again, with the 10-year dropping to its lowest yield since prior to the "taper" announcement, closing Friday at a yield of 2.72%

Essentially, the turnback on Friday wasn't such a big deal, though any downturn is viewed with skepticism since the Fed is still supplying so much liquidity. If stocks can't maintain their current valuations, it means one of a couple of things. One, the Fed's policies are a complete failure, or, two, the economy is much weaker than anyone thought, or, three, stocks ran up to a highly overbought level and investors are just taking profits, albeit, at a rapid pace.

What's important to watch is how stocks act next week, the final week in January. The Fed announcement will be key, though they shouldn't influence markets considerably unless they taper even more, an unlikely event. If the major indices make it through the week without losing much or actually making gains, keep a close eye on the recent all-time highs on the S&P and the Dow. If these levels are not surpassed, that's a plain signal of a primary bear market. That should surprise nobody except perma-bulls, because this bull market will be a full five years old - 60 months - on March 9th. If the market makes a V bottom and rebounds past the highs (a correction and rebound), short at your own risk, because that would be a sign of a continuing liquidity-driven push higher.

One other indicator to consider is the January Barometer, which, at this juncture, looks certain to be negative. The direction of stocks in January has about a 90% correlation to direction for the rest of the year, so, unless there's a miracle rally this coming week, 2014 appears to be heading South.

For now, it's too early to call direction, but this brief summary of some of the key issues should provide background for all investors.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why the Boom Went Bust Today; Stocks Rocked; Gold, Silver, Bonds Higher

Despite a pair of great earnings reports after the bell Wednesday - Netflix and eBay - stocks sold off dramatically on Thursday, starting even before the opening bell, as futures pointed to a grim opening.

When trading began, the Dow slumped an immediate 135 points, while the S&P and NASDAQ took on deep losses. The negative condition persisted throughout the day, actually getting worse in the afternoon.

While stocks have already begun the year on a less-than-enthusiastic note, today's drops were the worse seen since last August and quite possibly are foretelling of further declines to come.

Commentators in the financial media mostly failed to comprehend the causes for today's collapse in equities, which were, in no particular order, the Chinese banking system becoming unglued, Turkey's economy falling apart at the seams, heightened tensions in the Ukraine, fear over terrorist attacks at the Olympics in Soshi, Russia, continuing civil war in Syria and 1.37 million people dropping off of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation roles.

Let's examine this last bit of news first, because it is so US-centric and is a troubling sign of the ongoing impotence of the federal government. Recall, the noises out of Washington, DC, earlier this month about restoring the aid to the people whose 99 weeks of unemployment were ending. Democrats were screaming "unfair," and that we need to help these people, as the money for these continuing unemployment benefits was eliminated by the widely-hailed budget "deal" that passed through congress in December.

Recall, also, that pension and benefits for military retirees and disabled vets was also slashed by that budget and roundly criticized by congress-people on the left and the right. The cuts were said to be "unpatriotic", and many vowed to restore them. A month has gone by and those cuts are still in place. Veterans are getting the shaft, and now, the long-term unemployed, without the media (controlled by the government) raising as much as an eyebrow over these issues, proving, without any shadow of a doubt, that the politicians in Washington have not only lost all sense of justice, decency or propriety, but they are also quickly losing their ability to make coherent policy.

What politicians in Washington, DC, have accomplished, however, is the uncanny ability to lie ruthlessly about anything at all, and to now lose what little support remained from the people of the United States. With the approval rating of congress already at multi-generational lows, it's about to go even lower. People should have been in the streets already, but their voices have been silenced by the Federal Reserve, together with the false statistics about the "improving economy" bantered about the past four to five years.

What will be lost next by the politicians is their ability to rule. They have lost all credibility and the consent of the people has long since been quietly withdrawn by many. The federal government, either by design or incompetence, has been failing and is about to fail completely. Without somebody stepping up to right the ship - and don't count on it - the ship of state, already rudderless and with torn sails, has begun to sink. Special interests to which the politicians have catered, have blown a hole in the hull, and it's not readily repairable. The United States is rapidly devolving into a fascist, welfare/police state, and, making matters worse and more worrisome, this is only the beginning.

Other than the United States collapsing in a major hurry, the rest of the world doesn't look much rosier. If nobody gets killed at the Olympics - if they even go off as planned - it will be nothing short of a miracle.

The other major events of the day were the widespread devaluation in the value of the Turkish Lira and a bank failure in China, also just beginning.

Turkey's currency fell three percent against the dollar, the most of any currency outside of Argentina (already a basket case, down 14% just today), despite intervention by the central bank, which was reportedly in the process of unloading $3 billion in foreign reserves.

In China, the evolving shadow banking crisis just went from bad to worse as it was reported today that some rural credit unions have been unable to pay back depositors for over a year. This would, in most countries, have been major news, prompting a flight of money from banks (bank run), but the circumspect Chinese media suppresses most of this kind of information from the outside world. In a nutshell, China's dubious "boom" economy may be going bust, or, realistically, may already be well down the path of self-immolation.

Taking just these few "newsy" items into perspective, it just might be time to return to "clinging to their guns and bibles," for more than just a few Americans. As for the rest of the world, well, their guns have largely already been confiscated and bibles don't offer much protection. Pitchforks and torches, anyone? God save them.

Others may be taking some time to polish up the gold and silver, which were the main winners on the day, along with the 10-year note, which fell to 2.80, the lowest yield in roughly two months.

As if that wasn't enough, teen idol, Justin Beiber, was arrested last night for DUI. Oh, the horror!... and, no, we're not linking to that story.

DOW 16,197.35, -175.99 (-1.07%)
NASDAQ 4,218.87, -24.13 (-0.57%)
S&P 1,828.46, -16.40 (-0.89%)
10-Yr Note 99.56, +1.25 (+1.27%) Yield: 2.80%
NASDAQ Volume 2.00 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.91 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1829-3918
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 196-62
WTI crude oil: 97.32, +0.59
Gold: 1,262.30. +23.70
Silver: 20.01, +0.171
Corn: 429.00, +2.75

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

President Backs Cautiously Away from Syria; Markets Exultant

Tuesday night's address to the nation was - for lack of a better term - illusory.

While President Obummer tried his best to appear calm and in control, he was anything but. Russia's Vladimir Putin had outmaneuvered him on the Syria strike issue by proposing that Syria put its chemical weapons under supervision of international parties.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives was backing far, far away from the unpopular choice to attack Syria, "in a measured way," as Secretary of State John Kerry might put it. A no vote on whether to give the president the authority to attack Syria was all but certain in the House and might have faltered in the Senate as well.

Thus, laughably, the president advised congress to delay its vote on authorization for use of military force for two weeks. Issue settled. Syria will not be assaulted by US arms, the president saves some face and congress gets off the hook as well. There probably will never be a vote on authorization. The Syria chemical attacks, which the administration so vociferously denounced as brutal, heinous, inhume and so outside the realm of civilized conduct that the Syrian government needed to be punished for them, will be back page news by the end of tomorrow so that congress and the president can move onto what they were trying to cover up with a war strike: the budget and debt ceiling twin fiascos.

Those will come soon enough and command daily, screechy headlines from the breathless media whores, but before them, the Federal Reserve's FOMC meets next Tuesday and Wednesday, after which it will purportedly announce the great tapering, or, as it's being called on Wall Street, taper-lite, suggesting that the Fed will reduce its monthly bond purchases from $85 billion a month to somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 billion. Ho-hum. One supposes that the world can survive without an additional $10 billion of monthly liquidity. Somehow, we'll all find a way to survive.

With all these grand developments, Wall Street pros took the opportunity to ramp up stocks in advance of the next options expiry, in hopes that can can make another quick buck before the Fed pulls away the punch bowl.

The Dow was up another 135 points on the day, the third straight session in which the blue chip average was higher by more than 100 points, giving it a gain for the week, thus far, of 404 points. The NASDAQ and S&P were weighed down by Apple (AAPL), whose latest "earth-shaking" announcement was not any new products but merely enhancements and new pricing for existing ones. The stock was punished severely, down 26.93 points on the day.

Back at the Dow Industrials, the index will be reshuffled after the close of trade on September 20. Being kicked out are Bank of America (BAC), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Alcoa (AA), replaced by Nike (NKE), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Visa (V). Because of the way the index weights stocks, giving more weight to high-priced ones than low-priced ones, Goldman Sachs will become the third most-important stock on the Dow, with Visa becoming the second most-important.

In other words, with five financial firms now represented in the 30-stock index, get ready for Dow 20,000. There's no stopping it now, especially when the index can arbitrarily kick out losers and replace them with their favorite pump primers.

There is no honor, nor shame, amongst thieves.

Dow 15,326.60, +135.54 (0.89%)
Nasdaq 3,725.01, -4.01 (0.11%)
S&P 500 1,689.13, +5.14 (0.31%)
10-Yr Bond 2.92%, -0.04
NYSE Volume 3,341,576,250
Nasdaq Volume 1,679,120,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3573-2957
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 344-80
WTI crude oil: 107.56, +0.17
Gold: 1,363.80, -0.20
Silver: 23.17, +0.156

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Syria Euphoria Sends Stocks Higher; Trading Volume Hits 15-Year Low

The Dow added more than 250 points over the past two days and the NASDAQ hit fresh 13-year highs, meaning only one thing: we're officially in vapor-land as S&P equity trading volume hits fresh 15-year lows.

Meanwhile, the Syria story gets more and more confusing and confounding, the President's address tonight at 9:00 pm EDT (we do hope he'll be on time for once) probably just adding more layers of confusion to this twisted international story presaging World War III, which is bound to happen anyway, one way or another, the crux of the argument being Iran's nuclear ambitions and the US (and Israel's) attempts to defuse them.

So, how's that 401K looking? Pretty peachy, huh? Well, that's until the authorities come to confiscate it as happened in Poland last week.

A major financial disruption is just weeks away, be it the default of Deutsche Bank on some of their massive, unregulated CDS, Italian bank defaults or maybe, just maybe a big resounding thud from the likes of JP Morgan, or, our favorite, Bank of America.

The system is completely stressed out, trading on razor-thin volume while Peace President O-Bomber gets an itchy finger over Syria and a false-flag operation that hasn't convinced anybody of anything. What could possibly go wrong?

Russia's Vladimir Putin is playing Obama like a banjo, plucking his strings with the talent of a virtuoso. Other outlets have compared the recent developments over Syria as Putin playing chess while OBozo struggles with checkers.

We think the analogy is apropos. The US government will soon be on its knees, begging forgiveness from a broken-hearted world and US population. There will be no mercy given to the betrayers of the constitution.

And, by the way, the NSA is FOS.

Dow 15,191.06, +127.94 (0.85%)
Nasdaq 3,729.02, +22.84 (0.62%)
S&P 500 1,683.99, +12.28 (0.73%)
10-Yr Bond 2.96%, +0.06
NYSE Volume 3,911,199,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,767,686,125
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4249-2265
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 403-52
WTI crude oil: 107.39, -2.13
Gold: 1,364.00, -22.70
Silver: 23.02, -0.701

Friday, September 6, 2013

NFP Jobs Data Disappoints; Fed-Taper in Question; Liesman's Big Lie

Following an early-session smack-down and a subsequent rally, stocks came right back to terra firma at the close, ending the session essentially flat.

Non-farm payroll data and Middle east posturing were the main catalysts for the early decline, the rally had little catalyst othe than empty reassurances from the president, or Bomber-in-Chief, who, after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his nation would support and defend Syria in the face of any attacks, promised, once again, that strikes against Syria would be measured and brief.

Mr. Obama speaks as if he's planning a family outing of some sort rather than an act of war against a sovereign nation and his posturing and promising is nauseating, misguided and insincere. While the congress dithers over whether to grant him authority - as it must under the War Powers Act - to bomb Syria, a nation that poses no imminent threat to US interests, the president continues to tiptoe toward conflict, one which is likely to inflame parties in an already-tense region.

Market reactions to the president and congress are equally superfluous and without much forethought. To date, the US has done nothing but threaten Syria. If it ever comes to actual bombing, then the market will make up its mind as to whether such actions have consequences for stocks and bonds.

The other contributing factor to today's rocky trade was the August Non-Farm Payroll report which showed the US gaining 169,000 new jobs, well below consensus, and revising June and July data lower. The BLS also advised that the labor force participation rate had fallen again, to 63.2%, a number not seen since 1978, thirty-five years ago.

This item in the BLS calculus continues to plunge, and many, including CNBC's Chief Economist, Steve Liesman, cite the aging baby-boomers retiring as the main culprit, though other economists disagree, and heartily so. The number usually thrown about is that 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day, though, if that were true, there would be something on the order of 300,000 jobs available every month and the labor condition would be booming, but those numbers are not showing up in the NFP reports.

A few of the prominent factors contributing to the lower participation rate are: 1) the coming of Obamacare, which is prompting more and more employers to hire only part-time workers; 2) a reluctance by companies large and small to replace workers lost through attrition or layoffs due to uncertainty in the economy or outright slowdown; 3) the ease by which individuals can qualify for public relief programs such as unemployment insurance, welfare or disability and the generosity of those programs, and; 4) a thriving underground economy of self-employed or off-the-books workers who simply aren't part of the statistical sample. It's been long known that government statistics are wildly faulty and unreliable, and the labor stats simply don't account for the literally millions of Americans who are making ends meet by working around, though or otherwise outside the system, a system which sucks the lifeblood, via taxation and regulation, out of both employers and workers.

The government's statistics may be relied upon by Wall Street investors, but the logic and realism of their assumptions is faulty at best and downright improper at worst. Americans have always found means to an end, and, when the government - all all levels - exerts undue, stifling restrictions upon the citizenry, the people quietly move on without them. Beating back the government by hook or by crook is an American tradition and it will remain that way, so long as people in power feel the necessity to invade every aspect of a citizen's life.

Dow 14,922.50, -14.98 (0.10%)
NASDAQ 3,660.01, +1.23 (0.03%)
S&P 500 1,655.17, +0.09 (0.01%)
NYSE Composite 9,439.66, +19.31 (0.20%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,668,595,250
NYSE Volume 3,384,952,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3718-2834
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 206-54
WTI crude oil: 110.53, +2.16
Gold: 1,386.50, +13.50
Silver: 23.89, +0.636

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Drums of War Bring Out the Traders

It didn't take long for Wall Street professionals to get over their fear of war in the Middle East, particularly Syria.

In fact, it took less than one day for the drumbeats of potential warfare to bring out the animal spirits and send stocks soaring.

Unfortunately, volume is still in the "new normal" range of moderate to dismal, and the Dow stopped ominously short of the magic 15,000 mark, a sign that there's still a healthy level of skepticism over the future of American empire.

Today's activity was really nothing of great consequence. Most traders are waiting until Friday's non-farm payroll report before the bell to establish positions or head for the hills. It's a very undecided market presently and that doesn't seem to want to change, especially considering the headwinds of the debt ceiling and Fed tapering on the agenda later in the month.

This little two-day rally did reverse the overall trend, for now, and the major indices are sitting close to key levels of resistance, though the Dow and S&P are still stuck below their 50-day moving averages.

Commodities acted very strangely, with significant losses in oil, gold and silver.

Dow 14,930.87, +96.91 (0.65%)
NASDAQ 3,649.04, +36.43 (1.01%)
S&P 500 1,653.08, +13.31 (0.81%)
NYSE Composite 9,400.20, +66.71 (0.71%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,812,184,125
NYSE Volume 3,516,943,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4510-2082
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 149-57
WTI crude oil: 107.23, -1.31
Gold: 1,390.00, -22.00
Silver: 23.42, -1.014

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Boehner, Pelosi Side with O'Bomber, Tank Markets

This past Friday, nearly the entire civilized world believed that US bombs would be falling on Syria over the weekend.

Abruptly, n Saturday, the president, in a true CYA moment, decided to get authorization from congress, which, according to our constitution (remember, we still have one, if in name only), is a necessity in order to attack any entity that does not pose a serious, immediate threat to the nation, and Syria easily qualifies.

With the congress winding down its month-long vacation (somebody remind us why are we paying them), a vote on the matter of whether or not to use offensive weapons against Syria couldn't occur much before September 9, the date upon which congress will officially resume to be in session. Thus, the inevitable bombing and unofficial start to World War III would have to wait.

On Tuesday, the house leadership of both parties - Nancy Peolosi and John Boehner - were back on the Hill, each making statements in support of the Bomber-in-Chief's proposal to use force against Syria.

So, if one is to believe in what the tea-leaves tell us, the president will get his authorization, despite some grandstanding by Tea Party members on the right and anti-war types on the left. Never mind that only nine percent of Americans support any kind of military action against Syria. The one-party rulers in Washington will have their way and theirs is the way of war.

Wall Street didn't take the news kindly. Up sharply early on, thinking that maybe, possibly, congress would not give the president the green light, markets did an about-face after the Boehner/Pelosi comments and stayed down for the remainder of the session. Everybody put away their "Dow 15,000!" hats and got back to thinking about how spiked oil and gas prices might negatively affect the economy, how bombing a nation essentially tearing itself apart in a civil war would benefit US interests, and how this might weigh on decisions surrounding the budget, the debt ceiling and whether the Fed would taper its bond-buying at its next meeting (Sept. 17-18).

With that, traders wiped 100 points off the Dow, albeit on volume that was hardly indicative of a back-to-work mentality. Come to think of it, since Obamacare is making work in America largely a part-time experience, maybe lower volume and shorter trading sessions might be just the ticket.

Dow 14,833.96, +23.65 (0.16%)
NASDAQ 3,612.61, +22.74 (0.63%)
S&P 500 1,639.77, +6.80 (0.42%)
NYSE Composite 9,333.50, +62.84 (0.68%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,568,192,750.00
NYSE Volume 4,111,344,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4025-2691
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 130-89
WTI crude oil: 108.54, +0.89
Gold: 1,412.00, +15.90
Silver: 24.43, +0.916

Friday, August 30, 2013

Stocks End Worst Month Since May 2012; Odds on Syria Strike; Despite Kerry Rhetoric, Still no Proof

We end the month of August on an oddly-down note, since Secretary of State John Kerry made an impassioned speech about the need to punish the Assad regime in Syria for alleged chemical strikes against its own people, but still did not offer any substantive proof that those loyal to the embattled president of Syria were responsible for the attacks.

Odd, it was, that stocks did not rally in patriotic fervor over going to war, insofar as any action the president may take against Syria is entirely without authorization from congress and decidedly unconstitutional. But, in the politics of the new American dictatorship under president Obama, such trifles as the War Powers Act and the constitution - to say nothing of the American public's 91% disapproval of any action being taken against Syria - count for nil when the stakes are so politically high.

Thus, we present the odds for the timing of missile strikes - "tailored" ones, using the president's own vernacular:
Friday (prior to 12:00 pm EDT): 7-5
Saturday: even
Sunday: 4-1
Monday: 7-1
No strike: 40-1

Stocks ended the most brutal month since May of 2012, spurred to the downside first, by talk of tapering by the Fed and general fear, second, by talk of military action from the Obama administration. The time for talk being essentially over, it is expected that Damascus will be in flames shortly, the Fed will nip about $10-15 billion off its monthly bond-buying binge by the end of September and stocks will continue their trajectory to the downside.

On the day, the Russell 2000 and Dow Transports were mashed fairly substantially, and, despite some fierce tape-painting in the final five minutes of trading (about 40 Dow points), stocks finished the week with their third loss in the past five sessions.

For the week - in which the Dow closed lower for the fourth straight week (first time this year) - the Dow Industrials were down 200.20 points, the NASDAQ shed 67.92 and the S&P 500 was nipped for 30.53 points, a pretty severe decline.

Microsoft (MSFT) was the only Dow component to finish positive for the month.

Now we await the weekend's entertainment: College Football and Bombing Syria.

What could be better?

Dow 14,810.31, -30.64 (0.21%)
NASDAQ 3,589.87, -30.43 (0.84%)
S&P 500 1,632.97, -5.20 (0.32%)
NYSE Composite 9,270.70, -45.12 (0.48%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,229,340,500
NYSE Volume 3,001,316,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1822-4668
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 55-73
WTI crude oil: 107.65, -1.15
Gold: 1,396.10, -16.80
Silver: 23.46, -0.627

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Energy Stocks Push Dow Higher in Listless Session

In terms of the declines from the past two days, today's paltry gains were about 20% of the pullback, so technically, Wednesday's session was nothing much more than a knee-jerk, relief rally with little follow through.

Energy stocks, ExxonMobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) in particular, were responsible for roughly one half of the gains on the Dow Industrials, and there was concerted selling into the close, with stocks giving back about a third of the day's gains into the closing bell, a negative for trading conviction.

WTI crude oil closed above $110 a barrel for the first time since May, 2011, a direct result of the saber-rattling going on over Syria. Gold and silver took a breather, probably for some serious profit-taking, as the precious metals have been on a real tear over the past two weeks, bounding off their lows to make multi-month highs.

Volume was typically dismal, as is usually the case in August, especially the last week of the month, as were are witnessing.

News flow and economic data have been largely negative. Today's -1.3% downturn in pending home sales for July was another sign that the housing market continues to cool and may turn into a chill as the peak selling season is passing quickly.

Talk was centered on when the US would strike Syria, rather than "if," and how that might affect the Fed's decision over tapering bond purchases in September or delay it until tensions subside. Such banter is the stuff of markets, but largely foolish speculation and ignorant of the underlying trends in the economy, which are weak, at best, and slumping, at worst.

Overall, it was a nothing session, with most traders either on hold until a Syria assault becomes reality or on holiday until after Labor Day.

Gains were minimal and may prove to be fleeting.

Dow 14,824.51, +48.38 (0.33%)
NASDAQ 3,593.35, +14.83 (0.41%)
S&P 500 1,634.96, +4.48 (0.27%)
NYSE Composite 9,311.30, +23.19 (0.25%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,318,517,250
NYSE Volume 2,873,515,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3655-2890
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 59-88
WTI crude oil: 110.10, +1.09
Gold: 1,418.80, -1.40
Silver: 24.39, -0.26

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hard Times for America and the World; Harder Choices for Americans

Today, we stand at an important crossroad of history.

The United States is about to make one of the greatest strategic blunders of all time, even after lessons should have been learned from military misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq.

With support from congressmen and congresswomen from both sides of the aisle, the current administration is preparing to plunge the United States into another Middle East military conflict, centered on the civil war - that is none of our business and serves no national interest - in Syria.

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.
-- Ernest Hemingway

Recently-appointed Secretary of State, John Kerry, kicked off the relentless banging of war drums late Monday afternoon, with a press conference, highlighting America's "undeniable" evidence that the regime of Bashir Assad had used chemical warfare against its own citizens last week.

Kerry, one of the richest politicians in the world thanks to his marriage to Heinz heiress, Teresa Heinz in 1995, spoke of "additional intelligence" which would indicate that Assad was behind the chemical attack that killed hundreds in a Damascus suburb. Estimates had ranged to over 1000, but recent estimates fall between 150 and 355, which is the number of deaths quoted by Doctors without Borders.

Kerry said that this additional evidence would be released in coming days. In the meantime, the US has expressed concern that UN inspectors have not been given unfettered access to the attack site, which is contrary to published reports that the Assad government is complying with UN requests.

Additionally, Kerry made a comment, supposedly directed at Russia, but ostensibly aimed at anyone who believes the chemical attack was a "false flag" engineered by CIA or other undercover agents under direction from the United States, in order to heat up the situation and foment conditions for war in Syria.

Kerry said, "Anyone who can claim that an attack of this staggering scale can be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass." However, Assad has repeatedly and steadfastly denied that his government was behind the attack. Besides, Assad has been seen as winning the civil war against home-grown rebels and outside agitators from the Muslim Brotherhood and groups associated with Al Queda, so there was no direct benefit for the use of chemical warfare, especially since President Obama said months ago that such use would "cross a red line."

In Kerry's "moral compass" statement, in response to words from the Kremlin that the situation mirrored that in Iraq, centered around non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that led the US into war 10 years ago, lies the seed of disingenuousness.

In more genteel times, such as prior to 2001, such comments would not even be given an airing, but, since 9/11, and even before, the scenario has been set. Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, knows exactly which button to push in order to riase the ire of the US, and he is pushing them. As far as "strong evidence suggesting" (a term Kerry, and compatriots like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell like to use) is concerned, there's a recurring pattern emerging out of Washington DC, starting with the Gulf of Tonkin incident which plunged us into the Vietnam War, to the events of 9/11/2001, around which skeptics still abound, to the Iraq invasion based upon what is now called "flawed intelligence," to the present condition in Syria.

It seems like every time the economy is in trouble (read on, there's more of that to come) or the US needs to exploit the resources of a weaker nation (Egypt and Libya come immediately and recently to mind), there's some "event" that brings out the president, the Secretary of State, various members of congress, especially war-mongers John McCain and Lindsay Graham rattling the sabers like medieval warlords.

The US is once again on the same path, with the media lapping it up and spitting it out to the trusting American public. These are truly the hardest of times, and the hardest of decisions face the American public just ahead. Will they continue to support these elected leaders who act more like psychopathic killers than men and women of judgement and compassion, or will Americans stand up and resist, though protests in the recent past have gone for naught because the media has been purchased in whole by the banking-political cartel and will not give protests their proper airing.

It is inconceivable in this day and age of an open internet and mass communications that governments be allowed to run roughshod over a country's constitution and its people, but that is precisely the path America is upon, and there seems to be little to apprehend the runaway war machine.

As for the market reaction to the beating war drums - or, maybe more precisely, the market condition aside from them - stocks have taken a severe beating over the first two sessions of the final week of August, with the NASDAQ in freefall, taking its biggest loss of the year on Tuesday, while the Dow, NYSE Composite and S&P 500 continue to plunge well below their 50-day moving averages. Meanwhile, the WTI oil price has spiked to six-month highs, gold and silver have returned to their traditional status as safe havens and are experiencing a bull market, and the recent rise in interest rates has been temporarily reversed.

While it may be easy to blame "war tensions" for the recent price declines, there's much, much more to the story, including whether or not the Federal Reserve will cut back its bond buying program (tapering) in September, the upcoming budget and debt ceiling debates - also in September and October - a potential collapse of the Italian government, a slowdown in housing, continuing high unemployment and the effects of Obamacare on the entire labor and health care complex.

Indications are already in place that the markets are taking a severe turn, possibly signaling an end to the 54-month-long bull run since March 2009. The Dow has lost nearly 900 points this month alone, ending in the red 13 of its last 17 sessions. The advance-decline line continues to deteriorate, today reaching a level of more than 4:1 losers to winners, and new lows slammed new highs yet again, a continuing, troublesome trend.

Weeks and months ahead could well become a turning point for the country, though there's a strong sentiment that the federal government, deeply in bed with the Wall Street bankers and global elite will continue a glide path to insolvency, decimating the middle class from both sides, by the rapacious practices of the upper class ("one percenters") while keeping the dregs of society quelled with bread and circuses (food stamps and football).

America has reached a greater incline on the slippery slope to serfdom and tyranny. This is a dangerous time, and each American must examine his or her conscience and decide which course of action is best for themselves and their families. These will not be easy decisions, but momentous even in singularity. America is being ripped apart by the powers at the top and there may be no reasonable means of stopping the carnage already underway.

Unfolding events in Syria and the wider Middle East, along with the operational side of the federal government may present the nation with veritable breaking points and an irreversible trajectory.

Dow 14,776.13, -170.33 (1.14%)
NASDAQ 3,578.52, -79.05 (2.16%)
S&P 500 1,630.48, -26.30 (1.59%)
NYSE Composite 9,288.11, -144.40 (1.53%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,570,917,625
NYSE Volume 3,629,879,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1236-5415
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 43-106
WTI crude oil: 109.01, +3.09
Gold: 1,420.20, +27.10
Silver: 24.65, +0.641

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Light Volume, Low Volatility: Signs of Stagnation?

Since the dramatic rise to fresh multi-year highs this past Friday, the first tow days of this week have been nothing more than a major snooze-fest. Whatever the issue, stocks seemed stalled at these lofty levels, perhaps in anticipation of some new developments in the ongoing struggle to keep Greece functioning or possibly due to angst over the conditions in Iran, Syria, Egypt or some other place that seems ripe to explode.

The pattern for the last two days has been oddly similar, with stocks lower at the open, then a spike higher around 10:00 am ET, and a flattening out for the remainder of the session. The difference between yesterday and today is that yesterday's action kept the major indices in the red, while today's trade was mostly on the positive side of the ledger.

Tuesday was a little bit like Groundhog Day in that regard, and also due to Fed chairman Ben Bernanke delivering pretty much the same canned remarks to the Senate as he gave to the House last week.

A 24-hour general strike cripple Greece's already-impaired infrastructure so that negotiations on three fronts - dealing with private bondholders, dealing with funds from the troika, and acceptance of harsh austerity measures - were held mostly without much fanfare or publicity.

Greece's unity government (an oxymoron if ever there was one) needs to work out arrangements with each of their two parties of creditors, and with its own people, to secure another round of financing of 130 billion euro ($172 billion) before a scheduled March 20 payment on 14.5 billion euro of maturing debt.

Since it's obvious to everyone that Greece can't manage its own money, much less the bailout funds pumped into it just last Summer, the threat of default and expulsion from the Eurozone continues to weigh on Europe and the rest of the world.

It's a cruel game of chicken and Europe, in particular, is the worst for it.

One proposal that was floated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to force the Greek government to allocate interest payments into an escrow account, so their profligate ways won't threaten future debt payments, much like a teenager with a co-signer on an installment loan. If it wasn't so sadly true, such an attempt to reign in Greece's spendthrift ways might qualify as humor. Unfortunately, the tragedy that is 21st century Greece does not look like it's going to have a happy ending.

Dow 12,878.20, +33.07 (0.26%)
NASDAQ 2,904.08, +2.09 (0.07%)
S&P 500 1,347.05, +2.72 (0.20%)
NYSE Composite 8,069.70, +21.67 (0.27%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,784,894,750
NYSE Volume 3,727,102,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2959-2649
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 249-7 (wow)
WTI crude oil: 98.41, +1.50
Gold: 1,748.40, +23.50
Silver: 34.19, +0.44