Showing posts with label Warren Buffett. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Warren Buffett. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Stocks Triggered By Federal Reserve EFT Buys, Negative Interest Rate Fears; PTJ Buys Bitcoin

Once more, the Dow Jones Industrial Average failed to break above a key level, giving up morning gains after President Trump reiterated his desire for the Fed to entertain negative interest rates. Bank stocks were especially hard hit as the belief is that rates below zero would further hamper their ability to control the spread and turn profits despite the ability to skim directly from deposit accounts via the minus sign on yields.

Alongside the president's tweeting, the Federal Reserve began purchasing corporate debt ETFs, beginning with investment grade bonds but eventually swinging down the ladder to high yield, among the most dodgy and riskiest of fixed income products. The intent was announced on March 23, as a response to the coronavirus epidemic, and put into practice during Tuesday's session, with investment firm, BlackRock, as the intermediary, using funds from the Fed and US Treasury.

Seen as the ultimate backstop for stocks and the debt market, the scheme is one of nine separate facilities the Fed is employing to help stabilize - or in most cases, pump higher - markets.

The various backstops being deployed by the Fed, in conjunction with the currency-killing qualities of negative interest rates should eventually result in a gigantic bubble in the Fed's balance sheet, holding investment vehicles that are headed straight to the fiat scrapyard, another sign that the world is heading toward a currency crisis and a new monetary regime.

The attempt to vault beyond the 50% retrace of the March collapse was the third in the past month. The Dow peaked on April 17 when it closed at 24,633.86. After Tuesday's selloff, the head-and-shoulders chart pattern is clearly defined, a strong signal that a major decline is likely.

In recent days, and just prior to its halving, Paul Tudor Jones has bought into Bitcoin, expressing his view that the cryptocurrency will act as a hedge against the inflation he sees coming from central bank money-printing, telling clients it reminds him of the role gold played in the 1970s.

In a quote that is certain to become his trademark, Jones, founder and CEO of Tudor Investment Corp., said:
“The best profit-maximizing strategy is to own the fastest horse.”

Unabashedly, Jones believes Bitcoin will win the investment race over the coming years, along with gold, silver and other hard assets.

Jones' entry into the crypto-market stands in stark contrast to famed investor Warren Buffet and his holding company Berkshire Hathaway. Buffet has openly stated that he would never invest in gold or Bitcoin. After selling off his positions in the airlines at a sizable loss, Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway is sitting on some $150 billion in cash, loathing the concept that he finds nothing of compelling value to purchase presently.

Obviously, one of these investing titans is going to be proven wrong. It appears that at the present time, Jones may be holding the winning hand, or, in racing parlance, the live long shot.

At the Close, Tuesday, May 12, 2020:
Dow: 23,764.78, -457.21 (-1.89%)
NASDAQ: 9,002.55, -189.79 (-2.06%)
S&P 500: 2,870.12, -60.20 (-2.05%)
NYSE: 11,055.58, -225.78 (-2.00%)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Apple Tops $800 Billion Market Cap; NASDAQ Closes At All-Time High

Stocks were basically flat on Tuesday, but the NASDAQ finished at a new record high, paced, in large part by Apple (AAPL), which topped $800 billion in market cap on the day's gains.

Apple's most recent rise is likely due to two major investors, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, which has taken a major position in the world's richest company by market cap.

That's not surprising, given Buffett's record of success over the years, though it is hardly a genius pick. After all, if Buffet knows the Swiss National Bank is one of Apple's largest shareholders and continues to buy, why not join the party?

Buffet is well-connected and pretty bright, but owning Apple is pretty much a no-brainer in these days of central bank asset boosting.

At the Close, 5/9/17:
Dow: 20,975.78, -36.50 (-0.17%)
NASDAQ: 6,120.59, +17.93 (0.29%)
S&P 500: 2,396.92, -2.46 (-0.10%)
NYSE Composite: 11,567.52, -27.74 (-0.24%)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Warren Buffet Really Gets Under Your Skin; Big Market Decline Probably Means Nothing

Warrenn Buffett bears a
striking resemblance to the Wizard of Oz.
Announced today, the merger of Kraft and Heinz creates the fifth largest food company in the world and the third-largest in North America.

At the center of this mega-merger is none other than America's cuddliest billionaire, Warren Buffett and his squid-like Berkshire-Hathaway corporation. With this, Buffett now touches nearly all aspects of the average American's daily life, and, most essentially his or her food consumption.

Buffett, it was pointed out by a wily poster on a popular financial website, needs only to buy a significant interest in Monsanto or ADM and Newcomer Funeral Homes and he would have his had firmly in a "cradle to grave" solution for every man and woman in the United States, growing GMO-laced food products which deny nutrition and selling them nationally, slowly killing humans, and then taking a share of their post-breathing lives with embalming, burying or cremation.

Thus, Mr. Buffett has finally gotten under the skin of the average American consumer, and not in a good way. The combination of Heinz (John Kerry's wife, Theresa Heinz is a major owner) and Kraft would have been subject to severe scrutiny by regulators under an effective anti-trust regime, but the antiquated notion of competition has been slowly squeezed from the national conscience long ago.

In our new dystopian world, we will have but a few providers of every necessary service. Reference the merger of Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable, Staples and Office Depot, et. al. Fewer choices, fewer decisions to make. What a wonderful world.

As far as the massive market declines on the day are concerned, they are probably about the same as the last dozen or twenty or so that have occurred since March of 2009, when the current bull market began when the FASB abandoned all reason and did away with mark-to-market accounting. Since then it's been all fraud, all the time, with no end in sight.

Today's big dips in stocks are nothing more than a continuum of the controlled demolition of the global economy, led by the United States stock markets. Sell-offs are nothing more than profit-taking efforts by the controlling interests and their whiz-bang computers, to be followed, in short order, by concentrated buying and new all-time highs.

Nothing new under the sun. And nothing to see here. Move along, now.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Fed predicts the first quarter 2015 GDP growth at 0.2%, WTI crude oil futures were up 3% on the day in the face of a string of the largest crude stockpile supply growth ever, but likely the cause/result of a falling dollar. Durable goods for February were down for the second straight month.

Some of this actually makes sense, but only on a selected basis.

Dow 17,718.54, -292.60 (-1.62%)
S&P 500 2,061.05, -30.45 (-1.46%)
NASDAQ 4,876.52, -118.21 (-2.37%)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dow Takes A Header on Realignment

It was a little like old times today. Back before there were supercomputers running the show, there used to be a term called, "late at the close," which signified the level of volume in the final frantic minutes of trading. Financial news announcers would say things like, "the tape was 12 minutes late at the close," meaning that the ticker tape that recorded trades ran past 4:00 pm due to the heavy volume.

Today, the Dow didn't settle out until well after ten minutes beyond the official close, due to the realignment. Bank of America, Hewlett Packard and Alcoa went out; Nike, Goldman Sachs and Visa went in.

It wasn't a fair exchange, and that had something to do with stocks closing at the lows of the day and the Dow outpacing the other averages to the negative. Bank of America is basically an insolvent holding company of the Fed, Hewlett Packard is a dead stock with limited upside potential and Alcoa is more or less nothing other than a proxy for the commodity price of aluminum.

The new entrants seem to have futures, though the addition of Goldman Sachs seems more sinister than anything else. After all, the company has been termed a "giant squid," because its tentacles reach into the netherworld recesses of business and politics.

Still stocks took a pretty good header today and prospects for the remainder of the month - just six more trading days - are not bright, since a government shutdown looms, Obamacare continues to move toward implementation and the complete catastrophe of the US health and labor markets and the country continues to spiral deeper into debt with a rancorous debate soon to come on raising the debt ceiling.

Nonetheless, the Fed has everyone's back, until, of course, they don't, at which time they will have the front, all sides and the keys to all of your property, real, personal and possibly intellectual, if they can strike a deal with Google, Yahoo, Amazon and the NSA.

The future is (fill in the blank... we're too afraid to).

And, BTW, when Warren Buffett says stocks are "fairly valued," it's time to sell, because that's what he's doing.

For the week:
Dow: +75.03
NASDAQ: +52.55
S&P 500: +21.92

Dow 15,451.09, -185.46 (1.19%)
Nasdaq 3,774.73, -14.66 (0.39%)
S&P 500 1,709.91, -12.43 (0.72%)
10-Yr Bond 2.73%, -0.02
NYSE Volume 5,065,868,500
Nasdaq Volume 2,335,355,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2339-4314
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 332-45
WTI crude oil: 104.67, -1.72
Gold: 1,332.50, -36.80
Silver: 21.93, -1.365

Friday, February 15, 2013

DEAD MARKET: Stock Indices Finish Week Nearly Unchanged

As has been repeated here and on other financial sites ad nauseum, this is about as dull a market as has ever been seen.

Even though the Dow Industrials finished positive on the day, it spent most of Friday's session in negative territory, down by as many as 61 points just 90 minutes prior to the close. It actually turned positive just two minutes before the closing bell.

The NASDAQ suffered its first losing week of the year, a laughable 1.84 point decline. The Dow fell - on a weekly basis - for the second straight week, a whopping 11-point loss on top of last week's monumental 17 point decline. A cumulative loss of 28 points in two weeks (10 trading days) is nothing more than a rounding error.

As for the darling S&P, it continued its 2013 winning streak, closing up again for the seventh straight week, though only by a mere 1.86 points. They dynamic S&P 500 went the entire week without moving more than three points on a closing basis. That's dull with a capital D.

With all this excitement, thank goodness the exchanges are closed on Monday for President's Day. The traders and all us weary writers really need a break.


Late Breaking: The SEC has filed charges in unusual trading activity in options just prior to Berkshire Hathaway's takeover of H.J. Heinz (HNZ). Geez, Uncle Warren involved in something less than ethical? The horror. The ironic twist is that Business Insider, operated by banned trader/analyst Henry Blodget, was the first on the web with the story, proving that, even on Wall Street, truth is stranger than fiction.

Dow 13,981.76, +8.37 (0.06%)
NASDAQ 3,192.03, -6.63 (0.21%)
S&P 500 1,519.79, -1.59 (0.10%)
NYSE Compos... 8,932.17, -20.91 (0.23%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,831,044,125
NYSE Volume 4,096,131,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2977-3410
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 489-45
WTI crude oil: 95.86, -1.45
Gold: 1,609.50, -26.00
Silver: 29.85, -0.504

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Valentine's Day Mascara

No, that's not a misprint in the headline. The word is "mascara" - the stuff women apply to darken, thicken, lengthen, and/or define their eyelashes. It's a cosmetic, as in rouge, or lipstick, as in lipstick on a pig, which is exactly what the algos and buy-siders did to today's undeniably weak, directionless market.

Face it, Europe is a bona-fide basket case, Japan is devaluing its currency so fast that George Soros made nearly a billion dollars on the trade in just over three months.

The news coming out of Euro-fantasy-land was less than encouraging. Eurozone fourth quarter 2012 GDP fell by 0.6%.

Making matters a little more interesting - and more frightening - were the figures for the zone's three largest economies - Germany, France and Italy - whose own GDP fell by 0.6%, 0.3% and 0.9%, respectively.

The Eurozone, even after all the bank and sovereign bailouts, pledges of doing everything possible to promote growth by the likes of Germany's Angela Merkel and EU President Mario Draghi, has resulted in three consecutive quarters of negative GDP. Europe is already in the throes of an economic collapse, thanks largely to protectionism for banks and excessive liquidity from European central bankers (most of whom are Goldman Sachs alum, BTW).

While the GDP numbers may be bad enough, consider youth unemployment (ages 15-25) in the Eurozone to be spreading like the bubonic plague. Greece reported youth unemployment over 60%; Spain over 50% and Portugal just topped 40%. Thirteen of the 27 EU member states are reporting youth unemployment over 25%. Austerity: it's what's for dinner.

Europe is solid proof that the elite class is making up the rules as they go along, and the general public is viewed as collateral damage only. Here in the good old USA, we have our own concerns with the sequestration schedule to commence March 1, which will result in massive federal budget cuts. The president and congress haven't even begun to discuss how they'll handle that, though they uniformly say that sequestration (it doesn't rhyme with castration for no reason) is something they'd prefer to avoid.

Have they acted? No. Will they? Probably, but, like the fiscal cliff deal this past December, it will be a stop-gap measure and cost taxpayers more. Nobody ever cuts anything in Washington, only the rate of growth of programs, because what's important to them is keeping lobbyists and voters (government employees and beneficiaries of government largesse) dumb and happy.

So, on what does this algo-concocted market focus? Berkshire Hathaway's buyout of Heinz. Poor suckers that Americans are, they put ketchup on their chicken and pork hot dogs on day old buns while Uncle Warren reaps the profits. If ever there was a crony capitalist, Warren Buffet's picture belongs next to the definition.

Sure, unemployment claims were down - from 368K to 341K - but aren't those figures still too high? The new normal means just doing better than expectations, even if those expectations are sub-par. It's akin to taking your kid out for ice cream because he got a C in math instead of a D. As a nation, we've lowered our standards in everything from our political leaders to what passes for entertainment.

Along with everything else, we've lowered our standards for rational markets. Today's split decision is just another shining example of the truth hiding in plain sight. Sooner or later, even the talking heads on CNBC are going to come to the realization that making new all-time highs with a -0.1% GDP and unemployment at eight percent doesn't really pass the smell test. Someday. Maybe. Note the video below with Rick Santelli, everyone's favorite financial ranter, extrapolating out on what we've been saying nearly every day on this blog: that being a trader is nearly impossible under current conditions.

And, just as a side note, New York Mayor Bloomberg, who first banned drink containers larger than 16 ounces, has proposed a ban on styrofoam containers, and... it's likely to pass his rubber stamp city council.

Let's see, smokes are $10-12 a pack in NY, you can't smoke in any of the bars, night clubs or public buildings; you must drink from small containers and those soon cannot be made of styrofoam. All this makes one pine for the good old days of the seventies. Ed Koch was mayor. Son of Sam was shooting kids in parking lots. Reggie Jackson was blasting balls out of the original Yankee Stadium and you could buy just about any kind of drug - from weed to cocaine - on just about any street corner. Bloomberg. He's just not a fun guy.

Dow 13,973.39, -9.52 (0.07%)
NASDAQ 3,198.66, +1.78 (0.06%)
S&P 500 1,521.38, +1.05 (0.07%)
NYSE Composite 8,951.33, -4.27 (0.05%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,884,832,750
NYSE Volume 3,867,864,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3259-3130
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 505-39
WTI crude oil: 97.31, +0.30
Gold: 1,635.50, -9.60
Silver: 30.35, -0.516

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wall Street Starts Week on Down Note, Sluggish Volume

There was no follow-up to last week's furious upside rallies on Monday, as traders sought catalysts for profit but found few. Oddly, given that the news over the weekend indicated something of a simmering in the ongoing European debt crisis, volume was at mid-summer levels or lower, marking one of the lowest trading volume days of the year.

Just as everything was up on Friday, just about all asset classes showed losses on Monday, including stocks of all flavors, led lower by shares of financial companies, including the world's favorites, Goldman Sachs (GS -2.37, 99.29), Citigroup (C -0.95, 28.38) and Bank of America (BAC -0.16, 6.05), which just can't seem to get out of the six-dollar range, to the chagrin of Warren Buffett and countless speculators who believe that bank stocks are a bargain (like uber-bank-bull, Dick Bove).

All sectors finished in the red, with consumer cyclicals showing the smallest loss (-0.31%).

Still, the most pronounced factor of the session was the sheer lack of velocity, as though some of the big brokerages had turned off the HFT computers and handed the trading back to humans. The trading marked the third-lowest volume of the year.

It would be nice if that actually happened, but one can hope and dream. Meanwhile, there just doesn't seem to be much interest in buying or selling much of anything, at least for today.

Dow 12,079.44, -74.24 (0.61%)
NASDAQ 2,657.22, -21.53 (0.80%)
S&P 500 1,251.88, -11.97 (0.95%)
NYSE Composite 7,496.71, -79.47 (1.05%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,401,417,000
NYSE Volume 3,075,054,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1384-4266
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 81-82
WTI crude oil: 98.14, -0.85
Gold: 1,778.40, -9.70
Silver: 34.02, -0.66

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Market Crash Alert... Oops, Too Late, Dow Drops 391 Points

Editor's note: Switching over to first person singular tense for today, as it seems to work when I'm happy and the market is not. Some may be confused as to why I'd be happy over a market crash. That will be explained below.

The Markets

Today was another one of those doozies that come along... well, about once a week these days and I really wanted to issue a crash alert yesterday after the close, but didn't, even though I was alarmed over the number of new lows in relation to new highs. Anybody who reads this blog on a semi-regular basis (that's you, Dan K.) would know that the new lows - new highs is my favorite - and highly reliable - sentiment and direction indicator and it was flashing red at the end of the day on Wednesday.

Sure enough, Thursday turned into an all-out rout for equities on significantly higher volume, to say nothing of what happened to gold and silver (well, you can't have everything). Asian markets started the ball rolling downhill, with losses between 2 and 4%, then Europe kicked in with average losses of about 4.5% on the various exchanges.. The US declines were tempered by the usual late-day rally, in this case taking the Dow up about 130 points off the lows of the day, set at about 3:20 pm EDT.

The catalysts for the sell-off were various, but by no means, exclusive. Most market commentaries are blaming the Fed for their squeamish "Operation Twist" maneuver, which, upon further inspection, is a worse program than originally thought when we noticed this statement from yesterday's FOMC release:
To help support conditions in mortgage markets, the Committee will now reinvest principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities.
The Fed is becoming the buyer of last resort for toxic and other MBS, the Wall Street concoctions which started the whole financial contagion back in 2007. We wish them well with their purchases, especially since housing is about to embark on another 10-15% price decline over the next year to two years. The conditions for residential real estate have not changed much materially in three years, and, despite some cheerleading headlines, prices continue to slide and will until the entire mess is wiped from the books of our favorite zombie banks, which, if the Fed and the banks have their ways, will be never.

The more telling stories came out of China and Europe. China's PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) for the month was 49.4, down from 49.9 in August. In Europe, the PMI dropped to its weakest level since July 2009 with a reading of 50.8. Anything under 50 indicates contraction, so the Chinese are already moderately contracting (read: recession), while Europe is right on the cusp. Their PMI's are at levels very similar to those in the US.

Speaking of the banks, the biggest of them, the TBTF types, took more body blows on the day. Our personal favorite, Bank of America (BAC) sold down to 6.04 at the close, making Warren Buffett's $5 billion investment look pretty stupid, along with the warrants to buy to up 750,000 shares for $7.14. Mr. Buffett used to be one of the wisest investors of all time, but after investing $5 billion in Goldman Sachs - also with similar underwater warrants - and now BAC, he seems to have lost the Midas touch. Of course, Mr. Buffett normally makes better investments than the ones he has been forced into by President Obama.

So, stocks are down big again, and closing in on bear market territory, and the future looks pretty grim. Those of you still putting your money into a retirement fund or IRA, having not heeded my advice from August of 2007 (you can check) when I advised to cash out, take the penalty hit and move on, are probably looking at a 20% loss over the past two months. That is more than the usual early withdrawal penalty, so, sure, you made some dough in 2009 and 2010, but you're about to be giving it back now.

There seems to be little left for stocks to do but go down, so long as the following conditions exist (see if you can find a positive catalyst in this list):
  • US banks have been recapitalized since the collapse of 2008, but are still not lending and still are holding scads of bad loans both on and off their books, plus some have significant exposure to Europe - notably Morgan Stanley (MS) which is set to implode on the first whiff of a Greek default.
  • Unemployment is officially at 9.2% and heading higher, though the real number is somewhere North of 17% and there doesn't seem to be much of a rush in Congress to pass comprehensive tax reform or jobs program.
  • Congress, the President and the leaders of most of the nations of the world are blithering idiots, a fact made worse by the level of inbreeding among the elite class of society.
  • Foreclosures are on the rise again, and the glut of homes on the market remains at or near record high levels.
  • There is oversupply in just about everything, from gas and oil to houses to computers to automobiles. Prices are being or will be forced down in nearly every consumer class.
  • Banks are still reluctant to lend to anyone except the biggest and most secure individuals and companies, leaving little room for start-ups and small businesses, the real drivers of job growth.
  • Europe has more problems than one can imagine. The Germans are upset over having to guarantee such a large portion of the Greek bailout, now on its second time to the trough, with Italy, Spain and Portugal waiting in the wings.
  • The federal government will continue to run deficits of over a trillion dollars per year for at least two more years.
  • State and local governments are just now catching up to the private sector, laying off thousands of employees a month.
  • The US poverty rate is at an all time high.
  • The number of people receiving food stamps is at an all time high and still rising.
  • Did I mention the people in congress and the president are nitwits?

All of this sounds pretty gloomy, like a coming recession and a deflationary depression on the front burner, but there is hope, and that hope explains why I cheer when stocks look like they're about to crash (when they actually do crash, I really start to party!). The reason for this is pretty obvious from my perspective. I've been pretty much out of stocks since August of 2007, and completely out since the fall of 2009. There's too much risk involved for my simple tastes.

I'm also an independent businessman who fights red tape and higher prices constantly in order to keep the doors open. It's a struggle, but, as I say, it beats working for a living.

When the deflation and depression become full-blown, there's a very real possibility that the banksters and politicians will be eating each other's lunches, and I suspect there is some of that going on already. The public backlash against the kleptocracy of fractional reserve banking and ridiculous levels of taxation (like the 15% Social Security tax ponzi scheme) will be ferocious and many of the people in power will be knocked from their perches.

In a deflationary environment, cash and specialized skills will become more valuable. So too, gold and silver, we hope. Oil will - must - go lower, and along with it, gas, meaning more money in everyone's pocket to spend on other things than just basic transportation. Prices and wages will return to more manageable levels and business will eventually boom. It's all relative. If you're making $50,000 a year and you get cut down to $30,000, if prices have declined by 40% in general, it's a wash.

So, yes, I firmly believe that bank failures and a stock market crash will eventually result in a stronger, better-balanced economy, after a lot of pain and suffering, of course, but nothing good has ever come from anything earned without commensurate sacrifice.

(Oh, and I almost forgot, minus signs are easier to type than plus signs - no shift key required.)

Dow 10,733.83, -391.01 (3.51%)
NASDAQ 2,455.67, -82.52 (3.25%)
S&P 500 1,129.56, -37.20 (3.19%)
NYSE Composite 6,726.62, -254.71 (3.65%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,928,526,750
NYSE Volume 7,893,035,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 928-5812
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New Lows: 10-1385 (yes, you're reading that right)
WTI crude oil: 80.51, -5.41 (yippie!)
Gold: 1737.70, -45.20
Silver: 35.85, -3.84 (buying opportunity)

Quick note on silver. I believe it will go lower, possibly materially lower, as no true support for anything exists in a deflationary environment, of which we are clearly entering. Silver could crash all the way back to the mid-20s, depending on the severity of the overall global crash, so I would advise scaling in at this bargain point, and using dollar cost averaging to keep your basis reasonable. Eventually, silver should top out at well over $100, possibly even more, especially of much of the world finds the wisdom to return to real money.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Uncle Warren to the Rescue of Bank of America; Jobs Steps Down at Apple

Two luminaries of the corporate world made moves that affected the overall markets, but a couple of stocks in particular.

Late Wednesday, Apple (AAPL) founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, announced that he was, effective immediately stepping down as CEO of the company due to health reasons and will now take up duties as Chairman of the Board.

Jobs' contributions to computing and high tech in general are the stuff of legend. Not since the heyday of Thomas Edison has the world been so influenced by one man's innovations. Jobs was a pioneer in personal computing and communications, first, with the Apple I and II, then the Macintosh, and more recently, the creation of the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

While Jobs will still have a hand in the operation of the company he founded in Cupertino, California (where it is still headquartered today) in 1976, most of the day-to-day operations will be left to newly-named CEO, Tim Cook and his staff.

Today, amid a firestorm of controversy concerning the fiscal health of Bank of America, billionaire Warren Buffett stepped up and injected $5 billion into the bank via a private offering which will net one of the world's richest men a 6% dividend over five years.

Buffett's holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, also received warrants to buy 700 million shares of common stock at just over $7.14 per share, with an unusually long 10-year exercise period.

The deal answers the question of whether Bank of America (BAC) was indeed in need of additional liquidity with a resounding "yes." Otherwise, Buffett's offer would have been turned down, as it is somewhat expensive for the bank.

The deal really solves none of BofA's liquidity and solvency issues. They are highly-levered, beset on all sides by the mortgage mess that has evolved since their purchase of Countrywide Financial in 2008, and in need of funds to meet new capital requirements. A paltry $5 billion from a rich uncle isn't going to cut it, and Buffett's bold maneuver may turn out to be another bad bet. Buffett made similar deals at the height of the financial crisis, taking out stakes in Goldman Sachs (GS) and General Electric (GE).

Inital reactions to both events were highly-charged. Apple stock fell nearly 7% in after hours trading on Wednesday, but, by the market close on Thursday, the stock was only down 2.46, or less than 1%.

On the news of Buffett's investment, Bank of America stock spiked as high as 8.80, after closing Wednesday at 6.99. At the end of the Thursday session, most of the froth had been sold off, with the nation's largest bank by deposits closing at 7.65, nearly a 10% gain.

The broader market fared less well, putting an end to the three-day winning streak which began on Monday. Uncertainty over just what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will say in his Friday morning speech at Jackson Hole had traders on the edge of their seats, with many deciding to take a wait-and-see position.

Bernanke is scheduled to give his keynote address at 10:00 am EDT.

On Friday morning, prior to the Chairman's speech, the government will announce its second estimate of second quarter GDP, which is expected to be revised down to 1.0% after the initial reading of 1.3%.

Most analysts are not expecting Bernanke to make any great policy pronouncements, though some are still clinging to hopes that he will announce another round of quantitative easing.

For the most part, traders were selling off positions in advance of the speech.

Dow 11,149.82, -170.89 (1.51%)
NASDAQ 2,419.63, -48.06 (1.95%)
S&P 500 1,159.27, -18.33 (1.56%)
NYSE Composite 7,149.67, -123.46 (1.70%)

In a broad retreat, declining issues outpaced advancers, 5044-1552. The NASDAQ had just eight (8) stocks making new highs, with 65 hitting new lows. Over at the NYSE, there were 14 new highs and 53 new lows. The combined total of 22 new highs and 118 new lows continues to signal risk to the downside. Volume was light.

NASDAQ Volume 1,812,493,625
NYSE Volume 5,741,944,000

Oil gained 14 cents, to $85.30. Gold, in a dramatic reversal, picked up $22.20, to $1773.50, but silver was the big winner, adding $1.39, to $41.08.

Despite Buffett's "calming effect" markets are still very shaky, as none of the issues which ignited the volatility of the past two weeks have been resolved. Bernanke's speech will likely only add some fuel to the fire, especially if, as many believe, he will not open the door to QE3. On top of all that, Wall Street is bracing for a water-logged Monday, as Hurricane Irene races along the US Eastern seaboard.

The outlook for days and weeks ahead is still quite uncertain.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Market Motors Ahead on GM IPO

The entire trading day was a well-orchestrated event staged by the power brokers of Wall Street, the government and the shills on CNBC, designed exclusively to give the pet project of the bailout bunch, General Motors, a bright and cheery IPO send-off.

Shares of GM's rebirth IPO (initial public offering - somewhat of an oxymoron in this case) priced the previous day at $33 and opened with immediate upticks shortly after the general markets had commenced trading. That it would get a positive set up was assured by a gargantuan ramp-up in the futures, ostensibly on news that Ireland was veering toward accepting a bailout from either the EU or the IMF or a combination of both. Only in these wacky times can the fact that a nation is being saved from ruin by the very same bankers who ruined it foment a powerful rally, but, that's the world in which we now live.

The set-up got GM off to a nice start with the rest of he market despite fears that some traders would "flip" the stock, and surely some did. Shares of GM hit a high of 35.99 shortly after the open and retreated the rest of the day, hitting a low of 33.89 before settling at 34.19 at the close for a gain of 3.61%, no big deal.

The Fed pumped more money in the direction of the primary dealers. This is a permanent fixture now as the Fed has already set down a timetable for a daily POMO through December 9, with the exception of the Wednesday before and the Friday after Thanksgiving (next week).

Another interesting note was news that Warren Buffet was to receive the Medal of Freedom, just a day after practically falling all over himself in praise of the government in his NY Times op-ed. At least he'll be in equally-suspect company. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former US President George H.W. Bush are among other recipients named by President Obama.

From this we can only surmise that the level of greed, corruption and naked narcissism has finally reached critical mass amongst the elitists.

Dow 11,181.23, +173.35 (1.57%)
NASDAQ 2,514.40, +38.39 (1.55%)
S&P 500 1,196.69, +18.10 (1.54%)
NYSE Composite 7,619.94, +131.18 (1.75%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,083,305,250.00
NYSE Volume 5,373,779,000

Advancers trounced decliners, 5093-1419; new highs surpassed new lows for the second straight session, 299-59, but volume, up to 20% of which on the NYSE was attributed to trades on GM, was weak.

Commodities also ramped up. The front end of the crude oil futures gained $1.41, to $81.85. Gold picked up $16.10, to $1,353.00, while silver rose more than 5%, up by $1.32, to $26.83.

Unemployment claims were little changed from the previous week and October stock options expire tomorrow. The latest word from the continent is that Irish leaders are still resistant to a bailout, though the pressure is building for them to take the money and plunge the country into an even worse situation, with bills and interest owing to the IMF with no hope of ever paying its way out. This same thing has happened before, in Argentina and other South American countries. The usual outcome is the rape of the nation's wealth to the detriment of the populace.

Erin go Bragh, indeed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Fairly Quiet Day Awakens Warren Buffett

Ireland didn't accept the EU or IMF offers for a bank bailout, nor did they default on their debt, and the mortgage/housing/foreclosure problems also didn't go away because the AGs of 50 states are in negotiations on a settlement with the banks.

But Warren Buffet's fawning praise for the worst scoundrels in the government, published today as an op-ed "letter" from "Nephew Warren" to Uncle Sam raised more than just eyebrows around the financial world and in the public conscience.

Buffet, one of the world's richest men, benefitted greatly from the 2008 bank bailouts, snatching up a piece of Goldman Sachs (about $5 billion worth) and Wells Fargo, putting the Oracle of Omaha clearly in the camp of the serial monetary abusers atop our grand government/industry pyramid.

His effort at humor or insight was simply lost on most people, especially those wh have been kicked out of their homes, lost jobs or simply are having trouble making ends meet in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Buffet singled out Hank Paulson, Sheila Bair, Tim Geithner, George W. Bush and Ben Bernanke for acting with "courage and dispatch" amidst the evolving crisis.

The piece came as somewhat of a surprise from Buffett, normally fairly apolitical, expressing thanks from a government of which he is often critical.

Other than that, the Fed pumped another $7..9 billion into the primary dealers and stocks stalled once again. So far, even though it's still early in the game, the Fed's QE2 hasn't amounted to much of anything, and since the money goes to banks, who will likely keep it rather than lend it, it isn't going to do anything. In truth, QE2 is nothing more than a backdoor bailout for the banks suffering with heavy real estate losses both on and off their books. But, who's looking?

Dow 11,007.88, -15.62 (0.14%)
NASDAQ 2,476.01, +6.17 (0.25%)
S&P 500 1,178.59, +0.25 (0.02%)
NYSE Composite 7,488.76, +16.13 (0.22%)

Advancing issues led decliners, 4719-2726, and new highs took back the advantage from new lows after relinquishing control for a day, yesterday, 179-80. There's quite a bit of pumping in individual issues keeping the lows and highs separated at this point. Obviously, with options expiration just two days off, there's plenty of arbitrage between stock prices, puts and calls to call this any kind of "orderly" market. It is anything but.

Volume continued in the doldrums as it has for the entire year.

NASDAQ Volume 1,836,918,250.00
NYSE Volume 4,508,769,500

Oil continued to nosedive, losing another $1.90 on the day, to $80.44. It had been nearly 90 just a week ago. Gold fell $1.50, to $1,336.90. Silver bucked the trend, up 28 cents, to $25.51.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sideways Stagger Ahead of Fed

Markets spent most of the day on Tuesday trading in a narrow range in slightly negative territory, with the Dow Industrials the most pressured stocks of the session. In the end, markets finished in mixed fashion as investors weighed a shift in the dollar-commodity-stocks relationship and a mega-deal by Warren Buffett while awaiting a policy decision from the Fed on the morrow.

Overall, stocks began the session lower and gained strength throughout the day, especially in the case of the NASDAQ, which finished on the uptick. Markets are still very much undecided about direction. Additionally, there was some measure of decoupling of gold from the dollar, as the yellow metal soared in price on a sale of 200 metric tons from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to India's Central Bank, setting a record price in the process.

The extraordinary rise in the price of gold came in the face of a stronger dollar, which is absolutely counter to the prevailing trend. Though the dollar weakened through the day, oil and silver also gained in price, but the relationship was badly dented, with the commodities working on their own path, unrelated to that of the greenback.

This conundrum had heads spinning in the trading pits, from futures to forex. The implications of such a huge buy by India's Central Bank, without any hint of a discount - and with the understanding that they are prepared to purchase more - leaves dollar traders in the lurch if India's intent is to partially back the rupee with physical gold. It represents a dramatic shift away from fiat currency to hard assets.

Another item buttressing the markets was Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffet announcing the purchase of one of the largest railroad operations in the country, Burlington Northern Santa fe (BNI). The $44 billion deal, Berkshire's largest ever, will be paid in stock and cash. Additionally, Berkshire Hathaway announced a 50-for-1 split of its Class B common stock, which will make the pricey shares more attractive to the general public. The ticker symbol BRK-B currently trades in a range around 3,300 per share, putting even ten shares out of reach of the ordinary investor. After the split, the stock will sell initially around a much more reasonable price of 66 per share.

On the news, Burlington Northern (BNI) gained 20.93, to 97.00 at the close.

Dow 9,771.91, -17.53 (0.18%)
Nasdaq 2,057.32, +8.12 (0.40%)
S&P 500 1,045.41. +2.53 (0.24%)
NYSE Composite 6,812.70, +27.76 (0.41%)

On the day, advancing issues beat decliners, 3888-2563. New highs regained the high ground over new lows, though by the narrowest of margins, 98-94. Evidently, investors are standing pat until after the Fed speaks. Oddly enough, the Fed is not expected to say much, if anything, different from policy statements from the past 8 months. Investors are looking for any subtle change in wording of their statement which might indicate a willingness to raise rates in the near term. The outlook is for the Fed to keep rates at their absurdly low levels until Spring. What also is weighing on investors' minds is the unemployment picture. While the govrnment's Non-farms payroll data will be released on Friday, the market will get an early glimpse tomorrow morning when ADP releases it's proprietary private sector employment report for October.

Volumes were muted, without a doubt in anticipation of the FOMC rate decision on Wednesday at 2:00 pm. Instead of outright selling, investors are showing a good deal of resolve, especially in the face of recent market weakness, preferring to hold stocks and simply not stake out new positions presently.

NYSE Volume 6,209,336,000
Nasdaq Volume 2,042,206,500

As mentioned above, commodities took off on their own trajectory today. Oil gained $1.47, to $79.60. Gold soared $31.20 to a new all-time high of $1,085.20. Silver gained in sympathy, up a very healthy 75 cents, to $17.19, close to its highs for the year.

Uncertainty reigns at the moment, though the current tightness should abate with the release of key economic data and the Fed announcement. With stocks off roughly 5% from their recent highs, there should be no lack of demand pent up for stock speculation into the holidays.

Monday, May 7, 2007

No Stopping the Bull: Another New High for Dow

If you've missed the recent stock market explosion, take heart. The new highs will continue to come and stocks are poised to make impressive gains. The US economy - despite some persistent, nagging problems - continues to expand at a measured pace and corporations have never had it so good. This bull is getting a second wind. 15,000 on the Dow by the end of the year is looking more achievable every day.

Dow 13,312.97 +48.35; NASDAQ 2,570.95 -1.20; S&P 500 1,509.48 +3.86; NYSE Composite 9,825.09 +32.09

CNNMoney reports that today's Dow gain matches an 80-year-old record of 24 up sessions in the last 27. The previous run was in the summer of 1927.

While the Dow continues to awe and amaze, the NASDAQ dropped a little more than a point, though the S&P 500 moved to within 18 points of its all-time closing high. Once again, the if the S&P manages a new high, it could spark a significant break out, leading all indices higher.

The markets were buoyed by a confluence of forces today including Warren Buffet's suggestion that his Berkshire-Hathaway conglomerate would be pursuing an acquisition in the $40-60 billion range.
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Speculation on what Buffett will be buying ranges from the outrageous (think Yahoo or Adobe Systems) to the marginally feasible - like Dow components Caterpillar (CAT), DuPont (DD) or McDonald's (MCD) - each of which are within his market cap range.

Alcoa (AA) management announced that it would be pursuing rival Alcan (AL) via a hostile bid. Both stocks were sharply higher, with Alcan gaining more than 21 points at the close - a nearly 35% increase - to 82.11.

Oil fell for the 6th straight session, a run of losses which has drivers cheering. The price of crude on the NY Mercantile Exchange fell 46 cents to $61.47. The losing streak was the longest in more than 7 months.

Advancers and decliners were nearly equal, with about 100 more issues gaining ground than losing. New highs checked in at 468, versus only 66 new lows. Anybody shorting this market or individual issues, is likely to be taking it on the chin. Our new highs-new lows metric continues to suggest the bull will run strong for some time and that there is no top in sight.

Gold again moved closer to the magic $700 mark, closing at $690.30, up 60 cents per ounce. Silver experienced a similar gain of 11 cents to close at $13.64. The metals continue to confound investors who see inflation everywhere, but no corresponding gains in the time-worn precious metal hedge.

Stocks are where it's at, and with everybody - including the Oracle of Omaha - thinking big, this rally could run for months more.