Showing posts with label all-time highs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label all-time highs. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Stocks Gain On Sensational Retail Report; NASDAQ Re-Approaching Record Highs

Stocks gained across the board on Tuesday, after May retail sales figures were up an eye-popping 17.7% as stores reopened across the country post-lockdowns from the coronavirus scare.

The number was more than double what many analysts had expected and prompted a wave of new buying in stocks of all varieties. The Dow gained more than 500 points. The S&P powered up by almost 60 points.

Despite the gaudy month-over-month numbers, gross receipts were 6.1% below a year earlier due mainly to uneven store re-openings, some states keeping stay-at-home restrictions in place longer than others.

With gains on both Monday and Tuesday, stocks have recovered most of the losses suffer last Thursday, June 11. The NASDAQ is about 175 points away from its all-time high, made on June 10. The intraday high was 10,086.89. At the close, the record was set at 10,020.35.

Of particular note is Friday's quad-witching day, which should introduce more volatility to the mix. It seems apparent, however, that bulls have regained the advantage and stocks appear set on a path upward, despite valuations in the stratosphere.

Bonds took a hit as yields on the long end of the treasury complex rose. The 30-year exploded nine basis points higher, from a yield of 1.45% on Monday to 1.54% Tuesday. The 10-year note was yielding 0.75%.

Precious metals were higher on the futures market but investors are becoming impatient with the constant niggling in the paper markets. Considering the level of disruption over the past four months, both gold and silver appear largely undervalued. Prices remain elevated on fair, open markets such as eBay. Dealers are still charging high premiums over spot and many are sold out of popular items.

It was recently reported that gold-backed exchange traded funds (ETFs) added 623 tonnes of the metal worth $34 billion to their stockpile from January to May, exceeding in five months every full-year increase on record. That's an impressive figure, as the amount of gold held in storage by ETFs reflects a growing demand for the precious metal.

While the ETFs are required to hold gold in storage at a percentage of their actual outstanding stock, shares of ETFs are not redeemable in gold and serve as a buffer against physical price increases. Touted as a safe way to invest in gold, they serve to track price increases on the paper (futures and spot) markets. The SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) ETF is up from 142 to 162 this year, roughly the same percentage in gold futures.

As pure derivatives, the gold and silver ETFs cause more confusion and actually dilute the pool of gold buyers. People investing in gold or silver ETFs are actually serving to keep a lid on prices by not engaging in active physical purchase and storage of their own gold.

The ETFs are yet another reason why gold and silver are orders of magnitude lower than where many believe they should be. Speculative in nature, they can be driven in any direction by well-timed buys, sells or shorts.

Oil prices have hit a rock at about $38 per barrel. That could change Wednesday when a monthly report from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is released.

At the Close, Tuesday, June 16, 2020:
Dow: 26,289.98, +526.82 (+2.04%)
NASDAQ: 9,895.87, +169.84 (+1.75%)
S&P 500: 3,124.74, +58.15 (+1.90%)
NYSE: 12,161.47, +218.57 (+1.83%)

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Markets Skid, Ending Three-Week Win Streak As Rally Falters; Gold, Silver Continue Abusing Futures Pricing; Treasuries Rally

Stocks broke off a streak of three straight winning weeks courtesy of a trend-reversing, cascading selloff Thursday that erased all or most of June's gains.

The downdraft followed two straight days of minor losses and may have put a punctuation mark on the market's 11-week rally. The NASDAQ, which made a fresh all-time closing high on Monday (9,924.75) and crested over 10,000 on Wednesday, took a 517-point collapse on Wednesday. Like the Dow, which lost over 1800 points, the loss was the fourth-highest one-day point decline in market history. For both indices, the three higher point losses all occurred this past March.

Friday was snapback day, though the gains were paltry compared to the prior day's losses. Stocks gained back less than a third of what was surrendered on Thursday.

The late-week action prompted market observers to question the solidity of the recent rally, which, in V-shaped manner, took the markets straight off their March lows and out of bear market territory. Stocks had gained even as entire states were in lockdowns and the COVID-19 virus raged across America. Stocks continued to rise in the face of nationwide protests against police violence in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Many of the protests turned violent, as disruptive elements rioted and looted stores.

Fueled by emergency lending by the Fed, stocks seemed to be out of touch with mainstream economics, a condition not unusual for Wall Street types. Thursday's turnabout was broadly-based and unsparing of any sector though banking and tech stocks were leaders to the downside.

Coincidentally, protesting fell off as well, probably due to uprising fatigue. After two weeks of marching around in hot weather, the movement became somewhat pointless and many lost interest in reform toward better policing, though success was claimed in some areas, such as Minneapolis, where the city council decided to defund and disband the police, and New York, where measures were take by legislators to ratchet down the heavy-handed tactics of its force.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the city council voted to ban no-knock warrants. The resolution was passed in reaction to the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in a March no-knock raid at the wrong address.

One city in which protests have not tailed off is Atlanta, the scene of widespread rioting and looting early on, where chief of police, Erika Shields, has resigned on Sunday after officers fired upon and killed 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks Friday night.

And, in Seattle, the madness reached a climax on Monday as officials decided not to defend a police precinct, resulting in protesters, led by Black Lives Matter (BLM) taking over a six-block urban area and renaming it the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).

All of this is a backdrop to pent-up emotions and outrage that were magnified during the coronavirus lockdowns. Some people, took issue with Wall Street's rapid rally, citing it as an affront to societal mores and economic inequality. By the looks of where markets were heading on Thursday, the impact of the lockdowns and protests finally have reached lower Manhattan.

Treasuries staged a solid rally at the long end of the curve through Thursday, with the 10-year note yield falling from 0.91% to 0.66% and from 1.69% to 1.41% on the 30-year. On Friday, bond prices fell, with the 10-year closing out at 0.71%; the 30-year bond finished at 1.45%.

Precious metals rose early in the week, but were tamped down as the week drew to a close. Gold reached $1742.15 before ending the week still elevated at $1733.50. Spot silver was as high as $17.87 an ounce, closing at $17.62 on Friday. Spot and futures prices continue to trend toward irrelevance as premium prices for physical metal and shortages continue into a third month. Many dealers show popular items out of stock or with significant delivery delays, a condition that has persisted for retailers since the onset of the coronavirus.

eBay continues to light the way for purveyors and buyers alike, with calculable prices (at premiums over spot) and rapid, reliable deliveries. Here are the most recent prices on select items from ebay sellers (prices include shipping):

Item: Low / High / Average / Median
1 oz silver coin: 25.50 / 36.20 / 31.00 / 29.90
1 oz silver bar: 19.95 / 35.20 / 29.32 / 29.88
1 oz gold coin: 1,837.00 / 1,900.52 / 1,857.86 / 1,855.40
1 oz gold bar: 1,806.00 / 1,880.00 / 1,840.52 / 1,832.63

As far as stocks are concerned, after the FOMC meeting concluded Wednesday and the Fed committed to keep the federal funds rate at or near the zero-bound at least until the end of 2022, investors got a little jittery over their engineered V-shaped rally, the overall stability of the global economy, and valuations heading into the end of the second quarter and some supposedly horrifying earnings figures coming the second week of July.

The coming week may be epochal or apocalyptic as Friday offers a quad witching day as stock index futures, stock index options, stock options, and single stock futures expire simultaneously. There should be some volatility showing up at the convergence of day-trading, options players and real-time economics all roll together.

While Thursday's massive decline in stocks sent shock waves through the markets, Friday's returns were uninspired and had the look of a an exhausted rally on its final legs. Trading was sluggish at best and flatlined around 2:00 pm ET only to be saved by late-day short covering and the usual hijinks by backroom operators (NY Fed).

If stocks fail to close higher next week - as this week marked the end of a three-week uptrend - damage could become more or less permanent. While many placed hope in the Fed's power to purchase as many types and varieties of bonds that confidence was shattered on Thursday and should lead the way back to some fundamental rethinking of market dynamics.

Nothing goes up or down in a straight line, but this week should provide some clues as to the ultimate short-and-long term market direction.

At the Close, Friday, June 12, 2020:
Dow: 25,605.54, +477.37 (+1.90%)
NASDAQ: 9,588.81, +96.08 (+1.01%)
S&P 500: 3,041.31, +39.21 (+1.31%)
NYSE: 11,867.17, +208.00 (+1.78%)

For the Week:
Dow: -1505.44 (-5.55%)
NASDAQ: -225.27 (-2.30%)
S&P 500: -152.62 (-4.78%)
NYSE: -774.27 (-6.12%)

Friday, January 10, 2020

January Effect In Force; US Adds 160,000 Jobs In December

Stocks rallied once again, with the Dow jones Industrials popping for a gain of over 200 points. The Dow closed higher for the fourth time in six 2020 sessions for a total rise of 418 points, or about 1.4%.

The Dow, S&P 500, and NASDAQ set new all-time highs on a closing basis, while the NYSE Composite index finished just shy of a record, ending the session at 13,997.65. The prior high of 14,001.13 was achieved on January 2. Any kind of positive return Friday should push the Composite into record territory.

Investors should get their "Dow 30,000" hats ready, because the world's most-watched stock index is about to surge beyond that number, quite possibly today right at the open after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an additional 145,000 jobs created in December according to the just-released non-fram payroll report for December, 2019.

Even though there's some seasonality to the figures due to holiday hires and a fall-off after November's gains were boosted by striking GM workers returning to their jobs, the number is another sign of strength in the underlying US economy, now, more than ever, the main driver of global growth. As Europe struggles with deflationary trends, negative interest rates, and high unemployment (especially among youths), and China increasingly seems to be bowing to pressure on tariffs and trade from the US, America's clout has become paramount.

Among developed nations, the United States continues to set the agenda, as President Trump's "America First" strategy has emboldened employers and workers alike to share in the positivism of the current environment. While wage growth is still sluggish, job creation in the private sector continues strong. Wednesday's ADP private payroll report found 202,000 new jobs created in December.

While the 145,000 jobs in the non-farm payroll report did come in below estimates of 160,000, the miss was not significant. October was revised 4,000 lower, to 152,000, and payrolls in November were revised down 10,000 to 256,000.

Unemployment remained steady at 3.5%, as expected. By sector, retail and leisure/hospitality led the gains, with bricks and mortar stores adding 41,000 jobs while restaurants, hotels and such added 40,000. Health care was another gainer, picking up 28,000 jobs in December. Construction trades added 20,000 new positions, but manufacturing and transportation declined, by 12,000 and 10,000, respectively. For all of 2019, manufacturing added 46,000, while transportation gained 57,000.

Those two sectors are offering indications that the expansion may have run its course, or at least is slowing significantly. In 2018, manufacturing added 264,000 jobs, transportation gained 216,000. While those figures may cause some anxiety, they also can be interpreted as a sign that these segments of the economy are still integrating the additional employees and that this period is merely a lull, following a robust hiring round.

Overall, despite the small miss and reductions from prior months, the report still comes in as positive for the US economy. Perhaps not the robust growth expected by the most bullish, but stable hiring is a sign that, in such a mature economy, nothing troubling lies directly ahead.

The jobs report was good enough to keep the rally humming along. The major indices should continue their path through record highs for time being.

At the Close, Thursday, January 9, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,956.90, +211.81 (+0.74%)
NASDAQ: 9,203.43, +74.18 (+0.81%)
S&P 500: 3,274.70, +21.65 (+0.67%)
NYSE Composite: 13,997.65, +63.21 (+0.45%)

Friday, December 27, 2019

Shades of the Late 90s: S&P Poised to Be Best Year Since 1997

With just three more sessions left in the year, the S&P 500 is on the cusp of becoming the best year for stock investors in 22 years, since 1997, recollecting back to the halcyon days of the tech and dotcom boom (and subsequent bust).

With the close on Thursday of 3,229.91, the S&P is up 29.24%. Friday's futures are pointing to a positive open, and the index needs to gain just less than 12 points to surpass 2013's gain of 29.60% to become not just the best year of the decade, but of the nascent 21st century. 22 years ago, in 1997, the index gained 31.01%, and that was on the back of gains of 34% and 20% in 1995 and 1996, respectively.

Closing out 2018 on December 31 at 2,506.85, the S&P has piled on more than 700 points, but not all of that was in record territory. Recall that the final three months of 2018 were downright frightening to investors, as the index tumbled from a September 20 closing high of 2,930.75 to a low of 2,351.10 on December 24, prior to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's (in)famous phone call, purportedly, to the Plunge Protection Team (PPT), aka the President's Working Group on Financial Markets.

The rest is for the history books or maybe Christmas fantasies. The tremendous slide in stocks was halted with the market closed on December 25. The index had declined from 2,743.79 on November 28 by nearly 400 points and that was after the nearly 300 point losses from late September through October with a brief rally prior to Thanksgiving.

On the 26th of December, stocks boomed, with the S&P gaining an astonishing 116 points, standing at 2,467.70 on the close of trading. Wall Street's worst fears had been vanquished. Stability returned and little by little stocks came back into favor, with slow but steady gains through the early months of 2019, finally setting a new all-time high on April 23rd, when the index closed at 2,933.68. The mini bear market lasted all of seven months.

Through the middle of the year, gains were sporadic due to tensions over the trade war between China and the United States, though any negative news was quickly dispatched with hope for a breakthrough in days following. This kind of knee-jerk up and down action continued through summer and into the fall, with the index first bounding through the 3,000 mark on July 12.

The celebration was short-lived, however, as the index dipped back below 2,850 in mid-August, but began to gather momentum which carried it through the end of the third quarter. From October 1 forward to today, the S&P has tacked on nearly another 300 points, cresting over 3,000 again for the final time on October 23. The gains in November and December alone are approaching 200 points, about seven percent.

Should the S&P close out the year with reasonable gains - and there's little reason to believe that it won't - it could be the beginning of something big, if one is a believer in the predictive nature of charts and the cyclical behavior of stocks, politics and people.

Going back to 1995, when the S&P pumped higher by 34.11% - the best gain since 1958 - the following four years were all solid ones for investors. A 20.26% gain in 1996 was followed by gains of 31.01 in 1997, 26.67 in '98, and 19.53 in 1999. Those were also the years of Bill Clinton's second term as president of the United States, and, similarly to today's political circus, he was impeached, his affair with Monica Lewinsky occurring in 1994, his eventual impeachment by the House of Representatives and subsequent acquittal by the Senate in 1998.

While the parallels between the final years of the 1990s to today's market and political environment may be described as strikingly similar there is no assuredness that the same bounty will befall investors during what is likely to be President Trump's second term in office. Since the recent impeachment fiasco has fallen flat and is currently stalled out, perhaps the Democrats in the House will go for a second try after the elections in November of next year (or maybe even before).

Democrats' undying allegiance to the faith of "orange man bad" is assured. However, it appears that the president, for all his warts and flaws and tweets, has been doing a bang-up job on the economy, and it's his successes that have triggered the Dems' ire for the most part. If the Senate remains in Republican hands, it's a safe bet that Trump will reign for four more years, and that possibly, his economic policies (remember, he's made and lost billions of dollars in private life over the years) will usher in four more years of outstanding returns on the stock market.

One caveat to bear in mind. After 1999, some may remember what happened. The tech boom went bust. The S&P lost 10.14% in 2000, 13.14% in 2001, and 23.37% in 2002. Of course, the NASDAQ fared much worse, losing 78% over the same three years.

As we approach a new decade, think positive thoughts.

At the Close, Thursday, December 26, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,621.39, +105.94 (+0.37%)
NASDAQ: 9,022.39, +69.51 (+0.78%)
S&P 500: 3,239.91, +16.53 (+0.51%)
NYSE Composite: 13,940.42, +45.28 (+0.33%)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

WEEKEND WRAP: The World Might End, But Nobody Would Care

There were two major events this week, but hardly anyone cared about them.

First, President Trump was impeached. Well, at least that's what the House Democrats and Nancy Pelosi like to think, though they haven't actually sent the articles of impeachment over to the Senate for a trial.

Second, all of the major indices in the US reached new all-time highs. Not only did most people not care - it's become a foregone conclusion that stocks will always go higher, just like house prices in 2004-2007 - most didn't even notice. After all, it's close to Christmas and everybody is busy shopping, cooking, preparing to give people things they don't need, purchased with money they shouldn't be spending.

As laid back as the week was, the heat went down here at Money Daily and we didn't publish on Thursday. It was chilly and we were preoccupied with getting our trusty backup propane heater up and running. We did, it's warmer now, but the main heating unit is shot and needs to be replaced. That is supposed to happen Monday.

Another item not making any headlines was the spiking of the treasury yield curve. During the week it steepened, with the 10-year note striking a yield of 1.92% on Wednesday and holding there through Friday. The short end of the curve is a bit inverted, with one-year bills yielding more than shorter durations, though not by much. The Fed probably has all of this under control. No need to elaborate or give a darn.

If you're reading this and don't care, not to worry. Nobody else gives a hoot either, apparently.

Probably, this is what happens when markets are rigged, the media lies constantly, and politicians act like a crazed bunch of monkeys released from the local zoo. People get used to things being FUBAR and just tune out.

An asteroid could whack the earth and throw it off its axis, destroying most life on the planet and nobody would think twice about how horrible an end that would be. The remaining people would probably try to go to work the next day or turn on the TV and watch a blank screen, thinking that it's improved over what used to be broadcast.

And stocks would be up.

At the Close, Friday, December 20, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,455.09, +78.13 (+0.28%)
NASDAQ: 8,924.96, +37.74 (+0.42%)
S&P 500: 3,221.22, +15.85 (+0.49%)
NYSE Composite: 13,889.25, +57.58 (+0.42%)

For the Week:
Dow: +319.71 (+1.14%)
NASDAQ: +190.08 (+2.18%)
S&P 500: +52.42 (+1.65%)
NYSE Composite: +191.91 (+1.40%)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Stocks Pause But Are Likely To Go Higher Soon

Markets took a breather on Tuesday, possibly in anticipation of the impeachment vote in the House of Representatives coming on Wednesday, but also not discounting the fact that stocks are once again hitting new record highs.

An appreciation that stocks may have reached untenably high valuations would likely slow down or reverse trends in most markets, but stocks in the era of free Fed money are far removed from anything approaching normalcy. This slow trading will likely last only a day or two at best, for there is money to be made in finding the greater fool, upon whom one can dispose of overpriced assets.

As far as measures of valuation are concerned, one of the best is Robert Shiller's CAPE (Cyclically Adjusted P/E) ratio, which takes the average P/E ratio of a stock over the past ten years, not just the past year or forward year as the simple P/E ratio does. It stands today at 30.60, a level above that of Black Tuesday, the fateful day in 1929 which kicked off the Great Depression.

Shiller's CAPE level, while accurately delineating the high valuation of stocks being bought and sold in today's marketplace, should also not alarm. They've been at, above or near that same level for some time. It might be instructive to note that the highest CAPE reading ever was in 2000, at the peak of the NASDAQ bubble, when the ratio stood at nearly 45.

This one-day bout of sleepiness is probably an outgrowth of being a little bit overextended in some people's minds. They are likely to be changed soon. There still appears to be plenty of room to run.

At the Close, Tuesday, December 17, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,267.16, +31.27 (+0.11%)
NASDAQ: 8,823.36, +9.13 (+0.10%)
S&P 500: 3,192.52, +1.07 (+0.03%)
NYSE Composite: 13,795.35, +0.20 (+0.00%)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Trade Deal Sparks Rally, Enough for New All-Time Highs

Approaching year end, Monday's trading was like a toast to prosperity.

"New highs all around," was the buzz, even though stocks had taken back half of the morning's gains by the closing bell. Still, it was enough to entertain thoughts of bigger Christmas presents, newer cars, more trinkets and shiny toys for the kids and assorted other trivialities.

Phase one of the US-China trade deal was delivered, with tariffs postponed or to be curtailed by both parties to the agreement and plenty of the details still to be worked out on either side of the Pacific.

The general consensus seemed to be a relief that something concrete was finally emerging from nearly eighteen months of haranguing, harassing, arguing, pointing, posturing and persuading.

China has apparently agreed to double its import of commodities from the US, among other conditions.

Markets were pleased, but not overjoyed. Tuesday, it's back to the grind of watching the Fed and its REPO operations for the year-end "turn," a situation that has more than enough nuance to spark off volatility in either direction. There's definitely a liquidity problem somewhere, maybe everywhere, but most of the participants - the central banks, commercial banks, and primary dealers, have chosen to be pretty much mum on the details.

The Fed will just continue with extraordinary measures with daily injections via purchases and loans through the end of the year and into the next, with announced activities extending through mid-January. How much of this freshly-minted capital gets put to use in stocks is still unknown. There are funding needs and tax payments to be made, but the overall appearance is that the Fed has a handle on it and will continue to monitor it until their overnight and longer term monetary assistance is no longer needed.

And there's the rub. After these auctions, purchases, loans, and repurchases are complete and we're into 2020, will the Fed be able to turn down the spigot to more reasonable levels and eventually turn it off altogether?

That's a query for the future, unanswerable in the present.

At the Close, Monday, December 16, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,235.89, +100.51 (+0.36%)
NASDAQ: 8,814.23, +79.35 (+0.91%)
S&P 500: 3,191.45, +22.65 (+0.71%)
NYSE Composite: 13,795.15, +97.81 (+0.71%)

Friday, November 29, 2019

China Balks At US Legislation; Consumers Gear Up for Black Friday, Holiday Shopping

Wednesday saw new all-time highs all around, except the lagging NYSE Composite, which finished the day just 30 points below its record close of 13,637.02, marked on January 26, 2018.

Undeterred by potential blowback on trade negotiations due to President Trump's signing of two bills passed almost unanimously by both houses of congress, investors held steady. The bills were aimed at China's leadership, citing US support for the protesters in Hong Kong and making reference to "human rights."

China's official reaction was slow at first, but escalated on Thursday, when the US ambassador was summoned to lodge official protest by China's government and throngs of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong to give thanks to the United States.

Since US markets were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving Day holiday, China's sharp rebuke will be felt on Friday's trading. Futures point to a modestly lower open as the bumpy ride toward ending the trade war between China and the US continues.

Friday's session will be shorted, with markets closing at 1:00 pm ET.

Meanwhile, shoppers have been snapping up deals online and at various retailers who sought to get the jump on Black Friday by offering deals on popular electronics, toys, and clothing as early as Wednesday. Stores may be under pressure to log high sales volumes on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (next week) since the calendar this year has allowed for the shortest possible holiday shopping season, a mere 26 days.

Since the first of November was a Friday, and Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday of November, this year's shopping season will be much shorter than last year's, when Thanksgiving was at its earliest possible date, the 22nd of November. A full six days shorter, this holiday shopping spree may make same store sales on a year over year basis are likely to fall short of targets for many retailers unless door-busting deals and heavy advertising can draw shoppers into stores.

Complicating matters further is Christmas falling on a Wednesday, making the last two shopping days a Monday and Tuesday, normally working days for most Americans.

With the economy in excellent shape, the short shopping season may not be much of an issue for adroit retailers, as spending per consumer is expected to be higher than last year. It remains to be seen whether consumers, the bulwark of the US economy, will respond with record-setting spending or whether relentless talk of a coming recession or the pending impeachment of President Trump will have a negative effect.

One thing is certain: Americans love to shop. It's practically the national pastime.

At the Close, Wednesday, November 27, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,164.00, +42.32 (+0.15%)
NASDAQ: 8,705.17, +57.24 (+0.66%)
S&P 500: 3,153.63, +13.11 (+0.42%)
NYSE Composite: 13,607.62, +47.91 (+0.35%)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Stocks Stagger Into New Week

It was an unruly start to the trading week, as Veterans Day ushered in sellers of stocks and kept a lid on bids.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which opened at the low of the day, was off 164 points, but gathered momentum throughout the session and finished with the only positive close amongst the major indices.

Otherwise, everything else held fairly steady throughout the US session, with gold hitting a three-month low at 1448.90 and silver remaining below $17/ounce. The 10-year note held firm with a yield of 1.93% as bond markets were closed for the holiday.

As Mondays go, this one was lacking in luster. Big hitters in the market may be waiting for President Trump's speech on trade at the Economic Club of New York Tuesday afternoon, so Tuesday could also be something of a disappointment for those craving more excitement.

This temporary lull is likely a good thing for stocks, giving investors time to gather up the courage to trade stocks to even higher highs. Already at or near all-time highs, buying stocks at this level may be viewed as unnecessarily risky. The Shiller PE, or CAPE, stands at 30.01, nosebleed territory.

At the Close, Monday, November 11, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,691.49, +10.25 (+0.04%)
NASDAQ: 8,464.28, -11.04 (-0.13%)
S&P 500: 3,087.01, -6.07 (-0.20%)
NYSE Composite: 13,388.12, -19.69 (-0.15%)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

S&P Sets Record All-Time High; Fake Trump Tweet; FOMC Meeting to Begin

With an FOMC meeting in the dock for Tuesday, investors took the opportunity to ramp stocks higher prior to the expected 25 basis point cut to the federal funds rate. Just prior to the opening bell, an apparently fake news story about a presidential tweet appeared on, saying President Trump tweeted, "today will be a good day in the stock market," and, "the China deal is moving forward ahead of schedule."

We checked the president's twitter feed and could not find any such tweet. We also checked Bloomberg, which featured an article on President Trump's tweets that related to the stock market. No such tweet was shown in the article.

This clearly looks like a somebody spoofed the grammatically-challenged Zero Hedge website. It was most likely one of their "reliable" email contacts trying to look good. It's a shame that "the Hedge" has slumped to such low levels of journalism - if that's what you want to call it - because it is normally a pretty good source for economic news not found elsewhere.

Recently, Zero Hedge has taken to posting political and other non-economic articles, to its detriment. Many of the commentators who frequented Zero Hedge in its heyday (2008-2009), prior to it being purchased by ABC Media (British Columbia, not the US media giant). According to the one-liner in the website's footer - Copyright ©2009-2019 Media, LTD - the company took it out of the original owner's hands in 2009, as the GFC was winding down.

For the S&P 500, Monday was a special occasion, setting a new all-time record high closing. Trump may not have pumped it with a tweet, but his "America First" policies have certainly contributed to the rise of all US indices.

If stocks were overvalued prior to Monday, they are even more overvalued now, and will likely be uber-overvalued after the FOMC announces another rate cut on Wednesday.

In the meantime, earnings season is in full swing. The big story was Google parent, Alphabet, third quarter earnings, reported after the close. Alphabet posted a per-share profit of $10.12 in the quarter, decidedly below the $13.06 a share from the same period last year. Analysts polled by Bloomberg were expecting a per-share profit of $12.35.

The sizable miss was due largely to losses in investments. Among investments that may have contributed to the loss, Alphabet was involved with Uber and Slack, two companies that recently IPO'd and have lost value.

Little of this will affect Tuesday's trade outside of Alphabet (GOOG). There's far too much enthusiasm for equities and anticipation of looser monetary policy from the Fed already backed into the mix.

At the Close, Monday, October 28, 2009:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,090.72, +132.66 (+0.49%)
NASDAQ: 8,325.99, +82.87 (+1.01%)
S&P 500: 3,039.42, +16.87 (+0.56%)
NYSE Composite: 13,186.43, +40.19 (+0.31%)

Sunday, October 27, 2019

WEEKEND WRAP: Green Lights for Stocks; Flight From High Tax States Varies US Landscape

For equity investors, the week was all about Friday.

After flailing about the prior four sessions, US indices got a sizable boost on the final day of the week, sending traders home satisfied with a positive result for the week.

With the Dow, NASDAQ, and Composite mere percentage points short of all-time highs, the S&P 500 is within three points of its record closing high, recorded earlier this year, on July 26 (3,025.86).

So, with all the uncertainty surrounding geo-political events - impeachment, Brexit, trade war - stocks continue to perform magic as solid investments in a ZIRP and NIRP environment.

With the Fed committed to "not QE" through the second quarter of 2020 (at least), stocks have in front of them a glowing green light signaling fresh all-time highs. The FOMC is expected to cut another 25 basis points at its meeting this week, the second to last of the year.

In commodity trading, WTI crude oil was bid, closing out the week at 56.63 a barrel after slumping down to $52.45 over the prior two weeks. Gold and silver, both sluggish over the past month, finally were bid on Thursday and Friday. Gold was as high as $1518 on Friday, settling in at $1504, while silver crested above $18 per ounce and closed right on that number Friday.

Ten-year treasury notes continued to be shunned, finishing out the week with a yield of 1.80%, with some correlation to ongoing cuts in the federal funds rate. Bond traders are expressing a preference for short-term maturities, with 1, 2, and 3-month bills nearly at the same yield as the 10-year. While the yield curve has returned from inverted to a rather dull slope, there's certainly no consensus on direction. With the 10-year yield at its best level since August, it is still well below the average 2.72% which prevailed in the first quarter.

Earnings reports have been unreassuring, with as many misses as those topping estimates. Overall, mega-corps are still making money, just not so much to boost their prices significantly. In this environment, banging out 5-8% year-over-year gains has to be considered pretty solid, being that the current economic cycle is well past the mid-point and may be nearing an end.

Recession talk has subsided for now, though different regions throughout the vast US landscape offer varied results. In general, flight from high-tax states - New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, and California, in particular - to Southern enclaves continues apace. Retirees are taking their money and running for the state line, seeking reduced property, income, and estate taxes in more conservative states.

States that have not raised their minimum wages significantly are experiencing an influx of new residents, and with that, housing, roads, and commercial spaces are being constructed at a hot pace. Meanwhile, the Northeast continues to suffer from an overabundance of taxation, regulation, and handouts to the indigent at the same time its infrastructure is crumbling and best residents are leaving.

New York is a prime example of the dangers of liberal policies causing middle and upper class flight. While undocumented (illegal) migrants (aliens) are offered free food, housing, and education, long-suffering native New Yorkers are feeling put out, footing the bill for government largesse while good jobs are scarce and property taxes are near the highest in the nation. Home values are depressed, despite low interest rates and job creation is limited by the excessive minimum wage and other requirements of employment paid for by companies.

New York leads the nation in lost manufacturing jobs in 2019, estimated to have shed 10,000 positions through the first nine months of the year. The Empire State has also suffered significant losses in the hospitality and construction industries, due to the higher minimum wage and lack of growth in commercial and residential building.

These so-called "high tax states" are going to face a cash crunch, as higher paid workers are replaced with low-skill, low pay employees. The revenue will not be enough to sustain the high costs of state agencies and pensions. A major bust has been building for years in many states who will have to face the reality that the days of big promises are over and government staff reduction and budget cuts are on the table.

The United States is a big country, and, similar to the nations of Europe, some states may be booming while others are failing.

Caveat Emptor.

At the Close, Friday, October 25, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,958.06; +152.53 (+0.57%)
NASDAQ: 8,243.12, +57.32 (+0.70%)
S&P 500: 3,022.55, +12.26 (+0.41%)
NYSE Composite: 13,146.24, +27.33 (+0.21%)

For the Week:
Dow: +187.86 (+0.70%)
NASDAQ: +153.58 (+1.90%)
S&P 500: +36.35 (+1.22%)
NYSE Composite: +139.60 (+1.07%)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Is Another October Surprise Developing for US Stocks?

On the opening day of trading for the fourth quarter, stocks were beaten down, with all of the major US averages losing more than one percent on the day.

Following Monday's end-of-quarter window dressing session, the losses on Tuesday were unexpected, but not to any extreme extent.

Could the indices be entering an October surprise, not dissimilar to that which occurred in 2018, when the stock markets retreated en masse from all-time highs and then took further flight in December?

It's a real possibility, since, despite making new all-time highs during the summer months, stocks have been relatively flat for the past year. On October 1, 2018, the Dow stood at 26,447.05, which is just 126 points shy of where it closed on Tuesday. Economic conditions haven't really improved. In fact, many might posit that they have degraded.

The World Trade Organization (WTO), which in April 2018 projected global growth at four percent, recently downgraded all of 2019's growth to a paltry 1.2%. Employment, at least in the US, has peaked, with average monthly non-farm payroll data down from last year and September's figures are likely to come in soft.

ISM Manufacturing in the US fell to its lowest level in a decade, registering a 47.8, down from 49.1 points in August and the lowest level since June 2009. Two straight months below 50 indicates not only contraction, but an acceleration in the level of decline. That, in addition to the inverted yield curve, suggests that a recession is due in the US, as Europe is on the brink of recession as well and the condition has a tendency for global contagion.

Thus, stocks get sold, bonds - in a flight to relative safety - get bought and the result is depressed moods all around.

If general chaos is what one desires, this would seem like the perfect opportunity to impeach a sitting president on little more than hearsay. And that is precisely what House Democrats are attempting.

At the Close, Tuesday, October 1, 2019:

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,573.04, -343.79 (-1.28%)
NASDAQ: 7,908.68, -90.65 (-1.13%)
S&P 500: 2,940.25, -36.49 (-1.23%)
NYSE Composite: 12,835.35, -169.39 (-1.30%)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Weekend Wrap: Stocks Whacked At Week's End, NASDAQ Suffering Most; Global Condition Questionable

Back-to-back down sessions left the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower for the week and month, though only by 11 points, the dual declines amounting to a 380-point loss after the Dow had recorded three-straight all-time highs, so a pullback was not only likely, but probably helpful in the long term.

Stocks have been soaring due to strong economic data, but, at some point, valuation becomes an issue, and that point may have been reached this week. By far, the NASDAQ suffered more than the other indices as investors fled speculative positions in favor of more defensive ones, especially as treasury bond prices tumbled, sending yields on the 10-year note to their highest point since 2011.

The 10-year note closed out the week yielding 3.23, while the 30-year bond offered a yield of 3.40. Better yet, spreads widened, as the 2-year bill finished at 2.88, widening the spread on 2s-10s to 35 basis points, allaying some of the fears for an inversion in the curve, a condition that normally precedes a recession.

Friday's September non-farm payroll data from the BLS came in below expectations of 180,000, at 134,000 new jobs, adding to the shifting sentiment late in Wall Street's week. Unemployment ticked lower, however, from 3.9% to 3.7%, keeping the jobs picture still very much a positive one.

Losses on the NASDAQ (-3.21%) were the worst since March. Such a large loss, especially in the leadership group, may cause investors to reconsider their allocations, especially since October is normally a very volatile time. Besides the risk of further declines on valuation, many speculative tech stocks offer no dividends, an important element for stability in any portfolio.

Globally, markets were lower, with Europe suffering steep declines. The stock index of Europe's leading economy, Germany's DAX, is already in correction territory. Tremors from Italy's burgeoning funding crisis have caused concern in European bourses as the runaway Italian government continues to criticize the European Central Bank's (ECB) practices.

While Italy is unlikely to withdraw from the EU, there is mounting pressure on recently-elected leaders for more autonomy, citing the disastrous condition in Greece, following years of bailouts and forced austerity by EU leaders.

Emerging markets, including behemoths China and India, have been suffering from banking and regulatory malaise, and from a growing suspicion that the official data cited by governments is often fudged to appear better than reality.

The dollar eased late in the week against some currencies, a relief to those emerging markets, though not enough to avoid wholesale capitulation of home currencies, especially in Turkey and Argentina, two basket-case economies on the verge of inflationary and solvency collapses.

Those are the leading factors which has prompted investor flight to US equities and bonds, considered a global safety net, though the crowding of those markets has led to what currently is the condition of overvaluation in some sectors.

Gold and silver were bid slightly through the week, though the precious metals still remain close to there-year lows with no bottom having been found.

While general economic news in the US is good and should continue to be so, global conditions are far from rosy, which is leading to some shift in sentiment and flights to safety.

Dow Jones Industrial Average October Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
10/1/18 26,651.21 +192.90 +192.90
10/2/18 26,773.94 +122.73 +315.63
10/3/18 26,828.39 +54.45 +370.08
10/4/18 26,627.48 -200.91 +169.17
10/5/18 26,447.05 -180.43 -11.26

At the Close, Friday, October 5, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,447.05, -180.43 (-0.68%)
NASDAQ: 7,788.45, -91.06 (-1.16%)
S&P 500: 2,885.57, -16.04 (-0.55%)
NYSE Composite: 12,991.95, -50.35 (-0.39%)

For the Week:
Dow: -11.26, (-0.04%)
NASDAQ: -257.91 (-3.21%)
S&P 500: -28.41 (-0.97%)
NYSR Composite: -90.67 (-0.59%)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dow Theory Thwarted; Bulls Back In Charge As Industrials Register New All-Time High

In what has to be regarded as a false signal from the Dow Theory tracking primary trends, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a new all-time closing high on Thursday, finishing the session at 26,656.98, eclipsing the previous record close of 26,616.71 reached on January 26, 2108.

In the interim, the Dow suffered through a shallow correction in February and March, gradually regaining its momentum in the second quarter, gaining 158.97 points for all of April, May, and June. During that period, however, other indices were exhibiting strength, especially the NASDAQ, which soared to record highs in June, followed by more all-time highs in July and August.

The S&P 500 took longer to recover, finally reaching a new apex on August 24, though the index showed considerable resilience and strength from April though the summer. It too finished at a record, gaining 22.80 points, it's best single-day gain in nearly two months.

The bear market, primary trend reversal signal sent via Dow Theory was initially triggered when the industrial average made a new short-term low on March 23, at 23,533.20, and confirmed on April 9, when the Transportation Index also closed at a new recent low of 10,119.35.

Skeptics noted that the transports, immediately after reaching that critical low, immediately rebounded with a 650-point rally over the next seven sessions. The aftermath from the signal forward didn't appear to be anything even remotely resembling a bear market, and if it was, the signal was too late and not useful for trading purposes. In fact, had one paid heed to the primary trend signal, one would have missed out on some sizable gains from April though the present.

The transportation index made a fresh record close at 11,436.35, on August 21 and has since finished higher than that on a tuber of occasions. The new high close on the Dow Jones Transportation Index was the first signal that the primary market trend was about to reverse again. It was just a matter of time and playing catch-up for the Dow to achieve a new record.

Whatever the market rationale - be it the Trump effect, animal spirits, or simply the general attractiveness of US markets caused by the recent strong dollar - stocks continue to be the best investments available to the general public and the larger institutional investing community.

Where the market goes from here is, as always, an open question, though it appears that the longest bull market in history will continue apace. Nothing, not even regular, quarterly interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve, has been able to slow down the US equity express.

On the heels of solid performances in July and August, the Dow is poised to post the best quarterly results of the year when the third quarter concludes in just one week, September 28. The Dow added 1143.78 points in July, 557.29 in August, and has racked up a gain of 692.16 in September.

Dow Jones Industrial Average September Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
9/4/18 25,952.48 -12.34 -12.34
9/5/18 25,974.99 +22.51 +10.17
9/6/18 25,995.87 +20.88 +31.05
9/7/18 25,916.54 -79.33 -48.28
9/10/18 25,857.07 -59.47 -107.75
9/11/18 25,971.06 +113.99 +6.24
9/12/18 25,998.92 +27.86 +34.10
9/13/18 26,145.99 +147.07 +181.17
9/14/18 26,154.67 +8.68 +189.85
9/17/18 26,062.12 -92.55 +97.30
9/18/18 26,246.96 +184.84 +282.14
9/19/18 26,405.76 +158.80 +440.94
9/20/18 26,656.98 +251.22 +692.16

At the Close, Thursday, September 20, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,656.98, +251.22 (+0.95%)
NASDAQ: 8,028.23, +78.19 (+0.98%)
S&P 500: 2,930.75, +22.80 (+0.78%)
NYSE Composite: 13,225.11, +103.14 (+0.79%)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Dow Gains 259, NASDAQ, S&P Set New Record Highs

Since June 27, the NASDAQ has made a strong advance of 572 points, a nifty 7.68% return in two months.

The S&P 500 has tacked on 196 points over the same span, a 7.26% gain.

The Dow has galloped ahead 1933 points in the past two months, 8.02%, topping both index rivals and closed above 26,000 on Monday for the first time since February 1. Overall, investors are piling into stocks, unconvinced that the Fed's now-quarterly interest rate hikes will slow down US production in major industries. Income creation has been a duopoly since the Trump tax cuts became effective after the start of the year and stocks shook off the shocks of February and March.

With the Dow posting gains in six of the last eight sessions, the industrials have added nearly 900 points since August 16. With a three-day holiday dead ahead, the positive vibe may extend through Friday.

There is no other way around it. This rally is real, and has legs. The next FOMC meeting and widely anticipated 25 basis point rate hike is still a month off, on September 25-26.

Along with the NASDAQ and S&P closing at record highs on Monday, the Dow is a mere 600 points from its previous high from January 26 of 26,616.71.

Summertime... and the profits are easy.

Dow Jones Industrial Average August Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
8/1/18 25,333.82 -81.37 -81.37
8/2/18 25,326.16 -7.66 -89.03
8/3/18 25,462.58 +136.42 +55.05
8/6/18 25,502.18 +39.60 +94.65
8/7/18 25,628.91 +126.73 +221.38
8/8/18 25,583.75 -45.16 +176.22
8/9/18 25,509.23 -74.52 +101.70
8/10/18 25,313.14 -196.09 -94.39
8/13/18 25,187.70 -125.44 -219.83
8/14/18 25,299.92 +112.22 -107.61
8/15/18 25,162.41 -137.51 -245.12
8/16/18 25,558.73 +396.32 +151.20
8/17/18 25,669.32 +110.59 +261.79
8/20/18 25,758.69 +89.37 +351.16
8/21/18 25,822.29 +63.60 +414.76
8/22/18 25,733.60 -88.69 +326.07
8/23/18 25,656.98 -76.62 +249.45
8/24/18 25,790.35 +133.37 +382.82
8/27/18 26,049.64 +259.29 +642.11

At the Close, Monday, August 27, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,049.64, +259.29 (+1.01%)
NASDAQ: 8,017.90, +71.92 (+0.91%)
S&P 500: 2,896.74, +22.05 (+0.77%)
NYSE Composite: 13,102.03, +102.59 (+0.79%)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Of The Long Bull Run And The Short Bear

Today, the S&P 500 set a new mark as the longest bull run in stock market history, surpassing the bull market record that ran from October 1990 to March 2000.

On Wednesday, the bull market that began on April 8, 2009, reached 3,453 days. The nearly 9 1/2 year run without a decline of 20% has seen the S&P rise from its low of 815.55 on April 7, 2009, to yesterday's closing high of 2,862.96, a gain of 2047.41, an average annual return of 26.4%. It's been quite a decade for Wall Street after the financial crisis had put the world on edge.

Unlike anything seen before, excepting possibly the expansion during the 1990s dotcom boom, investors have been showered with profits from virtually all sectors. There is no denying that the bull market of the 20-teens will go down in economic history as one of the more bizarre experiences ever, fueled by unlimited free-spending by central banks in global coordination, slashing interest rates at times, in some countries, to negative yields.

Adding to the hyper activity in the markets were stock buybacks by nearly every major corporation, financed by ultra-low interest rates. Buybacks reduced the number of shares outstanding, thus boosting earnings-per-share calculations beyond normal ranges.

While many still argue that this bull market was mostly smoke and mirrors, enhanced by the Federal Reserve and of benefit to only the richest one percent of the population, anybody who invested during this period made money. That's an undeniable fact that serves to silence even the grizzliest of bears.

Shortest Bear Market?

Adherents to Dow Theory (Money Daily being of that disposition) saw the end of the bull market earlier this year, when the Dow dropped precipitously from its January 26 all-time high close of 26,616.71 to 23,533.20 on March 23. The primary trend change (bull to bear) was confirmed when the Transportation Index closed on 10,119.36 on April 9. Since then, the Dow has come back, though it has not surpassed its previous high, which would signal another primary trend change from bear to bull. However, yesterday, August 21, the Transports set a new record closing high, finishing the session at 11,436.36 and well beyond its previous record close of 11,373.38, reached on January 12, 2018.

While the Transports have been leading (without much notice) the charge to new highs, it will take another spurt higher of nearly 900 by the Dow Industrials to surpass its own all-time high. If that scenario develops, the Dow will confirm the trend change that the Transportation Index has suggested. According to Dow Theory, the two have to react in tandem, confirming the primary trend direction.

The Dow demands close scrutiny in the weeks and possibly months ahead, because, despite the larger universe of pundits and analysts celebrating the longest bull run ever, until the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 26,616.71, theoretically, this is still a bear market and the recent activity since late March of this year has been nothing but speculation and noise.

For all the hoopla over the bull market record, today's action was noticeably subdued. Of the four major indices, only the NASDAQ returned a winner, as investors waded back into the tech-soaked speculative morass.

Dow Jones Industrial Average August Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
8/1/18 25,333.82 -81.37 -81.37
8/2/18 25,326.16 -7.66 -89.03
8/3/18 25,462.58 +136.42 +55.05
8/6/18 25,502.18 +39.60 +94.65
8/7/18 25,628.91 +126.73 +221.38
8/8/18 25,583.75 -45.16 +176.22
8/9/18 25,509.23 -74.52 +101.70
8/10/18 25,313.14 -196.09 -94.39
8/13/18 25,187.70 -125.44 -219.83
8/14/18 25,299.92 +112.22 -107.61
8/15/18 25,162.41 -137.51 -245.12
8/16/18 25,558.73 +396.32 +151.20
8/17/18 25,669.32 +110.59 +261.79
8/20/18 25,758.69 +89.37 +351.16
8/21/18 25,822.29 +63.60 +414.76
8/22/18 25,733.60 -88.69 +326.07

At the Close, Wednesday, August 22, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,733.60, -88.69 (-0.34%)
NASDAQ: 7,889.10, +29.92 (+0.38%)
S&P 500: 2,861.82, -1.14 (-0.04%)
NYSE Composite: 12,992.05, -4.71 (-0.04%)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Stocks Continue Rally, S&P 500 Reaches New All-Time High

There was cause for celebration on Wall Street and around America on Tuesday as the S&P 500 reached a new all-time record close, gaining 5.91 to finish the day at 2,862.96, four-and-a-half points beyond the previous high set just two weeks ago, on August 7th.

While the S&P and NASDAQ have surged to new records after the February correction, the Dow is still 800 points shy of its all-time mark, though, with the economy booming, there's little to no apprehension among investors. The widespread belief is that the Dow will push forward, despite the warnings from Dow Theorists who insist a bear market on the Dow Jones Industrial Average had commenced earlier in the year. Clearly, recent data disputes the veracity of any argument made by the venerable Dow Theory.

On Wednesday, stock pickers will be in a celebratory mood once again, marking the longest bull run in US market history, surpassing the dotcom run from 1990 to 2000. According to this LA Times story there is some disagreement, but there are few who argue that this bull run has been outstanding, starting on April 9, 2009, without as much as a 15% decline throughout the duration of the run.

Tomorrow it is, then. Another record.

Dow Jones Industrial Average August Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
8/1/18 25,333.82 -81.37 -81.37
8/2/18 25,326.16 -7.66 -89.03
8/3/18 25,462.58 +136.42 +55.05
8/6/18 25,502.18 +39.60 +94.65
8/7/18 25,628.91 +126.73 +221.38
8/8/18 25,583.75 -45.16 +176.22
8/9/18 25,509.23 -74.52 +101.70
8/10/18 25,313.14 -196.09 -94.39
8/13/18 25,187.70 -125.44 -219.83
8/14/18 25,299.92 +112.22 -107.61
8/15/18 25,162.41 -137.51 -245.12
8/16/18 25,558.73 +396.32 +151.20
8/17/18 25,669.32 +110.59 +261.79
8/20/18 25,758.69 +89.37 +351.16
8/21/18 25,822.29 +63.60 +414.76

At the Close, Tuesday, August 21, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,822.29, +63.60 (+0.25%)
NASDAQ: 7,859.17, +38.17 (+0.49%)
S&P 500: 2,862.96, +5.91 (+0.21%)
NYSE Composite: 12,996.76, +31.66 (+0.24%)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

July Best Month Since January for Dow Industrials

Ending the month of July with a spirited, sugar-coated, window dressing rally, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted the best month of gains (+1143.78) since January (+1430.17).

While that number may be pleasing to the buyers of stocks in much of 2018, longer term holders will note with interest that the close on July 31 is lower than the close on January 31 and significantly lower than the all-time high reached on January 26, 2018 (26.616.71). It is 1201.52 points lower than that January 26 close, or nearly four percent off the high point.

Five percent may not sound like much, but, in the perspective of a six month time frame, it's impact become clearer. From February to June, stocks languished in what could be seen as equity limbo. They were worth less than they were in January and still are.

In real terms, a $100,000 portfolio in January would be worth about $95,000 today. Optimists might see the glass as half full, adding that the very same January $100,000 portfolio was worth only about $90,000, when the Dow bottomed out at 23,533.20, on March 23, a dip of more than 10% from the all-time high.

Year-to-date, the Dow has gained 695.97 points, or, less than three percent. In monthly terms, that's a gain of less than one-half of one percent. Nobody's calling their mother to tell her how great they're doing in the market. Neither is anybody crying in their beer over any loss.

Stocks, and the global economy, remain at a significant crossroads.

Dow Jones Industrial Average July Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
7/2/18 24,307.18 +35.77 +35.77
7/3/18 24,174.82 -132.36 -96.59
7/5/18 24,345.44 +181.92 +85.33
7/6/18 24,456.48 +99.74 +185.07
7/9/18 24,776.59 +320.11 +505.18
7/10/18 24,919.66 +143.07 +648.25
7/11/18 24,700.45 -219.21 +429.04
7/12/18 24,924.89 +224.44 +653.48
7/13/18 25,019.41 +94.52 +748.00
7/16/18 25,064.36 +44.95 +792.95
7/17/18 25,119.89 +55.53 +848.48
7/18/18 25,199.29 +79.40 +927.88
7/19/18 25,064.50 -134.79 +793.09
7/20/18 25,058.12 -6.38 +786.71
7/23/18 25,044.29 -13.83 +772.88
7/24/18 25,241.94 +197.65 +970.53
7/25/18 25,414.10 +172.16 +1142.69
7/26/18 25,527.07 +112.97 +1255.66
7/27/18 25,451.06 -76.01 +1179.65
7/30/18 25,306.83 -144.23 +1035.42
7/31/18 25,415.19 +108.36 +1143.78

At the Close, Tuesday, July 31, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,415.19, +108.36 (+0.43%)
NASDAQ: 7,671.79, +41.78 (+0.55%)
S&P 500: 2,816.29, +13.69 (+0.49%)
NYSE Composite: 12,963.28, +59.85 (+0.46%)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Which Way Is Up? Markets Careen As Trump Makes Deal With EU, Facebook Falls From Grace

It's too early to call it a trend, but the Dow broke out of the trading range in which it had been ensconced for over four months after President Trump met with European Commission president Claude Junker and announced a breakthrough on trade and tariff negotiations between the European Union and the United States, forestalling what many feared would become a trade war.

The Dow, which had been lumbering below the unchanged line most of the session, broke above it shortly after 3:00 pm EDT, and then rocketed higher, gaining over 150 points in the final half hour of trading.

The other indices responded in similar manner, though after hours, Facebook (FB) took a severe lashing, losing 24% at one point, after its second quarter earnings failed to meet expectations. Facebook's fall sent NASDAQ futures into a 1.5% nosedive, though they're recovering prior to Thursday's opening bell.

What is most important to note about these developments is the movement in the Dow. According to Dow Theory, the index entered bear market conditions on April 9, when the Dow Jones Transportation Index confirmed the Industrial Average's February-March double-dip off January highs. Besides the reliability of Dow Theory in gauging market movement and primary trends, stocks have not readily behaved as they would in an ordinary bear market, with both the NASDAQ and S&P recovering to make all-time highs, the most recent, just Wednesday, as the NASDAQ set a new, high-water mark at the close.

The current episode of market mania is being driven by forces both unforeseen and unseen, most of it emanating from Washington, D.C., where, on one hand, President Trump's audacious approach to governance and world politics has thus far returned positive results, including Wednesday's breakthrough with the EC.

Thus, the number that bears watching continues to be the January 23 all-time closing high on the Dow of 26,616.71. While the index has broken above what was considerable resistance, it still has a wall of worry - and about 1200 points - to climb before the existence of bearish conditions can be eliminated.

On the other side of the coin, Facebook's woes may only be the beginning for the tech sector, the NASDAQ and the market as a whole. Next up on the chopping block appears to be Tesla (TSLA), whose CEO, Elon Musk, has been raising concerns about the company as a whole by his strange and possibly bi-polar behavior. Tesla is under considerable pressure to produce positive results after months of scrutiny over its cars exploding, production questions, quality concerns and the general mental well-being of its founder and CEO.

Tech stocks have largely been the driver behind the rise of the NASDAQ, whereas President Trump has been generally holding down the Dow. Now those two elements appear to be working in reverse, and the result could be a shock to both the upside on the Dow and the downside on the NASDAQ.

It's hard to imagine the two indices diverging for very long, but the future is unknowable. With Trump "winning" on many fronts, he still faces a massive horde of opposition in Washington, not only from Democrats and the so-called "deep state," but from members of his own party as well.

Add the Fed's unwinding of its balance sheet and relentless quarter-by-quarter raising of interest rates and you have an imperfect storm through which stock and bond speculators and investors must navigate.

Rough seas ahead, for certain, but in which direction? With so much on the deck and cross-currents blowing in every direction, trading should become volatile and choppy until November, when the midterm elections will likely determine the ultimate direction of not just the stock market but of the US and global economy as well.

Dow Jones Industrial Average July Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
7/2/18 24,307.18 +35.77 +35.77
7/3/18 24,174.82 -132.36 -96.59
7/5/18 24,345.44 +181.92 +85.33
7/6/18 24,456.48 +99.74 +185.07
7/9/18 24,776.59 +320.11 +505.18
7/10/18 24,919.66 +143.07 +648.25
7/11/18 24,700.45 -219.21 +429.04
7/12/18 24,924.89 +224.44 +653.48
7/13/18 25,019.41 +94.52 +748.00
7/16/18 25,064.36 +44.95 +792.95
7/17/18 25,119.89 +55.53 +848.48
7/18/18 25,199.29 +79.40 +927.88
7/19/18 25,064.50 -134.79 +793.09
7/20/18 25,058.12 -6.38 +786.71
7/23/18 25,044.29 -13.83 +772.88
7/24/18 25,241.94 +197.65 +970.53
7/25/18 25,414.10 +172.16 +1142.69

At the Close, Wednesday, July 25, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,414.10, +172.16 (+0.68%)
NASDAQ: 7,932.24, +91.47 (+1.17%)
S&P 500: 2,846.07, +25.67 (+0.91%)
NYSE Composite: 12,933.63, +86.14 (+0.67%)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Weekend Wrap: Stocks Celebrate The 4th With Solid Gains

Stocks bubbled up after the BLS reported June job gains of 213,000 in the non-farm payroll report, though the official unemployment rate rose to four percent as more people entered the workforce.

The increase, being more than the expected 195,000, was a positive spur to trading instincts and helped end one of the better weeks of the year, with all four major indices posting gains for the day and the week.

Fears of an extended trade war with China were put aside for the time being. With the nation basking in the glow of an Independence Day week, only one down day was recorded, that being Tuesday's shortened session, which seemed more an adjustment to price levels rather than a trend-starting event.

Earnings reports for the second quarter will soon be the talk of the town and with that narrative taking precedence, there's a very good chance that stocks may see some solid support for the rest of the month.

The Dow is already ahead for July, despite still being more than 2000 points from the January all-time highs. With trading volumes down, it won't take much tome markets and the mood has shifted to a summery, feeling-good groove.

Bonds being moribund, stocks will bear some near term interest. The longer term still appears shaky or shady on a fundamental basis.

Dow Jones Industrial Average July Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
7/2/18 24,307.18 +35.77 +35.77
7/3/18 24,174.82 -132.36 -96.59
7/5/18 24,345.44 +181.92 +85.33
7/6/18 24,456.48 +99.74 +185.07

At the Close, Friday, July 6, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,456.48, +99.74 (+0.41%)
NASDAQ: 7,688.39, +101.96 (+1.34%)
S&P 500: 2,759.82, +23.21 (+0.85%)
NYSE Composite: 12,664.88, +79.67 (+0.63%)

For the Week:
Dow: +185.07 (+0.76%)
NASDAQ: +178.08 (+2.37%)
S&P 500: +41.45 (+1.52%)
NYSE Composite: +160.63 (+1.28%)