Showing posts with label crude oil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crude oil. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

As Usual, Government Solutions Are Wrong, Damaging the Economy as COVID-19 Ravages the Planet

The trading desk at the NY Fed apparently bought everything, all day long.

That's not a joke. It's probably much closer to the truth than many would believe.

Since the Fed took steps to backstop every bond, loan, or financial obligation on the planet over the past two weeks, and the Congress and President passed a $2.2 trillion rescue relief bill last week, stocks have done nothing but shoot the moon higher as four of the past five trading sessions have been positive for the Dow, S&P and NYSE Composite, and three of five for the NASDAQ.

Amid a crisis condition across the country and around the globe, this kind of action - with similar moves in international markets as well - is completely devoid of any fundamental pricing structure. Simply throwing more good money after bad seems to be the only way the Fed operates, as if it were in a void zone and it's the worst kind of malinvestment, chasing away the demon of real price discovery by throwing more fake, phony, fiat currency at it.

At current levels, the major indices have achieved bear market territory and are about as likely to escape it as President Trump is to refrain from tweeting. With giant swaths of the economy shut down for the past two weeks and looking forward to another month of idleness, stocks should be going down, not up. Even down as much as 60% from their recent peak, many stocks are still overvalued and the main indices are settled in at or near levels that are 40-60% (NASDAQ) higher than prevailing levels in 2007 prior to the Great Financial Crisis (GFC), indicating that stocks, rather then stabilizing at current levels, hav emuch further to fall.

The degree of decline should be back to levels below the lows of 2008-09, since the issues which caused the crash then were never addressed in any meaningful manner, instead just kicked down the road. Banks and corporations have re-leveraged well beyond any reasonable price, using nearly-free money from the Fed to perform stock buybacks, boosting prices to extremes.

Initially, the cascading waterfall of falling stock prices as COVID-19 panic became evident was justifiable, more extreme than the beginning of any bear market including 1929, 2000, and 2008, ending nowhere near a bottom.

The Fed's bazooka-style blitzkrieg has blown up the markets, exacerbated by the rescue relief package. It won't last. Eventually, the near-term lows will be tested, re-tested, and finally exceeded as the long, slow grind of a second phase bear market assumes command. All the money in the world - and that's how much the Fed has at its disposal - cannot prevent another wave of selling, and another, and another, nor can it limit the size and scope of the global tragedy that will unfold in coming months and years.

In its latest attempt to curry favor from the masses, the CDC proposed a best-case prognosis of 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, but that number pales by comparison to the economic and social damage the policies of demand isolation, shuttering of businesses, and crushing unemployment will produce over the next 12-18 months.

Government policy promoting social distancing, travel restrictions, and business closures are misguided and harmful, will not contain the virus to satisfactory levels and are likely to foment a Greater Depression worse than 1929 in terms of unemployment, poverty, and malnourishment. Sadly, almost all other developed and developing nations have taken a similar approach, a groupthink solution that isn't a solution at all, but rather a quest for more control, more power, and more curtailment of civil liberties by the authorities currently in charge.

Other approaches are better suited to achieve better results, especially ones suggested in a brilliant essay by Percy Carlton for the Saker Blog, titled Covid-19 Derangement Syndrome: A World Gone Mad.

Carlton relies upon logic and science to achieve his solutions, rather then the over-emotional reaction of today's government incompetents. It is a must read for everyone, especially those who value freedom of choice, liberty, and thoughtful self-expression over government controls, socialized solutions, pharmacological mandates, pseudo-science, and pathological lies.

Laid bare before the American public and the world is the staggering incompetence and outrageous insolence of world "leaders." Beyond that lies an unpromising land of replete with shortages, monetary imbalances, fiscal irresponsibility, societal dislocation, rioting, looting, starvation, and death which could have been avoided.

Lack of advance planning and reliance on extreme measures adopted from China's experience with coronavirus, combined with political grandstanding and media obsession and obfuscation of facts have the world lumbering toward desperation. The longer the general public is subjected to the dictates of the administration the worse the condition will become.

Defeating the disease is the easy part. Putting back together the pieces of a broken global economy figures to be a more difficult task, one which sovereign governments and a central banking cartel are not well-suited to handle.

Meanwhile, the treasury curve flattens out, with the 10-year note yield slipping to 0.70% on Monday. Gold and silver remain difficult to obtain at prices well above the futures levels. Crude oil has fallen to 18-year lows with the price of gasoline falling in line.

The recent rally has nowhere to go under current conditions and should not have happened in the first place even under the best of circumstances, which are certainly not prevalent.

At the Close, Monday, March 30, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 22,327.48, +690.70 (+3.19%)
NASDAQ: 7,774.15, +271.77 (+3.62%)
S&P 500: 2,626.65, +85.18 (+3.35%)
NYSE: 10,434.75, +247.54 (+2.43%)

Monday, March 9, 2020

Weekend Wrap: This Is Bad; Oil Crashes; Stock Futures Limit Down; Global Market Panic in Progress

Thanks to a late-day ramp on Friday afternoon, the week turned out to be mostly positive for the investor class, though it certainly didn't seem to be that way most as the days wore onward.

With a 600-point buying spree on the Dow Jones Industrial Average - which pulled all the other indices higher as well - stocks finished with gains instead of substantial losses. After a week of wild swings, the mood had turned ugly, accentuated by cascading drops on Thursday and Friday at the opening bells both days and concerted selling in airline stocks, banks, and hospitality.

As pronounced as the near-panic over the prior five trading sessions was, what's ahead on Monday will be worse by orders of magnitude.

Beginning with the coronavirus (COVID-19) decimating economies and social structure from China to Italy to South Korea, Iran, and beyond, slumping demand and forecasting of a bleak near-term future prompted extreme action from Saudi Arabia over the weekend. On Friday, when Russia refused to go along with a planned 1.5 million barrels a day reduction in crude production by OPEC+ nations, the Saudis decided to put the screws to everyone in the oil business by slashing their rates and ramping up production.

The impact of this momentous decision on Saturday was immediately felt across not just the oil futures markets but equity and credit markets around the world. With all major indices closed as usual on Sunday, focus was attuned to futures, which were being hammered lower by as much as seven percent in some cases. In the US, futures trading was halted when the Dow, S&P, and NASDAQ futures fell by five percent, otherwise known as limit down.

Crude futures were down by extreme amounts. WTI crude was last seen at $32.07 per barrel, a 22% loss from Friday, when it was selling in the low 40s per barrel.

Bonds were being battered as well, with reports that the benchmark 10-year note was trading with a yield below 0.48% (at one point yielding an all-time low of 0.31%) and other bond yields were being destroyed in markets that began to open, first in Japan, China and the Far East, then to Europe. If fear of COVID-19 contagion was palpable, the contagion from the economic fallout had become all to real.

With US markets set to open in an hour, the condition is dire.

A quick rundown of the carnage on major indices around the world:

  • NIKKEI (Japan) -5.07%

  • Straits Times Index (Taiwan, Pacific Rim) -6.03%

  • SSE Composite (China) -3.01%

  • Hang Seng (Hong Kong) -4.23%

  • BSE Sensex (India) -5.17%

  • All Ordinaries (Australia) -7.40%

  • KOSPI (South Korea) -4.19%

  • MOEX (Russia) -3.45

  • Jakarta Composite (Indonesia) -6.58%

  • FTSE Bursa (Malaysia) -3.97%

  • DAX (Germany) -7.00%

  • CAC-40 (France) -7.14%

  • FTSE 100 (England) -6.93%

  • EuroNext 100 (Europe composite) -7.50%

Suppression of the precious metals, the only remaining asset class that may hold some value, continues unabated as global economies come under severe pressure. Gold gained marginally, to $1678.00 per ounce, following a banner performance last week. Silver is under even more pressure, trading at $16.83 on futures markets, making a mockery of the gold/silver ratio, which is nearly 100:1. In more measured times - as in all centuries prior to this one - the gold silver ratio was pretty steady at 12:1 to 16:1. The current measure is a bad joke on a bad day, told by bad people with nothing but evil intentions (central banks).

Silver would have to rise to $100 per ounce for the gold/silver ratio to be anywhere near historical norms. With gold on the verge of a major breakout above $2000 per ounce, silver should - some day, maybe - be worth over $150 per ounce or similar equivalent in some other currency.

Monday's open should be epic. The aftermath, and the expected coordinated response by central banks figures to be a complete clown show, highlighted by massive injections of cash, POMO, TOMO, market-neutral rates, negative rates, and eventually, some collapsing banks. Couldn't happen to a more deserving crowd.

Money Daily will provide updates as time allows. Panic is a mild term for what's about to occur.

At the Close, Friday, March 6, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,864.78, -256.52 (-0.98%)
NASDAQ: 8,575.62, -162.97 (-1.86%)
S&P 500: 2,972.37, -51.57 (-1.71%)
NYSE: 12,352.03, -240.97 (-1.91%)

For the Week:
Dow: +455.42 (+1.79%)
NASDAQ: +8.25 (+0.10%)
S&P 500: +18.15 (+0.61%)
NYSE: -28.94 (-0.23%)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Year That Was: Investors Bid 2018 GOOD RIDDANCE; Worst Year Since 2008

Should all acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind,
Should all acquaintance be forgot and the days of auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet for the sake of auld lang syne.
Let's have a drink or maybe two or maybe three or four
Or five or six or seven or eight or maybe even more.

A cup of kindness, indeed. It's what some investors would have liked in December, or October, or maybe February or March.

Those were the worst months for stocks.

Dow loss, February, 2018: -1120.19
March, 2018: -926.09
October, 2018: -1341.55
December, 2018: -2211.10

As the year wore on, conditions proceeded to deteriorate for holders of US large cap equities. On the S&P and the NASDAQ, some stocks suffered losses of 30, 40, 50% or more.

Facebook (FB) was the poster child for tech stocks breaking bad. On July 25, the famous brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg topped out at 217.50. As of December 24, it bottomed out at a closing price of 124.06, a 43% loss. It wasn't a very merry Christmas for Facebook. Still, Zuckerberg is still one of the richest persons in the world, just not quite as rich as he used to be.

Netflix (NFLX) was another one being hammered in the second half of the year. Closing at 418.97 on July 9, the streaming video service lost 44% by December 24, closing that session at 233.88.

Stocks weren't the only asset class that was sucker-punched during the year. One standout of the commodities class was crude oil, where the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) shot up from $60 to $76 in October - coincidentally, on the same day the Dow peaked - before retreating to under $45 nearing the end of December, striking a low of $42.53 on Christmas Day.

In similar manner, precious metals were abused during the year. Gold spent the early part of the year fluctuating in the $1300-1350 per ounce range, never closing above $1352. By June, signs of weakness were appearing, with the metal of kings dipping into the $1200 range, eventually bottoming out at $1178 by August. With stocks on the decline in the fourth quarter, gold was the beneficiary, ending the year at $1278 per ounce.

Silver was damaged more severely. Peaking at $17.52 per ounce on January 25, silver slumped all the way to 13.97 in November. December was the best month of the year for gentleman's coin, as it closed at a five-month high on December 31, with a price of $15.46. Both gold and silver ended the year on high notes, suggesting that they are due for a long-overdue rally.

Bonds were perhaps the most entertaining of the financial assets, with investors watching for an inversion in the treasury yield curve between the two and 10-year notes. While that did not materialize, a smaller inversion between 2 and three-year and the five-year yield presented itself in December, but only persisted for three weeks. The five-year was actually yielding less than both the 2s and 3s on December 4, but corrected back to normalcy - with yields rising over duration - on December 21. Still, it was a wake-up call to investors fearing a recession in 2019 and may have contributed to some of the panic selling during the final month of 2018.

Yield on the barometric 10-year note ended the year at an 11-month low, checking in at 2.69% on New Year's Eve. The 30-year was also pushed lower. By year's end, it was yielding a mere 3.02%, all of this occurring in the face of four quarterly federal funds rate hikes over the course of the annum. Surely, the bond vigilantes are out in force, and as the year of 2018 comes to a close, fear is winning out over greed in rather obvious manner.

What 2019 will bring is anyone's guess, considering the continuing dysfunction coming out of the nation's capitol. Republicans and Democrats are at war, leaving the American people to fend as best they can as casualties or collaterally-damaged bystanders. Rhetoric from both sides of the aisle has been inflamed to a combustible state, and, with the partial government shutdown already in its second week, when the Democrats seize control of the House of Representatives on January 3, chaos will reign.

Despite honest effort from President Trump, nothing good will come out of Washington this year, unless one considers complete rejection of government by the people to be constructive, because that is precisely where the swamp dwellers inside the beltway - with ample assistance from a media that operates as a free press in name only - are taking the country.

2019 may be a year worse than the one preceding it, perhaps much worse, as the political leaders of the greatest nation on the planet can do no better than bicker, posture, and fail in their duties.

Until and unless Washington changes its ways, the financial picture will be clouded by the politicians, whose only aim seems to be one of destroying anything good in the country. While the Democrats can largely be blamed for inciting division, Republicans in the Senate share nearly equal responsibility for not standing up for the public.

Sadly, Washington has made it clear that it wants to be all-important, all the time. The cost will be borne by the people in ways that exceed mere finance.

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51
12/10/18 24,423.26 +34.31 -1115.20
12/11/18 24,370.24 -53.02 -1168.22
12/12/18 24,527.27 +157.03 -1011.19
12/13/18 24,597.38 +70.11 -941.08
12/14/18 24,100.51 -496.87 -1437.95
12/17/18 23,592.98 -507.53 -1945.58
12/18/18 23,675.64 +82.66 -1862.92
12/19/18 23,323.66 -351.98 -2214.90
12/20/18 22,859.60 -464.06 -2678.96
12/21/18 22,445.37 -414.23 -3093.19
12/24/18 21,792.20 -653.17 -3746.36
12/26/18 22,878.45 +1086.25 -2660.11
12/27/18 22,878.45 +260.37 -2399.74
12/28/18 23,062.40 -76.42 -2476.16
12/31/18 23,327.46 +265.06 -2211.10

At the Close, Monday, December 31, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,327.46, +265.06 (+1.15%)
NASDAQ: 6,635.28, +50.76 (+0.77%)
S&P 500: 2,506.85, +21.11 (+0.85%)
NYSE Composite: 11,374.39, +83.44 (+0.74%)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Oil Crashes, Takes Stocks Down With It

Quite literally, oil is the grease of the global economy. Nothing moves unless oil is pumped, shipped, distilled and employed in the manufacture of just about everything. It is instrumental not only in manufacturing, but in food production and distribution.

Thus, when the price of oil crumbles, as it did on Tuesday, it worth taking notice. WTI crude futures were down sharply on Monday and again on Tuesday, dipping below $46 per barrel before recovering slightly to around $46.50. Tuesday's slide marked a $30 decline in the price of crude in just the past three months. On a percentage basis, oil is off 40% from its high of $76 per barrel in early October, coinciding with an all-time high recorded on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (October 3).

While the price drop may superficially be assigned to oversupply, there's also the condition of slack demand amid what is largely being hailed as a global slowdown set to commence early in 2019, if not already well underway. If companies aren't growing, they're not using more oil. With too much supply already weighing down prices, a perceived lack of demand is causing futures traders to panic.

The price of oil is going to be a boon to consumers as gas prices have been dropping, with some states now seeing gas at the pump for under $2.00 per gallon. Cheaper gas helps people with moderate income, freeing up capital for other expenses. The last time oil was down in this range (2015-16) the price dropped as low as $30 per barrel but at the time, people expressed a desire to either save the extra money they weren't spending on gas or pay down debt. If that's the generally-accepted policy for consumers at this juncture, it's going to play right into the global slowdown meme and send not just oil and gas prices tumbling, but stocks as well, as has already been the case.

As far as stocks were concerned, traders tried to shrug off Monday's crushing losses by bidding the Dow up by more than 300 points on Tuesday. As has been the case for weeks, the rally fizzled midday, and the Dow - along with the other US indices - fell into negative territory early in the afternoon. In what's become something of a motif for this current regime of volatility, short-covering perked up the indices into the close, but the entire session wasn't much of a response to Monday's mess. In fact, there was more weakness on display as stocks failed to hold ground, finishing with minor success.

With oil in the dumps and stocks hitting the skids, now might be the right time to cash out and walk away from the betting tables. After all, it is December. Any losing wagers can help with the inevitable tax bill come April.

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51
12/10/18 24,423.26 +34.31 -1115.20
12/11/18 24,370.24 -53.02 -1168.22
12/12/18 24,527.27 +157.03 -1011.19
12/13/18 24,597.38 +70.11 -941.08
12/14/18 24,100.51 -496.87 -1437.95
12/17/18 23,592.98 -507.53 -1945.58
12/18/18 23,675.64 +82.66 -1862.92

At the Close, Tuesday, December 18, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,675.64, +82.66 (+0.35%)
NASDAQ: 6,783.91, +30.18 (+0.45%)
S&P 500: 2,546.16, +0.22 (+0.01%)
NYSE Composite: 11,502.16, -29.96 (-0.26%)

Monday, November 5, 2018

WEEKEND WRAP: As Mid-Terms Approach, Stocks Gain, Volatility Remains

As October turned to November, volatility persisted with markets gyrating wildly, even as non-farm payroll data came in ahead of expectations and the US mid-term elections (Tuesday, November 6) approached.

Things looked like they were slipping away Friday afternoon, as the Dow registered a loss of 292 points approaching 2:30 pm ET. Near the lows of the day, out of the blue, buyers appeared suddenly, boosting the Dow 198 points in three minutes from 2:26 pm to 2:29 pm ET. A move like that had to be courtesy of the PPT, or, possibly massive, coordinated central bank buying (pretty much the same thing), because all the indices leapt higher at precisely the same time.

In case you think that's fishy, consider what would have happened if the Fed and their central bank cronies had NOT done such things over the past ten years. The world would be a far different place and stocks like Apple wouldn't have the absurd valuation of nearly a trillion dollars. The market's been rigged for a long time, and it's not going to change anytime soon.

Whether or not one ascribes to conspiracy theories, the undeniable truth lies in the nearly ten years of market gains and the week past was another example of how Wall Street manages to play the numbers like Vladimir Horowitz on a Steinway grand piano.

The week began and ended with losses, bracketing three days of upside moves, the result a winning week for stocks, led by a 2.88% move on the NYSE Composite. The other indices were all higher by more than two percent. The week was the second of the last six in which stocks have ended positively.

While the moves were dramatic, only the Dow Industrials managed to close above their 200-day moving average and the 40-week moving average. The other majors remain below key levels and still appear vulnerable. The mid-term elections may trigger a knee-jerk reaction by Wall Street, though any such move is unlikely to be long-lasting. What is apparent is that some big money is moving out of stocks, as distribution has been an obvious element on any upside move. Dip-buyers may have moved markets higher this week, but every rally has been met with selling, indicating a trimming of positions.

Amid the whipsawing of stocks, bonds were selling off, with the 10-year note ending the week at 3.21 and the 30-year long bond yielding 3.46%, the highest in more than five years (June 2014).

The until story is in oil. Both Brent and WTI crude have been losing pricing power for the last six weeks, with WTI settling in the low $60s. The persistent declines and current price of $62.78/barrel is resulting in lower prices at the pump, with the US national average below $2.75/gallon, the lowest level since April of this year.

Lower oil and gas prices are usually a boost for the general economy, as consumers end up with more disposable cash after filling up their vehicles. It's also a boon for homeowners, who see lower fuel costs during heating months.

The big event this week will be Tuesday's mid-term elections. The general thinking is that if Republicans can hold the House and Senate, it will be seen as a referendum on President Trump's first two years in office. The Democrats are counting on a change in the House, with as many as 100 races in the toss-up category. A win in the House for Dems would be seen as a win, though their chances of taking control of the Senate are seen as slim. If such a scenario occurs, the result will be nothing but gridlock in Washington, which is usually a good thing for Wall Street.

Politics aside, the current conditions call for caution. There has been no sign of volatility easing, so the triple-digit daily moves on the Dow and NASDAQ are likely to continue until Thanksgiving at least.

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07

At the Close, Friday, November 2, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,270.83, -109.91 (-0.43%)
NASDAQ: 7,356.99, -77.06 (-1.04%)
S&P 500: 2,723.06, -17.31 (-0.63%)
NYSE Composite: 12,321.80, -34.70 (-0.28%)

For the Week:
Dow: +582.52 (+2.36%)
NASDAQ: +189.78 (+2.65%)
S&P 500: +64.37 (+2.42%)
NYSE Composite: +344.85 (+2.88%)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A Glitch In the Bull Matrix; Crude Dives To Six-Week Low

If anyone can call today's range of 70 points - top to bottom on the Dow - trading, they'd need to be making it up on volume, as the old misnomer suggests. Today's market saw neither opportunity nor volume, so, the traders made the day up. After a quick dip to the lows of the day just after the first hour of trading (10:40 am EDT), the Dow and other indices went choppy, but without significant movement (welcome to late summer).

Nearing the end of the session, the Dow stood almost where it ended the previous day and made all of the losses into the close in the final half hour (welcome to day-trading).

Most of the action was inconsequential, as it has been the past few weeks.

Taking a quick look at the past four weeks (20 sessions) on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 11 of the 20 saw gains or losses of less than 100 points. For perspective, a move of roughly 125 points would equate to 1/2 percentage. In other words, more than half of the sessions in the past month have been mostly range-bound and more noise than substance.

Today was no exception. Even though the Dow was the biggest percentage mover of the major indices, it only registered a move of -0.18%. The others closed at less than one tenth of a percent from where they started.

So trading? Hardly.

The only people making money in this market are the brokers, and they aren't making that much.

Commodities are perplexed. Crude futures fell dramatically. - WTI crude oil prices settled at six-week lows Wednesday after data showed U.S. crude stockpiles fell less than expected and U.S.-China trade tensions intensified.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for September delivery fell 3.2% to settle at $66.94 a barrel, while on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent fell 3.26% to trade at $72.22 barrel.

Precious metals have become an afterthought for now. Gold and silver have been trading below where they were two years ago, trending in a tight range and looking likely to collapse into an even deeper abyss. An ounce of gold today will not even purchase a high end cell phone. It's looking pretty dismal for the gold and silver bugs, who have managed to hold onto the most abused financial assets for far too long. Their day may come, but that day may be a long way off.

Trading baseball cards or comic books might be more exciting and profitable than the current regime of stocks, bonds, and commodities. Those markets are too well-known and over-saturated. However, they are the backbone of global commerce, and, as such, will not be discarded lightly.

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

At the Close, Wednesday, August 8, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,583.75, -45.16 (-0.18%)
NASDAQ: 7,888.33, +4.66 (+0.06%)
S&P 500: 2,857.70, -0.75 (-0.03%)
NYSE Composite: 12,987.91, -11.68 (-0.09%)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Weekend Wrap: Oil Slips Lower, Stocks Stagnate, Bond Yields Plunge

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average bottomed out at 2:45 pm EDT, down by 124 points on the day. From that point - with an hour and fifteen minutes remaining in the session - stocks magically rose by 68 points to end the day down marginally.

This pattern had been tested on both Wednesday and Thursday, as stocks took deep losses on both days, though Friday's low was much later in the session than it was the previous two days. Friday's low was also more shallow, the implication being that a major force (such as the - hush now - PPT) came to the market's aid in the nick of time.

That there might have been intervention on Friday, and indeed, on all three days, is not far-fetched. Nobody in positions of power were interested in a market crash just before the Memorial Day weekend. That is being saved for a more opportune time, such as just prior to the November mid-term elections.

If this is too much intrigue and conspiracy theory for you, dear reader, you can stop reading right here, though the naivety of burying one's head in a sand dune isn't going to make you any smarter, nor is it going to grant you immunity from market dynamics, be they either contrived or natural.

As seen in the scorecard and weekly data below, the Dow ended with a small 38-point gain and is lower than where it was two weeks ago, the bulk of May's advance made during an eight-day run starting on the 3rd and ending on the 14th, which was, notably a Monday. Tuesday the 15th saw the streak ended with a thud of -193 points. Since then, stocks have essentially gone nowhere and this week saw minor advances on the major indices with the notable exception of the NYSE Composite, which suffered a loss commensurate with the gain on the NASDAQ.

Confused? Not yet. Trading in stocks, always a risky business, is about to become something that defies quantification. Money is moving around markets at a dizzying rate, fueled by geo-politics and, in the main, a massive amount of misunderstanding of how markets are being distorted and defiled.

It's now more than three months since the waterfall effects of February which sent stocks into a state of bearish hibernation or paralysis from which they have yet to recover. The longer stocks fail to reflate towards their all-time highs the stronger the argument for a bear market becomes.

The problem with a bear market at this juncture is that stocks continue to underpin all manner of funds, especially public employee pensions, which are already massively underfunded. An extended market decline would push these funds further underwater and possibly trigger a liquidity trap which would make the 2008-09 financial crisis appear tame by comparison.

States like Illinois, California, Connecticut and New Jersey have the biggest underfunding problem and a bear market would blow out all of their actuarial projections. Not that these massive pension funds are going to go broke right away, rather they would see their future positions eroded to a point at which raising taxes, seeking higher employee contributions, reduction in services, or slashing payouts to retires will all be proposals on the table in an effort to salvage the failed over-promises of delinquent politicians.

A pension crisis might be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is the cumulative national debt shared by federal and state governments, businesses and individuals. Of the three, private businesses are most likely the best insulated from a market downturn and subsequent liquidity emergency, though they are by no means standing on safe ground. With the average American family or individual deeply indebted, businesses large and small will suffer from decreased volume and a general deterioration of business conditions. Such conditions are already well underway in small, rural communities lacking sufficiently large markets and audiences. Some largely Northeast and Midwest areas have never recovered from the Great Financial Crisis of a decade ago and another negative event could be potentially devastating. Government would be unable to collect taxes from an overburdened population and businesses would be faced with the indelicate choices of laying off employees, cutting back on goods or services or closing the doors for good.

The heavy reliance on stocks alone to lead the nation out of the deep depression of 2008 has set the stage for a rather unwelcome asset collapse and recent stock market activity is serving fair warning.

The only data this week that suggested a possible way out or easing of the tightening conditions (which the Fed is fueling with reckless abandon) were the decline in oil prices (from above $72 to below $68) and the crunching of yields in the treasury market. The 10-year note topped out at 3.11% before ending the week massively lower, at 2.93%, a huge move in a significant market.

What oil and bonds are foretelling is nothing less than a full-blown recession within six to eight months, signaling that consumers cannot sustain demand for energy and businesses and government cannot withstand rising borrowing costs.

All of these conditions are contributing to a very volatile situation which, thus far, has been contained by the Fed and the deep underground traders, attempting to keep equity prices at premiums. The chances of this lasting though the summer into the fall are Slim to None, and Slim has left town.

Dow Jones Industrial Average May Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
5/1/18 24,099.05 -64.10 -64.10
5/2/18 23,924.98 -174.07 -238.17
5/3/18 23,930.15 +5.17 -233.00
5/4/18 24,262.51 +332.36 +99.36
5/7/18 24,357.32 +94.81 +194.17
5/8/18 24,360.21 +2.89 +197.06
5/9/18 24,542.54 +182.33 +379.39
5/10/18 24,739.53 +196.99 +576.38
5/11/18 24,831.17 +91.64 +668.02
5/14/18 24,899.41 +68.24 +736.26
5/15/18 24,706.41 -193.00 +543.26
5/16/18 24,768.93 +62.52 +605.78
5/17/18 24,713.98 -54.95 +550.73
5/18/18 24,715.09 +1.11 +551.84
5/21/18 25,013.29 +298.20 +850.04
5/22/18 24,834.41 -178.88 +671.16
5/23/18 24,886.81 +52.40 +723.56
5/24/18 24,811.76 -75.05 +648.51
5/25/18 24,753.09 -58.67 +589.84

At the Close, Friday, May 25, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,753.09, -58.67 (-0.24%)
NASDAQ: 7,433.8535, +9.42 (+0.13%)
S&P 500: 2,721.33, -6.43 (-0.24%)
NYSE Composite: 12,634.94, -61.75 (-0.49%)

For the Week:
Dow: +38.00 (+0.15%)
NASDAQ: +79.51 (+1.08%)
S&P 500: +8.36 (+0.31%)
NYSE Composite: -82.48 (-0.65%)

Friday, May 25, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dow Jones Industrial Average May Scorecard:

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

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

Friday, May 11, 2018

Dow Gains 6th Straight Session; Oil Rises; Yield Curve Flattens

With a gain of nearly 200 points, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its sixth straight winning day, adding 875 points over that span.

Leading the charge higher were Apple (AAPL), which reached a new all-time high, at 190.04, and ExxonMobil (XOM), which gained 1.79 to close the session at 81.72. ExxonMobil's rise was attributed largely to the soaring price of oil. At 71.43 per barrel of WTI crude, oil is at its highest in four years, causing pain at the pump for commuters and drivers, but profits galore for energy companies.

While the immediate market euphoria may be tied somewhat to the rally in crude, it is likely to be short-lived if higher gasoline prices persist, as consumers will likely cut demand for other retail products, having to spend more to fill their tanks.

Another worrisome sign is the flattening treasury yield curve. The difference in yield spread between the five-year note and the 30-year bond fell to its lowest since 2007, a mere 29 basis points, with the five at 2.83 and the 30 at 3.12.

Flattening the curve, as at present, tightens banks' ability to lend at profit and is often a sign of a nearby recession. Should the curve invert - with fives' yield higher than 10's perhaps, it's an almost certain sign of recession, as all recessions over the past 50 years have been presaged by an inverted curve.

Dow Jones Industrial Average May Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
5/1/18 24,099.05 -64.10 -64.10
5/2/18 23,924.98 -174.07 -238.17
5/3/18 23,930.15 +5.17 -233.00
5/4/18 24,262.51 +332.36 +99.36
5/7/18 24,357.32 +94.81 +194.17
5/8/18 24,360.21 +2.89 +197.06
5/9/18 24,542.54 +182.33 +379.39
5/10/18 24,739.53 +196.99 +576.38

At the Close, Thursday, May 10, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,739.53, +196.99 (+0.80%)
NASDAQ: 7,404.97, +65.07 (+0.89%)
S&P 500: 2,723.07, +25.28 (+0.94%)
NYSE Composite: 12,731.64, +99.15 (+0.78%)

Monday, May 7, 2018

Index Divergence Not A Pretty Sight; Higher Dollar, Oil, Gas Prices To Kill Economy

Friday's across the board gains in stocks managed to get the Dow into positive territory for the month, but paradoxically, not the week, which included the last day of April, a 148-point decline.

Thus, three of the major indices took it on the collective chins, with only the NASDAQ allowing for gains on a weekly basis. This kind of divergence - often seen in bear markets - is just another signal to astute investors that all is not well in the land of unicorns and lollipops otherwise known as Wall Street.

There's a significant amount of panic on display if one know where to look for it, one the best locations being the dollar index, which has been staging a rather relentless rally since mid-April, rising from 89.42 to 92.89, which may not seem like much on the surface, but in real terms, it's a huge matter to international trade. Companies not nimble enough to adjust to sudden currency movements may be caught flat-footed, on the wrong sides of trades, with losses in capital amounting to staggering sums if not accordingly hedged.

A rising dollar does rather damaging things to trading partners and to the US itself. Most obvious is that a strong dollar makes imports cheaper, dampens commodity prices should cause oil prices to decline, but, since the United States has become the world's largest producer of crude, perversely, oil is rising in tandem with the dollar (by Monday morning it had crested above $70/barrel), a condition which is going to cause some considerable pain to Americans who use more distilled products (gasoline) than any other nation.

If there's anything that will put a lid on economic expansion, it's high fuel prices, and the current level, if it remains so, primarily threatens the budgets of small businesses and individuals, acting as an up-front tax on production and consumption.

Practically every recession in modern history has been tied to the price of oil and/or gas. The current runaway price surge, if not contained and reversed, is likely to send the economy into a vicious tailspin. Since consumer credit is at an all-time high, the average driver cannot afford to spend more on fuel, be it to power an automobile, heat a home, or run a small business.

Once again, nefarious forces are at work, spiking the dollar and the price of crude simultaneously, when there is oil sloshing around everywhere and dollars returning to their US home thanks to congress and the president's tax reforms.

Those dollars, upon return, are being used by corporations for more stock buybacks, boosting - temporarily - stock prices, and are not reaching the consumption level, keeping inflation somewhat in check. The good news is that consumer goods will not skyrocket in price, though getting to the stores (what few of them remain) to buy such will cost more and more.

Greed will go where greed wants, and it always seems to manifest itself most profoundly in the price of a gallon of gas. Thank Larry Kudlow for this windfall for the Exxons and Chevrons of the world as his "king dollar" theory will be tested on the world stage.

Dow Jones Industrial Average May Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
5/1/18 24,099.05 -64.10 -64.10
5/2/18 23,924.98 -174.07 -238.17
5/3/18 23,930.15 +5.17 -233.00
5/4/18 24,262.51 +332.36 +99.36

At the Close, Friday, May 4, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,262.51, +332.36 (+1.39%)
NASDAQ: 7,209.62, +121.47 (+1.71%)
S&P 500: 2,663.42, +33.69 (+1.28%)
NYSE Composite: 12,493.35, +100.84 (+0.81%)

For the Week:
Dow: -48.68 (-0.20%)
NASDAQ: +89.92 (+1.26%)
S&P 500: -6.49 (-0.24%)
NYSE Composite: -100.68 (-0.80%)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Week That Wasn't: February Flop Folds Into March Madness

This was a generally unsightly week for stocks. All of the major indices suffered losses, despite a late-Friday rally that boosted three of the four to positive, the notable exception, the stoic Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Taking a three percent hit for the week, the Dow suffered its third weekly setback in the last five, the most recent being the second-largest of the year, following the debacle from the first week in February. The other averages were down smaller percentages, the least of which was the NASDAQ, with just over one percent to the downside, staggered by the S&P (-2.04%) and the NYSE Composite (-2.53%).

Bonds were less volatile for the week as a whole, as the 10-year-note stabilized around 2.85%, finishing officially at 2.86%. Crude oil weakened, though not much, and gas prices eased a little as refiners switch over from winter to summer blends. With the US Dollar Index firming up early in the week, precious metals took it on the chin, but both gold and silver rebounded on Thursday and Friday as the short-lived dollar rally faded.

Most of the ballyhoo was over President Trump's announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, with a 25% fee on the former and a 10% duty on the latter. Critics mouthed off about rising prices on everything from automobiles to beer, though the effects are likely to be negligible. A 12-pack of beer is expected to cost about two cents more if duty-added aluminum is used, while a car contains roughly a ton of steel, which at $750 a ton, will amount to an additional $250 in the price of the already-bloated cost of a new vehicle.

Some countries are already crying foul, the loudest being Canada, from which the US imports the most steel, but many products from Canada, including lumber, are already highly regulated on the producer end, so even despite the NAFTA agreements, the US's neighbor to the North likely has little upon which to argue unfairness.

On the main, it was a poor week for stock holders, with mounting declines heading back toward the lows reached in the early days of February. The only index that can claim victory for the first two months of the year is the NASDAQ, holding tenuously onto a roughly three percent gain, with the S&P flat for the year, the Composite and Dow down the most, but none more than 2% for the annum.

Looking ahead, the FOMC is set to meet on March 16, with expectations of another 25 basis point hike to the federal funds rate. That is still disquieting to equity longs, and feeding into the ongoing rout in stocks. The week ahead will be indicative of the market's ability to digest another rate hike. So far, it's done well enough, but there is a point at which nearly risk-free yields will attract more money. Buoying up the stock market are massive buybacks, however, courtesy of the recent tax bill passed late last year. While companies that have been handing out bonuses have received most of the headlines, little to no reporting has been done on the same companies buying back even more of their own stock in an effort to assuage shareholders and keep their stock prices afloat at high tide.

How much money will be pumped back into stocks by the very owners and executives of said stocks is unknown, but eventually the tap will run dry and then interest rates will look more and more attractive. Without the buybacks of recent years, stocks would be more fairly valued, rather than being excessively overpriced as they have been for some time.

Sideways could be the most-favored direction for the next few weeks and months, with many experts calling for the eventual market blowout decline sometime in the third quarter (July-September), which would fit with the anti-Trump narrative leading into November's midterm elections.

Now the markets have not only become algo-driven and reactionary, but they are soon-to-be politically-charged as well.

Dow Jones Industrial Average March Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
3/1/18 24,608.98 -420.22 -420.22
3/2/18 24,538.06 -70.92 -491.14

At the Close, Friday, March 2, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,538.06, -70.92 (-0.29%)
NASDAQ: 7,257.87, +77.31 (+1.08%)
S&P 500: 2,691.25, +13.58 (+0.51%)
NYSE Composite: 12,557.99, +39.26 (+0.31%)

For the Week:
Dow: -771.93 (-3.05%)
NASDAQ: -79.52 (-1.08%)
S&P 500: -56.05 (-2.04%)
NYSE Composite: -326.12 (-2.53%)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Turnaround Tuesday: Stocks Sink Into S---Hole

After soaring over 26,000 in the early going, the Dow Jones Industrial Average - and the rest of the main US indices - took an ugly turn to the negative, an elongated move which comprised nearly the entirety of the trading session.

The Dow, once as high as 26,086.12 fell to an intra-day low of 25,702.99, a 383-point decline. The blue chips gathered some momentum at the close, likely the work of short-covering, as sellers dominated the day's activity.

While the Dow finished with just a blemish, the NASDAQ was more badly injured, dropping nearly half a percentage point, though it too was soaring earlier in the session, as were the S&P and Composite.

There was little news upon which to hang the selling spree and it came as quite a surprise in the opening session following the MLK holiday. The energy and basic materials sectors took most of the downside, falling by 1.16% and 1.43%, respectively. Crude oil lost three-quarters of a percent, with WTI crude ending the day at 63.82 per barrel. The abrupt turnaround in the oil price could be the canary in the coal mine, but perhaps the biggest story of the day was the almighty US dollar, which fell to a three-year low, bottoming out at 90.28, the worst intra-day price since December, 2014.

Having the dollar and oil fall in unison is not the usual course of business. Such activity is the stuff that keeps the stomachs churning on Wall Street. No doubt, copious amounts of bismuth subsalicylate were consumed by belly-aching analysts.

If not apparent enough already, Tuesday's action prompted more than a few to reconsider portfolio allocations and question whether or not the Fed really does have the market's back.

Fear of sliding into some kind of hell hole or other equally unattractive place became paramount throughout the day.

Congress has three days in which to craft some kind of compromise budget, risking yet another blow to its already badly-damaged reputation.

At the Close, Tuesday, January 16,2018:
Dow: 25,792.86, -10.33 (-0.04%)
NASDAQ: 7,223.69, -37.38 (-0.51%)
S&P 500: 2,776.42, -9.82 (-0.35%)
NYSE Composite: 13,247.85, -46.49 (-0.35%)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Stocks Unimpressed With FOMC Decision; Dollar Dashed

The Fomc wrapped up a relatively uneventful meeting Wednesday, keeping rates unchanged and saying little to nothing about winding down the Fed's bloated balance sheet.

After two hikes already this year, rates will almost surely remain on hold until December and an announcement that the Federal Reserve is ready to shed assets may come at the September meeting, according to knowledgeable experts on the subject. Having been sufficiently prepped and prodded, the Fed can feel some confidence that a beginning of an asset unloading program won't upset the status quo too awfully much.

The one kicker is that the wildly out-of-control federal government faces a potentially debilitating debt ceiling debate and a testy budget process in September, but that will come only after congress has taken a month's vacation, pending Obamacare replace and/or repeal legislation currently under consideration in the Senate.

Nothing the Fed does can accurately predict what the paid lackeys... er, prostitutes, er, politicians will do when the rubber meets the road in terms of the soon-to-be $20 trillion national debt. Chances are good that they'll punt, laying one deep and long, giving themselves room to survive the midterm elections in 2018. One person who does not have to suffer any kind of electoral fate in that year is President Trump, who is almost certain to have boisterous opinions on the matter of the debt ceiling and federal government budget.

There are wild card outcomes which the Fed is unable to predict no matter how deep or thorough their modeling, which raises the possibility for abrupt changes in policy, and the jokers dealt by the government are not the only potential surprises. Geopolitics - specifically, North Korea, Ukraine, Iran, or Syria - may play a role in future policies, as could any number of scenarios, from ECB jump-starting their own tapering, Japan failing to follow through with continued buying of equities, or, perhaps a war between China and India stemming from border disputes in and near the Himalaya mountains. Go figure.

As far as stock movements and reactions to the FOMC nothing-burger issued today, the markets basically were held in suspended animation afterwards with a slight bias to the downside.

The outsize gains on the DJIA were largely the result of Boeing's (BA) monstrous 9.2% spike today (biggest day for BA since 10/28/08), responsible for 132 Dow points. So, essentially, the remainder of the Dow was lower, only lifted higher by the flighty airline manufacturer. Only 13 Dow components were higher, 17 lower, led down by Nike and McDonald's, the latter having made new all-time highs just yesterday, which is alarming, since what the company passes off for food has recently reached new lows. Must be their outstanding customer service or something else casual consumers just don't see or understand. Share of MCD are massively overpriced, with earnings per share of 6.25 and a stock price of roughly 156 translating to a P/E of 25. Shareholders and executives (neither of which actually eat at any of their own restaurants) are "loving' it."

The dollar got whiplashed lower, sending (alarm bells) gold and silver higher. Also on the run is the price of crude oil, as the latest reports showed a massive draw, though gasoline inventories were built. Once more, the people actually using the stuff - drivers - just don't get it, apparently.

At the Close, 7/26/17:
Dow: 21,711.01, +97.58 (0.45%)
NASDAQ: 6,422.75, +10.57 (0.16%)
S&P 500 2,477.83: 0.70 (0.03%)
NYSE Composite: 11,964.92, -0.80 (-0.01%)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Back To School Not For All; Trump Surges

Well, it's still summer for those of us who go by the calendar rather than a Labor Day or back-to-school regimen.

Actually, most of us hated school, didn't we? And work isn't much better, so... retirement?

Good luck with that.

In any case, stocks are confused, but oil dipped to its lowest level in weeks, which should set firre to the bears' feet. They'll be coming out of summer slumber soon enough to catch another downdraft is our guess, even though the Fed dare not raise the federal funds rate next week.

The likelihood of a Trump presidency grows larger with each passing day, which is enough to cause serious sickness across the investing spectrum, although his victory will prove a dynamic positive in the long run.

It's the short term that scares most people.

Wednesday's Woes:
Dow Jones Industrial Average
18,034.77, -31.98 (-0.18%)

5,173.77, 18.52 (0.36%)

S&P 500
2,125.77, -1.25 (-0.06%)

NYSE Composite
10,511.54, -23.82 (-0.23%)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dow Closes Above 18,000; SPX Within 15 Points Of All-Time High; Silver Rockets Over 17; Cruce Oil At 11-Month High

No commentary required.

S&P 500: 2,119.12, +6.99 (0.33%)
Dow: 18,005.05, +66.77 (0.37%)
NASDAQ: 4,974.64, +12.89 (0.26%)

Crude Oil 51.52 +0.57% Gold 1,266.90 +0.36% EUR/USD 1.1402 +0.02% 10-Yr Bond 1.71 -0.41% Corn 432.50 +1.11% Copper 2.07 +0.34% Silver 17.11 +0.77% Natural Gas 2.85 -0.28% Russell 2000 1,188.95 +0.76% VIX 14.08 +0.21% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4522 +0.03% USD/JPY 106.8950 0.00%

Monday, May 9, 2016

China's Commodity Carnage Crushes Crude, PMs

Overnight, China stocks fell as more poor economic data was presented, as hopes for a domestic recovery were sidelined by declining import and export data.

Additionally, commodity prices were negatively affected by government regulations which aim to crack down on speculation.

This translated into a very confused day for equity pros, though commodity traders apparently had the sell button surgically attached to their index fingers, with prices for oil down more than three percent while gold and silver took deep declines.

At the end of the day, stocks leveled off roughly where they began the day, though markets appear vulnerable to a downturn.

Monday's Mingle:
S&P 500: 2,058.69, +1.55 (0.08%)
Dow: 17,705.91, -34.72 (0.20%)
NASDAQ: 4,750.21, +14.05 (0.30%)

Crude Oil 43.24 -3.18% Gold 1,265.80 -0.06% EUR/USD 1.1382 -0.02% 10-Yr Bond 1.76 -1.07% Corn 369.25 -2.19% Copper 2.10 -0.19% Silver 17.07 -0.14% Natural Gas 2.10 -0.24% Russell 2000 1,118.25 +0.32% VIX 14.57 -1.02% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4410 +0.03% USD/JPY 108.4335 -0.01%

Friday, April 29, 2016

Rough Week For Stocks; Gold, Silver Outperform Everything

A frantic, algo-churning, late-day rally brought the US averages back to respectability, but stocks ended the week - and the month of April (no window dressing) - on a sour note Friday, with all the averages losing, but especially the NASDAQ, down more than 2.5% on the week.

The week's events included an ostensibly neutral FOMC policy meeting midweek, at which the Fed kept rates at their unusually-accomodative level, prompting speculation that their next meeting (June) might indeed move the federal funds rate from its current level of 0.25-0.50, another 25 basis points higher, to 0.50 to 0.75.

With credibility becoming more and more of an issue for central bankers globally, the rationale for another rate hike is obvious, though the wisdom of one would be suspect. A rise in rates would likely trigger another waterfall event in equities, something which the Fed wishes to avoid with all due intent.

However, with CPI running below their desired level of 2.0% and news Friday that first quarter GDP was an anemic 0.5%, barely above recession level, the assorted Ph.d. crowd in Washington seems trapped once more.

Looking ahead, the big number for the week will be Friday, when non-farm payrolls for April are released prior to the market open. In the interim, more companies will be reporting first quarter results, which have been moribund for the most part.

If trends continue at the current pace and in the same direction, there would be almost no reason for the Fed to raise rates in June, excepting that the almighty dollar may be coming under further pressure. The unwind of the USD/JPY pair carry trade is putting downward pressure on the dollar and doesn't appear to be abating.

If there was one bright spot for the manipulators-in-charge, it was in the oil patch, with WTI crude trading at multiple-month highs. With an enormous glut still affecting worldwide prices coupled with the refusal of major producers to slow their production speaks volumes to the lack of democracy in what should be a strict supply-demand market. Prices have nearly doubled since touching down in the $26 range earlier in the year, a move that may prove problematic and unsustainable.

More challenges to the status quo will appear this week and beyond, as there is almost nobody who believes in the tortured figures the BLS produces for jobs. Any uptick in the unemployment rate will be a shock and a body blow to the Fed's plans, with the potential not only of a complete stoppage rate increase talk, but a potential reversal and the specter of NIRP (negative interest rate policy), the same that has swept Japan and Europe to - and possibly over - the edge of the monetary cliff.

Meanwhile, the herd appears to be turning to investments without counter-party risk and no interest: gold and silver, which don't pay dividends but also do not require storage by a bank (unless in enormous quantity). It certainly seems that the age of fiat money is wobbling badly.

For the week:
Dow: -229.97 (1.28%)
S&P 500: -26.27 (1.26%)
NASDAQ: -130.87 (2.67%)

Friday's (un)Funnies:
S&P 500: 2,065.30, -10.51 (0.51%)
Dow: 17,773.64, -57.12 (0.32%)
NASDAQ: 4,775.36, -29.93 (0.62%)

Crude Oil 45.99 -0.09% Gold 1,296.30 +2.36% EUR/USD 1.1452 +0.88% 10-Yr Bond 1.82 -1.03% Corn 391.50 +0.06% Copper 2.28 +2.04% Silver 17.88 +1.63% Natural Gas 2.14 +3.03% Russell 2000 1,130.84 -0.84% VIX 15.72 +3.29% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4610 +0.04% USD/JPY 106.3900 -1.58%

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bad News Sends Stocks, Oil, Higher; Silver Outshines All

Stocks moved higher based on nothing other than an "informed diplomatic source" that said Russia and Saudi Arabia had agreed to freeze oil production. Along with stocks, oil futures moved notably higher, topping $41.50 a barrel.

The news was taken with so much enthusiasm that traders apparently forgot that there exists a worldwide glut of crude oil larger than any before it. They also disregarded obvious topping patterns in stocks and upcoming earnings reports, including those of the big banks which happen to be saddled with bad oil loans.

News that the IMF cut its global growth forecast for 2016 for the fourth time in a year, backing it off to 3.2%, was also disregarded, as was the US March budget deficit came in at double what it was last year, a whopping $108 billion.

In an unrelated move, silver continued its non-stop ascent, closing in New York at its highest price since late October of 2015, topping $16/ounce for the first time this year. The price of silver has risen more than 8% in the past week.

S&P 500: 2,061.72, +19.73 (0.97%)
Dow: 17,721.25, +164.84 (0.94%)
NASDAQ: 4,872.09, +38.69 (0.80%)

Crude Oil 41.56 +2.97% Gold 1,257.40 -0.05% EUR/USD 1.1390 -0.12% 10-Yr Bond 1.78 +3.31% Corn 361.25 +1.26% Copper 2.15 +2.85% Silver 16.22 +1.50% Natural Gas 2.02 +5.60% Russell 2000 1,105.71 +1.04% VIX 14.85 -8.67% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4269 +0.24% USD/JPY 108.5655 +0.57%

Monday, April 4, 2016

April's Fools

Having been given the green light by Janet Yellen and her uber-dovish comments concerning the relaxed pace of interest rate increases, stocks closed Friday at their best levels of the year, erasing any nasty remembrances of the January and early February slump.

Monday brought the blues, a touch of reality, and maybe a case of buyer's remorse, as the major averages began the first full trading week of the month in a depressed vein.

Leading the charge to the downside was the usual culprit, crude oil, which slipped below $36/barrel on the current contract. The consistency of the oil slump can be attributed to a variety of causes, though the most obvious is slow or absent global economic growth. Major developed nations find themselves in a horrible bind due to limited opportunity for wage growth and slack demand for everything from farm equipment to fancy glasses.

While cheerleaders in the media are reluctant to mention any news which might be construed as even remotely negative, there is no mistaking the demographics of the developed world. Europe, Japan, and increasingly, the United States bear aging populations with no viable means of escape from the financial vortex of ultra-low interest rates except via the ultimate demise, death.

What the central banks and central planners of advanced economies have wrought with their ham-handed zero interest (and lower) environment is a world in which aging people without advancing incomes or prospects for opportunity have no viable means of protecting their savings. For those younger, saving is also crimped by these lower rates, pushing entire populations into risky, often leveraged investment schemes.

Economists have historical reference to ages marked by financial repression such as the current one, and they nearly always end in disaster, war, and a reordering of the global economic condition. Central banks desire inflation anywhere, while the population cries out for avenues for saving, putting the monetary system and the realities of life on a direct collision course.

The central banks must certainly know that there is nowhere out of this condition, but they are reluctant - indeed, they are violently opposed to the idea - to balance growth, productivity, wages and wealth creation. They have become the worst nightmare of the people, bent only toward risk in financial instruments, and against anything that might promote the general well-being. They have become the enemy of savers, anathema to the aging, and a net detraction from productive economies everywhere.

Perhaps it is all part of their plan, but, if it is, such a plan has been well-hidden because nobody with any amount of wealth or savings can see the wisdom of it. Unless stocks continue to rise in value forever - a distinct impossibility - humanity will be at the mercy of a small, useless band of monetarists who have not, as yet, propositioned any plan for the past seven years other than to cut interest rates and hope.

And we all know that hope is not a strategy.

S&P 500: 2,066.13, -6.65 (0.32%)
Dow: 17,737.00, -55.75 (0.31%)
NASDAQ: 4,891.80, -22.75 (0.46%)

Crude Oil 35.81 -2.66% Gold 1,216.90 -0.54% EUR/USD 1.1392 -0.02% 10-Yr Bond 1.78 -0.73% Corn 354.50 +0.14% Copper 2.14 -0.97% Silver 14.94 -0.74% Natural Gas 2.00 +2.45% Russell 2000 1,109.06 -0.77% VIX 14.17 +8.17% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4264 +0.30% USD/JPY 111.3450 -0.28%

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Yellen Spikes The Punch Bowl With Dovish Comments

In a midday speech before the Economic Club of New York, Janet Yellen's comments included comments concerning weak growth abroad, low oil prices and uncertainty over China, saying that the Federal Reserve would proceed "cautiously" on further rate hikes this year.

At their March meet two weeks ago, the FOMC of the Fed lowered the number of expected rate hikes from four to two for 2016, and Yellen's speech today was the first public commentary form the Fed Chair since that time.

Other members had voiced opinions which could be considered mildly hawkish, but Yellen was decidedly dovish in today's prepared remarks.

Obviously, Wall Street was rather pleased with the Fed Chair's stock market elixir, sending the S&P 500 to its highest level of 2016. Stocks ended a five-week streak of positive gains with a lower close last week, but Yellen and her friends at the Fed apparently didn't want the market to turn down again.

With the kind of policy the Fed has been brandishing for the past seven years, stocks should be headed back toward all-time highs in due time, likely within the next few months. With the Dow running up a spectacular 2000 points in the last six-plus weeks, the DJIA stands just more than 700 points from the record set last year (May: 18,351.36).

The S&P needs to gain another 80 points to surpass the all-time high of last May (2134.72).

Party on, Janet!

S&P 500: 2,055.01, +17.96 (0.88%)
Dow: 17,633.11, +97.72 (0.56%)
NASDAQ: 4,846.62, +79.84 (1.67%)

Crude Oil 38.49 -2.28% Gold 1,242.50 +1.84% EUR/USD 1.1293 +0.87% 10-Yr Bond 1.81 -2.99% Corn 372.25 +0.47% Copper 2.21 -1.49% Silver 15.36 +1.12% Natural Gas 1.98 +2.38% Russell 2000 1,109.08 +2.67% VIX 13.82 -9.32% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4387 +0.92% USD/JPY 112.6685 -0.69%