Showing posts with label gas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gas. Show all posts

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dow, S&P Gain Third Straight Day; Fed Buying Evident

There are signs everywhere that the Federal Reserve has taken an active role in the stock market, especially in the US, but probably abroad as well, in cahoots with their central bank partners, as stocks have recovered sharply over the past three days after being battered by fears stemming from the coronavirus global pandemic, or COVID-19.

Probably the most glaring evidence - outside of the Dow's near-500-point gain in the final 12 minutes of trading Thursday - is the ballooning of the Fed's balance sheet, which has grown by $507,323,000,000 ($507.323 billion) in just seven days, from March 18 to the 25th.

Being almost completely transparent, the Fed, in recent days has announced that they would purchase everything from municipal debt, to corporate debt, to exchange traded funds (ETFs) in the open market in order to "stabilize" the situation. There's one good reason why the Dow was up 1,351 points on a day that started with the announcement that more than three million Americans has lost their jobs in the past week, and it's because the Federal Reserve, with literally unlimited amounts of buying power, was actively in the market.

While this will come as a surprise to pretty much 90% of all Americans, central bank direct activity in equity markets has been an open secret in financial circles for at least the past decade. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) and Bank of Japan are major shareholders in many corporations, including Apple (AAPL) and many others. The BOJ has been buying ETFs in earnest since as early as 2012, when their balance sheet exploded from 150 trillion yen ($138 billion US) to 550 ($506 billion US). Today, the Bank of Japan owns stocks and bonds equal to the country's entire economic output, or 100% of GDP. In essence, the Bank of Japan owns the Japanese economy. It is the Japanese economy and a similar scenario is beginning to emerge in the United States, and likely in the European Union as well.

Other independent central banks in Australia, Canada, England, Brazil, and elsewhere are probably considering doing the same in their stock markets if they haven't already.

It's not as though central banks are complete foreigners to intervention in markets. They've completely distorted the capital markets for years, buying up agency (government) debt and mortgage-backed securities en masse before and after the Great Financial Crisis in 2007-09 to the point at which trillions of dollars in government bonds carry negative yields.

So, instead of just buying debt, why not stocks? Ask your broker. I'm sure he or she will have a ready answer after convulsing on the floor in either laughter or tears.

Elsewhere, treasury yields fell across the spectrum, the 10-year note checking in at 0.83%. Gold and silver have returned to being an afterthought in the futures market and largely unavailable in physical quantities. Gold is still testing recent multi-year highs, closing up $11.60 on Thursday to $1624.50 per ounce. Silver closed down slightly to $14.41 in the futures market. Meanwhile, dealers report widespread shortages amid massive demand for "everyman's gold."

Being that silver is so much less expensive than gold, it is available to anybody with a couple of sawbucks. Thus, it is THE prime target of central banks, as their greatest fear is to have a competing currency accepted by the middle and lower classes. It would kind of ruin their monopoly on currency. It's been going on for hundreds of years and isn't likely to change soon.

Oil was beaten down again on Thursday, with WTI crude closing out at $22.60 a barrel, down nearly two dollars from Wednesday's finishing price. Unleaded gasoline is cheap around the globe, the irony being, with so many coronavirus lockdowns or "stay at home" orders in place, gas is a bargain, but nobody can go anywhere.

At the Close, Thursday, March 26, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 22,552.17, +1,351.62 (+6.38%)
NASDAQ: 7,797.54, +413.24 (+5.60%)
S&P 500: 2,630.07, +154.51 (+6.24%)
NYSE: 10,536.28, +574.89 (+5.77%)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Oil and Gas Price Hikes Are a Central Banker Scam

Reiterating what was posted here Sunday in the Weekend Wrap, a recent article by Lance Roberts at Real Investment Advice, brings home the bacon in detail, of how the bottom 80% of all US workers, i.e., earners, is carrying a high debt burden that today cannot even cover basic necessities.

The consumer squeeze is in focus after the attacks on a Saudi oilfield and the Abqaiq refinery, which, according to most sources, will affect five percent of global oil supply. Somehow, cutting off five percent of global supply magically raises oil prices 15 percent.

Without anybody knowing exactly who is behind the attacks, many fingers are being pointed toward Iran, naturally, since the Iranians are fighting a proxy war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen. has a solid account with photos of how the attack might have been staged, who was behind it and future implications.

From a central banker's perspective, the attack and subsequent rise in the global price of oil could not be more opportune on a number of fronts. First, in desperate need of inflation, the bankers get the gift of core inflation in both PPI and CPI. Second, the rise in the price of oil, translated to gas at the pump and some home heating fuel, will show up in the convoluted GDP calculations, just in time for the third quarter and also adding a boost to the fourth if high prices persist.

Further down the road, high input prices and consumer prices for oil and gas should put the brakes on the economy eventually, putting a dent in discretionary spending which could spark a recession in 2020, just in time for the November US elections. Sure, higher prices and profits are good for some, for a while, but eventually, high gas prices act effectively as a tax on all consumers.

If you happen to be a central banker, this sounds great, doesn't it?

There are also political and financial aspects to the story. The attacks come right on the heels of President Trump's firing of John Bolton, the infamous neocon whose penchant for war with Iran was no secret. Conspiracy theorists believe this was long-ago planned, but Bolton's removal as National Security Advisor to the president was the trigger.

There's also the upcoming IPO of Saudi Aramco to consider. Initially, following the attack, the Saudis hinted that they would delay their long-awaited IPO, but now, a day beyond, they say they will forge ahead as planned. At issue is valuation. The Saudis believe the company should be worth $2 trillion at IPO, while the consensus among bankers handling the deal have the figure closer to $1.5 trillion. A lasting boost in the price of oil would naturally add to the valuation, bringing it closer to the level desired by the Saudis, who, after all, have control of the flow of oil, but not the price.

With no culprit positively identified, the entire affair looks to be highly organized - from the accuracy of the missiles and/or drones employed in the attack to the coordinated record trading in the oil futures pits - and the work of people or nations with an agenda. While this may appear far fetched to some, the power of the globalist banking cartel is well-known and could be pulling all the strings behind the scenes. It is not outside the realm of possibility that deep state globalists staged the attacks and price surge. It's also possible the the attacks were completely faked, just to get the price of oil higher.

There has been a glut of global oil supply since the US embarked on its fracking and shale output, becoming the world leader a few years ago. Russia is also pumping like mad, as are most of the OPEC nations. The amount of oil on world markets is so large that even small disruptions should not affect price - which has been falling for over a year - very much, but, in this case, it did.

While there isn't much the general population as a whole can do about higher gas prices outside of mass protests (a likelihood in Europe), there are a few actions the average motorist can take.
  • Plan driving trips - organize your schedule to include multiple stops, thus reducing the amount of gas used rather than making individual trips for each task
  • Seek lower prices - use online resources like to find the lowest prices in your area.
  • Ride-sharing - organize with neighbors, friends and co-workers to share rides heading in similar directions.
  • Drive smarter - slower speeds, properly inflated tires, and good driving habits can significantly reduce your fuel usage.
  • Avoid wasted trips - deciding whether or not a trip is an absolute necessity can cut your overall fuel consumption considerably.
You don't have to buy into the price panic the global banking cartel seeks to impose upon you. As an end-user, you have to power of decision and information at your fingertips to help make wise choices. Share information with your friends, relatives and co-workers. A loose band of informed citizens can thwart the intentions the central bankers. Reduced demand should result in lower prices, eventually.

Most of all, don't buy into the media hype over gas prices, recession or any other narrative (like climate change) that the media water-carriers throw at you.

At the Close, Monday, September 16, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,076.82, -142.70 (-0.52%)
NASDAQ: 8,156.40, +2.86 (+0.04%)
S&P 500: 2,994.17, -3.79 (-0.13%)
NYSE Composite: 13,107.98, -16.36 (-0.12%)

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%)

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%)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Gold, Silver Rise as Banks, Energy Stocks in Market Crosshairs

Being that the US equity markets are almost 100% likely to end the month with losses, the opening of the final week of January trading may have been significant if only for the direction of a select number of trading vehicles.

Obviously, energy stocks were once again in focus after last week's faux rally on actual inventory builds, though the pundits of oil slickery are blaming today's demise on the record weekend blizzard that decimated the Northeast.

As lame as it may sound, having the I-95 corridor out of commission for the better part of three to four days is certain to result in growth of the oil and distillate glut that has been plaguing the markets for the past 18 months. The logic is simple: if people aren't driving, nobody's buying gas, and that is exactly what the market doesn't want to hear, especially those of the camp who still believe in the peak oil myth and would like nothing better than to cripple the middle class with another round of crushing gas prices at the pump.

Sadly for them, no such thing is about to occur, and, after being goosed nearly 20% last week, WTI crude took a turn to the downside again, off almost 6% on the day, closing just a nod above $30 per barrel. With the canard of higher oil prices (last week was a serious short squeeze) out of the way, oil majors Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) - both Dow components - both declined by more than three percent.

Also taken down a few notches were banks, especially Bank of America (BAC), which closed below 13 at 12.96, a one-day four percent drop, now down a solid 30% from its recent 52-week high (18.48). Investors and specs are concerned not only with BAC's exposure to the oil patch and fracking concerns, which have been going belly-up since last Autumn, but with the overall health of the banking sector. Reminded that the nation's largest banks had to be bailed out during the sub-prime crisis just eight years ago, stock players don't need much to arouse their worst suspicions, that the balance sheets of the big money center banks are still not exactly transparent.

Citigroup (C) also was on the chopping block, losing 3.35%, extending its decline since May to a third of its value, from 60.95 to today's close at 39.55.

Meanwhile, gold and silver put on tidy gains, with gold edging up nearly $10, from $1098/oz. at Friday's close to a finish in US markets at $1107.90 today. Silver gained, from an even $14 to $14.23 on the day.

Overall, stocks were exposed again, with US indices staying in the red all day long, the selling accelerating during the afternoon and into the close. It was an inauspicious start to the week in a month that has been nothing short of embarrassing for Wall Street's perms-bulls.

Today's Closing Prices:
S&P 500: 1,877.08, -29.82 (1.56%)
Dow: 15,885.22, -208.29 (1.29%)
NASDAQ: 4,518.49, -72.69 (1.58%)

Crude Oil 30.33 -5.78% Gold 1,105.60 +0.85% EUR/USD 1.0849 +0.47% 10-Yr Bond 2.0220 -1.27% Corn 369.25 -0.27% Copper 1.99 -0.47% Silver 14.23 +1.23% Natural Gas 2.16 +0.84% Russell 2000 997.37 -2.28% VIX 24.15 +8.10% BATS 1000 19,941.58 -1.78% GBP/USD 1.4246 -0.19% USD/JPY 118.3035 -0.36%

Monday, December 14, 2015

Is a Global Recession Just Ahead, or, A Global Depression?

Gas prices at the pump haven't been this low since 2009, though the prices back then maintained for a very brief time, as oil plummeted during the financial crisis (remember that?), but quickly rebounded as the Fed and other central banks added extreme amounts of liquidity to markets globally and before long, crude oil was back in the $90-100/barrel range.

Last year, the price of a barrel of crude - both Brent and WTI - began a precipitous decline, cutting in half the traded price. As 2014 turned to 2015 and many culprits were blamed (Saudi Arabia, US frackers, Russia(?), the price continued to hover in the $45-65 range. By late summer, all bets were off as the price of a barrel of crude fell into the low-$40 range, and then this month declined into the 30s.

While gas at $2/gallon and lower is a boon for drivers, especially in the US, where commuters and businesses were burdened with gas above $3.00 and sometimes over $4/gallon for years, it's not such a great deal for oil producers, especially the aforementioned frackers, whose marginal profitable price per barrel was estimated at somewhere between $45 and $75 per barrel.

Plenty of rigs have gone idle, but debt has to be serviced, and most of these drillers are on the hook for millions, borrowed from banks when the getting was good, now having to pay back the costs of exploration, drilling and extraction while operating at a loss.

The oil patch is just one element of the global liquidity crunch which may be about to enter a new, more dangerous phase, when, in two days time, the FOMC of the Federal Reserve is supposed to raise the federal funds rate for the first time in more than seven years.

The Fed plans to set the rate at 0.25% for money banks can borrow from the Fed, and, while that may not sound like a big deal to most, it certainly is to banks and corporations, which have been borrowing and spending at record paces since mid-2009.

With the FOMC rate policy decision now less than 48 hours away, there's a growing nervousness on Wall Street over this unprecedented move by the Fed. It's unprecedented because there's a vast amount of evidence that the bubble the Fed has blown is about to be not only pricked, but popped and blown wide open. Simply put, the party is about to end, and the drunks on the dance floor will be looking for a ride home, but nobody will be available for a safe trip, because not just the investment and corporate community, but the Fed itself, is staggering and woozy.

It may be a big, bad boogey man, like the 2000 scare, or the Mayan calendar, or those pesky asteroids which dare to come within 100,000 miles of dear planet earth. Or, it could be the real thing.

Nothing lasts forever, and, from the looks of the bond, commodity, and emerging markets, the long "recovery" and stock market rally seems to have run out of steam. Global trade is down, global GDP keeps being revised lower, US manufacturing is fading, China is becoming a basket case. It all points to reduced growth, or, in proper recession terms, negative growth.

If you're in the market, there's still a day and a half to get out, and probably more, if you can handle small losses. If you're not in the market, but still have to drive, eat, and breath, good news. In recessions and, especially, depressions, everything (except debt) is cheaper.

Hedge, buy, or sell accordingly.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Boffo Week for Stocks; Gas Prices on the Rise

For investors, a week nearly devoid of any actionable news resulted in one of the best weekly gains in stocks of the year.

On the week, stocks roared higher, much of the gains based on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's dovish comments on unemployment and the economy following the close of trading on Wednesday. Fed governor James Bullard - the most dovish of the flock of doves comprising the Fed governors - chimed in late Friday to add more fuel to the hot money rally.

The weekly gains:
Dow: +328.46 (2.17%)
S&P 500: +48.30 (2.96%)
NASDAQ: +120.70 (3.47%)

That's it in a nutshell. Just remember that nothing matters except the words coming out of Fed members' mouths.

On the downside, oil prices have spiked higher, consequently raising the price of fuel at the pump. According to AAA, gas prices nationally rose an average of 7 1/2 cents this week to $3.550 for unleaded regular, but the price pass-along to stations has only just begun. Drivers should brace for gas at $3.80 to over $4.00, depending on location, long before Labor Day.

Dow 15,464.30, +3.38(0.02%)
NASDAQ 3,600.08, +21.78(0.61%)
S&P 500 1,680.19, +5.17(0.31%)
NYSE Composite 9,493.20, -0.06 (0.00%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,487,364,375
NYSE Volume 3,132,032,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3295-3092
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 543-27
WTI crude oil: 105.95, +1.04
Gold: 1,277.60, -2.30
Silver: 19.79, -0.164

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stocks Socked Again on Earnings, Revenue Misses

Today's decline had no end-of-day rally from which to save itself. Stocks were down from open to close, and hard, owing mostly to a continuing spate of earnings disappointments and negative guidance outlooks.

Today's main culprits were a trio of Dow components, DuPont (DD), 3M (MMM) and United Technologies (UTX), though DuPont was clearly the worst of the bunch, recording a third quarter profit of just one cent per share, far below analyst estimates of 46 cents per share.

That report, early in the morning, hours before the market opened, sent futures crashing, so that the Dow opened with a triple digit loss in the first minutes of trading. Stocks could not recover, as it is quickly becoming clear that corporate earnings and revenues are lacking - 60% of companies reporting thus far have missed revenue estimates, many of which have been radically lowered. Meanwhile, Europe's woes continue to weight on markets globally, as the bourses across the continent showed heavy losses again.

The race for president also added to investor dismay, the predominant thinking that President Obama clearly outclassed challenger Mitt Romney in Monday night's final debate, focused on foreign policy, an obvious weak spot for the Republican. According to the best guesses on investor sentiment concerning the election, an Obama victory would be bad for stocks, because Obama favors more regulation and higher taxes for high wage earners, while Romney would likely favor policies which generally leave the status quo alone, allowing the abuses of the rich to continue and the wealth gap to widen.

All politics aside, it is actually fundamentals - for a welcome change - that are driving the most recent declines. Companies are reporting an assortment of earnings misses and sour outlooks for the remainder of 2012 and 2013, based almost entirely on current conditions, which have consumers strapped, governments broke and debt levels for all, unsustainable.

Where stocks will go from here is unknown, though all of the major indices have broken below their 50-day moving averages, generally a sign of more bad days to come.

Additionally, the advance-decline line has deteriorated badly over the past week, as has new highs-new lows, finally capitulating, with new 52-week lows outpacing new highs, 129-53

Dow components reporting on Wednesday include AT&T (T) and Boeing (BA), just a pair in a slew of over 400 companies that will be reporting throughout the day. Both of the Dow components report prior to the market open.

The silver lining in the recent declines is the slump in oil and gas prices. Motorists are already seeing 12-15 cent reductions in the price of a gallon of regular gas, with more easing to come, as crude oil is in the midst of a severe mean reversion, which could bring the cost of a gallon of gas to below $3.00 in some areas.

A reduction in the price of gas could be just what the market needs in time for the holidays, critically important to markets and, well, kids.

Dow 13,102.53, -243.36 (1.82%)
NASDAQ 2,990.46, -26.50 (0.88%)
S&P 500 1,413.11, -20.71 (1.44%)
NYSE Composite 8,197.14, -132.05 (1.59%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,780,896,750
NYSE Volume 3,233,623,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1709-3814
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 53-129
WTI crude oil: 86.67, -1.98
Gold: 1,709.40, -16.90
Silver: 31.79, -0.459

Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Finishes Badly; PMI Weakest in Over Three Years

Considering the crush of bad data that the markets encountered this morning, today's marginal negative close was something of a marvel. In fact, had stocks not taken an abrupt U-turn in the final 20 minutes of trading, one could have said that markets were ignoring the headlines.

As a whole, the month of May was about as dismal as has been seen since the aftermath of the '08 collapse. Both the S&P 500 and the Dow were down roughly 6%, wiping out most of the gains of the year. Energy, financials and materials were the three hardest hit sectors. Crude oil took more than a 17% haircut during the month, putting it technically in a bear market.

The five positive days on the Dow for the month was the worst for May since 1969 and the 17 down days bettered a May mark dating back to 1956.

Among the data releases from the morning that set the overall tone for the US markets were the announced job cuts in May, that jumped 67% from a year ago according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the 133K private sector jobs created in the month - 24,000 lower than the estimate - according to ADT, 383K initial unemployment claims, and a drop in the second estimate of first quarter GDP to 1.9% from the 2.2% previously supplied.

All of those releases were prior to the opening bell, but at 10:00 am EDT the hammer hit the market hard, as the Chicago PMI dropped from 56.2 in April to a current reading of 52.7, the worst showing since September 2009.

With that announcement, stocks did a face-plant, with all of the major indices falling quickly to the lows of the day. There was no sign of capitulation, that likely being saved for Friday's non-farm payroll report, which has all investors walking on eggs this week.

Taking the bad economic news in usual shrugging-off fashion, stocks climbed back to positive territory - except for the NASDAQ which was down all day - nearing the close, but fell apart at the end, finishing May with one of the worst performances on record, the major indices clinging to smallish gains for the year and the major averages resting just above their 200-day moving averages.

With prospects for a robust reading on jobs from the BLS not encouraging, Friday appears to be shaping up as a make or break session, notwithstanding issues ranging from Europe to bank downgrades on the horizon.

The 10-year bond fell to another historic low, closing with a yield of 1.57%, indicative of a flight to safety as investors worry about recession in Europe and how a slowdown there will affect US firms, many of which derive a significant portion of their revenues from the crumbling continent. Also under consideration are how the continued crisis in Europe will affect US banks, some of which have significant exposure to various countries in the Eurozone.

Crude oil continued its relentless slide, hitting its lowest price level in seven months and down 17% in May alone. Oil futures have entered a bear market, more than 20% off their highs, a condition drivers can only celebrate, as the national average price of retail gas at the pump is down to $3.62 per gallon according to AAA's fuel gauge report.

With May out of the way, tomorrow's 8:30 am EDT announcement on payrolls could be a make-or-break event for markets teetering on the brink.

Dow 12,393.45, -26.41 (0.21%)
NASDAQ 2,827.34, -10.02 (0.35%)
S&P 500 1,310.33, -2.99 (0.23%)
NYSE Composite 7,464.45, -6.95 (0.09%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,090,245,500
NYSE Volume 4,434,600,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2760-2984
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 73-213
WTI crude oil: 86.53, -1.29
Gold: 1,562.60, -0.80
Silver: 27.76, -0.23

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday Turnaround Mostly Vapors and Short-Covering

Let's see if we can find the good news that took the Dow back from a morning loss of 94 points to a gain of nearly 20 points by day's end?

Initial employment claims came in at 359K on expectations of 350K and the prior week was revised higher, from 348K originally reported to 364K. Well, that can't be it.

The third and final estimate for fourth quarter 2011 GDP remained steady at 3.0%. Maybe.

Moody's downgraded five Portugese banks. Nope.

Gas at the pump is still hovering around the $3.90/gallon range, on average, across the United States. Hmmm, probably not.

Those were the major headlines and issues on this Turnaround Thursday, as all the major averages fell out of bed, then through the magic of computer-programmatic algorithms, found a suitable bottom and rose through the afternoon and into the close.

In days past, chartists would say that the market put in another, higher bottom, but this intra-day bottom happened to be the low for the week. In other words, the monster rally from Monday was all eaten up by greedy, high-powered day-traders who more or less control this thinly-traded market.

Now, volume was a bit more perky today, but that would be due likely to short covering and the fact that it takes more trades to move all the indices from a cratered loss to near the break-even point. All of it is rather meaningless, since only the major banks, brokerages, fund managers and some moribund hedge funds have actually been engaging in this casino-style market since the middle of 2010, right after the flash crash scared out the last remaining individual investors.

As mentioned in yesterday's post, this is all leading up to a big rally coming either Friday (1st quarter window dressing) or Monday (first trading day of the quarter), or both. Not that the end of a quarter or the beginning of one has anything to do with fundamentals, they're just when the big boys open and close their books, so it gives them something upon which to hang their hats.

The bull market that began in March of 2009 has been one of the best in history, with the major indices all up close to or more than 100% from the bottom. Doubling your money in three years is a trick only the magicians of Wall Street can perform, though they got plenty of help from the taxpayers and rich Uncle Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve.

In fact, uncle Ben is still pumping out scads of greenbacks to keep the rally going, because in case anyone cares to look at the Fed's policies of the past three to four years, the stock market gains are about the only positive result among them.

Sure, sure, everyone pats Bernanke on the back for "saving" the economy, but what he really saved was the banks, which had fallen over a solvency cliff. The government has been running record deficits ever since the '08 crash, the value of the dollar is on a gentle glide-path to zero, just like Ben's interest rates, inflation continues to ravage household budgets, while low interest rates on savings are killing seniors. Housing is still declining, another credit bubble - in the form of student loans, auto leases and credit cards - is forming rapidly and small business is too busy keeping up with Washington's rule changes and mountains of regulations to actually hire anyone or expand. Entrepreneurs have been completely scared off and looking to foreign shores for opportunity.

So, really, what did Ben Bernanke save besides his banking buddies and his own job? Oh, that's right, Europe. But, but, but, that's not his job, is it?

Dow 13,145.82, +19.61 (0.15%)
NASDAQ 3,095.36, -9.60 (0.31%)
S&P 500 1,403.28, -2.26 (0.16%)
NYSE Composite 8,166.37, -21.98 (0.27%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,755,819,875
NYSE Volume 3,772,621,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2268-3291
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 108-61
WTI crude oil: 102.78, -2.63
Gold: 1,652.20, -5.70
Silver: 31.99, +0.16

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Is the Crisis Deepening?; Meg Whitman, Prototypical CEO Failure

Well, the PPT must have gotten up early today, because no sooner did the Dow dip 50 points off the open than it was boosted to a 50 mark to the positive.

Was there a reason, a rationale? Sure. Stocks must go up to bolster the perception that all is well in the good old US of A.

Naturally, once the market was back on a solid we're-going-to-13,000 footing once again, the HFT momo-chasers went to work, keeping the abhorrent, clumsy, no-volume rally going for the remainder of the lackluster session.

With stocks just screaming higher and higher virtually every day, some elements on the general tenor of the stock market rally vis-a-vis the real world economy need to be scrutinized.

Oil continues to rocket higher, up over $108 per barrel in electronic trading late today. The Euro/Dollar trade continues to be the creepiest, most cynical lie to the world. How does the Euro, with most of Europe already in a recession and the rest of it teetering on one, continue to ramp higher against the US dollar? Aren't we supposed to be in better shape than the various countries making up the Eurozone? Apparently not, because the EUR/USD hit another high today, closing above 1.33. It simply makes no sense, except if you have significant positions (like Goldman Sachs does) long the Euro and the stock market.

Last we checked, GDP was still growing at less than 3% in the US, though in Europe, minus signs and fractions of one percent dot the landscape. America still has more than 14 million unemployed people, wages have been stagnant to lower for more than a decade and the real estate market is officially in depression-like throes.

Something is definitely not right, when the Euro is up while most of the continent is in recession, oil is ramping to record levels for this time of year despite all manner of data showing rampant demand destruction, gold and silver are ripping, yet the stock market continues to rise and rise and rise without so much as a 3% pull-back. The Dow Jones Industrials are up a wicked, unbelievable 2339 points since October 1, an incredible gain of 21.95% in less than five months. Yep, the rich are getting richer... again.

Watch retail analyst Howard Davidowitz rip apart the notion of "growth" in the video below:

Hundreds of stores closing from a handful of retailers; the rest, Davidowitz calls "train wrecks."

A couple of lines gleans from Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) newly-minted CEO, Meg Whitman, aptly demonstrate what's wrong with corporate and political America. First, Ms. Whitman, who, after a stint as the CEO of eBay, launched an unsuccessful bid for the governorship of California. Out of luck and out of a job, Meg was pegged to lead HPQ out of the abyss.

Good luck with that, you clueless board members. Whitman is uniquely suited to drive Hewlett Packard even deeper into an already well-dug hole. Her "success" at eBay can more or less be summed up in one line: A trained monkey could have done as well, and probably without alienating as many people, buyers and sellers alike.

Ebay was one of the few dotcom companies that fit the new paradigm of the internet perfectly, allowing small businesses and individuals to buy and sell just about anything under the sun. Ms. Whitman had, in reality, little to do with making the company a household name. It was all about eBay's near-monopolistic position in the online retail space that made the company a success. It would have actually been more of a surprise had she not succeeded. Meg Whitman didn't start the company. She got in when the getting was good.

In any case, here's some of the cliche claptrap that Whitman spewed on her CNBC interview this morning:
  • On the timing of HPQ's turnaround: "Fundamental change... will take some time."
  • On the challenges facing the company: "There are three 'buckets' of challenge: 1) basic execution, 2) each business has it's own unique challenges, 3) there have been changes in our business."
  • On HPQ's structure: "We have to zero-base the bureaucracy..."
  • "We have to save so we can invest and compete more effectively."
  • "We're not where we want to be in China." (Meg should know. Ebay shuttered its China operations under Whitman after years of abject failure and lack of traction.)
  • On when HPQ's metrics will show some change: "We'll know a lot by the end of 2012. Revenue acceleration in 2013."

It's a shame Ms. Whitman's on-the-job training as CEO of a real company didn't include lessons in humility, because the market provided some for her after the company beat (lowered) expectations narrowly this quarter, but was short on revenue and even shorter on guidance. Traders punished HPQ to the tune of a 6.5% decline upon the occasion of the release of its most recent quarter's numbers. That's a pretty impressive drop, considering the company had already lost a two-fifths of its value in just the past year. Meg Whitman is your gal, especially if you ascribe to the Peter Principle.

There isn't a day of reckoning coming. There will be many days of many reckonings over the coming years because the entire global financial and commercial system is being kept afloat on dreams, lies, cronyism and hype.

Dow 12,984.69, +46.02 (0.36%)
NASDAQ 2,956.98, +23.81 (0.81%)
S&P 500 1,363.46, +5.80 (0.43%)
NYSE Composite 8,135.98, +41.60 (0.51%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,723,876,625
NYSE Volume 3,726,037,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4040-1606
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 243-24 (Wowser! Only one new low on the NYSE.)
WTI crude oil: 107.83, +1.55 (up 10% in February)
Gold: 1,786.30, +15.00 (closing in on all-time highs)
Silver: 35.56, +1.30 (about to break out)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stocks Scream Higher on Positive Economic Data

This one will practically write itself.

Stocks were buoyed today by falling initial unemployment claims (down to 348,000 after 361,000 last week), rising housing starts (699K) and building permits (676K), and a very tame PPI number of 0.01. The Phialdelphia Fed's survey of regional economic activity was also up, to 10.2 in February from 7.3 in January.

All of this good news - and the absence of anything untoward from Europe - sent stocks on a day long rally that just kept rising steadily throughout the session. Naturally, the Euro was higher, as that correlation remains wholly intact.

Whether or not one agrees with the numbers, Wall Street made sure to boost stocks one day before options expiry, which may have been the plan all along, since there aren't enough individual investors or opinions other than those espoused by the powers that be, to matter.

Never mind what I said yesterday about the possibility of a nasty correction and repeat after me: "the market must go higher."

The original JP Morgan would be flummoxed. Once, when hounded by rabid reporters asking what the market would do, Morgan casually tossed out an all-time classic. "The market will fluctuate," he said.

We sure could use a dose of Mr. Morgan's common sense, or, at least a few of the silver dollars named after him.

Keep in mind that this is an election year, so that whatever outcome has already been determined, the markets will provide the proper narrative. It appears that Barack Obama is their guy, so it should surprise nobody if unemployment is at 7.3% come November 2nd and the GDP is growing at 3 1/2 - 4%, no matter how convoluted the exercise to get to those numbers.

Which leads to another great quote: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." The phrase was popularized by Mark Twain, who attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli, though the quote never appears in any of Disraeli's published works.

Could Twain have made it up himself? After all, his real name was Samuel Clemens.

And, by the way, since the US seems intent on making Iran a whipping boy, $4/gallon gas is coming, sooner, not later, just in time to eat up the payroll tax cut extension which the congress agreed to this morning and will likely pass on Friday. No free lunch, kiddies.

Dow 12,904.08, +123.13 (0.96%)
NASDAQ 2,959.85, +44.02 (1.51%)
S&P 500 1,358.04, +14.81 (1.10%)
NYSE Composite 8,092.61, +93.96 (1.17%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,890,777,750
NYSE Volume 4,022,471,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4275-1405
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 230-16
WTI crude oil: 102.31, +0.51
Gold: 1,728.40, +0.30
Silver: 33.37, -0.04

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Wall Street Snoozer

Wall Street pretty much mailed this one in today, as there was no significant follow-up to yesterday's machine-driven rally. No surprise there, as all positions are squared up by the computers, with no place to go forward without positive economic news.

Stocks started lower and ended higher, with marginal gains, completely ignoring the three economic reports, which, in a less-controlled, more robust environment would have sent the Dow reeling to a 200-point decline, though in today's completely schizophrenic environment, data doesn't matter, especially if it's not good.

The Case-Shiller Home Index fell another 4.52% on a year-on-year basis, but marked the third straight month of increasing prices, with a 1.1% increase from May to June. The Index, which is cited by most economists but is greatly flawed and dated, does not factor into account many foreclosure and short sales.

Pending home sales fell by 1.3% in June, another lagging indicator, and the expectation is for further declines in July and August, which will be reported near the end of September and October, just in time to inform everybody of what they;ll already know by then, that the US economy is in serious decline. In the meantime, wall Street uses the flawed, late data to bolster its own "recovery" theme and keep stock prices high.

Something from which nobody can hide, however, was the government's own reading on consumer confidence which dove to 44.5, from 59.2 in July, its lowest level since April, 2009, which was pretty much at the end of the financial collapse of 2008.

Consumers aren't happy, but Wall Street continues to plug along, pushing the same corporations that laid off millions and haven't hired many back.

Dow 11,559.95, +20.70 (0.18%)
NASDAQ 2,576.11, +14.00 (0.55%)
S&P 500 1,212.92, +2.84 (0.23%)
NYSE Composite 7,464.00, +13.70 (0.18%)

Advancing issues beat losing ones, 3896-2581. There were 26 new highs on the NASDAQ, with 22 new lows. On the NYSE, new highs topped new lows, 41-4, putting the combined total at a moderately positive, 67-26, in favor of new highs. Volume was light.

NASDAQ Volume 1,846,172,625
NYSE Volume 4,543,808,500

Without any reason other than there's a big driving weekend coming up with Labor Day, oil galloped ahead $1.63, to $88.90 at the close. Gas prices have been reported as rising by about a nickel nationally, this, of course, prior to them coming down much at all when oil futures were hovering just above $80/barrel.

Countering the excesses of the oil cartel, gold gained $46.50, to $1835.00, erasing much of the losses from the previous six sessions and more or less thumbing its nose at the backers of debt-backed money. Silver managed to gain 43 cents, to $41.31 the ounce.

Advice for today: Buy a good, used bike. Many available, good exercise and the cost of fuel is zero.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Greece Passes Austerity; Next Up: US Debt Limit

While there was little doubt that the Greek parliament would "do the right thing" and pass the 5-year austerity package in order to secure another $17 billion in their continuing slavish relationship with the IMF, ECB and EU, the results on the streets of Athens suggest that the plan may not be to the liking of the average Greek, if there is such a creature.

Imagine this happening in the United States. A consortium of banks hold the US government hostage, saying, in effect, "do this, or we cut off your allowance." The this being the layoff of thousands of government employees, wage cuts for others, a 10% tax increase and the selling off (privatization) of state assets, one wonders how the Greek populace will like living in abject poverty for the remainder of their lives. In America, one need not wonder. It would most likely pass, but the popular fury and anger would be ferocious.

So it is in Greece, where protesters hailed rocks and stocks at police throughout the day and police returned with salvos of tear gas. There was a great deal of looting and confrontation with the police, but few arrests. It seems the Greek police, some of whom will be paid less in a few weeks than they are now, or may not have jobs at all, have a bit of a heart for their countrymen and women.

Essentially, along with the 10% tax increase, services will be cut by about 25%, along with available government positions and wages. $50 in Greek assets will be privatized, begging the question of just what the Parthenon may be worth to some European oligarch-trash who wish to add it to their art collection.

The measure passed with a vote of 155-138, with some abstentions, since the Greek parliament is comprised of 300 members. But one has to wonder just how long it will last before the money-starved Greeks begin to turn on the government again and again, seeing the bailout as nothing more than another stalling tactic for a bankrupt nation and largesse for the elitist bankers.

Stocks and commodities both were buoyed by the passage, as the globalists averted another crisis in the flawed and corrupt fiat money system. So, the result, higher prices for everything, except, of course, wages.

The next chink in the armor to be fixed would be the US insolvency issue, that of raising the debt debt ceiling so the world's largest net creditor can continue to borrow and spend until the elections of 2012, at least. The deadline of August 2nd approaches with all due haste, though both houses of congress will not be convened at the same time, if they keep to their schedules.

The House was already in recess this week and will be until July 5th, though the senate recess - scheduled for July 4-10, is in doubt, with Democrats seeking to cancel it, and Republicans all too willing to stay in Pro Forma session, fearing recess appointments by the President.

With any luck, the tow houses of financial horror could actually do some deal-making between the 10t of July and the August 2 deadline, and that would be almost a surety, as both houses will recess on August 8 and not return until September 5, after Labor Day and well beyond the statutory constraints of passing a new debt ceiling.

Just like in Greece, however, it's expected that the senate and the president will approve some kind of deal at the last moment, ensuring maximum discomfort and anxiety for the good people of America. Of course, any talk of a balanced budget amendment, currently being espoused by various Republicans, should be recognized immediately as a complete sham, though there is some hope that some semblance of spending restraint may be written into any new bill. The long money is on the government beating the deadline by days and getting back to doing what they do best, spending money they don't have.

Dow 12,261.42, +72.73 (0.60%)
NASDAQ 2,740.49, +11.18 (0.41%)
S&P 500 1,307.41, +10.74 (0.83%)
NYSE Composite 8,228.50, +92.52 (1.14%)

Gainers beat losers by a solid margin, 4185-2361. On the NASDAQ, new highs were better than new lows by a 100-29 margin, while on the NYSE, the new highs outnumbered new lows, 81-14. The combined total of 181 new highs to 43 new lows suggests that we're back to "risk on" for the foreseeable future, though, being summer, a sideways trend always has great potential. Volume was light, but not actually awful.

NASDAQ Volume 1,816,885,000
NYSE Volume 4,316,723,500

WTI crude futures rose remarkably again, up $1.88, to $94.77, along with gasoline, which has been rocketing of late. The most recent price gouges have not shown up at the punp yet, though they surely will by the weekend. AAA reports that the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular is $3.54, with higher price in the more populous states of the Northeast and West coast.

Gold got a little nibble of a bid, rising $9.10, to $1511.20. Silver spiked 92 cents, to $34.86.

Tomorrow morning initial unemployment claims numbers may do damage to the current three-day rally in stocks, though a positive report could produce more cries of "soft patch" and a continuation of the "risk on" trade.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Seriously, a Rebound? No Volume, and Slim Gains

It's almost summer, so stocks and the people who trade them aren't going to take much of anything too seriously. It's a good thing that the American culture is as laid-back as it is, because if people watched their money, markets and politicians with reasoned discipline, we'd all be in the soup - or soup lines.

Being that the weather's more suited for surfing than high finance, Wall Street put on its best summery smile today and boosted stocks for no particular reason other than there wasn't any disturbing economic news from Greece, or Washington, or anywhere else for that matter.

It's these kinds of days that Wall Street could use a steady diet of to produce what will be called a "summer rally" despite the Fed cutting off funds via the end of QE2, and Greece more likely than not to default. Whatever Greece decides to do about their fiscal and monetary condition, it will have far-reaching effects, mostly on European banks, but surely some spill-over will do damage on American shores. Everyone's in for a piece of the action, and haircuts for the bond-holders seems to be the likely outcome, though the EU and IMF ministers would much rather lay it all on the backs of the Greek people, through austerity, budget cuts and a wrecked economy.

However, since nobody took any decisive action today, it was safe to make a few bets in the cavernous casino that is Wall Street. Besides, after six losing weeks, the markets were set up for a technical bounce, in other words, more suckers got taken today.

Dow 12,080.38, +76.02 (0.63%)
NASDAQ 2,629.66, +13.18 (0.50%)
S&P 500 1,278.36, +6.86 (0.54%)
NYSE Composite 8,032.22, +32.11 (0.40%)

While the gains weren't much to speak of, neither was the breadth. Winners beat losers, 3991-2443, roughly a 5:3 margin. NASDAQ showed that there was still a good deal of selling going on as only 29 stocks made new highs, but 104 hit new lows. ON the NYSE, 32 new highs and 53 new lows, so the combined total was another winner for the new lows, the 12th straight of that variety, with 61 new highs and 157 new lows.

Since volume was non-existent, one would be correct in believing that the correction was just taking a breather. Nothing goes in straight lines, so count this as one of the few good days in a continuum of downers.

NASDAQ Volume 1,612,915,750
NYSE Volume 3,371,598,000

Crude oil continues to demonstrate weakness, up only 25 cents on the day, to $93.26. Some of the crude decline is beginning to show up at the pump. AAA reports the national average at $3.65 for a gallon of unleaded regular, with the lowest to be found in Tennessee, at $3.45/gallon.

Gold gained $1.40, to $1541.40, while silver was up 14 cents, to $36.04.

All in all, it was a dull session, which is probably the way it should be. Wild swings are for gamblers and home run hitters. A dose of slowness - like the way markets were back in the 50s and 60s - might not be such a bad thing.

Ah, summer. Ya gotta love it. Almost makes one fell like taking the car out for a spin. Well, maybe.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Greece in Tatters, US Still in Denial

As Greece burns, global stock markets reel in terror.

It's really about time that the oligarchs running the show down on Wall Street come to the realization the most of the rest of the world isn't buying their load of bull hockey any more and investors are making their displeasure known by their feet, fleeing overpriced, overhyped, intangible assets as quickly as they can.

If the shakeout of small investors wasn't complete in the Fall of 2008 and the Winter of 2009, then this is to be expected. There are a myriad of reasons stocks should be sold off. Here's a small ticking off of the major bullet points:

  • Incomes haven't risen in years, though the price of everything from food to rent to heating fuel has doubled in some cases.
  • Maybe Americans are a little bit tired of killing themselves at low-wage jobs just to buy gas at upwards of $3.50 a gallon.
  • Speaking of jobs, there aren't any.
  • Americans are sick of bailouts of the banks which caused this crisis.
  • Americans are sick of bankers getting enormous bonuses for abject failure.
  • Americans are sick of a federal government that keeps putting us deeper and deeper in debt.
  • Americans are sick and tired of the Fed devaluing the currency and causing global inflation.
  • Americans are sick and tired of the casino-like atmosphere on Wall Street, controlled by a very few insiders with guarantees of non-failure, not to mention the insider trading, HFTs, front-running, bond-flipping and all the rest of the improper accounting tricks and bogus schemes.
  • Americans would like to see Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfien, Angelo Mozillo and many others prosecuted for their crimes, but the US Justice Department has been bought off.
  • Iceland defaulted, Ireland is a basket case, Greece is going to default and then Portugal and Spain and Italy should, if only to express outrage at the corrupt Berlusconi government.
  • The US government is horribly corrupt as well and default is headed for our shores as well, since all the Treasury Secretary and Federal Reserve Chairman know how to do is further impoverish the people of the United States, and, to a lesser degree, the rest of the population of the world.
  • Americans are sick of rules, taxes, regulations, heavy-handedness at all levels of government, the continued deprecation of civil liberties, the lies, obfuscation and treachery at the highest levels of government and finance. Americans want the truth, but the politicians and bankers know that they would all be behind bars, or worse, should the truth be known.
  • Americans want the government out of their lives, decent jobs, no more wars, no more lying, nothing more.

Is that enough? Because there is more.

Granted the oligarchs of Wall Street and Washington will not listen. They will pose and posture and make statements about what America wants and needs and do nothing of the kind. And the media will bombard us with non-stop presidential politics for the next 18 months, even though half of the population could care less.

While Greece has surely lost the control of the public and all confidence, just as has Ireland and Iceland, and Egypt and Syria and many other countries, the American "establishment" has lost the confidence of its people. It's really that simple. Nobody approves of what goes in on Washington, and thus, nobody abides by them. The US political structure is such a laughing stock that serious people simply ignore it. Add on to that the massive numbers of people who have seen the political and economic systems for what they are and are opting out, dropping out, refusing to comply and bend to the will of the small, wealthy minority who wants to make all the rules, and you have a perfect condition for collapse, the collapse that should have happened three years and $20 trillion of wasted stimulus ago.

The desperation of the elitists is evident from the sour expressions of the paid monkeys on CNBC, who keep insisting that this downturn is temporary or transitory or a "soft patch" in the "recovery." It's hilarious to watch, especially if one is invested in hard goods, precious metals and/or commodities. To put it simply, stocks are for suckers, and the number of suckers still at the table is dwindling, fast.

Dow 11,897.27, -178.84 (1.48%)
NASDAQ 2,631.46, -47.26 (1.76%)
S&P 500 1,265.42, -22.45 (1.74%)
NYSE Composite 7,967.81, -164.96 (2.03%)

The internals told the true story of the devastation. Declining issues outpaced advancers by the largest margin in almost than a year, 5379-1270. NASDAQ recorded 11 new highs and 114 new lows, while the NYSE saw 23 new highs and 79 new lows. The combined total has the new lows ahead for the ninth consecutive session, at just 34 new highs and 193 new lows, with surely more to come.

Volume was actually a little bit perky, especially tantalizing for short sellers and bears.

NASDAQ Volume 1,993,706,125
NYSE Volume 4,653,039,000

As the Greek situation broke down and out, into street protests and young men attacking riot police with sticks, bats and rocks, the dollar became the safe haven currency, smashing crude oil down by $4.68, to $94.81. Oil still has a long way to come down before any kind of supply-demand equilibrium can be maintained. $70 or $60 or even less per barrel are no longer outside targets.

Gold rose modestly as as store of value, up $6.70, to $1530.80. Silver tagged along, gaining 41 cents, to $35.80, though, if stocks continue to slide, they may take other asset classes along with them in a deflationary episode, despite the ongoing efforts by the central banks and the Fed to inflate.

Today's declines took out all of yesterday's gains. Stocks are on track to record their first seven-week losing streak since early 2001, predating 9/11.

Just for fun, tomorrow's traders will have to deal with this week's initial unemployment claims, which will be released an hour prior to the opening bell. It ought to be a doozy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Poor Data Undermines Fed Pumping Effort

Well, there's nothing the Federal Reserve can do about a collapsing economy, after all.

Data from the housing sector today suggests that despite pumping literally trillions into the US financial system, the original canary in the coal mine, residential real estate, is still lying prone on the operating table, unable to move, dead as a doornail. And yet, the Fed and the federal government still insists that spending more money (creating more debt) is the ultimate fix-all.

One has to wonder just when the American public will have had enough of this disaster in centrally-planned economics. The banks have been spared, though they remain among the worst investments listed. The government has exceeded the debt limit (yesterday), and is now raiding the retirement funds of public employees. The federal employees are the first to be robbed. Next will be state pension funds, so you teachers out there, adjust your lifestyle pans accordingly as you're about to receive a very unwanted haircut.

The numbers coming from the real estate sector can be characterized as nothing less than a national disaster. Housing starts and building permits fell to unprecedented lows at 523,000 and 521,000 (annualized), respectively. The numbers for housing starts (new homes) represents a 23% decline from a year ago, while the permit figures for new home construction fell 4% from March.

All in all, it's simply horrible environment in which to be building new homes. The level of new home construction has been at the lowest level since the government began keeping track and continued to decline. There's simply too much shadow inventory being held onto by the banks, who don't want to realize losses on the many homes that are either already REO, in the foreclosure process or where the homeowner is already more than three months behind.

The market for new homes is absolutely the thinnest it's ever been and it doesn't appear to be getting any better.

Adding to the ongoing economic catastrophe were figures on industrial production - flat for April - and capacity utilization, which may have peaked in March, at 77%. April's figure came in at 76.9%, and will likely be revised lower.

Thus, we have a stalled industrial sector, a dead residential housing market, slow to no job creation and the recession was supposed to have ended more than two years ago.

Face it, folks, your government is not in favor of prosperity for the average American. If congress and the administration were serious about jobs and growth and not preoccupied with fighting wars on drugs and terror and meddling into the affairs of other countries, none of this would be happening. We've been sold out, lied to and yet there are fewer and fewer voices of protest. One supposes that Americans have had enough, yet are so worn down by joblessness, violence, foreclosures, regulations and intrusions that they haven't got the energy to complain.

Wall Street is feeling the stress as well. The Dow Jones Industrials were down a nifty 170 points in the early going, but, as usual, when the Fed money comes into play, reversed course and finished with a smaller loss. The other indices were down as well, except the NASDAQ, which posted a fractional gain, probably from being so viciously sold off the prior two sessions.

The "go away in May" crowd seems to have it about right. During the month - today being the 12th trading day in May of 21 total, so we're past the mid-point - the NASDQ is down 90 points, the Dow is off 330 and the S&P has shed some 34 points. It's not a great amount, yet, though it is already a 2-3% decline. Slow death. The S&P has been down eight of the 12 sessions in May. The correction is underway.

Dow 12,479.42, -68.95 (0.55%)
NASDAQ 2,783.21, +0.90 (0.03%)
S&P 500 1,328.98, -0.49 (0.04%)
NYSE Compos 8,333.07, -3.52 (0.04%)

Declining issues danced past advancers, 3815-2713. NASDAQ recorded just 28 new highs and 83 new lows, the second day in succession that the lows have been on the high side. The NYSE continues to resist flipping negative, as new highs outnumbered new lows, 80-47. Volume was moderate, another ominous signal on a down day.

NASDAQ Volume 2,190,797,000
NYSE Volume 4,459,555,500

WTI crude dropped 46 cents, to $96.91, though it traded significantly lower for much of the session. High gas prices, in spite of slack demand and 15% lower crude, persists, however, with the US average at $3.94, down only a few cents from its peak. Just a few hours ago, a group of Democratic Senators called for an FTC probe of oil refiners, suggesting that price-fixing has occurred. Rest assured that it is nothing more than a dog-and-pony show as the senators are merely grandstanding, knowing full well that their campaigns are largely financed by these very companies.

The hit squad was out in full riot gear in the metals markets, sending gold down $4.80, to $1485.00 and sending silver below $33/ounce, before it rebounded to post a gain of 35 cents, currently at $33.95. It should be apparent to all that the forced de-leveraging in precious metals is not about to abate, and prices could tumble quite a bit further, especially where gold is concerned.

A discussion is underway in Washington as to whether it would be prudent to sell some of the gold held at Fort Knox to keep the government running. Presidential candidate Ron Paul feels it's a good idea, though he faces opposition, notably from President Obama. The US gold reserves are valued presently at roughly $370 billion.

All along, the government sits back and watches in a silent stupor, as the United States of America, and its constitution, is slowly ground to dust. And not a word of protest was heard.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dollar Wins; Stocks, Commodities Whacked Again as Chaos Commences

Whatever one thinks about the policies of the Federal Reserve, one has to respect their inside job ability to influence and move markets, thus, it should surprise nobody that everything went down today as the dollar rallied past 75 on the Dollar Index.

The dollar gained nearly one per cent today, closing at 75.29, its best level since April 18. That surge brought down stocks and with them, most commodities. No doubt the Fed has responded to inflationary pressure and the stock junkies have expressed themselves by selling off riskier assets, such as stocks, though their commitment has been anything but binding.

A more cynical view might be expressing serious doubt about the trustworthiness of all markets, as rule changes, manipulation and front-running make price discovery more an abstract art than a defined science. The movement in stocks seems to be suggesting that "buying the dips" may have become out of favor in recent days, and a prolonged correction is at hand. With the Fed ending QE2 this would be an opportune time to begin shedding positions in many overpriced stocks.

That's the flavor of the day, and maybe of the month. Stocks finished well off their lows, but still took a significant drubbing, a scenario that seems to be repeating itself with increasng frequency.

Dow 12,630.03, -130.33 (1.02%)
NASDAQ 2,845.06, -26.83 (0.93%)
S&P 500 1,342.08, -15.08 (1.11%)
NYSE Composite 8,428.09, -122.40 (1.43%)

Declining issues hammered advancers, 4955-1719. New highs totaled 89 on the NASDAQ, offset by 46 new lows. On the NYSE, there were 133 new highs to just 22 new lows. Volume was up to decent levels, indicating that the selling, which began in earnest just over a week ago, has resumed.

NASDAQ Volume 2,229,573,750
NYSE Volume 4,265,927,000

Crude oil took another steep loss, dropping $5.67, to $98.21 at the close on oversupply issues and a dampening of China's economy. The Energy Information Administration reported that demand for gas has fallen for seven consecutive weeks and today reported a 2.4% decline in demand. This prompted the CME to halt trading in gas futures for five minutes as the price plummeted 25 cents, triggering the automatic trading suspension.

Additionally, OPEC reported that member nations were only 65% in compliance with production quotas, and 17 senators, led by Oregon's Ron Wyden, sent a letter to the CFTC, urging them to impose position limits on oil futures trading.

If anything is for certain, it's that the world's driving population has been taken over a barrel recently by the oil cartel and Wall Street traders. While it's encouraging to see a bi-partisan group of senators calling for change in how oil and gas are priced, one should not get too excited until we see oil back to some reasonable level - under $75/barrel - and gas back to $3.00 a gallon or lower. As usual, the price hikes at the pump had little to nothing to do with basic supply/demand fundamentals, but certainly, the demand destruction caused by gas rising to over $4/gallon in much of the United States should serve as ample evidence that high oil and gas prices are a major contributor to economic stagnation or even recession.

Elsewhere, gold dipped $15.90, to $1500.90 and silver took another beating, losing $3.34, to $35.11, after rising for three straight sessions. It certainly appears that the banking oligarchs are not yet through punishing those who would speculate in potentially competing forms of money, such as precious metals. Silver traders have been particularly whipsawed in recent days, though true believers, who buy, hold and do not sell, are looking at any drops with gleeful anticipation of more accumulation.

Strength in the dollar is almost certain to be - to use one of Chairman Bernanke's favorite terms - transitory, which means the collapse in silver and any declines in the price of gold will only lead to more enthusiastic buying.

The true measure of the strength of the decade-long precious metal bull market lies in the ability of gold and silver bugs to hold until the government gives up supression measures completely. That may turn out to be a long time frame, as the printing presses at the Fed will be turned on full throttle and efforts to manage or mangle gold and silver price advances will be well-funded.

Unusual movements and increased volatility in prices of all goods and services are signatures of an economy on its knees, with price discovery completely blown away and manipulation rampant. And while there are major camps of support on Wall Street and in Washington to keep money flows into bonds and equities, the battle may already have been lost. There is simply too much debt and more being piled on every day, to expect an orderly unwinding.

Chaos will become common.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More POMO Equals More Momo; Less for Your Dollar

For the uninitiated, POMO stands for Permanent Open Market Operations, which, well, really doesn't explain anything, but let's just say this is how the Federal Reserve has been handing money over to primary dealers for the past 6 1/2 months, through various coupon pass-throughs and bond-repurchases.

So why POMO causes MOMO (slang for "momentum") is that these primary dealers have to do something with their newly-minted free Fed paper money, so they thrust it into the stock market and goose up shares of Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), Chipolte Mexican Grill (CMG) and other darlings of the "Fast Money" crowd.

The Fed is furiously throwing money around these days, attempting to keep the Ponzi market afloat before John Boehner decides to cram it all back to the Fed by insisting on budget cuts. Mr. Boehner best watch what he says or soon enough there will be calls for him to step down as Majority Leader in the House. Treasury Timmy and Bingo Bernanke don't like cuts in spending as it really diminishes the impact of their unilateral pumping of all things financial.

Of course, Mr. Boehner's calls for $2 trillion in budget cuts is laughable and will never happen. Even he knows that, but he must maintain the posture of a "conservative" even though he and his Republican members (except a brave few - very few - Tea Partiers) are as quick to spend a buck as their Democratic counterparts. There will be a few trifling spending cuts announced as part of some kind of compromise, but it won't matter. The government is about as desperate and broken as the stock markets, and that takes some doing.

So, today, on the back of a ramp job yesterday, we have more momentum playing, goosing stocks back towards the highs they scored a few weeks back. There are about 30 more POMO days before the Fed cuts the cord in late June, so expect the equity indices to be heading for higher highs before then. As long as the mainstream media can keep the public convinced inflation is marginal, transitory or immaterial, and that $4 or $5 gas is now acceptable, there will be no turning back the tidal wave of Federal Reserve Notes banging prices higher around the world.

Quoting Diane Keaton in her role as Annie Hall, from the Woody Allen movie by the same name, "la dee da." Welcome to the centrally planned economy.

Dow 12,760.36, +75.68 (0.60%)
NASDAQ 2,871.89, +28.64 (1.01%)
S&P 500 1,357.16, +10.87 (0.81%)
NYSE Composite 8,550.49, +72.30 (0.85%)

Advancing issues far outpaced decliners, 5077-1471, so one could call today's ramp-up, POMO-induced rally, broad-based, if one so chooses. Most of it are just calling it "nowhere to hide the devalued dollars." On the NASDAQ, there were 142 new highs and 34 new lows. Over on the NYSE big board, new highs were well ahead of new lows, 240-16. This is, in fact, easy to accomplish with free money, no restraint and near-record low volume - again.

NASDAQ Volume 1,996,086,625.00
NYSE Volume 3,778,728,750

Crude oil, despite an announced 25% margin hike which takes effect tomorrow, gained $1.33, to close at $103.88. And now, since oil has been sufficiently beaten down, we hear that numerous refineries are partially shut down, just in time for the nicer weather. Welcome to $4.00 and $4.50 gas coming to a fueling station near you.

Gold continued to strike back against the empire of debt, gaining $3.20, to $1516.30 up to the minute. Silver added 76 cents, at $38.47. The precious metals now have added momentum to meet and exceed previous all-time and multi-year highs before the end of June.

The government reported today that import prices (almost everything that US consumers purchase) rose 2.2% in April, on the heels of a 2.6% rise in March. Year-over-year, the increase was 11.1%
The 12-month advance in April was the largest year-over-year increase since an 11.2 percent gain between April 2009 and April 2010.
So, no, there's no inflation, just record import prices two years running.

Keep printing, Mr. Bernanke. We will continue to buy silver and gold, POMO and MOMO notwithstanding.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Everything Is Going Up, Except Your Wages and the US Dollar

On March 28, 2008 - about the time Bears Stearns was blowing up and before just about anyone was predicting a crisis - the Dollar Index bottomed out at 71.585.

Today, after the FOMC re-confirmed (for about the 16th time) that the federal funds rate would remain at "near" zero per cent, that very same index hit a three-year low at 73.26, closing just a touch above that level, at 73.317.

Some not suffering from the all-American malaise of short-term memory loss will recall that 2008 was not a very pretty time to be in stocks. Nor was it particularly good to be working for a Fortune 500 or other large corporation, as, by the end of the year, employees were being shed light so much dead weight off a beached ocean cruiser.

Comparing today to that sorry state of affairs is rather simple. Then, we were just heading into what would turn out to be one of the most devastating recession/depressions of modern times. Today, we are still not recovered from it.

Back in 2008, Ben Bernanke was saying that everything was OK, and soon he would glibly announce that the sub-prime crisis had been contained (insert laugh track here).

Today, the Bernanke delivered the very first of what we hope will be a short-lived experiment - a press conference following the announcement of the FOMC rate policy (no change). Once again, the Bernanke assured us that everything was just peachy, except that the economy was "recovering" a little bit slower than he'd like. We can all join him in that sentiment.

Today, Mr. Bernanke read some prepared remarks, bored us to tears and took questions from the assembled press corps, boring us even more. Today, Mr. Bernanke wants us to believe that core inflation is running at about a 1.6 to 2.2% rate, and while that may be true, core inflation leaves out food and energy, so with those included, real inflation is running at about 6-8%.

The Chairman also assured us that inflation risks were contained, just like he said the sub-prime situation was contained back in 2008. Many of us in the blogosphere didn't believe him then, and we don't believe him now, except this time we have proof.

All one has to do is go shopping, which means getting in a vehicle and driving somewhere and maybe buying some gas, which is more expensive than it was last week, and the week before that and the week before that...

Once one is over the shock of $4.00/gallon gasoline, one can go shopping for some food maybe, and find that prices are higher on fruits, vegetables, canned goods, meats, just about everything.

So, no, Mr. Bernanke, you and your Federal Reserve buddies, whose mandate is to provide price and wage stability and full employment, have failed on all accounts and your pronouncements to the press and the public are falling on deaf ears. Many don't bother to pay any attention to you at all, and even more don't even know who you are (that may come in handy when the pitchforks and torches come out). Another group believes you are lying and that you are ruining the economy and the nation with your mindless inflation-building, dollar-destroying policies.

And don't forget, we have proof. This time, we won't be fooled again.

On this day that the Fed reiterated its Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP), everything went up while the dollar crashed and burned. Stocks were up. Interest rates were up. Gold was up, so too silver, oil, live cattle, cocoa and oil. The few commodities that did go down were already way up, and will likely go up more in the not-too-distant future.

The Fed is killing us, which it why is so refreshing to learn that Ron Paul is running for president. The Texas firebrand, if elected, will run Bernanke and his crew out of town.

Dow 12,690.96, +95.59 (0.76%)
NASDAQ 2,869.88, +22.34 (0.78%)
S&P 500 1,355.66, +8.42 (0.62%)
NYSE Composite 8,609.28, +54.29 (0.63%)

On the major stock indices, advancers pummeled declining issues, 4233-2315. NASDAQ pumped out 148 new highs and 25 new lows. The NYSE produced 290 stocks which hit new highs and 10 which made new lows. Volume was in line with expectations, which is a polite way of saying it was low, again, as usual.

NASDAQ Volume 2,083,155,500
NYSE Volume 4,525,766,000

Crude oil closed up 55 cents, to $112.76. The average price for a gallon of unleaded regular in the USA is now $3.88. Nine states are already averaging over $4/gallon, and West Virginia and Wisconsin are at $3.96 and $3.97, respectively. Soon that number will be 15, then 25 then 45. In time, even those states closest to the Gulf of Mexico - Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, where prices are among the lowest in the nation, will be hovering near the $4 mark, the point at which the nation surrenders what little is left of its dignity - and money - to the global oil cartel.

Those adding to their stash of gold and/or silver yesterday on the rare pull-back, received instant gratification as both metals popped on the FOMC and Bernanke's policy announcement. It seems the gold bugs and silver liners also appreciate Bernanke's policies, except that theywish he'd take a break now and again to give them time to buy more precious metals before the prices go absolutely hyperbolic.

Gold hit another all-time record, currently trading at $1527.20, up a whopping $20.10 from Tuesday's close. Silver also regained its mojo, picking up $2.16, to $47.76, closing in on the magical Hunt brothers high of $50.25, achieved in 1980. Silver is expected to go right on past that point as long as Bernanke keeps interest rates at zero and the dollar continues to slide into oblivion.

Therefore, if you're feeling a bit squeezed, thank the Bernanke. He's our guy.