Showing posts with label retail sales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label retail sales. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Santa Claus Delivers A Relief Rally For The Ages; Largest Point Gain On Dow In Market History

The extended holiday season - thanks to an additional week for shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas - was exceptionally kind to retailers, who reported the best holiday season in six years, so Wall Street finally got the news that the economy was apparently not on the verge of imminent collapse, sending stocks soaring throughout the session.

How much of the gains were attributable to short-covering buyers and strict momentum chasers is unknowable, though it was likely a large percentage. Risk appetites have been under assault for months, so this one-day wonder might not be as impressive as bullish traders would have one believe. It was more a technical advance after waves of selling created a severely short-term oversold condition.

To put it in perspective, the nearly five percent gain on the Dow, in point value, was equal to only about one-fifth of the most recent decline. The Dow had lost more than 5000 points since October, so Wednesday's buying spree pales in comparison and sets up the market for further speculation as far as directional trades are concerned.

If this nascent rally is to continue - which is also likely - there has to be some catalyst to carry it forward, though it might simply run until it is exhausted. Since the gains put only a minor dent in the recent losses, momentum should carry it forward, possibly another 1500-1800 points on the Dow.

While that might seem like a huge number, it wouldn't even wipe out the losses already sustained in December (as on Monday, that was -3746.36), so investors may get something of a stock sugar rush to close out the year and maybe some fun in the first days of the new year.

This pump was long overdue, and there's also the possibility that the call Treasury Secretary Mnuchin made to the Plunge Protection Team on Sunday had some impact.

Santa has come and gone, leaving plenty of presents behind.

Ho, ho, ho.

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

At the Close, Wednesday, December 26, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 22,878.45, +1,086.25 (+4.98%)
NASDAQ: 6,554.35, +361.44 (+5.84%)
S&P 500: 2,467.70, +116.60 (+4.96%)
NYSE Composite: 11,204.09, +434.26 (+4.03%)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

How To Deal With A Bully: Retailers Gang Up On Amazon

Wednesday, it was Macy's (M) reporting solid sales growth in the first quarter, fueling some interest in retail stocks overall.

Thursday morning, Wal-Mart is reporting 33% growth in online sales for the first quarter, proving that Americans will go where service and price are balanced, as the nation's largest retailer continues to roll out its innovative "ship-to-store" option and discounted shipping (free two-day delivery).

Amazon, the king of online retailing, may have succeeded in killing off and/or absorbing some smaller chain store retailers and accelerating the demise of dinosaurs like Sears, but they're certainly not going to mash down the biggest companies, such as Macy's, JC Penney, and Wal-Mart. While Seattle-based Amazon can build as many warehouses and fulfillment centers to facilitate faster, more efficient delivery, it is still hampered by its lack of bona fide retail locations, though its recent acquisition of Whole Foods will change that to varying degrees in different sectors and geographical locations.

Wal-Mart, which has a significant footprint in the retail food space, probably isn't worried about the emergence of Whole Foods poaching its customers, because Whole Foods is largely a near-luxury brand, selling organics and other higher-priced goods, while Wal-Mart customers are accustomed to low-priced, competitive products.

The recent resurgence of retail in the face of the Amazon effect should buoy some stocks and create an environment that will only become increasingly competitive, both online and in the real, brick-and-mortar world. As retailing evolves into 21st-century standards, don't expect first-mover Amazon to extend its gains, though its presence will certainly be dominant. Innovation by those playin catch-up with the newer technology should prove to level the playing field somewhat in coming years.

Macy's earnings beat managed to squeeze some upside out of stocks on Wednesday. Thursday's rise or fall will have much to do with Was-Mart's success story, though it may not provide enough of a catalyst to pull the entire market higher.

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

At the Close, Wednesday, May 16, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,768.93, +62.52 (+0.25%)
NASDAQ: 7,398.30, +46.67 (+0.63%)
S&P 500: 2,722.46, +11.01 (+0.41%)
NYSE Composite: 12,743.80, +39.17 (+0.31%)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dow's 8-Day Rally Ends Abruptly; Bonds,Technicals The Likely Causes

Naming retailers as culprits for ending the recent uptick in stocks on Tuesday probably doesn't quite hit the mark, even though stock futures continued to slide after April retail sales data was produced at 8:30 am EDT, prior to the market opening.

Overall, retail sales improved by 0.3% over the month, matching lowered expectations after a surprise gain of 0.8% in March. Whether traders were somewhat disappointed in the number is a matter of some speculation, better left with a question mark than a definitive answer.

What did likely spook the markets was the abrupt rise in bond yields, as the 10-year-note zapped higher to yield 3.07% during the day, a number not seen since 2011. The 2-year yield saw 2.60%, its highest level since 2008.

These are concerning numbers to stock hawkers because they are considered fairly risk free methods of making money, whereas stocks - even those offering dividends - imply risk, as stock prices rise and fall.

With the February's recent turn in markets still fresh in the mind, there are more than a few traders taking money off the equity table and moving it toward the relative safety of bonds. Besides, after eight days of gains, the market was pretty well priced out, so profit-taking commenced. The herd being what it is, the selling turned into a small stampede.

Another concern is the continued high price of crude oil. WTI crude held steady at 71.17 in New York, though pockets of $3.00+ per gallon regular gas began to appear across the filling stations of America. The national average stands at $2.87/gallon, which is beginning to squeeze middle class budgets, especially those with long commutes and larger, less-fuel-economiic vehicles.

Unless bond yields and the price of gas come down quickly, today's 197-point decline could turn worse in coming days and weeks.

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

At the Close, Tuesday, May 15, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,706.41, -193.00 (-0.78%)
NASDAQ: 7,351.63, -59.69 (-0.81%)
S&P 500: 2,711.45, -18.68 (-0.68%)
NYSE Composite: 12,704.56, -67.47 (-0.53%)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Dow Gains For 8th Straight Day; Tuesday Data Reads Important

Stocks started the week on a strong note, only to see the rally fade as the session wore on, leaving the indices with marginal gains, led by the Dow Industrials with a 0.27% rise, the eighth straight trading day in which the Dow has recorded a positive close.

Higher by 163 points in the 11:00 am hour, Dow stocks gave back nearly 100 points, or roughly two-fifths of their value by the end of the day.

With most major companies having already reported first quarter earnings, this may turn into a rather dull week, though Tuesday's trifecta of economic data releases - NY Fed Manufacturing, Retail Sales, and Durable Goods - may provide suitable trading fodder.

On Wednesday, Macy's (M) reports prior to the market open, while Cisco Systems (CSCO) reports after the close.

Thursday may be the most impactful session, as retailers Wal-Mart (WMT), Nordstrom (JWN), and JC Penney (JCP) each report before the opening bell.

Thus far, nearly at the halfway point of the month, "sell in May" has not been the preferred trading regimen. Rather, a family strong counter-rally has been tearing along, leaving the Dow at its best level in nearly two months.

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

At the Close, Monday, May 14, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,899.41, +68.24 (+0.27%)
NASDAQ: 7,411.32, +8.43 (+0.11%)
S&P 500: 2,730.13, +2.41 (+0.09%)
NYSE Composite: 12,772.04, +10.22 (+0.08%)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Retail Sales Improve In March, Stocks Respond

Apparently, Amazon hasn't killed all of Main Street just yet.

After three straight monthly declines, US retail sales rose in March by 0.6%, beating consensus forecasts, with Americans spending more on big-ticket items.

Following a drop of 0.1% in February and a revised -0.2% in January, consumers stepped up to the plate in March, boosting hopes that the economic expansion would continue. Year-over-year, retail sales improved by 4.5%.

While those figures are encouraging, they're likely not much more than inflation, which, depending on where one resides and what one spends money upon, could be as high as 6-8% according to anecdotal reports. Other, more frugal consumers routinely report lower costs for food, though rent, gasoline, mortgage interest, health care, education, and taxes in general have been on the rise.

On the earnings front, Bank of America reported smashing numbers, with EPS up 51% to 62 cents a share versus the prior quarter. Adjusted revenue rose nearly four percent, to $23.1 billion, but the stock barely budged on the news, up just 13 cents (0.44%) to 29.93. While banking is back to being less risky after washing out all the bad debt from the sub-prime catastrophe, investors are still skeptical of the large banks, especially after revelations of many misdeeds at Wells-Fargo.

Banks like JP Morgan Chase, which has a better focus on wealth management, have fared better than standard retail operations such as BofA.

Dow Jones Industrial Average April Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
4/2/18 23,644.19 -458.92 -458.92
4/3/18 24,033.36 +389.17 -69.75
4/4/18 24,264.30 +230.94 +161.19
4/5/18 24,505.22 +240.92 +402.11
4/6/18 23,932.76 -572.46 -170.35
4/9/18 23,979.10 +46.34 -134.01
4/10/18 24,407.86 +428.76 +294.66
4/11/18 24,189.45 -218.55 +76.11
4/12/18 24,483.05 +293.60 +369.71
4/13/18 24,360.14 -122.91 +247.80
4/16/18 24,573.04 +212.90 +460.70

At the Close, Monday, April 16, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,573.04, +212.90 (+0.87%)
NASDAQ: 7,156.28, +49.63 (+0.70%)
S&P 500: 2,677.84, +21.54 (+0.81%)
NYSE Composite: 12,628.21, +82.16 (+0.65%)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Black Friday Delivers; Wall Street Reaction Upcoming

Apparently, Black Friday 2017 was a mammoth hit, resulting in reported record consumer spending and a record day for firearms background checks.

According to Reuters:
U.S. retailers raked in a record $7.9 billion in online sales on Black Friday and Thanksgiving, up 17.9 percent from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures transactions at the largest 100 U.S. web retailers, on Saturday.

Wall Street, which closed early on Friday, didn't have the news in hand, it being too early for reaction, but closed modestly higher in the shortened session.

Monday is shaping up as a volatile day, with plenty of crosswinds from the political front and economic data from China and Europe whipsawing futures prior to the opening bell in New York.

For the week as a whole, stocks put in a stellar performance. The NASDAQ and S&P 500 each closed at record highs on Friday.

At the Close, Friday, November 24, 2017:
Dow: 23,557.99, +31.81 (+0.14%)
NASDAQ: 6,889.16, +21.7988 (+0.3174%)
S&P 500: 2,602.42, +5.34 (+0.21%)
NYSE Composite: 12,421.93, +31.10 (+0.25%)

For the Week:
Dow: +199.75 (+0.86%)
NASDAQ: +106.37 (+1.57%)
S&P 500: +23.57 (+0.91%)
NYSE Composite: +119.04 (+0.97%)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Dow Posts New All-Time High; Retail Sales Miss, Inflation Higher In August

With a 45-point gain on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a new all-time closing high (22,203.48), putting an exclamation mark on what has been an incredibly fruitful week for investors.

With a small gain last Friday, the Dow has now gone five straight sessions without posting a loss. The blue chip average is up 405 points for the week (1.86%) and despite some discouraging data prior to Friday's open, it appears set to finish the week on a healthy note.

The data Friday morning that sent futures lower was a pickup in inflation according to the CPI figures for August, showing a 0.4% increase, due largely to a spike in retail gas prices and a 0.5% increase in the rent factor. On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 1.9%, closing in on the Federal Reserve's two percent target rate.

Retail sales were down 0.2% in August, with the largest contributor to the decline the drop in auto sales which slumped 1.6% for the month after being flat in July.

With inflation up slightly (and understandably) and sales down, the Fed will find itself once again in a box on rate increases and likely do nothing when the FOMC meets next week. Some mention of the winding down of their enormous, $4.1 trillion balance sheet is expected and that could move markets, although the Fed has been extremely cautious to commence the wind-down as it could spark inflation, a market selloff or other unforeseen consequences.

Nonetheless, stocks are poised for another solid week while the economy appears to be slowing gradually during the third quarter.

At the Close, Thursday, September 14, 2017:
Dow: 22,203.48, +45.30 (+0.20%)
NASDAQ: 6,429.08, -31.10 (-0.48%)
S&P 500: 2,495.62, -2.75 (-0.11%)
NYSE Composite: 12,062.62, +7.44 (+0.06%)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back to the Grind for Wall Street

All the blustering over nuclear war over, now replaced with frantic screaming about neo-Nazi and White Supremacy groups (what kind of media is this?) after demonstrations and bloodshed in Charlottesville over the weekend, Wall Street didn't seem to interested in anything in a typical mid-summer session.

Stocks kind of straddled the unchanged line, and the usual unusual of indices pointing in opposite directions was the result of a lackluster day of trading paper.

The only significant news was from retail, if it can be believed, as July retail sales showed a 0.6% improvement, mostly due to incentives on new car sales and leases.

It wasn't enough to send buyers into a panic of shopping for downtrodden mall rentiers, since everybody already knows that the half-life of most retailers is very short, due to the general slack demand in the economy and the Amazon effect of hovering up all latent shoppers to the internet.

So, since Americans killing other Americans is not apparently as sexy as Americans killing North Koreans, or vice-versa, not much on the rally front today.

At the Close, Tuesday, August 15, 2017:
Dow: 21,998.99, +5.28 (0.02%)
NASDAQ: 6,333.01, -7.22 (-0.11%)
S&P 500: 2,464.61, -1.23 (-0.05%)
NYSE Composite: 11,843.48, -12.58 (-0.11%)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Stock Market Losses Will Not Be Tolerated

In a world which is prodded, directed, managed, and ultimately controlled by central banks and government authoritarians, the narrative is often more important than the reality of life under the thumb.

A case in point comes today - a day after the NASDAQ, S&P 500, Dow Industrial Average each set new all-time highs - in which actual economic data diverged from the preferred narrative of "everything is peachy-keen."

Two important data sets were released prior to the opening of US equity markets, July PPI and July retail sales. Both were disappointing.

PPI came in at -0.4% and retail sales posted a sluggish 0.0% (zero) growth, with the core - ex-autos - down 0.3%. These figures not only suggest deflation, but are actually indicative of a deflationary environment, the sole condition which can awaken central bankers from sound sleep in cold sweats and is, at the same time, a relief for cash-strapped, income-stagnant workers and consumers.

According to the book of central bank policy, should one actually exist, the wants and needs of the average working Jane or Joe is to be disregarded in such an instance, preference given to fat-cat Wall Street types who do no work, produce nothing of value, but rake in billions of dollars in fees, profits, and commissions for their trading activities in the stock market casino.

So it came to be that since stocks had just made all-time highs, a major setback could not and would not be tolerated. The major indices slumped most of the session, but were boosted higher going into the close, with losses trimmed on the Dow and S&P, the NASDAQ actually closing positive, as deemed appropriate by the masters of the the universe.

The rigging of markets is never going to work out long term. Massive mis-allocation of capital has been taking place since the last financial crisis, setting the global economy up for a colossal, catastrophic, cataclysmic collapse. Maybe it won't be as bad as our alliterative case suggests, if only because ordinary people have had time to adjust and prepare, but, for anyone owning stocks at current altitudes, losses are nearly a certainty. That is, unless the entire world remains in a state of suspended animation, normalcy bias, and cognitive dissonance, and the wild-eyed central bankers of the world are allowed to continue their insane policies of negative interest rates, naked purchasing of equities (already a de facto policy of the BOJ and ECB, still a clandestine operation by the US Fed), stimulus, and maybe, if we're really lucky, helicopter money.

The week ended well for the titans of Wall Street. Have a (few, lots of, keg of) beers, enjoy the weekend, and sleep on it.

Friday's Figures:
Dow Jones Industrial Average
18,576.47, -37.05 (-0.20%)

5,232.89, +4.50 (0.09%)

S&P 500
2,184.05, -1.74 (-0.08%)

NYSE Composite
10,820.79, -15.26 (-0.14%)

The weekly figures weren't all that impressive, though the NASDAQ recorded its seventh consecutive weekly gain.

For the Week:
Dow: +32.94 (+0.18%)
NASDAQ: +11.77 (+0.23%)
S&P 500: +1.18 (+0.05%)
NYSE Comp.: +37.92 (+0.35%)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Retail Sales, Inventory, PPI Fall; Stocks Full Steam Ahead

Events of the day no longer matter, as we are clearly in the final stages of a global financial catastrophe, one which few will see coming, though signs of malaise and deconstruction are everywhere.

On the day, March retail sales were reported to be off by 0.3%, that being a negative, as opposed to a positive, which was expected. Despite the obvious collapse of the consumer pocketbook, stocks disregarded the data - as per usual - and marched higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average arching towards the magic 18,000 mark, a number that has not been seen on Wall Street or anywhere since mid-July of last year.

PPI, an inaccurate guide to wholesale inflation, fell 0.1%, on expectations of a rise of 0.3%, another blow to the Fed's inflation targeting of two percent, and yet another arrow in the quiver of the punchy speculators who view all bad economic news as good.

Business inventories for February also fell, by 0.1%, a result of over-ramping holiday buying without the resultant sales. Businesses find themselves largely overstocked, and have no need to build inventories, especially at a time in which the global economy is either not growing at all or actually contracting.

Meanwhile, anecdotal reports of falling food prices are rafting throughout the US economy. One consumer reported a dozen eggs at $1.50, when they were $3.00 or more just six months ago, due largely to a 2015 bird flu which decimated the nation's chicken population.

Therein lies the conundrum: with gas prices low, food prices falling, consumers are still finding difficulty opening their wallets and spending. Primary culprits include excessive taxation, health care (Obamacare), college tuition, and high housing costs, be they either renting or owning, and, since making ends meet via interest on savings has become a relic of a bygone era, people are also paying down debt.

It doesn't matter to Wall Street. Main Street could shrivel up and die - which, in many smaller cities it already has - and stocks would still enjoy the speculative splendor of negligible interest rates.

Splurge, baby, splurge.

DJIA: 17,908.28, +187.03
S&P 500: 2,082.42, +20.70
NASDAQ: 4,947.42, +75.33

Crude Oil 41.55 -1.47% Gold 1,244.10 -1.33% EUR/USD 1.1277 -0.95% 10-Yr Bond 1.76 -1.07% Corn 373.75 +3.03% Copper 2.17 +1.14% Silver 16.24 +0.08% Natural Gas 2.04 +1.80% Russell 2000 1,129.93 +2.19% VIX 13.84 -6.80% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4206 -0.43% USD/JPY 109.3075 +0.67%

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are We Recovering Enough?

Editor's Note: Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. Well, it's now March, 2015, and, after a year off, little has changed, but Fearless Rick is once again re-charged to begin making daily (Monday - Friday) posts. This is, with hope, the first of many...

The following list is courtesy of the good squids over at Goldman Sachs.

From the start of February through March 2, these are the misses and beats of various US macro data.


1. Personal Spending
2. Construction Spending
3. ISM New York
4. Factory Orders
5. Ward's Domestic Vehicle Sales
6. ADP Employment
7. Challenger Job Cuts
8. Initial Jobless Claims
9. Nonfarm Productivity
10. Trade Balance
11. Unemployment Rate
12. Labor Market Conditions Index
13. NFIB Small Business Optimism
14. Wholesale Inventories
15. Wholesale Sales
16. IBD Economic Optimism
17. Mortgage Apps
18. Retail Sales
19. Bloomberg Consumer Comfort
20. Business Inventories
21. UMich Consumer Sentiment
22. Empire Manufacturing
23. NAHB Homebuilder Confidence
24. Housing Starts
25. Building Permits
26. PPI
27. Industrial Production
28. Capacity Utilization
29. Manufacturing Production
30. Dallas Fed
31. Chicago Fed NAI
32. Existing Home Sales
33. Consumer Confidence
34. Richmond Fed
35. Personal Consumption
36. ISM Milwaukee
37. Chicago PMI
38. Pending Home Sales
39. Personal Income
40. Personal Spending
41. Construction Spending
42. ISM Manufacturing


1. Markit Services PMI
2. Nonfarm Payrolls
4. Case-Shiller Home Price
5. Q4 GDP Revision (but notably lower)
6. Markit Manufacturing PMI

OK, so the US economy is going backwards at a 7:1 ratio of Misses to Beats, but stocks, since the beginning of February, have been roaring (today excluded).

The point is that stocks are ignoring the somber truth that the US economy is running on fumes and Wall Street is running on pretty much less than nothing (kinda like the motto for the NY Lottery - a dollar and a dream).

There are collapsing scenarios unfolding everywhere, from the disgusting behavior of executives at Lumber Liquidators (LL), who were exposed on 60 Minutes this past Sunday. There, the CEO says he didn't now that the below-cost flooring coming out of China didn't meet California (and much of the rest of the US states) standards for toxic emissions, especially formaldehyde. Sad fact is that after being punched down on Monday, the stock rallied more than 5% on Tuesday, but, worry not, it was at nearly 70 about a week ago, and was punished well before the TV coverage, down to around 40 now. Somebody knew something and obviously was front-running. Nothing new there, move along...

The award for most disgusting public display over the past few days is split between three distinct candidates:

  • 1. The US congress, for cheering on the speech of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in a joint meeting.
  • 2. The utter stupidity of millions on Twitter over whether some dress was white and gold or blue and black. Hasn't anyone ever heard of distortion?
  • 3. The cops who shot the homeless guy in Los Angeles.

Like I said at the outset, not much has changed over the past year (or five years, for that matter). We're still kicking the can down the road, entrapped in a senseless bout of normalcy bias which is allowing the elite segment of society (Wall Street and DC, mostly) to trample on our freedoms and steal every last cent from the middle and lower classes, along with every shred of dignity.

Yep, like I said when I stopped writing daily diatribes a year ago, nothing is going to change until the Fed stops pumping money into the system. Well, they actually did stop, in the third quarter of last year, but the QE baton was quickly raised by Japan, and will shortly be taken up by the ECB, so, don't expect much to change any time soon. We've got at least a year and a half before the federal funds rate (you know, that one that seems to be permanently stuck between 0 and 0.25%, the rate at which the TBTF banks borrow) gets anywhere close to one percent, and even that could cause a panic in stocks.

In the meantime, the Baby Boomers are trying to figure out how to retire without any interest income, and that's an increasingly difficult trick, since the only reasonable yield one can get is at the far end of the curve, in 30-year bonds, currently hovering around 2.75%. $100,000 invested at that rate returns a whopping $2750 a year, so, you have to put up (and tie up) a million bucks just to live barely above the poverty level. Not much fun when you're 70 years old.

Deflation... it's what's for dinner (after the cat food).

Dow: 18,203.37, -85.26 (-0.47%)
S&P 500: 2,107.78, -9.61 (-0.45%)
Nasdaq 4,979.90, -28.20 (-0.56%)

More tomorrow...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stocks Pounded Lower Again; December a Month of Not-so-Happy Holidays

Declines in equity prices are beginning to get a little bit serious, with the Dow Jones Industrials taking another 100+ point hit on Thursday after retail sales for November came in strong, but were unable to inspire confidence in the consumer sector, and unemployment claims shot up beyond expectations, to 368,000, not the kind of number expected during what is supposed to be the "busy" holiday shopping season.

Since the peak of 16,097.33, reached the day before Thanksgiving (November 27), the Dow is off 357 points, putting in a new interim low today. Still, that's a loss of just over two percent, not anything to get excited over, but the trend since Black Friday has been pronounced, with just two up days in the past 10 sessions.

Worse, new lows have taken a huge edge over new highs as of today, portending further losses should the trend extend.

The selling spilled over into precious metals, with gold and silver reversing gains made yesterday. Selling off of the metals may be a precursor of more asset depreciation, or, it could be just more of the constant discrediting of gold and silver as stores of value. It's a preposterous argument, made manifest by the fact that precious metal prices are derived from paper trading, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the intrinsic value proposition which only physical objects hold.

Overall, it's just getting a little too ugly for speculators with the year-end arriving in just 12 trading days.

DOW 15,739.43, -104.10 (-0.66%)
NASDAQ 3,998.40, -5.41 (-0.14%)
S&P 1,775.50, -6.72 (-0.38%)
10-Yr Note 98.86 -0.15 (-0.15%) Yield: 2.88%
NASDAQ Volume 1.75 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.28 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2513-3135
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 66-314
WTI crude oil: 97.50, +0.06
Gold: 1,224.90, -32.30
Silver: 19.45, -0.903
Corn: 434.25, -5.00

Friday, November 29, 2013

Disturbing Late Sell-Off Trend Undermined Stock Gains This Week

For the third time in the past four sessions, the major indices exhibited what can only be described as a disturbing trend: a late-day sell-off sending the averages back down to, or below, their opening levels.

This similar pattern - of stocks rising in the morning, leveling off and then dropping like stones off a mountain, has been identified this past Monday and Tuesday, and was exceptionally profound in the short session, Friday.

In general terms, no news accompanied the rise or falls, so, it should be regarded as an algorithm-trading-based function, as it's unlikely that humans would react in such herd-like behavior (well, maybe) as stocks have shown this week.

Friday's decline on the Dow and S&P (the NASDAQ managed to finish positive) might be viewed by those more occupied with Black Friday shopping than stocks as a minor issue - only 10 points on the Dow - though taken with the perspective of the whole 3 1/2-hour trading day, the dump was off a level that had the Dow at all-time highs, up 78 points on the day in early trading, finally losing all bids in the final twenty minutes.

Delving deeper into the phenomenon, Friday's decline could be the result of channel checks or car counting at selected retail locations that some organizations were conducting over the course of what is widely believed to be the biggest retail shopping day of the year. If, for instance, some of the trading firms were being fed less-enthusiastic figures from the field, it's not outside the realm of speculation that some adroit stock jocks could have been taking profits late in the day, and that would bode ill for a shopping season that's already six days shorter than last year's and, according to some analysis, may be the worst holiday season since 2009.

In that case, stocks should be expected to not just fail at the close, but moreso at the open, in coming days. Traders will have the weekend to figure this out, so, looking forward to Monday, a quiet open and negative finish might just confirm the retail fears. Saturday and Sunday shopping will be recorded by the compilers of such data and disseminated to market participants well ahead of Monday's opening bell.

With November jobs data due out Friday, the first week of December may be a watershed event for traders. Stocks are up significantly over the course of the year, by some measures, exceedingly so, and there hasn't been a sizable pullback in stocks since the government shutdown in November.

Additionally, the ACA website is supposed to be up and running at 80% capacity come Saturday, and more issues with the entire ObamaCare program might just give speculators enough reason to put on the brakes.

Of course, money has to go somewhere, so there's likely an equal chance that there will be a "Santa Claus" rally on top of this year's already-substantial gains, and the recent trend of late-day selling disregarded as nothing more than an algorithmic anomaly.

Whatever the case, next week bears close scrutiny, no matter which way one is playing the market. The larger picture, with stocks being buoyed by the Fed's incessant money-creation, remains decidedly bullish.

DOW 16,086.41, -10.92 (-0.07%)
NASDAQ 4,059.89, +15.14 (+0.37%)
S&P 1,805.81, -1.42 (-0.08%)
10-Yr Note 99.96, -0.07 (-0.07%)
NASDAQ Volume 823.70 Mil
NYSE Volume 1.59 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3173-2307
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 528-27
WTI crude oil: 93.25, +0.95
Gold: 1,250.60, +12.80
Silver: 19.98, +0.348
Corn: 424.50, -2.00

Friday, September 13, 2013

Retail Sales Miss, Consumer Sentiment Negative, Stocks Move Higher

Well, that's what happens when computers are doing 80% of the trading, of which there isn't much, anyway.

Prior to the market open - giving the insiders plenty of time to rig set their positions, retail sales for August were reported to have risen 0.2% (in some alternate universe) on expectations of a gain of 0.5% (in an even more bizarre universe).

Stocks took a bit of a dip at the open, but were revived when University of Michigan's September consumer sentiment registered a 76.8, on expectations of 81, after showing 82.1 in August. It was the biggest miss in the history of the survey and the lowest reading in five months.

Naturally, stocks recovered and the Dow quickly shot up to about a 70-point gain and stayed their the rest of the session.

It was one of the best weeks of recent memory for the indices. The Dow gained 453 points for the week, while the S&P was up almost two percent, posting a gain of 32.82 points. The NASDAQ was the laggard, up 62.17 or 1.70%.

All of this makes perfect sense when one understands that the average stock position is held for something like seven seconds and that volume was so low today that it scarcely registered.

Then again, Twitter tweeted that it had filed papers for an IPO. The initial valuation is rumored to be around $10 billion, but, Twitter, as far as can be surmised, is not a profitable enterprise. Shades of the dotcom bubble.

Seems there's still some summer remaining at the Hamptons.

Dow 15,376.06, +75.42 (0.49%)
Nasdaq 3,722.18, +6.22 (0.17%)
S&P 500 1,687.99, +4.57 (0.27%)
10-Yr Bond 2.90%, -0.01
NYSE Volume 2,931,141,750
Nasdaq Volume 1,421,610,875
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3975-2516
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 175-75
WTI crude oil: 108.21, -0.39
Gold: 1,308.60, -22.00
Silver: 21.72, 0.429

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fiscal Cliff: Wall Street Waits While Washington Waffles

Everybody knew that the politicians in the nation's capitol wouldn't get a deal on taxes and spending until the very last possible minute, right?

That certainly seems to be the case, as there are now only five days left in 2012, and most of congress is out of town, though President Obama has made arrangements to return to the White House from Hawaii on Thursday.

Whether or not there will be anyone for him to negotiate with in another question. And what exactly will they be discussing? A very, very, short term deal, most likely extending unemployment benefits and maybe keeping the Bush tax cuts intact for those earning under $250,000, for maybe a couple of months.

The real problem which is beginning to emerge is the upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling (again), and the Tea Party Republicans in the house still seem hell-bent on making that an issue by which they can twist the president's arm.

The debt ceiling will need to be raised before March, at the very latest, or the federal government will shut down, which, at this juncture, seems to be the best option. Just do away with all of it and let chaos reign. Why not? The solutions being bantered about by the half-crazed Republicans and Democrats aren't going to solve anything except to dole out a few more Obama bucks to those already with their hands out and keep marginal rates in pretty much the same range without meaningful changes to spending or structural reform to entitlement programs or defense.

Wall Street has displayed iron nerves throughout this entire fiscal fiasco, with stocks up for the month of December. The bankster criminals on the Street are probably in on what already is looking like the biggest tax increase in American history, so they're likely well-positioned to benefit from a market decline.

If they aren't, they soon will be, if that's how this is going to go down.

It's gotten well past ridiculous, especially in light of the report from Mastercard Advisors Spending Pulse today that saw retail sales up just 0.7% versus 2011. The report tracked sales from October 28 to December 24.

Happy Holidays. Not.

Dow 13,114.59, -24.49 (0.19%)
NASDAQ 2,990.16, -22.44 (0.74%)
S&P 500 1,419.83, -6.83 (0.48%)
NYSE Composite 8,395.49, -25.06 (0.30%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,059,561,875
NYSE Volume 2,273,327,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1959-3537
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 96-40
WTI crude oil: 90.98, +2.37
Gold: 1,660.70, +1.20
Silver: 30.04, +0.138

Monday, December 10, 2012

Over the Cliff We Go, but Where Is the Fear?

America has finally been dumbed down enough so that the ruling elite can run roughshod over the nation unfettered by neither rule of law or unfortunate facts.

About a month ago, (first person singular here, so pay attention) I made a point (don't know whether or not I made the point in any blog posting or not) that my belief was that a deal on the Bush tax cuts' expiration and other "fiscal cliff" issues had already been cut. Today, I still hold to that belief and even more strongly than before.

Take, for instance, the measured pace of both the Washington politicians and the Wal Street traders. The politicians have done nothing, are no closer to a deal than they were a month ago and don't seem to be in a big hurry to resolve these "pressing" issues.

Wall Street, after a hissy fit bout of selling over "their man" Romney losing the election, have recouped most of the decline and keep gradually pushing stocks higher and higher, apparently oblivious to the threat of the entire nation falling (or being pushed) over said fiscal cliff come January 1, 2013.

The simple reason for believing that the politicians won't make a deal before January 1, 2013, are so obvious as to not even be worth mentioning and that is the exploding federal government deficit and ever-expanding national debt, due to surpass its limits within another month or so.

The government needs money. Let me say that again, with emphasis:

OK, maybe that was a little harsh on the eyes, but there's no doubting the veracity of that statement. And, since the government needs money, and, since the politicians express this nagging sentiment that they are two parties poles apart on ideology and methodology, when in fact they are one and the same party when it comes to self-survival, the best way to get more money is to raise taxes on everybody and blame each other, which, in the long run, means nobody gets blamed, nobody has to worry about torches, pitchforks and being run out of town on a rail, and everybody gets re-elected, eventually.

For Wall Street, it means more money for corporations, which can and do break every law imaginable in pursuit of profit, and largely get away with it. Or, the traders are just ramping up stocks on the backs of their muppet clients, while quietly cashing out and putting their money into tangible assets like gold, silver, real estate, or stashing it away in the Cayman Islands or some other off-shore tax haven.

Think, for a moment. According to recently released statistics, and demonstrated by this article, in August and September, over three times as many foodstamp recipients (over one million) were added to the economy as jobs (324,000). So, where's the recovery? For everybody who gets a low-wage, no-benefit, glorified part-time job, three people apply for and receive food stamps and become a burden on the working class.

Like so many other concepts and programs in these United States, this is unsustainable, yet the media keeps rminding us that all is well, and that we sould go out and buy the latest iWidget or iGadget for Christmas to keep the economy humming along. Really?

Take a look at the S&P Retail Index (^RLX), which, after a double bottom in late October and early November, has headed south again in the first six days of December.

This, my friends, is the Christmas season, the buying season, the make-or-break season for retailers. If everything is so honkey-dorey, then why is this index rolling over, right at the height of what should be its strongest season.

Maybe the market is just being counter-intuitive, but, more likely, the retailers are being slaughtered. Holiday buying is down, as some luxury retailers have recently expressed, like Tiffany and Nordstrom's, and Kohl's, a mainstream retailer, reported horrifying same-store sales last week. Cannibalization. Zombification. Call it what you will, but, if everybody - not just the rich, but, everybody - is going to pay more in taxes next year, because THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS MONEY, how then does the economy look going forward.

Happy Holidays my sweet, firm buns. We're heading over the fiscal cliff by design and the aftermath of crashing billions of dollars below is not going to be very pretty.

I may be completely wrong, but, believe what you like. By all appearances, the deal has already been struck, the politicians are just play-acting, and the deal is that there is no deal. Welcome to the next fork on the road to serfdom.

Am I the only one seeing this for what it is? Where's the fear of the economy rolling over into a recession in the first half of 2013, which the OMB has already expressed would happen were the Bush tax cuts to expire, unemployment benefits be allowed to expire, the reduced take out of Social Security be allowed to expire, and cuts in defense and other programs (the so-called "sequestration") occur all at once?

The congress is set to recess for the holidays on Friday, December 14, four days from now. There simply isn't time enough to craft a substantive deal before then, since nothing at all has been done.

Obama and the Democrats will blame House leader John Boehner and the Republicans, who will blame Obama and the Democrats, and the American people will be left holding the bag, once again, with less in it than before. Tax the rich, tax the poor, tax everybody in between and blame each other. What a plan! Absolutely brilliant!

Market Update at 4:50 pm ET...

Stuck on stupid is about the only way to describe today's market (non)activity. Narrow range (seriously, the Dow was between up 20 and 30 points for almost the entire session) on low volume with the full range of just 55 points was ugly. Totally dead money.

Dow 13,169.88, +14.75 (0.11%)
Nasdaq 2,986.96, +8.92 (0.30%)
S&P 500 1,418.55, +0.48 (0.03%)
NYSE Composite 8,322.68, +8.39(0.10%)
NYSE Volume 2,975,303,000
Nasdaq Volume 1,528,722,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3095-2408
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 139-61
WTI crude oil: 85.56, -0.37
Gold: 1,714.40, +8.90
Silver: 33.38, +0.246

Monday, October 15, 2012

Did Retail Sales Power a Rare Monday Rally?

Retail sales for September, as reported on Monday prior to the opening bell, were up sharply year-over-year and were up 1.1% after a 1.2% rise in August.

So, did the retail sector fuel the rare Monday rally, which was only the third time stocks had shown gains on a Monday in the past 20 weeks?

Well, yes they did, as the Consumer Cyclical space gained 1.11%, the best sector gain of the day. Following were Health Care and Financials, the latter based largely on an earnings beat by Citicroup (C), which beat solidly on revenue as well.

The timing could not have been better for options players as October monthly options settle this week, on Friday, just in time for stocks to head to new highs and savvy options professionals cash in on their bets.

Trading on this Monday was a radical departure from last week's broad decline, with the advance-decline line repairing itself and new highs beating new lows by a 2-1 ratio.

Oddly enough, the market wins either way in the currently-convoluted presidential debate regime that is market psychology. With retail and stocks doing well, one would envisage an Obama victory on November 6, anathema to the markets, but, good numbers are good numbers, so, stock traders went along for the ride.

Sticking with the current thinking, even if retail sales had been poor, stocks would probably have risen anyway, because the poor numbers would indicate a Romney victory, which the market is said to love.

In either case, stocks win, even on a day when commodities were hit hard across the board, especially in the precious metals segment, as gold and silver were pounded lower right from the opening of trading.

That seems to be the game plan, at least for today, by the central bank stock market cartel controlling markets worldwide. Buy riskier assets and sell off those things that are proven to be a reliable store of value.

It's working, as stocks are within 5-8% of all time highs on the S&P and the Dow. It's a very interesting time for both political junkies and market watchers, but should get even more intense during the week and after options expiry on Friday. There's still unfinished business in Europe, mostly regarding Greece and Spain, and a shock from the land of the socialists could easily upset any balancing act currently taking place in the markets.

Most of the attention is focused on Tuesday night's presidential debate, the current wisdom saying that another poor performance by president Obama would practically hand the election over to Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger, making the event must-see TV for all, despite the thinly-veiled sarcasm in that statement.

The debates are largely political porn, with many voters having already made up their minds. If Obama purposely throws Tuesday's debate, as he did the first one, it would give Romney an edge, so, considering how the media whores need to keep the American public on the edge of their seats right up until - and beyond - election day, count on the President to deliver some serious body blows Tuesday night, followed by a negative market reaction Wednesday.

With the election just three weeks away, expect the rhetoric and noise to rise to a crescendo in coming weeks. Along with it could be a climactic rise in stocks, with the Dow touching off new all-time highs and the S&P hot on its heels, or, a dramatic turndown heading into the big fiasco that is election day in America.

Dow 13,424.23, +95.38 (0.72%)
NASDAQ 3,064.18, +20.07 (0.66%)
S&P 500 1,440.13, +11.54 (0.81%)
NYSE Composite 8,296.97, +69.89 (0.85%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,536,536,250
NYSE Volume 3,257,196,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3596-1897
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 133-65
WTI crude oil: 91.85, -0.01
Gold: 1,737.60, -22.10
Silver: 32.74, -0.926

Monday, July 16, 2012

Markets Lower for Seventh Straight Monday in Sideways Trading

Get ready for a real roller coaster ride this week.

With Monday's declines marking the seventh straight Monday in which the market has sustained losses - an event which hasn't occurred since 2002 - the stage is set for more fun and games brought to you by the criminal syndicate that runs Wall Street, and, to some extent, your lives.

Citigroup (C) delivered a second quarter earnings beat prior to the open which failed to move futures off their declining dime, sending stocks straight downhill at the open, a not-unforeseen event, given Friday's massive melt-up.

And therein lies the crux of the market-is-rigged argument. If stocks are headed lower on Mondays, there isn't much analysis to do if you're running a big fund, or even a little one. Same might be true for Tuesday and Wednesday; you'll nibble a little maybe, but make your big move on Thursday, because Friday, as we all know all too well, is payday, and, thanks to concoctions like weekly options expiry and the usual third Friday of the month expiry (which happens to be this Friday), you can make money without break a sweat.

That seems to be the current game plan, since, after all, the world is heading to hell in a handbasket, so, savvy players will make the most of uncertainty, to say nothing of inside information and shared strategies.

Topping the news wires today were retail sales - down for the third straight month - and the IMF lowering its wildly optimistic global growth estimate for 2013 from 4.1% to 3.9%, though neither of those indicators seemed to touch off much sentiment other than bolstering the already overtly pessimistic.

Ben Bernanke appears before congress Tuesday and Wednesday, which might be newsworthy if he actually had any power over the markets (he doesn't), though many a hopeful banker will be listening in for any hints that the Fed may try more easing, a strategy which has worked well for speculators but come up snake eyes for the US and global economies.

A few weeks back, it was suggested here that stocks could be headed for a nighty downturn or a sideways/lower trade at best. So far, the sideways has been playing out, though the lower part of the formula seems to be headed off just about every Friday.

This week could be more of the same, with the aforementioned options expiration ending the week on a note the bankers love most, the sound of ringing cash registers.

Of course, this being the middle of summer, volume was nothing to speak of, though that's become somewhat the norm since the only players left are flesh-eating zombie bankers, flush with the Fed's newly-minted cash and nothing better to do with it than gamble it all away.

Dow 12,727.21, -49.88 (0.39%)
NASDAQ 2,896.94, -11.53 (0.40%)
S&P 500 1,353.64, -3.14 (0.23%)
NYSE Composite 7,743.06, -15.62 (0.20%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,438,632,500
NYSE Volume 2,883,821,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2271-3292
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 277-71
WTI crude oil: 88.43, +1.33
Gold: 1,591.60, -0.40
Silver: 27.32, -0.05

Monday, April 16, 2012

Apple Bifurcates Markets on Big Sell-off; Spain, Housing in Focus

Before getting to why the major indices were all over the map today, a couple of key economic data points:

The NAHB Housing Market Index fell for the first time in seven months, from 28 in March to 25 in April. A figure of 50 is considered "break even" wherein more builders are more confident. Obviously, this latest dip leasves new hoe builders nowhere close.

Regionally, the Northeast posted a four-point gain to 29 (its highest level since May of 2010), the West saw no change at 32, the South declined three poins to 24 and the Midwest was the weakest, posting an eight-point decline to 23.

With new home sales on tap for tomorrow, housing appears to be as weak as it ever has.

Retail sales for March posted an unexpected 0.8% gain on expectations of just a 0.3% rise, somewhat of a surprise considering high fuel costs and other issues facing consumers (no jobs, no homes, high debt, etc.).

On the downside, the Empire Manufacturing Index nose-dived from 20.21 in March to 6.56 in April. The collected wisdom of forecasters expected a decline - to 17.6. New orders and shipments were down, while the employment situation was mixed with more jobs, but for shorter durations.

Taken together, these data sets reveal a US economy that is crawling along and possibly sputtering to stall speed.

Investors in Apple (AAPL) took some long-overdue profits on Monday, sending the world's largest company by market cap down 25.10 points (4.15%), to close at 580.13, the worst decline for Apple in more than six months. Investors were buoyed by a 45% gain in the company stock since October, however.

The weight of Apple on the various indices was obvious, with the NASDAQ the most severely affected, the S&P less so. Meanwhile, the Dow registered a strong showing, with 24 of the 30 components sporting gains, led by Travelers (TRV), Proctor & Gamble (PG), Wal-Mart (WMT) and DuPont (DD).

Otherwise, it was a straightforward session, with much of the focus centered on Spain's 10-year note, which spiked back above 6% on the day and sent bond holders scrambling for the safety of the German Bund, which is nearing historic lows. The pressure on Spain's funding continues to fuel speculation that the country will need a Greek-style bailout soon.

Dow 12,921.41, +71.82 (0.56%)
NASDAQ 2,988.40, -22.93 (0.76%)
S&P 500 1,369.57, -0.69 (0.05%)
NYSE Composite 7,949.57, +18.47 (0.23%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,566,279,375
NYSE Volume 3,444,850,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3083-2500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 109-106
WTI crude oil: 102.93, +0.10
Gold: 1,649.70, -10.50
Silver: 31.37, -0.02

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)