Showing posts with label steel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steel. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Trade Uncertainty Tempers Markets on First Full Day of Holiday Trading

The first week of the final month of 2019 was a deviation from the general theme of 2019. Stocks were sold with reckless abandon, as were bonds, with the 10-year note bounding back to yield 1.83% - though higher during the day - a level not visited since mid-November.

The bond market felt more like churning than the start of actual long-term selling, but stocks had a different sense about them. Bad news on the US-China trade situation has the financial world in a near-panic as the deadline approaches for added tariffs to be applied on Chinese exports to the US. Additionally, President Trump reimposed tariffs on steel from Argentina and Brazil, citing the two South American countries' recent currency devaluations as reason for slapping on the tariffs "immediately."

While the steel tariffs boosted shares of US steel producers, it only exacerbated the unease surrounding the wider Chinese issue and sent stocks into a day-long tailspin. Selling was the order of the day globally, as bourses from Japan, China, Europe and the Americas all suffered declines with the sourness continuing into Tuesday as trade resumed Tuesday in international markets.

While the focus may currently be on trade and tariffs, there appears to be more to the sudden swing from buying to selling than just the movement of goods around the planet. Recall that Friday (ubiquitously know as Black Friday in the US) also witnessed declines, not the usual euphoria associated with the start of the holiday shopping season. Other concerns are various recent populist uprising in places as diverse as Hong Kong, Iran, Lebanon, India and elsewhere. Besides, it is December, so one can safely assume that any concerted selling is going to be enhanced by year-end profit-taking.

While the mainstream (now nearly completely fake) media will focus on the stock markets' generous advances during the year, they will also conveniently gloss over the dual declines from October and December of 2018, which, taken in such context, renders gains from September 2018 as practically nil.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, for instance, is up only 1000 points since mid-September of 2018, accounting for a gain of less than a half percent. The NASDAQ has tacked on about 450 points since August of last year, while the S&P 500, at current levels, has added just 183 points over the past 15 months, the point being that stocks, though they've recently made new all-time highs, are really not much further ahead than they were more than a year ago, but the media will remind us only of what's happened in the current calendar year, which might be a tad misleading.

In any case, internationally, stocks are being whacked again Tuesday morning and US futures are looking pretty dismal, with Dow futures down nearly 300 points less than an hour prior to the opening bell.

Corporate profits have been underwhelming, to say the least, for the past few quarters, so some fundamental shift may be underway. If a flight into the safely of bonds develops, that will be a sign that the stock market is going to finish off the year on a negative note, though there's always the possibility of a Sant Calus rally the week between Christmas and New Year to save everybody's bacon.

At the Close, Monday, December 2, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 27,783.04, -268.37 (-0.96%)
NASDAQ: 8,567.99, -97.48 (-1.12%)
S&P 500: 3,113.87, -27.11 (-0.86%)
NYSE Composite: 13,448.26, -96.95 (-0.72%)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Stocks Steady As Trump Softens Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

As seen through the eyes of Wall Street computer algorithms, President Trump's 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% on aluminum aren't so bad after all.

Stocks ended the day in the green, but it was a bumpy ride getting there, with most of the gains coming in the final half-hour of trading, during and after Trump's announcement.

In realistic analysis, Thursday's trading amounted to less than nothing, focused so heavily upon the tariff issue, as if that were all that mattered. Tomorrow's non-farm payroll report for January, released at 8:30 am, prior to the opening bell, will likely impact markets more decidedly.

Stocks, with the Dow Jones Average in particular, have made essentially no progress since February 14, when it closed at 24,893.49. There's still a mountain to climb to get back to all-time highs from January 26 (26,616.71). The Dow remains in the red for March.

Elsewhere, oil closed just a hair above $60/barrel, at $60.33, a multi-week low, gold was down to $1322.50 per ounce, while silver held steady at $16.50 the ounce. Bonds continued to hold firm, with the 10-year-note finishing with a yield of 2.87%.

Dow Jones Industrial Average March Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
3/1/18 24,608.98 -420.22 -420.22
3/2/18 24,538.06 -70.92 -491.14
3/5/18 24,874.76 +336.70 -154.44
3/6/18 24,884.12 +9.36 -145.08
3/7/18 24,801.36 -82.76 -227.84
3/8/18 24,895.21 +93.85 -133.99

At the Close, Thursday, March 8, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,895.21, +93.85 (+0.38%)
NASDAQ: 7,427.95, +31.30 (+0.42%)
S&P 500: 2,738.97, +12.17 (+0.45%)
NYSE Composite: 12,745.01, +38.00 (+0.30%)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dow Jones Industrial Average March Scorecard:

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

China Steel Exports To USA Subject To 256% Tariff

Remember, folks, the US Department of Commerce has your backs.

The department is recommending that the United States impose a tariff on steel imports from China of 256%, because they feel China has been dumping steel on the market and causing a severe disruption in the price, negatively affecting US steel producers.

Gee, really? What's next, tariffs on electronics, cars, just about anything you buy at Wal-Mart or nearly anywhere in America?

Where's the great Ben Bernanke when you need him? You know, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve who is an EXPERT on the Great Depression.

Why do we need the Big Bernank now? Because, his expertise would prevail on our glorious government goofballs that protectionism is exactly what made the Great Depression so (not) great.

You take depressed markets overfull of inventory, tack on tariffs and you get exactly what the Fed wants in order to hide its horrible policies: velocity of money at zero, falling wages, layoffs and now, the kicker, goods too expensive for anybody to buy. Pure genius, these guys looking out for all of us little people.

This is just the beginning. Expect to see more trade protectionism going forward and more countries falling into recession. Add it all up and you have Great Depression 2.0.

It's not going to happen all of a sudden, because the Fed is still fighting deflation. But, when the going gets rough, really rough, like when Wall Street (hell) freezes over and commits suicide in a crash of stocks of companies that have been repurchasing their own shares for the past six years and they lay off millions of workers, that's when the government will move in full force with trade restrictions and tariffs so that Americans can't purchase anything from the evil Chinamen.

Maybe somebody should have thought about this before we sent all of our manufacturing base over to the Red Dragons. Then again, maybe they did.

Meanwhile, the Santa Claus rally continues on Wall Street. The S&P gained enough today to show a small profit for the year and the Dow Jones Industrials are closing in on being black for 2015.