If the way to classify the September stock move as "a confounding ramp on disappointing economic news" gets you stumped, here is Rosenberg to provide some insight. Just call is "deflationary growth or something like that." And as for the NBER’s pronouncement of the recession being over, Rosie has a few words for that as well: "this recovery, with its sub 1% pace of real final sales, goes down as the weakest on record."
It’s a real commentary that the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) decision on the historical record mattered more than the actual economic data. The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index is the latest data point in an array of September releases coming in below expected:
Philly Fed index: actual -0.7 versus 0.5 expected
Empire manufacturing index: actual 4.14 versus 8 expected
NAHB: actual 13 versus 14 expected
University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment: actual 66.6 versus 70 expected
It’s early days yet, and these are only surveys, but it would seem as though the economy remains very sluggish as we head towards the third-quarter finish line.
It is truly difficult to come up with an explanation for the breakout, which in turn makes it difficult to ascertain its veracity. If we are seeing a re-assessment or risk or a major asset allocation move, then why did Treasury yields rally 4bps (and led lower by the “real rate”, which is a bond market proxy for “real growth expectations”)?
If it was a pro-growth move, why did copper sell off and the CRB flatten? And where is the volume? Still lacking? So we have a breakout with little or no confirmation. All we can see is that many sentiment measures have swung violently to the upside in recent weeks and the VIX index is all the way back to 21x —- somewhat contrary negative signposts for the bulls.
But the price action is undeniable and the bulls are in fact winning the battle in September, a typically negative seasonal month, after a bloody August. The fact that bonds rallied yesterday is a tad bizarre and perhaps the explanation, if there is one, is that the equity market is enamoured with the cash leaving the corporate balance sheet in favour of dividend payouts and share buybacks and
On Tuesday, the 30-year fixed rate for mortgages plunged to an all-time low of 4.56 per cent. Rates are falling because investors are still moving into risk-free liquid assets, like Treasuries. It’s a sign of panic and the Fed’s lame policy response has done nothing to sooth the public’s fears. The flight-to-safety continues a full two years after Lehman Bros blew up.
Housing demand has fallen off a cliff in spite of the historic low rates. Purchases of new and existing homes are roughly 25 per cent of what they were at peak in 2006. Case/Schiller reported on Monday that June new homes sales were the "worst on record", but the media twisted the story to create the impression that sales were actually improving! Here are a few of Monday’s misleading headlines: "New Home Sales Bounce Back in June"--Los Angeles Times. "Builders Lifted by June New-home Sales", Marketwatch. "New Home Sales Rebound 24 per cent", CNN. "June Sales of New Homes Climb more than Forecast", Bloomberg.
The media’s lies are only adding to the sense of uncertainty. When uncertainty grows, long-term expectations change and investment nosedives. Lying has an adverse effect on consumer confidence and, thus, on demand. This is from Bloomberg:
The Conference Board’s confidence index dropped to a 5-month low of 50.4 from 54.3 in June. According to Bloomberg News:
"Sentiment may be slow to improve until companies start adding to payrolls at a faster rate, and the Federal Reserve projects unemployment will take time to decline. Today’s figures showed income expectations at their lowest point in more than a year, posing a risk for consumer spending that accounts for 70 per cent of the economy.
“Consumers’ faith in the economic recovery is failing,” said guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, whose forecast of 50.3 for the confidence index was the closest among economists surveyed by Bloomberg. “The job market is slow and volatile, and it’ll be 2013 before we see any semblance of normality in the labor market." (Bloomberg)
Confidence is falling because unemployment is soaring, because the media is lying, and because the Fed’s monetary policy has failed. Notice that Bloomberg does not mention consumer worries over "curbing the deficits". In truth, the public has only a passing interest in the large…
From the beginning of May until late June, stock markets worldwide declined sharply, with losses surpassing 10%. The first weeks of July brought only marginal relief. Ominous voices began to warn that the weakness of stocks was a direct response to the stalling of an economic recovery that has lasted barely a year. Anxiety over debt-laden European countries — most notably Greece — combined with stubbornly high unemployment in the U.S. to create a toxic but fertile mix that allowed concern to blossom into full-bloom fear.
The most common refrain was that stocks are weak because global economic activity is sagging. A July 12 report by investment bank Credit Suisse was titled Are the Markets Forecasting Recession? With no more stimulus spending on the horizon in the U.S., Europeans on austerity budgets and consumer sentiment best characterized as surly, the sell-off in stocks was explained as a simple response to an economy on the ropes.
It’s a good story and a logical one. But it distorts reality. Stocks are no longer mirrors of national economies; they are not — as is so commonly said — magical forecasting mechanisms. They are small slices of ownership in specific companies, and today, those companies have less connection to any one national economy than ever before.
As a result, stocks are not proxies for the U.S. economy, or that of the European Union or China, and markets are deeply unreliable gauges of anything but the underlying strength of the companies they represent and the schizophrenic mind-set of the traders who buy and sell the shares. There has always been a question about just how much of a forecasting mechanism markets are. Hence the saying that stocks have…
Double-dip risks in the U.S. have risen substantially in the past two months. While the “back end” of the economy is still performing well, as we saw in the May industrial production report, this lags the cycle. The “front end” leads the cycle and by that we mean the key guts of final sales — the consumer and housing.
We have already endured two soft retail sales reports in a row and now the weekly chain-store data for June are pointing to sub-par activity. The housing sector is going back into the tank – there is no question about it. Bank credit is back in freefall. The recovery in consumer sentiment leaves it at levels that in the past were consistent with outright recessions. Last year’s improvement in initial jobless claims not only stalled out completely, but at over 470k is consistent with stagnant to negative jobs growth. And exports, which had been a lynchpin in the past year, will feel the double-whammy from the strength in the U.S. dollar and the spreading problems overseas.
Spanish banks cannot get funding and another Chinese bank regulator has warned in the past 24 hours of the growing risks from the country’s credit excesses. A disorderly unwinding of China’s credit and property bubble may well be the principal global macro risk for the remainder of the year. Indeed, perhaps the equity market finally realized yesterday that allowing China more control to defuse an internal property and credit bubble may well be a classic case of “be careful of what you wish for.”
The Bond Cycle and Deflation
I was at an event recently where I was able to see two legends among others – Louise Yamada and Gary Shilling. Louise made the point that while secular phases in the stock market generally last between 12 and 16 years, interest rate cycles tend to be much longer – anywhere from 22 to 37 years; and she has a chart back to 1790 to prove the point! So while all we ever hear is that this secular bull market in bonds is getting long in the tooth, having started in late 1981, it may not yet be over. After all, the deleveraging part of this cycle
U.S. consumer sentiment dipped in early March, according to media reports on Friday of the Reuters/University of Michigan index.
Amid signs that the labor market is approaching a trough but remains frail, the consumer sentiment index declined to 72.5 in March from 73.6 in February. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had been expecting the sentiment index to hit 74 in March.
Yet, Still Shopping
Retail sales showed strength in February. Per the AP:.
For February, sales rose 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said Friday. That surpassed expectations that sales would decline 0.2 percent.
The overall gain was held back by a 2 percent decline in auto sales, reflecting in part the recall problems at Toyota. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.8 percent. That was far better than the 0.1 percent increase excluding autos that economists had forecast.
If you’re going to stay home (unemployed), perhaps that is cause for the new flat panel TV or laptop?
Calculated Risk does point out that while the trend is improved, the overall level is actual less than what was reported just one month ago:
January was revised down sharply. Jan was originally reported at $355.8 billion, an increase of 0.5% from December.
February was reported at $355.5 billion – a decline without the revision to January.
In other words, reports got ahead of themselves (no surprise), but the actual trend remains moving in an upward trajectory even though things quite frankly suck for the average consumer.
Nothing mind blowing to report this morning. In fact, more of the same – weak consumers, signs of deflation and “better than expected” earnings. Consumer sentiment came in essentially flat this morning at 65.7. This was a slight drop from the last reading, but nothing significant.
The more important news this morning is the personal income and outlays. Personal incomes were flat for the month and fell 2.4% year over year. Consumer spending was up 0.2% for the month and 1.1% year over year. It’s nice to see that people are making less and spending more. All joking aside, the boost in spending was due almost entirely to cash for clunkers which we all know is about the most fiscally irresponsible program this government has ever put together. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this program has the potential to be highly destructive. Taking out a loan from China to finance a program that encourages consumers to take out a loan to purchase a depreciating asset they likely don’t need….The effect on retail sales should be large, but the government just wants to see the near-term boost in GDP.
The market is rising on good earnings news, however (at least it was when I started writing). Intel raised their guidance, Dell posted horrible (though “better than expected”) numbers and Tiffany’s and J. Crew both posted terrible, but “better than expected” quarters. The analysts are still playing catch-up here and that alone is enough to give the market a reason to jump.
What is 410 words and is released precisely 180 seconds after the FOMC's minutes? Why Jon Hilsenrath's FOMC minute-parsing piece of course. Which we can only assume means Jon was on the "preapproved" list for early distribution and pre-analysis, because not even we can analyze and type that fast. We are confident he did not breach the embargo. Because that would not look good for the Fed already being investigated by the Inspector General for last month's humilating breach.
Lawmakers questioned Apple's CEO Tim Cook on tax matters yesterday. Felix Salmon explains (below) the details of the complicated tax scheme involving subsidiaries in Ireland and various contractual relationships that are legal but devised to lower the corporations' taxes.
And, why not? Since when do corporations live to maximize taxes and minimize profits? What CEO would survive that sort of behavior?
Apple's method of avoiding US taxes is a good argument for eliminating corporate taxes altogether. What do you think?
One runs out of superlatives to describe the current market.
Every day or week a new record seems to be set. A few of the current – yesterday was the 19th Tuesday in a row that the DJIA was up; the DJIA is now guaranteed to go without a 3 day losing streak for 100 days, breaking the 95 day record in 1927, the NASDAQ has had 17 days in a row of a new higher high, the best since Nov 1999, etc etc. Meanwhile Japan is in the realm of 50% YTD gains as their currency is kicked in the teeth.
Definitely an era to keep in our memory banks as the action is abnormal.
Here is the latest look at the "Sweet Sixteen" Dow recoveries adjusted for inflation/deflation I've been illustrating from time to time over the past three years. The charts below compare the current Dow recovery since the March 2009 low with fifteen other major recoveries dating from the origin of this legendary index in 1896. (See the footnote for my selection criteria.)
At this point the Dow is 1058 market days beyond the 2009 low. The last time I checked, in early April, the index was in fourth place in our Sweet Sixteen competition and 11.5% below the recovery from the 1982 low over the equivalent time frame. Now, 30 sessions later, the current level has a nominal gain of 135.0% since the 2009 trough, and is currently at a new all-time high. However, since we're comparing such a diverse set of market eras with such a wide patterns of inflation/deflati...
SKS - Saks, Inc. – High-end retailer, Saks, Inc., popped up on our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner this morning on heavier than usual trading traffic in upside calls. Shares in Saks are up 10% on Tuesday morning at a new 52-week high of $13.54 after the company posted first-quarter earnings in line with analyst expectations on higher-than-expected quarterly revenue. Shares in Saks are up more than 30% since this time last year. Bullish positions initiated in SKS options ahead of the earnings release yester...
So, what did the market want today? Nothing it appears. It traded on weak volume and had very little movement. This morning the market hated commodities especially silver, but by days end, the market liked silver, gold and even oil but not the dollar. Why?
Last week the economic reports were tough, with bad misses on more than one occasion. But the market tended to ignore the bad news, probably because money continues to pour into equities from money market funds, long term fixed income, and many struggling foreign economies. On Thursday, investors finally caved to even more bad news from Initial Jobless Claims and weak Housing Starts. Then on Friday, when Michigan Sentiment and Leading Indicators posted large positive surprises, the money came pouring back to generate qui...
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I am going to share with you how I manage my IRA and the power of reducing your cost basis. My goal each year is a 20% return in my IRA. Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don't, but I believe that all of my success is due to reducing my cost basis. To illustrate the power of reducing your cost basis here are some trades we did last year. These trades are taken from an educational portfolio we ran in a paper-trading account for a little more than a year.
We bought RIG on 5/15/2012 for $44.13, sold it on 1/18/2013 for $46 but booked a profit of $1,154.
We bought MT on 1/4/2012 for $19.24, sold it on 12/21/2012 for $15 but booked a profit of $454.
We bought CHK on 1/27/2012 for $21.93, sold it on 10/19/2012 for $18 b...
Stock market posts another record setting week, but the big news came after Friday’s close.
Courtesy of NASA
The stock market put on another record setting show with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) closing at a record high 15,118 and the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) closing at 1633.70, another all time closing high.
For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) gained 1%, the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) climbed 1.2%, the Nasdaq Composite (NYSEARCA:...
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Well, well, well....it is good to know that there are others in the scientific arena who believed that YMI Bioscience's data (cough - Gilead) is a better drug than Incyte's Jakafi. Now, the definitive data are still unknown, but there was enough evidence from a Phase 2 trial to take a small risk for a huge reward. So, let's forget about Apple (AAPL), and do nothing but biotechs from now until Congress passes universal health care coverage for prescriptions....and drive the prices down so that research and development is no longer feasible to conduct in the US. Even Seattle Genetics (SGEN) has been on a tear as of late...
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