The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for June, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $360.2 billion, a decrease of 0.5 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month
Heh, that’s not so good. Ex-autos sales were down -0.15%, implying what we’ve already seen reported: auto sales have gone in the tank.
But that’s not the only place we found bad news. Building materials were down about 1%, and, interestingly, so were food and beverage stores (about 1/2%.) Gasoline sales were down 2%, while clothing stores, general merchandise and electronics were up slightly.
All in all not a disastrous report – but definitely not a strong one either. The market reaction was immediately negative, although the move (about 1/2% southbound) wasn’t dramatic.
The evidence continues to mount that the economy is, indeed, slowing once again.
On January 5th the durables report for November was ‘released’.
It showed a 0.2% increase. I didn’t write on it at the time, as it didn’t appear to be particularly consequential. The report, of course, came in the middle of the first-week January market rally.
But now, in the dark of night, the number has been revised – to a decrease of 0.7%. The reason is a claimed "statistical error."
This, by the way, should have been obvious from the retail sales report, which I did write on.
Here’s the ugly – the Census’ link to the report is now listed as missing (that is, intentionally removed!) and what’s worse the link they refer you to, the "Historical M3 Releases" does not have the corrected November data – it only has releases through October on it.
That is, November’s report has disappeared.
No, the "historical" tab doesn’t have it either. Attempting to retrieve it off the link in Google’s search returns a "not currently available, see historical" message – but it’s not there.
You would think that such an "error" would result in an immediate press release by Census identifying the cause of the error and a corrected report, along with CNBS and the rest of "ToutTV" talking about how this "mistake" happened and alerting investors to the fact that they had made decisions based on "mistaken" information and in fact durables had suffered a second sequential decline.
YOU WOULD BE WRONG.
Are we now down to rank fraud in "data releases" from our government, revised in the dark of night without public notice or press release, with the agencies claiming "statistical error"?
Folks, honest errors are immediately admitted to when discovered and disseminated to all of the people who the government or agency knows relies on these figures for economic decisions.
But when "errors" are less than honest the person or agency committing them attempts to hide the evidence instead of admitting to and publicly exposing their mistake.
If you missed this earlier, be sure to watch Scott Galloway's presentation on the large global technology companies and the challenges facing them. Galloway discusses Amazon ("pure play commerce doesn't work"), its disruption by Uber, and Macy's, Facebook's bait-and-switch, Instragam ("the most powerful platform in the world"), the smartphone economy (outstanding for employment, terrible for wages), attracting better mates with an iPhone, Apple's successful move down the torso into luxury, and more.
Galloway speaks fast so you may want to watch it twice.
Another day, another successful defense of breakout support. The S&P held on to its 20-day MA and is well placed to bounce of this moving average tomorrow. Volume was down, which for a higher close was maybe a little disappointing.
The Nasdaq closed with a small doji in a very nondescript day for the index. Volume was lighter too.
The Russell 2000 continued to hold its breakout. Like the S&P, the 20-day MA is available to lend support too.
Chris Kimble shared his chart of the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF, XLU, with us.
The one month performance inset shows XLU’s uninspiring performance compared to every other ETF on the list. However, the rather steep bullish falling wedge pattern says that it may be time for a bounce.
[Click on chart to enlarge]
Chris likes XLU for a short-term bounce off the 200 day moving average at $44. One way to play this setup is to buy the XLU outright. Chris suggests a 3% stop loss on the shares.
Another bullish play is to use options in a strategy designed by Phil:
Despite low trading volume, a strong dollar, mixed economic and earnings reports, paralyzing weather conditions throughout much of the U.S., and ominous global news events, stocks continue to march ever higher. The world remains on edge about potential Black Swan events from the likes of Russia, Greece, or ISIS (or lone wolf extremists). Moreover, the economic recovery of the U.S. may be feeling the pull of the proverbial ball-and-chain from the rest of the world’s economies. Nevertheless, awash in investable cash, global investors see few choices better than U.S. equities.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then ...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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