Obviously, with the Steve Jobs situation, everyone is wondering how to play things. At the time (7:03) I thought the fact that AAPL was only down 3.7%, at $335, seemed fake and ridiculous – but what else is new in this market? Our position was to short pretty much everything as the Nas futures were all the way back to 2,310, which was not even down half a point from Friday’s close and some simple math tells us that AAPL is over 20% of the Nasdaq so a 5% drop in AAPL will take the Nasdaq down 1% while a 20% drop in AAPL will take the Nasdaq down 4% – right back to the 50 DMA at 2,640 and that seems like a reasonable pullback – especially when you consider that 2% of the current 2,755 was a result of Friday’s ridiculous rally.
Surely at least we would expect the loss of Steve Jobs to AT LEAST put the Nasdaq back to Friday’s open at 2,730 (2,300 in the futures) but I’ll be very surprised if we don’t at least test that 50 DMA so that will be our watch line for the week. Oddly enough, we had been discussing Steve Jobs’ health as one of the key unpriced market risks last Thursday, when I said to Members (in response to why I preferred a very defensive AAPL spread to holding the stock):
AAPL/Iflan – As I said to Maya, I like my above AAPL trade better than cash but I do not like AAPL stock better than cash because you can only sell 10% worth of protection and that caps your gains at 10% (and we can do better with cash) and it also doesn’t cover the risk of Steve Jobs catching a cold or just coughing on stage, which could cost you 20% very quickly.
In fact, concerns of AAPL and Jobs’ health were the premise for pressing our QID bets in February (see our $10,000 Virtual Portfolio Review), where I said at the time: "QID/Drum – Well since we were saved from doom on USO I got brave and went for a DD on the QID Feb $10s (now .82) and I think that’s worth the risk into expiration and the following weekend. Same goes for waiting on the…
I haven’t thought the 75%+ rally was particularly irrational over the course of the last 12 months. Surprised by the strength? Absolutely. But irrational, no. As of late, we’ve begun to see signs that the consumer is back, but the equity action implies that the consumer is not only back, but ready to break records. In late 2006 I wrote a letter that said:
“So here we sit with a relatively healthy economy, signs of inflation and record housing prices. Sounds pretty good, right? Not so fast. The markets could certainly move higher if housing doesn’t collapse, but we see very few scenarios in which that can happen. When the housing market slows consumers will spend less and businesses will begin to suffer. The US economy will then fall into a recession and European and Asian countries will quickly follow suit as the world’s greatest consumers wilt under the environment of low liquidity and higher debt….The credit driven housing bubble remains the greatest risk to the equity markets at this time.”
The day before the market bottom in March 2009 I said government intervention would likely generate an equity rally. But I did not come close to predicting that we were on the precipice of a 75% 12 month move. Not even close. On the other hand, I have never thought the move was particularly irrational and didn’t fight the tape through 2009.
I was very constructive on the market heading into 2010 and maintained that stimulus, strong earnings and an accommodative Fed would result in higher stock prices in H1. I point this out not because I am trying to toot my own horn or gloss over my many imperfections (many can be emphasized), but overall I have been able to not only foresee the macro mechanics driving the market, but have also done a fine job translating that into…
Consumer confidence is typically our "first look" at the state of the economy. While most government aggregated data come out with a two-month lag, or more, consumer confidence hits with just a one month lag. Studies have shown that consumer confidence is a good predictor of consumer spending numbers. Basically, people surveyed seem to be good at accurately reading their own economic situation, and those surveyed accurately reflect the broader economy. When consumer confidence drops to such deep unexpected levels--today’s were the worst in 27 years--then it is a flashing red-light about the economy.
There wasn’t anything good about today’s numbers. Every part of the survey was awful. On jobs, the optimistic folks who say jobs are plentiful fell to 3.6 percent from 4.4 percent. The pessimistic people who said jobs are hard to get increased to 47.7 percent from 46.5 percent. The gauge of expectations for the next six-months fell to 63.8, from 77.3 the prior month. The share of people who believe their incomes will increase over the next six months fell to 9.5 from 11 percent. The share of those expecting more jobs fell to 12.4 percent from 15.8 percent.
The message: the economy sucks.
The recovery we were supposed to have.
You’ll read a lot about how the consumer confidence numbers are a lagging indicator. Indeed, they are a lagging indicator when measured against the stock market. The real time data conveyed by the stock market is often a better indicator than any survey or government data. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to the consumer confidence number, especially since stocks have declined for most of this year.
Lets be clear here. The story-book recovery was dependent on a recovery of the consumer and a decline in the saving rate. If consumers lost some of their apprehension about future income prospects and future employment, they might begin to spend more on both retail goods and to purchase homes again. Anticipating this return of the consumer, businesses would increase capital spending and inventory.
Shown below is a retail proxy, the Retail HLDRs Exchange Traded Fund (RTH). It’s outperformed the S&P500 on a three month basis. Yet Best Buy’s (BBY) warning today, that revenue will be driven by lower-ticket items in the fourth quarter, could mean that the pre-Christmas retail rally shown below is toast.
Note how Best Buy dropped a nasty 7% on just these decent earnings. A lot of holiday cheer is already priced-in.
The hype is that the "recession is over." Has anyone touting this line actually walked around the real world? The next 7 million jobs to be lost are already in the pipeline.
The divergence between the reality easily observed in the real world and the heavily touted hype that "the recession is over because GDP rose 3.5%" is growing. It’s obvious that another 7 million jobs which are currently hanging by threads will be slashed in the next year or two.
Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 190,000 in October. In the most recent 3 months, job losses have averaged 188,000 per month, compared with losses averaging 357,000 during the prior 3 months. In contrast, losses averaged 645,000 per month from November 2008 to April 2009. Since December 2007, payroll employment has fallen by 7.3 million.
Civilian labor force: 154 million
Employment: 138.3 million
Unemployment: 15.7 million
Sept-Oct. change in employment: -589,000
in unemployment: 558,000
Not in labor force: 82,575,000
It is staggering that 7 million jobs lost out of 145 million (the total prior to the financial meltdown) has created a 10.2% unemployment rate. The numbers here don’t add up--"only" 190,000 jobs were lost in October, but then employment fell by 589,000--huh?--but the point missing is how many jobs are hanging by a thread.
I recently traveled to Los Angeles to be interviewed by my polymath friend and media maven Richard Metzger, creator of the Dangerous Minds website which has rocketed to 50,000 page views a day since he launched it a few months ago. (The topic was of course Survival+; look for the interview in about a week on Dangerous Minds.)
(Richard also manages the L.A. Time’s hot blog Brand X which will have you humming Randy Neuman’s I Love L.A. in short order.)
Has anyone noticed that airports are commercial dead-zones peopled by zombie clerks suffering from terminal boredom?
Richard Parkus of Deutsche Bank has updated his Commercial Real Estate outlook with Q2 data. Check out how much the situation has deteriorated since the end of Q1.
First, here’s where things stood at the end of Q1. The lines on the chart are the percentage of loans that are delinquent, measured by length of delinquency (the black line is the average). Deutsche Bank (bearish) was looking for 3.5% average delinquency by the end of the year.
And here’s where they were at June 30. Deutsche Bank is now looking for 6%-7% delinquency by the end of the year.
Note that these problems have nothing to do with "liquidity." (Remember earlier this year, when Tim Geithner was blaming everything on a "lack of liquidity"?) These loans are going bad because the real estate companies can’t make their interest payments--because the tenants can’t pay their rent.
Richard summarizes the situation:
Loan Performance Deteriorating Precipitously
Speed of deterioration in loan performance is unprecedented, even relative to the early 1990s
Total delinquency rate reached 4.1% in June, 2.2 times its March level and 3.5 times that in December
Delinquency rates are likely to soar higher over next 24+ months on billions of dollars of pro forma loans that never stabilized and resetting partial IO loans
With 2,158 delinquent fixed rate loans ($27.9 billion) special servicers may soon be under pressure
DB CMBS Research projects term losses will reach 4.3-6.3% for the outstanding CMBS universe ($31.3-$46.4 billion), and 8.4-12.1% for the 2007 vintage
A bit of a hodgepodge of charts to review. I'll start with my favourite of the bunch: the relationship between oil and gold prices. Peaks in the relative price between these commodities have historically provided swing lows for commodities - oil in particular. Certainly, sufficient time has passed between peaks to mark a major low.
The relationship between Nasdaq Highs and Lows doesn't suggest we have reached any major inflection yet. Ideally, Nasdaq Lows should spike above 100 to mark a major low, with 200+ for 'back up the truck' style low.
Equity futures markets have opened with a flush lower as Friday afternoon's anxiety was proved correct by the Greek vote this afternoon. S&P 500 Futures dropped over 15 points at the open before bouncing back modestly. With FX markets now more fully open, the kneejerk moves in the early illiquid trading have stabilized. EURUSD is 65 pips lower, breaking below 1.1150 (with BNY Mellon suggesting a move below 1.10 is possible in the next 24 hours and Citi noting any further risk-off contagion could be satiated by ECB QE). Swissy is bid with EURCHF down over 40 pips at around 0.9820. Gold and USD/JPY are flat for now.
As widely expected, the New Year has begun with plenty of volatility on high trading volume, as investors fear more than just a mild correction to start out the year. Despite the strong fundamentals here in the U.S., there are plenty of dangers around the rest of the world, and many fear that our cozy comfort at home simply cannot remain insulated for much longer.
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 offer up some actionable trading ideas, including a sector rotation strategy using ETFs and an enhanced version using top-ranked stocks from the top-ranked sectors.
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An interview with John Ehlers of Stock Spotter and Mesa Software
Ilene: John, in our last discussion about trading systems in general and yours in particular (Can trading be reduced to cycles, stresses and vibrations?) you mentioned Monte Carlo simulations and their use in measuring performance. Can you explain more about how you measure the performance of a trading system?
John: Let's start with comparing trading with gambling. The two have several things in common. In both ...
So as I was saying yesterday (Bitcoin: The Biggest Clown Show In History?), Bitcoin has several obstacles on the path to potential success as an alternative currency. But I forgot to mention hacking and theft at Bitcoin exchanges and other technical problems. This is related to the lack of government backing and the fact that the value of Bitcoins is based entirely on confidence.
Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.
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 email@example.com 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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