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  1. Phil

    Good morning! 

    Didn't want to scare anyone but did want to slap you complacent people in the face as we're at a very dangerous point in the markets – hitting our inflection points in the high end of our range right when we get earnings and clearly, from the look of the VIX – not enough people are hedging their portfolios.  Please take a good look at the Income Portfolio's adjusted TZA play as well as the new SQQQ trade – to cover us into AAPL earnings – just in case.  

    While hope is not a valid investing strategy, I do hope we hold up here and we're looking to stay above 3 of our 5 new, aggressive targets but, in truth, we don't want to lose any:

    • Dow 13,600 (Must Hold)
    • S&P 1,480 (7.5%)
    • Nasdaq 3,100 (2.5%)
    • NYSE 8,600 (7.5%) 
    • Russell 880 (10%)

    Keep in mind the tug-boat model, the Dow is still dragging us but the Nasdaq has fallen from the front to the back of the pack so that means less pull on the Dow now – just when we need more reason for it to go higher.  Since we are close to the upper end of our ranges – those 2.5% lines start to matter more as it's harder for each index to slog through that upper resistance around 10% than it is for them to jump up and down around the Must Hold lines.  

    QQQ WEEKLY We need the S&P and NYSE to confirm those 10% lines but that's probably not going to happen until and unless the Nasdaq pops and the Nasdaq doesn't pop unless AAPL pops and that brings us full circle back to earnings tomorrow night and there's nothing we can really do but watch and wait – although GOOG will be a good preview this evening.  

    I wish I had a better crystal ball than that but it really is all up to AAPL and, as you can see from the chart – it would be so easy to NOT break higher and form a technical top and roll over the indexes – just another failed attempt at new highs.  Breaking up is, indeed, hard to do…

    The Dollar is floating at $80, the Euro is at $1.33 with everyone at Davos this week.  The Pound is not confirming a Euro move up, falling to $1.585 (should be within 0.03 of the Euro) and the Yen failed at 90 and is now 88.85 after testing (stronger) 88.5 this morning.

    Oil bottomed out at $95.50 but back to $96.25 now that the NYMEX pump crew is back from their break.  Gold is $1,689, silver $32, copper $3.68, Nat gas fell back to $3.58 and $3.50 to $4 is still the right range for them this winter.  Gasoline went from $2.78 on Friday (and this morning, for that matter) to $2.835 and is now just under $2.83 – they don't need a reason – same pumping at the same NYMEX with no inventories until Thursday this week.  

    We SEEM to have a debt ceiling extension (still needs official vote) and China and Japan SEEM to be heading to war over those silly islands but, otherwise, it's business as usual and, if anything, the news is on the upswing, which really puts the pressure squarely on the shoulders of our 88 reporting S&P companies this week to make or break us and, of those, you can probably add the market caps of 80 of them together and not equal AAPL in size or in impact.  So we're WAITING

    Tuesday's economic calendar:

    8:30 Chicago Fed National Activity Index

    10:00 Existing Home Sales

    10:00 Richmond Fed Mfg.

    At the open: Dow -0.06% to 13642. S&P -0.07% to 1485. Nasdaq +0.07% to 3137.

    Treasurys: 30-year +0.05%. 10-yr +0.05%. 5-yr 0%.

    Commodities: Crude +0.1% to $96.14. Gold +0.07% to $1688.15.

    Currencies: Euro +0.01% vs. dollar. Yen -0.83%. Pound -0.2%.

    Market Preview: Stock futures tilt higher after being flat earlier as investors return from the long weekend, with the S&P benchmark +0.3%. Factors that could be boosting sentiment include GOP moves to extend the debt ceiling and surprisingly strong optimism among German investors. RIM jumps 6.4% on news it mayeventually sell its hardware production and license its software. Following earnings, Verizon is +0.8%, DuPont is +1.1% and J&J is-0.7%Calendar: Existing Home Sales, Richmond Fed Mfg., major tech earnings

    3:14 AM Asian are mostly lower, with Japanese stocks falling as the yen rises after the BOJ announced well-telegraphed further easing measures but said it will wait until next year to begin open-ended asset purchases. "The big question now is will the combined fiscal and monetary stimulus work?" asks investment strategist Stephen Corry. "The yen does look oversold and the Nikkei looks overbought." Japan -0.3%, Hong Kong +0.2%, China -0.6%, India -0.1%. 

    In addition to buy the rumor, sell the news action in the yen, Japanese shares sell off after the expected BOJ decision to up its inflation target to 2%. If getting busy ending deflation is of such import, the decision to wait until 2014 to being open-ended QE is a curious one. The Nikkei -0.4%, bringing its 2-day slide to about 2%.

    4:33 AM European shares are lower as investors absorb the BOJ's announcements of further easing and ahead of some big U.S. corporate results later, including IBM and Google. EU Stoxx 50 -0.8%, London -0.4%, Paris -0.7%, Frankfurt -1.2%, Milan -0.7%, Madrid-0.7%

    5:36 AM European shares pare their losses and even start to turn positive in some cases following a way better-than-expected ZEW survey of German investor confidence. EU Stoxx 50 -0.2%, London flat, Paris -0.2%, Frankfurt -0.5%, Milan +0.4%, Madrid -0.3%.

    House Republicans will attempt to pass a measure tomorrow that would extend the debt ceiling until May 19 by allowing the government to borrow what it needs to meet its obligations rather than by specifying a dollar amount for the limit. The Treasury would also be allowed to top up its emergency borrowing capacity, effectively pushing the debt deadline into the summer.

    The number of unemployed worldwide is forecast to rise by 5.1M this year to over 202M, the UN's International Labour Organization says in its annual report. It's worth pointing out that the ILO has cut its jobless figures down each year, although that's because of an increase in the number of people leaving the labor market. Since before the financial crisis in 2007, the total "jobs gap" is 67M.

    Dec. Chicago Fed National Activity Index: +0.02 vs. consensus of +0.28; +0.10 prior. The index's 3-month moving average increased to -0.11%, from a level of -0.13% in Nov. More on Chicago Fed National Activity Index: Production and Employment contributed +0.12 and +0.09 to index respectively. Personal consumption and housing impacted index by -0.17. The three-month moving average print at -0.13 is tenth consecutive reading below zero suggesting economic activity below its historical trend. The diffusion index increased to -0.05 from -0.12 in Nov.

    With S&P 500 companies retiring 8B shares through buybacks in the 18 months to October 2012, EPS figures are likely to get a surprisingly strong boost. It would be surprising because, as Robert Baird's Brian Rauscher says, analysts don't often factor in stock repurchases when making their forecasts.

    The NAAIM Survey of Manager Sentiment rises to 84.67 as of Jan. 16, up from 83.27 previously. Thanks to a big dip in the year's first week, the index remains below the "off the charts" bullish level of 88.1 hit just after Christmas.

    Investors are the most bullish they've been in the 3.5 year history of the Bloomberg Global Poll, with 53% picking equities to offer the best returns over the coming year, a 17-point jump from the November survey. Enthusiasm over Europe is a key, with just 45% believing the economy there deteriorating, down from 70% two months ago.

    Germany's ZEW index of investor economic sentiment rises to its highest since May 2010, jumping to 31.5 in January from 6.9 in December and coming in way above consensus of 12. Economic perspectives have improved on the 6 month horizon and the upbeat sentiment could lead to more companies investing, although the situation with Germany's trading partners is still considered to be weak. (PR)

    "Huuuuuge demand for Spain's new 10-year bond – order book of over €17B for the expected €3-4B deal," tweets Reuters' Jamie McGeever. Earlier, Spain sold more than €2.8B of 3-6 month bills, above its target of €2.5B, with yields falling also.

    Canadian retail sales unexpectedly rose 0.2% in November vs. a forecast of flat. In volume terms – which feeds into GDP calculations – sales rose 0.8%. Showing a small loss in early trade, the loonie pops back to flat

    China's automobile exports topped the one million vehicle mark for the first time in 2012 as total units delivered increased almost 30% for the year. Slowing demand in China has more domestic automakers looking to sell abroad and partner with western companies such as Volvo (VOLVY.PK) and General Motors.

    The GE of Europe:  Siemens' (SI) FQ1 net profit from continuing operations was reportedly little changed at €1.3B, above consensus of €1.14B, while revenue was also flat at €17.9B and missed forecasts of €18.1B. Earnings were hurt by a triple-digit million euro hit following delays in the delivery of high-speed trains to Deutsche Bahn, and by Siemens' exit from its solar business. New orders were above sales. Shares-1.6% premarket.

    Freeport-McMoRan (FCX): Q4 EPS of $0.78 beats by $0.04. Revenue of $4.51B beats by $0.03B. (PR)  More on Freeport McMoRan's (FCXQ4 results: Consolidated sales for full-year 2012 totaled 3.65B lbs. of copper, 1M oz. of gold, 83M lbs. of molybdenum, vs. 3.7B lbs. of copper, 1.4M oz. of gold, 79M lbs. of molybdenum for 2011. Estimates 2013 sales of 4.3B lbs. of copper, 1.4M oz. of gold, 90M lbs. of molybdenum. FCX+1.5% premarket.

    More on Brinker's International (EAT) FQ2: Comparable restaurants sales rose moderately by 1% at Chili's and 0.6% at Maggiano's with higher prices offsetting a company-wide 1.9% slip in traffic. International sales were up 2.7% during the period. (PR)

    PetMed Express (PETS): FQ3 EPS of $0.23 beats by $0.06. Revenue of $49.6M (-1.8% Y/Y) misses by $0.37M. Shares+2.2% premarket. (PR)

    More on Verizon (VZ): Higher pension costs and the impact of Superstorm Sandy drove the company's quarterly loss to more than double last year's mark. Pension liabilities shaved off $1.55 a share and the widespread damage from the storm cut another $0.07. Verizon added a net 567K FiOS digital connections during the period, 31% less than the number added during the same period a year ago. VZ -2.0% premarket. (PR)

    RIM (RIMM) shares +7.1% premarket after hitting a 13-month high in Canada yesterday following a German newspaper interview with CEO Thorsten Heins in which said the company could sell its hardware production or license its software to rivals.

    Are you freakin' kidding me?  AAPL $500???  Verizon (VZ) states on its Q4 call it activated 6.2M iPhones in Q4, good for 63% of total smartphone activations (up from 46% in Q3, and 56% in the year-ago period). Big Red had previously disclosed it activated 9.8M smartphones in the quarter. CFO Fran Shammo says about half of the iPhone sales involved the iPhone 5 – that remark comes as UBS points to survey data indicating a mix shift towards older and lower-capacity iPhone models. Apple (AAPL)+0.8%. (AT&T smartphone sales)

    Three breakfast reads:

    1) What Nobody Tells You About Goldman Sachs 

    2) UnitedHealth And WellPoint Are Well-Positioned For Obamacare 

    3) Applied Micro: Recent Developments Fuel Heavy Skepticism

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