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Looking at a High-Flying Friday as January Non-Farm Payrolls are Huge; Meta Announced Dividend; Amazon Beats

Friday, February 2, 2024, 9:10 am ET

Stock futures were already soaring before the BLS released January non-farm payroll data at 8:30 am ET Friday morning. On expectations of 185,000 jobs added in January, the BLS reported an increase of 353,000 jobs in non-farm payroll employment and the unemployment rate steady at 3.7% for the third consecutive month.

The strong employment numbers probably didn't move the futures needle much, as corporate earnings from tech and energy giants had already enlivened Wall Street's animal spirits.

Following Thursday's closing bell, Amazon (AMZN), Meta Platforms (META), and Apple (AAPL) reported fourth quarter results which sent the cash rally into overdrive in the after-market when META announced that it would begin paying a quarterly dividend of 50 cents per share payable on March 26, 2024 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on February 22, 2024.

That announcement, in addition to solid quarterly and full-year results, and a $50 billion share repurchase plan sent the social media stock up 17-20% overnight. The company had a blowout 2023 fourth quarter based on revenue of $40.1 billion and diluted earnings of $5.33 per share. Those figures compared favorably with the 2022 fourth quarter of $32.16 billion and $1.76. Meta joins Apple and Microsoft as tech giants with dividend payouts.

Amazon's results beat the street estimates handily and the company issued strong first quarter guidance. Amazon said it sees revenue of $138 billion to $143.5 billion, up 8% to 13%, with operating income of between $8 billion to $12 billion.

Apple was the lone downer in the tech space. Although earnings topped estimates on stronger iPhone sales, business in China was down significantly, which sent investors scurrying for the sell button. Shares are down more than three percent in the pre-market.

Chevron reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $3.45 a share, beating analysts’ estimates of $3.19. Revenue fell to $47.2 billion from $56.5 billion a year earlier and missed forecasts. However, the company raised its quarterly dividend by eight percent to $1.63 a share, sending shares higher by a little more than one percent.

Exxon Mobil‘s (XOM) fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $2.48 a share beat analysts’ estimates of $2.20, sending the stock marginally higher. Exxon reported quarterly revenue of $84.34 billion, missing expectations of $90.03 billion.

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY) posted fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat forecasts. Shares were up between three and four percent.

By all appearances, it looks like stocks are headed for another big upside session on Friday, following Thursday's bounce-back rally. For the week through Thursday's close, he Dow was already ahead 410 points, NASDAQ was down 93 points, the S&P was up 15 points, and the NYSE Composite was holding onto a 166-point gain (+0.98%).

A half hour to the opening bell, gold, silver, oil, the euro, pound, and yen are all being crushed. Bonds are being sold off in a rush to yield. The 10-year note, which had fallen to as low as 3.81% on Thursday, is rebounding, up to 3.98% prior to the equity open. All other long-dated maturities are seeing similar moves.

Anguish over the lack of a rate cut by the Fed in March, which sent stocks tumbling on Wednesday, has been supplanted by what appears to be a wickedly strong economy that's producing jobs at an extremely healthy pace, thus, the sudden shift by Wall Street sharps to find good news not only reassuring, but highly investable.

As usual, shorts are getting wiped out as the US economy, despite mounting pressure on international and political fronts, powers forward.

The hovering banking crisis that reared up again this week is being put on the Fed’s back burner. Should any banks need bailing out, it’s certain that the Fed will be welcoming with open arms and larger banks will gladly hoover up loose assets.

Bank consolidation currently favors the largest. Big surprise.

At the Close, Thursday, February 1, 2024:
Dow: 38,519.84, +369.54 (+0.97%)
NASDAQ: 15,361.64, +197.63 (+1.30%)
S&P 500: 4,906.19, +60.54 (+1.25%)
NYSE Composite: 17,115.58, +204.45 (+1.21%)


FOMC Stands Pat; Fed Appears Hawkish, Sending Stocks Screaming Lower; Futures Higher Thursday

Thursday, February 1, 2024, 9:23 am ET

Throwing a wet blanket over the market with a decidedly hawkish tone in both the prepared release and the commentary by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Wednesday's FOMC decision to keep the federal funds target rate at 5.25-5.50% sent stocks diving and aspirations falling.

In its rawest form, the FOMC's directive essentially nixed all hope of a rate cut by the March meeting, while leaving the door open for a 25 basis point cut in May or June at the earliest. The Fed's position is based on the strength of the economy and labor market and slow progress at getting inflation down to two percent.

Companies most exposed to rate conditions are those with the greatest borrowing needs for expansion, or even simple survival. It didn't help matters that quarterly and full-year reports from Google and Microsoft were uninspiring, and that New York Community Bank (NYCB), a regional bank involved in bank bailouts from last Spring, was experiencing regulatory issues, posted an unexpected loss and slashed its dividend. The bank also assigned $552 million to loan loss reserves, as other banks and secondary lenders have also increased credit loss reserves in recent months.

Companies such as Discover (DFS), Bank of America (BAC), JP Morgan (JPM), Citigroup (C), CapitalOne (COF), and others have moved large sums into loan loss provisions, denting profits and earnings. Credit card defaults are the main catalysts for increasing those reserves, but car loans, student loans, and mortgages are also contributing to concerns.

Internal plumbing issues aside, the major indices erased most of the gains made during January. By the close of trading, full month January returns were as follows:
Dow: +1.22%
NASDAQ: +1.02%
S&P 500: +1.59%
NYSE Composite: +0.35%

That's hardly a ringing endorsement for the January Barometer, which posits that as January goes, so goes the rest of the year. The gauge is correct 70-80% of the time. Analysts may interpret this as suggestive that gains will be hard to come by in 2024 and may be on the small side.

The market will no doubt move forward from this one-off event, looking to corporate earnings and other positive signs that the US economy is not about to roll over. Macro data has been slightly less encouraging, depending upon which data sets one references. While indices from the various Fed regional banks, especially New York, Philadelphia, and Dallas, have shown considerable weakness, GDP was reported to have gained 3.3% in the fourth quarter of 2023, housing prices remain high, and unemployment is low.

Reports Thursday morning included Altria (MO), Royal Caribbean (RCL), Peloton (PTON), Merck (MRK), SiriusXM (SIRI), Honeywell (HON), and Cardinal Health (CAH).

A quick glance at pre-market moves shows Altria up two percent, Royal Caribbean up three percent, Peloton losing seven percent, Merck ahead two percent, SIRI flat, Honeywell losing two to three percent, and Cardinal Health shedding four percent.

Investors will be looking closely at Amazon (AMZN), Meta (META), and Apple (AAPL), which report after Thursday's closing bell.

Futures are up sharply across equity markets, oil is holding fairly steady at $76.65/barrel, while gold and silver are down slightly after modest gains Wednesday. Gold: $2,058.90; Silver: $22.90

For all appearances, Wednesday's declines were hardly damaging. Stocks will likely continue on the path of least resistance, which, within the current constructive narrative, is to the upside.

That's assuming the banking and liquidity crisis that rages behind the scenes doesn't blow up again as the Fed's Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP) is closing down and reverse repo funds are approaching zero.

Treasuries rallied on Wednesday and into Thursday, with the two-year note losing nine basis points (4.27%), the 10-year note crossing below 4.00% (3.97%) and the 30-year dropping to 4.15%.

If liquidity soon becomes an issue - which is highly likely given the needs of the US Treasury ($760 billion this quarter) - bond yields would rise, harming stocks.

A significant crossroads seems to be straight ahead.

At the Close, Wednesday, January 31, 2024:
Dow: 38,150.30, -317.01 (-0.82%)
NASDAQ: 15,164.01, -345.88 (-2.23%)
S&P 500: 4,845.65, -79.32 (-1.61%)
NYSE Composite: 16,911.13, -178.33 (-1.04%)


Fed Decision Looming, Stocks Are Set to Take Off to New Heights; Google, Microsoft, Boeing Report

Wednesday, January 31, 2024, 9:20 am ET

Handicapping the FOMC decision later today (2:00 pm ET) is the easy part. The FOMC is going to stand pat, keeping the federal funds target rate at 5.25-2.50%, as it has been since July, 2023.

The hard part is figuring out how to play the indices, specifically, the NASDAQ and S&P 500.

It's a safe bet that the NASDAQ is going to open Wednesday's trading on the downside after Google parent, Alphabet (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) reported some sobering results for the fourth quarter after the bell Tuesday.

Google missed on ad revenue, as they did in the prior quarter, sending shares lower in the post-and-pre-market. Shares are down five to six percent an hour before the open. Prospects for the world's leading search engine company are a little sketchy, but bold. The company doesn't offer a dividend, so investors and varied plungers are at the mercy of the market. It made an all-time high on Tuesday, but looks to be retreating from that level post haste.

Carrying a price/earnings ratio of around 25, this massive company only returned $1.64 a share, and that was a 56% improvement from the year-ago period. Gross revenue was $86.31 billion and ad revenue was actually up 11%, though it fell short of analyst estimates. Google also is committing more funds to capex in 2024, mostly into development of generative AI, which is seen as the battleground with their main competitor in the space, Microsoft.

All told, Google's quarter wasn't all that bad. The company brings in oodles of moolah, and they're investing it in new technology, so it wouldn't be surprising at all to see shares take an initial plunge for a few days and thereafter return to the upward path it has been on for all of 2023.

Microsoft (MSFT), which overtook Apple as the world's largest company by market capitalization, actually delivered better results than anticipated, posting EPS of $2.93, well ahead of consensus estimates of $2.78. Shares of the company are hugging the flat-line, but, there's a possibility that Mr. Softy could soon increase its $3.00 annual dividend, which presently returns a yield of less than one percent. With the most recent results and Microsoft's long-standing position as a tech leader, that would be an expectation worth consideration.

Elsewhere, embattled Boeing (BA) beat estimates but faces extreme scrutiny for its haphazard construction of its planes, which have had various dangerous incidents over the past few years. Investors haven't entirely given up on the company, though the share price has been cut in half since 2019, from $440 a share down to $200 as of Tuesday's close. Boeing beat estimates and the stock is up two percent in the pre-market.

Mastercard (MA) hit a new all-time high on Tuesday, closing at 445.19, and reported better-than expected results Wednesday morning, but shares are down slightly in the pre-market. Maybe some profit-taking.

Any number of geo-political or military events could cause disruption to Wall Street's plans for S&P 5000, from the impeachment of DHS head Mayorkas to airstrikes on Iran, to the border situation in Texas, but, in typical capitalist fashion, they will most likely be ignored. Stock pickers have their own agenda, and investors should be happy they do, since the political leadership around the world leaves much to be desired.

The kicker here is that January is over as of the close today, and, noting the 75% reliable January barometer, stocks should do well for the remainder of the year.

Smooth sailing? Maybe. More likely some choppiness as the election nears and the Middle East and Ukraine are either resolved, escalated, or vanished. Money attracts money, so stocks seem to be in yet another golden spot.

At the Close, Tuesday, January 30, 2024:
Dow: 38,467.31, +133.86 (+0.35%)
NASDAQ: 15,509.90, -118.15 (-0.76%)
S&P 500: 4,924.97, -2.96 (-0.06%)
NYSE Composite: 17,089.46, +48.87 (+0.29%)


Michael Hartnett Was Wrong, but Right; Vince Lanci is a Follower; ZeroHedge Steals; Treasury Only $760 Billion Short This Quarter

Tuesday, January 30, 2024, 8:47 am ET

New all-time highs were achieved on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 because Michael Hartnett can't do math and Janet Yellen, despite her advanced age and frumpy disposition, can. Oh, and because less-capable people like Vince Lanci, whoever does the editing at ZeroHedge, and thousands of stock traders (or, more likely their headline-scanning algorithms) were foolish enough to believe that Hartnett was right.

Here's why.

Some time on Sunday, or maybe even earlier, Michael Hartnett, strategist for Bank of America, put out a note, telling clients (and, ostensibly, anybody else who would listen or had a subscription and a computer and could republish his recommendation) that the quarterly refunding would be on the order of nearly $1 trillion.

Vince Lanci, full-time Substack blogger and market participant who probably can do math but it too lazy to try and who thinks Hartnett is worthy of a following, put together an article for "his" subscribers, detailing the market ramifications that would follow if Hartnett was correct. ZeroHedge, which amalgamates and generally commits mass-market copyright fraud on a daily basis, picked up the free parts of Lanci's essay and republished it on their website. It's a wonder they didn't make it a premium post, available only to those who cough up $30 a month or more to be special.

Hartnett out out a number. Lanci copied it, and ZeroHedge copied that. The final call went something like this: If the number was big enough, above $1 Trillion would be bullish Gold and bearish Stocks/Bonds. Below $1 Trillion would be the opposite.

Then, Monday, at 3:00 pm ET, the US Treasury released its Quarterly Refunding Announcement (QRA). Janet Yellen's people said this:

During the January – March 2024 quarter, Treasury expects to borrow $760 billion in privately-held net marketable debt, assuming an end-of-March cash balance of $750 billion.

Being that the amount Treasury needed to borrow in the quarter was well below expectations, stocks shot straight up. As everyone knows, Wall Street will rally on just about everything. Supposedly, the federal government having to borrow only three quarters of a trillion dollars is a massive positive. (Pro Tip: it's not)

Put another way, the US federal government is short $760 billion dollars in tax revenue this quarter and that's a good reason to buy stocks, Michael Hartnett’s incapacity to add and/or subtract not withstanding.

All well and good, investors will look next to quarterly and full-year 2023 earnings for the next leg up in stocks. BTW: bonds also rallied on the Treasury news. All maturities from 2 years out fell five to seven basis points. No big deal, but worth a footnote mention.

Monday, after the close, Whirlpool (WHIR) reported earnings that beat, but guidance that was on the depressing side. Tuesday, before the open, Pfizer (PFE), General Motors (GM), UPS (UPS), Jet Blue (JBLU), Marathon (MPC), and HCA Healthcare (HCA) reported.

Pfizer (PFE) posted a small fourht quarter profit and reaffirmed the 2024 outlook. They were supposed to show a loss, so the stock is trading flat. It's $27 a share (bargain!), down from nearly $60 in December '21 at the height of the COVID fantasy. Dead stock, money burner.

General Motors (GM) reported a top and bottom line beat for the quarter and issued an improved outlook. The stock is soaring pre-market, up seven percent, which is likely a fool's bet because the company admits EV sales are slowing. GM's been dead for a long time, since their bailout in 2009. Now, with a huge investment in EVs, they'll be forced to retool, again. Meanwhile, unionized workers are taking every last nickel in profit on vehicles that sell for $35,000 and up, way, way up. Good luck.

UPS (UPS) missed earnings expectations and issued negative guidance. Shares are selling off big time in the pre-market (7-8%).

According to Reuters, Jet Blue (JBLU) is to evaluate deeper cost cuts and forecast a drop in first-quarter revenue. Who cares? It's a $5 stock and it's trending lower.

Marathon (MPC) reported EPS of $3.98 per adjusted diluted share, beating the snot out of estimates ($2.21), but well short of the year-ago period ($6.65). Stock is getting a two percent boost.

Unsurprisingly, HCA Healthcare (HCA) made tons of money in the fourth quarter. There are loads of sick people thanks to Pfizer and Monsanto and they get paid ridiculous sums for their sub-par services (sticking needles in people, doing all manner of administrative tasks, generally giving bad advice). Net income attributable to HCA Healthcare, Inc. totaled $1.607 billion, or $5.93 per diluted share, compared to $2.081 billion, or $7.28 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Sadly, they didn't make as much as they did in the same period a year ago, but that doesn't matter to the algos, which have it up nearly five percent, approaching an all-time high. They beat expectations! HUZZAH!!!

What a load of baloney, but, if you're invested, good for you. Something is not right, however. Stock futures are pointing straight down an hour before the opening bell.

Later today, the Case-Shiller home price survey will be released. The median price of an existing home in the US, according the the Fed, is $382,600. That's down from $410,000 in June of 2023, because there aren't that many homes being sold and most of them are overpriced.

Good luck!

At the Close, Monday, January 29, 2024:
Dow: 38,333.45, +224.02 (+0.59%)
NASDAQ: 15,628.04, +172.68 (+1.12%)
S&P 500: 4,927.93, +36.96 (+0.76%)
NYSE Composite: 17,040.60, +91.49 (+0.54%)


WEEKEND WRAP: Uncertainty Reigns as Earnings Roll, FOMC on Tap; Gold Silver Remain Bargains; Oil Up

Sunday, January 28, 2024, 10:24 am ET

While tensions at the Texas-Mexico border reached all the way to the Supreme Court and funding for war efforts in Ukraine and Israel remained in limbo as a result, stocks took a little joyride higher, though it was a bumpy one and nothing special other than five straight all-time highs for the S&P 500.

The week ahead will feature more earnings reports for investors to chew on, plus the initial FMOC meeting of 2024, making for opportunity in multiple sectors as well as individual names.


Stocks

Equities had another solid, though uninspired week, with all the major indices posting gains. The S&P's string of new all-time highs was halted on Friday, January 26, at five, after breaking out on Friday, January 19 and continuing to add through the first four days of the prior week. The week-ending loss was insignificant, a mere three points, so it's entirely possible that stocks could take another leg up in the week ahead, which includes the first FOMC meeting of 2024, beginning Tuesday and concluding Wednesday at 2:00 pm ET with the federal funds target rate policy decision.

With the FOMC meeting in mind, trading may be somewhat muted until the decision Wednesday, but more importantly will be the press conference with Chairman Powell immediately following. Traders and analysts are eager to divine some measure of understanding concerning rate movement in coming months from Powell's movements and speech, as if he was some kind of Theban Oracle capable of predicting future events. Most likely, he can't, and won't, so the odds of a rate cut in March may have to remain roughly even money. May or June would seem more likely, given the strength in the economy and the Fed's management of the yield curve.

Stocks could go either way, but considering the run they've endured since late October, a slight correction would appear to be in order. Of course, such a correction may appear as a blip, a blot on the otherwise always upward movement of stock investing. The S&P might drop a mere 30-40 points before dip buyers appear. It's difficult to imagine stocks taking any kind of severe downshift unless geo-politics intervenes, a la Texas, Ukraine, Israel, Yemen, take your pick.

In addition to the Fed meeting, earnings season, in full swing, will have a large impact on the greater indices.

A rundown of the big names reporting fourth quarter and full year 2023 results in the coming week looks something like this:

Monday: Before the bell, Sofi (SOFI), Provident Bank (PROV); after close, Cleveland Cliffs (CLF), Nucor (NUE), Whirlpool (WHIR).

Tuesday: Before open, Pfizer (PFE), General Motors (GM), UPS (UPS), Jet Blue (JBLU), Marathon (MPC), HCA Healthcare (HCA); after close, AMD (AMD), Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOG), Starbucks (SBUX), Electronic Arts (EA).

Wednesday: Before open, Boeing (BA), Mastercard (MA), Boston Scientific (BSX); after close, Qualcom (QCOM), Met Life (MET).

Thursday: Before open, Altria (MO), Royal Caribbean (RCL), Peloton (PTON), Merck (MRK), SiriusXM (SIRI), Honeywell (HON), Cardinal Health (CAH); after close, Amazon (AMZN), Meta (META), Apple (AAPL), Skechers (SKX).

Friday, Before open, ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), Charter Communications (CHTR), Grainger (GWW), Bristol Myers Squib (BMY), Cigna (CI).


Treasury Yield Curve Rates

Date 1 Mo 2 Mo 3 Mo 4 Mo 6 Mo 1 Yr
12/22/2023 5.54 5.52 5.44 5.45 5.31 4.82
12/29/2023 5.60 5.59 5.40 5.41 5.26 4.79
01/05/2024 5.54 5.48 5.47 5.41 5.24 4.84
01/12/2024 5.55 5.47 5.45 5.37 5.16 4.65
01/19/2024 5.54 5.47 5.45 5.39 5.21 4.84
01/26/2024 5.54 5.45 5.44 5.39 5.19 4.78

Date 2 Yr 3 Yr 5 Yr 7 Yr 10 Yr 20 Yr 30 Yr
12/22/2023 4.31 4.04 3.87 3.92 3.90 4.21 4.05
12/29/2023 4.23 4.01 3.84 3.88 3.88 4.20 4.03
01/05/2024 4.40 4.17 4.02 4.04 4.05 4.37 4.21
01/12/2024 4.14 3.92 3.84 3.91 3.96 4.32 4.20
01/19/2024 4.39 4.18 4.08 4.12 4.15 4.47 4.36
01/26/2024 4.34 4.15 4.04 4.10 4.15 4.49 4.38

By measuring the 30-year bond yield and appreciating the spreads between it and all other rates, it's becoming more apparent what's on the minds of Fed officials and treasury primary dealers. Simply put, the 30-year is heading north of five percent, it being the only practical way of dis-inverting (normalizing) the yield curve without cutting the federal funds target rate by more than 50 basis points (down to 4.75-5.00%).

As of this week, dis-inversion is occurring, albeit imperfectly, from 2s out to 30s, with 30-year yields reaching their highest point since December 4 of last year. At that time, yield on the 30-year bond was falling from a high of 5.11% on October 19, at the tail end of a manic long-end hiking form of yield curve control which began in earnest in late July. That was more or less a test run for the Fed and their internal bond bidders. Having seen the results - stock market crashing - they'd seen enough to turn tail and run, sending the 30-year back down below 4.00% by year's end, along with the expected huge stock market rally.

If they're at it again, Wall Street will not be very pleased, but, the Jerome Powell's Fed is trying desperately to avoid both a return of inflation and a replay of the 2010s' QE dynamics, which were great for the stock market but also much like repeatedly hitting bond investors with blunt instruments such as negative real rates and those nasty negative rates from the Eurozone and Japan.

Playing the cards they've dealt themselves, the timing of a return to normalcy might not be optimal for Democrats or Biden boot-lickers, and that's probably a good thing. Progressive policies have been little more than complete disasters and a huge annoyance and embarrassment to the reputation of the world's leading economy. If a fairly flat curve - ranging from 4.75 to 5.75% - does come to pass by election day, by then it might have caused enough market disruption to unseat the bimbos currently in charge and replace them with people in possession of actual sane motives.

The Fed's intentions are more than just guesswork. They have to appear well-intentioned and impartial while engaging in more art than science, which is good, because as scientists, all but a few of the Fed governors and presidents would receive failing grades.

In terms of movement, the 10-year did not, remaining at the pivot position of 4.15%. That's unlikely to stay that way in coming weeks. While Wall Street pines for lower rates, they're going to get a 10-year pushing towards 5.00%, but probably not quite there. This past week, every maturity from 6-months out to 7-years got a little downside bump, the brunt of it taken by 1-year notes, down six basis points. This seems a condition worth repeating until some semblance of order is restored.

The Fed's job is to please everybody at this point, which means they will lower short end rates twice and maybe three times before the elections, but will also find ways for the market to price longer-dated maturities appropriately. It's a tough sell, but it does fit with current projections. Layoffs in tech and media the past two weeks have been accelerating which is what the Fed expected from higher federal funds rates. March would appear to be too early for a rate cut, but June makes sense if unemployment begins to be a concern.

After racing to hike rates in 2022 and the first half of 2023, the Fed is taking a slower, more measured approach.

Spreads:

2s-10s
9/15/2023: -69
9/22/2023: -66
9/29/2023: -44
10/06/2023: -30
10/13/2023: -41
10/20/2023: -14
10/27/2023: -15
11/03/2023: -26
11/10/2023: -43
11/17/2023: -44
11/24/2023: -45
12/01/2023: -34
12/08/2023: -48
12/15/2023: -53
12/22/2023: -41
12/29/2023: -35
1/5/2024: -35
1/12/2024: -18
1/19/2024: -24
1/26/2024: -19

Full Spectrum (30-days - 30-years)
9/15/2023: -109
9/22/2023: -99
9/29/2023: -82
10/06/2023: -64
10/13/2023: -82
10/20/2023: -47
10/27/2023: -54
11/03/2023: -76
11/10/2023: -80
11/17/2023: -93
11/24/2023: -95
12/01/2023: -105
12/08/2023: -123
12/15/2023: -154
12/22/2023: -149
12/29/2023: -157
1/5/2024: -133
1/12/2024: -135
1/19/2024: -118
1/26/2024: -116


Oil/Gas

Stocks may not have moved much Friday afternoon, but the price of crude oil certainly did, as WTI rose more than $2.00 in late afternoon trading to close at an 11-week high of $78.23, nearly five bucks higher than where it stood last Friday ($73.43). The big jump had a lot to do with Houthis raining missiles down on ships in the Gulf of Aden and in the southern part of the Red Sea, but more to do with Biden's pausing of new LNG export licenses, a purely political move that flies in the face of US energy policy. The United States is the world's largest exporter of LNG (Liquified Natural Gas). Limiting new LNG licenses - many of which have taken up to a year for approval under the Biden administration - benefits oil producers which will fill the gap.

Additionally, the latest surveys show that oil supply has fallen, so, while there's not exactly enormous demand, there isn't either a glut of crude on the market. While the price of oil managed to break out of its recent range, it's unlikely to advance much further. Outside of producers, nobody wants higher prices for oil and gas, especially the Fed and the current political class. If needed, the US will just turn the oil spigot up a notch or two or stop replenishing the SPR. Nowhere is there a mention of a shortage.

According to gasbuddy.com, the national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gas at the pump rose two cents, to $3.10.

The Northeast and the West coast still have the highest prices, as were seen in near Midwest states, with Michigan ($2.95), Indiana ($2.96) and Ohio ($2.98) all dropping back below the $3.00 threshold as temperatures rose across most of the country. Cheap gas is found in Oklahoma ($2.62), although the price rose another eight cents on the week. Proximate states, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas are close followers at $2.66, followed by Mississippi ($2.67), Louisiana ($2.73), and Texas ($2.75). Florida ($3.15) and Georgia ($3.02) are the only Southeastern states above $3.00.

Sub-$3 gas pushes through the Midwest all the way up to Iowa ($2.77) and Wisconsin ($2.75), North Dakota ($2.72), Minnesota ($2.84), Montana ($2.80), and Idaho ($2.84).

California ($4.49) remains the only state on the mainland with prices above $4.00, though Washington, the next highest, threatens that level at $3.97, the second consecutive week at that price level. Nevada is next at $3.74, followed by Oregon ($3.60), and Arizona ($3.17).

In the Northeast, Pennsylvania ($3.34) stayed on top with the highest prices, followed by New York ($3.23). The lowest prices in the region are West Virginia ($2.92) and Ohio ($2.98). Every other state in the Northeast is just over $3.00.


Bitcoin

This week: $41,787.30
Last week: $41,600.80
2 weeks ago: $42,441.30
6 months ago: $29,314.00
One year ago: $21,013.20

A big rally Friday got the crypto king back to where it was a week ago, plus a couple hundred bucks. Not much to say for those who got all hot and bothered about all the new - 11 of them - spot ETFs with which to plunge. Adoption and use remain the main issues for all crypto, even the granddaddy.


Precious Metals

Gold:Silver Ratio: 88.96; last week: 89.30

Per COMEX continuous contracts:

Gold price 12/29: $2,071.80
Gold price 1/5: $2,052.60
Gold price 1/12: $2,053.60
Gold price 1/19: $2,031.80
Gold price 1/26: $2,037.10

Silver price 12/29: $24.02
Silver price 1/5: $23.39
Silver price 1/12: $23.36
Silver price 1/19: $22.75
Silver price 1/26: $22.90

Gold has maintained a price above $2,000 for 45 consecutive days (since December 14, 2023) on the COMEX continuous contract. That's a positive, but hardly a ringing endorsement, especially considering continuing efforts to suppress the price of both gold and silver by central banks and their willing cohorts.

Gradually losing its grip on everything from foreign policy to its own citizenry, Western nations as a whole face a wide range of challenges, so, if you find yourself living in Europe, the US, UK, or even Canada, the price suppression of gold and silver actually is working in your favor, given you can afford to put aside enough fiat currency to invest in real money indefinitely.

Power is relentlessly shifting to the East, or the "Global South" as BRICS+ nations fight to free themselves from Western hegemony and the phony "rules based order" leaders of so-called democracies promote. Led by China and Russia, BRICS+ nations are playing a very patient game, apparently taking the words of Napoleon Bonaparte to heart, "Never interfere with an enemy in the process of destroying himself."

Eschewing direct confrontation, BRICS+ nations prefer quiet, peaceful solutions to far-ranging problems. Thus, their emergence as part of a multi-polar world order will take time. Throwing an accelerant into the current malaise are elections in many countries in 2024, none so prominent as in the USA, where Donald Trump has already proven to be an intractable foe to the ruling class, affecting foreign and domestic policy even as he rolls up endorsements and primary victories on the way to the true polls in November.

Trump's brash, forceful style is proving to be yet another wedge in the great political divide that has been fomented by the media and elements of the deep state over many years. His endorsement of GOP governors in support of Governor Greg Abbott in defiance of a Supreme Court order at the Texas-Mexico border has crystalized the rift between red and blue states, conservatives versus progressives while creating even more uncertainty across the country and the world.

While it's a given that Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee, there's no assurance that he will win in November, despite leading in most polls. The opposition has yet to unleash the full fury of their hate and rhetoric, but it will surely commence. To stackers and hoarders, the open window to amass more bullion may be closing soon. If geo-political conditions worsen - which is likely - gold and silver could become either, as Mike Maloney likes to say, "unaffordium and unobtainium," meaning the price will skyrocket and supply will be severely limited as the rush to safety ensues.

Therefore, the only reasonable action is to continue buying precious metals at any price until November or until the next crisis commences. Final word: If you don't hold it, you don't own it.

Here are the most recent prices for common one ounce gold and silver items sold on eBay (numismatics excluded, free shipping included):

Item/Price Low High Average Median
1 oz silver coin: 27.00 46.95 36.96 35.75
1 oz silver bar: 27.25 45.00 36.04 34.99
1 oz gold coin: 2,088.56 2,288.61 2,151.86 2,141.53
1 oz gold bar: 2,035.00 2,207.87 2,109.60 2,105.05

The Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) rose slightly from the prior week, to $35.94, a gain of 46 cents from the January 21 price of $35.48 per troy ounce.


WEEKEND WRAP

Conditions aren't getting any easier for politicians, investors, even regular people. The level of uncertainty just in living one's life is at extremes, and, as of today, there's only two weeks to the Super Bowl. With football season ending, then what? Oh, the horror!


At the Close, Friday, January 26, 2024:
Dow: 38,109.43, +60.30 (+0.16%)
NASDAQ: 15,455.36, -55.13 (-0.36%)
S&P 500: 4,890.97, -3.19 (-0.07%)
NYSE Composite: 16,949.11, +59.58 (+0.35%)

For the Week:
Dow: +245.63 (+0.65%)
NASDAQ: +144.40 (+0.94%)
S&P 500: +51.16 (+1.06%)
NYSE Composite: +219.55 (+1.31%)
Dow Transports: +308.78 (+1.98%)


Disclaimer: Information disseminated on this site should not be construed as investment advice. Downtown Magazine Inc., Money Daily and it's owners, affiliates and/or employees are not investment advisors and do not offer specific investment advice. All investments have risk. You should consult a professional investment advisor or stock broker or use your individual judgement when making investment decisions. By viewing this site, you hold harmless Downtown Magazine Inc., Money Daily, its owners, affiliates and employees against any and all liability. Copyright 2024, Downtown Magazine Inc., all rights reserved.

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idleguy.com July 2024
IdleGuy.com July 2024, Vol. 1 #6