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Dow, S&P Gain Third Straight Day; Fed Buying Evident
(Simultaneously published at Money Daily)
Friday, March 27, 2020, 9:20 am ET
There are signs everywhere that the Federal Reserve has taken an active role in the stock market, especially in the US, but probably abroad as well, in cahoots with their central bank partners, as stocks have recovered sharply over the past three days after being battered by fears stemming from the coronavirus global pandemic, or COVID-19.
Probably the most glaring evidence - outside of the Dow's near-500-point gain in the final 12 minutes of trading Thursday - is the ballooning of the Fed's balance sheet, which has grown by $507,323,000,000 ($507.323 billion) in just seven days, from March 18 to the 25th.
Being almost completely transparent, the Fed, in recent days has announced that they would purchase everything from municipal debt, to corporate debt, to exchange traded funds (ETFs) in the open market in order to "stabilize" the situation. There's one good reason why the Dow was up 1,351 points on a day that started with the announcement that more than three million Americans has lost their jobs in the past week, and it's because the Federal Reserve, with literally unlimited amounts of buying power, was actively in the market.
While this will come as a surprise to pretty much 90% of all Americans, central bank direct activity in equity markets has been an open secret in financial circles for at least the past decade. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) and Bank of Japan are major shareholders in many corporations, including Apple (AAPL) and many others. The BOJ has been buying ETFs in earnest since as early as 2012, when their balance sheet exploded from 150 trillion yen ($138 billion US) to 550 ($506 billion US). Today, the Bank of Japan owns stocks and bonds equal to the country's entire economic output, or 100% of GDP. In essence, the Bank of Japan owns the Japanese economy. It is the Japanese economy and a similar scenario is beginning to emerge in the United States, and likely in the European Union as well.
Other independent central banks in Australia, Canada, England, Brazil, and elsewhere are probably considering doing the same in their stock markets if they haven't already.
It's not as though central banks are complete foreigners to intervention in markets. They've completely distorted the capital markets for years, buying up agency (government) debt and mortgage-backed securities en masse before and after the Great Financial Crisis in 2007-09 to the point at which trillions of dollars in government bonds carry negative yields.
So, instead of just buying debt, why not stocks? Ask your broker. I'm sure he or she will have a ready answer after convulsing on the floor in either laughter or tears.
Elsewhere, treasury yields fell across the spectrum, the 10-year note checking in at 0.83%. Gold and silver have returned to being an afterthought in the futures market and largely unavailable in physical quantities. Gold is still testing recent multi-year highs, closing up $11.60 on Thursday to $1624.50 per ounce. Silver closed down slightly to $14.41 in the futures market. Meanwhile, dealers report widespread shortages amid massive demand for "everyman's gold."
Being that silver is so much less expensive than gold, it is available to anybody with a couple of sawbucks. Thus, it is THE prime target of central banks, as their greatest fear is to have a competing currency accepted by the middle and lower classes. It would kind of ruin their monopoly on currency. It's been going on for hundreds of years and isn't likely to change soon.
Oil was beaten down again on Thursday, with WTI crude closing out at $22.60 a barrel, down nearly two dollars from Wednesday's finishing price. Unleaded gasoline is cheap around the globe, the irony being, with so many coronavirus lockdowns or "stay at home" orders in place, gas is a bargain, but nobody can go anywhere.
At the Close, Thursday, March 26, 2020:
Senate Approves $2.2 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill, Sends to House; Unemployment Claims Skyrocket to 3,283,000
(Simultaneously published at Money Daily)
Thurssday, March 26, 2020, 8:35 am ET
Editor's Note: This edition of Money Daily was purposed delayed until after the weekly unemployment claims figures came out at 8:30 am ET Thursday. The regular report follows this headline news.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial unemployment claims for the week ending March 21 rose to a record 3,283,000, an increase of 3,001,000 from the previous week's revised level. An enormous jump in claims was widely expected.
Money Daily will have complete reporting on how this affected the markets in Friday morning's report.
Simply put, Wednesday was just a replay or extension of Tuesday's rally, without as much drama or conviction on the part of investors, witnessed by the rapid descent in the final hour of trading. The Dow lost more than half of the day's gains. The NASDAQ ended up in the red after being up more than 250 points in early afternoon trading.
In other words, this rally ran out of steam via the old, "buy the rumor, sell the news" meme. The "rumor" was the Senate's $2.2 trillion national bailout and rescue plan for COVID-19 (very convenient). The "news" is that it was not passed by the full Senate during market business hours. Instead, the aged Senators stayed up well past their bedtimes again, passing the bill around 11:00 pm ET.
The fact that the Senate's 96-0 passage of the bill will coincide perfectly with the next "buy the rumor, sell the news" item - the weekly unemployment claims number at 8:30 am ET Thursday morning, will no doubt leave open to speculation that the timing was anything but coincidence.
Leaving the barn door just slightly ajar, the House of Representatives still has to vote on the measure passed by the Senate before it goes to President Trump for his signature. If he does get a crack at putting pen to paper on this one, it will allow for a huge influx of capital to individuals, families, and businesses, both big and small. It will also destroy any chance of the federal budget coming in with anything less than a $2 trillion deficit this year (fiscal year ends September 30), and next.
Most Americans will receive either a check or direct deposit in the amount of $1,200. Married couples will get $2,400, plus another $500 for each dependent child. The media says that 90% of the people in this country will get such a check, which is a telling figure. It speaks loudly to the wealth distribution in America when only 10% are making enough to not receive a check of any amount. People making more than $75,000 in 2018 or 2019 will get less than the full amount. There's a cap at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for married couples. Those will get nothing. In general terms, there's proof that only 10% of Americans are making more than $99,000 a year. No wonder Bernie Sanders and other democrats receive such strong support for "wealth redistribution."
All that aside, Thursday is looking like a bloodbath for the Bulls, as the unemployment figures will almost certainly be record-setting. Estimates range from 860,000 new claims (UBS) to four million (4,000,000) (Citi). The prior high was 695,000 claims filed the week ended October 2, 1982. If this were a betting game, Money Daily would be at or above the high figure provided by analysts at Citi. There's a chance it could be six million. New York alone could be over a million, ditto California.
As for other markets, bonds, precious metals, and oil were relatively stable on the day. The 10-year note seems to have found a sweet spot with a yield around 0.85%.
Gold looks to be consolidating above $1600 per ounce, though there are widespread reports that nobody can find even a one ounce bar at that price. Dealers have been scrambling for the last two weeks to fill orders and many are completely sold out. The same is true for silver, though to a lesser extent. The miners can produce silver faster than gold, so supplies are being replenished, but they will be bought up as soon as they're available.
Order fulfillment times for physical gold and silver bullion, coins, and bars are running three weeks and longer. Silver, on the spot or futures market is stabilizing around $14.50, but prices on eBay (which means almost immediate shipment) and through dealers are much higher.
Single one-ounce silver bars on ebay have been flying high, with prices ranging anywhere from $22 to as high as $41.
WTI crude is settling into a range between $22 and $24 per barrel and that price should persist and possibly go lower as the COVID-19 plague spreads and slows movement commerce worldwide. Gas prices in the US are a multi-year lows.
Stocks are not going back to record levels despite the Dow gaining ground for the second straight day. Tuesday and Wednesday were the first time the Dow saw back-to-back gains since February 3-6, when it strung together four straight wins. Finishing on the upside two days straight hadn't happened over the past 31 sessions.
At the Close, Wednesday, March 25, 2020:
As Senate Seeks $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package, Stocks Roar to Record Gains; Gold, Silver Rebound
(Simultaneously published at Money Daily)
Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 8:15 am ET
When Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that negotiations over a $2 trillion national bailout were "on the five-yard line," minority leader Chuck Schumer one-upped him, quipping that negotiations were on the two-yard line as he met and wrangled over details with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Presumptuously a bi-partisan effort, the back-and-forth between the administration and Senate leaders managed to lift spirts in lower Manhattan, sending stocks to record one-day gains as hope for financial relief appeared to be within reach.
The 2,113.01-point, 11.37 percent gain on the Dow Industrials was not only the greatest one-day point rise in market history, it was also the fourth-best percentage rise, following a 12.34 percent advance on October 30, 1929, when the market was just entering the Great Depression. At the time, the Industrial Average stood at 258.47, with its gain of 28.40 points.
Whether that comparison is fair or apocryphal remains to be seen, though it's a well-known fact that the greatest stock market gains occur during bear markets. Of the top seven one-day percentage gains, four were during the Great Depression, the other two occurring in the Great Financial Crisis, on October 13 and 28 of 2008. It would indeed be wise for market participants to pay heed to Tuesday's inclusion in this suspicious list.
The NASDAQ's 557.19-point rip was the second-most ever, following a 672.43-point advance on March 13, 2020, less than two-weeks ago. The 8.12 percent increase tied for seventh all-time with a similar percentage gain on April 18, 2001. At that time, the NASDAQ was well into the throes of the dot-com bust. The tech-laden index was then trading just above 2000, when a month prior it had reached all-time highs, breaking above 5000.
The story was the same for the S&P 500, which recorded the eighth-best percentage gain. The seven higher percentage gains were all made either during the Great Depression (five of them), while two happened in October, 2008. The S&P's 209.93-point rise stands second only to the 230.38-point advance on March 13 of this year.
While the Senate dithered over details, bulls were greatly relieved as they took it to the bears throughout the session. Led by Chevron (CVX) with a 22.74% increase, some of the top performers on the Dow Jones Industrial Average included American Express (AXP, +21.88%), beleaguered Boeing (BA, +20.89%), McDonald's (MCD, +18.13%), Goldman Sachs (GS, +13.80%), and 3M (MMM, +12.60%).
The outpouring of money and joy didn't stop at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway. The money flows extended into gold and silver, the two precious metals having recently been pounded below sensible levels. With one of its best one-day performances ever, gold advanced by some $84.80, finishing up at $1636.00 the ounce after a close at $1551.20 on Monday.
Silver rose from a close of 13.27 on Monday to end trading in New York at 14.36, a gain of 8.21 percent.
Oil was stable to higher, with WTI crude advancing from $23.36 per barrel to $24.01 on the day.
Generally, bonds sold off, led by treasuries with durations between one and 10 years. Yield on the 10-year note advanced eight basis points, from 0.76% to 0.84%. The largest gain of yield was found on the five-year note, which rose from 0.38% to 0.52%. The curve is still relatively flat, with yields in a narrow band of 138 basis points. The one, two, and three month bills all stand at 0.01%, with the 30-year bond checking in at 1.39%
While the Senate never did get to a cloture vote on Tuesday, the deal was eventually struck just before 1:00 am ET on Wednesday, when White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland exited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office saying, according to CNN. "We have a deal."
The full Senate is poised to vote on the package midday Wednesday. The House is expected to approve the bill by unanimous consent, sending it to the White House for President Trump's signature. The president is reportedly eager to sign the bill, sending money to individuals, families and businesses affected by events surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.
It is expected to advance direct payments of $1200 per citizen ($2400 for married couples) earning less than $75,000 a year. It is the largest stimulus bill ever made into law. With markets prepared to open shortly, futures are less-than-enthusiastic, as all of the major indices indicate a lower opening though Asian markets were up sharply overnight and European indices are mixed.
At the Close, Tuesday, March 24, 2020:
Stocks, Bond Yields Tumble, Gold, Silver Sold Out at Most Dealers as Legislators Work on Stimulus Package
(Simultaneously published at Money Daily)
Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 7:15 am ET
Stocks took another beating in the US on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at its lowest level since the coronavirus crisis began in mid February. The close at 18,591.93 was lower than the previous low, but also lower than the intraday low (18,917.46, March 18). Intraday, the Dow was down nearly 1000 points from Friday's close (19,173.98), falling to 18,213.65.
The other indices fall in line for the most part, except the NASDAQ which was above the unchanged line most of the session and finished with a fractional loss. Being more speculative than the more stoic Dow, S&P and NYSE Composite, the NASDAQ is still experiencing some buying activity, though much of that is reserved for grocers and tech stocks.
Once again, the Fed stepped up to the plate prior to the market open, making an emergency statement about an hour prior to the opening bell U.S. to announce that Treasury and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) purchases would be expanded as much as needed. As with last Monday's pre-opening salvo by the Fed, traders were not swayed, sending the major indices into the red right off the bat.
As the trading wore on, there was some relief from the selling midday, as Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and minority leader, Chuck Schumer, hinted that they were close to a deal on the $1.5 trillion relief package that would include a payment of up to $1200 (plus $500 per child) for most Americans making less than $75,000 a year.
When the measure failed to pass with a 47-47 tie, stocks quickly reverse course and headed to the lows of the day. Any bill coming out of the Senate for a COVID-19 stimulus bill will need at least 60 votes to pass. The two parties are far from reaching compromise, especially after House Democrats released their $2.5 trillion plan that was much more generous. The Democrat bill calls for monthly payments of $2000 to nearly all Americans and $1000 per child under 18. It also provides provisions to shelter people who cannot make rent, mortgage, credit card, car leases or loans, or student loan payments, calling for forbearance without penalty for as long as the crisis is deemed a national emergency, plus 120 to 180 days after that.
In what would be essentially a debt jubilee, Democrats' are offering much more to individuals and families than are the Republicans. Their plan has many flaws, however, in that one could, conceivably, buy a new car, rent a swanky apartment, pay for neither and have use of them for up to a year, possibly longer. The bill would make whole all creditors harmed by the measure, presumably at some later date. It's a complete boondoggle that would crush the economy rather than help it.
Legislators will be back at it on Tuesday, looking for a bill that will satisfy both their constituents and their major campaign funders (corporations, banks).
Bonds were bid nearly across the board, with the one-month bill plummeting to 0.01 and the 30-year bond losing 22 basis points on the day, closing out with a yield of 1.33%. Yield on the 10-year note also crumbled, falling form 0.92% to 0.76%.
Precious metals were bid higher. Spot gold ended the day at $1551.20. Silver finished at $13.27 the ounce at the close of trading in New York. However, both were up significantly overnight. Silver adding 97 cents to $14.24, while gold was up $96 to $1647.20, as both metals, quoted in futures contracts, are actually selling far above those prices for physical. Buyers are paying up to 100% premiums on silver and $300-600 more for an ounce of gold and having to wait as much as a month for delivery as major metals dealers are simply overwhelmed with buyers and generally out of stock.
Oil closed at $23.36 per barrel. Gas prices in the USA have been seen as low as 99 cents at one Kentucky outlet. Most states are seeing the price at the pump under $2.00 per gallon and falling.
With trading set to resume in the US in a matter of hours, futures are looking absolutely dashing, suggesting that this Turnaround Tuesday could be one for the record books. Then again, futures have often been optimistic, only to see waves of selling throughout the open trading session.
At the Close, Monday, March 23, 2020:
WEEKEND WRAP: Wall Street Suffers Worst Since 2008; Economy in Shambles and Due to Get Worse; COVID-19 Wrecking Central Banks, Sovereign Governments
(Simultaneously published at Money Daily)
Sunday, March 22, 2020, 12:05 pm ET
My, oh, my, what a week this was!
The numbers are sufficiently horrifying to speak for themselves, and they're speaking loudly.
Stocks suffered their worst week since 2008. Yes. The week just past was worse than anything since the Great Financial Crisis, and beyond that, the dramatic drop that kicked off the Great Depression in 1929, is comparable.
The three top indices had their worst weekly performances since October of 2008. The Dow dropped 17% for the week, the S&P 500 tumbled 15% and the NASDAQ lost more than 12%. Friday's losses were widespread, the biggest losers were utilities (-8.2%) and consumer staples (-6.5%).
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the main indices are down anywhere between 30% (NASDAQ) and 35% (Dow).
Here are the stark, raving-mad numbers from the peaks to Friday's close, with dates:
Dow Industrials: peak: 29,551.42 (2/12), close 3/20: 19,173.98, net: -35.12%
Bear in mind, these numbers are all higher than they were prior to the collapse of 2008. For reference, here are figures from August 2008, followed by the bottoms, all recorded March 9, 2009.
Dow Industrials: 8/11/09: 11,782.35; 3/9/09: 6,926.49
What are the implications from these figures? Pretty simple, really. Since nothing was really fixed from 2008-09 (i.e., none of the major commercial banks - Lehman and Bear Stearns notwithstanding, as they were investment banks - failed), nobody went to jail, the GFC was mostly the deflation of a housing bubble, and all of the gains in stocks were the product of buybacks and/or massive infusions of cash by the Federal Reserve, it stands to reason that stocks will fall below their lowest levels of the GFC, or sub-prime crisis.
As almost all bear markets prove, there are steep losses in the initial phase, followed by a longer, slower, gradual decline, ending in complete capitulation wherein nobody wants to be holding equity shares at any price. Stocks go bidless. There are no buyers, and that is the condition to come.
The years 2009 through early 2020 can readily be construed as what's often referred to as the "everything bubble," in which all financial assets were inflated. In the simplest terms imaginable, gains in stocks during the past 11 years were a chimera, a figment of Wall Street's great imagination and greed.
An arguable point is that all of the major corporations who feasted on stock buybacks and easy money from the Fed are bankrupt. A corollary to that is the the commercial banks - Citi, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley - being either major shareholders of the Federal Reserve and/or many major corporations are also bankrupt, insolvent, as is the Fed, which, for all intents and purposes, just creates whatever money is needed out of thin air, with no backing other than the faith of the people and institutions using their fiat currency, and that faith is fading fast.
WTI crude oil concluded its worst week since the 1991 Gulf War, settling -11%, at $22.43/bbl as part of its 29% meltdown this week.
Precious metals continued to be under pressure, even though buyers of physical gold and silver are paying high premiums and silver buyers are waiting as long as a month for deliveries from major coin and bullion dealers. Many online outlets are out of stock on almost all silver items. Scottsdale Mint is advising buyers that silver purchases are 15-20 days behind. Spot silver was as low as $11.94 per ounce, ending the week at $12.59. Prices for coins and bars are ranging between $17.50 and $25.00.
Gold traded as low as $1471.40 on the paper markets. It finished up Friday at $14.98.80
Bonds were all over the map and ended with lower yields overall. Yield on the 30-year was as low as 1.34% and as high as 1.78%. It ended the week yielding 1.55%, crashing 23 basis points on Friday. The 10-year note yield ranged from 0.73% to 1.18%, closing at 0.92%. The curve steepened through the week to 151 basis points from the 1-month bill (0.04%) to the 30-year bond, though yields are lower than ever in history. Money has lost nearly all of its time-value, especially at the shorter end. The two-year is yielding a mere 0.37%.
The point is that the Federal Reserve, with ample assistance from other central banks around the world, particularly, the ECB, BOE, BOJ, and SNB (Swiss National Bank), blew an enormous stock bubble around the world, and, since it is deflating rapidly, are trying to blow an even bigger bubble. It will not work. Never has, never will. It might for a time, but in the end there will be massive defaults from individuals all the way to sovereign states and central banks themselves. There is a limit to how much fiat currency (not money, which would be currency backed by gold or silver or some other tangible, not-easily replenished asset) and how much complexity the world can handle. We are at those limits and hastily exceeding them.
What's worse is that the governments and central banks of planet Earth are doing this to themselves, or, rather, to their sovereign citizens, who will bear the brunt of rash decisions based on faulty economics and radical monetary and fiscal policies. The Fed will print trillions of dollars. The government will run debts to the tune of 20-25% of the gross national product, if there is any left after the shutdowns, slowdowns, quarantines, and eventual rationing.
Profligate spending and corruption at the highest levels of business, finance, and government has led to an inevitable dead end, ruining lives, destroying businesses, and deflating, then inflating bogus currencies.
This is the end of the fiat currency era, but it doesn't have to be the end of the world. Money Daily has been warning its readers for more than a decade that this kind of economic carnage would eventually come, urging people to invest in hard assets, real estate, precious metals, machinery, food supplies, arable land and produce, and more.
There will be winners and losers in all of this, and it is the intention of Money Daily to provide information and instruction on how to win.
Some random links:
Gregory Mannarino says, in a very emotional and exasperating video, that it's OVER, just as Money Daily has been suggesting for weeks.
Here's a beach-loving Seeking Alpha commentator who thinks we've seen the worst.
Marketwatch notes that the Dow is on track for its worst month since the Great Depression.
Sending checks to every eligible American is being debated in congress. Treasury Secretary quipped early in the week that President Trump and he would like to get money into the hands of Americans within two weeks. The current proposals being argued in congress are looking at early April as a timeline to get money to needy citizens. That's a lot longer than two weeks, but, when the banks and hedge funds need billions and trillions of dollars from the Fed, they get it the next day, if not sooner. It's about as unfair as banks getting money at near zero interest and charging 17-29% interest on credit cards.
The house of cards (no pun intended) is tumbling down.
At the Close, Friday, March 20, 2020:
For the Week: