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Stocks Trending Lower on Options Expiration Friday; P&G, HCA Healthcare Post Solid 1st Quarter Numbers

Friday, April 21, 2023, 9:21 am ET

On Earth Day, please remember to bag your trash.

With the opening bell approaching stock futures wavered around unchanged as the first full week of earnings season comes to a close with mixed results skewing to the downside, advancing the prospect of an earnings recession which Wall Street will completely ignore.

The earnings deluge well underway, shares of Procter & Gamble limped higher pre-market as the company raised its forecast for 2023 organic sales growth to six percent, up from prior guidance of four to five while raising its fiscal 2023 share buyback target to between $7.4 billion and $8 billion.

Helping to fuel the inflationary spiral, P&G hiked prices repeatedly in 2022 and plans to continue the practice through 2023 to offset higher imput costs.

The company reported a 3% fall in overall volumes in the third quarter, with average prices across its product categories rising 10%. P&G's gross margin in the third quarter rose by 1.5% from year ago, with a 4.7% boost from higher prices and maintained its annual earnings forecast of flat to a 4% gain. On an adjusted basis, the company earned $1.37 per share, edging estimates of $1.32 per share.

The sickness industry is doing well. Revenue for HCA Healthcare (HCA) in the first quarter of 2023 increased to $15.591 billion, compared to $14.945 billion in the first quarter of 2022. Net income totaled $1.363 billion, or $4.85 per diluted share, compared to $1.273 billion, or $4.14 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2022. Shares of the medical provider are flying higher, up more than five percent in pre-market trading.

In other headlines, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester opined that the target federal funds rate would have to rise above five percent to contain inflation. Being wealthy, she doesn't care that Fed actions are crippling the credit market.

Value-conscious thieves made off with more than an estimated $20 million in gold and other items in a brazen robbery at Toronto's Pearson airport.

Across France, in Paris, Rennes, Lyon, Montauban and Ganges, numerous protest actions were carried out on Thursday, including demonstrations at Euronext, the Paris financial center.

Mississippi became the 43rd to end sales tax on gold and silver purchases.

US stock indices are poised for a flat to down week. Through Thursday's close, the Dow was down 99.85 points, the NASDAQ off by 63.91, and the S&P was lower by a mere 7.85 points.

See you Sunday for the WEEKEND WRAP.

At the Close, Thursday, April 20, 2023:
Dow: 33,786.62, -110.39 (-0.33%)
NASDAQ: 12,059.56, -97.67 (-0.80%)
S&P 500: 4,129.79, -24.73 (-0.60%)
NYSE Composite: 15,582.94, -70.67 (-0.45%)


You Spilled Your Milkshake, Get Over It; Dollar Hegemony is Dying... Rapidly; Futures Slide on 1Q Earnings Misses

Thursday, April 20, 2023, 9:12 am ET

Anybody who follows Money Daily on an even casual basis is probably familiar with the names George Gammon and Brent Johnson. Gammon is the amusing "Rebel Capitalist" who uses entertaining whiteboard videos to make economic sense. Johnson is best known for his "Dollar Milkshake Theory" (note the word "Theory") which is based on a hypothesis that the US dollar will dominate international trade to the detriment of all other sovereign currencies.

Just a few days ago, the two of them got together on Gammon's YouTube channel to discuss current conditions, and, naturally, the Dollar Milkshake Theory was a hot topic. The full video is below.

During the course of the exchange, Johnson made some remarks in support of his theory, though it appeared he was stretching to rationalize his perspective, claiming that de-dollarization was an overblown issue and that the dollar isn't going to lose its reserve currency status anytime soon.

Dollar Index 4/19/2023 A number of issues are currently at odds with Johnson's theory, the most prominent being that he was right and hasn't realized it yet. The US dollar ($USD) did exactly what he said it would. Starting in 2021, $USD on the dollar index rose from 90 to a high of nearly 115 by September, 2022. It may not sound like much, but the value of a currency - especially one as important and dynamic as the world's reserve currency - rising by 27 percent in less than 18 months is significant.

Equally significant is the dollar's fall from the peak to its current level of 101, a 12 percent drop in just seven months. Johnston was unambiguously right. The dollar rose against the other major currencies in the dollar index, and did severe damage to its main rivals, the euro, pound, and yen.

The strong dollar dropped the euro below parity for the first time in two decades, sending the EUR/USD pair to .9596 in September 2022. Dollar strength was also partly responsible for the British pound nearly stroking out at the same time, sending the royal currency to a level not seen since 1985, 1.0755. In early October, the yen (JPY/USD) fell to 0.0068, its lowest level since 1990.

Johnson was absolutely right, spectacularly so. Dollar strength prevailed over its nearest rivals, nearly wrecking their economies. As things stand today, the rival currencies have rebounded as the dollar has fallen. Europe and Britain are still on their respective knees, inflation running rampant, especially in England. As for Japan, their policies of yield curve control and the fact that they remain a homogeneous culture has kept them in a strange but safe place.

When the dollar hit 114.75, Johnson should have been hailed a genius, and maybe he was. Most of us would be shouting out our own praises from the rooftops. While Johnson gets credit for modesty, he receives low marks for sticking to his thesis beyond its expiration date, which was September, 2022. In the referenced video, he tries to make claims that the dollar will remain the reserve currency for years. Not being specific, he hints at 20, referencing - with the assistance of Gammon - the fall of the British pound, which began its own descent in the 1920s, culminating in its erasure as the reserve currency with the imposition of Bretton Woods.

That's all well and good and provable historical fact, but, the pound was sliding in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, and the world was recovering from World War I and fought through World War II. Johnson asserts that it will take World War III to unseat the US dollar. Maybe so, but, in the meantime, things are changing, and they're not waiting around for Johnson or anybody else to finish their milkshakes. There's chocolate and strawberry ooze already spilled all over the floor thanks to China, primarily, and countries as diverse as Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and Brazil, each of which are in the process of limiting their exposure to US dollar hegemony and conducting trade in either their own currencies or in China's yuan.

Johnson also makes the case that there are still plenty of US dollars floating around, mostly in the form of treasuries, held by foreign governments, which will still need to be repaid in US dollars. His point is well-taken, though missing the mark to a degree, because those countries exiting dollar-denominated trade aren't likely to return to it unless incentivized or threatened. Currently, the US employs threats in the form of sanctions. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of them extant to this day, covering the globe. The US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control oversses this phalanx of regulations, policies, and penalties, even going so far as to publish brochures on country or policy-specific sanctions. It's absolutely ludicrous to believe that countries are going to accept these conditions without some backlash and avoidance.

Failing to see the forest for the trees, Johnson's assertion that the US dollar will remain the world's reserve currency falls on deaf ears, considering current geo-politics. Russia's widely-propagandized "invasion" of Ukraine is now being seen by many for what it really is, an economic war waged by the US and its NATO allies that's failing on all fronts: military, economic, and social. The rest of the world doesn't buy into America's bullying propaganda, and Russia has been kicking Ukraine butts and expending NATO resources for well over a year. NATO will be fortunate to survive even in piecemeal fashion by the time Russia is done with them.

In the meantime, perhaps in an effort to push their Ukraine failure down the memory hole, the US has an ongoing spat with China over the fate of Taiwan. As if Ukraine policy wasn't foolish enough, the US has doubled their dumb down against yet another nuclear-armed foe. If the US and NATO can't handle Russia, what do they propose to do with China, especially in a military confrontation at China's front door.

Truth of the matter, only 13 countries, plus Vatican City, recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state and none of them can be regarded as world powers. Besides the United States, only Belize, Honduras, Paraguay, Guatemala, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, and Tuvalu recognize Taiwan's sovereignty. It's doubtful any of these countries would commit troops to fight against China in defense of Taiwan, and, even if they did, the numbers would be marginal and ineffective.

Also missing from Johnson's analysis of current and ongoing conditions is the huge difference between US and China influence in Africa and South America. Looking specifically at Africa, consider the stark contrast ensconced in these two article, the first, an Op/Ed on Global Times:

Quoting from the article:

According to statistics, since the establishment of the FOCAC in 2000, Chinese companies have built and upgraded over 10,000 kilometers long railways, nearly 100,000 kilometers of highways, about 1,000 bridges, nearly 100 ports in Africa, as well as a large number of hospitals and schools, and created more than 4.5 million jobs for Africa.

Now, compare that to the official-sounding bluster from the Atlantic Council's Atlanticist from 2020:

"America's goal in [Africa] is to support locally led problem-solving for enterprise-driven growth, inclusive societies, and transparent, accountable governance," US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said...

Where China is actually building lots of infrastructure in Africa, the United States is babbling on about inclusivity and transparency. What a load of hogwash. The article goes on to boast about "a portfolio worth $8 billion for the continent...", roughly what J. Powell spits out on a normal afternoon. Recently, the US slapped the faces of Africa's leaders again, sending over tone-deaf Kamala Harris to woo (bribe) countries to turn away from Chinese investments. The low levels of diplomacy displayed by the USA is sickening. Nobody's buying it, and, apparently Johnson doesn't recognize that America has turned itself into a global pariah practically overnight.

Perhaps Johnson is right and the $USD will rebound to even greater heights against its fellow fiat currencies, but, even if it does, those currencies, the US dollar, and even the Dollar Index itself may be of little consequence. Johnson claims that BRICS and other countries have talked and made plans to unseat the dollar as reserve currency, though none have acted upon those plans. He's making a risky bet on his prognosis that Putin and Xi won't follow through on an alternative, as they have proposed. Johnson also doesn't somehow recognize China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), ties with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Brazil and France as substantial.

Brett Johnson is an astute money man, but maybe he's taking himself and his theory too seriously or just plain failed to recognize that he was right and should have claimed victory and moved on to newer strategies as conditions changed. He's reminiscent of the aging baseball player (like Mickey Mantle), who tries to repeat the feats of his prime years, but instead of hitting home runs and doubles, he's striking out or dinging infield pop-ups.

Or maybe Johnson's just a one-hit wonder. Time - and the Dollar Index - will tell.


Lots of companies are reporting first quarter earnings after Wednesday's close and prior to Thursday's opening bell. More detail can be found all around the internet, but, in the essence of timeliness, here's a brief rundown:

Discover Financial (DFS) missed badly on EPS, and committed more than $1 billion to credit loss reserves. Shares are trending lower, as the company begins to understand that people don't care about high prices when they are planning to default on their cards, anyway.

Tesla (TSLA) missed on EPS and is being punished by investors. Shares are down more than eight percent pre-market.

IBD offers a solid summary of first quarter earnings movers.

First-time jobless claims rose more than expected to 245,000 vs. 240,000 in the previous week. Finally, the Philadelphia Fed's April Manufacturing Index fell to -31.3, below expectations of a -23.2 reading in April.

Stock futures are sliding fast, Dow: -177, S&P: -30, NASDAQ: -123.

Ouch! Happy 4-20!

At the Close, Wednesday, April 19, 2023:
Dow: 33,897.01, -79.62 (-0.23%)
NASDAQ: 12,157.23, +3.82 (+0.03%)
S&P 500: 4,154.52, -0.35 (-0.01%)
NYSE Composite: 15,653.62, -31.34 (-0.20%)


The Stock Market is Dead; Everything Must Go

Wednesday, April 19, 2023, 8:48 am ET

The stock market died yesterday. This is the post mortem.

Actually, US equity markets - the free and fair kind - died some years ago, about the time high ranking government and Federal Reserve officials decided that they, the small men and women that they were, could usurp the natural business cycle and avoid any nastiness the market might serve upon the trading public.

Well, this is what they have wrought: a market that is not allowed to decline, not for even a day or two. No, no, no, they can't have people buying and selling stocks based on fundamentals, research, valuations, or even their own whims. Stocks must never fail, never fall, always rise.

And now, the stock market is as dysfunctional as the rest of anything and everything the government lays its grubby, greedy hands upon. Like evrything else in the former United States of America, it is broken and might not bein any condition to be repaired any time soon.

Thin volumes, suspect trades, oddly-timed directional movements and spikes at the end of trading sessions (painting the tape) have been features of the market for some time, especially after the beatings taken in 2022. It's all part of a design to keep up appearances of a dynamic, strong economy, something else that's long ago been dead and buried. The White House, congress, the Fed, and Wall Street business titans have been in a persistent state of denial since 2008. Bailouts replaced bankuptcies. High frequency trading substituted for normal order flow and internal agents took over the functions previously reserved for price discovery.

The next chapter in the fraud that has become the world's largest Ponzi scheme is its utter destruction. Either by external or internal forces, all the apparatus that controls not just the stock market, but bonds, commodities, FX, oil, precious metals, must be dismantled.

If not, there is no market. At least not one can trade confidently within.

Everything about "markets" today is fraud. No good will come from it until it is cleansed, power taken from the titans, the Federal Reserve decommissioned and a new currency - not a digital coin - established.

Until then, we're all subject to the will of the elites, whose main purpose in life is to enrich themselves at the expense of everybody else.

It's been said that America's streets could have been paved in gold had not the wealthiest stolen most of the riches for themselves. Perhaps that's an overstatement, but not by much. Nobody in Washington or on Wall Street suffers. It's high time they share in the desperation.

Just this: Gold has been slapped down to $1,982 per ounce this morning. Silver, $24.73. Paper markets, derivative as they are, should not determine physical prices. It has to end. While everything else on the planet has inflated, the only true money in the universe - gold and silver - goes nowhere. All this happens in the early, early morning hours when trading is thin and prices can be managed... ahem, manipulated.

Wholesale changes to the global economy are necessary and they are imminent, thanks to Russia, China, India, the BRICS in general. Instead of willingly going along, the US, UK, and EU will be forced to swallow bitter pills. Sadly, most of the richest will be hardly affected. The poor will become poorer and the middle earners will feed their families hand to mouth.

Change cannot come soon enough.

At the Close, Tuesday, April 18, 2023:
Dow: 33,976.63, -10.55 (-0.03%)
NASDAQ: 12,153.41, -4.31 (-0.04%)
S&P 500: 4,154.87, +3.55 (+0.09%)
NYSE Composite: 15,684.96, +16.62 (+0.11%)


State Street (STT) Misses on 1st Quarter Earnings, Systemic Damage Likely Deeper than Appears

Tuesday, April 18, 2023, 9:25 am ET

There's a lot more underneath the hood of State Street's (STT) earnings miss than meets the eye of most casual investors. State Street is a custodian bank, meaning it derives a significant portion of its revenues from fees charged to clients for which it holds or manages securities (mostly stocks).

Often seen in the top tier of institutions - along with Vanguard, BlackRock, and Berkshire Hathaway - holding shares of a large number of publicly-traded companies, State Street doesn't own the shares listed; it is holding them for other investors, assumedly pension funds, mutual funds, family offices, and other investors who trust State Street's professionals to manage their funds.

According to MarketWatch, "State Street said it faced fee-revenue headwinds from 'significantly lower average market levels.,'" meaning, the shares they're holding didn't perform well in the first quarter, surprising, since all the major indices posted gains through the first three months of the year. The poor performance implies that State Street's mix may not be optimal.

While superficially, State Street appears to be a major market mover, the inside operations, trades, hedges, and strategies the firm employs are not readily disclosed. Considering the highly concentrated nature of today's stock markets, State Street and their brethren may be caught up in what amounts to buying up many of the most-shorted stocks in the markets, an ongoing tactic that is manifested in mostly late-day surges in the NASDAQ, Dow, and S&P indices.

That would explain quite a bit. If State Street is in the business of crushing short-sellers, they're buying loads of bad stocks, ones which are overvalued, possibly zombies, or otherwise deemed to be less than investable longer term.

State Street reporting first-quarter net income falling to $549 million, or $1.52 a share, from $604 million, or $1.57 a share, in the year-ago quarter, which doesn't seem to be such a huge miss, wouldn't, by itself, cause the stock to fall off 14% at the open and gradually gain to a loss of just nine percent by the closing bell.

Sure enough, State Street provided $1 billion of liquidity to troubled First Republic Bank resulting in a $29 million credit loss provision and also booked an additional provision for credit losses of $15 million driven by credit portfolio rating changes, i.e., some of their holdings were downgraded by the credit-rating agencies.

All told, State Street seems to be skating on some very thin financial ice, holding shares of companies that others are shorting, notes and bonds of dubious quality, and passing along money to shore up a possibly failing bank, First Republic.

The gradual trimming of Monday's loss was likely engineered by their partners in crime, the same ones who are major holders, BlackRock, Vanguard, Dodge & Cox, Ameriprise, Invesco, Longview Partners, and T. Rowe Price just to name a few of the 1,242 institutional investors.

Worst of all, being a custodian bank with very opaque bookkeeping, there's probably a slew of derivatives, CDOs, Commercial Real Estate (CRE), in their diversified mix.

A look at a long-term chart reveals that State Street took a huge hit in 2008, dropping from over $80 a share to under $20. Having been bailed out by the Fed, State Street cruised along until 2018, when its shares fell from $100 to under $50 between January and August. In 2020, it fell from $82 to $46, and again dropped from $103 to $61 in 2022. The stock continues to be volatile, pumped and dumped, repeatedly, as insiders routinely buy its shares and later unload them.

Even at its current level around $72, State Street has all the makings of too-big-to-fail, otherwise known as playing fast and loose with lots of other people's money. The bank appears to be on roughly the same footing as a Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers in terms of quality of assets and, in a market meltdown event, would be a prime candidate for needing a bailout, bail-in, or just plain going broke.

From Yahoo Finance:

The stock of State Street (STT) dropped 9% Monday as the giant Boston custody bank said net interest income, deposits and fee revenue dropped during the first three months of the year.

The drop in net interest income was primarily due to lower balances of non-interest bearing deposits, a form of free funding where State Street pays no interest to customers. Those deposits fell to $39 billion from $44 billion.

State Street Chief Financial Officer Eric Aboaf told analysts he expects those deposits to drop by another $4-$5 billion in the second quarter before there is "some stabilization" and that that each drop of $1 billion costs the company $12-$15 million.

State Street's total fourth-quarter income of $549 million was down 9% from a year ago and 25% from the fourth quarter. Its earnings were worse than analysts expected. Assets under management in its investment division also dropped, and its fee revenue was down 1% from the fourth quarter and 9% from the year-ago quarter.

From an outsider view, Money Daily thought State Street's slide on Monday required more than a cursory review. Indeed, this huge Wall Street player appears to be as vulnerable as the banking sector as a whole. It might end up being the "poster child" for US banking in any SHTF moment.

When people as diverse as Jamie Dimon, Janet Yellen and officials at the IMF all sing from the same hymn book that the banking crisis is contained "for now," it should be apparent that there's more happening beneath the CNBC and Fox Business surface and State Street could be setting up to be one of the major casualties.

As for First Republic (FRC), the crippled institution to whom State Street "deposited" $1 billion large, that $29 million credit loss provision is set to increase every quarter. After dropping like a rock from $147 on February 2nd, to $12 on March 20, First Republic hasn't budged, stuck between $12 and $14 ever since. When State Street and a consortium of banks ponied up a combined $30 billion to "rescue" the bank they might as well have waved bye-bye to their money.

Time is not on the side of the banks, the federal government, or the stock market. The obvious priming and stick-saving of stocks virtually every day is wearing thin on analysts who see the forest through the trees. Banks and the federal government are living large on borrowed time and borrowed money, both of which are soon to run out.

Let's leave it at that, for now.

With the markets due to open in minutes, futures are gyrating lower after Bank of America (BAC) posted a beat for the first quarter, but Goldman Sachs (GS) missed. GS stock is lower by about four precent in the pre-market.

Just to throw some salt, the banking crisis has only just begun. It's a deep den of thieves each looking to escape alive and intact from the ultimate explosion. Not all of them will make it.

At the Close, Monday, April 17, 2023:
Dow: 33,987.18, +100.71 (+0.30%)
NASDAQ: 12,157.72, +34.26 (+0.28%)
S&P 500: 4,151.32, +13.68 (+0.33%)
NYSE Composite: 15,668.34, +66.57 (+0.43%)


WEEKEND WRAP: Gold, Silver, Stocks Shot Higher as Treasuries Sold Off; Inflation/Recession Fears Dominating

Sunday, April 16, 2023, 9:15 am ET

Shiny objects grabbed most of the attention through the week, as gold and silver sprang to recent highs, with gold coming within a whisker of reaching the all-time high of $2,078.80, topping out Thursday at $2,063.40. Severe profit-taking on Friday knocked the price back to $2,015.80, precious metals traders taking a rest for the weekend.

Having been on a nearly-vertical route since mid-March, silver peaked above $26/ounce twice during the week, but was also subject to a scale-back on Friday. Still, the close at $25.46 is the best in a year's time with $27.50 clearly acting as resistance to more upside. The breakout is real for gold's step-sister, having rallied since a September, 2022 low of $17.40.


Stocks

Notching four straight weeks of gains were the Dow and NYSE Composite, while the NASDAQ and S&P lagged, but, nonetheless rose for a fourth weekly gain out of the last five. Stocks continue to be friendly to investors despite nagging issues overhanging from recent bank runs. Wall Street relies upon people having short memories.

Earnings season got underway, with the focus on Friday's reports from United Health (UNH), BlackRock (BLK), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Citi (C), Wells Fargo and PNC Financial (PNC). All of the banking interests showed strong first quarter results despite additions to credit loss reserves. Some of the country's largest banks benefitted from the fear trade resulting from the collapse of smaller concerns, notably Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, each of which were taken under by regulators from the FDIC.

Banks and the Fed got a nod of approval from the IMF, which opined that the banking crisis was "contained for now," an assurance that rang hollow, being that the real crisis is in liquidity and the currency itself, the debt-based fiat regime having lost much of its charm to inflation, otherwise known as currency debasement. Even though March CPI dropped to 5.0% year-over-year and March PPI dropped by 0.5% on a monthly basis and was up just 2.7% year-over-year, inflation fears began to fade straight into recession warnings from the Fed itself and a slate of economic analysts.

Friday's March retail sales drop of one percent added to the recession narrative, observed by the market by a week-ending selloff despite the growing numbers put forth by the banks. The suggestion that the economy is slowing might become a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially if next week's earnings reports and subsequent forecasts for the remainder of the year come in on the downside of expectations.

Reporting next week is loaded with some big names, including State Street (SST), Charles Schwab (SCHW) on Monday, Bank of America (BAC), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Goldman Sachs (GS), Lockheed Martin (LMT), Netflix (NFLX), and United Airlines (UAL), Tuesday.

Wednesday's lineup includes Morgan Stanley (MS) Ally Financial (ALLY), Synchrony (SYF), Tesla (TSLA), IBM (IMB), Discover (DFS), and Alcoa (AA).

Thursday's reportage offers the likes of homebuilder DR Horton (DHI), drugstore chain Rite Aid (RAD), AT&T (T), American Express (AXP), coatings supplier PPG (PPG), and rail shipper CSX (CSX).

Friday concludes with Dow component Proctor & Gamable (PG), HCA Healthcare (HCA), and German software giant SAP (SAP).

It's a heavy, mixed bag which should provide insight and guidance across a large spectrum of the global economy.


Treasury Yield Curve Rates

Date 1 Mo 2 Mo 3 Mo 4 Mo 6 Mo 1 Yr
03/10/2023 4.81 4.91 5.01 5.08 5.17 4.90
03/17/2023 4.31 4.51 4.52 4.79 4.71 4.26
03/24/2023 4.28 4.48 4.74 4.78 4.76 4.32
03/31/2023 4.74 4.79 4.85 4.97 4.94 4.64
04/07/2023 4.56 4.90 4.95 5.07 4.95 4.61
04/14/2023 4.29 4.98 5.14 5.16 5.03 4.77

Date 2 Yr 3 Yr 5 Yr 7 Yr 10 Yr 20 Yr 30 Yr
03/10/2023 4.60 4.31 3.96 3.86 3.70 3.90 3.70
03/17/2023 3.81 3.68 3.44 3.45 3.39 3.76 3.60
03/24/2023 3.76 3.58 3.41 3.40 3.38 3.77 3.64
03/31/2023 4.06 3.81 3.60 3.55 3.48 3.81 3.67
04/07/2023 3.97 3.72 3.49 3.45 3.39 3.73 3.61
04/14/2023 4.08 3.83 3.60 3.56 3.52 3.85 3.74

Even though the shortest duration 1-month bills tumbled 27 basis points on the week to 4.29%, the rest of the curve was elevated, with 5-handles showing up in 3, 4, and 6-month bills, the two-year note topping out at 4.08%, and the 10-year note and 30-year bond each adding 13 basis points (3.52%, 3.74%).

If it's true that the Fed may be planning on one more 0.25% rate hike in May and then pause in June, along with growing evidence that the economy is about to dip into a recession, these may be near the highest interest rates to be seen for the duration of this year.


Oil/Gas

After closing last Friday (4.7) at $80.42, WTI crude finished up at $82.59, trading consistently above $80/barrel for the past two weeks running. Backlash from Western sanctions by oil producers came in the form of lower quotas by OPEC+ nations and they are beginning to hit the pockets of American and European consumers in dramatic fashion.

Last week's national average for a gallon of gas at the pump was $3.58. Today, it's up again, at $3.67, reflecting higher oil prices with the outlook for summer driving season beginning to appear nightmarish.

California ($4.87), Arizona ($4.52), Washington ($4.44), and Nevada ($4.25) were all higher on the week which saw Illinois become the fifth member of the $4+ gang ($4.07), with Oregon knocking on the door at $3.99.

For the second week in a row, Mississippi has the lowest price, at $3.15, with the rest of the Southeast and lower Midwest states over $3.20, though Georgia was steady at $3.35 and Florida actually a couple of pennies lower, at $3.53. Pennsylvania ($3.75), Michigan ($3.72), and Indiana ($3.71) are the highest in the rest of the country.


Bitcoin

This week: $30,274.60
Last week: $27,925.20
2 weeks ago: $28,349.10
6 months ago: $19,553.50
One year ago: $40,801.90

Bitcoin has been above $30,000 for less than a week, but proponents are already calling it "digital gold" again, as it's pretty much doubled this year, up 82%.

It's difficult to say anything negative about an asset increasing by that much over such a short time frame.


Precious Metals

Silver:Gold Ratio: 79.18; last week: 80.53

Per COMEX continuous contracts:

Gold price 03/17: $2,009.80
Gold price 03/24: $1,999.00
Gold price 03/31: $1,987.00
Gold price 04/07: $2,023.70
Gold price 04/14: $2,015.80

Silver price 03/17: $22.75
Silver price 03/24: $23.36
Silver price 03/31: $24.24
Silver price 04/07: $25.13
Silver price 04/14: $25.46

As mentioned in the introduction, gold nearly reached its all-time high this week, while silver finished up at the best level in a year. Friday's pullback was widely anticipated, and offers a possible last chance to purchase precious metals at depressed prices. The observation that gold and silver are soaring hasn't been missed by the monetary authorities, though there seems to be little they can do to stop the money metals from moving even higher against fiat currencies.

Price action on the COMEX and spot prices set by the LBMA may persist, but eventually holders of real money will be rewarded for their patience. It must be understood that recent gains have been made against a backdrop of the highest interest rates in nearly 15 years, normally a period in which precious metals could languish. That hasn't been the case through the recent bank scares, and it's unlikely that any pullback will net out at more than five to 10 percent from the recent highs.

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: 27.50 54.79 39.46 39.87
1 oz silver bar: 32.95 47.78 38.54 37.48
1 oz gold coin: 2,112.28 2,304.40 2,174.07 2,166.09
1 oz gold bar: 2,075.00 2,206.96 2,122.48 2,113.28

The Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) ramped higher through the week, finishing at $38.84, a gain of $1.25 from the April 9 level of $37.59.


WEEKEND WRAP

Earnings season will get into full throat this week, with many big names reporting, so that's likely to be the theme going forward. If Friday's equity pullback is any indication, stocks may not respond well to earnings, especially should CEOs hint that the remainder of the year might be troublesome, so it makes sense to pay attention to what's said about business outlooks and guidance during earnings calls.

There's still plenty of stress in stocks despite many of them being overvalued. The market has had a good run so far this year, but that may be coming to an end. The true test will come in May and June, when the FOMC meets twice. Any indication of a pause will be interpreted as a "pivot" by the bulls, which could actually send stocks even higher, though recession talk will likely serve to keep a damper on any gains.

At the Close, Friday, April 14, 2023:
Dow: 33,886.47, -143.22 (-0.42%)
NASDAQ: 12,123.47, -42.81 (-0.35%)
S&P 500: 4,137.64, -8.58 (-0.21%)
NYSE Composite: 15,601.78, -29.11 (-0.19%)

For the Week:
Dow: +401.18 (+1.20%)
NASDAQ: +35.51 (+0.29%)
S&P 500: +32.62 (+0.79%)
NYSE Composite: +222.65 (+1.45%)


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 2023, Downtown Magazine Inc., all rights reserved.

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