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Money Daily has been providing business and financial market news, views, and coverage on a nearly continuous basis since 2006. Complete archives are available at moneydaily.blogspot.com.
Money Daily has been providing business and financial market news, views, and coverage on a nearly continuous basis since 2006. Complete archives are available at moneydaily.blogspot.com.
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S&P Makes Another Record Close; Gold, Silver Bid; 20 States Now Support Constitutional Carry Gun Laws
Friday, April 9, 2021, 7:10 am ET
After Monday's massive run-up, stocks entertained a third straight session of lackluster trading on Thursday, with major indices inching higher, the S&P making another all-time closing high, while the NASDAQ led the way, up more than one percent on the day, closing to within 166 points of its own record close (14,095.47, 2/12/21).
Clearly in catch-up mode, the NASDAQ could reach the promised land with another reasonably good advance or two. It has lagged the other main indices since mid-February, only briefly entered correction territory and is again showing signs of speculative excess.
Elsewhere, gold and silver enjoyed a rare upside flight, with gold moving higher by $18.20 by the New York close, at $1755.80, but it gave more than half of that back in overnight trading on the COMEX. Silver closed at 25.44, up 34 cents on the day. It also had priced lower overnight.
Academy Sports & Outdoors (ASO) 29.05, -1.73 (-5.62%), got taken down a peg or two, as expected, but the anti-hedge followers at reddit group, r/wallstreetbets, have clambered into the breach, pushing the stock back up to 31.00 in pre-market trading. It's up +1.95 (6.71%) overnight, turning JP Morgan's block trade of nine million shares into a whole new clown show. While the redditers may have noble intentions of creating a level playing field in the markets, all they're really doing is pushing select asset prices to even more extreme levels and causing distortions, effectively blowing an even bigger bubble.
While Joe Biden was issuing controversial executive orders to restrict gun ownership, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill which recently sailed through both houses of the state legislature to allow adults over 21 to carry - open or concealed - handguns without the need of a permit or gun safety training.
That makes it an even 20 states with so-called constitutional carry.
Here's the list in alphabetical order:
Have a fun Friday!
At the Close, Thursday, April 8, 2021:
Thursday, April 8, 2021, 10:00 am ET
Wednesday marked the second straight session in which stocks were subdued. The indices were split, with the Dow and S&P up, the NASDAQ and NYSE Composite down, ever so slightly.
Tuesday's trading was dull. On Wednesday, watching paint dry might have led to more productive outcomes than what happened in so-called equity markets. The NASDAQ traded in a narrow band of fewer than 80 points. The S&P 500 moved 15 points from low to high, finishing with a six point gain.
It was almost as if the market was anticipating another shoe to drop, and, like magic, JP Morgan suppled the loafer, putting up a block of 9 million shares of Academy Sports & Outdoors after hours, in a move that is eerily similar to the wholesale unloading of stocks a few weeks ago when family office, Archegos, blew up over leveraged bets and the subsequent margin call which Money Daily featured yesterday.
In that post, a "Bretton Woods moment" was mentioned. Today, the urge to reference the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008 as the kickoff to the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) is irresistible. The world of high finance may be headed for another "Lehman moment."
Before Archegos, there was Greensill Capital, which went belly up in early March, inflicting wounds on Credit Suisse and other banks and businesses, including the coal mining concern of West Virginia governor, Jim Justice, Bluestone Resources, SoftBank, and the steel and mining empire of Sanjeev Gupta, GFG Alliance, which employs 35,000 people worldwide. Financial media have largely overlooked the story, which has raised havoc in industries tied into Greensill's innovative, leveraged business model of supply chain finance. The New York Times offers an interesting background perspective.
So, yesterday, up popped Academy Sports and Outdoors (ASO).
KKR took the company public on October 1, 2020.
Sporting goods retailer Academy Sports and Outdoors Inc ASO.O sold shares in its initial public offering (IPO) on Thursday at $13 apiece, below its target range, to raise $203 million, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The lockup period for insider shares ended April 1 and those shares are now hitting the market, but not before the price of ASO doubled from its IPO six months prior. It's now coming back down in a hurry. After topping out at 33.48 on Tuesday, it opened Thursday at 29.52 and continues to fall. Other than Zero Hedge no other news outlet seems to be aware of this developing story.
It might be just another run-of-the-mill scandal involving shoddy and shady accounting practices (ASO's two quarters were both blowouts, more than doubling street estimates), or it could be that other shoe hitting the floor as part of a systemic, approaching, global meltdown.
The IMF and World Bank are meeting this week, addressing the pandemic, income inequality, climate change and funding to less-developed nations. Here is a transcript of remarks and answers to questions by World Bank President David Malpass.
Finance ministers and representatives from central banks at the second virtual G20 meeting of the year agreed to use "all available policy tools for as long as required" to help out countries negatively impacted by the coronavirus. That would be just about every nation on the planet, so one could call the G20 countries, "all in."
As a reminder of where things could be headed, here's the author of "The Big Short," Michael Lewis, telling late night host Steven Colbert in 2015 that the banks should not have been bailed out in 2008.
At the Close, Wednesday, April 7, 2021:
Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 9:15 am ET
There are cycles in everything.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven
The above quote is from the Old Testament. Boomers may recall the verse as part of the Byrds 1965 hit "Turn, Turn, Turn."
(Not to belabor the point, but Ecclesiastes is one of the more poignant and instructive books of the Bible. Consider its opening verses (Ecc. 1:2-4):
Economics is full of cyclical examples, as is farming (plant, grow, harvest, dormancy), as are our lives. We work Monday through Friday and take weekends off. We shower in the morning, take rest in the evening, and so forth.
But, why is it always Wednesday? What is at the root of Wednesday in the cyclical patterns of life and economics? Here at Money Daily Wednesday's have generally become the day in which all the angst and frustration and truth and evidence is released. Money doesn't matter. Stocks up or down seem to be of little importance. There are bigger issues and they usually come to light on Wednesdays. So be it.
Today is no different.
About three weeks ago, Michael Burry, the founder and lead investor of Scion Asset Management made famous by the book and movie, "The Big Short" stopped tweeting. His last tweet included this:
"Tweeting and getting in the news lately apparently has caused the SEC to pay us a visit,"
Since then, silence from Mr. Burry, one of the most honest and insightful investors of this era. Let's leave that as food for thought for now.
Shortly after Burry's last tweet (around March 16 or 17), Archegos Capital blows up (here's a timeline, oddly enough on Yahoo! Sports, not Finance) as leveraged investments trigger margin calls on varios media companies, among them, ViacomCBS (VIAC). Since peaking at $100 a share on March 22, shares have been more than halved, the current price is hovering around $44.
That rapid descent in the share price of ViacomCBS is kind of strange, being that the company has had positive earnings with blowout results, beating consensus estimates the past four quarters. Apparently, the company was issuing stock and the sale didn't go well at all. ViacomCBS's stock had fallen 9% on Tuesday as the company marketed the offerings and by Wednesday, after it priced, the stock was down 30% from Monday's high.
Well, maybe that $100 a share price on the exchanges was just a little bit inflated.
At the same time, other Archegos companies were deflating. From March 23 to March 26, Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) dropped nearly in half. Baidu, Inc. (BIDU) also got whacked. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, backers of Archegos, got out early. other banks, specifically, Nomura ($2 billion in losses) and Credit Suisse, got burned as Archegos went belly up.
Supposedly, on Friday, the 26th, Goldman Sachs sold more than $10.5 billion of shares in ViacomCBS, Baidu Inc and Tencent Music Entertainment Group, among others. Morgan Stanley offloaded $8 billion worth of shares. Deutsche Bank sold $4 billion of shares related to the Archegos swaps in a private deal on Friday, according to "a source."
Obviously, there was some risk partitioning and loss-sharing among these banks. Those stocks had been falling for days. Deutsche Bank has been on the verge of bankruptcy for most of the past decade. Another painful loss could have tipped over the bank and maybe the global financial system, again.
Credit Suisse (CS) is on its knees, having taken a $4.7 billion loss on Archegos and a similar meltdown earlier, Greensill Capital. They fired two executives in relation to the bad trades. Boo-hoo. They'll get millions in severance pay and retire to private islands.
Meanwhile, the banks are not exactly scions of English language usage. Goldman Sachs says their losses are "not material" while Credit Suisse is said to be "well below the standard we have expected." How much did Goldman lose? $40 million, half a billion? More? Peons and muppets will never know. The standards to which Credit Suisse is "expected" are losing only $2 billion in a quarter, perhaps.
Funds blowing up. Banks running for cover. Media in the dark. Sounds all too familiar, doesn't it? People like Michael Burry can't be allowed to comment on such matters. Too dangerous.
Naturally, the media doesn't delve into these matters with any kind of objective journalism or investigation.
Then there's the personification of systemic corruption, Janet Yellen, as acting Secretary of the Treasury, who hates Bitcoin, favors a global minimum corporate tax, and just gave the IMF the green light on increasing reserves (SDRs) by $650 billion, a move which some estimate will cost the United States some $180 billion, though Yellen insists the deal will be a "wash."
Yellen is meeting with finance leaders from various G20 nations this week as the IMF and World Bank conduct their annual meetings. She called the meetings a "Bretton Woods" moment, referencing the 1944 conference which made the US dollar the world's reserve currency. Ironically, the conference and meetings are taking place in Argentina, the epicenter of credit defaults for decades.
Something big is about to come down and it's not likely to be good news for developed nations, though the media will paint the picture in vastly different shades and colors.
Why not? After all, it's Wednesday.
Here's Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discussing Archegos, margin calls and Contracts for Difference (CFD). Lawrence Lepard is Max's guest in the second half of the show.
At the Close, Tuesday, April 6, 2021:
Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 9:05 am ET
With the S&P 500 sailing well past the 4,000 mark to yet another new record close, the Dow putting 35,000 by year-end within earshot and the NYSE Composite joining the gang of indices setting new all-time highs, only the NASDAQ is lagging due to the improbable negative sentiment toward tech stocks.
That distaste for everything internet, interconnected, artificial-intelligenced and spacey is not likely to persist for long. With the first quarter having closed out last week, it's nearly time to roll out the corporate results. From the looks of things, the Spring earnings season is going to be a blockbuster for bulls and a backbreaker for the long-suffering bears.
The third round of stimulus checks continue to make their ways into the hands of hungry consumers in a nation tired of lockdowns and social-distancing. The near-capacity crowd at Monday's Texas Rangers' home opener in Arlington and crowded beaches in Florida are telling signs that the American public is more than ready to get back to something resembling normal, be it "new" or otherwise. There's never been a better time for the words "pent up demand" to roll off the lips of traders, speculators and investors, with hundreds of millions of Americans eager to get back to work, to school, to play, and to recreate.
It's true that the NASDAQ - usually the leading index - has taken a back seat to other gauges of American business productivity, it's equally true that the stocks largely representative of the newer, greener, technology-driven haven't been down for long and aren't far from records themselves. The NASDAQ made its last record close on February 12, when it settled at 14,095.47. After Monday's blast higher, driven by a blowout March jobs report, the NASDAQ is a little less than 400 points - or 2.8% from setting a new high mark. Earnings of the major tech players aren't due for release for another few weeks, but the overall market will likely drag everything higher as banks and consumer stocks take the lead in reporting.
Whether or not one buys into the recovery narrative, all Wall Street needs are positive earnings and promises of more money doled out by the Fed and the federal government to ramp gains to astronomical levels. While many consider stocks already massively overpriced, they remain the primary vehicle for wealth appreciation. When even the longest-term treasury bond is returning a paltry 2.36%, the appetite for stocks will remain strong and unsatisfied. If indeed stocks are bubbly and about to burst matters little to the investing class. They've made money from vapor before and the current equity environment is ripe for tantalizing expectations of stratospheric stock prices.
The Teslas, Googles, Apples and Amazons of the world will still attract enormous piles of capital regardless of their fundamental, underlying valuations. All the economics books and investing mantras have been throw out of 60-story windows. All that remains of what used to be known as market discipline and due diligence has been cast aside in this extend and pretend environment. Trillions of dollars have been pumped into the economy and the markets and there's not a single sign that the spigot is going to close any time soon. Those who believed the GFC of 2008-09 was the end of the Fed and the American economy failed to check with Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, and Jerome Powell. They obviously have other plans in mind and as destructive as their radical print and spend policies to the long term health of the country may be, they are in charge and fueling the markets.
Economics is an odd science, maybe more of an art essentially, as theories come and go, some time-tested, others flying by night, but there's no mistaking that the world is caught up in a vortex of fiat money chasing real and imagined assets. Its not likely to end soon unless something equally revolutionary takes the place of non-stop QE, relentless printing, and the bailing out, cancellation or otherwise propping up of everything from major corporations to student debt.
Tradition be damned. This is a new age, and while it may not be "different this time," it sure fells like it is.
Enjoy the ride, but make sure to have an eye on the exit doors and alternative investments.
At the Close, Monday, April 5, 2021:
Sunday, April 4, 2021, 8:48 am ET
Other than the NASDAQ, all of the gains for the week were made on Thursday's trade in the Easter Friday-shortened week. Benefitting the most was the S&P 500, which closed at a record high Thursday (4,019.87) mainly in anticipation of March Non-farm Payroll data, which was out Friday morning.
Whispers of a million jobs created in the month of March were nearly matched when the official BLS figures were announced Friday morning. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 916,000 in March, with the unemployment rate edging down from 6.2 to 6.0 percent. The gains were led by leisure and entertainment (+280,000), education (+190,000), and construction (110,000), fueled by the rapid decline of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths over the past two months as states and municipalities rolled back lockdowns and other restrictive measures.
While the March results were somewhat a foregone conclusion, the gains (January and February were revised higher, by 67,000 and 89,000, respectively) left the labor force participation rate at 61.5 percent, 1.8 percentage points lower than February, 2020, prior to pandemic-related forced shutdowns, furloughs, and layoffs, still historically below trend and not showing any signs of returning to more productive and expansive levels above 65%. The last time the participation rate exceeded 65% was in April, 2010 (65.2%). The economy may well be on the mend, but it is nowhere near full recovery.
Still, the good news should keep stocks at or near all-time highs. Stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits are helping fuel stock market gains. With the narrative firmly in the "recovery" camp, any positive news on employment should keep the punch bowl full and the party swinging.
On the long end of the treasury complex, prices continued their slump as rates remained elevated. Higher interest rates on 10-year and 30-year securities have been in a bear market since the beginning of 2021, accelerating in February and March. At the end of January, the 10-year note yielded 1.11% and the 30-year, 1.87. Compare to Friday's closing figures of 1.72% on the 10-year and 2.35% on the 30, the 10-year note up five basis points from a week before and the 30-year down two.
Investors seem to be not particularly keen on anything but stocks as bonds, oil, precious metals, and cryptocurrencies are either in extended slumps or just marking time recently.
Oil spent another week trying to figure out a correct pricing model, weighing OPEC+ production cuts against a return to lockdown conditions in parts of Europe. In North America, business is reopening and Asian countries have largely beaten back the scourge outside of India and Indonesia, two high-population nations. Cases and conditions in those two countries appear to be moving in opposite directions, however. Indonesia's cases are elevated over the past 10 days but still down from the highs of the summer and fall of 2020. Cases in India, however, are still rising.
The price of a barrel of WTI crude oil fell from $61.56 on Monday to a low of $59.16 on Wednesday, only to rally back to $61.24 as of the New York close on Thursday. Oil futures remain in backwardation, with spot higher than future prices.
Prices for gas at the pump remain high across the United States, with far Western states all reporting average prices above $3.00 a gallon in Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, and California, which leads the way at a whopping $3.92 per gallon, according to Triple A. Also joining the $3.00+ brigade is Illinois, at an average price of $3.08. The lowest price is found in Mississippi, at $2.59.
Cryptos crept along during the week, though Etherium continued to lead Bitcoin. Ether ramped to an all-time high of $2145 on Saturday, since then falling back about five percent, to around $2050. Remarkably, Etherium is up more than 30% in the past 30 days. For its part, Bitcoin continues backing off from all-time highs, currently trading around $57,500 after rocketing as high as $61.788 earlier in March. Despite its recent vacillation, it's still up nearly 15% over the past 30 days, a figure the no-coiners fail to appreciate.
During the week, gold was beaten down as low as $1685 per ounce on Tuesday, but strong rallies on Wednesday and Thursday left it at $1729.80. Silver showed a similar pattern, knocked down below $24.00 per ounce on Tuesday, but rallying back to $24.97 as of Thursday. It was still down overall for the week, having closed the prior Friday (3/26) at $25.39.
Futures markets were closed Friday and through the weekend. They will reopen at 6:00 pm ET Sunday.
Here are the most recent prices paid for common one ounce gold and silver items on eBay (numismatics excluded, shipping - often free - included):
Item: Low / High / Average / Median
There was little change over the past week to prices, though overall, our survey found slightly lower prices across the gold spectrum with silver a little on the upside. Rumors of shortages remain rampant, with dealers still commanding significant premiums over spot. Shipping delays of a few days to a few weeks and minimum purchases of $199 or higher to qualify for shipping discounts are commonplace with all online retailers.
Money Daily's proprietary Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) calculates out to $42.14, which is up from the prior two weeks ($41.77, 3/28, and $41.85, 3/21).
This being Easter Sunday, kindness is extended to readers and critics alike, ending commentary here.
Spend some time with friends and family. You've earned it.
At the Close, Thursday, April 1, 2021:
For the Week:
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