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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.

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Week, Month, Second Quarter, First Half of 2023 All Close Today as Fed Eyes PCE and 2% Inflation Target

Friday, June 30, 2023, 9:30 am ET

Rarely does a trading session have the kind of notoriety as does today, Friday, June 30, 2023.

Not only does the day mark the end of the week, but also the month, second quarter, and first half of the year.

Wherever stocks, treasuries, oil, gold, silver, and all commodity prices end, today's closing figures will be used as benchmarks for years to come. With that in mind, June has been quite profitable for equity investors. The Dow is sporting a gain of 3.69%, with the S&P holding onto 216 points positive, or 5.18%, with the NASDAQ up 5.07%, and the NYSE Composite ahead by 5.71%.

For the week, through Thursday's close, the Dow has gained 395 points, the NASDAQ, 99 points, and the S&P higher by just more than one percent, up 48 points.

At 8:30 am ET, the Fed got a reading on its preferred inflation gauge, the Personal Consumption Index (PCE), indicating that prices rose 3.8% in May from a year ago, down from the 4.4% year-over-year level in April, the lowest number since April, 2021. From April to May, prices rose a mere 0.1%. While the figures ar encouraging, the key measure is still nearly two points above the Fed's target inflation rate of two percent. Bad enough, a two percent rise in inflation results in 50% higher prices within 20 years and a doubling in about 35.

Over the average lifespan of a typical American citizen, 70 years, two percent inflation causes a fourfold increase in prices, which is why baby boomers in retirement have sullen recollections of prices from the early 1970s, when candy bars were still a dime, apples were 29 cents a pound, and a new car cost less than $4000.

The current wave of high inflation is the second in the lifetimes of the generation born between 1946 and 1964. Generation X, Millennials, and GenZ will have similar experiences, should they live so long.

This is the result of the Federal Reserve's ability to print currency on demand, otherwise known as counterfeiting, a practice as old as alchemy and equally harmful, known these days as currency debasement, especially prevalent since 1971. The value of the US dollar has been slashed by 98% since the Federal Reserve was formed in 1913.

The first half of 2023 was great, right? Carry on.

At the Close, Thursday, June 29, 2023:
Dow: 34,122.42, +269.76 (+0.80%)
NASDAQ: 13,591.33, -0.42 (-0.00%)
S&P 500: 4,396.44, +19.58 (+0.45%)
NYSE: 15,737.38, +120.02 (+0.77%)


US 1Q GDP Revised to 2% from 1.3% Previously; Jobless Claims Fall as 2nd Quarter Nears an End

Thursday, June 29, 2023, 9:25 am ET

Wednesday's trading was more of the same that's prevailed over the weeks since passage of the debt ceiling suspension, with stocks seeking direction and finding little, criss-crossing the UNCH line multiple times through the session, the end result a mis-mash.

The Dow took the brunt of the selling, though it managed to shave off more than half the losses thanks to a major boost right at the close. The other indices received similar treatment, with a swoosh higher in the final minutes, likely tied to rebalancing nearing the end of the month and quarter. JP Morgan's $16 billion Hedged Equity Fund is of particular notice due to its size and vast holdings of stocks and option positions. Set to roll its positions on Friday, the fund is often referred to as the "Morgan put", for its role in keeping a positive bias.

As fund managers prepare for the third quarter and second half of the year, there appears to be no firm commitment on either the buy or sell side, for now. That could all change in a couple of weeks as earnings reports flow from corporate offices to the street.

Elsewhere, gold and silver remain subdued and well off their April and May peaks. Gold had been as high as $2055 per troy ounce; Silver traded above $26 briefly in May but currently continues trending lower, quoted this morning at $22.88 per ounce, with gold looking to test the $1900 level. As far as gold is concerned, the strong support seen at $1960, attributed widely to central bank buying, seems to have run its course. The next true support level is at the mid-to-low $1800s, the range in which it was trading back in February and March. Silver's next stop almost certainly will be between $20 and $21, and a breakdown back to $18 remains a possibility over the medium term, six to nine months out.

While the recent spate of selling may not be exactly what precious metals enthusiasts wish to see, it does represent yet another golden opportunity to pick up metals on the cheap, appealing to those of the dollar coast averaging bent.

Earlier Thursday morning, first time unemployment claims fell to 239,000, from last week's 20-month high of 265,000. Continuing claims dropped to 1.74 million, a four-month low. Tech layoffs from the latter part of 2022 and earlier this year have abated, and the employment market remains a strong point for the US economy. Nearly anybody seeking a job can find one, most at elevated pay levels.

Also, the government's third estimate of first quarter GDP came in much stronger than expected, revised upward to two percent after the previous estimate of 1.3%.

Despite the Fed's efforts to cool inflation and the economy via higher interest rates, the US economy appears to have not gotten the memo, which is likely to fuel speculation for further rate increases at the July 25-26 and September 19-20 meetings.

It's a trader's market, where individual stocks are the main focus for bulls and bears alike.

Stock futures cratered on the GDP and employment news, setting up a rough open.

At the Close, Wednesday, June 28, 2023:
Dow: 33,852.66, -74.08 (-0.22%)
NASDAQ: 13,591.75, +36.08 (+0.27%)
S&P 500: 4,376.86, -1.55 (-0.04%)
NYSE Composite: 15,617.36, -29.32 (-0.19%)


Walgreen's Massive Miss Limited Tuesday's Gains; Markets Shaky as Second Quarter Nears End

Wednesday, June 28, 2023, 9:42 am ET

Coming hard on the heels of a string of losing sessions, Tuesday's reflex rally wasn't at all impressive. Volumes were thin, gains constrained by poor results from Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) reporting fiscal third quarter results that came in well short of analyst expectations. The pharmacy chain with over 8,886 locations in the US and more than another 3,989 worldwide posted earnings of $118 million, or 14 cents a share, compared to $289 million, and 33 cents a share one year ago.

The massive miss was attributed to falling foot traffic coincident with the waning of Covid testing and vaccinations along with "challenging consumer and macroeconomic conditions," according to CEO Rosalind Brewer. The company also slashed forward guidance, calling for a range of $4.00 to $4.05 per share for the full year of 2023, versus the previous estimate of $4.45 to $4.65.

The magnitude of Walgreen's failings underscores the general malaise facing the US, UK and Europe. Walgreen's poor results may look like a one-off, though they might better be considered a sign of things to come for retail and the broader economy. They aren't the first chain to show signs of a struggle for profit and they're likely not to be the last. Business for the company has not been cheery for over a year, actually showing losses of $415 million and $3.72 billion in the third and fourth quarters of 2022, respectively (Walgreen's fiscal 4th quarter, 2022, and 1st quarter, 2023).

If not for some extreme figures from the housing sector, Walgreen's results, with revenue and EPS cut by more than half from a year ago, would have sent shivers up the spines of even the bravest bulls. Reported prior to the opening bell on Tuesday, the Commerce Department (government agency) said May new home sales were 12.2% higher than the prior month and up 20% year-over-year, with 763,000 units sold.

With that, US futures pointed to a lower open, even as Asian shares rose overnight, with the NIKKEI up more than two percent and India's Sensex up 945 points (1.50%). European stocks are higher intra-day, though gains are less than one percent across the board.

Will the bulls come to the rescue and extend the nascent rally or will bearish sentiment prevail?

At the Close, Tuesday, June 27, 2023:
Dow: 33,926.74, +212.03 (+0.63%)
NASDAQ: 13,555.67, +219.89 (+1.65%)
S&P 500: 4,378.41, +49.59 (+1.15%)
NYSE Composite: 15,646.68, +127.94 (+0.82%)

Some people might call this "Asia's response to sanctions". Yes, that is Linda Ronstadt.


Crude Oil, Earnings Response Presaging a Rough Second Half of 2023

Tuesday, June 27, 2023, 9:17 am ET

Stocks fell again on Monday (other then the NYSE Composite, small caps defying gravity) after taking a severe downward tilt last week. Suffering the most, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished lower of the sixth consecutive session, dating back to Friday, June 16. It's the longest daily losing streak for the Dow this year, though the 692-point loss is less than two five day losing streaks in early March (-1612) and late May (-772). Another five-day downer from May 8-12 netted a loss of just 374 points. Approaching Tuesday's opening bell, the Dow is channeling Clint Eastwood, seeking a seventh-straight session loss. Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya?

Looking to bounce, the wildly overbought NASDAQ ended an eight week string of gains last week and has closed lower in five of the past six sessions, same as the S&P, which has shed 97 points since June 15, a date marking the 2023 peak for the NASDAQ, S&P, and Dow trio.

Seemingly, the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Speaking of which, cruise operator, Carnival (CCL), took a 7.6 percent dive on Monday after reporting better-than-expected EPS and issuing positive guidance for the remainder of the year. Shares were down more than 11 percent intra-day, but recovered some ground late in the session.

Why?

On April 26, the company's stock bottomed out at 8.76, but made its way up to 16.12 by June 15 (there's that key date again). The funny thing about Carnival is that the company has been consistently losing money for two-and-a-half years, losing $10.24 billion in 2020, and another $9.50 billion in 2021. For the second quarter, the forecast of a $0.34 per-share loss for Carnival was bettered when the company announced a loss of only $0.32 per share on improving revenue.

As far as stocks are concerned, the glaringly obvious pattern of lower EPS versus a year ago was a major theme for first quarter results. There's not much to suggest that the second quarter won't be any different. Large cap companies have been bid up in the first half of the year on earnings which offer hope and prayers rather than solid fundamentals, which haven't mattered very much at all since 2009. The change in attitude may present itself when second quarter results start flowing to market at a more rapid pace in about two weeks. A seminal session will be that of July 14, when JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), Wells Fargo (WFC), State Street (STT), United Health (UNH) all report prior to the opening bell. Market reaction could offer a clue to how earnings results will be interpreted by the market.

Crude oil continues to loom as a major story for 2023 and what's been predicted to be a second half recession. While there is a cohort of the belief that the US economy has been in recession since the beginning of last year when the first and second quarters both rendered negative GDP growth (otherwise known as contraction), some politically-connected people spread disinformation deflecting the message.

The NBER, which qualifies recessions and business cycle expansions, changed their methodology years before, losing the strict definition of recession as two consecutive quarters of contracting GDP to a more sanguine determination of "the period between a peak of economic activity and its subsequent trough." Thus, there was no recession in the first half of 2022.

The price of oil begs to differ and presents a compelling argument for recession dead ahead in its current pricing regime. WTI crude has struggled to maintain a price of $70/barrel, especially since early May. Monday marked the third consecutive daily New York closing price under $70 and the fourth foray into sub-$70 territory since April.

Nothing screams recession like low crude prices and the recent cycle, a hybrid of slack demand and supply glut, is in full-throated panic. Higher interest rates and the lack of demand from the uneventful China "reopening" have counteracted OPEC+ production cuts and sporadic IAE drawdowns.

There's Nigerian and Iranian oil seeking buyers, more people working from home and tighter economic conditions in Europe contributing to a general slowdown and what looks to be a major oil price breakdown. Conversion from Spring to Summer equates to a change from heating to driving and a change in demand dynamics. Oil could dip into the $50 range if conditions persist.

All that brings Tuesday's open into focus. With half an hour before the bell, stock futures, European stocks, oil, gold, and silver are all declining.

Is a rebound in the cards or is the market holding aces and eights?

At the Close, Monday, June 26, 2023:
Dow: 33,714.71, -12.72 (-0.04%)
NASDAQ: 13,335.78, -156.74 (-1.16%)
S&P 500: 4,328.82, -19.51 (-0.45%)
NYSE: 15,518.74, +49.39 (+0.32%)


WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks Take a Tumble; Fixed Income Flat-Lines; Gold, Silver Mashed; Bitcoin, Crypto Soars

Sunday, June 25, 2023, 11:40 am ET

Summer officially arrived in the Northern Hemisphere on Wednesday, as the solstice gave the longest period of sunlight for the year. While the advent of summer usually signifies a general relaxation, kids out of school, vacations ahead, and extra time off for those who can afford it, the mood seems to have shifted in finance, from complacency to concern. Stocks turned decisively lower, gold and silver were stomped upon, but the crypto space was re-awakened.

Oddly enough, all the slush money was moved into the most blatantly speculative sector, crypto, which isn't actually for investing, but rather, for gambling.

There's growing concern that not everything will turn out well.


Stocks

For the first time in nine weeks, the NASDAQ registered a weekly loss. The eight-week win streak now a statistic, the question on many minds is whether this represents a turning point for the major indices. Given that before this week's dip, the NASDAQ was up about a third from the start of the year to June 15 - 10,466.48 on 12/30/2022; 13,782.82, 6/15/23 - the S&P hasn't nearly kept pace (+13.25% YTD) and the Dow is up only 1.75% after last week's drubbing of 571 points.

Making investors a little more anguished is the lack of breadth in the markets. The NASDAQ outperformance has been mainly driven by the usual suspects, the high-handed tech names like Amazon, Alphabet (Google), Apple, Meta, and, recently Nvidia, making the new acronym MANAA, as in, delivered from heaven. The rest of the market has foundered.

For appearances sake, the rising stock market gives the impression that all is well and things are just humming along. Recent economic data suggests otherwise, as the Conference Board's Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell another 0.7% in May and has declined in each of the last fourteen months, continuing to point to weaker economic activity ahead.

Whether this week's selloff was a one-time event or beginning of a new trend lower will probably come into clearer focus over the next three to six weeks when second quarter earnings reports are released, starting with the banking sector. By mid-to-late July, the extent of the damage wil be apparent. For now, it's business as usual, but the major averaged appear to be quite stretched.

Treasury Yield Curve Rates

Date 1 Mo 2 Mo 3 Mo 4 Mo 6 Mo 1 Yr
05/19/2023 5.62 5.27 5.29 5.46 5.36 5.02
05/26/2023 6.02 5.47 5.34 5.55 5.44 5.25
06/02/2023 5.28 5.39 5.50 5.52 5.50 5.22
06/09/2023 5.25 5.32 5.37 5.45 5.39 5.17
06/16/2023 5.18 5.27 5.34 5.38 5.35 5.24
06/23/2023 5.17 5.30 5.41 5.44 5.41 5.25

Date 2 Yr 3 Yr 5 Yr 7 Yr 10 Yr 20 Yr 30 Yr
05/19/2023 4.28 3.98 3.76 3.74 3.70 4.07 3.95
05/26/2023 4.54 4.23 3.92 3.86 3.80 4.13 3.96
06/02/2023 4.50 4.13 3.84 3.78 3.69 4.03 3.88
06/09/2023 4.59 4.23 3.92 3.84 3.75 4.05 3.89
06/16/2023 4.70 4.32 3.99 3.88 3.77 4.05 3.86
06/23/2023 4.71 4.32 3.99 3.88 3.74 4.01 3.82

There was little movement in treasuries over the shortened week, the biggest gains in three, four, and six-month bills, where yields rose, respectively, by seven, six, and six basis points. On the long end, 30-year and 20-year yields fell by four basis points, with the ten-year giving up three. Other than those, yields were static and remain extremely inverted, and even more so. The 2s-10s spread expanded from 93 to 97 basis points, with the full curve - one-month out to 30 years - inverted by 135 basis points, up from 132 the prior week.

So long as inflation remains a threat, expect to see inversion and high yields on the short end persist. It's been 15 months since the curve began to invert, when the yield on seven-year notes exceed the 10-year (03/11/2022) and just under a year that yield on 2s was higher than 10s (07/06/2022, 2.97 vs. 2.93) remained in that condition and steadily worsened. The current regimen of swapping out long-dated securities for the yield-chasing in short-term bills is a recipe for bank runs, a stock market implosion, currency catastrophe, and a hybrid of hyper-inflation and general depression. Evidence for a complete breakdown in finance coming to a head is overwhelming.

This is borne out by the continuing use of the Fed's BTFP, which, according to JP Morgan (who should know a bit about this stealth bailout) may inject $2 trillion into US banking in the aftermath of the Silicon Vally Bank (SVB) failure.

While the Fed is shrinking its balance sheet, it is simultaneously increasing loans to banks in roughly the same amount through BTFD, leaving liquidity jogging in place. At the same time, all of the fresh treasury issuance has come directly from the Fed's reverse repo account.

All of this is handled surreptitiously, behind the curtain of the Federal Reserve, but something is going to break, and likely sooner than later. Regional banks are the most likely victims, as lending via BTFP continues to rise.

The banking crisis didn't end, it was just removed from public view. That, along with the oncoming commercial real estate (CRE) implosion (itself a central cause of banking woes) is going to crush many smaller banks and maybe a few large ones as well.


Oil/Gas

WTI crude oil closed out the week at $70.94 a barrel, half a buck lower than last week's close of $71.44, and a tad above the June 9th price of $70.35 from two weeks ago. Awash in crude both in and above the ground, prices would come down if not for the constant meddling by governments, swindling by energy companies and refiners, and the general lie that used to be known as "peak oil." Oil, natural gas, and other earth-bound compounds are plentiful.

Any of oil's so-called "shortages" have been purely human in the making and have been the primary cause for price swings. They are completely unnecessary. Just like floating currencies, a varying price for oil makes life more difficult for people and businesses, a waste of valuable energy. Wasting energy while procuring, refining, or delivering it is a net negative. A gold standard would put an end to such price mechanics and restore some sanity to the world of commerce.

$70 appears to be where the battle lines are drawn. As a recession looms closer, that may prove to be an unsustainable level. Between falling demand and a market-wide glut, the only element keeping oil from falling to the mid-60s or lower is the speculative fervor for higher prices.

This week's national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gas is $3.56, a penny lower than last week,

The Southeast continues to exhibit the lowest prices overall. For the fifth straight week, Mississippi remains the only state averaging under $3.00. At $2.98, it has inched high from $2.94 two weeks ago and $2.97 last week. Bordering states, Louisiana ($3.09), Tennessee ($3.10), Arkansas ($3.12), and Alabama (3.12) fall next in line. Oklahoma also checked in at $3.12. Texas has seen rising prices, currently at $3.22.

The West coast remains elevated. California leads the nation at $4.82, followed by Washington ($4.95), Oregon ($4.60), where prices are up sharply, rising 37 cents in three weeks ($4.23). Prices continued to slide in Arizona ($4.01) and Utah ($3.99). Nevada ($4.20) dropped three cents over the course of the week.

Prices in Illinois came down below the $4.00 mark, registering a price of $3.98, but still the highest in the Northeast/Midwest region. Together with Utah dropping out of the $4+ club, only five states remain at that elevated level. Other than Illinois, prices in the region range between Virginia ($3.33) and New York ($3.66).


Bitcoin

This week: $30,678.30
Last week: $26,531.10
2 weeks ago: $25,774.80
6 months ago: $16,917.90
One year ago: $20,723.60

Crypto enthusiasts got some encouraging news from the financial community, as Fidelity, Schwab, and Citadel formed what they're calling an exchange, though in reality their newly-launched EDX Markets is merely a conduit for existing clients or new ones wishing to share in the glow of bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LITE) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH), the latter of which nearly doubled during the week, rising from 109 on June 20 to 214 on Friday, June 24, the outrageous gain attributable, conveniently, to its inclusion of tradable tokens at EDX Markets.

Getting such a rise as BCH did underscores the sketchy nature of Wall Street's involvement in crypto markets, which have already been embroiled in many dubious events. What used to be the province of wild speculation by true believers has now become nothing more than another money laundering platform for the rich and infamous.

Any venture into crypto at this juncture should carry a very large "CAVEAT EMPTOR" warning, as Wall Street fraud reaches for an entirely new level.

It's to be expected that bitcoin and many other crypto assets will experience outsized gains, now that the masters of the universe are fully engaged. If BlackRock succeeds in getting their bitcoin spot ETF approved, the sky's the limit.

With the world's two largest exchanges - Coinbase and Binance - in court with the SEC, fighting charges that the firms were allegedly violating securities laws and offering unregistered securities, the doors to the crypto world have been flung wide open for the well-heeled Wall Street and hedge fund crowd. It's straight up financial repression for the masses and high fraud for the rich folks. Once it's made clear that crypto is only for "accredited investors" or some other such limiting designation, bitcoin will likely soar into the hundreds of thousands. The grift never ends.


Precious Metals

Silver:Gold Ratio: 85.98; last week: 81.20

Per COMEX continuous contracts:

Gold price 05/26: $1,964.90
Gold price 06/02: $1,964.30
Gold price 06/09: $1,975.70
Gold price 06/16: $1,970.70
Gold price 06/23: $1,930.30

Silver price 05/26: $23.44
Silver price 06/02: $23.69
Silver price 06/09: $24.40
Silver price 06/16: $24.27
Silver price 06/23: $22.45

Despite significant selling over the couse of the week, retail prices haven't changed materially, at least not as far as eBay is concerned. Prices fell, though not in a precipitous manner even as the naked shorting and fraud on the COMEX and within the LBMA's daily price fixing took its toll on the derivative market.

All the price disruptors have done is allow another lower entry point into precious metals. Being the province of the fiat currency cabal, suppression tactics are only delaying the inevitable, gifting buyers with discounts. The desperation is palpable.

The huge jump in the silver:gold ratio indicates that gold is considered overpriced and will likely trend lower through the summer, led down by silver, which has been slaughtered recently. As of May 5th, silver was pricing on the COMEX at $26.23. The current level of $22.45 represents a decline of 14.41%. There would be little surprise if silver knocked on a $20 handle within six to eight weeks, and quite possibly sooner than that. The argument given will be that with interest rates so high, risk-free returns of four to five percent can be found in treasuries or even higher yields in corporate issuance, thus rendering the need for gold and silver's "insurance" a moot point.

Of course, that argument has been employed ad nauseam by the fiat counterfeiters and falls mostly on deaf ears in the PM community. What a decline in precious metals most likely indicates - beyond the usual extreme levels of misappropriate behavior regarding markets and assets - is a fresh effort to reinvigorate the fiat standard reserve currency, the dollar, and to a lesser extent, yen, francs, pounds, and euros.

The simple essence of the dollar's inverse relationship to the price of gold and silver cannot be understated. Trading Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs) for precious metals is about the easiest trade that exists.

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: 35.00 44.44 38.64 38.68
1 oz silver bar: 31.00 41.00 36.31 35.97
1 oz gold coin: 1,975.00 2,112.56 2,047.58 2,055.75
1 oz gold bar: 2,003.21 2,073.68 2,022.50 2,013.94

The Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) remained somewhat stable, falling to $37.40, a 40 cent decline from the June 18 price of $37.80 per troy ounce.


WEEKEND WRAP

Well, that's enough. Get out and bask in the sun.

At the Close, Friday, June 23, 2023:
Dow: 33,727.43, -219.28 (-0.65%)
NASDAQ: 13,492.52, -138.09 (-1.01%)
S&P 500: 4,348.33, -33.56 (-0.77%)
NYSE Composite: 15,469.35, -131.35 (-0.84%)

For the Week:
Dow: -571.69 (-1.67%)
NASDAQ: -197.06 (-1.44%)
S&P 500: -61.26 (-1.39%)
NYSE Composite: -325.77 (-2.06%)


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