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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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Friday, July 23, 2021, 8:19 am ET
If this week seemed to be shorter than usual, it's because Monday's mini-crash was cancelled out by three straight sessions of gains without a hint of supportive news.
It would be easy to say that positive earnings reports drove stocks higher, but that would be discounting the effects of comparisons to the second quarter of 2020, one of the worst quarters of the past 50 years. GDP contracted by 31.4%, so, of course everything was up compared to last year. April, May, and June of 2020 were when most states, cities, and counties were nearly boarded up, large swaths of the economy literally shut down.
So, if that's the rationale, the winners of the past three days can claim it and keep it. Comparisons are going to become more difficult going forward for the third quarter and the fourth and into 2022. The US economy is not back to 2019 levels, especially if the effects of three rounds of stimulus and the largesse of the Federal Reserve toward publicly-owned companies is weighted properly. Most of what's supposed to be GDP has been, over the past 16 months, transfer payments from government or the Fed to the people and to corporations.
GDP in 2019 was $21.7 trillion. It fell to $20.9 trillion in 2020, so for 2021 GDP to exceed 2019's numbers, the econony will have to grow by 3.8% over 2020 GDP. With more increases in government spending and inflation running above five percent, GDP will probably exceed 2019's record high. Just inflation alone puts the economy beyond that. Stripping out inflation in the Real GDP calculation will be a different story.
Government, the media and the central bank have created an economic facade built upon a rapidly depreciating currency which is printed without restraint. The Federal government, of which a third of the money spent is created out of thin air by the Fed buying worthless government bonds with equally worthless cash, accounts for 20% of GDP. State and local governments account for a small percentage, though following rough patches like 2008 and 2020, they actually detract from the total as they attempt to balance their budgets.
In any case, the first estimate of second quarter 2021 GDP will be out next week. The Atlanta Fed currently has it increasing by 7.6%, annualized. If the figure revealed is anything close to that, following the 6.4% advance from the first quarter, Thursday, July 29, is going to be a happy day on Wall Street, regardless of who's doing the counting or what's included.
Stocks started out slowly on Thursday, but gradually rose through the afternoon. Most of the earlier gains on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were wiped out into the close. The Dow was up by as many as 80 points, but closed with just 25 to the upside.
The NASDAQ led the pack with the NYSE Composite Index lower on the day. After three straight sessions of gains, the major averages are looking to finish the week in positive territory. The Dow is up 135 points so far, the NASDAQ is ahead by 257 points, so that appears locked in, the S&P is up 40 points, and the NYsE Composite is ahead by 91 points. Friday offers a good possibility for record closes on all but the Composite.
With futures strongly positive leading into the New York opening bell and European stocks variously ahead by roughly one percent, it appears the "all clear " signal was given to markets after Monday's trouncing.
Looks like easy money.
At the Close, Thursday, July 22, 2021:
Thursday, July 22, 2021, 8:37 am ET
Wall Street bosses had their rally shoes on again Wednesday as the major indices recovered nearly all of the losses from Friday and Monday's washout.
Wednesday's gains were not as impressive as those seen Tuesday, when markets ramped back against Monday's brutal selloff. Still, there's work to be done to get stocks back to their record highs, especially on the Dow, which last set a record closing price on July 12, at 34,996.18. Another 200-point Dow rally puts it within whistling distance (2 points) of 35,000, a number likely already printed on hats ready to be distributed on the trading floor. If the Dow is going to make that mark, it will probably do so this week, because next week may prove a test of nerves as politicians grapple with the debt ceiling deadline on July 31.
The S&P also peaked on July 12 (4,384.63). It needs only a gain of 26 points to break its own record closing price. Considering that it has tacked on 100 points over the past two sessions makes that trade look like a no-brainer, especially since stocks haven't had two consecutive Friday's in the red since January. Unless Thursday and Friday reverse the last two days (a distinct possibility), new highs could be in the cards all around.
Looking ahead, there's a FOMC meeting Tuesday and Wednesday of next week ((July 27, 28). Market participants will probably looking for less taper talk and more downplay on inflation. The Fed has been consistent in its claims that inflation may be short-lived, but, in a perverse kind of way, such a scenario may not be in the stock market's best interest (no pun intended), because, while lower inflation would likely keep interest rates lower for longer, any disinflationary trend might be viewed negatively, pointing to a possible recession.
It's difficult to imagine a recession right on the heels of the mess that was 2020, but, if the recovery stalls out or the Delta variant begins to generate maskings and lockdowns in various states (already happening in California), stocks would almost certainly head lower. As it stands, parts of Australia are already in lockdown, France has seen virtual non-stop street protests over restrictions set to go into effect on August 1, and Great Britain continues to grapple with growing cases of CV-19 Delta and the government is mulling rollbacks of the newly-relaxed conditions.
Virus news, the Fed and then, the budget battle in congress will have profound effects on the markets over the next two weeks. If Congress cannot reach a deal to raise or suspend the debt ceiling by month's end, the government would have to rely on what are known as "extraordinary measures" to keep paying its bills. Those could give congress a bit of breathing room to forge a compromise, possibly into October or November, according to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office. [PDF]
Republicans in the Senate have already made it known that they would not support a hike in the debt ceiling unless Democrats pull back on some of their spending and taxing proposals. The two sides are miles apart on infrastructure spending, a 2022 budget, and other Biden administration bills. There are trillions of dollars on the line, so the debate is certain to get plenty of air time on the fake news networks. As is usually the case, there will be plenty of grandstanding and speech-making, ominous soundings of the government not meeting its obligations and so forth, all the while pushing a budget of which 40% is financed by the Federal Reserve.
It's all going to get very interesting very soon, and its just the kind of noisy debate that Wall Street (and the American public) have grown to loathe. It's difficult to make a case for stocks making gains against such a backdrop, most of which will occur after the bulk of companies report second quarter results, so there's still time for stocks to go up before they come down.
If the market is a discounting measure, the question is at which point will it begin to price in the potential disruption out of DC. If it is early, stocks will begin descending sooner rather than later. If the two parties in Washington move further apart in their deliberations over the next days and weeks an uncertain selloff looks like the most likely development for stocks.
The last two times congress went full tilt on a debt ceiling debate were in July through October of 2011 and January 2013 through 2014. Since then, the debt ceiling had been suspended, a solution that essentially leaves government spending unsolved.
On July 22, 2011, the Dow Jones Industrials closed at 12,681.16, but began selling off, eventually bottoming out at 10,655.30 on October 3rd.
In the year-long debacle in 2013, stocks didn't bat an eyelash as Washington's showcase, rising from 13,412.55 on January 2, 2013, to a high of 16,576.66 on December 31. Stocks slumped slightly through February 2014, but continued to advance once a resolution was reached. During the Trump years as president, the debt ceiling was a non-issue, with congress voting to suspend it three times, which is what brings us to the current condition.
If the current crop of Senators and House members carry on as during the 2013 crisis - which included a slew of extensions, continuing resolutions and other related legislation - there may be no immediate effect on stocks.
If the debate resembles the 2011 crisis, stocks may have a rougher road ahead. With the parties fairly well apart as the first deadline looms on July 31, expect the rhetoric to reach alarm bell levels.
In Japan, the NIKKEI is closed Thursday for Marine Day and Friday for Sports Day. The Olympics are set to open fully on Friday in front of empty stands. Like just about everything else, it's being politicized for the benefit of TV networks and liberal agendas.
At the Close, Wednesday, July 21, 2021:
Wednesday, July 21, 2021, 9:10 am ET
Just in case you've been living under a rock the past 12 years, we're here to remind you that stocks can never go down and in case they do, one is encouraged to buy the dip, just as the multi-various stock minions did on Tuesday, after Monday's rout.
Why stocks were so violently bid on Tuesday is a simple matter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed below its 50-day moving average on Monday. Whenever this happens, a rally ensues in short order. It's a way for the "smart" traders (people who know the Fed has their backs) to make quick profits by buying up the most shorted stocks, creating market momentum and cashing out over the next couple of sessions. It happens like clockwork and is a major reason all the brokerages consistently show exceptional trading profits in their quarterly reports.
It's not that the banks and their trading arms have inside information on the market. They ARE the market and can make it move in whatever direction they choose at any time, in coordinated fashion. They are in control of all markets, making it mandatory to pay attention to what they are buying and selling. The fortunate few (high worth clients) who receive daily or weekly communications from Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Schwab, et. al., don't really have to do much other than play follow the leader. Many of these clients don't even do that. Their money is managed by the brokerage. They just relax and collect gains and dividends. The rest of the poor slobs playing at home or from work have to play a guessing game, though big comebacks after big losses aren't that hard to discern. The trick is to not get to greedy or fall in love with a trade. It's also paramount that one be in and out of trades quickly. These days, anything longer than a week is considered a long-term investment strategy.
As the investment world turned, Bitcoin played its part, dipping below $30,000 for one day, then being bid higher, an inducement for rubes to get rubbed, or robbed, as it may be. Bitcoin is likely to catch something of a bid here, as the brokers need to sell to their clients. After months of FUD and bad-mouthing by everybody from Janet Yellen to Chairman Xi, Bitcoin is about to be promoted in strong terms as a "solid alternative investment" or some other language like that. It will go up. It will go down. Eventually, it will be phased out of existence because the central banks can't have competition to their fiat regime. It could take years, or months, but probably years, because there's lots of rube money out there ready to be taken by those who ostensibly know better.
Most of the Bitcoins in the world are owned by "whales" and they control the market. Everybody else just tags along for the ride. It's neither a useful store of value nor a widely-accepted currency. It's a trade, just like the rest of the altcoins, tokens, and other crypto-toys.
Approaching Wednesday's US open, futures are mostly higher (NASDAQ is down), European stocks are tacking on another day of gains and even Japan's NIKKEI 225 added 160 points overnight.
The betting windows open in less than half an hour. US stocks are set to rise again, but there will be no certainty or conviction to any of it. That's what happens when a few big players own a market and the average round trip on a trade is less than 20 seconds.
Have at it.
At the Close, Tuesday, July 20, 2021:
Tuesday, July 20, 2021, 9:10 am ET
Briefly, here's the damage done to US markets Monday:
At the Close, Monday, July 19, 2021:
The S&P 500 and NASDAQ saw their greatest decline in nearly two months while the Dow's 725-point drop was its worst since October 2020, prior to the (s)election and all the happy talk from the current White House optimistic occupants.
Treasury yields suffered their largest decline in over three months as investors sought safe havens, sending the 10-year note yield down 12 basis points to 1.19% (lowest since February 11) and the 30-year yield down the same, to 1.81%, matching the level from January 28 of this year. Oddly enough, while half the world thinks there's an inflation monster stalking their wealth, bond traders are all in the "transitory" camp, buying up treasuries like they're going out of business. As the government's insatiable demand for dollars has gone ballistic, the Fed has been pleasantly accommodating, buying up all of the Treasury issuance it can, monetizing the debt even as congress dithers over the $3.5 trillion spending plan put forward by the Biden team and House Democrats which includes a kitchen sink's worth of giveaways "like expanding educational access, building more affordable and energy-efficient housing, incentivizing low-carbon energy through tax credits and a wide range of other social programs."
Wall Street has been doing its best to avoid dealing with the realities that the economy is - and has been - on its knees, government spending is completely out of control, the global fiat currency regime has been corrupted beyond repair and that stock market valuations have become the stuff of unicorns and fantasies. That unprecedented suspension of credulity is just about over.
Sunday's WEEKEND WRAP (below) underscored the importance of Friday's Dow quadruple engulfing meltdown and suggested that a sharp decline on Japan's NIKKEI 225 index would produce a wild week in US markets. On Monday, the NIKKEI dropped 276 points, setting in motion a global stock market rout. On Tuesday, the NIKKEI fell another 264 points, marking its fifth straight session in the red and pushing the index to a close of 27,388.16, dropping it below its 200-day moving average.
The importance of Japan's stock market decline cannot be understated. The NIKKEI has now entered correction, falling below 27,420, or a 10% decline from its February high. It is ironic, to say the least, that Tokyo is days away from hosting the
Publicly-owned companies cannot escape a construct that has as its primary intention the dismantling of the global economic order and currency regime. Sure, Google, Amazon, Wal-Mart and a select few others will prosper within the carnage about to occur, but many more will be headed to financial hell, propped up by more Federal Reserve rescue programs in the interim, but eventually destined for bankruptcy courts. The general public will fare far worse. Many will have savings and investments wiped away in a final flush of the system, scheduled to conclude, likely, later this year or early next. For now, we've seen only the initial barrage, as every major global index was down by precise percentages on Monday, all European bourses off by between 2.25 and 2.75%.
Getting on beyond the NIKKEI's obvious signal, oil has been blaring its own.
On Tuesday, June 13, crude oil (WTI) was trading at $75.25 a barrel. At Monday's close, four trading days later, crude was $66.42, an 11.7% drop. That is serious, as oil is the fuel of the world's economy. Where it goes, everything follows. Such a massive discount over such a short period should set off alarm bells everywhere, though, judging by the reaction in Europe and futures in the United States this morning, stock jockeys simply hit the snooze button and went to work buying the dip, stroking the dead cat as it bounces just high enough to make Monday's rout look like business as usual.
As the morning has progressed, however, European stocks are headed back towards unchanged, with those markets approaching closing at their 4:00 pm local times. Futures have also faded as 9:00 am ET approaches, so the operative condition may be fleeting optimism and ready to resume downside momentum after an initial burst of confidence. When that fails, expect the bottom to open up. US stocks are still just percentages away from all-time highs, but, by definition, that's when bear markets commence. If there isn't enough evidence to shy away even the most strident bulls, there soon will be.
Finally, it should not go without notice that Bitcoin crashed to new lows overnight, weighing in at $29,301 as the sun rose on the Eastern shores of the United States. Should markets continue melting down - which they likely should this week - all the money that went rushing into Bitcoin through its run-up to $64,000 earlier this year will come flooding out, much of it already having left the cryptocurrency space.
To those reading that may not understand fully what's happening in the world, the following is a quote from Monday ("Freedom Day" in GB) by British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. This is the full-throated voice of tyranny:
"I would remind everybody that some of life's most important pleasures and opportunities are likely to be increasingly dependent on vaccination."
Nothing is safe.
Sunday, July 18, 2021, 10:22 am ET
On the surface, Friday's stock knockdown may not look like much, but there may be some ominous warnings deeper inside the numbers.
The final trading session of the week wasn't supposed to end in tears. Retail sales came in +0.6% higher in June while the market was expecting another decline. Futures were up prior to the opening bell and stocks opened modestly higher. The Dow was up 65 points at 10:00 am ET.
Then came the reality check.
On Tuesday, we learned that CPI was up yet again in June, the government's inflation gauge hitting 5.4%. Wednesday, the Labor Department announced that the PPI (Producer Price Index) increased 7.3% for the 12 months ended in June, its largest yearly increase in more than a decade. The market pretty much shrugged off those data points, focused more on bank earnings, which were generally positive, but not overly encouraging.
Thursday's closing bell had the Dow as the only major index in the black. The NASDAQ declined for a third straight day. Janet Yellen's comments on CNBC late Thursday didn't help matters any, especially when she suggested that the Delta variant of CV-19 might trigger another round of shutdowns and lockdowns. By Friday morning, her comments about the transitory nature of the recent spate of inflation were becoming the butt of rude jokes about her role as Treasury Secretary and how, at 74, her mental acuity seems to be headed in the same direction as 78-year-old Joe Biden's, even as the debate over inflation versus deflation rages.
With no significant bank earnings reported Friday morning, analysts were busy poring over the recent second quarter reports from JP Morgan (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), Citi (C), Wells Fargo (WFC) and others, the main concern emerging that even though the banks have been rewarded with excessive deposits over the past 16 months, loan grown has been anemic, to say the least. It's actually been flat since February of 2020. In general terms, the big four lenders, noted above, have more than double the amount of deposits on their books than loans, and, despite Jamie Dimon's smooth comments, bank stocks have not performed well for the past month.
"We talk about loans being down. The consumer ‹ the pump is primed," JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told analysts on Tuesday. "The consumer, their house value is up, their stocks rise up, their incomes are up, their savings are up, their confidence are up."
Thus, after a half hour of backslapping and glad-handing, stocks reversed course and headed downhill the remainder of the session. Volatility from options expiration fed right into the trend. All of the main indices closed lower on the day and for the week, the NASDAQ taking the brunt of the selling, losing nearly two percent after hitting negative numbers four straight days.
While the Dow was harmed the least on a weekly basis, its loss on Friday was the worst of the bunch. Further, the day's trading constituted a quadruple-engulfing event, wherein the highs and lows of Friday's session took out (engulfed) not only the preceding days highs and lows, but those of the preceding FOUR days.
Engulfing sessions are usually market signals for reversals, and, if such is the case with Friday's trading, market direction may be about to head lower. How deep a dive stocks may take depends on many diverse factors, but negative sentiment has been building, and any hiccups during this earnings season may trigger a waterfall market event. There's growing concern that the recovery from the virus crisis is not robust, that the Fed and the government have simply kept the economy going via various stimulus measures, and that when enhanced unemployment benefits, rent moratoriums, and mortgage forbearances run out in September, the economy will be seen for exactly what it is, a broken down wreck, limping along on crutches supplied by the government.
It's not a pretty picture moving forward, and the thought of another lockdown sweeping across the country could be the tipping point that sends stocks reeling.
How unusual was the Dow's decline on Friday? As noted in Friday's commentary, prior to this most recent drop, the Dow had finished on the positive side of the ticker nine of the prior ten weeks. As it turned out, that 1:9 wager on a higher close was a pretty bad bet, as short odds usually are. Looking back further, since the end of January - when the Dow had three of four losing Fridays and ended January in the red - the Dow closed negative on the last trading day of the week (April 1 was a Thursday) only five times in 24 sessions, including this most recent drop.
The 299-point decline was in the mid-range of the other four losers, all of which occurred toward the end of the month: 2/26, -470; 3/19, -235; 4/30, -185; 6/18, -533. Overall, buying the Dow at the close on Thursdays and selling it on the close Fridays was quite the profitable trade, especially from the 5th of March through the 11th of June, as the Dow finished positively 13 of 15 times.
One more mention on the Dow is in order. The famous "January Effect," in which a positive return in the month of January has an 85% positive correlation to the entire year, is off the table this year, though there is no general understanding or data to support negative January producing a loss for the year.
Another troubling market metric is the recent play of the NIKKEI 225, which has evolved into something of an advance warning system for the global economy and markets. The NIKKEI has ended lower six of the past eight sessions and the last three straight, with losses of 110, 329, and 276, the final three days of the week. The Tokyo index has been below its 50-day moving average all of July and has been in steady decline since the middle of February. Friday's close left the NIKKEI just 350 points above its 200-day moving average. A red finish on Monday, before US markets open, could portend a very ugly week for global stock markets, though most of the talk nad action will be surrounding earnings, as the next two weeks will witness the rollout of most of the big movers and shakers' second quarter results.
The coming week offers a who's who of notable Wall Street titan companies, including IBM, Netflix, Tractor Supply, Ally, Travelers, UBS, Coca-Cola, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, American Express, Honeywell, Intel, American Airlines, Twitter, DR Horton, Nucor, Texas Instruments, CSX, Discover, and a deluge of others. It's going to be a busy week for analysts, CEOs, and traders.
While stocks may be all the rage next week, there's ample reason to keep an eye on Treasury bonds, which have trended lower at the long end of the curve lately, another disconcerting sing for the US economy. Stocks and bonds don't usually rally together, though they have of late. The 10-year note yield made the trip lower again this week, losing six basis points to close out at 1.31%. Yield on the 30-year bond finished at 1.93%, also a six basis point decline.
Lower yields are telling participants that inflation may not be long-lasting, possibly replaced by a bout of distressing disinflation as supply chains continue to be a confounding mess, consumer demand is still at pre-2020 levels, and the absence of fresh government stimulus looks to cause short to medium term pain. It's likely to take until the fourth quarter to begin playing out earnestly, but a slowdown seems to be baked into the economic cake for late summer into fall.
Also of note, Zero Hedge reported last week that junk bonds were yielding less than the CPI. That's just how strange it is out there in finance-land.
Oil was battered over the course of the week. After WTI crude reached a high of $75.25 on Tuesday, the price retreated all the way to $71.65 on Thursday, the lowest price since June 18, ending the week with a modest gain Friday to close at $71.81. While oil prices are still elevated, demand has not met the expectations of OPEC+, which has slapped constraints on production for the past eight months. The higher-than-usual price of oil may lead to some demand destruction and a glut, fomenting a forced sell-off. Drivers would be pleased to see some relief at the pump, as the average price of gas has gone from $2.10 last November to around $3.17 recently, with prices approaching $5.00 in California and other parts of the Western United States.
Cryptocurrencies remain a sluggish, depressed area, with Bitcoin devoid of any upward catalyst. Exchange volume has dried up and the world's leading crypto has been in steady decline since mid-April. All of July has been depressing, with the price of Bitcoin falling from around $35,500 to as low as $31.025. Whether cryptos are a passing fad or lasting asset class is currently not consequential. The entire space has hit a serious speed bump with many former adherents being thrown off the path. In terms of confidence, with cryptos currently, there is none to be found.
Trading on the COMEX was a mixed bag, but for silver, a very disappointing week, as gentleman's money was sent lower on Friday, with a devastating loss of 59 cents from the week's high of $26.39 down to the week's low at $25.80.
Gold was treated a little more fairly, advancing as high as $1,829.00 the ounce on Thursday, only to be beaten back to $1,815.00 as of Friday's close for a gain of just $4.40 on the week.
Regardless of the wishes of COMEX and the LBMA to suppress prices for precious metals, retail sales continued brisk, with high premiums, as has been the case since March of 2020. However, Friday's smackdown had an overall chilling effect on prices seen on eBay Sunday morning. Prices for gold coins fell slightly and gold bars made modest gains, narrowing the pricing gap from an $80 premium for coins over bars to somewhere between $40 and $60.
Here are the latest prices for common one ounce gold and silver items sold on eBay (numismatics excluded, shipping - often free - included):
Item: Low / High / Average / Median
The Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) fell by a full dollar, from last week's $42.84, to Sunday, July 18th's settlement of $41.84.
With a big week of earnings ahead, it may be best to tune out most of the noise which will certainly dominate the week and focus on a bigger picture with a longer investment horizon. Busy earnings weeks are normally more noise than signal, and distortions are certain to throw many investors for a loop. Don't be looped, loopy, or lopsided.
That's a WEEKEND WRAP.
At the Close, Friday, July 16, 2021:
For the Week:
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