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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, August 6, 2021, 8:44 am ET
It's useless to fight it. That's what anybody who's tried to go short the market since 2009 knows to be true. Other than the great stock market collapse engendered by the virus plague - which produced the shortest bear market in stock market history; some 29 days - there has not been a significant pullback in the stock market in more than 12 years.
On the matter of that shortest-ever bear market, on February 12, 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 29,551.42. In order for a bear market to present itself, the Dow had to fall some 5,910.28 points, or 20%. It did so on March 11, when it closed at 23,553.22. It fell even further, the lowest close being March 23rd's close at 18,591.93. But, that's when the Fed stepped in with a bazooka full of stimulating ideas aimed directly at bears. The Dow climbed more than 2000 points the next day and continued its ascent, in fits and starts, until finally getting back above that March 11 close on April 9, finishing the day at 23,719.37. Bear market over. The Dow would rise and fall, but it never closed lower than 23,018.88, on April 23. By June 5, it was over 27,000, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. The panic of 2020 was soon over and forgotten.
So, on Thursday, when all anybody could talk about was the upcoming July Non-Farm Payroll data, the fear was that the market could take a tumble, and it very well might. The scary news came from Wednesday's "unofficial" ADP report that had private payrolls increasing by only 330,000, when expectations were looking for closer to 700,000.
But, anybody with any sense will bet against it, and, if stocks sell off by a percent or two, or even three, they will buy the dip and profit later this month. That's how likely it is that Friday's non-farm payroll number will be simply ignored by investors. After all, who needs jobs when we have Jerome Powell at the Fed, and a former Fed Chair at Treasury in Janet Yellen.
On top of that, as Tucker Carlson explains below, the head of state for America is not Joe Biden, but Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who imposed a two-month extension to the illegal rent moratorium just the other day.
So, when, at 8:30, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the July non-farm payroll number of 943,000 and an unemployment rate of 5.4%, futures actually slid a bit and stocks are likely to open nearly unchanged. Do not worry, though.
Stocks always go up, just like home prices in 2008. Until they don't.
Tucker Carlson explains how Rochelle Walensky became America's Dictator:
At the Close, Thursday, August 5, 2021:
Thursday, August 5, 2021, 9:19 am ET
Taking a big hit Wednesday was the Dow Jons Industrial Average, which outpaced the other indices by quite a bit, down 0.92%, though the broadest measure, the NYSE Composite, was also down 0.71, suggesting that the downdraft was not confined to Amgen (AMGN, 228.31, -15.77, -6.46%), Chevron (CVX, 100.30, -2.30, -2.24%) and Caterpillar (CAT, 204.52, -3.98, -1.91%), the three biggest percentage losers of the Dow 30.
Overall, 27 of 30 Dow stocks were in the red, with Dow Chemical (DOW) unchanged, Salesforce.Com (CRM, 244.17, +3.04, +1.26%) up the most, and Nike (NKE, 171.91, +0.68, +0.40%) up just over a third of a point.
As has been the case over the past 18 months, when big cap stocks are down, there has been a flight to tech, as the NASDAQ was up marginally on the day. Nothing unusual there, though it bears watching when all of the indices fall at the same time.
The pullback on the Dow and S&P was predictable to some degree, as the S&P made a new all-time closing high on Tuesday, an event usually followed by some give back.
Weighing on stocks was the huge miss in the ADP Private Sector Employment report for July, which showed 330,000 new jobs when the expectations were for a gain of 700,000. As the ADP precedes the government's BLS non-farm payroll data by two days, the shorts should be encouraged going into Friday, despite the idea that the July NFP downside numbers may already have been baked into the cake.
Expectations are for a gain 870,000 jobs in July, but the ADP data is screaming for a different result. It's not unusual to see stocks higher - especially on Fridays - with a miss on the payroll data, so it's a crapshoot for tomorrow. If Thursday trading doesn't rebound well, Friday could see some serious downside, especially if NFP comes in under 500,000, which would be a monumental miss and not outside the realm of possibility. Anecdotal evidence of stores everywhere with help wanted signs out confirms that people are sitll riding the enhanced unemployment benefits until the bitter end in September, and staffing requirements are not being met.
Weekly initial jobless claims came in Thursday morning just above consensus (383,000) at 385,000, which shouldn't move markets. Futures remained skewed slightly positive on the announcement.
Using the Dow as a proxy, since the beginning of June, there have been 25 sessions with a positive close and 20 to the downside, making for quite the bumpy ride. During that period, the Dow has fought off two major selloffs and has advanced by less than one percent, or about 215 points.
The opening bell just ahead, there may be some hedging in terms of trimming exposure Thursday in advance of the July jobs number.
At the Close, Wednesday, August 4, 2021:
Wednesday, August 4, 2021, 9:09 am ET
Good news for stockholders. The S&P 500 closed at another record high on Tuesday, albeit only by three quarters of a point. The previous July 26 closing high of 4,422.30 was topped by 0.75 thanks to the S&P's 35.99-point gain.
With roughly three quarters of S&P 500 companies having already reported second quarter results nearly nine out of 10 have exceeded analysts' estimates, sending stocks higher. Since June 30, the S&P has added over 125 points, or 2.85%.
For 2021, the S&P 500 is up a solid 15%, with only minor pullbacks in January and March slowing its ascent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is ahead by 12.85%, and the NASDAQ, despite a 10% correction from late February into early March, has posted a year-to-date gain of 12.69%. Both the Dow and NASDAQ are within one percent of all-time highs and are likely to exceed them soon, possibly as early as this week.
As most investment portfolios are bulging with gains this year, the questions on the minds of investors heading into the fall concern how much higher stocks can go and whether are they already over-extended. Since the lows of the virus panic in 2020, the NASDAQ has more than doubled, the S&P is up 92% and the Dow has tacked on 83%, outstanding returns for one-percenters and working class investors in IRAs or 401k or similar plans.
Gains like that produce what the Federal Reserve likes to call the "wealth effect," a condition of inner satisfaction and assuredness that one is well off as long as stocks continue to move higher. Adding to the monied state of euphoria has been the housing market, where prices for existing homes have been soaring, similar to the period from 2005 to 2007, prior to the sub-prime collapse.
Reporting just a few weeks ago, the National Association of Realtors pegged the median price of an existing home at a record $363,000, up 23% from a year prior.
Considering the levels of fear and loathing heaped upon American home buyers over the past 18 months by government, big pharma and the slanted media, the gains in real estate are nothing short of miraculous. Apparently, all the money doled out by the Fed and the federal government has been a boon to just about anybody holding the two most popular asset classes and there seems to be nothing standing in the way of further increases, though possibly not at the same rates as seen recently.
Another round of lockdowns or restrictions - which are already underway - could derail both the equity and real estate markets, though, as learned through the last viral wave, the money powers at the top of the heap stand ready to flood the economy with as much liquidity as needed to keep the party going strong.
All that liquidity has ignited a spate of inflation, though that's of little concern to wealth builders. If food prices rise 10 percent, that's nothing compared to the gains in stocks and real estate. Wages are also seeing some higher attendance, keeping the economy rolling along without concern over rising prices. While the Fed continues to call recent price inflation "transitory," it's a known fact that once prices go up, they seldom, if ever, come back down. Even lumber prices, which, for some products, more than tripled from 2020 through 2021, have been lower recently, though they are still well above 2019 levels.
Gas and other energy products have also been on the rise, but seem to be leveling off, a positive sign going forward. The bottom line is that real estate and stocks have been superior performers for quite some time and as yet show no signs of moderating. It's putting a damper on first-time home buyers and maybe keeping some people from buying stocks at nose-bleed prices, but, for those having already pocketed some gains, these times could not be much better.
On the other end of the spectrum are the working poor and welfare classes, which are negatively affected by rising prices. Higher values for real estate mean rising rents, even though the government seems intent on extending the rent moratorium until every small landlord is wiped out. Overall, the gains at the top aren't doing the bottom third of the country much good and never have. Those on the lower rungs are forced into seeking government aid, which is readily supplied, so that any restlessness from the poor is easily suppressed.
The federal government has a pretty good game going. They do whatever they please and should problems arise, they cover them with tarps made of cash.
All that said, a half hour before the opening bell, stock futures are skidding lower, after ADP reported only 330,000 private sector jobs created in July, well below estimates of around 700,000.
If anything has been learned since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09, this looks like the beginning of another "buy-the-dip" opportunity. Stocks may lose some ground here, but they always bounce back.
At the Close, Tuesday, August 3, 2021:
Tuesday, August 3, 2021, 7:50 am ET
The way stocks traded on Monday was not in Wall Street's planned playbook.
It started out according to the plan - stocks higher - but ended in tatters - stocks lower - as the recovery narrative has rapidly morphed into the Delta decline. Fears of more restrictions and lockdowns are spreading faster than any good news coming from earnings reports. It is something the investing public better get used to because it's proven that shutting down small businesses, locking down entire cities and states, making everybody wear masks and take unproven "vaccines" over a virus (if it even exists at all or is simply the flu rebranded) that has a survivability rate of 99.98% (that's if one believes government statistics), sending out billions in stimulus checks, paying people more to stay home than go to work, putting moratoriums on rent and mortgage payments, is a great way to make shares of public companies - those allowed to continue operations as normal - go higher.
The virus scare which circled the globe in 2020 has reappeared in a slightly different form, supposedly affecting those who submitted to being jabbed and those who didn't equally, proving that the pumped poison produced by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and others are essentially useless and yet another form of control by the elite master class pushing the Build Back Better Great Reset mythology.
America and Europe in particular and the world in whole is facing a crisis completely conjured up by sick, twisted people who desire more money, more power, more control over great populations. Their nefarious visions of a feudal style of existence for billions of people are being foisted upon what appears to be a very compliant, sheepish, fearful public, cowed into whatever actions deemed necessary by medical authorities and promoted by a propagandist media.
That's what we've got. That's how it goes. Just as the medical profession and politicians can direct people to do stupid things, so too big money interests can usually dictate the direction of markets. There might be some sense to trading stocks these days, but finding and determining winners and losers has become more of a guessing game than a study of fundamentals, charting, and other rigors of what used to make stocks and markets move.
With Monday morning's rally fading throughout the session into losses - the Dow Industrials were up more than 250 points before giving it all away and losing nearly 100 - another "buy the dip" opportunity presents itself coming into Tuesday's trading. Asian stocks were down slightly or flat on Tuesday, and European indices are sporting gains in early trading.
The Street will be looking at second quarter results from ConocoPhillips (COP), UnderArmor (UA), Marriott (MAR), Eli Lilly (LLY), British Petroleum (BP), and Alibaba (BABA) to get some headway leading into the cash session.
At this writing, futures are set up for a solidly positive opening, though there's still two hours before the bell sounds.
In the meantime, the number of companies forcing employees to wear masks, become vaccinated or show proof that they are CV-free continues to grow in spite of the reality that Delta, while maybe more infectious (again, depends on what you believe) is not as severe as previous versions. Cases are up (reported by the oh-so-reliable CDC), but deaths are down even as Facebook, Google, Disney, Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs, Uber, Twitter, Delta (no irony there), and United Airlines, and others require inoculations for employees.
Welcome to your pandemic pass dystopia.
What a mess. What a shame. It shouldn't be this way.
At the Close, Monday, August 2, 2021:
Sunday, August 1, 2021, 11:00 am ET
To say the week was, as a whole, disappointing, might capture the mood of equity investors correctly. Stocks spent he week gyrating around the unchanged mark even as the Fed finished up a two-day meeting (Wednesday), the US senate went to work on an infrastructure bill, many of the big name Wall Street firms reported second quarter earnings.
As the week wore on and wearied traders, the background was filled with economic data, none so large as the reading on second quarter GDP, which, being compared to 2Q 2020, was supposed to come in at some blockbuster number, but instead fell far short of those rosy estimates. It was a clear sign that the vaunted recovery undergirding share prices was something less than promoted. On Thursday morning, the BEA notched the number at 6.5%, well below various hopeful projections around an 8.3% axis. First quarter GDP was revised lower, to 6.3%, further evidence that the recovery narrative may have been overhyped.
For perspective, real GDP decreased 3.5 percent in 2020, along with an increase of 2.2 percent in 2019. Taken together, real GDP for the two years (2019 and 2020) was a negative 1.3%, helping make the case for the bullish side, that the economy is clicking along just fine, now that the virus crisis is mostly in the rear view mirror, even as the CDC attempts wrong-footing the nation back to universal masking.
There are still nagging voices - particularly those of Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci - warning about the dangers of the "Delta variant," a faster-circulating-but-less-deadly strain of CV-19, aka, seasonal Flu, and the need for more people to get vaccinated even if those jabs don't offer much protection as the world is discovering. The continuing media hoopla over the virus is one of the reasons investors are so cautious and some even spooked by the prospect of another round of restrictions and lockdowns. The more cynical might point to the potential for another round of stimulus checks to the general population as a contrarian positive, but their voices are largely in the deep background of the economic debate.
The three big indices - Dow, NASDAQ, S&P - were all lower for the week, though the losses were more noise than signal. With the NYSE posting a gain of just 0.3%, the whole week might better have been spent at the beach. as mid-summer weeks go, this one was a bit noisier than most, but not less dull. The biggest stories might have been reactions to earnings from Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN), both of which sent shares to the downside, though not substantially for Apple.
Response to Amazon's top-line miss was among the silliest things that happened on Wall Street in recent memory. While the company remains wildly profitable, the very predictable slowing of online sales volume as compared to the second quarter of 2020, induced a near panic among spaceman Bezos' loyalists, who sent shares of the stock down by 272 points on Friday, a loss of 7.56%. The sudden reversal of fortune for the world's greatest online retailer was a display of market incorrectness and the fickle nature of investors suitable for textbooks. That a slowdown in online sales from the second quarter of 2020 - when, with brick and mortar retailers shut down, the whole world was relying on deliveries, mostly from Amazon - to 2021's second quarter - as businesses got back to normal and people were out shopping in stores again - was not predicted by the bright-eyed analysts covering the space gave the stock selecting community a big black eye and a bloodied lip.
Missing out on the obvious in this case was about equal to the long-forgotten monitors who thought AOL's merger with Time-Warner was the blockbuster trade of the century. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than informed.
With the big tech names (GOOG, MSFT, and FB reported) out of the way for second quarter reporting, the upcoming week will be no less frantic though the names might be less familiar. Of the more recognizable names reporting next week are British Petroleum (BP), UnderArmor (UA), Conoco Phillips (COP), CVS Health (CVS), Uber (UBER), Etsy (ETSY), Wayfair (W), and Square (SQ).
The Fed is out of the picture for now, and, even though they're supposed to be taking a month-long holiday, the procrastinators in congress may take up some media space as the House attempts to tie together the infrastructure bill with a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation that contains a number of Democratic pet programs for health, education, and big time tax proposals. The bellowing and howls from DC might make for interesting sound bites given that as of Saturday midnight the debt ceiling suspension has expired. Nobody is yet ready to talk about raising the acceptable debt level for the federal government because Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has advised congress that there's enough money via "extraordinary measures" that paying what's owed won't become an issue until October or maybe even November.
Still, from a globalist perspective, it is not a good look to just ignore the obvious until it becomes an existential threat, though that seems to be how congress likes to operate. There will be plenty of talk about "families first" and "social infrastructure" this week and hardly any - except for a few Republicans - about paying for it all. The Senate is preparing the more than 25,000 page bill for passage on Sunday, intending to move it over to the House for consideration on Monday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to gum up the process, which, as has become customary for Washington politicians, is already a political boondoggle.
While US and European markets meandered the week just below all-time highs, Japan's NIKKEI was bouncing around with all the buoyancy of an Olympic gymnast. Finishing lower by 264 points, the NIKKEI spent the last three days of the week below its 200-day moving average and closed out its second straight weekly loss below the 40-week moving average for the first time since May of 2020.
Like all global markets, the NIKKEI had recovered from losses in the early days of the virus panic, but, unlike its Western counterparts, its recent decline has left it in correction territory. If Japan's economic policies are taken as a kind of petri dish for experimental initiatives like negative rates and outright equity purchases, it's performance of late does not augur well for developed economies. The NIKKEI could well serve as an advance warning system for global equity markets.
Even while stocks were flatlining, treasuries rallied. Yield on the 10-year note fell six basis points to end the week at 1.24%, while the 30-year shaved off three basis points, closing out at 1.89%, both near short-term lows from two weeks past (1.19%, 1.81%). With the US treasury department using its cash to pay existing bills, there are questions surrounding the size of upcoming auctions. The Treasury will announce its overall refunding plans on Monday and release details including the size of next month's auctions on Wednesday.
Taking the path of least resistance, the price of oil continued higher with WTI crude gaining from $72.07 to a closing price of $73.83, erasing losses incurred mostly from July 13 to 19. While the price of oil and the corresponding price of gasoline at the pump remain at seven-year highs, they are not yet a noticeable drag on the economy, though that could change if prices rise much further.
Gas prices have held steady or moderated of late, with California's stations offering regular unleaded at over $4.00 a gallon. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Southeast, plus Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas are on the low end, the bulk of offerings between $2.35 and $2.90. The rest of the country, including the NorthEast and upper MidWest are seeing prices over $3.00 a gallon with most of the West, outside of California, over $3.45.
Confusion reigned supreme in precious metals markets. Gold, despite hitting a high of $1831.20 on Thursday, fell Friday, finishing the week in New York at $1812.60, registering a net gain for the week. Silver closed at $24.65 on Tuesday, rebounded to $25.78 on Thursday before closing at $25.55.
Outside the COMEX, retail markets took the gold moves positively and silver's fall and rise slightly on the negative side. Supply constraints continue at the retail end for silver, as do shipping delays from online merchants. Premiums remain high on both metals.
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) settled at $41.17, a decline of 62 cents from last week's price of $41.79.
In the crypto space, Bitcoin has been making headway over the past two weeks after falling below $30,000 on July 20. Since that bottoming event, the price of Bitcoin has been displaying the kind of positive volatility that made it the darling of free-thinkers and alternative currency proponents, hitting a high above $42,600 just before midnight Saturday. The price was the highest quoted since the middle of May.
Most of the indications are positive for the crypto space, especially as miners recently booted from China relocated servers in more friendly jurisdictions. As miners scrambled for safe havens, the hash rate fell off, contributing another factor in the price decline from all-time highs made in April. Weak hands likely gave way to more stable institutional interests and "whales," those types snatching up additional Bitcoin at what can only be described as bargain prices. Even though the worst seems to now be on the back burner, investing in Bitcoin remains a mixed, challenging experience for most. Acceptance has grown to significant levels and Wall Street is well-prepared to offer crypto assets to motivated investors.
The fear is that Wall Street sharpies will drive the price higher as an inducement to retail clients only to take profits on the other side and lead the way to another crash. On the upside of that argument is that any decline would likely take place from a starting point significantly higher than the last all-time high. Talk is once again circulating about levels well beyond $100,000/BTC by year's end. As has been the case throughout Bitcoin's life, regulation, taxation and government interference remains a key consideration. Despite that, speculators seems to have taken back the initiative, a positive development after three months of FUD and price depreciation.
On whole, the week just past may eventually be looked back upon for a change in overall sentiment. It's too early to tell, but the latter half of July hasn't been the usual dip-buyer's paradise. Stocks have basically gone sideways through the bulk of earnings season, even though most companies met or exceeded estimates. Tech stocks and the banking sectors have led most of any weakness and a shift to a more "normal" market may be underway with a shift from growth to cyclicals. The months ahead are also fraught with potential pitfalls. From 1980 to 2018, August and September have been the worst-performing months for equity investors.
That troubling statistic may have something to do with varying amounts of weather, vacations, back-to-school, tax bills, the government's fiscal year-end (September 30), and the annual congressional recess, the last of those possibly taking on more significance this year. Over that same span, November and December have produced the second and third-best returns, after April, which was number one. October falls somewhere near the middle, with average returns of just under one percent. A shift from the passive investing that has fared well for longer-term investors the past 12 years may be underway. Contrary contrarians will take an opposing, if somewhat ambiguous, view to stick with what's been working.
In any case, it does appear that choosing the right sectors, individual stocks, and entry/exit points will be more important than ever through the rest of the year and into 2022.
That's a WEEKEND WRAP.
At the Close, Friday, July 30, 2021:
For the Week:
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