Financial Review

Maalox Friday

…Stocks bounce at the end of a very bad week. Another (short) government shutdown. Winners and losers

Financial Review by Sinclair Noe for 02-09-2018


DOW + 330 = 24,190
SPX + 38 = 2619
NAS + 97 = 6874
RUT + 14 = 1477
10 Y – .02 = 2.83%
OIL – 1.94 = 59.21
GOLD – 2.60 = 1316.70


Another wild day. The Dow Industrial Average started the session with about a 300-point gain, which turned into a loss, back to positive, then negative, then a big rally into the close. The intraday swings covered 1,000 points. The S&P 500 swung from as high as up 2.2 percent to down 1.9 percent. Call it a Maalox Friday.


We might be getting near some important levels of support. The 200-day moving average is an important indicator of the overall trend. You could make the claim that the wild trading of the past week is just a bout of long overdue volatility, but a break below the 200-day moving average would indicate a change of trend, and likely lead to some program selling. The 200-day moving average for the Dow is at 22,792; the number for the S&P 500 is 2538; for the Nasdaq the moving average is at 6556.


The big question on Wall Street right now is whether the recent pain in the U.S. stock market is over. Computer says …. No. According to Bespoke Investment Group, which analyzed the 95 corrections the S&P has seen since 1928, investors might want to brace themselves for more pain.


Per Bespoke’s data, the median decline for the S&P in a correction is 16.4%, and the median length of a pullback is 64 days. Were the S&P to hit that median in the current selloff, it would bottom around 2,400, or roughly 7.8% below current levels. Keep in mind, though, that these are median levels. Any given correction can be longer or shorter, worse, or not. This correction marks Wall Street’s first 10% pullback since early 2016, and marked the Dow’s fourth fastest decline into correction territory from an all-time high, based on data that go back to 1897.


The S&P 500 fell 5.2% for the week, its biggest weekly percentage drop since January 2016. The Dow was also down 5.2% for the week. And the Nasdaq was down just over 5%. The S&P 500 is down 9.5% for February, so far; today’s gains pulled the Dow and the S&P out of correction territory.


It has been a brutal week for world markets: More than $6 trillion in stock market capitalization lost in the selloff. the MSCI World Index has erased all of its year-to-date gains. The selloff has battered Asian stocks the most, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 and China’s two main indices suffering losses in excess of 8 percent. U.S. shares come in next, followed by those in emerging markets, while European shares have suffered least. Whether world markets settle down now or suffer a fresh volatility shockwave may be determined by next week’s consumer and producer price inflation readings in the United States. They are expected to show U.S. consumer prices rising at the 2.1 percent year-on-year rate they grew at in December but any stronger and it would feed bets on faster Fed rate hikes, potentially triggering another dump in stocks and bonds.


A report from Baker Hughes revealed that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil climbed by 26–the largest weekly rise in more than a year. The uptick in drilling activity fed concerns about growing U.S. production. Oil prices dropped about 10% for the week. Gold prices dropped about 1.6% for the week, the biggest weekly declines in about 2 months.


Here’s a question for you – when you drive to the gas station, do you fill up the tank or do you buy just one gallon of gas (on credit) and then drive off to another gas station to buy another single gallon of gas, etc., etc. Well, if you’re the type that buys a full tank of gas, you have no future as a politician in Washington. The government ran out of gas, or more precisely shut down last night; the second government shutdown of the new year. This shutdown did not last long; a few hours after the shutdown, the House passed a budget and Trump signed it. The whole thing was kind of a glitch. Sen. Rand Paul forced a delay on the Senate’s vote until past midnight Thursday, leading to the second government shutdown this year. The Kentucky Republican said: “We have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits. I can’t in all honesty look the other way.” He had demanded a vote to keep budget caps in place. When his time ran out, a vote was eventually cast. The Senate voted 71 to 28 to approve the measure and send it to the House, where it passed 240 to 186 at 5:30 in the morning. Some Conservatives objected to how much money it spends, and some Democrats voted against it since it excludes a deal on immigration. The deal approved by Congress was included in a short-term funding bill keeping the government open through March 23. Lawmakers will now have six weeks to write detailed legislation with funding at the new levels. The two-year budget deal will increase federal spending by $300 billion and provide $90 billion in disaster aid – but not address immigration or the fate of DREAMers brought to the United States as children.


Deficits are going much higher—and this time, there’s no recession. In fact, the economy’s in good shape. Still, the tax cuts signed by Trump at the end of 2017, along with a big new boost in military and domestic spending, will send annual deficits soaring to more than $1.3 trillion in 2018, and probably beyond in 2019 and 2020. These numbers are getting worse and they’re getting worse quickly.  Set the “Wayback Machine” to 2016 and then-candidate Trump pledged to eliminate the debt. Not the deficit mind you, which is just how much red ink Uncle Sam spills each year—but the entire debt itself. All $20 trillion of it. Not only will the debt be bigger, it will a lot bigger, and even worse, a lot bigger with higher interest rates. Over the past month, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note has popped by about 30 basis points. An auction of 10-year Treasury notes this week didn’t go down well. The bid-to-cover ratio, a gauge of demand, was lower than the average for the past year, and the price of the bonds fell after the sale.


The national debt is now 19% larger than the entire U.S. economy, a gap that will continue to grow. Will that cause a problem? Nobody knows for sure, but there’s some unknown point at which excessive government borrowing will hurt the broader economy and possibly even cause a recession. Too much government debt crowds out private lending. The private sector has to pay a lot more, it slows the pace of investment and hiring, and you get slower growth. And remember, the math in the recently passed tax plan depends on much stronger economic growth. If growth falters over the next couple of years, the debt and deficit problem gets even worse.


Jeff Bezos has grown tired of propping up the global shipping industry. The Wall Street Journal reported that is gearing up to launch its own delivery service for businesses, putting it in direct competition with the industry’s two big players. The journal said the new service will be called “shipping with Amazon,” or SWA, and will involve the e-commerce giant picking up packages from businesses and shipping them to customers. Amazon will in the coming weeks pilot the program in Los Angeles with third-party merchants that sell goods on its site, before expanding to more cities later this year. Amazon has worked for the past few years on creating its own freight network, leasing up to 40 aircraft.


Uber has agreed to pay Waymo $245 million in stock to settle the high-stakes trade-secrets theft lawsuit that already cost the ride-hailing giant its top driverless car engineer and threatened further embarrassment. That would give the Alphabet driverless-car unit 0.34% of Uber equity.


Stocks in the red today include Expedia as the travel service site missed on earnings, citing higher expenses; Zillow as the real estate site’s current quarter revenue guidance missed; and Equifax , with shares getting hit after the Journal reported its big data breach last September was worse than expected, with more personal data stolen than the company originally stated. On a day when the S&P 500 Index touched a three-month low, Chipotle was among its worst- performing stocks. The restaurant chain has dropped about 18 percent this week, during a broader market selloff. Shares dropped 7% today, after a report from Cowen & Co. said that traffic at its restaurants had declined in the first week of February.

Stocks in the green include Skechers as the shoe retailer beat handily on earnings and revenue; FireEye as the cyber security name reported a surprise profit for the quarter; and Nvdia, which posted results after the close on Thursday and beat on both the top and bottom lines.


What part of this insane week that apparently saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average travel 20K points was your favorite? Did the flashbacks to 2008 fill you with dread, confusion, panic or a sick excitement?  Did “The Machines” make you angry or jealous? Or did you just say “The Machines” over and over because what else were you going to say when none of this made a lick of sense?

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