Financial Review

Financial Review for Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DOW -124 = 13,074SPX – 14 = 1398NAS – 45 = 306810 YR YLD -.04 = 2.24% OIL +.57 = 102.04 GOLD – 25.40 = 1621.40SILV – 1.32 = 31.46PLAT – 43.00 = 1604.00 So, we made it through the first quarter, and it was just delightful, one of the best first quarter rallies in years; the S&P up about 12%, the NASDAQ up 18%. Do you think the S&P will continue at that pace in the second, third, and fourth quarters? Do you think the S&P will gain 48% this year? Actually a bit more. Do you think the NASDAQ will gain 72%? Let’s sort through what it really means. Are we seeing recovery or was it just a cyclical bull in a secular bear? Remember hearing about green shoots? Remember when they withered on the vine? How do recognize a genuine, sustainable recovery? First you have to realize there is an economic ebb and flow and there are some fairly predictable patterns that emerge. There were good years for investors back in the Great Depression but it was still a Great Depression. And we still have threats to the economy. Treasury Secretary Timothy Giethner said today that fallout from the European debt crisis along with fears of Iran and higher oil prices posed the biggest threats to the U.S. economy. “Europe is still facing a very difficult, very challenging period. They are likely to have weak growth. You have, obviously, the fear of Iran and oil prices, even though that is …

READ MORE →
Uncategorized

04032012 Script DOW – 64 = 13,199SPX – 5 = 1413NAS – 6 = 311310 YR YLD +.09 = 2.28%OIL +.07 = 104.08GOLD – 31.20 = 1646.80SILV -.31 = 32.78PLAT – 10.00 = 1647.00 Stocks slumped, bond yields rose, the dollar strengthened, and Wall Street traders experienced DT shakes as they read the Federal Reserve’s March FOMC meeting minutes. There was no direct mention of QE3, the Fed’s big money giveaway to the big banks. And so, the traders started twitching and squirming. Where would they get their next fix of free money? Market expectations for more Fed easing—both quantitative easing or an extension of its ‘operation twist’—have seesawed back and forth in the past several weeks. In the beginning of March, markets factored out quantitative easing based on comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that it might not be needed and that the economy was showing improvement. At the time, yields rose and stocks also held gains. But some weaker economic reports and new comments from Bernanke last week, defending the Fed’s easing stance, while not new, helped renew expectations for more easing. The minutes of the March 13 FOMC meeting show the voting members talking about more stimulus if the economy deteriorates. It also showed that the recent economic data did not materially change the forecast for 2013, or 2014. They also repeated past concerns about housing and unemployment, as well as discussed recent improvements in employment. Bernanke last week said the improvement in employment may be the …

READ MORE →
Uncategorized

March, Wednesday 21, 2012

DOW – 45 = 13,124SPX – 2 = 1402NAS + 1 = 307510 YR YLD -.08 = 2.29%OIL -.36 = 106.91GOLD -.70 = 1651.10SILV +.01 = 32.27PLAT – 16.00 = 1646.00 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke  testified on Europe to the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform. In his prepared remarks, Bernanke said: “Financial strains in Europe have also shown through to our financial markets. During times when financial conditions in Europe were at their most turbulent, investors around the world retreated from riskier assets. In the United States, these pullbacks decreased stock prices increased the costs of issuing corporate debt, and reduced consumer and business confidence. In addition, U.S. financial institutions that were thought to have substantial exposures to Europe saw their stock prices fall and their credit spreads widen.” “The difficulties in the euro area have affected the U.S. economy,” Bernanke said. “The European Union accounts for roughly one-fifth of U.S. exports of goods and services. Not surprisingly, U.S. exports to Europe over the past two years have underperformed our exports to the rest of the world. In addition, weaker demand from Europe has slowed growth in other economies, which has also lowered foreign demand for our products.” Bernanke said: “U.S. financial firms and money market funds have had time to adjust their exposures and hedge their risks to some degree as the European situation has evolved, but the risks of contagion remain a concern for both these institutions and their supervisors and regulators.” In particular, Bernanke …

READ MORE →
Uncategorized

March, Friday 16, 2012

DOW – 20 = 13,232SPX + 1 = 1404NAS – 1 = 305510 YR YLD +.02 = 2.30%OIL + 2.04 = 107.15GOLD + 2.80 = 1661.10SILV + .02 = 32.66PLAT – 13.00 = 1675.00 You look at the markets and you’re confused. I know. The markets can be confusing. We heard that the Federal Reserve FOMC was feeling sanguine; the economic outlook was copacetic. And in the pretzel twist that passes for logic, that meant the Fed was not going to approve a new round of Quantitative Easing; the Fed would not shovel free money from a helicopter to rain down on Wall Street. Certainly, the markets would convulse and complain, they would twitch like a junkie past due for a fix. So far, no problem. Pretty much every asset class has been moving higher. Go figure. It’s pretty simple. The Fed will continue to provide free money to their Wall Street banking buddies; that’s what the Fed does. There is no exit strategy from QE. In fact, not easing would be the equivalent to tightening. Really, it’s just a matter of timing and deciding on a good name. It might not be called QE3; it might be called Operation Twist Some More, Maybe they’ll call it the Sterilized Accommodation, or maybe just the New QE. Make no mistake, the Fed will have a purchase program that involves purchases of mortgage backed securities and Treasuries. The Fed’s balance sheet will expand. There are several reasons to expect more free money …

READ MORE →
Uncategorized

March, Friday 09, 2012

DOW + 14 = 12,922SPX + 4 = 1370NAS + 17 = 298810 YR YLD +.02 = 2.04%OIL + .84 = 107.42GOLD + 14.00 = 1714.50SILV +.44 = 34.42PLAT + 22.00 = 1688.00 The S&P 500 managed to post a gain of 0.1% for the week; so, even with the big drop on Tuesday, the S&P notched its 4th consecutive weekly gain. This morning we got the monthly jobs report; the headline number showed the economy created a net 227,000 jobs in February. It is generally estimated that we need a job creation rate of 150,000 per month just to keep up with population growth, just to tread water. Now we’re finally getting that growth. February marked the third straight month in which payroll jobs rose by more than 200,000. Gains could be seen in a range of industries: professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care. The construction and retail trade sectors shed positions. Every month, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the jobs figures, it revises the previous two months’ reports. Looking back, BLS has determined that more jobs were created in December 2011 and January 2012 than originally thought. The December jobs gain, originally reported as a 200,000 gain in January, was revised to 223,000. January’s job total, originally reported as a gain of 243,000, was revised upwards to 284,000. In other words, BLS discovered an extra 61,000 jobs. Compared with February 2011, 2.021 million more Americans have payroll jobs. In the past two years, the …

READ MORE →
Uncategorized

March, Thursday 08, 2012

DOW + 70 = 12907SPX + 13 = 1365NAS + 34 = 297010 YR YLD +.04 = 2.01%OIL + .69 = 106.85GOLD + 15.20 = 1699.50SILV +.45 = 33.98PLAT  + 32.00 = 1665.00 A couple of months ago we were talking about the situation in Greece; this has turned into the never-ending-story. I told you that the smart boys and girls at the Federal Reserve and the various central banks around the world believed that they learned a lesson in 2008, and they were determined not to let Greece become the subtitled sequel to the Lehman Brothers Debacle. And so today was the deadline for the private sector investors to approve the deal for a 75% haircut on Greek bond holdings and avert a meltdown. And the deal was done. The assorted Central Bankers have primed pump; they have rolled out tow tranches of the Long Term Refinance Operation in Europe, dumping more than a trillion dollars worth of easy cash on the Euro-banks. If you want to cram down a few billion dollars worth of lousy Greek bonds, it turns out that a trillion dollars or so of free money is very persuasive. Greek government officials said  that more than 75 percent of eligible bonds have been committed. Greece will swap their old bonds for new bonds, wiping out 105 billion-euro in debt in the swap. The deal will not solve Greece’s deep-seated problems and at best it may buy time for a country facing its biggest economic crisis …

READ MORE →
Uncategorized

March, Monday 05, 2012

DOW – 14 = 12,962SPX – 5 = 1364NAS -25 = 295010 YR YLD +.02 = 2.00%OIL +.42 = 107.12GOLD – 4.60 = 1707.40SILV -.73 = 34.10PLAT – 34.00 = 1671.00 Resource Consultants 800-494-4149 Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke went to Capitol Hill and mumbled a little and the general consensus was that the Fed would not be throwing money out of a helicopter any time soon, and the markets dipped and gold dumped. Today, Federal Reserve bank of Dallas president , Richard Fisher gave a speech in Dallas, and he was a bit more plainspoken about the economy and QE3. He said, “I would suggest to you that, if the data continue to improve, however gradually, the markets should begin preparing themselves for the good Dr. Fed to wean them from their dependency rather than administer further dosage.” Fisher said financial markets “have become hooked on the monetary morphine we provided” after the 2008 financial crisis. He added, “I am personally perplexed by the continued preoccupation, bordering upon fetish, that Wall Street exhibits regarding the potential for further monetary accommodation — the so-called QE3, or third round of quantitative easing.” Allow me to explain. The economic news is looking better lately. But after previous false starts — remember “green shoots”? — it would be foolish to assume that all is well. And in any case, it’s still a very slow economic recovery by historical standards. And the problems with bad debt and derivatives haven’t really changed, and …

READ MORE →
Uncategorized

January, Thursday 12, 2012

DOW + 21 = 12471SPX + 3 = 1295NAS + 13 = 272410 YR YLD +.03 = 1.93%OIL –1.65 = 99.22GOLD + 5.60 = 1649.60SILV + .28 = 30.35PLAT + 2.00 = 1504.00 In 2011, the market value of U.S. stocks went nowhere from the first trading day, January 3, to the last trading day, December 30. And I mean absolutely nowhere. The S&P 500 started the year at 1,257.64 and ended the year at 1,257.60. While the market value of the S&P 500 was going absolutely nowhere, its valuation was plummeting. S&P 500 trailing 12-month earnings (through September 30, 2010) started last year at $79 a share and ended the year at $94.64 per share. That means earnings grew at nearly 20%, but prices went nowhere. In fact, prices have gone nowhere for the past 12 years. That’s not exactly true – we are pretty much where we were 12 years ago, but prices moved quite a bit in between. We get into overbought and oversold positions. The question is: where can we find opportunity? Standard & Poor’s classifies every individual stock into one of ten primary sectors. They then publish specific indexes for each sector (as well as dozens of sub-sectors within the ten primaries). The worst performing S&P sectors for 2011 Financials (-18.4%), Materials (–11.6%), and Industrials (-2.19%). The top performers included Utilities, consumer staples, and health care. Only 3 of the ten sectors were down but the S&P 500 is capitalization weighted; that means each stock …

READ MORE →
Uncategorized

January, Tuesday 10, 2012

DOW + 69 = 12,462SPX + 11 = 1292NAS +25 = 270210 YR YLD +.01 = 1.97%OIL +.84 = 102.15GOLD +21.20 = 1633.20SILV +.89 = 30.04PLAT + 39.00 = 1467.00  The S&P 500 Index moved back to its highest level since July. There was positive reaction to earnings. Alcoa kicked off the earnings reporting season by announcing they lost $193 million dollars in the fourth quarter. Go figure. Is the economy facing inflation or deflation? The answer is – yes. Two Federal Reserve officials laid out contrasting views of Fed attempts to bolster the economy, with one seeing a need for more asset purchases and another warning that current accommodation risks provoking instability. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams sees a “strong” case for new purchases of mortgage bonds given his expectation that inflation will fall below 1.5 percent this year. His counterpart in Kansas City, Esther George, said officials must weigh whether their current policy is increasing the odds of renewed financial turmoil. In his speech, Williams credited the Fed’s emergency lending to financial institutions with keeping the U.S. economy from falling into an abyss in 2008 and 2009. He said it’s “vital” for policy makers to support an economy that’s hobbled by high unemployment, anemic spending and a weak housing market. Williams thinks the Fed should provide more stimulus for the economy. George, in her speech said “the economy is going through a deleveraging process and that takes time. Efforts to speed up that process run …

READ MORE →