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April, Monday 2, 2012

DOW + 52 = 13,264 SPX + 10 = 1419NAS +28 = 311910 YR YLD -.02 = 2.19%OIL – .40 = 104.83GOLD + 8.30 = 1678.00SILV +.71 = 33.09PLAT + 12.00 = 1657.00 The calm before the storm. Maybe I should say storms. This Friday we’ll look at the monthly jobs report for March. The nonfarm payroll is one of the bigger economic reports each month and frequently moves markets. The report this Friday will be strange. I guarantee. This Friday marks the somewhat unusual occurrence of a payrolls report being released on a holiday (Good Friday) that will keep stock markets shut. On Friday, stock futures will be trading for at least 45 minutes after the release, and government bonds will trade until noon. All Canadian and most European markets will be shut. It is widely expected the economy added 200,000 jobs in March; down from an average of 245,000 for the three prior months. The unemployment rate will probably stay at 8.3%. The addition of 200,000 jobs is not enough to lift the economy; it is just treading water, at best. So, the economy is looking pretty good, not great but good. A warm winter may have exaggerated first quarter growth. Consumer confidence is up but spending is outpacing wage gains. It makes for a pretty straightforward scenario for growth. The consumer can rely on high debt and/or growing asset prices to fuel their consumption but if debt gets too high and/or asset prices slip, then the consumer …

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March, Monday 19, 2012

DOW + 6 = 13,239SPX + 5 = 1409NAS + 23 = 307810 YR YLD +.08  = 2.38% OIL  – .31 = 107.78GOLD + 3.40 = 1664.50SILV + .36 = 33.02PLAT + 10.00 = 1685.00 The S&P 500 Index is now at its highest level since May 2008 and 10 percent below the record close of 1,565.15 set in October 2007. Apple rose 15.53 to $601.10 per share, pushing the market cap to $560 billion. It is the first time Apple has closed above $600. The market capitalization makes Apple the most valuable publicly traded company in the world. This is a parabolic rise; Apple is up almost 50% for the quarter. Today’s move followed an announcement they would pay a dividend of $2.65 per quarter starting in July, and also a $10 billion stock buyback program, and also that sales of the iPad 3 topped 3 million over the weekend.  It all sounds a little frothy. I mean, what are they going to do next Monday? Treasuries continued to drop. Thirty-year-bond yield added 7 basis points to 3.48%, a level it hasn’t close above since September. Yields on 10-year notes rose for a fifth day, by 8 basis points to 2.38%, from as low as 2.26% touched during European trading hours. Yields haven’t closed above that level since Oct. 27. Yield moves inversely to prices. In a speech, William Dudley, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank said “the economy still faces significant headwinds” and inflation is expected …

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March, Thursday 15, 2012

DOW + 58 = 13252SPX + 8 = 1402NAS  + 15 = 305610 YR YLD + .01 = 2.28%OIL +.35 = 105.46GOLD + 13.50 = 1658.30 SILV + >39 = 32.64PLAT + 11.00 = 1688.00           Yesterday we talked about the op-ed article in the New York Times written by Greg Smith, an executive from Goldman Sachs who was quitting the firm. He blasted Goldman in the article, saying the firm had changed, and not for the better. Smith chided his employer of nearly 12 years for its “toxic” environment and practice of “ripping clients off” while calling them “muppets.”           One of the stupidest responses came from the editorial board at bloomberg.com. No specific names here, just the “editorial board”.  They replied with an article titled: “Yes, Mr. Smith, Goldman Sachs is all about Making Money”. They say: “If you want to dedicate your life to serving humanity, do not go to work for Goldman Sachs. That’s not its function, and it never will be. Go to work for Goldman Sachs if you wish to work hard and get paid more than you deserve even so.”           And here I thought Goldman Sachs was doing God’s work. That’s what Lloyd Blankfein said; I guess  he was lying? Yep. The Bloomberg editorial board just described a mercenary’s job description. Nobody seriously expects Goldman investment bankers to serve humanity, but it doesn’t mean they should work to destroy it. Bloomberg and Goldman both work in the financial industry. In fact, Goldman …

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March, Wednesday 14, 2012

DOW +16 = 13,194SPX – 1 = 1394NAS +0.85 = 304010 YR YLD +.17 = 2.27%OIL +.27 = 105.70GOLD -31.30 = 1644.80SILV – 1.26 = 32.25 PLAT – 15.00 = 1679.00 There was a pretty remarkable story in the New York Times today. A guy by the name of Greg Smith is quitting his job at Goldman Sachs as an executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and he wrote an article explaining why he was leaving and what he believes is wrong with Goldman.  It’s not a revelation about Goldman, the only thing that’s unique about it is that a Goldman drone actually broke away and admitted publicly that Goldman is bad. Let me share a few salient points from the article. If you want to read the whole thing it is entitled: Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs by Greg Smith TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm —  I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it. To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined …

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