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Thursday, May 3, 2012 – Jobs More or Less, Europe More or Less, HSBC Mess

DOW – 16 = 13, 206SPX – 10 = 1391NAS – 35 = 302410 YR YLD unchanged = 1.92%OIL +.09 = 102.63GOLD – 17.90 = 1636.80SILV – .58 = 30.17PLAT – 28.00 = 1540.00 Tomorrow the government releases the employment report for April. Economists predict the U.S. gained 160k to 175k jobs last month, up from a disappointing 120,000 in March. The preliminary increase in March was the lowest in five months and fell well short of the 246,000 average from December to February. We’ve seen several reports on jobs that might give a hint on tomorrow’s report: The four-week average of initial jobless claims was 383,500.Jobless claims declined by 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 365,000 in the week ended April 28. The Labor Department said continuing claims decreased by 53,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.28 million in the week ended April 21. Continuing claims reflect people already receiving benefits. ADP’s report on private-sector payrolls slowed to 119,000 from 201,000 in March. The employment component of the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing report rose to 57.3% from 56.1%, on a scale where readings over 50% indicate expansion. The employment component of the Institute for Supply Management’s services report slowed to 54.2% from 56.7%, on a scale where readings over 50% indicate expansion. Planned layoff announcements rose 7% to 40,559, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. What does it mean? It means wait until tomorrow’s report and we’ll find out. This is not the kind of report that you bet on. …

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012 – Jobs Report, Euro Elections, California Budget, and Watching Paint Dry

DOW – 10 = 13,268SPX – 3 = 1402 NAS + 9 = 305910 YR YLD -.03 = 1.92OIL +.14 = 105.36GOLD – 8.50 = 1654.70SILV – .32 = 30.75PLAT – 9.00 = 1569.00 This is shaping up to be a wild weekend. Friday we get the jobs report. Then, in Europe there will be elections in France and Greece. On a personal note, I’m going to paint the patio on my house, so I’ll be watching paint dry, just to counterbalance the rest of the world. The monthly jobs report, already the most highly anticipated data of the month, will be getting a little extra attention this Friday after a disappointing report on GDP late last week. A bad jobs report and a weak GDP report might be enough to trigger another round of Quantitative Easing from the Federal Reserve. The economy is adding and will continue to add jobs; that is not in question. It is the rate of job growth. Expectations are that there were about 160k to 175k new jobs created in April, up from 120,000 in March, and an unemployment rate that remains steady at 8.2%. The lowball guesses are for only about 125k jobs. With the addition of 120,000 jobs, March marked the 15th straight month of jobs growth, but it broke a three-month streak in which the economy had added more than 200,000 jobs. Now we are only a couple days away from finding out whether March’s report was a fluke or the …

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012 – As the Euro Turns, Counting Protesters at Shareholder Meetings

DOW + 74 = 13,001 SPX + 5 = 1371NAS – 8 = 296110 YR YLD +.03 = 1.96%OIL +.20 = 103.75GOLD + 3.20 = 1642.50SILV -.03 = 30.93PLAT – 14.00 = 1550.00 Yesterday’s edition of “As the Euro Turns” included the collapse of the government in the Netherlands when it could not agree with a key allied party on budget cuts to bring the deficit below the EU-mandated 3 percent. In France, Socialist Francois Hollande led the first round of presidential elections; he has vowed to renegotiate a European treaty tightening rules on debt. All that was absorbed today. After all, the Dutch still have a Triple-A credit rating; they will probably pay their bonds. It does appear, at least for today, that the Euro has turned; as if a sudden transformation has swept the continent. Austerity is dead. Keynes has been resurrected and placed on a pedestal in Brussels, right next to a chocolate covered waffle. There was a mass awakening that countries cannot cut their way to prosperity. Angela Merkel is fighting back against the austerity backlash; she argues the “credibility” of the Eurozone is at risk without more austerity and continuing cutbacks. But austerity isn’t working and its hard to maintain credibility in the face of failed policy. Here is the problem: If a government (say Greece) has a massive deficit and now they are trying to balance their budget, the government will be making the situation worse by imposing cuts, both because government expenditure is …

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Monday, April 23, 2012 European Debate Austerity v. Growth, Walmart in Mexico, Apple in Seattle

DOW – 102 = 12,927SPX – 11 = 1366NAS – 30 = 297010 YR YLD – .04 = 1.93%OIL +.03 = 103.14GOLD – 4.10 = 1639.30SILV – .84 = 30.86PLAT – 22.00 = 1565.00 There is some uncertainty in Europe. Sarkozy is losing the election in France; the Dutch government has collapsed, and the debt continues to mount and the austerity plans aren’t working and the natives are getting restless. In France, Sarkozy came in second behind Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate and a harsh critic of the spending cuts prescribed as a way to end the region’s debt crisis. This was the first round of voting and there will be a runoff election on May 6th. Hollande won 28.6 percent to Sarkozy’s 27.1 percent; Hollande has the momentum. Voter frustration with the status quo and with the E.U. fed a rise of support for extremes at both ends of the political scale, making potential kingmakers out of 11 million voters who supported candidates of the far right and left. Sarkozy and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have been the main architects of Europe’s efforts to avoid a collapse of the region’s shared currency. If Sarkozy loses, it means Merkel might not last. If both Sarkozy and Merkel lose power, we’ve got a whole new situation. Figures reported by the European Union’s statistics office confirmed the effects of budget-cutting programs on countries that use the euro currency. Even with widespread spending cuts, overall debt rose to 87.2 percent, the highest level since …

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