Financial Review

Thursday, April 17, 2014 – The Growth Industry for the Next 20 Years

The Growth Industry for the Next 20 Years by Sinclair Noe DOW – 16 = 16,408SPX + 2 = 1864NAS + 9 = 409510 YR YLD + .08 = 2.72%OIL + .83 = 104.59GOLD – 7.60 = 1295.60SILV + .02 = 19.75 Stocks ended a holiday-shortened week with mixed results. Stock markets will be closed tomorrow in observance of Good Friday. The S&P 500 had its best week since last July. For the week, the Dow rose 2.4%, the S&P 500 added 2.7% and the Nasdaq advanced 2.4%. With less than one-fifth of S&P 500 companies having reported results so far, about 63% have topped earnings expectations and 52% have topped revenue expectations. Of course that’s part of the dance between corporations and analysts, but it does move stock prices. For example, Goldman Sachs reported an 11% drop in quarterly profit and revenue fell 8%, but the results were better than estimates and share price was higher on the day.  Among the other earnings related movers today, Google, IBM, Mattel, and United Health were down on poor earnings news, while Morgan Stanley, GE and Pepsi moved higher. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose less than expected in the latest week and came near pre-recession levels. The Labor Department also reports weekly earnings of the typical full-time worker rose 3% in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, the fastest pace since 2008. Median earnings came in at $796, that’s the point where half of …

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014 – Speak Your Mind by Blowing Your Wad

Speak Your Mind by Blowing Your Wadby Sinclair Noe DOW + 40 = 16,573SPX + 5 = 1890NAS + 8 = 427610 YR YLD + .04 = 2.80%OIL – 33 = 99.29GOLD + 10.10 = 1290.90SILV + .22 = 20.08 The S&P 500 closed at another record high. The Commerce Department reported that orders to US factories rose 1.6% in February, the most in five months. January’s durable goods orders were revised to show a larger drop of 1.0% instead of the previously reported decline of 0.7%. Yesterday, the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index rose in March. A private survey showed that US companies stepped up their hiring in March. Payroll processer ADP said private employers added 191,000 jobs. ADP also revised February’s job creation up to 153,000 from the 139,000 figure reported earlier. The report comes ahead of the government’s monthly jobs report, scheduled to be released on Friday; the over-under number for Friday is 200,000 net new jobs. We know the Federal Reserve will be watching the jobs report. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard speaking to reporters at his branch of the central bank, said a formal rate rise is “still a considerable distance away.” Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said today: “Based on my working medium-term outlook, I see the latter half of 2015 as the likely time frame for the first move to higher rates,” but if the economy doesn’t grow as he current expects, Lockhart thinks, “a later …

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Friday, march 28, 2014 – Ukraine, Climate Change, and More

Ukraine, Oil, Climate Change, and More by Sinclair Noe DOW + 58 = 16323 SPX + 8 = 1857 NAS + 4 = 4155 10 YR YLD + .04 = 2.71% OIL  + .30 = 101.58 GOLD + 3.20 = 1295.90 SILV + .13 = 19.92 Consumer spending increased 0.3% in February, but the January reading on spending was revised lower to 0.2%. Disposable income, or the money left over after taxes, rose 0.3% after adjusting for inflation, the most since September. It climbed 2.1% from February 2013. Wages and salaries increased 0.2% after a 0.3% gain. This tells us a few things; consumers are spending what they earn, basically hand to mouth; also incomes and spending are not enough to lift the economy and we will be seeing first quarter GDP estimates revised lower. Today’s spending report showed purchases of durable goods, including automobiles, increased 0.1% after adjusting for inflation following a 0.4% drop in January. Purchases of non-durable goods, which include gasoline, gained 0.3%. Household outlays on services climbed 0.2% after adjusting for inflation. Today’s data also showed the core price measure, which excludes fuel and food, rose 1.1% from a year ago, the same as in January. Total prices, which are the ones tracked by Federal Reserve policy makers, were up 0.9% from February 2013, the smallest year-to-year gain since October. That remains well below the central bank’s 2% target. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index final reading for March came in at a four-month …

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Thursday, March 27, 2013 – Certain Assumptions

Certain Assumptions by Sinclair Noe DOW – 4 = 16,246SPX – 3 = 1849NAS – 22 = 415110 YR YLD – .03 = 2.67%OIL + 1.02 = 101.28GOLD – 14.10 = 1292.70SILV – .05 = 19.79 Stocks fell for the fourth time in 5 sessions. This year’s first quarter, which ends Monday, isn’t nearly as bullish as last year, when the benchmark Standard and Poor’s 500 stock index soared 10% in the first three months of the year on its way to a 29% gain. The broad market is unchanged in 2014.  The losing sectors today included banks and biotech. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, up 304% in the last five years, has fallen 11% since the end of February, while the Russell 2000 gauge of smaller companies has slipped 2.7% after rallying more than 230%. If you really want a great investment, it’s hard to beat collecting $7,250 for every $1 you spend. That’s the benefit Boeing will reap from a ramped-up lobbying push in Washington state that ended with a massive $8.7 billion tax subsidy. A new analysis of lobbying data shows the tax break came as part of a deal to keep production of a new jet, the 777X, in the Seattle area. Lobbying data is notoriously difficult to parse because matching individual dollars to specific legislative priorities is often impossible. It’s plausible that the company could have achieved the same result with a single phone call, given how terrified state officials were that the company might ship …

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Monday, March 24, 2014 – Dance With the Devil

Dance With the Devil by Sinclair Noe DOW – 26 = 16,276SPX – 9 = 1857NAS – 50 = 422610 YR YLD – .02 = 2.73%OIL – .15 = 99.45GOLD – 25.10 = 1310.60SILV – .34 = 20.03 Manufacturing activity slowed in March after nearing a four-year high last month, but the rate of growth and the pace of hiring remained strong. The flash Markit US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index dropped to 55.5 from 57.1 in February. China’s manufacturing engine contracted in the first quarter of 2014, according to the flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index. This week’s economic calendar includes the Case Shiller home index, FHFA home prices, and new home sales reports tomorrow; plus the March consumer confidence index; Wednesday includes the February durable goods orders; Thursday brings another revision to fourth quarter GDP, and Friday’s reports include the consumer sentiment report, consumer spending, and an update on personal spending. Ukrainian troops and their families are evacuating from Crimea, as Kiev effectively acknowledged defeat by Russian forces who stormed one of the last of their remaining bases on the peninsula. President Obama is in Europe to kick off a week-long visit that includes a G-7 meeting. He called for European allies to adopt tougher sanctions against Russia, saying Moscow’s actions must have costs. Mohamed El-Erian, the former co-chief at Pimco says markets have “brushed aside” concerns about Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Syria, to say nothing of rising tensions in Turkey and Venezuela. With Ukraine, the market had a …

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Monday, March 17, 2014 – Empty Chambers and the Tools in the Toolbox

Empty Chambers and the Tools in the Toolbox by Sinclair Noe DOW + 181 = 16,247SPX + 17 = 1858NAS + 34 = 427910 YR YLD + .05 = 2.70%OIL- .90 = 97.99GOLD – 14.50 = 1368.50SILV – .27 = 21.29 Russia held a referendum vote on taking Crimea from Ukraine. Crimean voters approved the takeover with 98% voting in favor; the 2% of voters who opposed the take-over are probably on a slow train to Siberia. Global financial markets ignored the annexation, and they went up in what was described as a “relief rally”.  Stock markets in the US, Europe, and even Russia all moved higher. The United States and European Union countries imposed a new round of sanctions on 11 Russian and Ukrainian political figures, freezing assets and banning visas for Russians deemed responsible for interfering in Ukrainian sovereignty. The order means that any assets owned by the targeted Russians in the United States will be frozen and Americans will not be allowed to do business with them. Few Americans are truly concerned about Ukraine, nor should they be. The United States has no real national interests there, and whether Crimea becomes part of Russia is irrelevant to broader US national security issues. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention; annexation of Crimea by Russia, and especially a further push by Moscow into Ukraine, would poison US-Russian relations for many, many years to come, and it will make cooperating with Russia on Syria, Iran and Afghanistan much more …

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Thursday, March 13, 2014 – White Smoke

White Smokeby Sinclair Noe DOW – 231 = 16,108SPX – 21 = 1846NAS – 62 = 426010 YR YLD – .07 = 2.65%OIL + .25 = 98.24GOLD + 3.90 = 1372.10SILV – .15 = 21.28 Let’s start with some economic news, and then we’ll get to today’s anniversary (yes, we have another one to talk about). The federal budget deficit narrowed in February, shrinking 5% from a year earlier as receipts jumped and spending only modestly rose. The shortfall was $194 billion for February, versus the $204 billion recorded in the same month a year ago. The deficit has been steadily improving in the past several years, dropping to $680 billion in fiscal 2013. Retail sales increased 0.3% from January to February; December to January sales were revised lower by 0.4%; sales were up 1.5% from February a year ago. Retail sales excluding gasoline increased by 2.2% on a year to year basis. Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 8, decreased by 9,000 to 315,000. Since federal unemployment insurance expired on Dec. 28, an estimated two million Americans have missed out on the benefits. Today, a bipartisan group of Senators reached a deal to extend federal long-term unemployment insurance for 5 months. The deal would be distributed retroactively to when benefits ended in December. The cost of about $10 billion would be offset by some tricky accounting known as “pension smoothing”. The bill still needs to clear a Senate vote, probably in late March; then it …

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014 – The Next Wave

The Next Wave by Sinclair Noe DOW – 67 = 16,351 SPX – 9 = 1867NAS– 27 = 430710 YR YLD – .02 = 2.76%OIL – 1.60 = 99.52GOLD + 9.70 = 1350.50SILV + .05 = 20.99 Stocks were higher for most of the day, with the S&P 500 looking at record territory. Prices dropped as the session wore on. Copper futures slid as much as 3 percent to the lowest level since July 2010 as signs of slowing economic growth in China sparked concern demand will slump. (We told you about that yesterday.) Yesterday we marked the 5 year anniversary of the bull market and the 14 year anniversary of the bear market. Today, we remember the date 3 years ago, when the ground shook and a wave washed over the eastern shore of Japan. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which exploded and underwent three core meltdowns, continues to spew radiation into the air and sea. Decommissioning is expected to take decades. Another earthquake could send radioactive fuel rods into another meltdown. There are still questions about whether to re-start other nuclear facilities in Japan that were idled following the disaster at Fukushima. Demonstrators have been marching by the thousands in Tokyo to mark the anniversary and to protest against nukes. Perhaps the most troubling thing is after three years there is no full explanation on what went wrong at Fukushima, and how to avoid a recurrence. The situation in Ukraine remains on the verge of a meltdown. Diplomatic …

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Thursday, March 06, 2014 – Energy as Arsenal

Energy as Arsenal by Sinclair Noe DOW + 61 = 16,421SPX + 3 = 1877NAS – 5 = 435210 YR YLD + 4 = 2.74%OIL + .45 = 101.90GOLD + 13.60 = 1351.40SILV + .28 = 21.54 The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed at another all-time high. The number of people who filed for unemployment benefits last week fell more than expected. That’s a sign fewer workers are being laid off. Tomorrow we have the monthly jobs report and we’ll see. Does a string of weak economic data in recent months represent a genuine slowdown in US economic growth, or is it just weather-related noise? The February jobs report might not provide much clarity because the reference week for the household survey coincided with a mid-February storm that dumped ice and snow (again) on much of the eastern US. Federal funding for extended unemployment benefits expired at the end of December, so we’ll be watching the jobs data to see what happens to people who have been out of work for more than six months. Of course, the jobs number is hugely important because it supposedly plays into Federal Reserve monetary policy. Fed officials have signaled they’re on track to trim the central bank’s bond-buying program in $10 billion increments this year. The jobs report probably would need to very ugly to change their minds. Of course, the past two months of jobs numbers have been ugly but that was dismissed as weather related. Maybe the February report will …

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014 – Not Much Change

Not Much Change by Sinclair Noe DOW – 35 = 16,360SPX – 0.1 = 1873NAS + 6 = 435710 YR YLD + .01 = 2.70%OIL – 2.40 = 100.93GOLD + 2.40 = 1337.80SILV + .02 = 21.26 ADP, a payroll processing company, reports its own monthly jobs estimate each month, just before the government comes out with its monthly jobs report. Today, ADP said the economy added 139,000 new jobs in February; they revised the January number down to 127,000 from the previously reported 175,000. When the Labor Department reports on jobs Friday morning the best guess is about 150,000 jobs and the unemployment rate holding at 6.6%. So, the ADP report is reasonably close. Separately, initial jobless claims for the past week did not point to any improvement in the labor market with initial claims up 14,000 in the February 22 week to a 348,000 level. In other news, the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index slipped to 53.5 in February from 54 the previous month. This afternoon the Federal Reserve published its Beige Book, which is a compilation of reports and observations from the 12 Fed districts. Growth slowed in Chicago and activity was stable in Kansas City. While the other eight districts reported growth, the Fed said it was characterized as “modest to moderate” in most cases, an overall downgrade from its last report on January 15, which showed “moderate” growth in nine regions. Business contacts were still upbeat, and real estate activity picked up in some …

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