Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Consumer Confidence (or the lack thereof!)

This morning Consumer Confidence data for August was released. Before I tell you what it was, you probably can guess what it was. First, July's data. It was revised from 59.5 to 59.2. Expectations for August were for it to come in at 52.0, a significant drop from July. But what was not expected was just how bad it would really be. Are you ready for it? Well it came in at 44.5! That is a huge drop.

In spite of all the hype in the stock market these past week or two that these are the time to be buying, Consumers are telling us exactly how they think this economy is doing. The Conference Board conducts a monthly survey of 5000 households to ascertain the level of consumer confidence. The report can occasionally be helpful in predicting sudden shifts in consumption patterns, though most small changes in the index are just noise. Only index changes of at least five points should be considered significant.

Below is a chart from WallStreetCheatSheets which shows this data from 1985 to May of 2011. You can see where this month's data would be on this chart as I have placed a red X on where it came in. There is also a Table which shows averages over a number of years to put this data in context.

Let's face it, anything less than 50 means that the data is measuring Consumer's Lack of Confidence. That is running at 100-44.5=55.5! Now I have some stocks I want to sell ya, as they are cheap right now, right!?

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stock market trend: Where we're headed

I have a series of charts this morning, but a little different than previous charts in that each are Weekly charts instead of the usual Daily charts. The value in these charts are that it takes out some of the noise and daily volatility, which makes it more difficult to discern trends.

The charts below, with the exception of the German DAX are all weekly charts covering the past year time period. You will notice there are 100 Day & 200 Day Moving Averages on the US Charts. Oh and if you look at World stock market charts, they appear basically the same.

This last chart below is a Dow 5 year chart and I have drawn many lines showing various support and resistance lines. You can see that for our current time period I have drawn the same slanting downtrend, but now there is a larger context to see this timeframe and possible key levels which will either confirm we continue to drop or we have broken above resistance. For those who are believing we are going to go up from here, pay attention to the red line which crosses at 10,500 on the right axis. If we break below that, we go to the 10,000 level. Also see the red line which crosses at 11,500. That is the tiny box which defines either a rally or a major decline.

I think you get the idea now. The trend is down, we have not really gone much above the lows and it looks as though we are going lower in the weeks ahead. If you doubt that, then buy stocks and Call Options. There will be many willing to sell you their stocks.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Explaining the unexplainable.

Market doesn't make sense until you realize it is just a casino for business people. Earlier this week the stock market in the US rallied as all Indexes climbed up from the lows of a week ago in anticipation of Ben Bernanke's speech this morning. Most talking heads on CNBC and other business news outlets suggested the market rise was because Bernanke was going to announce QE3. Then yesterday they questioned if the markets weren't setting themselves up for a big disappointment if Bernanke didn't announce QE3. Well today we got the answer. He didn't even mention QE3 or Quantitative Easing as a possibility. How have the markets responded so far? You guessed it, there is a big rally. The Dow is up 170 points right now after being down over 200. That's almost a 400 point swing.

Anyone who thinks they know how to explain these moves as rational, is crazy. Europe still has massive problems and yesterday's action in the DAX the past 2 days is worry-some to sober rationalists.

Now some are suggesting the rally is because of the Hurricane Irene. They suggest the purchasing of batteries and emergency supplies will help the economy. My God, are they suggesting we just need a disaster to solve our economic problems. We don't really have the money to repair whatever gets damaged from this storm.

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Market comments for Aug. 26th 2011 (UPDATE)

This morning, the second estimate for GDP for Q2 came in at 1.0%. The first estimate was 1.3%. Also, Michigan Sentiment data will be released just before Bernanke speaks at 10:00am. Expectations are for 55.8% and I will update this post at that time. Gold is up in European trading $23/ounce. All European markets are down about 1% or more at this time. Dow Futures as well as the S&P and Nasdaq are also down in premarket.

Germany’s DAX Index (DAX) ended the day yesterday with a 1.7 percent loss, recovering from an amazing 15- minute plunge of 4 percent.

Ahead of Bernanke’s speech today, traders hedged their investments by selling DAX futures, lifting volume to a quarter of the daily average within a 30- minute period. That dragged down the index, pulling equities in the U.S. and throughout Europe lower, and drove Treasuries and the dollar higher yesterday.

European markets closed yesterday, then French, Italian and Spanish stock-market regulators extended bans on short selling introduced this month. Lots of nervousness out there.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke begins a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at 10 a.m. New York time.


The Put to call ratio has been up over 1.0 for 20 consecutive days. The last time it was below 1.0 was July 26th, one month ago to the day. To me this says that the markets have been very bearish, even though there has been rallies, and that the trend is believed to continue to be bearish and the market will go down. That's where the money is now! Where's yours?

Come back for the Michigan Sentiment data in about a half hour.


Michigan Sentiment came in close to expectations. The reading was 55.7 versus an expectation of 55.8, so not much difference and much better than last month's reading which came in at a 54.9 reading.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Market comments for Aug. 25th 2011

There are two major news pieces affecting the market this morning. First was the unexpected announcement that Steve Jobs had resigned as Apple's CEO. The second piece of news was that Initial Jobless Claims were up 5,000 to 417K for the past week. While Continuing Claims are down again this week, the fact may be that many people have been out of work for so long that they are no longer eligible for any unemployment benefits. Therefore they are not counted as Unemployed. Bizzaro!

On Friday, Fed Chairman Bernanke will be speaking at a Jackson Hole, Wyoming Conference. Many are looking for his announcement of QE3 in the speech.

Also Friday will be the release of Michigan Sentiment for August. Expectations are for a 55.8 reading. July's reading was miserable at 54.9, so many are expecting a move back up.

Gold continues down after yesterday's drop of about $100/ounce. In early trading it is down again $19/ounce to $1738/ounce now and down from its intraday high of just over $1900.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Market comments for Aug. 24th, 2011

The news release of importance today is Durable Goods Orders. I have posted below a chart of the Durable Goods orders since 2005 so that you could compares today's released data for July. Expectations were for July to come in at +2.5% and June's data came in at -2.5%. The data released for July this morning came in at +4.0%. This number is a good number for the market but it is a look back. Futures rose from being down about 100 points to being down only 40 points. The negative Indexes are because Japan's debt got downgraded last night.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Stock market trend and prediction going into September and beyond

It's the weekend and we have time to think, rather than do. So this morning I am going to put up a number of stock market charts and analysis to try and make sense of where we are and where we are headed. It has been a tumultuous few weeks and many are glad we have them behind us now. The past 2 days advance to yesterday's August Options expiration got many nervous. They thought we were on our way back up this week only to finish down, back at or near the recent lows, depending on which Index and Country's stock market Indexes you were looking at.

With that background, here are some 3 month charts of selected European Indexes, which should help you conclude that the recent drop in US stock markets isn't just about the US. But first 3 charts are of the US Indexes; the Dow, S&P and the Nasdaq. Then I have followed them with commentary and with charts of German DAX, France's CAC and finally Japan's Nikkei. All are 3 month charts and the thing to focus on is where are the indexes now, the similar patterns and whether the recent drop is slanting down or up or flat. If there is a predominance of slanting down below the other recent low points, we are going down more. Now the charts!

The Dow chart shows we are nearly flat across the low points. You will see in the S&P chart below, the same is true.

You can see the there is a biased slant down on the Nasdaq as this chart above does point a further down move.

The DAX also shows a slanted move down below earlier lows.

The CAC is flat at the lows, like the Dow and S&P.

And lastly, the Nikkei slants down significantly.

So what does this all mean? Well, I ask myself the question, Which world indexes are extremely important right now and which have been long term indicators of either prosperity or leading the way down. Those indexes have been the Nasdaq here in the US, Japan's Nikkei and Germany's DAX index. To me they all say we are headed down lower. You will have to make up your mind which tea leaf you will follow. Good luck on that.

One other important thing I look at. I look at the longer term chart. Here's the Dow going back about 30 years. You can see from the chart below, we are forming a head and Shoulder pattern over this period and it looks as though it has completed the formation of the right shoulder and it is a slanted down pattern.

This signifies we may ultimately be headed down to retest the lows of 6,400 eventually and may not hold at that level. Given world events which seem to be changing daily in a negative direction, I would not be surprised to see this scenario to play out. Anther thing to remember is this, markets tend to rise much more slowly than the speed of which they go down. This chart shows that clearly.

Looking at roughly the same period for the Dow/Gold ratio you will see the high point is at year 2000. All of these points were taken at 1/31 of each year, except the last point and that is Friday's data. So the trend for the ratio is continued down. The implications for this are that either Gold will continue to rise to get the ratio back to the 1-2 level again or the Dow will drop significantly while Gold either stays high at current levels or goes down some at the same time. For the Dow/Gold ratio to be at 2, then either the Dow must stay at 11,000 and Gold goes to $5,500/ounce. Or Gold to stay at $1800/ounce then the Dow must drop to 3,600. Neither scenario will really happen but adjustments to both are a more realistic possibility. Assume for a minute the Dow does go and retest the 6,400 level, and Gold pulls back to last years level of $1200, that would yield a Dow Gold ratio of 5.3, which is very close to where we are today!!

This last chart below is my short term read of the top limit of any dead cat bounce of the Dow. You will notice the last false bounce above the red line and decline to follow the earlier trend down. This was a bear trap. I stepped in it and had purchased some TNA Call Options thinking we were on our way up again as we did before. I was wrong, but luckily didn't buy many. Watch for more of these false moves, as I believe we are in for a steady, but jerky decline. That red trend line shows that we could still reach back up to the 11,000 level, but as the slope of that red line indicates it will be short lived.

So with European debt rising quickly and many countries unable to pay their debt, we are facing country defaults, not just company defaults. Think of Lehman Bros. when you think of market reaction and multiply that by 10 to see the implication of a country default. I wish and hope it is not so, but one must be prepared for the worse and survive it. Good luck to you. Where do you think we are headed? Comment below if you like. I screen comments only for improper language, so there may be a delay before you see your comment posted here. Thanks!

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Market comments for Aug. 19th, 2011: Options Expiration for August

It looks like another leg down at the open today as European markets are down 1-2% at this hour. Important day today as it is Options Expiration for August. Volume today should exceed yesterday's high volume. No other financial news here to announce this morning with the exception of J.P. Morgan's prediction lower growth of GDP in the 4th quarter of 2011 and first quarter of 2012. To quote Bloomberg news: "The U.S. economy may expand less than previously thought in the next two quarters as consumer sentiment drops and the housing market fails to gain momentum, JPMorgan Chase & Co. wrote in a report.

Gross domestic product will grow 1 percent in the fourth quarter rather than the 2.5 percent previously forecast and 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012 instead of 1.5 percent, Michael Feroli, JPMorgan’s chief U.S. economist in New York, said in an e-mailed note to clients today."

I have included 4 charts this morning. Three of these 3 month charts are as follows: One of the Dow, one of the S&P 500, one of the German DAX Index. The other chart is of Germany's DAX Index over a 5 year period. In this last chart I have drawn several support levels which are now possible given the recent downward trend. This chart is very similar to our Dow chart for the same period, which I did not include. But the lows happened at the same time. Our low hit 6,400 before it finally turned up again. I believe we will ultimately have to test that level on the Dow, because the economic news looking forward does not look bright for all of 2012, not only for the US but for Germany as well and much of Europe. I wish I could tell you something else, but I don't believe a different scenario will occur. Let's just get through today and see where we are. next week, but at the first signs of a further new low in the Dow or S&P, consider the probability higher for this major decline to continue for the foreseeable future.

Come back over the weekend so I can show you some charts on the Dow/Gold ratio and where Gold may be headed. And also some data on the Gold/Silver Index.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Repatriating US Corporation dollars from abroad. (UPDATE)

There has been a lot of recent talk about repatriating Corporate US Dollar holdings from abroad to help US Corporations stimulate the US economy. There dollars are abroad because Corporations do not want to pay higher US Taxes. One thing to consider here is that anything which pulls money out of country banks abroad will have a negative affect on those countries and especially its banks, as banks in Europe do not have enough capital to weather the debt crisis there, as they are financing debt of Greece and Ireland and now Italy and possibly Spain. So repatriating US Corp dollars from Europe could have a very big impact on world banks and countries. This point has not been discussed at all in the media. There are over $1 Trillion dollars in banks abroad held on behalf of US Corporations.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction!

UPDATE: 7:50am PST

It has already begun as this story unfolds. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the central bank to repatriate $11 billion of gold reserves held in developed nations’ institutions such as the Bank of England as prices for the metal rise to a record.

Venezuela, which holds 211 tons of its 365 tons of gold reserves in U.S., European, Canadian and Swiss banks, will progressively return the bars to its central bank’s vault, Chavez said yesterday. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Barclays Plc (BARC), and Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) also hold Venezuelan gold, he said.

“We’ve held 99 tons of gold at the Bank of England since 1980. I agree with bringing that home,” Chavez said yesterday on state television. “It’s a healthy decision.”

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Market comments for Aug. 18th, 2011: We're headed down! (2 UPDATES)

Data released this morning on Initial Jobless Claims shows that we have gone back over 400K again to 408K. Expectations were for 400K. Last week's number of 395K was revised upwards to 399K.

Futures markets are down significantly but the Initial Jobless claims is not the issue causing it to be down over 225 points in the Dow Futures. Also this morning the CPI number for July was released and it is up +0.5%, which was a very inflationary number. Expectations were for only a +0.2%. These numbers when annualized show a very different picture. You see with only a +0.2% CPI, that at an annualized rate would give a2.4% inflation rate, but a +0.5% number, the annualized rate would be 6.0% inflation rate!

The Core CPI rate came in at expectations of +0.2%.

The German's DAX Index is down -227 points right now, or 3.7%, as its markets are open for trading. The UK's FTSE is down -2.5%, France's CAC 40 is down 2.9%. We are going to see a large sell-off in US Markets this morning!

Another factor of why stocks are down significantly worldwide are these comments made yesterday. This from Bloomberg news: "Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s pledge last week to keep interest rates near zero until mid-2013 was 'inappropriate policy at an inappropriate time,' Charles Plosser, president of the Fed Bank of Philadelphia, said yesterday in a Bloomberg Radio interview.

The comments from Plosser and Fisher put focus back on how committed the Fed is to the zero-interest rate policy ahead of Bernanke’s comments next week,” said Anders Eklof, a currency strategist at Swedbank in Stockholm. “The Fed has obviously been wrong about the economy, once last summer and then now."

Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said the central bank shouldn’t enact policy to protect stock investors. Both officials dissented from the Fed’s Aug. 9 statement."

And lastly, here's a question for you: Where would you have made the biggest gains if you invested in Gold or Silver exactly one year ago? It's not what you expect. :) It was Silver! Silver gained over 53.8% while Gold gained 47%. Surprising isn't it!

UPDATE: 7:20am PST

Philadelphia Fed Survey data surprised investors this morning because the news was so terrible. The prior period's data came in at +3.2, while consensus was at +4.0, but the data actually came in at -30, as is shown in the chart below by Haver Analytics.

UPDATE #2: 8:45am PST

Consumer confidence in the U.S. economic outlook slumped in August to the lowest level since the recession, raising the risk that spending will dry up.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index’s monthly expectations gauge dropped to minus 34, the weakest since March 2009, from minus 22 in July. The weekly measure of current conditions was minus 48.3 for the period ended Aug. 14 compared with minus 49.1, which was the worst reading since mid-May.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Simple ideas for getting America back on track

I was recently asked by a former client, what I might do to solve America's unemployment problem. I told them that I had several ideas which have not been tried. The first solution is a unique one based upon the fact that Republicans don't want to continue paying for Unemployment benefits ($$$) for the unemployed, especially the people on unemployment benefits for 99 weeks or more. And Democrats want to just help them by giving them extended benefits.

My solution is to require work from the unemployed to receive benefits. For example, many schools need painting, windows repaired or replaced, security improvements like video cams around the grounds, Teachers helpers, installing air conditioners, etc., etc., etc. I believe this would help those unemployed for so long start to feel better about themselves, have some resources to pay their bills and prevent foreclosure of their homes. We could even pay them more than the benefits might provide and we would still be ahead of the game, as this would increase some consumer spending and raise taxes somewhat in local communities that have a Sales tax.

Getting something back from giving extended benefits would help take the sting out of giving perceived handouts.

The next idea I had was to change our Educational system, by having school go year round. I would provide students a week or two vacation, but not the whole summer off. I would have them get air conditioning for schools and installed by those working above. I would then change teachers salary to reflect a full time job. We could have all teachers making $100,000 and above a year but we would be attracting more teachers with this salary level from many different backgrounds.

We need to think outside the box in tackling our issues. But it starts with a willingness to put some ideas out there and see if anyone picks them up and improves on them. I have, so where's your's?

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Market comments for Aug. 17th, 2011

Today I have put together a 3 month chart of the S&P 500, which shows we are battling a similar fight between the Bears and Bulls, as we are in the Dow charts. Pretty much all the Indexes have a similar pattern. What is driving our patterns is not a sector problem, specific industry issue or stock issue but rather a phase of US growth that has slowed down enough to give many investors pause as to whether they want to take on more risk right now by buying stocks of less risk by selling them. The chart below shows the S&P and its low support level at 1120 and the upper resistance level at about the 1200 level. We won't break out of this range, either lower or higher, until the news turns one direction or the other. Listening to domestic economic news is not enough. You must also listen to what is happening in Europe with its debt issues as well as China for any glimpses of a major slowdown there too.

This morning the PPI data for July was released and it showed a +0.2% reading compared to a -0.2% reading for June. Expectations were for a +0.1% reading for July.

Core PPI came in at +0.4% for July as compared to a +0.3% reading for June. This makes a rise of 7.7% year over year in Core PPI. That is inflationary. Gold has advanced in premarket and European markets are mixed this morning within a tight range.

Tomorrow Initial Jobless Claims data will be announced at 5:30am PST, along with data on CPI, Existing Home Sales, the Philadelphia Fed data and Leading Indicators. So much to digest here.

The meeting yesterday between Germany's Merkel and France's Sarkozy left many unsatisfied as expectations were high for some major announcement and there was none. They did not embrace the aggressive purchasing of Eurobonds as a solution, nor did they strongly propose the Financial Purchase tax I had spoken about yesterday. Just to show another similarity of chart patterns, the chart below is of Germany's DAX Index. Notice the similarity of the patterns most recently.

And lastly, VP Biden went to China to assure leaders we are good for our debt to them and not to worry about the downgrade of the US from AAA to AA+ rating. Good luck selling that when they are looking for some tangible reassurances. VP Biden is good with the blarney so we shall see.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Market comments for Aug. 16th (UPDATES)

The Dow has been going back and forth between Dow 11,000 and 11,500 as I said it might in recent posts. It is not clear yet whether we are going to go and stay above 11,500 in order for it to become support for the Dow or whether we will test it and fall back down below and head back to test 11,000. The charts below, especially the 3 month chart shows the volume has been dropping off while we have risen from below 11,000.

Housing Starts and Building Permits data will be released at 5:30am PST and I will update the information here and make a comment or two on this and Industrial Production data, also to be released.

Watch for news coming out of Europe as a high profile meeting between Germany and France will be taking place discussing the European debt crisis and should provide a news aspect to the market.

UPDATE: 5:30am PST Aug. 16th

Futures are down significantly this morning. News from the Eurozone responsible for the decline. The Eurozone released its Q2 GDP number and it came in at almost no growth at 0.2%. This has caused the German DAX to drop over 2.3% and caused the Dow Futures to drop to -150 points. Later today Merkel and Sarkozy to announce the result of their meeting about Sovereign debt issues across Europe amd any actions they plan to take. They are going to propose a Financial transaction tax across the Eurozone.

Housing Starts data was released here and the data showed 607K starts for July. Data for June was at 629K starts and expectations for July were at 600K. Building Permits came in at down -3.2% at 597K units.

July Import Prices were up +0.3%. while Export Prices were down -0.4%.

It looks like we will not penetrate above the 11,500 resistance level today, but instead may go and retest 11,000 in the next few days. The Volatility Index should rise sharply today.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summary of this week in the stock market and where we go from here. (UPDATE)

At the end of this very volatile week in the stock market, with days up and down in a 500 points range, many are wondering whether they should sell or buy stocks. This is compounded by the facts that we are in an indecisive period right now and therefore predicting market direction is even more difficult in the short term. I have said I believe we are headed lower in the next 6-12 months, but I can't tell you when we drop further from here. We had closed below the 11,000 level this week on Monday and Wednesday, but on Thursday and Friday we closed above, closing at 11,269. I had said in my previous posts there was going to be a fight at the 11,000 level once we had broken below the 11,500 level. So, in fact, we did and, this testing of 11,000 level, may not be complete.

In the below chart, of the Dow over a 5 year period, I have added some red arrows to signify many of the significant drops in the Dow value followed by flat indecision periods, identified with blue flat lines. The purpose was to show that there is a period of time after a drop where the direction is uncertain. We are now in that period. As you can see below, it can last for about a month or so. Other factors are at play.

The news will dictate in which direction we go, and I think one could build a very strong case that markets will go down further. For example, this most recent major drop was precipitated by 2 events. The first was the concern over Italy and its debt problems and whether they were going to default, because they are such a large economy, they can't really be bailed out unless the EU started printing money like our Fed did. The second concern was from the Debt Ceiling deadline and the politics involved in almost defaulting here. This precipitated the S&P to downgrade the US from AAA to AA+ rating. Then the market tanked.

We are now in the stage where we have the Congress appointing a special committee to work out details to come to an agreement on where further cuts are going to come from. They must do this by Nov. 23rd. If they can agree on a package, there is no guarantee it will be approved by both Houses of Congress, because there will be no Amendments aloud. It will face an up or down vote.

Also, we have the 2012 Budget which must be approved by Congress by Oct. 1st. All this with the 2012 Presidential election in the background. The chances of having bipartisanship is nearly zero. That is why I see the market going down a lot more from here. As the expression goes, it is all baked in the cake. Wish it weren't so, but it is the stark reality we face. And the Fed has signaled they aren't going to do much more given the economy looks so weak. They said they will keep existing rates through until 2013, which is an unprecedented move on their part.

It took us 2 1/2 years to climb out from the low of 6,500 on the Dow. I believe it will only take a year to go down and retest that low, given the state of politics and the weakness in the Global economy, with many debt laden countries. This will also produce social unrest at levels we have not seen in my lifetime. We are starting to see the early stages of this now.

UPDATE: Monday 5:35am PST.

The Empire Manufacturing Index data was released at 5:30am this morning. The reading came in at -7.70 for August compared to an expectation of 0.0 and the previous dat of -3.76 for July. This month's data is going in the wrong direction for recovery and for a healthier stock market. The reading this morning is not having a negative effect on the Futures market and from all I can see the market will start up this morning.

At 7:00am PST the NAHB Housing data will be released for August. Expectations are for a reading of 15, which would be the same as it was for July.

Tuesday's release of July's Housing starts and Building Permits will be interesting to see. Also tomorrow's data will include Import and Export prices as well as Industrial Production for July and Capacity Utilization for July. These are all lagging indicators. The most important of these are Housing Starts, Building permits and Industrial Production.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Market comments for Aug. 12th, 2011 (UPDATE)

Yesterday we did rally on the lower Initial jobless Claims data, but let's be honest here, the data was not that great for such a strong rally. Yesterday's charts give conflicting signals to me for a short term read on direction. I have put together 4 charts for today. One on the Dow, one on the S&P 500, one on the Nasdaq and finally the last one on the Russell 2000. I have drawn some lines on each chart. Some show that the trend looks down from here, others show up from here and one shows stagnant and staying at this level. So we will need more days of data for clarity. Here are the various charts:

From these charts above you can see that the long steep downward move hit a bottom, rose back up a bit dropped again and then rose up again. This second move up did not convincingly go much higher than than the first bounce. In fact, depending on which index you look at, the Dow actually came in below the first bounce. I will need today and tomorrow's market action to get a better sense of near term direction. The Volume though has been extraordinary for a summer month.

Also, of interest from yesterday's Volume was the chart below of the Dow in 1/2 hour increments and the Cumulative volume up to that time. In the last 1/2 hour yesterday, the Dow traded 146 Million shares!

Retail Sales data released this morning for July was +0.5%. Expectations were for +1.0% and the data from June was only +0.1%.

Michigan Consumer sentiment data will be released in 1 1/2 hours and I will post it as an update. Futures initially responded slightly up from the release of the Retail Sales data.

UPDATE: 7:01am PST

Consumer Confidence came in at 54.9, which was the lowest reading since May 1980!! When the data was released it reversed, from being up 140 points on the Dow to being up only 50 points. This is a contributing factor to why the Fed most likely thought they needed to keep interest rates very low through to 2013. To put today's number into perspective, last month Consumer Confidence came in at 63.7 for July.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Market comments for Aug. 11, 2011 (UPDATE)

It's a big day for data release at 5:30am PST for Initial Jobless Claims. In addition, we broke below of 11,000 on the Dow. So far we have not held above 11,000 and so as each day goes by, one must conclude the market is at risk to test Dow 10,000 eventually.

From the Dow charts below, you will see we did rebound after the sharp decline and then the rebound followed by the retreat to a lower low. The Dow closed Wednesday at 10,719. The low for the day was at 10,686.

Volume was high again with a 520 point drop. If you look at the chart below, I took readings on volume for the Dow starting around 11:30am PST and recorded the reading of the Dow at the same time as I recorded the Volume. From the intraday Volume/Dow chart below it is clear that as Volume increased the Dow drop accelerated. So there was a lot of selling behind this market again Wednesday.

My expectation for Thursday is that if the Initial Jobless Claims shows a sharp increase to say 420K or more, the market may sell-off again! However, if the Initial Jobless claims come in at 400K or less, we may have a rally and retest the 11,000 level. Remember there is a predisposition for the market to decline rather than recover right now.

But let me be clear here, we are headed lower, as I have stated many time here, this past week. Just check my previous Blog posts for the last 7 days.

UPDATE: 5:31am PST Aug 11th

Of particular note this morning is that France's CAC 40 Index has slipped below 3,000 while Britain's FTSE is now below the important 5,000 level as we awaited our Initial Jobless Claims data. Our Nasdaq Index is getting to testing the 2,400 level as well, after its decline yesterday. All of these are major psychological levels for investors. Our Dow Futures have been down about 140 points since our premarket opened at 5:00am. Gold Futures Margin requirements have been raised by the CME (CME is the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace).

The Initial Jobless Claims number came in at 395K for week ending 8/6. That's down 7,000 from the previous week. It is a better number, but only slightly. The question is now whether the market will rally on the news. Our Trade Deficit came in at $53.0 Billion in June compared to $50.8 in May.

And finally, leaders of the Senate and the House have selected their representatives to form the Committee, which is charged with the task to come up with Spending cuts and any revenue (tax) increases by November 23rd. Many point to the fact that none of these people chosen in the Senate were members of the Gang of Six, who worked for 10 months and came up with many recommendations for spending cuts and tax increases in a bipartisan way. They knew where the money was as they studied much detail in the budget numbers and were quite familiar with where to get the money from. So there doesn't look like much hope these members will come to an agreement in time.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Market comments for Aug. 10th, 2011 (UPDATE)

Yesterday's market did rise as a result of the Fed's announcement to maintain low interest rates until 2013. Great, just what we need, more people borrowing cheap money with most likely no hope of paying it back because they don't have a job.

The Dow closed above the 11,000 level to finish at 11,239 for a 439 point gain. It seems to me now that the 11,000 level becomes now support level and 11,500 now becomes the resistance level.

Looking at the chart below, you can see that the move up was impressive if it wasn't that we've had so many large declines lately. Still, an impressive move nonetheless. I am expecting a move up to test the 11,500 level, then a pullback to test 11,000 again. Looks like we will be testing 11,000 support first based on a slightly negative Futures level. You see the news about low interest rates for as far as one can think right was the same as having very low interest rates these past several years. It didn't seem to do much for the economy, so I am doubtful this will have much of an effect on the market. It is still a very slow to negligible recovery. This market sold off for different reasons and those reasons are still relevant, hence the feeling we are still going to go down in these markets worldwide.

I am going to be plenty busy the next few days but I will try to post when I can. Thursday's Initial Jobless Claims is an important data point on Thursday morning.

UODATE: 5:45am PST

The Dow Futures are down this morning at -152, the S&P is at -17 and the Nasdaq is at -37 with all in a negative trend and deteriorating by the moment. Oil is up almost $3/barrel. Jim Cramer said this morning on CNBC that the "machines" are moving markets too rapidly for the average trader to participate. The "machines" he is talking about are the super fast computers which use algorithms to do its trading in the blink of an eye. This type of trading has been called High Frequency trading. Before the average trader can put an order in to Buy or Sell, these super computers have made thousands of trades. They have a definite significant advantage, as the Gatling Gun does over the Bow and Arrow.

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Market comments for Aug. 9th, 2011

The Futures this morning look like we will start with a positive gain of about 130 points on the Dow. Europe is up slightly this morning as well, all less than 0.5% gains. So if you are feeling good this morning that the worse may be over, don't count your chickens just yet. I believe we will have a rally from here and go back over the 11,000 level in the next day or two and maybe test 11,500 eventually again, but soon there after, we will continue the downward trend again going below the lows of yesterday's close at 10,809. This is a good interim time to make adjustments to your portfolio and prepare yourself for more pain to come.

The thinking behind this is Elliott Wave Theory. We have concluded Wave 1 down of a 5 Wave pattern. Wave 2 should be a bounce up and it is impossible to predict its stopping point but I have given you an idea above. Wave 3 will be a down Wave and it will far exceed the lows of Wave 1 and possibly take us down as low as the 9,000 level. I hope I am wrong in my prediction here, for those who get extremely stressed when the market drops like it has.

Productivity data was released this morning and it came in at -0.3% for Q2. The prior quarter was revised down from +1.8% to -0.6%.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

The stock market: Where's the short term bottom?

Here we are with another day of opportunities or crisis. The Nikkei is down tonight 420 points at this hour to 8700 on the Nikkei 225 and the Hang Seng is down over 1200 points to 19,128. The big question is this, where is the bottom for our market and when will it bounce up a bit and stabilize. Based upon Asia, I would say we are going to go down more than where we are now on Tuesday. The chart below is where I see a stand taking place between the Bulls and the Bears, with the Bears winning the momentum game at the moment. The blue horizontal line at 11,000 now becomes the resistance level for the Dow, if the market does turn up. The red line at the 10,000 level is support for this market. It should make a stand between these 2 lines and stay between theses 2 levels until direction of the economy and the actions taken by the G-7 and G-20 becomes more clear. Italy's debt is still a major market concern, even though we tend to focus on our markets and economy right now.

If you haven't read the posts of the past few days, it would be worth your time. Thanks for visiting.

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Historical perspective on the Stock market and what's ahead. (UPDATE #3)

I know many of you are nervous today, quite expectedly, I might add. The downgrading of US Debt by S&P and Italy's debt crisis gives one pause. So please allow me the liberty to say that a major crisis has been expected for the past year. I am going to repost one of my blogs here and then add a CHART SHOWING FRIDAY'S CLOSE at the end with some additional comments. Here's what I posted October 16, 2010:

"I have been thinking about this post for a while. It was triggered by friends who see the stock market in diametrically opposed positions. It appears to look like a Bull versus Bear argument but it's really not. It is the difference between those who use Fundamental Analysis and those who use Technical analysis to make decisions about market direction and trading decisions and whether to Buy, Hold or Sell. In order to get at this problem, I must first explain the difference between both analysis techniques. For that I will use the 4th Edition book by Martin Pring titled, Technical Analysis Explained. It is considered the bible for those interested in Technical Analysis. I will not make this too lengthly, but it is important to lay this foundation before I get into where the market is going to go and why the opposing positions have the positions they do. I will conclude with a number of charts and some support for the idea that while the disparity will continue between these two positions, one position is going to lead the way into the future as it is doing right now behind the scenes.

Ok, here we go. "Technical Analysis in nothing more than a tool", says Martin Pring. But a very good tool I might add. "Technical Analysis is based on the assumption that people will continue to make the same mistakes they have made in the past." According to Investopedia.com, "At the most basic level, a technical analyst approaches a security from the charts, while a fundamental analyst starts with the financial statements. By looking at the balance sheet, cash flow statement and income statement, a fundamental analyst tries to determine a company's value. In financial terms, an analyst attempts to measure a company's intrinsic value. If the price of a stock trades below its intrinsic value, it's a good investment.

Technical traders, on the other hand, believe there is no reason to analyze a company's fundamentals because these are all accounted for in the stock's price. Technicians believe that all the information they need about a stock can be found in its charts.

So currently the argument, for those using Fundamental Analysis, goes something like this. The S&P 500, based on historic terms is trading at about 21 times trailing price-earnings ratio and therefore is cheap as an investment today. That compares to the historical average of 16.4 since 1881 and is at the top end of the range pre-2000. The S&P 500 is expensive on a long-term basis, but and this is the big but, inexpensive compared to the past ten years. (Source: Prieur du Plessis)

Technical Analysts say, "Look at the charts! We are ready to drop significantly!" What do they base that argument on? A Head and Shoulder chart pattern. Let's take a look at several charts and explanations of the Head and Should pattern from several sources. The first chart shows a Head and Shoulder pattern looking at Oil prices back in time with an explanation on how to read the chart information.

This second chart shows a classic head and Shoulder pattern on a usual uptrend similar to the latest market movement this past few years.

This 3rd chart depicts more closely, the current market trend of the past 20 or so years and how to determine how far it should drop, and shows the neckline to measure the amount of the expected drop.

And the last 2 charts show the Dow and S&P 500 for the past 30 years and the big Head and Shoulder pattern we are starring at as Technical Analysts. It explains why many from this camp are very worried about the future.

One other very important relevant piece of information, High Frequency Trading now controls about 70% of the market volume traded in a single day (Source, 60 Minutes broadcast of Oct. 10th). It has also been determined by the SEC, that the single one day crash on May 6th where the market dropped over 600 points in 15 minutes was caused by the High Frequency trades made. It was caused by an algorithm (a set of rules to be followed in calculations and problem solving by a computer). Since May 6th, the SEC has instituted trading curbs, which stop the trading in any security which drops 10% in a short amount of time. Since the trading curbs have been in place a number of times the market has had to be stopped because of similar algorithms by other firms had glitches. The market is not being run by the individual investor, it is being run right now by computers, which were set up by humans, who tend to repeat the same mistakes, as I stated in the beginning of this piece. This is why I like Technical Analysis. You know we humans are going to panic at some point in the very near future. What will be the trigger is anyone's guess. But I think any rational person would agree we are going to panic and we are all just waiting like deer frozen in the headlights.

It has been painful staying on the short side of this market recently, but it will pass. I wish it weren't so, but I am worried many are going to feel some really bad pain and they are going to say it was unforeseen. The Fed will be the first to use that excuse when it happens. Just watch!"

Now allow me to post a chart of the Dow from Friday and see how this played out as well as where we are now. I want you to look at what really transpired since I had written this post in October. The formation of the right shoulder and my pronouncement was premature. (See the label "Premature Call" on the chart) The shoulder had dropped some but then continued to rise as can be clearly seen to about 12,800 on the Dow. But we have now dropped down to approximately 11,300 and look like we may even test the 11,000 level today or within the next couple of days. This makes the October 2010 post more relevant now, if we indeed completely formed the Right Shoulder and are now headed down to break that neckline. It will take tome for this to happen, as it will happen with sharp drops and rebounds forming a zig-zag pattern, but I strongly believe it will. I was premature in my pronouncements on the decline in October, as I was in the run up in 1999 when I said the market was going to drop and suggested people might want to raise cash then. You know what happened in 2000. That was the Head formation.

I believe this market will start down but may end up before the day is over. So be careful out there.

Please remember one major, important point. That is, no one can time the market! It has as much to do with Social Mood as anything else. This should give you a clue as to what eventually needs to change here in America: Our collective Social Mood! Don't blame any Party for that and don't blame the President. It's all about you and me! Leave a comment if you like. Thanks for coming on this day particularly.

UPDATE: 8:45am PST

The Dow has dropped over 380 points but then came back some, but not less than losing 250 points. European markets also tanked today but the most significant data comes near the close for the DAX, Germany's stock market index. It accelerated its losses at the close and closed down over 4.5% by the close to close below the 6,000 level finally ending at 5.951. That will affect our close today. I now expect our market to accelerate the drop near the close today. It is now possible to go below 11,000 today, even while the G7 and G 20 are trying to assure nervous investors that they will do what necessary to stabilize the markets.

UPDATE 2: 10:33am PST

It appears that we will be testing the 11,000 level before the close today. While the Dow is down 335 points at this hour, that's about a 3% drop, the Nasdaq is down 4% and the Russell is down 5% at this hour. The S&P is also down 4% so far, so you can see the Dow is lagging the drop and if we do close like the other Indexes are currently at, we will break below 11.000, substantially. Of special note is that the volume is very high so far today at 229 Million shares traded with 2 hours still left to go in trading. Now the President speaks with Dow down 400 points.

UPDATE 3: 11:50am PST

After the President spoke the Dow closed down about 385, but in the last hour it has accelerated now to the Dow's new low today of down 605 points so far, which broke below the 11,000 level significantly to 10,839. Volume is now up to 285 Million so far.

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Dow chart and market prediction. (UPDATE 2)

I have had many readers ask me where is the market headed? Of course, I have no clue, nor does anyone else, as it is all a guess. The more correct answer is that it depends how much manipulation various governments want to use in this crisis. In my humble view, most government leaders are risk averse. They don't want to go it alone, so they try coordinating actions with other world leaders. This crisis hasn't yet allowed the space for this to occur, but I expect some meeting will be held so that various Finance ministers can coordinate an action to calm nervous investors worldwide. But in the meantime, we could have a continued free fall.

In early trading this morning, it is evident this is happening in Europe again today. After the CAC, DAX and FTSE were all down over 3% yesterday, they are down again today another 2% roughly. All eyes are now firmly in place watching us and what the numbers are for our Unemployment rate for July, which comes out in about 30 minutes, as I write this. (Suggest you read yesterday's previous post to see what various numbers should do to the markets this morning) The Dow Futures were down about 50 at about 4:00am PST but have adjusted to now being down only 15 points in anticipation of about a 9.2% Unemployment number coming out in a half hour.

The chart below is of the Dow for 10 years. I have taken the liberty to draw a number of Support levels which show when we go through one, which level is next. You see it is possible in a world where fear becomes to take hold, we could go down and retest the 6,400 level on the Dow which was reached in 2008. I won't go into any theory why this level is important, but a short version is that this level was never retested and many of us thought back then that we could go much lower to say 4,000 on the Dow. So for now, if you save this chart, you should know when we turn back up as one of these levels would hold and the bounce back would come from that point and the previous support level would become resistance on the way back up.

Come back later during the day today as I may update this post several times, depending on today's market action. Thanks for visiting now.

UPDATE #1: 5:35am PST
The Unemployment rate for July came in unexpectedly at 9.1%. Revisions were made to previous months as well, showing more job creation than expected. While very good news for today and the market, longer term the jobs created were relatively meager in the scheme of things. Our economy needs more than 117,000 Non Farm Payroll jobs created. July's job growth came in Healthcare. The Private sector added 154,000 jobs for July. The average work week remained the same at 34.3 hours/week. Average hourly earnings were up 0.4%. The Dow Futures were up 125 points immediately after the news but have pulled back to being up 75 now.

UPDATE: #2 11:05am PST
Well, there have been wild swings all morning, some based on the Unemployment report and some from the problems with Italy's debt and then a rumor floated by the news media, that the European Central Bank will be buying debt directly. What to make of this news is that it is some rumor, some fact, because the ECB has said they are considering this action.

The thing I would pay attention to is the close today on the Dow. Remember yesterday we broke below the 11,500 support level. So it is important to see where we close. Do we have a rally and close over 11,500 on convincing volume or do we close below that level. Right now, there is a battle going on between the Bears and the Bulls. Longer term, I believe the Bears will win this battle and the markets will go down significantly.

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Market comments for Aug. 5th

Friday will be a very impotent day for several reasons. First, we had such a huge sell-off today, that I had no idea when I wrote my last post, that the Dow would test the 11,500 level Thursday. That was a very large drop today and we clearly went below that support level. As far as I am concerned, we have more downward pressure to go. I will post some charts tomorrow for you to digest over the weekend.

But the Unemployment rate report Friday will set the stage for whether we decline strongly or briefly rally. A 9.2% Unemployment rate ,while not good, will calm the market somewhat. But a 9.3%, or worse, 9.4%, will drive the market much lower because it will show an accelerating trend that will unhinge traders. Stay tuned for the Unemployment number and charts to follow for the weekend.

Happy 50th Birthday Mr. President!

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Market comments for August 4th.

Weekly Initial Jobless Claims numbers were released this morning amidst an environment of a negative Futures market. Initial Jobless Claims for July 30th came in at exactly 400K and the previous week's data of 398K was revised to 401K. Continuing claims came in at 3.730 Million.

The Dow Futures was down about 120 before the data was released due to worldwide jitters on economies across Europe and an attempt to lower currencies to increase exports to the US. The US Dollar is rallying against all major currencies today.

Tomorrow we will get the Unemployment data for the month of July. Much of the data is already known, because we have had 4 weeks of 400K claims or more and the only factor in the Unemployment data will be the seasonal adjustments made to it by the government. WE also know about 4000 FAA employees are having to claim unemployment insurance due to Congress not passing legislation before recess to fund the agency. We also know about 70,000 Construction workers had to stop work at airports across the country because of lack of funding by Congress. So if anything is clear, there is a higher chance the unemployment number will go up instead of down or it will remain at least at 9.2%. If seasonal factors have a larger factor than expected, the Unemployment rate could rise to not just 9.3%, but 9.4%. Stay tuned for this important number tomorrow.

It is clear the markets have broken the 200 day MA's as well as broken through previous support levels. Therefore I believe we still have a way to go before a reversal to the upside happens. There just isn't any good news out there right now except higher earnings reported for the second quarter for many companies. But this is hollow news for the average person who is just trying to survive.

Yesterday I sold my TZA Call Options for Oct. (at a Strike price of $41) for $7.00 each. I paid $2.69 and $2.81 for these, just 2 weeks ago. TZA had risen to $44.95/share yesterday for a high, but then closed at $41.02 on very high volume.

The chart below shows the Dow for the past year and I have drawn a support line where I think the Dow must go before a significant bounce up. As you can see it is at 11,500. That will be the first support level which must be tested. So we still have about 350 points to drop on the Dow.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Several US Indexes drop below 200 day Moving Average. (UPDATE)

Many US Indexes are now below their 200 day Moving Averages. These include the S&P 500, the Russell 2000. The Dow's 200 day MA is currently at 11,995, so we aren't far from it now. The Nasdaq 200 day MA is at 2710 and we are not far from that as well. So look for these 2 indexes to get there this week. Whether the 200 day MA proves to be a strong resistance to climb back above will have to be seen. Much depends on the outlook for GDP for this 3rd quarter. But the trend now is not good and it appears the market and the Dow will not have its expected strong rally to 14,000 any time soon.

UPDATE: 10:50am PST

The Dow and Nasdaq have both now gone below their 200 day Moving Averages. The Dow has hit a low at 11961 while the Nasdaq has gone as low as 2696, which means all major US Indexes are below their 200 Day moving average.

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Market comments for Aug. 2nd

First, an apology for not posting the past few days during our Debt Ceiling crisis. My computer crashed 4 days ago and I had it looked at and found out I had a bad Video card and board. It is in repair being replaced. Normally it would cost $1,000 to fix, but because it is a manufacturers problem, I am getting it fixed for free! Hooray! Thank you Apple! The last post I made was from my cell phone.

I wanted to comment about yesterday's low ISM Manufacturing number at -0.2% and today's Personal Spending number at -0.2%. Both of these numbers show a trend that is not good and plays off the 2nd quarter GDP number, which was very low coming in at a 1.3% reading. Also disturbing was the revision to 1st quarter at a 0.4% reading. So that was 1/2 of the year with an average GDP of 0.6%. What makes this important is that it shows we are standing still in this economy, at best, and may be slipping back into a recession. The low ISM adds more evidence as does a low Personal Spending. And we evaluate the level of debt we have in terms of a percentage of GDP. So if GDP goes down, our debt level looks worse.

WE will be getting a read on the July Unemployment rate at the end of the week and it doesn't look good for a reduction in the Unemployment rate as we had 4 weeks above 400K Initial Jobless Claims. Yes, we are going to have the Debt Ceiling raised but what a mess it was to watch. And it proved we are so divided as a country now, there is little hope for a bipartisan plan for future reductions.

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