The indices (DJIA 24682, S&P 2711) underwent a see saw day, closing lower on a more hawkish FOMC narrative (see below). Volume was flat, and breadth was mixed. The indices continue to trade above both moving averages and within uptrends across all major timeframes; although the Dow closed right on its 100 day moving average. Still the technical assumption remains that long term stocks are going higher. On the other hand, the Averages are now in a very short term downtrend. The key to negating that trend would be the end of the current ‘sell the rips’ mentality---which didn’t occur yesterday. Until that happens, short term, it looks like lower prices. The big question is, if there is more downside, will it be big enough to begin successfully challenging those moving averages and uptrends?
The VIX was off 1 ¾ %, a little unusual for a down day. But it still ended above its 100 and 200 day moving averages. The pin action of the past week would suggest that the recent calm in the VIX is over. On the other hand, it being down on a down day indicates otherwise. In short, the directional signal out of the VIX is inconsistent.
Despite more hawkish than expected verbiage out of the Fed, the long Treasury was up (yield down) on big volume; though still finished below the upper boundary of its former very short term downtrend for third day after negating it. More follow through on the downside is needed before that very short term downtrend is reestablished. Whatever happens to the very short term trend, the momentum in TLT is still lower.
The dollar got popped, keeping in sync with bonds (yields down, UUP down). While it is struggling to stabilize, the trend remains down.
GLD was up 1 ¾ % on huge volume, pushing back above the lower boundary of its short term uptrend, negating a second break and acting as it should on day with rates and the dollar down. I said yesterday that ‘gold appears to be at an important directional juncture’; it seems to have been resolved.
Bottom line: the technicals of the equity market point higher for the long term. On the other hand, the ‘sell the rips’ mentality held yesterday, suggesting that very short term the pin action be down. The big issue is will ‘down’ be big enough to start taking out major support levels; and that issue is about to be tested with the Dow sitting right on its 100 day moving average.
Notwithstanding the Fed’s rate hike and the Street’s more hawkish interpretation of the outcome of the FOMC meeting, TLT, UUP and GLD all traded like rates are down.
Yesterday’s economic stats were mixed: fourth quarter trade deficit was bigger than anticipated, weekly mortgage (down) and purchase applications (up slightly) were neutral and existing home sales very strong. But given that the latter is a primary indicator, the weight is to the plus side.
Center stage was the FOMC meeting. The action: it raised the Fed Funds rate by 25 basis points and said that the unwind of its balance sheet will continue as planned. Its forecast portrayed an improving economy (what numbers are these guys looking at?), declining unemployment, stable inflation (did someone say Goldilocks?). Importantly, its outlook for rate hikes included three in 2018 (it missed four increases by one vote), three for 2019 (up from prior estimate of two) and three for 2020 (up from one). This is the primary reason for the Street’s hawkish reading. On the other hand, 2019 and 2020 are still long way away and lots can change; so I don’t see the need to get too negative based on the forecast.
China follows suit (medium):
The central bank bubble (medium):
Don’t invert the yield curve (medium):
A more concerning negative about rising interest rates is what is happening in LIBOR rates which roughly $350 trillion (yes with a ‘T’) in global debt is tied to. I have already linked to one article on this subject; but I believe that this is an important enough development that it needs to be monitored (medium and a must read):
The rhetoric continued on trade issues. Some good, some bad. Though on the bad side, Trump is expected to release his tariff proposals against China today.
China unveils response to Trump tariff threat (medium):
The US/Canada trade balance (short):
EU unveils ‘digital’ tax proposal (medium):
How protectionism backfires (medium):
Last but certainly not least, last night, our ruling class passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill. Somehow that is being interpreted as good news, seemingly on the thought that more spending, larger deficits and more debt are to be prized.
Bottom line: the Fed moving forward on unwinding QE, perhaps at an even faster rate than I had previously thought, is a plus. Maybe not as big a plus as a more aggressive approach would be. But beggars can’t be choosers. But whatever occurs, it won’t alter the outcome, just its timing, i.e. in my opinion, as QE unwinds, so does the mispricing of assets. Further, as suggested in the above article on LIBOR, the Fed may not even matter anymore. If the global credit markets are repricing debt, then the Fed policy is probably irrelevant. If so, then the only issue in my mind is whether or not this repricing is occurring in an already weakening economic environment.
In addition, the Trump/China tariff faceoff is coming to a head. It may be that this is just the final act in an ‘art of the deal’ melodrama---certainly the developing outcomes of his NAFTA and steel/aluminum tariff act would suggest so. If not, the economy is likely in for a rough ride.
Finally, our paragons of fiscal virtue have just loaded a sack of sh*t on the American electorate. You know my mantra, more debt at this point will only hamper economic growth.
Of course, I could be dead wrong. The economy could be improving, the increased government spending (mounting deficit) could prolong the economic expansion, China and the US could kiss and make up and the credit markets may prove impervious to rising debt and shrinking central bank balance sheets.
Cash is good.
Lies and stories (medium):
News on Stocks in Our Portfolios
Accenture (NYSE:ACN): Q2 EPS of $1.58 beats by $0.09.
This Week’s Data
February existing home sales rose 2.9% versus expectations of up 0.7%.
Weekly jobless claims rose 3,000 versus estimates of a 1,000 decline.
The March EU Markit manufacturing PMI was 56.6 versus forecasts of 58.1, the services PMI was 55.0 versus projections of 56.0 and the composite PMI was 55.3 versus consensus of 56.7
February UK retail sales rose 1.5% versus expectations of up 1.4%.
Architectural billings remain positive (short):
What I am reading today
Five tips for investing in your 50’s (medium):
Tax rule changes and stock prices (short):
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