Friday, February 5, 2016

The Morning Call--Can a recession be far away?

The Morning Call


Our number three granddaughter will be two this weekend.  We are traveling to her home to celebrate.  Back on Monday.

The Market

The indices (DJIA 16416, S&P 1915) had a relatively calm session, ending up on the day.  Volume declined; breadth improved; and despite a tranquil day, volatility rose, remaining elevated.

   The Dow closed [a] below its 100 day moving average, now resistance, [b] below its 200 day moving average, now resistance, [c] below the lower boundary of a short term downtrend {16818-17555}, [c] in an intermediate term trading range {15842-18295}, [d] in a long term uptrend {5471-19343}, [e] and still within a series of lower highs.

The S&P finished [a] below its 100 day moving average, now resistance, [b] below its 200 day moving average, now resistance [c] within a short term downtrend {1910-1999}, [d] in an intermediate term trading range {1867-2134}, [e] in a long term uptrend {800-2161}  and [f] still within a series of lower highs. 

The long Treasury rose, ending very near the upper boundary of its short term trading range. The dollar continued to fall as investors become increasingly convinced that the US economy is too weak for another Fed rate hike.

 On another big volume day, GLD was up strong, closing above the upper boundaries of both its [a] short term downtrend; if it remains there through the close on today, the short term trend will reset to a trading range and [b] intermediate term downtrend; if it remains there through the close next Monday, the intermediate term will reset to a trading range.  We still have to wait for our time and distance discipline to confirm these breaks; but we clearly could be witnessing a significant bottom in GLD.

Bottom line:  yesterday was a bit calmer than Wednesday, leaving the overall technical picture basically unchanged, i.e. the Averages remained well above the lower boundaries of their intermediate term trading ranges and well below the upper boundaries on their short term downtrends.  In addition, they finished below a Fibonacci retracement level (S&P 1928) and the S&P closed below the lower boundary of a very short term uptrend.  Net, net, they ended within a fairly narrow trading range; but today I will be watching to see if the S&P can trade back within that very short term uptrend.   

The key at present is patience and wait for a sustained move out of the trading range that has existed since mid-January.  As you know, I would be a seller on any strength and a buyer at much lower levels.

GLD also remains on my watch list.  It is now challenging both its short term and intermediate term downtrends.  If successful, GLD should offer an attractive buying opportunity.
What was behind Wednesday rip in oil prices (medium)?

            T. Boone Pickens bails on oil (medium):



            This week’s economic dataflow remains grim:  yesterday, weekly jobless claims rose more than anticipated, January retail chain store sales were disappointing and fourth quarter productivity and unit labor costs were truly bad. While there are two stats left to be reported today (January nonfarm payrolls growth was well below forecast), they won’t really influence the aggregate data.  Because the preponderance of this week’s stats to date have been, not just negative, but really negative. 

Particularly noteworthy were December personal spending, today’s January nonfarm payrolls, January retail store sales, both the ISM manufacturing and nonmanufacturing indices and fourth quarter productivity and unit labor costs.  At the risk of repeating myself, the economic bulls are insisting the services sector aided by consumer spending will provide the necessary energy to sustain growth (see above).  That ain’t happenin’.  In fact, the stats were so negative that coming as they are in the nineteenth subpar week out of the last twenty three that I think it time to lower our 2016 US economic growth forecast (again).   I will talk more about that next week.

            Overseas, it was the same old song.  Eurozone officials lowered both their 2016 inflation and growth projections while the Bank of England lowered its 2016 and 2017 growth forecasts for the UK.  Joining in harmony, Draghi made another set of comments trumpeting his determination not to let EU economic conditions to get out of control on the downside.

            ***overnight, UK January car production hit a ten year high.

Bottom line: the economic bulls took another hit yesterday from sources both here (the disappointing results from January retail chain store sales and the fourth quarter nonfarm productivity  and unit labor cost numbers) and abroad.  And as you might expect, the central bankers (Draghi, yesterday) kept up their extreme version of easy money mantra drumbeat---even though this policy hasn’t, isn’t and likely won’t ever work.  Indeed, as I keep documenting in the pages, not only has it not worked but it has had a negative impact on economic activity. 

Whether these yahoos ever figure that out is anyone’s guess.   But what we don’t have to guess about is the declining level of global economic activity, the problems stacking up on global bank balance sheets and that QE hasn’t done diddily to assuage either.  So as investors, we are left with equity prices well overvalued even if the economy was just peachy.

Speaking of the Market, the bulls’ argument has been that (1) most Market declines are preceded or coincident with a recession, (2) most recessions result from a Fed tightening and (3) the Fed tightening to date has been minimal and may not continue.  Hence, no bear Market.  Well, news flash.  Fed policy has and is causing a recession; only it is not tightening.  It is the mispricing and misallocation of assets that is the culprit.  So scratch (3) above and start focusing on (1) above.

I am not suggesting that investors run for the hills.  I am suggesting that in this rally that (1) they take some profits in winners that have held up during this decline and/or eliminate investments that have been a disappointment and (2) they lose the notion of ‘buying the dips’.

            It’s the earnings, stupid (medium):
       Investing for Survival
            Everyone is a closet technician:

   This Week’s Data

            January retail chain store sales were weak.

            January nonfarm payrolls grew 151,000 jobs versus expectations of 188,000; the December number was revised from up 292,000 to up 262,000; confusingly, unemployment dropped from 5.0% in December to 4.9% in January.

            The December US trade deficit came in at $43.4 billion versus estimates of $43.0 billion.


            Next week’s most important datapoint may not be from the US (medium):

            Here’s the opening shot (short):

            Toxic loans weigh on global growth (medium):

            Counterpoint (medium):



An indication of the problems in our education system (medium):

Cruz’s foreign policy (medium):

More government incompetence (short):

Obama proposes a new $10 ‘fee’ on a barrel of oil (medium):

  International War Against Radical Islam

            Saudi Arabia ready to send ground troops into Syria (medium):

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