Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Morning Call---Fed confusion

The Morning Call

The Market

The indices (DJIA 17502, S&P 2036) fell again on very low volume and mixed breadth.  However, the VIX was up 5%, suggesting more investor concern than was apparent in the Averages’ pin action.

The Dow closed [a] above its 100 day moving average, now support, [b] above its 200 day moving average, now support, [c] in a short term a trading range {15431-17758}, [c] in an intermediate term trading range {15842-18295} and [d] in a long term uptrend {5471-19343}.

The S&P finished [a] above its 100 day moving average, now support, [b] above its 200 day moving average, now support, [c] within a short term trading range {1867-2104}, [d] in an intermediate term trading range {1867-2134} and [e] in a long term uptrend {800-2161}. 

Only 4% from the highs (medium):

            S&P reaching target (medium):

The long Treasury spiked, closing back above the upper boundary of a very short term downtrend and a Fibonacci support level.  It remained within a short term uptrend and above its 100 day moving average.

GLD plunged 2 ½%, voiding a very short term uptrend and falling below a Fibonacci support level.  However, it remains within a short term uptrend and above its 100 day moving average.  This performance was a bit confusing in as much as GLD and TLT have both been the beneficiaries of a risk off trade of late.  So the decoupling suggests that some new factors playing on the Markets,

Bottom line:  like Tuesday, there was enough bad news (Fed, oil) yesterday that stocks could have really gotten cracked.  The fact that the retreat was fairly contained suggests that the bulls are still in control.  Nonetheless, the split performance of gold and the long Treasury indicates that some other new factor may be coming into play that could change the dynamics in the equity market.



            Yesterday’s US economic data turned sour again: weekly mortgage and purchase applications fell and February new home sales rose less than anticipated.

            However, other developments were on investors’ minds:

(1)   yet another Fed official came out in support of raising rates sooner rather than later.  So the third time was the charm so to speak.  Stocks down, gold down and dollar up all make sense in the context of anticipating higher rates; but lower long bond rates [higher prices] don’t.  The question is, are those collective Fed comments just a lot of Fed fluff or do they carry any policy weight? 

I have a tough time believing that all those commenting officials who voted for easy money last week have executed such an abrupt about face.  But we will see.  That said, if, in fact, the Fed has turned on a dime, that is probably not a good sign for stock prices.

Also probably worth mentioning is the Mauldin thesis that I discussed last week, that is, the Chinese told the G20 they needed a stable yuan [trade balance] and if anyone acted counter to that they would unleash a substantial devaluation.  Part of that was a warning to Japan and the EU not to engage in competitive currency devaluations, part was a warning to the US not increase the value of the dollar [since the yuan exchange rate is tied to the dollar].  Clearly, higher rates bring a stronger dollar---and the Chinese will likely take great exception to that, if John is right.

(2)   oil prices got smacked on rising inventories numbers.  Of course, if all the happy talk about an oil production freeze in April were anything other than happy talk, that inventory report shouldn’t mean all that much.  On the other hand, if all those experts I have been quoting [linking to] in these notes are correct [no freeze and no supply/demand balance for at least a year], I can understand.  I would add if this ‘freeze’ scenario starts to fade, then the fears that abounded a month ago over the impact on the financial system of a weakening oil industry will be back in play.

            ***overnight, there are unsubstantiated reports that Japan will unveil its version of ‘helicopter’ money (medium):

Bottom line: I am not sure what Fed officials think that they are doing (sounding dovish, then reversing to hawkish); in fact, I don’t think that they know.  But I believe that if they continue doing it, they will destroy the one thing they have going for themselves---investors’ confidence.  The Fed can’t keep saying that it is data dependent and then do a Bugs Bunny routine, hopping from concern over the economy to optimism over the economy, in time intervals so short that the data hasn’t had a chance to change---which leads to a whole other problem which is that to the extent that the data has changed, it has only gotten worse.   

Of course, that is the Fed’s problem.  My problem is having to wait for either Fed and/or investors to read and compute the news of the constant stream of poor global economic stats and declining corporate profitability.  I have no idea when that magic moment will occur.  Until it does, stocks will remain overvalued.

In my opinion, the current rally represents an excellent opportunity to raise cash reserves by selling either a portion of your profitable investments and/or sell your losers.

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            The importance of setting and following an investment plan.

    News on Stocks in Our Portfolios

Accenture (NYSE:ACN): FQ2 EPS of $1.34 beats by $0.16.
Revenue of $7.95B (+6.1% Y/Y) beats by $230M.


   This Week’s Data

            February new home sales rose 2% versus expectations of up 3%.

            February durable goods orders fell 2.8% versus estimates of down 3.0%; ex transportation, orders declined 1.0% versus forecasts of -0.2%.
            Weekly jobless claims increased by 6,000 versus consensus of up 3,000.


            The Bank of China’s problem (medium):



  International War Against Radical Islam

            Europe at war (medium):

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