Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Morning Call--Trade and Syria turned on their heads

The Morning Call


The Market

The indices (DJIA 24189, S&P 2642) retreated yesterday. Volume was down (breaking the pattern of high volume on down days, lighter volume on up days); breadth was negative.  Both of the Averages closed within very short term downtrends (having made a fourth lower high Tuesday) and below their 100 day moving averages (now resistance).  They both remain above its 200 day moving average, though yesterday’s pin action may be a precursor to yet another challenge of this MA.  The DJIA finished in a short term trading range but in intermediate and long term uptrends.  The S&P is in uptrends across all timeframes. The short term technical picture remains cloudy; but longer term, the assumption is that equity prices will continue to rise.

                The VIX was down (unusual for a down stock day---the second day of abnormal behavior), but still ended in a very short term uptrend, above its 100 and 200 day moving averages and the lower boundary of its short term trading range---reflecting the obvious fact that volatility hasn’t gone away. 

The long Treasury was up, not surprising when the war drums are beating.  It remained within its strong month long bounce (very short term uptrend) off the lower boundary of its long term uptrend.   On the other hand, it continues to trade below its 100 (though it appears that it is about to challenge that MA) and 200 day moving averages and in a short term downtrend.  So its pin action is roughly the reverse of stocks---it is in a short term uptrend but longer term it is in a downtrend.

The dollar was down, finishing below its 100 and 200 day moving averages and in an intermediate term downtrend.  UUP continues to trade in a very tight range, which is not usual when bonds are moving big directionally.
GLD was up ¾ %, again not unusual amidst threats of a potential major power confrontation.  It closed above the lower boundary of its short term uptrend and its 100 and 200 day moving averages.  
Bottom line: near term the direction of equity prices is in question.  Yesterday’s pin action marked a fourth lower high for both indices; so they are now getting squeezed between their very short term downtrends and their 200 day moving averages---which they have already unsuccessfully challenged four times.   

History suggests that a break out of this narrowing pennant like formation will set the course of the Market in the direction of the break.  If it is to the upside then it would support the assumption that the stock prices remain in a long term uptrend.  If to the downside then it would weaken the bull case and set up a decline to the lower boundaries of the DJIA’s short term trading range and the S&P’s short term uptrend.  That said, the Averages have plenty of support at lower levels. 

The price movements yesterday in TLT, UUP and GLD were influenced by geopolitical risks---which can disappear as fast as they present themselves.



            Yesterday’s economic stats were mixed: mortgage and purchase applications were down while March CPI was slightly less than expected---offsetting Tuesday’s hotter than anticipated PPI number.

            In addition, the Fed released the minutes of the March FOMC meeting, which, bottom line, was just a tad hawkish or as one pundit put it ‘moving into non-accommodative stance’.  The highlights:

            --the economy is improving,
            --the Fed has confidence that it will achieve its 2% inflation target,
            --the tax cut will aid economic growth,
            --however, the deficit, to which the tax cuts contributed, is a negative,
            --a potential trade war would be a negative

            The minutes:

            David Stockman weighs in on Powell’s speech (which I linked to in Tuesday’s Morning Call).  As usual, he presents the counterpoint to the Fed’s narrative.

            The ongoing faceoff in Syria seemed to be dominate in investor minds, as Russia and the US traded threats (we are bombing Syria, Russia is going to shoot down the missiles, no you’re not because we have the superior technology).  The big question is, which side wants to risk its technology to be shown inferior and all that implies in future face-offs?

            Russian ships leave Syrian ports (short):

Bottom line: the Fed continues its policy of normalization as the economy weakens and the yield curve flattens (a flat/inverted yield curve has historically been a precursor to recession).  That, in my opinion, is the overwhelming set of factors that will determine the Market direction.

Yes, a trade war with China remains a possibility, though I have opined that Trump is going to talk big, take whatever concessions he can extract and declare victory. 

***overnight, China ‘clarifies’ Xi’s speech---though appears to be some face saving language in it (medium):

Yes, a shooting war with Russia is also a possibility, though historically, the Russians have talked a good game but been very conservative in their actions (Someone please tell me how bombing Syria makes the US wealthier, happier, healthier, safer, and stronger.) 
            ***overnight, Trump backs off his missile attack threat (short):

            I continue to like how my portfolios are structured---half equities, half cash.

    News on Stocks in Our Portfolios
            Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP) declares $0.69/share quarterly dividend, 9.5% increase from prior dividend of $0.63.          

            BlackRock (NYSE:BLK): Q1 EPS of $6.70 beats by $0.30.
Revenue of $3.58B (+15.9% Y/Y) beats by $210M.


   This Week’s Data


            Weekly jobless claims fell 9,000 versus expectations of a 12,000 decline.

            March import prices were unchanged versus estimates of a 0.2% increase; export prices were up 0.3%, in line.


            February EU industrial production was down 0.8% versus consensus of +0.2%.


            Some history on the right of the president to resend spending (medium):

            Quote of the day (short):

What I am reading today

            Inflation can hit stocks and bonds at the same time (medium):
                Why rebalancing your portfolio works (medium):

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