Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Morning Call--the poor China numbers and Apple guidance should give a good test of the December lows


The Morning Call

1/3/19

The Market
         
    Technical

The Averages (DJIA 23346, S&P 2510) had another volatile day, starting off down big then recovering the rest of the day. They both finished below both moving averages.   The Dow finished in a short-term trading range; the S&P in a short-term downtrend.  However, they both closed above the upper boundary of their very short-term downtrends, negating those trends.  That said, the rally off their last December lows appear to be losing steam.

Volume was down; breadth mixed. 

The VIX was down 8 ½ %, but still ended above both moving averages and in very short-term and short-term uptrends.  Its chart remains strong which is bad on stocks.

The long bond was up ½%, closing above its 100 DMA (now support), above its 200 DMA (now support) and in short and intermediate-term trading ranges.  It is also above the lower boundary of its former long-term uptrend---though technically speaking, that is not all that significant.  However, it does appear that the rise in long term interest rates (decline in bond prices) is over. 

And, repo rates surging:

The dollar jumped ¾ %, remaining above both MA’s and in a short-term uptrend.  However, it is still within the mid-November to present consolidation range. So, the chart continues to be technically strong.

GLD continued to move up, closing above both MA’s and within a short-term trading range.

 Bottom line: the Averages continued their recovery.  While yesterday’s advance was meager, it still occurred following the release of some pretty dismal global PMI numbers---which is a plus.  On the other hand, the current advance appears to be losing momentum.

            The long bond continues its advance, accompanied by higher prices in most other fixed income sectors.  It is looking more and more like we have seen the highs in long rates.
           
            The dollar closed at the high end of its recent consolidation phase.  Longer term,  its chart remains strong and will likely continue to do so as long as there are increasing dollar funding (liquidity) problems. 

Wednesday in the charts.

***overnight, Apple delivered very disappointing forward sales and margin guidance, placing the blame largely on sales in China (i.e. the effects of the trade war).  This likely has earnings forecast implications for (1) big companies with business in China [think Caterpillar, Boeing]and (2) other tech companies.

Coming on the heels of the really lousy economic data out of China (see below), I think that we will get a key test for the Market, i.e. how it reacts to a negative surprise from a Market darling.  In a bull market, the typical trading pattern would be a quick sell off but the overall positive investor sentiment would assume that the surprise was a one off for the company and, therefore, would have not implications for the Market in general.  A recovery would soon follow.  In a bear market, these kinds of surprises tend to be interpreted as forebodings of worse things to come, add fuel to negative sentiment and drive stocks prices lower. 

So, I will be watching how the S&P handles the December 26 low.  If it challenges that level and bounces, that is likely a good sign that a bottom has been made and the worst of any price decline is over.  On the other hand, if it blows through that December low, then we have to start looking at support levels, the most solid of which is ~1800.

    Fundamental

       Headlines

            Yesterday’s economic releases were mixed: month to date retail chain store sales grew faster than in the prior week while the December manufacturing PMI was below estimating.

            Overseas, the numbers were really poor.  December manufacturing PMI’s in China and Taiwan fell into contractionary territory while December South Korean exports plunged.  The good news was that the EU manufacturing PMI was in line.

            On the macro level, Trump and congressional leaders met again to discuss the wall/budget funding disagreement---with no progress toward resolution.

            Bottom line: there is increasing evidence of slowing in global economic growth.  I have opined that the US could continue to grow even in a weak international environment.  However, it is apt to be growing slower.  So, the question is how much of this slower growth is in current forecasts; and, perhaps more importantly, how much is in corporate earnings estimates.

            And not to pile on, the above says nothing about QT (both here and in Europe), the weakness in the Italian banks, the potential political impact of a democratic controlled house (think impeachment).

            Update on valuations.
      
            Markets are reflecting increased risk (duh).

    News on Stocks in Our Portfolios
 
            Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) declares $0.90/share quarterly dividend, in line with previous.

Economics

   This Week’s Data

      US

            Month to date retail chain store sales grew faster than in the prior week.

            Weekly mortgage applications were off 8.5% while purchase applications were down 8.2%.

            The December manufacturing PMI came in at 53.8 versus forecasts of 53.9.

The December ADP private payroll report showed an increase of 271,000 jobs versus estimates of a 175,000 rise.

Weekly jobless claims rose 10,000 versus consensus of up 1,000.

     International


    Other

            This article was clearly written by a gold bug; so, you must take some of this with a grain of salt.  However, he does provide a great explanation of how the Fed/political class disrupts the economy.

What I am reading today

            Calculating your paycheck in 2019.

                Xi says Taiwan ‘must and will be’ reunited with China.

            The best lessons of 2018.


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