Fox Business, Stocks, Bonds, Gold and Oil

I am going to be on Fox Business’ Markets Now at 1:05pm today (Wednesday) discussing the stock market’s recent assault on Dow 16,000, a target I gave several times here and in the media. Now that the market is there, what’s next?

I can tell you that from my perspective, risk has increased substantially, but by no means should the bull market be over. Stocks are overdue for at least a pullback (2-8%), but probably more on the downside next year, especially if they continue to run into year-end.

Both gold and the bond market are very close to their own lines in the sand. A closing move by gold under $1250 opens the door to all kinds of bearish scenarios that frankly, I did not think would come this year. Likewise, the treasury bond market also has a line or two in the sand, but it’s farther away. All year, I have forecasted a late year bond rally, but this one is on the verge of petering sooner than expected if the recent highs cannot be exceeded. The last thing the Bernanke and the Fed and the stock market want to see is the 10 year note yield more than 3%.

Finally, crude oil is trying to find a low above $90 here. If energy cannot stabilize soon, that will usher in more negative scenarios into the $80s.

 

Stocks Growing Tired

With the major indices going vertical since October 9, I am starting to see some signs of tiring. “Tiring” is a lot different than forecasting a full fledged correction or even a deep pullback. It just means that the odds favor either some sideways action to help restart the engine or some sort of mild price decline to shake out the Johnny Come Latelys.

During this rally, we saw the S&P 500, S&P 400 and Russell 2000 hit all time highs with the NASDAQ at its highest levels since 2000. The Dow has been the laggard index, but I do expect that to get in gear after this pullback and also see new highs.

Gold has cooperated nicely from the recent bullish call and I think more upside is ahead for the shiny metal. As I have discussed all year, especially of late, this is the bond market rally I have been waiting for. The train began to leave the station in late August and September and is now in full motion. Treasuries, quality corporates and government bonds all look higher, especially if they see the slightest bit of weakness first. Our clients have owned high yield bonds for some time and that rally has been the strongest so far and may be growing a bit tired itself.

The US dollar has been under pressure for almost four months and it looks like a major bottom is about to be formed this quarter. My long, long-term view remains very, very positive for the greenback. Uncharacteristically, energy has been hit hard even though we have seen dollar weakness. That indicates strong selling beneath the surface with even lower prices to come.

I am about to start working on a Canaries in the Coal Mine update and I hope to post it on Friday.

Fox Business’ Markets Now

I am going to be on Fox Business’ Markets Now on Monday August 26 at 1:00pm.

The stock market began a small bounce last week and looks to continue that move this week. Yes, it’s the unofficial last week of summer although many schools have already started and many more begin on the 26th. Volume is typically light this week, but when a geopolitical event occurs like we saw in 2011, 2010, 2008 and 2007, volume will certainly spike. I always laugh when I hear that all of Wall Street is sunning and partying in The Hamptons and that the only people left are junior staffers. Gee, I guess that means they all helicoptered back when it hit the fan. What nonsense!

It’s relatively quiet now because earnings season ended and there are no major PLANNED events until the Fed meets next month to talk taper. Don’t think for a minute that just because August ends this week, volume and volatility will return. We have the Jewish holidays very early this year, just a few days after Labor Day.

While it looks like there is a temporary ceiling over stocks at the recent highs, we could still see a decent bounce on low volume.

Longer-term, the market is still trying to deal with junk bonds entering a bear market and the relative poor performance in the semiconductors.

I “hope” to have a full Street$marts out later this week.

Enjoy the final week of summer!

Paul

Canaries Still Breathing Okay

I haven’t done a canaries in the coal mine update in a while, but with the major market indices hitting fresh highs last week, it’s time to check if any are dead. Remember, canaries in the coal mine are only useful at bull market peaks and bear market troughs. In other words, they are very helpful at spotting beginnings and endings of bull markets, but not much in between. They are so important because they usually give ample warning that a bull market is living on borrowed time as the canaries begin to die.

Let’s start with the major indices as they should all be in new high or fresh highs for 2013 territory. The Dow is first and you can see the all time from last week on the right side of the chart. 

dow

The S&P 500 (very large companies) is next and it, too, hit all time highs last week.

 s&p

The S&P 400 (medium size companies) is below and it is in line with the first two from above. The S&P 400 is usually the big leader during the mid stages of the bull market as many companies in this index experience their glory years or growth and financial stability.

mid 

The Russell 2000 (small companies) is next it saw all time highs last week. This has been the index leader since the June 24 low and pretty much entire bull market from 2009. There have been a few warning signs along the way, but they keep repairing themselves to health.

rut 

The technology laden NASDAQ 100 is the final major index and it has done a remarkable job at playing catch up, not only in the very short-term (since mid July) but also over the past year or so.

ndx 

In summary, all major stock market indices recently saw fresh highs indicating that the bull market is not close to ending. 

The Dow Jones Transportation Index is below and this serves two purposes. First, it’s a minor index after we look at the major ones. Second, old school Dow Theory offers that the Dow Industrials and Transports should be in sync during major rallies and declines to confirm the long-term trend. At bull market peaks like 2007 and 2000, we usually see one index fail to confirm the other’s price move. In other words, if this bull market were ending, we would either see the Industrials or Transports fail to make their final price peaks together. At this point, that’s not the case.

tran 

Turning to the bellwether sectors, the banks continue to lead and see new highs on each successive push higher in the stock market. This is healthy action. On a separate note as I mentioned on CNBC’s Closing Bell last week, the banks remain one of the most unloved sectors in the market in spite of their huge price gains and leadership role. I am not a fundamental researcher,  but if investors can look past the major players like J.P. Morgan, Citi and Wells Fargo where new government regulation may present some head winds, the regional banks and small banks may present some good opportunities, especially if a mergers and acquisitions wave begins.

banks 

With overall sentiment towards the banks negative, this group should continue its leadership role and be a good buy candidate after market declines.

The semiconductors present a much different picture. They are so vitally important because of their leadership in the technology sector and technology’s leadership in the overall stock market. The semis not only are a long-term canary, but also have some good predictive power for intermediate-term moves, something that would make a good article for the next issue.

 semis

I have to admit that this group can be a bit frustrating at times because it gives more warnings than any other canary and the only warning that really matters for the end of a bull market is the final one. As you can see below, the semis did NOT see fresh highs last week and their price is already creeping back into the range we saw during May and June. This is not good behavior and bears watching closely.

The New Stock Exchange cumulative advance/decline line is next. For newer readers, this simply represents the number of stocks that go up and down each day totaled over time. I have found it to be an excellent barometer of liquidity and overall market health even though its warnings can range from a few months to almost two years as we saw in the spring of 1998. Detractors will point to the number of non operating companies that litter the NYSE, but that’s exactly why I find this indicator so useful. Those non common stocks are typically closed end bond funds (CEFs) that are acutely sensitive to interest rates. The combination of common stocks and CEFs has proven to be a valuable long-term indicator when the major stock market indices march higher without the NYSE A/D line.

From the chart below, we see twin peaks in May and July, a very mild warning with price going much higher, but nothing that indicates impending doom. This is another canary that should be closely watched now.

NYAD2

Finally, let’s take a peak at high yield (junk) bonds as depicted by the PIMCO High Yield Fund. You can use any of the major funds or the ETFs. I just choose PIMCO because it is a very large fund with a long track record. Junk bonds are so important because they are acutely sensitive to ripples in the liquidity stream as well as the economy. They are at the bottom of the credit hierarchy and money typically flows out of the sector at the first sign of economic trouble or decrease in liquidity.

PHYDX 

You can see how the fund made its high in May and sold off dramatically into June. What is unusual is that this decline occurred without stocks cratering. In fact, high yield bonds saw more carnage than stocks. And as stocks vaulted higher in July and August, the high yield sector could barely muster a rally to get back half of what it lost. This canary appears to be dead for this cycle. If junk bonds rollover again and we the PIMCO fund in the mid 9.40s, I think that will spell at least some short-term trouble for stocks. 

In summary, the canaries are generally healthy with only one dead (high yield) and maybe two on heightened observation (semiconductors and NYSE A/D line). Before this bull market ends, I expect to see many more canaries on the dead list.

 If you would like to discuss how your portfolio is acting now or could behave if more canaries bit the dust, please contact me directly by hitting REPLY or calling the office at 203.389.3553.

Gold’s Bearish Pattern Trying to Change

When we last left off with the gold market (and the chart below), I offered that “Unless the metal quickly regains the $1350 level, we are most likely looking at further selling and even more record setting negative sentiment before a sustainable rally can begin.” 

 

Gold continued its collapse from the time I hit the send button at $1292 all the way down to $1179 a week later. From $1179, it rallied all the way back to $1303 this morning before Ben Bernanke testified before Congress as you can see below. 

 

In this market I usually mention possible upside and down targets. If the current rally peters out, $1150 and then $1087 are logical downside lines in the sand based on technical measures. On the flip side, there are a host of upside zones which should be watched over time, $1350, $1480 and $1540. Since my view hasn’t changed that gold remains in a secular bull market, but cyclical bear market, I do believe that all upside targets will be achieved and that the ultimate peak will be above $2000. 

Taking a view beyond the short-term, we continue to see record setting levels of negativity, surpassing those seen when gold was $250. What that means is that smart money is and has been accumulating gold on the way down as the dumb money has been selling. So the dumb money has been right and the smart money has been wrong, something that is unlikely to continue. At some point sooner than later gold is going to hammer out a major bottom and rally strongly and not stop, trapping the bears and inflicting pain.

Short-Term Crossroad

Interesting crossroad for the stock market. Price action says more rally coming shortly while sentiment and internals argue for a 4-8% pullback into August. I guess both could occur in theory.

With the Dow, S&P 500 and Russell 2000 hitting fresh all time highs, it will be telling to see if any more cracks appear in the market’s foundation. We’ll take a look at our regular column of Canaries in the Coal Mine shortly.

Yesterday, Ben Bernanke’s much anticipated and likely final testimony to the House was a dud so all that is left is earnings…

Oil Acting Up

Crude oil has very quietly rallied from $93 to $106 over the past  few weeks. I am surprised we haven’t heard more from the media about it. Usually when it cracks $100, we hear how it is going to hurt the consumer and lead to recession. And all this while the dollar was strong as well. Thursday’s downside reversal was interesting, especially given how weak the dollar was and I will be closely watching to see if the bears can muster any attack. If so, and stocks continue rallying, the transports should catch fire pretty quickly again. For full disclosure, we already own a position in the group and would consider adding to it. On the flip side, if oil blasts off again above $110, I think that will spell short-term trouble for the stock market.

And Now China

Financial markets have been hit with the double whammy. First, Bernanke described the Fed’s plan for tapering asset purchases later this year and next and overnight, China reported weaker economic data and some trouble in their banking system. The markets responded with much selling on the heels of yesterday’s sell off, taking the Dow under 15,000.

The next downside target for the major stock market indices is just below their respective May lows. After that, markets are probably looking at a 10% correction or thereabouts.

Who Turned the Lights Out?

After a nice opening by the bulls on Wednesday, the bears came out en mass to print a fairly ugly day across the board except for gold and the stocks. It looks like stocks are heading back to revisit the lows from last week which should happen in the next few days.

The stock market is now as oversold as it has been at any time since the November bottom. Failure to respond positively over the coming week would be the first real change in character for this market since last year and probably turn the trend from up to neutral at best.

Market internals have gone from overwhelmingly solid to pathetic and that usually means the next rally is one to be sold in to. Emerging markets have been obliterated with the sector now down double digits on the year which we have certainly felt in our own emerging markets strategy.

Volatility is back and the next few sessions are going to be mighty interesting!

I will be working on Street$marts shortly with the comparison to 1987 I have spoken about before.

Where Did the Bulls go?

I did not like the action today to begin the new week. After Thursday and Friday, the bulls needed to hold serve and not let the bears see any weakness. Monday and Tuesday saw the bears take over and that does not bode well in the short-term, even though the stock market is oversold. More caution is warranted.