Archives for February 2017

Bulls Win Big on Friday But Still Not Ready

Very nice day for the bulls on Friday as the monthly jobs report was really the Goldilocks scenario. Not too strong and not too weak. The U.S. saw decent growth with some mild revisions lower but almost no wage inflation which caused expectations for a March rate hike by the Fed to decline to roughly 20%.

I would not hang my hat on the Fed staying put in March. There are many data points between now and then and I think with the dollar under pressure, they will push to raise.

Except for the Russell 2000, the major stock market indices are now within one good rally from new highs. I still don’t think this is the rally that propels stocks higher on a new leg, but I also won’t be stubborn if the indicators look better. Right now, I see a little more upside and then back to pause mode. Stocks are really priced for perfection and have borrowed a significant amount from the future.

While semis and banks are leading strongly, discretionary and transports are in constructive ranges for now. I fully expect them to join the party, probably later than sooner. Energy may be the most intriguing sector right here as it pulled back to pre-OPEC levels and negativity has skyrocketed. Staples and utilities are also interesting as they are butting up against overhead supply. Should they get a little kick here, those two groups could run higher for a while.

FYI. Until the Dow closes above 20,000 for five straight days, I won’t have any more upside projections.

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Trump and Putin Have a Falling Out

2 – Trump and Putin have a falling out

This is probably the least surprising of all on the list. One of my theories is that Trump has been so pro-Putin because Obama and Hillary Clinton were such adversaries of Russia. It was yet another good way to differentiate during the campaign. The U.S. and Russia’s interests are so inversely aligned that it would be almost impossible for the two countries not to have a falling out by 2020. I will venture a guess that the impetus for a disagreement comes from Russia’s dealings with Iran or Syria, or Russia’s military taking aggressive positions along a bordering nation.

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Moderate Justice Chosen for the Supreme Court

3 – Moderate Justice chosen for the Supreme Court

Whether Donald Trump has a fight with the GOP or not or if the President finds common ground with the Democrats, a moderate Justice for the Supreme Court will be nominated from one of the judges whom the GOP already approved of at a lower court. All indications are that Trump’s first nomination to the bench, due in early February, will have similar views to that of Antonin Scalia whom he or she will be replacing. That will please and appease the party base. From there, it is likely that one of the liberal Justices will retire by 2020 and Trump, the consummate dealmaker, will nominate a moderate to sail through the Senate.

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Trump and Chuck Schumer Kumbaya

4 – Trump and Chuck Schumer kumbaya

As recently as 2011, Donald Trump may have been or was aligned with the Democrats. He and Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, used to be pals in New York City. If President Trump and the GOP have a falling out, it’s very likely that Chuck Schumer and some of the Democrats will fill that void, especially if it’s during a period where a Supreme Court Justice vacancy needs to be filled.

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Trump and the GOP Fall Out of love

5 – Trump and the GOP fall out of love

It was a vicious campaign that saw allegiances move all over the place. In the end, after attacking a good number of his fellow candidates, Donald Trump reconciled in one way, shape or form with every single one of them. Given Trump’s personality and populist and nationalistic tone, there is a good chance that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the GOP end up at odds with President Trump over the details of legislation or executive orders which don’t sit well with the GOP and their constituents.

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Not All Cabinet Nominees Confirmed

6Not all cabinet nominees confirmed

Another surprise that seems counterintuitive since the Senate is controlled by the GOP. No president since Ronald Reagan saw all of their cabinet nominees confirmed. Every single president had at least on nominee who was rejected, John Tower in 1989 under Bush 41 or withdrawn, all of the rest since Clinton. In fact, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama all had at least two nominees withdraw their name. While Betsy DeVos seems to be the most controversial at the moment, my sense is that a less public nominee will withdraw.

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Strong Fed Trend Active Today

It doesn’t feel like it’s been six weeks since the December meeting when the FOMC raised interest rates 1/4%, but it really has. Can we get time to stand still for a month or so in order for us all to catch up? With President Trump occupying the headlines on a daily basis, Janet Yellen & Co. must be ecstatic that they out of the limelight and crosshairs for that matter.

Today concludes the Fed’s two day meeting and expectations are for no rate hike, especially after that weaker than expected GDP report last week. While the market is pricing in at least two rate hikes this year, I think they are on the low side. I would not be surprised to see a minimum of four increases in 2017 with the risk to the upside.

However, as you know, I still don’t think the Fed should hike at all. They are fighting a battle that doesn’t yet exist and risking another leg higher in the dollar’s bull market which will have grave long-term consequences. For now, I have been discussing, the dollar’s is seeing a mean reverting move to the downside as it gears up for a bigger rally later in the year.

The model for today’s stock market is plus or minus 0.50% until 2pm and then a rally into the close. One of our Fed models is active today and that suggests at least a 75% chance of a higher close.

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