And Stocks Go Down AGAIN

More than a week ago, I started discussing the idea that a trading range was setting in with modestly lower and higher prices as the range. For a few session, stocks blew right past that idea. Before today, the stock market had very, very quietly pulled back for four sessions without much fanfare except for some weak internal readings.

That all changed as a solid employment report with finally some real wage growth further spooked the bond market, sending yields on the 10 year note to 2.85%. There is fear that 3% will be next and that will make bonds more attractive again and give stocks competition. I don’t buy that at all.

The issue is not that yields hit 2.85%, but rather that they are doing it in spike fashion. If yields had taken two steps and one step back on their way to 2.85% in orderly and boring fashion, I doubt the stock market would really care. It’s the same thing with oil. When oil either surges or plummets, the stock market usually follows suit. Markets are very good at adjusting and adapting to new levels as long as they get there slowly and orderly.

The long, long, long awaited stock market pullback is here. It should be a mid single digit affair and conclude by the end of the quarter. Because of how large the numbers are on the Dow, the point decline will make headlines. But remember, the Dow is down 4% right now and that’s over 1000 points. It’s not the end of the bull market and certainly not the end of the world.

Friday selloffs always concern people because they have snowballed in the past. Wherever stocks close on Friday, it is unlikely to mark the final bottom. Dow 25,000 is a logical target. The volatility Genie is out of the bottle and should be the rest of the year. Pullbacks are good to allow you to jettison investments that are lagging or you no longer like to rotate into better performing or higher quality ones.

Anyone still talking about the “melt up”???

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Fed Statement Day Disappoints. Defensive Groups Lead.

Fed statement day was certainly atypical and a volatile affair. Early strength was sold into which accelerated after the 2pm announcement. And Just when it looked like the bears would turn the day into a rout, the 3pm bell rung and the bulls came roaring back to life. What was most interesting was that while the Fed didn’t say much in their statement and actually was slightly more positive on the economy, it was the defensive groups, like REITs and utilities that acted the best on the day.

Two very reliably bullish short-term studies did not deliver on statement day which sets up a mildly negative trend for today and possibly longer. Keep in mind that the bull market remains intact as does this leg of the bull market. The rally is not over just yet. Leadership continues to be strong and only high yield bonds are offering any warning. It will be interesting to see if the defensive groups stay strong today, not to mention on Friday when we have the employment report. Unless it really lays an egg, the Fed will be raising rates 6 weeks from now.

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Fed’s Arrogance Will Lead to Disaster for Economy

Stock Market Behavior Models for the Day

As with every Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement day, there is a model for the stock market to follow pre and post announcement. Certain environments have very strong tendencies while others do not. Over the past few meetings, many of the strongest trends immediately before and after were muted except for a modest post FOMC trend last meeting which called for mild weakness the very next day. The S&P 500 lost 10 points or -0.40%.

After the stock market’s decline over the past two days, one FOMC trend said to buy yesterday’s close. That was a strong signal. I was really hoping for a lower opening today for a few reasons. First, the third straight lower open is usually a good buying opportunity in a bull market. Second, it would have triggered a number of bullish short-term studies for the next one to two weeks. Finally and most importantly, a lower open would trigger two of the most powerful FOMC trends to buy the S&P 500 at the open. As Robert Burns said “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. Stocks seem poised to bounce back at the open rather than decline.

As with most statement days, the model for the day calls for stocks to return plus or minus 0.50% until 2:00 PM. There is a 90% chance that occurs. If the stock market opens outside of that range, there is a strong trend to see stocks move in the opposite direction until 2:00 PM. For example, if the Dow opens down 1%, the model says to buy at the open and hold until at least 2:00 PM.

The next model calls for stocks to close higher today and rally after 2:00 PM. That is usually a very strong trend, 80%+, especially after seeing weakness into statement day (today). Finally, assuming stocks close higher today, there is a trend setting up for a post statement day decline, but that is not a certainty just yet.

No Rate Hike But All the Wrong Moves for Yellen & Co.

This is Chair Janet Yellen’s final meeting as chairman as well as final meeting sitting on the FOMC. With the Fed raising interest rates only 6 weeks ago, today’s meeting should be very unexciting. The next real opportunity for a rate hike will come at the March meeting. Remember, the Fed forecast one to two rate hike in 2018. I continue to believe the risk is to the upside for three to four increases.

Remember the Tom Cruise movie, “All the Right Moves”? It was a football movie set in steel country PA with Cruise having to make a number of life decisions. Well, if the Fed’s plan was a movie, I would title it “All the Wrong Moves”. Their academic arrogance has sprung up again and it will not end well for our economy.

I want to stop for a moment and rehash an old, but still troubling theme. I am absolutely against the Fed hiking interest rates AND reducing the size of its balance sheet at the same time. It’s an unprecedented experiment and the Fed doesn’t have a good track record in this department. Pick one or the other. Stop worrying about ammunition for the next crisis. Given that the Fed has induced or accelerated almost every single recession of the modern era, I have no doubt that the recession coming before the 2020 election will certainly have the Fed’s fingerprints on it with their too tight monetary policy experiment.

Let’s remember that the Fed was asleep at the wheel before the 1987 crash. In fact, Alan Greenspan, one of the worst Fed chairs of all-time, actually raised interest rates just before that fateful day. In 1998 before Russia defaulted on her debt and Long Term Capital almost took down the entire financial system, the Fed was raising rates again. Just after the Dotcom Bubble burst in March 2000, ole Alan started hiking rates in May 2000. And let’s not even go to 2007 where Ben Bernanke whom I view as one of the greats, proclaimed that there would be no contagion from the sub prime mortgage collapse.

Yes. The Fed needs to stop.

Velocity of Money Most Important

Below is a chart I have shown at least quarterly since 2008. With the exception of a brief period from mid 2009 to mid 2010, the velocity of money collapsed. It’s still too early to conclude, but it does look like it stopped going down in 2017. In the easiest terms, M2V measures how many times one unit of currency is turned over a period of time in the economy. As you can see, it’s been in a disastrous bear market since 1998 which just so happens to be the year where the Internet starting becoming a real force in the economy. Although it did uptick during the housing boom as rates went up, it turned out to be just a bounce before the collapse continued right to the present.

This single chart definitely speaks to some structural problems in the financial system. Money is not getting turned over and desperately needs to. The economy has been suffering for many years and will not fully recover and function normally until money velocity rallies. Without this chart turning up, I do not believe the Fed will create sustainable inflation at 2% or above. This is one chart the Fed should be focused on all of the time.

It would be interesting to see the impact if the Fed stopped paying banks for keeping reserves with the Fed. That could presumably force money out from the Fed and into loans or other performing assets. It continues to boggle my mind why no one calls the Fed out on this and certainly not Yellen at her quarterly press conference. In March, perhaps someone will question Chair Powell on this!

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Small Caps Burst. Semis & Banks Readying. REITs…

Friday saw much of the same stock market behavior as we have seen lately. The Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ 100 continue to act the best although after closing at a 10 day low with the aforementioned indices at new highs, the Russell 2000 finally got off the mat. The small cap index burst higher and it is now at least in a position to lead into January which would be fitting in well with historical norms. Over these final two weeks of 2017, I certainly would not be surprised to see the S&P 400 and Russell 2000 lead and see all-time highs, even at the expense of the other major indices.

Friday also saw the semis, one of my key four sectors, begin to position itself for another run. Closing at a new high for December would confirm that move. Banks also look like they could be ready for another run higher. Couple that with strong action in the transports and discretionary and you have a market that just doesn’t want to give up any ground whatsoever. Any single day pullback is being bought and investors looking to use up some cash are being punished for waiting. While the media tries to play this up like the Dotcom era all over again, I do not agree at all. But that’s a topic for a different day.

Below is a sector chart which I have been watching (and owning off and on for a while). Once again, REITs, real estate investment trusts, are at the top of a channel for the 5th time. Every other time, it has pulled back. Will this time see a change in behavior???

Finally, following up on our post FOMC (Fed) trend from last Wednesday, it closed out in the plus column as stocks were lower last Thursday, the only day the trend was active.

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Post Fed Trend Says Down But Seasonals Suggest Otherwise

As was expected by just about everyone, the Fed raised interest rates by .25% on Wednesday in their final meeting of 2017. This was far from their final rate hike of the cycle which is not good for the economy over the long-term. The stock market gave up much of the gains post FOMC and there were a few little cracks seen. The Dow remains the strongest index, not a good sign, while the Russell 2000 looks like it’s trying to step up and begin a run into year-end. It’s still a little early for that trend, but its behavior is mildly encouraging.

Semis continue to act poorly after being so strong for so long. Surprising to me, the banks and financials had a dismal day which could lead to a little bout of weakness here. Discretionary and transports remained solid leaders. Both industrials and materials are also continuing to lead, a good sign for the economy. The dollar, however, fell hard. At the same time, both bonds and gold rallied which creates somewhat of a quandary. Are the defensive groups correct in sensing some economic weakness or are the economically sensitive sectors right and the economy will continue its winning ways. This is vaery unusual behavior for a Fed day.

For the hear and now, any and all weakness should be bought until proven otherwise, something I feel like I have said 1000 times. Not that there are never declines this late in the year, but it’s very tough to get that selling snowball rolling downhill with any velocity. Sure, stocks could peak and decline 1-3% into year-end, but the odds favor a mild drift higher into the New Year. There’s just not many potential catalysts for a meaningful decline. I guess investors could use some of the soon to be released elements of tax reform as cause to sell, but then they would have to pay capital gains so soon.

Finally, as I mentioned in the special update on Wednesday, there is a post FOMC trend which signals some short-term weakness starting today. It’s a little muted by strong seasonals, but it’s something we should be aware of.

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Fed’s Arrogance Leading to Disaster for Economy. All the Wrong Moves

Stock Market Behavior Models for the Day

As with every Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement day, there is a model for the stock market to follow pre and post announcement. Certain environments have very strong tendencies while others do not. Over the past few meetings, many of the strongest trends immediately before and after were muted except for a moderate post FOMC trend last meeting which called for mild weakness.The S&P 500 gained fractionally over that period.
Today, as with most statement days, the first model calls for stocks to return plus or minus 0.50% until 2:00 PM. There is a 90% chance that occurs. If the stock market opens outside of that range, there is a strong trend to see stocks move in the opposite direction until 2:00 PM. For example, if the Dow opens down 1%, the model says to buy at the open and hold until at least 2:00 PM.
The next model calls for stocks to close higher today and rally after 2:00 PM. That is usually a very strong trend, 80%+, however with the Dow sitting at all-time highs with barely a hiccup in four months, the bulls exhausted a lot of energy, similar to what we saw at the last two Fed meeting 6 and 12 weeks ago. That trend’s power has been muted significantly to less than 50% which is not exactly the kind of trend worth trading.
Finally, assuming stocks close higher today, there is a trend setting up for a post statement day decline, although the seasonal strength of December puts a little damper on that.
Rate Hike Certain & Balance Sheet Reduction Update
 
Janet Yellen & Company are certain to raise the Federal Funds Rate by .25% today. It’s the worst kept secret and the markets are fully prepared. I also expect an update on the Fed’s progress in trimming its $4 trillion balance sheet although I do not believe they will make any changes.
All the Wrong Moves for Yellen & Co.
Remember the Tom Cruise movie, “All the Right Moves”? It was a football movie set in steel country PA with Cruise having to make a number of life decisions. Well, if the Fed’s plan was a movie, I would title it “All the Wrong Moves”. Their academic arrogance has sprung up again and it will not end well for our economy.
I want to stop for a moment and rehash an old, but still troubling theme. I am absolutely against the Fed hiking interest rates AND reducing the size of its balance sheet at the same time. It’s an unprecedented experiment and the Fed doesn’t have a good track record in this department. Pick one or the other. Stop worrying about ammunition for the next crisis. Given that the Fed has induced or accelerated almost every single recession of the modern era, I have no doubt that the recession coming in late 2018 or 2019 will certainly have the Fed’s fingerprints on it with their too tight monetary policy experiment.
Let’s remember that the Fed was asleep at the wheel before the 1987 crash. In fact, Alan Greenspan, one of the worst Fed chairs of all-time, actually raised interest rates just before that fateful day. In 1998 before Russia defaulted on her debt and Long Term Capital almost took down the entire financial system, the Fed was raising rates again. Just after the Dotcom Bubble burst in March 2000, ole Alan started hiking rates in May 2000. And let’s not even go to 2007 where Ben Bernanke whom I view as one of the greats, proclaimed that there would be no contagion from the sub prime mortgage collapse.
Yes. The Fed needs to stop.
Velocity of Money Still Collapsing 
Below is a chart I have shown at least quarterly since 2008. With the exception of a brief period from mid 2009 to mid 2010, the velocity of money was, is and will continue collapsing. In the easiest terms, M2V measures how many times one unit of currency is turned over a period of time in the economy. As you can see, it’s been in a disastrous bear market since 1998 which just so happens to be the year where the Internet starting becoming a real force in the economy. Although it did uptick during the housing boom as rates went up, it turned out to be just a bounce before the collapse continued right to the present.

This single chart definitely speaks to some structural problems in the financial system. Money is not getting turned over and desperately needs to. The economy has been suffering for many years and will  not fully recover and function normally until money velocity rallies. Without this chart turning up, I do not believe the Fed will sustainable inflation at 2% or above.

It would be interesting to see the impact if the Fed stopped paying banks for keeping reserves with the Fed. That could presumably force money out from the Fed and into loans or other performing assets. It continues to boggle my mind why no one calls the Fed out on this and certainly not Yellen at her quarterly press conference. Being her last presser today, let’s hope that someone in the media steps up!

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***Special Fed Day Alert. No Rate Hike. No Surprises***

Behavior Models for the Day

As with every Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement day, there is a model for the stock market to follow pre and post announcement. Certain environments have very strong tendencies while others do not. Eight meetings ago was one of the rare times where the models strongly called for a rally on statement day which was correct as well as a decline a few days later which was also correct.

Today, as with most statement days, the first model calls for stocks to return plus or minus 0.50% until 2:00 PM. There is a 90% chance that occurs. If the stock market opens outside of that range, there is a strong trend to see stocks move in the opposite direction until 2:00 PM. For example, if the Dow opens down 1%, the model says to buy at the open and hold until at least 2:00 PM.
The next model calls for stocks to close higher today and rally after 2:00 PM. That is usually a very strong trend, 80%+, however with the Dow sitting at all-time highs with barely a hiccup in two months, the bulls exhausted a lot of energy, similar to what we saw at the last Fed meeting 6 weeks ago. That trend’s power has been muted significantly to less than 50%. That’s not exactly the kind of trend worth trading.
Finally, there may be a trend setting up for a post statement day decline, but there are a number of rally factors that still need to line up.

No Rate Hike & No Balance Sheet Taper Update

The good news is that short-term interest rates will not be moving higher at 2:00 PM. That will likely happen at the December meeting as the economic evidence certainly supports another 1/4% hike with GDP at 3%, unemployment at new lows and consumer confidence at new highs. I also don’t expect any news on the Fed’s plan to taper the size of its balance sheet.
Six weeks ago, I offered that the Fed would announce the cessation of reinvestment of certain instruments, if not all, to the tune of $300 to $500 billion a year. It turned out that my forecast was too aggressive as Yellen’s plan began last month with a paltry $4 billion in runoff and scales up to only $20 billion per month later in 2018.
Velocity of Money Still Collapsing

Below is a chart I have shown at least quarterly since 2008. With the exception of a brief period from mid 2009 to mid 2010, the velocity of money was, is and will continue collapsing. In the easiest terms, M2V measures how many times one unit of currency is turned over a period of time in the economy. As you can see, it’s been in a disastrous bear market since 1998 which just so happens to be the year where the Internet starting becoming a real force in the economy. Although it did uptick during the housing boom as rates went up, it turned out to be just a bounce before the collapse continued right to the present.

This single chart definitely speaks to some structural problems in the financial system. Money is not getting turned over and desperately needs to. The economy has been suffering for many years and will  not fully recover and function normally until money velocity rallies.

It would be interesting to see the impact if the Fed stopped paying banks for keeping reserves with the Fed. That could presumably force money out from the Fed and into loans or other performing assets. It continues to boggle my mind why no one calls the Fed out on this and certainly not Yellen at her quarterly press conference.

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***Special Fed Day Alert. No Rate Hike But Changes to Balances Sheet Announced***

Behavior Models for the Day

As with every Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement day, there is a model for the stock market to follow pre and post announcement. Certain environments have very strong tendencies while others do not. Seven meetings ago was one of the rare times where the models strongly called for a rally on statement day which was correct as well as a decline a few days later which was also correct.

Today, as with most statement days, the first model calls for stocks to return plus or minus 0.50% until 2:00 PM. There is a 90% chance that occurs. If the stock market opens outside of that range, there is a strong trend to see stocks move in the opposite direction until 2:00 PM. For example, if the Dow opens down 1%, the model says to buy at the open and hold until at least 2:00 PM.
The next model calls for stocks to close higher today and rally after 2:00 PM. That is usually a very strong trend, 80%+, however with the Dow up 8 straight days, the bulls exhausted a lot of energy and that trend’s power has been muted significantly to less than 50%. That’s not exactly the kind of trend worth trading.

Finally, there may be a trend setting up for a post statement day decline, but there are a number of factors that still need to line up.

No Rate Hike But Balance Sheet Taper…

The good news is that short-term interest rates will not be moving higher at 2:00 PM. That will likely happen at the December meeting. The bad news is that Janet Yellen is going to formally announce the Fed’s plan to begin to reduce its $4.47 trillion balance sheet of treasury and mortgage backed securities. No one will be surprised with that announcement. I say it’s bad news because the economy is finally starting to show some better growth and I have my doubts whether that will be sustainable with even tighter monetary conditions.
Regarding Yellen’s plan, I expect the Fed to cease the reinvestment of certain instruments, if not all, to the tune of $300 to $500 billion a year. On a $4 trillion account, that doesn’t seem like a lot of money but it certainly is in absolute terms. Yellen has also stated publicly that she does not expect a return to its pre-crisis $900 billion, all treasury bill balance for the foreseeable future.
Velocity of Money Still Collapsing

Below is a chart I have shown at least quarterly since 2008. With the exception of a brief period from mid 2009 to mid 2010, the velocity of money was, is and will continue collapsing. In the easiest terms, M2V measures how many times one unit of currency is turned over a period of time in the economy. As you can see, it’s been in a disastrous bear market since 1998 which just so happens to be the year where the Internet starting becoming a real force in the economy. Although it did uptick during the housing boom as rates went up, it turned out to be just a bounce before the collapse continued right to the present.
This single chart definitely speaks to some structural problems in the financial system. Money is not getting turned over and desperately needs to. The economy has been suffering for many years and will  not fully recover and function normally until money velocity rallies.
It would be interesting to see the impact if the Fed stopped paying banks for keeping reserves with the Fed. That could presumably force money out from the Fed and into loans or other performing assets. It continues to boggle my mind why no one calls the Fed out on this and certainly not Yellen at her quarterly press conference.

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Boring Fed Day On Tap

Model for the Day

As with every Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement day, there is a model for the stock market to follow pre and post announcement. Certain environments have very strong tendencies while others do not. Six meetings ago was one of the rare times where the models strongly called for a rally on statement day which was correct as well as a decline a few days later which was also correct.

Today, as with most statement days, the first model calls for stocks to return plus or minus 0.50% until 2:00 PM. There is a 90% chance that occurs. The next model calls for stocks to close higher today and rally after 2:00 PM. That is usually a very strong trend, 75%+, however with the bulls using a lot of energy over the past few weeks, that trend’s power has been muted significantly to less than 50%. That’s not exactly the kind of trend worth trading.

Finally, there may be a trend setting up for a post statement day decline, but there are a number of factors that still need to line up.

No Rate Hike But Balance Sheet Taper…

Janet Yellen and her friends at the Fed have done an excellent job of preparing the markets for interest rate hikes this year. There haven’t been any surprises on that front. Recently, they have been chatting up a storm regarding a plan to reduce the size of the Fed’s $4 trillion plus balance sheet. You can expect to hear a little more about this in their statement today after they leave rates unchanged. With the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole retreat about a month away, Yellen and Company should continue to prepare the markets for a formal announcement in six weeks with lots of information released at Jackson Hole.

 

Velocity of Money Still Collapsing

Turning to a chart I continue to show time and time again, below is a long-term chart of the velocity of money (M2V) produced by the St. Louis Fed. In the easiest terms, M2V measures how many times one unit of currency is turned over a period of time in the economy. As you can see, it’s been in a bear market since 1998 which just so happens to be the year where the Internet starting becoming a real force in the economy. Although it did uptick during the housing boom as rates went up, it turned out to be just a bounce before the collapse continued right to the present.

This single chart definitely speaks to some structural problems in the financial system. Money is not getting turned over and desperately needs to. It would be interesting to see the impact if the Fed stopped paying banks for keeping reserves with the Fed. That could presumably force money out from the Fed and into loans or other performing assets.

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Stocks Looking Down After Rate Hike

Everything happened as expected on Wednesday. Stocks stayed in a tight range until 2PM. The Fed raised rates. Yellen spoke about reducing the balance sheet. And the bullish Fed trend was significantly muted. Given how stocks closed, there is a very short-term trend which indicates lower prices today and possibly into next week. However, with the stock market set to open lower, the opportunity to take advantage is likely gone.

The Dow is now the leading index and that’s not the index which typically leads in the healthiest of markets. I don’t expect this to continue. Mid caps have really started stepping up with small caps not looking as dead as they did a short time ago. The NASDAQ 100, on the other hand, looks like it has more downside ahead with some sideways movement coming after that.

As I always say, it’s not what the news actually is, but rather how stocks react. On Fed day, we saw good behavior from industrials, healthcare, home builders, banks, staples, discretionary, REITs and utilities. Read that sentence again. For the most part, those are not the same leaders as we have seen. Rather than the rally ending, it looks like it’s morphing after two “shock” days (big down days out of nowhere) in tech over the past month.

Now, tech may be done leading for a while, but it doesn’t look like the rally is over. Sure, we could see a pullback, but that would be yet another buying opportunity in a long line of successful opportunities.

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