Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Asian markets surged overnight on optimism that European officials are getting serious enough to come up with large sums aimed at stemming the debt crisis. No official details have been released yet, and there is another meeting taking place this week. But the market seems to be breathing a sigh of relief that they have again successfully kicked the can down the road.

Europe isn't up as much as I would have thought, but is still higher on the day. Economic data there was slightly weak in terms of PMI manufacturing and services readings that were lower in October than September, and also below the key 50 level marking contraction.

Caterpillar (CAT) released better-than-expected earnings this morning, and its stock is up nicely. There were also some M&A items with Cigna (CI) purchasing HealthSpring (HS) and Oracle (ORCL) buying RightNow Tech (RNOW), both for healthy premiums. All sectors are higher so far, led by consumer discretionary and industrials.

The dollar is slightly lower and most commodities are higher. Oil prices are up near $89.90, and gold prices are higher to $1565. Copper is also surging for a second day, up 7% currently.

The 10-year yield is higher to 2.21%; and the VIX is back below the 30 level, down -5% today to 29.66.

Trading comment: The market is overbought short-term, but you have to wonder how much performance anxiety is setting in given how much the markets have rallied since their early October lows. Stories abound that hedge funds are very underweight equities, and you could easily see that push stocks higher as managers chase performance. I know how they feel. Those index etf hedges we own are beginning to be a drag on portfolios, and we will need to reassess their usefulness soon.


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