Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Markets Open With Lighter Staffs Than Normal

Happy Halloween.  The markets are open, but staffing is lighter than normal as residents in NYC try to get back to normal daily life but are still dealing with power outages, transportation delays, etc.  As such, I would expect lighter than normal trading.  The wildcard is that the markets have been closed for the last 2 days so there could be some pent up trading that needs to get done before month-end (today).

The damage from the hurricane spread as far as Cleveland, where my parents have told me that Trick or Treating has been cancelled for tonight and rescheduled for Sunday. 

In M&A news, Warnaco (WRC) will be acquired by PVH for a 30% premium.  Also, Disney (DIS) has said it will buy Lucasfilm for $4 billion.

In economic news, the Chicago PMI for October rose to 49.9 but that was below expectations. 

There were lots of companies that delayed their earnings reports due to the closing of the markets.  As I look at stocks of companies that reported this morning, I am pleased to see more stocks trading higher on their reports than trading lower.

Stocks rising on earnings: F, GM, MA, PWR, AMG, BWA, NUS, AMT, ETN, SPW

Stocks falling on earnings: STX, BNNY, MAC, CAM

Asian markets were mostly higher overnight, thought China's gains lagged once again.  Europe's markets are also generally higher this morning, despite data showing the Eurozone unemployment rate ticked higher to 11.6%.

The dollar is lower today, which is helping commodities.  Oil prices are higher to $86.50.  Gold prices are also up a bit near $1719.  But copper prices look weak today.

The 10-year yield is slightly lower today to 1.70%.  And the volatility index (VIX) is higher today by 3.5% near the 18.50 level.  The VIX has been consolidating last weeks gains around these levels and still looks poised to test the 20 level again at some point.

Trading comment: Markets are open for trading, but I expect volume to be light today.  The gains were higher in the opening hour but seem to have already faded.  The SPX has given up almost 10 points as of this post.  And the Nasdaq remains in the red as its leader AAPL continues to trade lower following last week's earnings report.  Markets never move in straight lines, and I would not be surprised to see some strength in the market in the near-term.  But I want to remain cautious until we see some more concrete signs that this correction has run its course.

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stock Markets Remained Closed From Sandy

The stock market remains closed today.  In futures trading this morning (electronic), the S&P 500 futures closed 0.3% higher.  Contracts on the NYMEX will continue to trade today (interest rate and commodity derivatives).  The NYSE is trying to open in some form tomorrow for end of month trading, but no decision has been made yet.

Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, but has lost its hurricane status and is now classified as a storm.  As many as 8 million people are without power.

Getting back to the economy, the Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose 2.0% in its latest reading.

Overnight in Asia, markets were mixed.  The Bank of Japan launched its 9th easing operation of 11 trillion Yen, bringing the total to 91 trillion Yen.  Also, the Bank of India lowered its cash reserve ratio 25 basis points to 4.25%. 

In Europe, markets are higher after some blue chip companies reported solid earnings.  Companies like BP, UBS, and Deutsche Bank all topped earnings estimates.  In Spain, their flash GDP reading came in just above expectations but still contracted -0.3%.

Oil prices have eased back to $85.50 and gold prices are also a bit lower near $1708.

The 10-year yield is at 1.72% in electronic trading.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Morning Musings

Well this is certainly an interesting morning in the markets.  Hurricane Sandy, or at least the anticipation of the storm, has shut down most of the exchanges for trading today and most likely tomorrow.  I heard the NYSE has not been shut down for weather for over 100 years.  Pretty surprising.

The bond market was open for trading this morning but will close at noon EST.  The options market is closed today as well.

Overnight action in Asia was mostly lower.  China was down -0.5% after reports suggested that there is little chance of an interest rate cut at this time.  Tonight the Bank of Japan will comment on a potential increase to its asset purchase program.

Europe's major markets are also lower this morning.  Bond yields in peripheral countries are rising.  Similar to comments we made last week, a Bank of England member tempered GDP expectations saying that the data may have been boosted by the Olympics.

In economic news in the US, personal income increased 0.4% (in-line) in September and personal spending rose more than expected to 0.8%.

The dollar is higher today, and commodities are down slightly.  I believe commodities futures markets are also closing early today.  Oil is lower to $85.90 and gold is down a bit today near $1708.

In bond trading today, bond prices are higher and pushing yields on the 10-year note down to 1.71%.

The VIX closed at 17.81 on Friday and is closed today due to the CBOE being closed for trading.

Trading comment: I would have normally been saying that I would be looking for some end of the month strength or maybe some window dressing to boost the markets ahead of month end.  But now I'm not even sure that we will see any trading before month end.  The markets could open again Wednesday, but I wonder if the uncertainty and the liquidity concerns from the 2-day closure will manifest itself in some pent-up selling pressure.  I think if that materializes I might still view it as a short-term buying opportunity heading into early November.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Japan Adds To Recent Stimulus Program

The markets are higher in early trading, although the early strength is already beginning to fade.  There is still a lot of time left today, so we will have to see if there is any late day strength that shows up.

In economic news, durable goods orders surged back from last month's -13.1% decline to increase 9.9% in September.  Ex-transportation durable goods rose 2.0%.

10-year yields are getting a bounce on the data, with yields reaching 1.81%.

It was another big night and morning for earnings reports.  I haven't seen any big standouts the way CAT, etc. made the headlines.  But there are certainly lots of sharp reactions in the stocks.

Stocks rising on earnings: BG, BIIB, ASPS, RS, RCL, DLX, COP, PCP, MCK, AKAM, SRCL, PG

Stocks falling on earnings: CAB, FFIV, CLF, SWI, MJN, SHW, DFT, FFIV, NOV, UA, JAH

Asian markets were mostly higher overnight.  The Bank of Japan announced another round of stimulus to the tune of 400-700 billion JPY.  The Nikkei rose 1.1%.  But talks of fiscal package in China did little to boost their market, which fell -0.7%.

Europe is also higher this morning on the heels of a positive GDP report from the UK.  GDP rose 1.0% in Q3, but likely got a boost from the Olympics which should fade next quarter.

The dollar is flattish, oil prices are flat near $85.75, and gold prices are higher to $1717.  Copper prices are lower again, and are not trading as if China is rekindling growth.

Trading comment: The major indexes have not been able to muster much of a bounce the last couple of days, despite being short-term oversold.  I think it is likely we will see a short-term bounce soon, but it will probably still be too soon to buy.  I would prefer to wait for the market to pull back again after any bounce and see if it can find some firm support.  That would be a better bottoming process from which to launch a more sustainable rally.

KAM Advisors has long positions in SRCL, PG

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hopes For A China Growth Rebound

Markets are only slightly higher following yesterday's sharp selloff.  In economic news, new home sales for September came in better than expected at 389,000 units.  And the FHFA said the Housing Price Index for August rose by 0.7%.

Other than that the focus has mainly been on all of the companies reporting earnings this week.  I think the surprise this morning is Facebook (FB), where sentiment had grown extremely cautious.  But investors liked what they heard on the conference call about the ability to monetize mobile ads and the stock has spiked more than 20% this morning.

Stocks rising on earnings: FB, LL, DOW, GILD, BA, LMT, TUP

Stocks falling on earnings: T, BWLD, NFLX, EAT, ATI, NEE, IACI, KMB, BMY, GLW, LO

Overnight most Asian markets were lower.  China bucked the weakness after its HSBC Manuf. PMI reading came in above expectations at 49.1.  That still is in the contraction zone, but its the highest reading in 3 months so folks are getting their hopes up that China is stabilizing and could be poised to see a pickup in economic growth.  I remain cautious on China.

Europe's markets are mixed this morning.  Most were lower initially after PMI readings for France, Germany, and Italy all came in below expectations.  That pushed markets lower early but many have rebounded since.

The dollar is higher again today, which is weighing on commodities.  Oil prices are weaker to $85.80.  Gold prices are lower near $1705.  Copper prices are lower also and do not trade very well given the sentiment that China is picking up.

The 10-year yield is getting a rebound to 1.79%.  And the VIX is down slightly near 18.35 after yesterday's spike to 19.65 and reversal from there.

Also, the FOMC announcement comes out today but I don't expected any changes from its current stance for rates to stay at 0.00% - 0.25% and the QE program to remain at $40 billion.

Trading comment: The action in the market yesterday was pretty bearish.  The SPX moved deeper below its 50-day moving average.  Most leading stocks remain in corrections.  So now is the time to be patient.  Wait for bearish sentiment to build, wait for stocks to find some support, and look for leading stocks to begin to show signs of rebounding.  We continue to be positioned defensively for the near-term.

KAM Advisors has long positions in FB, NEE, BMY

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Global Slowdown Hitting Corporate Results

The markets are sharply lower this morning on the heels of some further revenue disappointments among blue chip companies as well as more signs of deterioration in Spain.

After Caterpillar lowering guidance yesterday, today is was big names like Texas Instruments and DuPont.  The weak results and guidance speak to the effects of the global slowdown and that these big companies have significant enough exposure to areas like Europe and Asia that the slowdowns are now beginning to hit the top line.

The concerns about global growth are hitting economically sensitive sectors the hardest.  Among the sector ETFs, materials (XLB) and industrials (XLI) are being hit the hardest today.  Tech (XLK) is actually down the least of the sector ETFs so far.

AAPL shares had a big run yesterday, and are pausing a bit today ahead of the big event scheduled.  Investors are expecting the announcement of an iPad mini, but it will be interesting to see how they adjust pricing for their other products and if they have any other announcements today as well.

Despite a big down morning in the market, there are some companies reporting earnings whose stocks are rising today.

Stocks rising on earnings: UPS, LXK, COH, ITW, R, ARG, HOG, WHR

Stocks falling on earnings: DD, MMM, WAT, SIAL, IIVI, ST, PKX, UTX, CIT, SYT

Asian markets were mostly lower overnight.  Hong Kong was closed, and China fell 0.9%.  Citi lowered its 2012 GDP forecast for China to 7.7% from 7.9%.

In Europe, markets are broadly lower today after Moody's downgraded five regions in Spain, including Catalonia.   The Bank of Spain expects GDP to contract 0.4% in Q3.  Elsewhere, the French Business Survey fell to 85, which is the lowest level since August 2009.

The euro is also lower today relative to the dollar, and commodities are lower as well.  Oil prices have fallen back to $86 and gold prices are down to $1710.  Silver and copper prices are lower as well.

The 10-year yield is giving back come of its recent gains, falling back to 1.76%.  And we have been talking about how the volatility index (VIX) looked like it was bottoming around 14 and could be due for a spike back to the 20 level at some point.  Well it didn't take long, and today is has already spiked as high as 19.65 in early trading.

Trading comment: We have been saying recently that even thought the S&P 500 was very near its highs as recently as last week, the other major indexes weren't confirming the strength and more importantly former market leading stocks were mostly in correction.  Those factors kept us cautious and led us to believe that the market had more work to do in the form of a correction.  We have also been highlighting that sentiment had grown more bullish coming into October and that was a yellow flag.  Last week bearish sentiment started to grow again, but we know from history that sentiment usually doesn't get sufficiently bearish to help the market bottom in just a week's time.  So be patient and wait for the market to find some support and show strength before committing too much capital.

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL, COH, MMM, UTX

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Morning Musings

Markets are slightly weaker in the US this morning on the heels of unspectacular action in Asia overnight and Europe this morning. 

There was no real economic data to move the markets this morning, and earnings reports continue to roll in with mixed reactions.  CEOs continue to make caution comments regarding guidance, but you could argue that much of it was already priced in by the recent declines in industrial stocks, for example.

Catepillar (CAT) beat earnings but lowered 2012 guidance.  Management commented that CAT dealers have lowered order rates well below end-user demand to reduce their inventories.  Peabody Energy (BTU) also beat estimates but said global macro conditions continue to be constrained due to the sluggish US economy, European recession, and decelerating China growth.

AAPL is higher by $11 this morning ahead of tomorrow's event where the company is expected to unveil a smaller version of the iPad.

Stocks rising on earnings: CAT, BTU, PHG

Stocks falling on earnings: FCX, VFC, STI, EW

Overnight action in Asia was mixed.  The Chinese press does not see grounds for further loosening of monetary policy at this time.

European markets are also mixed this morning.  An article out of Spain indicated the ECB rejected specific yield targeting , the their OMO program could be triggered if yields top 7.00%.  Greece's Finance Minister believes 90% of the work is done to get its next tranche of aid.  And Fitch has commented that it believes the Eurozone will survive the crisis.

The 10-year yield is higher back to 1.80%.  And the VIX is roughly flat at 17.10 after a big spike higher on Friday. 

Trading comment: The selloff really picked up steam on Friday and pushed the Nasdaq further below its 50-day average.  The SPX is just a tad below its respective 50-day, but the action in the other indexes leads me to think the SPX could play catch-up on the downside.  Additionally, many former market leaders are undergoing their own corrections so I think the consolidation in the market could continue for a bit.  I continue to believe a good strategy is to focus on those stocks where the company reported solid earnings and the stock reacted positively but has since pulled back to offer an entry point (or is in the process of pulling back).

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Soft End To The Week

The markets are sharply lower this morning on the heels of some disappointments in earnings reports, probably some profit taking, and also possible the effect of options expiration today.

Yesterday was a disastrous day for Google (GOOG) when their earnings report was mistakenly released early.  The results were below expectations and the stock began to slide.  Although trade in the stock was halted, it was no better after it opened for trading again and as of now its about 60 points below where it stood before the gaff.

But a host of other blue chip stocks that have reported in the last 24 hours are also trading lower today.  Here is a quick summary:

Stocks rising on earnings: HON, RVBD, SNDK, KSU, MAN, IR, COF

Stocks falling on earnings: GE, CMG, MSFT, MCD, SLB, PH, APD, BHI, ATHN

In economic news, existing home sales for September hit 4.75 million units.  This figure was above consensus but below last month's figure of 4.83 million units.

Overnight, Asian markets were mixed.  The Bank of Japan governor said the global slowdown may delay capital spending plans by corporations and they may have to consider further easing. 

In Europe, markets are lower after the latest Eurozone Summit has ended without much fanfare.  The prospect of a Banking Union is supposed to be structure by year-end but not finalized until 2014.  No decision has been made about a Spanish bailout.  And Germany reiterated that joint Euro-area debt is out of the question.

The euro is lower today pushing the dollar higher.  Oil prices are roughly flat near $92, while gold prices are lower so far to $1737.

The 10-year yield is pulling back to 1.78%.  And the volatility index is up 6% to 15.95.  Today is also options expiration.

Trading comment: Trading remains choppy at best, and the reactions to earnings reports have been mixed. It has been a risky game to take positions ahead of these earnings reports.  While the misses and guide-downs haven't been big, it is the reaction in the stocks that counts.  So I want to remain cautious and give this market and stocks a little more room to see if they are still consolidating or if we are still going to get more of a correction.  The Nasdaq is back below its 50-day average and has broken below last week's lows- a sign of caution.

KAM Advisors has long positions in GOOG, MCD

Thursday, October 18, 2012

China Rallies On GDP Figures, But Growth Is Still Slowing

Markets in the US are only slightly lower this morning, pulling back a little after a very nice 3-day rally.

The only economic report this morning was the Philly Fed Survey, which rose to 5.7 in October from -1.9 last month.  The positive reading breaks a streak of five consecutive negative readings.

Overnight, markets across Asia were higher after China reported its latest GDP figures.  China said GDP grew +7.4%, which was in-line with estimates.  Many had feared the headline figures might come in shy of estimates, so China's market rallied 1.2% on the news.  What isn't being discussed is that even at 7.4% that growth rate is the slowest rate seen since Q2 2009.

In Europe, markets are mixed to higher after Spain sold three tranches of debt which were generally well received.  This helped push yields on their 10-year note down to 5.40%.  But the Bank of Spain reported an increase in its bad loan ratio to 10.5% from 10.1%.

It has been another busy day for earnings reports.  Today as I scan the reactions, it is much more balanced between stocks rising on their reports vs. falling.

Stocks rising on earnings: MS, EBAY, UNP, ADS, TRV, PII

Stocks falling on earnings: MLNX, ALGN, AXP, SIRO, LTM, PM

The dollar is bouncing today, which is weighing on commodities.  Oil prices are lower to $91.  Gold prices are also a little heavy near $1745.  Copper prices are also a tad lower.

The 10-year yield is hovering near 1.81%.  And the VIX is still right at that 15.0 level we have been discussing for the better part of a week.

Trading comment: Most of the major indexes are back above their 50-day moving averages.  The Nasdaq closed above its 50-day yesterday but is testing it today.  The S&P 500 is within striking distance of new highs for the year.  So bulls are definitely still in charge, but the recent rally has been led more by defensive issues than traditional growth stocks.  We haven't added to much at these levels, but we also don't want to fight this tape which continues that stair-step higher pattern I have often alluded to.  I don't know whether its performance anxiety or QE3 at work, but this market does not pull back for very long as of late.

KAM Advisors has long positions in PM, VZ

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Earnings Reactions Skewed To The Downside

The markets are mixed in early trading.  The S&P 500 is slightly higher while the Dow is a bit lower along with the Nasdaq 100.

Overnight, markets across Asia were higher following another solid rally in the US.  Thailand's central bank surprised the markets by cutting its key interest rate by 25 basis points to 2.75%.  It was the first interest rate cut there in 9 months.  China only added 0.3% ahead of tomorrow's GDP report.

European markets are also mostly higher after Moody's reaffirmed Spain's rating while placing it on negative outlook.  This helped push Spanish bond yields lower to 5.51%.  Also, Spain's PM Rajoy told German Chancellor Merkel not to believe the rumors regarding Spain's interest in accessing a line of credit with the ECB.  It seems that you pretty much can't believe any rumors coming out of Europe these days, even as they move the market.

Earnings reports have started to flood in last night and this morning.  As I run down the list of companies reporting, I see a lot more stock showing negative reactions to earnings reports vs. positive reactions.  Here are some examples--

Stocks rising on earnings: ISRG, APH

Stocks falling on earnings: INTC, IBM, CHKP, FTNT, CSX, HAL, ABT, STJ, DGX, TXT, SWK

In corporate news, CYMI is up more than 50% after received a takeout bid from ASML.

The dollar is lower after the euro got a boost from Spain news.  Commodities are mixed with oil prices higher earlier but then selling off back to $92 level.  Gold prices are a bit higher near $1749.  Copper prices are higher today also.

The 10-year yield is getting another nice boost taking it up to the 1.79% level.  That's nearly a 1-month high.  And the VIX is still hovering around the 15 level.

Trading comment: The indexes have continued to show positive price action since the S&P 500 tested its 50-day average.  Leadership the last few days has been more in the healthcare/biotech areas as well as some financials.  But tech has been lagging after losing AAPL as its key general.  It prob won't help that IBM is getting hit today.  So it's a bit of a mixed bag for growth investors.  I prefer to wait to see companies that beat earnings and show strong reactions and then look to add to those names on pullbacks.  I continue to believe that trying to play laggards will be a losing strategy in the near term.

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL, IBM, HAL

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stocks Rally On More Positive Eurozone Developments

Our markets are nicely higher for a second day, mostly on improved sentiment out of Europe.  The news this morning is suggesting that Spain is considering taking a line of credit to prequalify for the ECB bond buying program.  There were also reports that Germany was open to the precautionary credit for Spain.  These comments seemed a bit out of line with Germany's recent stance, and the markets rallied on the news.  But Germany has since come out and said that their comments were misinterpreted.

Asian markets were also higher overnight, but mostly following on the heels of the rally in US markets.  China's market were unchanged, and have really done very little in recent weeks in terms of being able to bounce from multi-year lows.

In corporate news, the big news is that Citi CEO Vikram Pandit is leaving the company-- or that he was forced out by the board.  I don't think this is that shocking.  He was an odd choice to begin with, coming from managing a hedge fund.  But he did his best to steer the company through the abyss and a change of leadership to me seems appropriate at this time.

Earnings reports are starting to pick up.  But as I scan the stocks reporting today and look at the reactions in their stocks I am finding more stocks trading lower after reporting than higher.

Stocks trading higher on earnings: GS, UNH, DPZ, JNJ, STT, MAT

Stocks trading lower on earnings: WDFC, KO, PNC, RATE, FRX, GWW, DBD, BRO

The dollar is lower as the euro is rallying.  This is helping boost commodities.  Oil prices are higher to $92.  Gold prices are rallying near $1746.  Silver prices are also higher, while copper looks flat right now.

The 10-year yield is trading higher to 1.71%.  And the VIX is down another -4.5% back near the 14.50 level.  Recent trips down to the 14 level have proved to be about the lows for the volatility index, so we are getting close to those levels again.

Trading comment: Yesterday I commented that the S&P 500 was testing its 50-day average and it could be an important test.  The SPX bounced sharply off that support and today is adding to those gains.  I was also caution because the mid- and small-cap indexes had traded below their respective 50-days and I felt that warranted caution.  But today those junior indexes have recapture their 50-days and folks are in buying mode.  I guess the next several sessions will be a key battle.  Volume has been very low on these rallies, and the leadership hasnt' been traditional growth stocks.  But if the Nazz can regain its 50-day, I think the bulls could remain in charge.  The reverse scenario would be if these low volume rallies fail and all the indexes fall back below their 50-days.  That's what I'm watching for.

KAM Advisors has long positions in JNJ, UNH

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Morning Musings

The markets are mixed in early trading despite Europe trading higher before the open.

In earnings news, Citi (C) beat earnings estimates and the stock is 3.5% higher so far.  There were a handful of other companies reporting as earnings season heats up this week, but no big companies on par with Citi.

In economic news, September retail sales rose 1.1%, which is above the 0.7% expected.  And last month's figures were revised higher to reflect a 1.2% increase.  Also, the Empire Manuf. survey improved to -6.2 in October from -10.4 last month.  But that negative figure is still a weak reading for the industry.

Overnight in Asia markets were mixed despite CPI and PPI data out of China that came in in-line indicating inflation is in check there.  China's market actually finished lower, while Japan and Hong Kong were up small.

In Europe this morning, soothing comments from EU commissioner Olli Rehn have improved sentiment across the region.  Rehn said that reform talks with Greece should conclude by mid-November and that the nation will likely be given more time for reforms.  Go figure.  The Greek 10-year yield fell to 17.1%, the lowest level since the restructuring began.  He also said that Spain is open to a bailout request and he is confident in their ability to pursue reforms.  Last, he noted that the ESM could be leveraged up if needed.

Despite all the positive chatter, the euro is lower today which is weighing on commodities.  Oil prices are back down near the $90 level and gold prices are pulling back to $1733.

The 10-year yield is flattish around 1.66%.  And the volatility index is also flat at 16.17.

Trading comment: The S&P 500 is sitting right at its 50-day average support.  The other indexes, like the Nazz, mid- and small-cap indexes are already trading below their respective 50-day averages.  This is a yellow flag, and could indicate more time is needed to work off the recent multi-month rally and find new support levels.  Of course, if the market acts like it has been recently buyers are likely to return sooner rather than later.  But we have seen distribution days (higher volume selloffs) pick up in recent weeks and the leadership from growth stock begin to wane.  AAPL is no longer leading the market either.  So we prefer to be patient and let the market show us some strength before we decide to put more cash to work in stocks.  There are certainly still going to be select names which report strong earnings and I think those stocks can continue to hold up fine.  But I would not chase laggards here.

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL

Friday, October 12, 2012

Consumer Sentiment Remains Surprisingly High

Our markets are only slightly higher this morning.  Actually the large-cap indexes are higher but the mid- and small-cap indexes are still in the red.

The surprising piece of economic data this morning was the Univ. of Mich. Sentiment survey, which showed that consumer sentiment rose to 83.1 in October from 78.5 last month.  That reading is the best level we've seen since September 2007.  Let's hope the aftermath of this peak bears little resemblance to that prior period.

In corporate news, two big banks reported earnings this morning.  JPMorgan and Wells Fargo both exceeded analyst expectations but their stocks are trading lower today.

On the plus side, JB Hunt (JBHT) beat earnings and is trading higher, while another miss from INFY is hitting that stock.

Asian markets were mixed overnight.  There are continued rumors of a rate cut in China from the PBOC but nothing official.  China reported an 11% decrease in new bank loans during September.

European markets are lower today as Spain remains unwilling to request a bailout.  Reports suggest the holdup is due to the uncertainty about what type of contingencies the ECB would require.

The euro is higher again at the expense of the dollar, but it doesn't seem to be helping commodities today.  Gold prices are lower to $1765 and oil prices are down near $91.90.  Silver and copper prices are lower as well. 

The 10-year yield is lower again to 1.65% after a downside reversal yesterday that took it back below its 50-day average.  The volatility index is basically flat on the day near the 15.60 level.

Trading comment: The last 2 days bounce in the market has felt pretty weak to put it nicely.  The S&P 500 is currently testing its 50-day support, with several of the other indexes already below those levels.  So it feels to me like this pullback still has some more room to run.  Distribution days (high volume selloffs) have piled up lately which is usually a red flag.  I still expect the market to have another rally sometime this quarter, but I want to be patient about putting cash to work at these levels.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Europe Shakes Off Another Downgrade of Spain

Our markets are higher this morning, reversing the trend after four straight down days for the SPX.  Of course, it is still early so we will have to see if the markets can hold on to their early gains but the news so far today has been pretty supportive.

M&A activity remains strong.  The big news was Japan's Softbank interested in purchasing Sprint Nextel (S) which is driving the stock up +18%.  Also, India's Apollo Tyres is looking to acquire Cooper Tire (CTB).  So foreign entities still see value in US companies.

In earnings news, Fastenal (FAST) is showing an interesting +10% spike after matching earnings estimates.  The company also raised the divy 10%, but I'm not sure what is driving the renewed buying today. 

On the flip side, Safeway (SWY) is trading lower after reporting mixed earnings.

The big news overnight was S&P downgrading Spain's credit rating to BBB-, leaving it one notch above junk.  Asian markets traded mostly lower in reaction to the news.  S. Korea's central bank cut its key rate 25 basis points to 2.75% and trimmed its growth forecasts for both 2012 and 2013.

In Europe, Spain's market is lower but most other bourses shook off the news and are trading higher.  The euro is actually up on the day now also, reversing early losses and showing that the news of the downgrade was pretty well expected.

Commodities are trading higher on the dollar weakness.  Oil prices are up near $92.50 and gold prices are higher to $1773.  Silver and copper prices are higher as well.

The 10-year yield is higher to 1.71%.  And the volatility index is nearly 5% lower to 15.55.

Trading comment: The 4-day pullback in the market has left some of the major indexes below their 50-day averages.  The S&P 500 has remained above that key moving average, but the Nasdaq is now below it.  The mid-cap and small-cap indexes briefly violated their 50-day support yesterday but are trading back above those levels this morning.  So the near-term battle lines have been drawn.  The Nasdaq needs to recapture its 50-day to put growth stocks back in the lead.  Otherwise, the defensive rotation will remain in force.  As for the sector ETFs, most remain in good shape with the tech etf looking the most vulnerable.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Consumer Stocks Surprising On The Upside Today

The market is flattish in early trading as earnings reports are starting to trickle in.  There hasn't been much in the way of market moving economic data today, so participants are trying to read the tealeaves of corporate datapoints, which today show a bit of a divergence between consumer stocks and industrials.

On the plus side, Yum Brands (YUM) beat earnings and raised full year guidance.  Sentiment in the stock had been cautious due to the slowdown in China, so the positive report has resulted in an 8% spike in the stock today.

Costco (COST) also beat earnings expectations and is higher today.  And FedEx (FDX) reaffirmed its 2012 guidance and announced a $1.7 billion cost reduction program that is boosting its stock.

True Religion (TRLG) is up 25% today after reports saying the company will put itself up for sale.  On the flip side H&R Block (HRB) is down significantly after saying it will shed its banking unit due to regulations that make it unattractive to maintain.

As far as industrial stocks go, most are lower after Cummins (CMI) lowered its Q3 and 2012 guidance due to weak demand.  Tech supplier Avnet (AVT) is also down some 10% after lowering its guidance citing "uncertain macroeconomic conditions".

So while the consumer related stocks are hanging in today, there seems to be an increasing number of signs pointing to the continued economic slowdown and companies that are geared toward riding the global economy seem to be starting to feel the slowdown.  I don't know if domestic companies will be all that insulated as the US economy is also slowing down, even as the consumer still feels okay right now.

Asian markets were down across the board overnight, expect for China which was barely higher.  S&P said India still faces the chance (33%) of a downgrade.  And China is increasing subsidies for things like farm equipment and automobiles in rural areas.

Europe's markets are also mostly lower after reports that Spain is struggling to achieve its 6.3% deficit to GDP targets.  I think as austerity kicks in it will make it even harder for most of these southern European countries to meet their deficit goals.  They really need to balance reforms with promoting economic growth.  Also, Germany's Finance Minister is reportedly unsatisfied with the progress of Greek reforms.

The dollar is lower today, helping most commodities.  Oil prices are higher again to $93.55.  Gold prices are only slightly higher to $1765.

The 10-year yield is up a bit to 1.74%.  And the volatility index is down fractionally to 16.25.

Trading comment: Tech stocks have began to lag recently.  We have seen these rotations before, and my guess is the defensive trade will come back into focus in the near-term.  That means defensive sectors like consumer staples and utilities will hold up better than economically sensitive sectors.  A lot will also depend on earnings reports coming up.  Those stocks that beat estimates and had positive reactions last quarter should be okay.  But stocks that had a rough quarter last time and sold off hard are likely to experience the same reactions this time around.  Time to do some homework.

KAM Advisors has long positions in YUM

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

China Adds Some Stimulus

Our markets are lower on a lack of catalysts and concerns about the upcoming earnings season.  Edwards Lifesciences (EW) is the latest stock to take it on the chin after lowering Q3 guidance.  The stock is down nearly 20% on the news and weighing on medical device stocks.

Asian markets were mixed overnight, although China got a nice 2.0% bounce after the People's Bank of China injected CNY265 billion of cash through repo operations.  This comes as the IMF becomes the second organization this week to lower Chinese GDP forecasts to 7.8% from 8.0%.

European bourses are also mostly lower after German Chancellor Merkel visits Greece and the Troika says Greek debt will reach 150% of GDP in 2020, which is well above the target goal of 120%.  Elsewhere, ECB Pres. Draghi is defending the OMT program, saying that the ESM and IMF support would be be involved first, before resorting to OMT operations.  Last, Portugal was approved for its next tranche of aid.  More can kicking.

The dollar is higher, which is weighing on most commodities.  Gold prices are lower to $1763.  Silver and copper prices are also lower.  But oil prices are bucking the trend, due to concerns over the Turkey/Syria tension and following a pipeline blast that halted gas flow from Iran into Turkey.

Tech stocks are lagging the action again today.  AAPL is down another $10 near the $625 level.  People are really scrutinizing this pullback, but the stock was up nearly 75% already this year, so I think its normal to see the buy the rumor-sell the news reaction into the iPhone5 release.

The 10-year yield is lower today, down to the 1.69% level.  And the VIX is up another 7.5% above 16.25.  It is now back above its 50-day average, a level it has not been able to maintain lately.

Trading comment: The selling is picking up a little steam this morning, but its still early.  Most recent selloff attempts have faded a bit late in the day as buyers used the dip to put money to work.  We will have to see if that same late day bounce pattern emerges again today.  VMW was downgraded this morning and is off nearly 5%. I think this highlights how stocks are a little jittery after a long runup and heading into an iffy earnings season. Tread lightly.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Monday Morning Musings

Although the market was not able to make much headway on Friday last week, it still ended the week with solid gains overall.  This morning markets are a bit weaker, but not by all that much.

The Treasury market is closed today for Columbus Day, so we won't get any read on interest rates.  The 10-year yield last closed at 1.74%.  There is also no economic data scheduled for release today.

The dollar index is trading higher, which is weighing on most commodities.  Oil prices are a bit weaker below $89.50, which has many wondering when the recent weakness in oil prices is going to translate into lower prices at the pump.  I know there isn't a one-for-one relationship, but we still should see some relief.  I saw prices as high as $5 per gallon recently outside of LA.

Gold prices are also lower near $1776.  Silver and copper prices are lower as well.

Overnight Asian markets were generally lower.  China fell 0.6% after many were disappointed that the PBOC didn't act all last week to lower rates.  Also, the World Bank slashed its 2012 and 2013 GDP estimates for China by 50 basis points each to 7.7% and 8.1%, respectively.

European markets are also lower across the board today after the Troika and Greece were not able to reach any settlement in recent negotiations.  Finance ministers are ready to active the European Stability Mechanism, however Spain still denies it needs any bailout.

Defensive issues are holding up the best this morning, with utility stocks bucking the early weakness and tech stocks lagging the most.  AAPL is down for a 2nd straight session, and the stock is now back below its 50-day average.  There have been rumors of riots, etc. at its Foxconn plant.  For what its worth, I still don't have my iPhone5 as the stores here are sold out every time I go.  I think I'll just suck it up and order it online and wait.

The VIX is up nearly 7% this morning to 15.30.

Trading comment: It still feels premature to call for a big pullback when the major indexes are just barely off their recent highs for the year.  Unless we see some real technical damage to the indexes, with more pronounced selling, it seems that the stairstep higher pattern that we have been seeing could remain intact.  This has been frustrating for those looking for a deeper pullback as one never seems to develop.  Meanwhile, the group rotation between defensive stocks vs. growth stocks continues.  With AAPL taking a back seat the last few session, defensive stocks could be seeing some flows.  But I doubt this lasts too long.

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL

Friday, October 05, 2012

Schedule Conflict

I am out of the office today for meetings.  Please check back on Monday for my next update.

Thanks, and have a good weekend--

Thursday, October 04, 2012

ECB Holds Rates Steady

Markets in the US are higher in early trading.  There is not much in the way of market moving news.  Most media outlets will likely attribute this morning's strength to Romney doing well in last night's presidential debate and picking up some points in the polls.  But that is somewhat iffy considering many people have been saying the recent rally has been about the prospects for an Obama reelection. 

Asian markets were higher overnight.  Chinese markets remained closed for the Golden Week holiday.  Japan was higher and Hong Kong was up slightly.

In Europe, markets are a little choppy after the ECB held rates steady at 0.75%.  the Bank of England also left rates unchanged as well as its asset purchase program.  There are some reports saying that the next tranche of Greek aid would be delayed.  In Spain, an auction of short-term debt generally went well and was received with solid demand. 

In the US, factory orders showed a decrease of -5.2% in August, which was slightly better than expected.

In corporate news, more disappointing guidance from HPQ has that stock under pressure again.  NUVA is also down a lot today after lowering guidance.  HMSY is getting hit today also.

The dollar is lower today, which is helping commodities. Oil prices are bouncing to $8930.  Gold prices are also rallying near the $1792 level.  Silver and copper prices are higher as well.

The 10-year yield is up slightly to 1.63%.  And the VIX is down 1% to 15.27.

Trading comment: Lately we have seen that early morning rallies have faded by the end of the day.  We could be setting up for that again today after the markets spiked higher at today's open but have faded a bit since.  Yesterday the SPX once again held that 20-day average that it had been hugging lately.  This morning's high of 1463 is only 2 points below the closing high for the year of 1465.  I still expect to see some further sideways consolidation action before another breakout to new highs, but I could be wrong.  It seems that most of the surprises for the market this year have been on the upside, which continues to cause waves of performance chasing.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

European Services Sectors Still Sluggish

The market is a bit higher in early trading after a couple of better than expected economic reports.  The ADP Employment report showed the private sector added 162,000 payrolls in September, which was above the 133k expected increase.  Separately, the ISM Services index for September rose to 55.1 from 53.7 last month.

But the service sector readings in Europe (and China) were not quite as strong as here in the US.  In Europe France, Germany, Spain and the UK all saw worse than expected service PMI readings.  Italy was above expectations, but at 44.5 it is still a weak reading pointing to contraction.  The overall Eurozone Services PMI was a low 46.1.  Europe's markets are flattish as Spain's PM continues to deny requests for a bailout.

In Asia, markets were mixed after China's services PMI fell to a 7-month low of 53.7 (from 56.3 previously).  China's markets remain closed for the holiday.

In earnings news, FDO is trading higher on an in-line earnings report, while MON is trading lower after reducing forward guidance.

Oil prices have been plummeting this morning.  Last quote I saw was $88.88.  The upside would be if this helped to bring down gas prices and boost consumer sentiment, but I'm sure you've noticed prices at the pump seem to go up a lot faster than they come down.  Go figure.

Gold prices are up a touch to $1780.

Trading comment: The S&P 500 has been trading in a fairly tight range for the last 6 days.  If you pull up a chart of the SPX, you'll see that it has basically been straddling its 20-day moving average, which is sloping higher.  So if it breaks from this pattern and closes below its recent range that would leave the door open to a test of the 50-day average which we haven't seen in awhile.  The 50-day average currently resides near the 1418 level.  I would be surprised to see the market continue to power higher without a little bit more of a pause.  I understand that lots of folks are hoping for more of a pullback to put money to work, but the market hasn't tested its 50-day average since late July.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Is The Stock Market Tiring?

The market was higher in early trading, but it has been fading after the first hour. 

Overnight, Asian markets were mixed with big markets like Hong Kong and China closed for the Golden Week holiday.  In Australia, the Reserve Bank cut its key interest rate 25 basis points to 3.25%.  The central bank attributed the move to a softening in the global economy and slowing growth in China.  Australia's rates haven't been this low since 2009.

In Europe, markets are slightly higher as reports continue to suggest that Spain is close to asking for a bailout.  While the markets may cheer this in the short-term, it will likely carry some sort of fiscal austerity measures that will ensure slower growth in the future.

Elsewhere in Germany, Speigel continues to say that the ECB bond buying program may be illegal.

The dollar is lower again today, but it doesn't seem to be helping commodities.  Oil prices are down a bit near $92.20 and gold prices are also lower to $1778.

The 10-year yield is flattish near 1.61%.  And the VIX is -1% to 16.10 after spiking above its 50-day average yesterday.

Trading commment: Yesterday morning I cautioned that I don't often trust a market that is too strong too early, as it leaves too much time in the day for selling and disappointing action.  That is exactly how things played out.  The SPX had been up as much as 17 points before closing up only 4 points.  Today, the SPX was up 7 points earlier but as of this post it is back to flat on the day.  I would much prefer to see a market that is flat or slightly weak in early trading but builds strength into the close.  The type of action we are seeing looks like stalling and could signal that the recent multi-month rally is tiring and could be due for more of a pause.  We haven't seen a down month since May.  And soon we will be back into earnings season.  Food for thought.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Monday Morning Musings

I was out of the office for the last couple of days last week but I'm back in the saddle today and liking the action.  Readers know that the one thing I always caution about is a market that opens too strong too early.  That sets the market up for selling later in the day and a disappointing close.  So we will have to watch to see if today's early strength can last into the close.  Still a lot of time left on the clock.

If you looked at the futures early this am it didn't look like we would have such a strong open.  Overnight action in Asian was mixed.  Many markets were closed for the Golden Week holiday.  The China manufacturing PMI index climbed to 49.8, but even that figure remains below the 50 line that marks the difference between expansion and contraction.  This is the second straight reading that marks contraction, something that hasn't happened since 2009.  Chinese banks are closed all week for the holiday. (can you imaging that in the US?)

Sentiment improved after Europe opened and released a string of better than expected manufacturing PMI readings.  PMI readings from France, Germany, Spain, and Italy all came in higher than expectations.  But while that gave a short-term boost to the markets, the readings remain below the 50 level we mentioned that marks continued economic contraction.  Also, the Eurozone unemployment reading ticked higher to a record 11.4%.

In the US, our ISM manufacturing index rose to 51.5 from 49.6 in August.  So our manuf sector looks a little better in the sense that it has moved back above the 50 level.  This also helped give stocks a boost in early trading, pushing the Dow up nearly 150 points to start the new month. 

In corporate news, 3M (MMM) will buy Ceradyne (CRDN) for a 43% premium to Friday's close.

The dollar is lower today, which is helping commodities.  Oil prices are higher to $93.  Gold prices are up near $1785, and silver and copper prices are higher as well.

The 10-year yield is getting a boost on the ISM data, with yields up slightly to 1.64%.  Still below the 50-day average.

The volatility index (VIX) is only slightly lower near 15.67 currently.

Trading comment: Stocks ended the last day of the quarter on a weak note, but are bouncing back today on the first day of October.  Some of today's strength could be from fund flows at the start of the month, a phenomenon that occurs far too often to be considered random.  Financials are outperforming in early trading while defensive utilities are lagging.  Tech stocks are also trailing the broader market.  But these overall sector rotations have been healthy for the market and have kept the stair-step higher pattern intact.