Thursday, January 31, 2013

Has Market Momentum Run Out?

The markets are slightly lower in early trading.  The S&P 500 is lower for a second day, something we haven't seen since in several weeks.  It's still early in the session, so the market could rebound and close strong.  But if we do get a second down day, some investors will ask "Has the market momentum run out?"

In economic news, personal income came in much stronger than expected at +2.6% for December, but a big boost was from investors locking in capital gains ahead of a tax hike.  The Chicago PMI for January rose to 55.6 from 50.0 last month.

Asian markets ended mostly lower.  Japan's manuf. PMI improved to 47.7 from 45.0 last month.  GDP in Taiwan rose +3.4%.  And Hong Kong's retail sales rose 8.8%, above expectations.

Europe is also lower today, led down by Spain's -2% decline.  In Germany, retail sales slid -1.7%, below expectations.

Stocks rising on earnings: QCOM, R, MA, UA, AN, MJN, OXY, DLR, HSY

Stocks falling on earnings:  COP, DOW, UPS, AZN, ENR, D, HAR, ZMH, CL, LQDT

The dollar is slightly lower, but so are most commodities. Oil prices are down near $97.50 and gold prices are weaker to $1664.  Silver and copper prices are lower as well. 

The 10-year yield is hovering just below the 2.0% level at 1.99%.  And the volatility index is up fractionally to 14.35.

Trading comment: We talked yesterday about this bull stampede getting a little long in the tooth and needing a rest.  While that remains true I would expect dip buyers to step in after a small pullback and add to equities, as it seems like many investors remain underweight equities if we are truly in an environment where corporate profits are improving and the tailwind of housing market recovery boosts consumer and investor mindsets.

KAM Advisors has long positions in DLR and QCOM

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

GDP Post Surprising Contraction in Q4

The markets are slightly lower in early trading, but it looks more like slight profit taking as opposed to a negative reaction to this morning's GDP report.

Q4 GDP came in at -0.1%, a surprising contraction in the face of consensus expectations for a 1.0% gain.  But the headline figure looks weaker than what may be actually happening in the economy.  Huge drops in govt spending and inventories lopped a large amount of growth from the calculations.  But consumer spending, business investment, and housing remain on the upswing.  So it's likely that the former two components will become less of a drag in Q1 and going forward.

Today we will hear from the FOMC and while no one is looking for a change in interest rate policy, many continue to look for hints as to when the Fed may alter its current asset purchase program.  Given today's weak GDP print I think it is unlikely that the Fed will mention any altering of its game plan.  Bernanke may discuss the path to exiting QE during his Q&A session if asked.

Elsewhere in economic news, today's ADP employment report showed private payrolls rose by 192,000 in January, above expectations for 175k increase.  But this datapoint hasn't always correlated that well to Friday's official govt payrolls report.

Earnings reports continue to roll in.  In a flip from yesterday, we are seeing more positive stock reactions than negative ones so far.

Stocks rising on earnings:  AMZN, CVLT, BA, PJC, PSX, MAN, LLL, ADT, SLGN

Stocks falling on earnings:  ROK, BXP

Asian markets were higher across the board overnight, led again by Japan.  Europe is seeing declines this morning after Spain posted a Q4 GDP contraction of -0.7%.

The dollar index is lower today, mostly helping precious metals.  Gold prices rallied to $1680 and silver prices are higher as well.  Oil prices are roughly flat near $97.50.

The 10-year yield is getting another boost as Treasury bonds selloff.  This is somewhat a surprising reaction to a weak GDP report, but could be indicative of further fund flows out of bonds.  The 10-year is at 2.02% so far.

The VIX is also bouncing from last week's low levels in the 12s.  So far it is up +5.7% back to the 14.0 level.

Trading comment: Buyers continue to funnel money into equities despite the market having one of its biggest runs since 2004 and reaching overbought levels.  Bullish stampedes like the current one do run their course eventually.  Raymond James like to say that they last on average 17-25 sessions with few pullbacks along the way. By their count we are at about day 20 today.  Food for thought.  Beyond what's going on in the major indexes, we want to focus on individual stocks and how they are faring in terms of price/volume action.  On that front, fewer stocks have been making new highs in recent days which means the leadership in the market has been narrowing, another sign that the market is tiring.

KAM Advisors has long positions in PSX

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More Companies Issuing Cautious Guidance

The market is mixed in early trading with the S&P 500 up slightly but the Nasdaq down a little.  As I looked over the stocks of companies that reported earnings last night and this morning I see more negative reactions than we saw last week.  While many of these companies beat bottom line estimates, a fair amount either missed on the top line or issued cautious guidance.

Stocks rising on earnings: PFE, VLO, DHI, LLY, CIT, MSTR

Stocks falling on earnings: VMW, IDXX, F, EDU, ITW, EMC, TROW, HRS, ASH

In economic news, the Case-Shiller home price index for November rose 5.5%, another positive datapoint for the housing market.  But the latest consumer confidence index came in lower at 58.6 vs. last month's reading of 66.7.

Asian markets were mostly higher overnight.  The Reserve Bank of India cut rates 25 basis points to 7.75%.  China closed +0.5% higher and is now up 20% from the December lows, enough to qualify for a new bull market.

Europe's markets are mostly lower today.  Spain reported disappointing retail sales of -10.7%.  And Eurozone officials are trying to involve Russia in Cyprus' bailout.

The 10-year yield is flat near 1.98% after touching the 2.00% level yesterday for the first time in 9 months.

The VIX is lower so far just below the 13.50 level.

Trading comment: The market remains short-term overbought, but has so far been stubborn in giving investors that pullback that many are looking for.  Earnings reports have been a mixed bag and somewhat of a minefield.  We still believe the best strategy is to focus on those stocks that exhibit positive reactions to earnings and then look to buy or add to positions on pullbacks.  We don't want to chase the laggards in this environment.

KAM Advisors has long positions in VMW

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Morning Musings

The markets are mixed in early trading.  The S&P 500 is showing a modest pullback from its overbought condition while the Nasdaq is getting a boost from a rebound in AAPL this morning.  It's hard to say if AAPL has bottomed for sure, but the volume of selling last Thursday and Friday does lend itself to that notion. 

In economic news, durable goods orders came in much better than expectations rising +4.3% in December.  Much of that was due to new aircraft orders, but even ex-transportation durable goods rose 1.3% which was better than expected.

Pending home sales declined 4.3% in December, which was below expectations.  I wonder if some of this was due to the fiscal cliff uncertainty that included questions about the sustainability of the mortgage interest deduction.

A couple of notable names trading higher after reporting earnings this morning include CAT and BIIB.

Asian markets were mostly higher overnight, led by a 2.4% rise in China after a PBOC governor expects the country's GDP to reach 8.0% in 2013.  Standard Charter sees 8.3%.  In Japan, the cabinet is looking for 2.5% GDP growth this year, which would be a big rebound.

Europe's markets are seeing little change so far.  An ECB member said the Eurozone would have to fall back into recession before they lowered interest rates further.  Aren't they basically in recession now??

The 10-year yield is bouncing again as the rotation out of bond funds continues.  The yield hit 2.00% this morning, which is a 9-month high and above recent resistance. 

And the volatility index is breaking above its recent range also, rising +7% this morning to the 13.75 level.  That's still a low absolute level, but the VIX may have bottomed for now.

Trading comment: Last week we commented that the S&P 500 was overbought on several different indicators we follow.  But that didn't stop the market from reaching new multi-year highs on Friday.  This morning's weakness could be the start of a small pullback, but we will have to see how the market closes.  So far this year, every intraday dip has been bought into and by the close the market tends to rally back.  Let's see if that patter surfaces again today. 

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL

Friday, January 25, 2013

S&P 500 Tries To Make It Eight Straight

The market is putting in a pretty surprising rally here, with the SPX currently higher for an 8th straight day.  That's a pretty rare feat.  We looked at several different breadth indicators and all of them are in overbought territory.  That makes a short-term pullback likely, but it also could highlight the early stages of fund flows out of bond funds and into equities.

In economic news, new home sales for December came in below expectations at 369,000, which was also below November's reading of 398,000.

Earning season continues and again our quick scan of stocks reporting showed more stocks rising in reaction to earnings that falling.

Stocks rising on earnings: HAL, SBUX, MSFT, INFA, PG, COV, KLAC, CVD, TPX

Stocks falling on earnings: HAS, SCSS, WY, FLS, CYN

Asian markets were mixed overnight.  Japan rallied +2.9% after their CPI came in at -0.5% sparking hopes for more monetary easing.  China was lower by -0.5%.

European markets are higher this morning after a better than expected German Business Climate Index.  In the UK, Q4 GDP contracted -0.3%, which was worse than expected.    The ECB also announced that 278 banks have repaid 173B EUR of LTRO loans made last year.  Of course, the ECB lent out more than a trillion euros, so this is just a drop in the bucket so far.  The ECB also didn't indicate which countries paid back their loans and which ones didn't.

The 10-year yield is bouncing higher today to 1.91% as bond sell off.  The recent highs come into play around 1.96%.  If the 10-yr got above those levels it would be trading at roughly one-year highs.

The VIX is up slightly on the day, but still at a very low absolute level of 12.90. It will be interesting to see if it settles into this range or quickly moves out of it on the next market pullback.

Trading comment: Never underestimate a prolonged uptrend to make folks more bullish.  The market is already short-term overbought, and bullish sentiment is on the rise.  I suspect that the market will have a brief pullback and then continue to move higher.  That second leg up will likely pull even more bulls into the market, at which point we could see the sentiment indicators reach extreme levels that in the past have signaled a caution sign of a pending correction.  But let's not put the cart before the horse.  In the short-term, we would look to add to stocks on a near-term pullback.

KAM Advisors has long positions in SBUX, PG

Thursday, January 24, 2013

AAPL Weighs On Nasdaq

The markets are mixed this morning with the S&P 500 making fresh highs while the Nasdaq languishes under the weight of AAPL shares.

I read the earnings release for AAPL and listened to the conference call and the results do not lend themselves to a -10% plunge in the share price.  It's tough to watch this as an investor but it really comes down to high expectations.  Traders were hoping for a bigger beat on the EPS number as well as higher unit sales for iPhones and Macs.  Mac sales were definitely light, as the company said they were capacity constrained on production.  So I'm not sure it's a softening demand issue. 

I think shares of AAPL remain very cheap, but the stock had simply become over-owned.  Every fund manager was already overweighted in shares of AAPL, so there just are enough new buyers out there relative to sellers.  And that is why the stock still hasn't bottomed.  I am hopeful that this quarter will mark the lows in the stock.  I sure hope AAPL's management wakes up and starts buying back its own stock.  They did a poor job of stock buybacks during the quarter.  They have $130 billion in cash and buying back stock at these levels would be a nice way of helping shareholders.

Among other companies reporting earnings, I am seeing more stock showing positive reactions vs. negative ones.

Stocks rising on earnings: NFLX, MMM, MO, BMY, BGG, JBHT, GWW, AVT, AGU, PCP

Stocks falling on earnings:  AAPL, VAR, UNP, DBD, ARG, LMT

Asian markets were mixed overnight.  China fell -0.8% depsite its HSBC Manuf. PMI rising to 51.9, its best level in 2 years.  S. Korea GDP came in a bit low at 0.4%.  N. Korea said it is planning another missile test.

European markets are also mixed today after the Eurozone PMI came in at 47.5, and the services PMI was 48.3.  Spain's unemployment rose to a record 26% and the youth unemployment component hit a whopping 55%.

The dollar is lower today, but commodities are mixed.  Oil prices are higher near $96, but gold and silver are lower with gold falling to $1669.

The 10-year yield is a bit higher to 1.86%.  And the volatility index is still hovering around 12.60.

Trading comment: The S&P 500 is higher for a 7th straight day.  We looked at several different measures of market breadth yesterday, and the market is overbought on nearly every one of the indicators we looked at.  While the timing is never perfect, that usually means a short-term pullback is in the cards.  So we would prefer to wait for such a pullback before adding to new or existing positions.

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL, BMY

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Nice Start To Earnings Season

The markets are mixed this morning after closing near their highs yesterday and marking a 5th consecutive up day for the market.  Earnings season really kicks into high gear this week, and so far we are seeing some nice positive reactions.

The big winner on the Nasdaq is Google (GOOG), which beat EPS estimates and showed some solid growth metrics.  The stock is up nearly 6% this morning near the $750 level.  Another large growth stock that beat earnings and is 10% higher today is Intuitive Surgical (ISRG).

The big winner in the Dow is IBM which is up 5% and back above the $200 level ($206).  The big disappointment of the day is Coach (COH), which missed earnings estimates.  Revenues and margins were also a bit light, and comp store sales were negative.

Stocks rising on earnings: GOOG, ISRG, IBM, CSX, UTX, WLP, SAP

Stocks falling on earnings: COH, GD, VIVO, MOLX, DGX, PX

The House of Reps is set to vote today on a bill aimed at extending the debt ceiling until May.

Asian markets were mixed overnight.  Japan was lower by -2.1% while China was 0.3% higher.

Europe is also mixed this morning.  The Bank of Spain said that Q4 GDP contracted -1.7%.

The dollar is higher today, and commodities are mostly lower.  Oil prices are flattish near $96.50 and gold prices are a bit lower to $1690.

The 10-year yield is a bit lower to 1.81%.  And the volatility index is still very lower near 12.57.

Trading comment: With the S&P 500 up 5 days in a row, we are due for a down day.  But the reactions to the earnings reports of the large growth stocks highlighted above is encouraging.  Tonight AAPL reports earnings, and we are really hoping for a positive reaction in the stock as well.  The selloff has been pretty relentless the last several months as portfolio managers and hedge funds all scrambled to reduce their positions at the same time.  Hopefully that has run its course and the earnings report will be a catalyst for the stock.  Away from AAPL the market remains short-term overbought but I wouldn't be surprised to see the same sort of sideways consolidation take place that we have seen recently.  Nothing like higher prices to make folks more bullish about stocks.

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL, COH, GOOG, IBM

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Back In The Saddle

The market broke out of its recent range last week to move to new 5-year highs.  Those types of headlines tend to make folks more bullish about stocks.  In the short-term, the market looks a bit overbought.  We are also getting into the meat of earnings season, which could lead to some pullback in the market.

In economic news, existing home sales for December hit 4.94 million units, but this was below estimates of 5.10 million units.

The big report we are waiting to see is Google (GOOG) which reports earnings after the market close today.

Stocks rising on earnings:  DD, VZ, KSU, PETS, FCX, TRV

Stocks falling on earnings:  JNJ, EAT, IIVI, WAT

Asian markets ended mixed after the Bank of Japan confirmed that it will pursue unlimited quantitative easing and a 2% inflation target to combat its two-decade plus bout with deflation.  China finished -0.6% lower.  China's Bank of Communication expects the country's 2013 GDP growth to reach 8.5%.

European markets were generally lower this morning.  Eurogroup head Juncker said Cyprus may receive a bailout in March, following elections.

The dollar index is higher this morning but this isn't hurting commodities.  Oil prices are higher near $95.85 and gold prices are up to $1690.

The 10-year yield is firm at 1.85%.  And the VIX is bouncing after Friday's plunge to multi-year lows.  It is currently up 6.5% to 13.25.

Trading comment: The market has a solid week last week.  Earnings season is heating up, so we could easily see more consolidation in the market.  But for now the market appears to be in that stair-step mode we have seen before where it rises, then consolidates the gains in a mostly sideways fashion before moving higher again.  No doubt we will have a bigger correction at some point in Q1, but its possible it will be from higher levels in the stock market and also higher levels in the bullish sentiment indicators we follow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gone Fishin'

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Midday Look

Got a late start this morning with one kid home sick and my being on drop off duty with the other one to school.  Anyway, the markets are still under some pressure in the first half of today's trading session.

AAPL continues to weigh on the market as it breaks below the $500 level.  This has some worried about what they might report in their upcoming quarter, but I would argue that the lower stock price removes some of the worry and makes it more likely that the stock rallies on solid earnings. 

Two other names that are lower this morning after reporting earnings are SAP and FRX.

In economic news, December retail sales rose by 0.5%, above the 0.2% consensus.  And the Empire Manuf. Index for January came in at -7.8, barely above last month's reading of -8.1.

Asian markets were mixed overnight, with China gaining 0.6% to six-month highs.

Europe is mostly lower today after disappointing GDP figures in Germany, where Q4 GDP contracted -0.5%.

The dollar is higher today, but commodities are mixed.  Oil prices are lower near $93.89 while gold prices are higher again to $1683.  Silver prices are higher but copper is lower, so the reactions to the dollar rising are mixed today.

The 10-year yield is lower to 1.82%.  And the VIX is just 1% higher to 13.67, remaining at very low absolute levels.

Trading comment: The market is continuing to consolidate its recent gains in a benign fashion.  Selling pressure has been pretty light on down days.  Last year we talked about the stairstep action in the market, and so far this year that looks like what we are seeing again.  Bullish sentiment is growing, and that is a yellow flag.  If I had to guess I would look for another push higher in the market which takes investor sentiment to extreme bullish levels before a correction sets in.  That's often how it plays out, and as usual timing is everything.

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Morning Musings

Markets in the US are a bit lower this morning, while overseas markets were higher overnight. 

The Nasdaq is underperforming after reports from the WSJ that indicate that AAPL is cutting production for iPhone 5 parts due to sluggish demand.  AAPL stock is down 3% and other tech stocks along the supply chain are also down in sympathy.

Asian markets were up across the board overnight, although Japan was closed for a holiday.  China surged +3.1% after Beijing announced that it will allow foreign direct investment to increase by 10 times.  In 2012, China said the country allowed $16 billion in foreign investment.  The Bank of Japan said it agreed on a 2% inflation target.

European markets are also higher.  The EC said it is considering less stringent measures for Spain and France. 

There is no economic data scheduled for release today.  Fed Chairman Bernanke is going to speak at the Univ. of Michigan, where he may comment on the Wolverines losing to Ohio State yesterday.  But that's just a rumor.

The dollar is lower this morning, and commodities are mixed.  Oil prices are weaker near $93 while gold prices are rising to $1667.

The 10-year yield is lower to 1.84% and the VIX is up slightly near 13.80, still a low absolute level.

Trading comment: The market held up last week when it could have given back some of the previous week's outsized gains.  I expect more backing and filling this week and the market consolidates its recent gains and works off its current overbought condition.  I still think the markets will make another push higher before we get the usual first quarter pullback, the timing of which is always difficult.  Investor sentiment continues to grow more bullish, but is not at extreme levels yet.  And earnings season is still ahead of us, which could also set the tone for the short-term. 

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL

Friday, January 11, 2013

Japan Launches Larger Than Expected Stimulus Program

The markets are slightly lower in early trading, though not by much.  The action this week has been pretty constructive this week with the S&P 500 closing at multi-year closing highs yesterday.

Overnight markets were mixed in Asia, with Japan rallying +1.4% after the govt. launched a 10.3 trillion Yen stimulus package that they hope will boost GDP by 2.0%.  China closed on the flip side with a large -1.8% decline on the heels of a hotter than expected CPI reading.  China's CPI rose 2.5%, which suggests higher inflation and could make further stimulus measures more difficult.

European markets are also mixed after some weak economic data.  Spain's industrial production fell -7.2%.  And in the UK industrial production declined -2.4%.  JPMorgan lowered Germany's Q4 GDP forecast and now expects a -2.0% contraction.  That would drag down overall GDP for the Eurozone as well.

In earnings news, INFY surprised the Street with a rare earnings beat and also raised guidance.  That is causing the stock to spike +18% higher so far, and is also boosting one of our portfolio companies CTSH (+4%).

Wells Fargo (WFC) topped earnings estimates, but lower net interest margins is leading to some profit taking and the stock is 1% lower this today.

And Chevron (CVX) raised its guidance saying earnings will be above consensus forecasts.

The euro is bouncing again and pushing the dollar index lower.  This usually boost commodities, but they are still lower today.  Oil prices are lower to $93 and gold prices are falling back to $1659.  I suspect commodities would be down more were it not for the weakness in the dollar.  Some of this might have to do with the concerns today about China, as materials stocks are trading lower as well.

The 10-year yield is firm at 1.90%.  And the VIX is only fractionally higher still lingering near the $13.55 level.  Portfolio insurance is on sale, and it might not be a bad time now or in the near future to buy some put protection on portfolios for those that trade options.

Trading comment: The market did a good job this week not giving back any of last week's outsized gains.  But the S&P 500 is also running into resistance around the 1470 level.  We still expect some backing and filling as the market consolidates around these levels.  Ultimately we are looking for another push higher in the markets before see a more pronounced pullback, and we pretty much always get a Q1 correction at some point.  Additionally, more growth stocks are breaking to new highs so that is where we want to focus.  One caveat is to tread carefully ahead of earnings, but those stocks that show positive reactions to solid earnings and guidance should continue to do well.

KAM has long positions in CTSH and WFC

Thursday, January 10, 2013

ECB Holds Rates Steady, Euro Rallies

The markets are higher in early trade after gains in overseas markets as well.

Asian markets were mostly higher after China reported positive export data.  Export growth increased to 14.1% year/year, well above estimates for 5.0% growth.  This helped China post a wider than expected trade surplus.  Japan was also higher after the Bank of Japan reiterated that it may purchase assets on an "unlimited basis".  I guess that's what they call QE-infinity.

European markets were mixed this morning after the ECB held interest rates steady at 0.75%.  Some folks were looking for the ECB to cut rates, so when they didn't it caused a big spike higher in the euro.  The Bank of England also held rates steady at 0.5% and kept its asset purchase program unchanged.

The latest Euro country to seek a bailout is Cyprus.  It is estimated that the country needs 17 billion euros.  Germany said Cyprus must agree to economic reforms before the EU approves anything.  And Russia said it does not intend to grant Cyprus an interstate loan.

A couple of companies issued downside guidance this morning, and their stocks are trading lower.  The two companies, ARO and TIF, are both retail related though one is apparel and the other is more jewelry.  It's odd that TIF had to guide down when SIG recently guided higher. 

AAPL is still trying to break away from that $520 level its building building support around.  CEO Tim Cook is in China talking to China Mobile about "matters of cooperation".  China Mobile has 700 million subscribers but does not offer the iPhone.

Commodities are mostly higher at the dollar is weak today.  Oil prices are up near $94 while gold has bounced $25 to $1675.

The 10-year yield is higher today near 1.90%.  And to volatility index remains in low territory near the 13.75 level.

Trading comment: The market still appears like it wants to work its way higher.  We said toward the end of last year that any sort of deal on the fiscal cliff would likely unleash some pent up demand to put money to work in equities.  For the short-term, the worries are off the table.  But they remain in the not to distant horizon, and we expect similar volatility this year like we saw last year.  The spending cuts part of the fiscal talks will come, the debt ceiling, as well as whether Spain will look for a bailout this year.  We are still looking for a solid year overall in the market, but similar to recent years there may be times when it looks far from certain that stocks will produce those solid gains.

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Will Earnings Season Boost Stocks?

The market is higher in early trading as earnings season officially kicked off last night.  There were only a small handful of companies reporting, but so far the reactions in stocks has been mostly positive.  It will be important to see how stocks continue to react to earnings reports going forward as well as what management's have to say about the business environment and any impact they see from the fiscal cliff issues.

The few stocks trading higher after reporting include AA, STZ, and WDFC.  One stock that disappointed and is trading down is APOL.

AAPL is also trading lower despite news that it may launch a lower-end iPhone during the second half of the year.  AAPL is trying to build a base near the $520 price support.  If they report a solid Q4 earnings figure, I think having this base building could help propel the stock back above its 50-day average which it first broke below on October 5th. 

Asian markets were mixed overnight.  Japan was higher after the Bank of Japan plans to adopt a 2% inflation target and double the size of its asset purchase program.  China closed flat last night.

Europe is also mixed today.  Final Eurozone GDP for Q3 remained at -0.1%.  Germany's industrial production came in below expectations at 0.2%.  And Poland cut its key interest rate by 25 basis points to 4.00%.

The 10-year yield is flat near 1.87%.  And the volatility index is lower again down to the 13.50 level.  Hard to believe a little over a week ago it was spiking to 23. 

Trading comment: If you look at the chart of the S&P 500, you'll see that after that big spike higher on Jan. 2 the market really hasn't given much back.  We had a chance the last couple of days to selloff more, but the market usually found its footing and closed off of its intraday lows.  Today is basically the 5th day that the SPX has hovered around that 1460 level, and the sideways consolidation has allowed the market to work off its overbought condition.  It now appears that this brief rest could be enough to give the market a chance to work higher again.  With the fiscal cliff at least partially behind us, folks seem more inclined to continue to put money to work in the market.  For now the price/volume appears constructive.

KAM Advisors has long positions in AAPL

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

No Catalysts To Keep Stocks Up

The markets are lower in early trading.  Yesterday the indexes recouped some of their losses into the close, but this morning the SPX is breaking below its 3-day support levels.  I think this is mostly profit taking after a big run in the market as opposed to news driven selling.

We are getting into preannouncement time for any companies that don't think they are going to make their quarterly numbers this time around.  GameStop (GME) is down -10% after reporting disappointing holiday sales.  YUM is also down -4% after the company lowered its sales forecast for its China division.

Telecom stocks are weak this morning also.  Rumors are that Verizon may purchase Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless.

Asian markets were mostly lower overnight.  Japan's finance minister said the country would use its fx reserves to purchase European Stability Mechanism bonds in an effort to weaken the Yen.

European markets are mixed.  Eurozone unemployment came in at 11.8%.  And Eurozone consumer confidence was in line at -27.0, a low figure.

Commodities are mixed this morning as the dollar is rallying.  Oil is a bit lower near $92.90, but gold is bucking the trend and trading higher to $1654.

The 10-year yield is easing back more to 1.87% following last week's spike higher.  And the volatility index is up 3.5% again but still hovering at very low absolute levels of 14.25.

Trading comment: Investor sentiment remains a bit complacent at this juncture.  I have been looking for some consolidation in stocks which should also work off the short-term overbought condition.  While it is true that the number of stocks breaking out to new highs has been growing, be wary of stocks that disappointed last quarter and could be set to disappoint again.

KAM Advisors has long positions in YUM, VZ

Monday, January 07, 2013

Annual Blog Poll

I'm a little late in posting this, but each year I ask all of the folks I know in this business to put together a forecast for the market.  Last year the average forecast for the S&P 500 for the year was for a gain of 8.5%.  As it turned out, the market rose 13.4% for the year.  So our group was a little cautious.

The closest guess came from Scott Lytle (Janus) who predicted the S&P 500 would finish the year at 1420 (only 6 points off).  Congrats to Scott, who will claim his valuable prize when I see him next week.

I am still tallying the forecasts for this year, but I will put together a post when I have all the predictions in so we can see if the group has become more bullish or not for 2013.

Monday Morning Musings

The market is lower in early trade after reaching 5-year highs last week.  Some of the selling is probably profit taking amid lackluster overseas trading as well as lingering concerns about debt ceiling debates, fiscal cliff issues, and upcoming earnings season.

Over the weekend, the CBO said that the fiscal cliff will add bout $600 billion to deficits in future years due to increased debt servicing costs.  It's hard to see how this won't lead to higher interest rates and slower growth in the future.  As for the fiscal cliff negotiations, Senator McConnell said in an interview that "the tax issue is finished" and spending needs to be addressed next.

Financials got a brief boost this morning after global regulators announced that Basel III rules will not be as stringent as originally proposed.

Asian markets were mixed overnight. Japan finished -0.8% lower despite the new PM saying  that his govt's top priority will be to pull the country out of its economic malaise.  China was up 0.4%.

European markets are also modestly lower.  Germany's Minister of the Economy said he expects robust growth in 2013.  This view is at odds with the head of the Bundesbank who said he expects lackluster growth in 2013.

In other commentary, the London Bullion Association said that they think the bull market in gold is over.  For reference point, gold is trading near $1650 currently.  With all of the money printing going on around the globe, it would seem gold has another leg higher in it.  But time will tell.

The 10-year yield is down a bit to 1.89% after briefly topping 1.95% on Friday. 

And the VIX is up 2.5% back above the 14 level to 14.15. I said recently that I thought the 15 level would act as a floor, but we have already moved below that level.

Trading comment: For all the talk in the media about "5-yr highs", the S&P 500 needs to surpass 1475 to get above levels it reached in September.  And the Nasdaq needs to get to 3197, which is still a ways away from current levels of 3090.  So some of this enthusiasm seems premature.  I'm not saying we won't get there, but I think the market is likely to see some consolidation first.  The market had a big first week of trading for 2013, and is currently short-term overbought.  So it would not be surprising to see some pullbacks and consolidation before making another attempt at higher levels.  Of course, the SPX needs to get all the way back to 1576 to reach its all-time high from 2007.  Some strategists think we could see that level bested later this year. 

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Scheduling Conflict

Mammoth has been hit with 6 feet of snow in the last couple weeks, so In The Money is taking a couple of much needed days or R&R and hitting the slopes.  Please check back on Monday for our regular updates.

Thanks and Happy New Year to everyone--

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Stocks Cheer Fiscal Cliff Deal

The markets are nicely higher this morning, as were markets around the globe after Congress voted to approve a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.  The bill maintains tax rates for the middle class, while raising rates on households making over $450k.  It also delays the sequester for two months.  But it did not include anything regarding the debt ceiling, so we still need to deal with that.

In economic news, the December ISM manuf. index came in at 50.7, which is above the key 50 level and also up from last month's reading of 49.5.

Asian markets were higher once the news came out.  Hong Kong soared +2.9% to new 52-week highs.  Japan and China were closed for holidays.  The PBOC said that the country is likely to maintain its current policy course.

European markets are also higher across the board, with gains of more than 2%.  The UK's PMI came in above expectations at 51.4, while Germany was below estimates at 46.0.

Commodities are also higher this morning.  Gold prices are near $1691 and trying to get back to the $1700 level.  Oil prices are rallying to $93.31.  Silver and copper prices are both higher by more than 2%.

The 10-year yield also got a boost and is trading higher to 1.84%.

As for the VIX, it has plunged this morning back below the 16 level and has been down more than 12%.  I suspect with the issues still in front of the market, as well as earnings season around the corner that the 15 level in the VIX could act as a floor this time around.

Trading corner: Even though we have been moving to a more conservative posture in our accounts recently, we said that when deal gets done the market will likely rally.  The question is does this rally have legs? Remember that taxes still went up on higher income households, and they went up on the middle class as well.  Today's deal doesn't really highlight the increase in payroll taxes as well as the Obamacare taxes that are coming.  Those will not be pro-growth measures.  I want to see if the market can build on this rally, or if it will prove to be a short burst of enthusiasm with little follow through.

KAM Advisors has short positions in the VIX