Friday, March 15, 2013

Odd Drop In Consumer Sentiment

I haven't dig into the numbers, as I'm only an armchair economist but today the Univ. of Michigan consumer sentiment index dropped to 71.8 from 77.6 last month.  That's a pretty big drop, and its lowest level since December 2011.  I would be willing to bet that there has never been a drop that large at the same time the Dow was making new highs.

Other consumer sentiment figures don't seem as bearish, so maybe this will turn out to be just a one-month blip.  We shall see.

In other economic news, Feb. industrial production rose 0.7%, above expectations.  And capacity utilization ticked a bit higher to 79.6%.

Financial stocks are mostly bucking the weakness after the Federal Reserve released its latest stress test results.  Only Ally Financial and BB&T failed to meet the requirements.  Other banks, like Bank of America (BAC) and Wells (WFC) either raised their dividends or increased stock buybacks.

Asian markets were mixed overnight.  China's foreign direct investment fell 7.3%.  Singapore's retail sales declined -2.0%.  And the cabinet of Japan's PM raised its economic assessment for the third month in a row.

European markets are modestly lower.  The Eurozone CPI rose 1.8%.  And the Troika agreed to give Portugal a one-year extension (until 2015) to reach its 3.0% budget deficit-to-GDP target.

The dollar is lower today and helping some commodities.  Oil prices are higher to $93.40.  Gold is up near $1595 and silver prices are higher also.  But ag prices and copper are lower.

The 10-year yield is lower today, back down to 2.00%.  And the VIX was as much as 5% higher earlier, but so far has faded back and is now up just 1% to a still very very low level of 11.40.

Trading comment: I still see folks trotted out on CNBC and every single one of them is calling for a small pullback that can be bought.  Since the market rarely likes to accommodate the consensus opinion, it makes it more likely that we see one of two alternate scenarios: Either the market continues to stairstep higher and frustrate everyone who is waiting for a pullback to buy, or the market sells off harder than most anticipate and scares those who are waiting for an orderly pullback to feel comfortable stepping up and putting money to work. 

KAM Advisors has long positions in BAC and WFC


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