Monday, February 09, 2009

Market Looks to Bank Bailout

- Market looks past jobs to bank bailout package next week, puts and exclamation point on the recovery rally.
- Lots of rally converts after Friday. Seen it before, and we made a lot of money as a result.
- Jobs purportedly give Congress more motivation and supposedly a compromise is reached.
- Signs of improvement amidst signs of implosion
- Looking for a pullback before the next run but will need some selling on the news to blunt the new found momentum.

NASDAQ 100 posts a higher high, leads market through jobs report and toward bank bailout announcement.

The jobs report was terrible at -598K but with all the gloom and worry about the economy, the whisper was again well over 600k. On top of that an additional 311K jobs were added to 2008 via downward revisions, ballooning the 2008 losses to 2.97M. Bad, but not as bad as the 500M jobs Speaker of the House Pelosi says will be lost if the spending bill is not passed (someone tell her the US population is just 305M; must be a hell of a lot of undeclared workers out there). Kidding aside, this was the most since the 1970's and shockingly, half of the 2008 losses occurred in Q4. The plunge after the credit crisis is staggering. LIBOR wasn't any better though it wasn't worse. Not great news but then again, not worse than imagined.

That data was countered by China announcing another major stimulus plan. Commodities, particularly copper, surged in response. Futures were somewhat below fair value but rose into the open despite the bad news, and by the bell were positive. Stocks gapped higher at the open, shot higher quickly, and then kept on heading higher. During the session definitive news came out regarding the bank bailout to come. An announcement would come at noon Monday and would include a 'bad bank' to buy bad assets. In addition, some foreclosure mitigation measures are to be announced later in the week. That kept the upside burn as investors anticipate the aid to come. 3% gains on solid volume capped a week of upside.

For the week there were key developments. Of course the market rallied, putting in a higher low and some higher highs on NASDAQ 100, NASDAQ and SOX. Commodities jumped with copper rising 15%. Nickel prices (used in stainless steel) surged. Oil is holding its recent lows, looking as if it has put in a bottom for now. Bond yields are up, a historical indication of improving economics. The 2 year bond closed at 1.00%; not long ago it was trading at 0.2%. There is some inflation fear mixed in there as well, but that is not the only reason yields are rising. There was even some good company news. GLW, flat panel maker, sees demand rebounding in Q2. Retail same store sales were down but better than expected with even some upside guidance.

TECHNICAL. Intraday action saw a straight run higher. The afternoon stalled the move but it did not stall the gains as the indices closed near session highs. This caps a week of much better intraday action, but it was late in the week that improvement showed up. Okay, we will take it.

INTERNALS. Excellent upside breadth at 4.9:1 on NYSE, 2.9:1 on NASDAQ. Volume slipped after the strong Thursday trade, but it was still strong and still well above average. Very good upside trade to close out the week and accompany some important price moves. Again many were calling this short covering and there was no doubt some short covering once the market started moving higher. As noted Thursday, however, there was positive price/volume action in a broad range of leaders and that means they were under accumulation. Add in the indices were in 4 month consolidations and showing improving price/volume action that says there is long term buying ongoing. Positives.

CHARTS. Thursday NASDAQ 100 moved to a higher high, leading the way for the rest of the market. Friday it was on point again, moving past the January closing high. Very solid. NASDAQ followed, clearing the late January high and the December closing highs. SOX blew past 225 marking the December peak. Solid action in techs. NYSE was up but from where it came from it could not match the techs. SP500, DJ30 and SP600 all finally moved past the October low. No higher highs, no change in character. The question ahead is whether they will tag along or end up as anchor chains. With some key financials moving up as well (GS, MS, regionals) there is some upside pull. All in all the developments are a big positive. The indices put in a very solid and somewhat lengthy lateral consolidation, weathering bad headline after bad headline, weak earnings reports, and political nonsense. Just about when the frustration was too much to take with the selloff after the follow through session in late December (and indeed it was for many), the market breaks higher showing great fundamentals.

LEADERSHIP. Part of that nice consolidation was the leadership. It had its ups and downs, but through the consolidation it mostly held on. When the follow through was roughed up some took on water and went under. Most held their patterns, repaired any damage, and this week broke higher ahead of the rest of the market just as leaders should. Moreover there was diversity. Key financials were up, early tech leaders had rested and then took the lead again. Metals, energy, industrials - - the 'over there' trades from 2007 - - showed life once more as well. Good moves all around .

Use your head, not your gut.

The following discussion is intended to demonstrate a point about watching what the market is actually telling you, the signposts it leaves along the way, regardless of what your emotions or the emotions of the now many financial stations and news stations fan within you. It is not intended as a bragging session about seeing a good bottom shape up. It has just been a gratifying week to see the moves after hanging tough during the trying times, and all of you who hung in as well took a huge step to becoming seasoned investors. Congratulations.

After Friday there were a lot of converts to the rally, extolling the virtues of the market. Many, as late as Friday morning, were still saying it was the same old bear market. Recall that Thursday evening some were saying the move was not broad, something a scan of market movers would have shown incorrect. After Friday many were jumping on the bandwagon. After a week of upside, Thursday's break higher by NASDAQ 100, and Friday's surge by the techs, some finally saw the good moves. Cramer was one of the negative ones even after Thursday. At least Friday when he extolled the virtues of the move he admitted he had been down on the market. Hey, maybe we really are going into full recovery if Cramer will admit it was not he that single handedly turned the market, the economy, an asteroid heading directly toward earth, etc. Kind of makes you worried when they all buy into the move after it has rallied for a week. Lends some credence to our view, discussed later, that some giveback next week when rumor turns to fact will likely occur.

It is easy to poke fun at them as we watched them buy our stocks and send our positions higher and higher. In reality it is not easy to cut away the emotions, the frustration of a long consolidation that seems to undermine each positive move. That, however, is the key to market success. Things were dicey. We said each night the indices had a big hole to dig out of. The underpinnings were improving but it is a long struggle not only for the market but for us as investors. Fighting off the frustration is tough. That is how it is at inflection points. Many pundits were talking with their gut feelings and not looking rationally and coolly at what the market was showing us.

We said there was still a lot to prove, but that there were high caliber stocks setting up good bases and consolidations and indeed moving higher. Price/volume action was improved. A higher low was put in and attempting to be cemented. Dicey yes, uncertain for sure. But instead of letting emotion control we looked at what the indices were showing (e.g. NASDAQ and SOX relative strength) and what the leaders were showing (and there were leaders).

Most importantly, not only did we see this, we did not let our emotions dissuade us from putting our money to work. We bought the leaders as they flashed the 'buy me' sign. Not just a day, but a series of buys over time as they set up and broke out. Thus on Friday we were letting the rest of the investors push our stocks and options higher, making us money. We took a lot of gain. We didn't' buy anything. We could have, but after five upside sessions and a Friday gap higher we knew we should focus on locking in some gains and then picking up new positions after the rush higher on the rumor of a bank bailout and stimulus deal became fact and profits were taken. Then we can move back in as others sell, picking up stocks that gapped away from us at a better price and be in position for the next move upside after the test.

We have seen this before in other market bottoms. We talked about it a couple of months ago as we compared the 2002 through 2003 bottom. Remember we said people were getting frustrated and selling out because the market was going nowhere? It was building a base, consolidating while showing good price/volume action and great improvement in leadership. After getting beaten up since Q4 2007, however, it is hard to overcome the notion this is just another blip in the bear. Nonetheless we saw what the market was showing and we were buying even though you wanted to keep the Pepto on the desk with you. But we had seen this before and knew it had real potential. Thus we kept calm and bought leaders as the broke higher, and Friday we were reaping some reward.

Cool thing is, now all of the converts are saying the rally will continue to surge. As noted above that likely means there is a test to come early in the week when rumor becomes fact, and after the first of the week pullback we can step in and buy good stocks that we passed on Friday at better prices than we could get chasing the gap higher.


Jobs really bite, get some republicans to knuckle under and favor the spending bill.

The jobs report with its outsized losses was simply sauce for the goose. Stimulus fever is already all over DC and it is now, as reported Thursday, more a political issue than economic concern. Each side wants its type of stimulus. The democrats want spending and bigger government while the newly reformed republicans want to block bigger government (apparently figuring they made it big enough under Bush) and leave more money with those who earn it and make the jobs and the products and services that make economy go.

It has finally come down to just a partisan push. The usual fence sitting republicans (Collins and Specter) were swayed by cutting the bill back down to the size the House proffered (remember that the Senate boosted it close to $1T), feeling they did something important by keeping it the same size. Interestingly Olympia Snow, usually an easy convert, was a holdout but finally conceded though she did not join in on the self indulgent back patting in front of the cameras. Many republicans gave up because they realized it had become a political objective after Obama woke up and realized that the stimulus was not going to pass even with his senate majority given the Pelosi bill was so loaded with partisan crapola ($50M to ACORN; couldn't get it in the TARP so lets put it in the stimulus bill, right?) that nearly everyone in the US outside of DC was turning against it.

When it became political it was over because of the majorities in Congress. Throw Specter and Wilson a bone so they could get in front of the cameras and proclaim how they had come together and built a consensus (as if all democrats and 2 republicans a consensus be) and you have your bill. Of course a consensus to jump off a cliff doesn't make it a good decision now does it? They claim the senate version is 42% tax cuts now, but what kind of cuts? Not all tax cuts are equal, and from what we see there are none of the 'use it or lose it' tax incentives needed to get people to actually spend the money on things that lead to capital investment and thus economic growth that produces lasting jobs. Friday evening the talk shows were filled with the spending plan supporters fending off those wanting more tax cuts. Heard yet another one say that tax cuts were discredited as a means of stimulus. Hmmm. Early 2003 saw the second round of Bush tax cuts and these had the right kind of tax cuts, i.e. incentives to invest in the US. The stock market surged off the Q1 test of the October to December rally off the low almost to the day the taxes were passed. That was in anticipation of the quick impact of these tax incentives. If they did not work then why did Q3 GDP explode 7.4% higher? Discredited? How about proved?

Anyway, figured there was a snowball's chance in hell of getting a real stimulus bill out of Pelosi's 'everything you ever wanted to pass but couldn't without a crisis bill to sneak stuff in' spending package. What can you expect from someone who says 500M jobs will be lost by the 300M total people living in the US? Sad that we are going to shoot the money down the hole. As some are saying on the radio talk shows now, the only way to stop the runaway government started by the Bush administration and already accelerating under Obama is to cut off the funds with everyone choosing not to participate in our so-called voluntary income tax system. Stop feeding the fat man as Ronald Reagan said about our federal government.

Of course the feds act just as things appear to be turning.

Pretty much on cue the government gets the fever pitch to push stimulus just as things appear to be turning. Surely I am joking, right? I mean all of the headlines discuss the downward economic spiral that is heading to Depression. Obama said without the bill we faced economic 'catastrophe.' I posit that with the bill we are in greater jeopardy because it could stall the economic bounce that is trying to occur right now thanks to the fed sucking money out of the private sector into government programs that massively expand the federal government, not just temporarily, but permanently.

How could things be better given the bad headlines? ISM services is up two straight months. Regional PMI manufacturing reports are showing the volatility and bounces that appear at turns. Despite the reportedly horrid retail environment, same store sales did not collapse as anticipated and indeed many retailers affirmed guidance or in many cases actually guided higher. Friday GLW, the flat panel maker, said that it saw a bounce for Q2. On top of that you have swap spreads narrowing. Bond yields are rising. That can signal inflation worries given all of the free and easy spending, but with all of the other improving indications, it is clearly reflecting an improving outlook. The commercial paper market is improving. Oil and commodities prices appear to have bottomed. Overseas stocks in China and elsewhere are jumping once more.

These are all leading indicators. As with the market over the past several weeks the data is still dicey and there is still a long way to go, but there is improvement in areas that historically have indicated economic turns coming. As is historically the case as well, Congress is focusing on lagging indicators, e.g. jobs. Not that the right kind of stimulus would not hurt. Some of those Reagan tax credits for investment in the US would be very timely. Problem is, since Reagan no one in the Presidency has understood what makes a free enterprise economy great. Clinton at least didn't kill it immediately, buying time with his capital gains tax cuts after raising marginal rates. He did kill it, however, with the pay down of debt, bleeding money from the economy. Bush didn't get it. He did some good in 2003 but he grew government dramatically, undoing any good he may have started. The ignorance train continues with Obama. It may take another 20 years to dig out of this hole we are digging.



VIX: 43.37; -0.36
VXN: 41.95; -1.35
VXO: 42.79; +0.08

Put/Call Ratio (CBOE): 0.71; -0.04

Bulls versus Bears:

This is a reading of the number of bullish investment advisors versus bearish advisors. The reason you look at this is that it gives you an idea of how bullish investors are. If they are too bullish then everyone is in the market and it is heading for a top: if everyone wants to be in the market then all the money is in and there is no more new cash to drive it higher. On the other side of the spectrum if there are a lot of bears then there is a lot of cash on the sideline, and as the market rallies it drags that cash in as the bears give in. That cash provides the market the fuel to move higher. If bears are low it is the same as a lot of bulls: everyone is in and the market doesn't have the cash to drive it higher.

This is a historical milestone in the making. Bulls are impressively low considering we are in general a very optimistic country. The few bulls is a positive indication because it means most everyone that is getting out is out and there is money on the sidelines. In other words the ammunition boxes are full and as the market recovers investors will start opening up the boxes and firing. Little by little they will be forced to put more money into the market and there will be some rushes higher in fear they are missing the train. You relish times when sentiment is so negative because it means some tremendous buys are setting up. This could indeed be the opportunity of a lifetime, and you take advantage of it by buying quality stocks and letting them work for you as long as they will. If we can hold them for years, great.

Bulls: 35.2%. Up from 34.8% the prior week after a one-week move below the 35% threshold considered a bullish indication. Down from 43.0%, the current top of the recovery as the market rallied off the November low. A rise from 25.3% in December and quickly starting to fall once the market encountered the January selling. Above 35% does not mean the action is now bearish. That level is up at 55%. Bullishness bottomed on this leg lower at 21.3% in November 2008. This last leg down showed us the largest single week drop we have ever seen, falling from 33.7% to 25.3%. Hit 40.7% on the high during the rally off the July 2008 lows. 30.9% was the March low. In March the indicator did its job with the dive below 35% and the crossover with the bears. A move into the lower 40's is a decline of significance. A move to 35% is a bullish indicator. This is smashing that. For reference it bottomed in the summer 2006, the last major round of selling ahead of this 2007 top, near 36%, and 35% is considered bullish.

Bears: 36.3%. Falling from 38.0%, the recent peak over the past month as bearishness rose again. Hit the 34's on the lows, falling from 38.5% and 46.2% in mid-December. Still above the 35% level considered bullish for stocks, but as with bulls, still well below the level considered bearish for stocks. Bearishness hit a 5 year high at 54.4% the last week of October. The move over 50 took bearish sentiment to its highest level since 1995. Extreme negative sentiment on this move. 35% is the level that historically indicates excessive pessimism. As with the bulls the jump in bears did its job after hitting 44.7% in the third week of March. Bearishness peaked at 37.4% in September 2007. It topped the June 2006 peak (36%) on that run. That June peak eclipsed the March 2006 high (33%) and well above the 2005 highs that spawned new rallies (30% in May 2005, 29.2% in October 2005). This is a huge turn, unlike any seen in recent history.


Stats: +45.47 points (+2.94%) to close at 1591.71
Volume: 2.439B (-4.32%)

Up Volume: 2.008B (-131.22M)
Down Volume: 404.602M (-2.966M)

A/D and Hi/Lo: Advancers led 2.88 to 1
Previous Session: Advancers led 1.82 to 1

New Highs: 7 (+2)
New Lows: 62 (-63)


Broke through the 50 day EMA, the December closing highs, and the 90 day SMA though it could not take out the intraday peaks at 1600. A higher high, however, the first in the move since the early January rally fizzled. NASDAQ now has another month under its belt since then and is making another run. Excellent volume and great leadership on this move are lending support.

NASDAQ 100 (+2.60%) broke to a second higher high on this move, clearing the January closing high (1275) and making a new higher high on the rally off the November low. Key move. A leading move. The other indices need to follow.

SOX (+3.56%) cleared the key 225 level that marks the December peak and the late January peak. Higher lows and a higher high. Still the early January peak to clear but running well.




Stats: +22.75 points (+2.69%) to close at 868.6
NYSE Volume: 1.612B (-1%)

Up Volume: 1.48B (+305.064M)
Down Volume: 123.594M (-306.883M)

A/D and Hi/Lo: Advancers led 4.89 to 1
Previous Session: Advancers led 1.86 to 1

New Highs: 34 (+4)
New Lows: 66 (-31)


Cleared the October closing low and broke into the upper half of the consolidation range. Still well, well below the deeds the techs are pulling off. Heck, even still below the late January peak (878). Lots of work to do and has to drag a lot of the financials with it. Perhaps the banking bill can give it a B-12 injection.

SP600 (+3.59%) broke through the October low as well but it too is below the late January peak, the 50 day SMA, the 50 day EMA, the December peaks . . . you get the picture. Small caps have lagged and that is disappointing as you want to see them starting to take the point given the nascent turn in economic data. The stimulus package is not stimulus for small businesses. No businessman I have interviewed sees anything that will make him or her spend money to expand or promote business. That is the downfall of this plan. Without the jobs providers spending on business and creating more jobs there won't be any serious, lasting job creation. Thus the hesitancy of the small caps.

SP600 Chart:



Coming off the short double bottom from the January low and the early February low. Volume up the past two sessions, up solidly. Some promise here as it clears the October closing low but as with the other NYSE indices, it is one step at a time with 8500 the next key level and that is just a prelude to serious resistance at 9000 from the December and early January peaks.

Stats: +217.52 points (+2.7%) to close at 8280.59
Volume: 396M shares Friday versus 390M shares Thursday.



Monday the plan for the bank bailout is revealed, one of the main reasons the market was rallying to end the week, or at least had the extra hot sauce on the upside surge. A bad bank will be formed to buy up to $500B in assets. With the new restrictions on everything a bank accepting help has to agree to many are going to try and avoid taking any money. GS and MS have already said they are going to get out from under the TARP as fast as they can and they shot higher as a result. They were two of the institutions forced at gunpoint (or is it the Paulson bazooka point?) to take the original TARP funds. I guess we will find out what institutions are really in the crapper because any bank that can avoid it will.

We are concerned that given the solid 5 day rally through Friday and the key breaks over some resistance by the NASDAQ indices, when the rumor of the bank bailout and the spending bill become fact there will be some profit taking. Hence when we had some solid gains on Friday we took them.

With this kind of breakout and explosive upside move there is always the possibility it can just keep going. When NASDAQ broke higher in March 2003 after a 3.5 month pullback to test the initial rally off the low (3.5 month, 4 months just recently) it exploded 12% in 5 sessions with most of the move coming on two days. A similar move would put NASDAQ at 1635 on this move, another 43 points higher or the equivalent of Friday's move. Thus we feel that given the reasons for the break higher and the week of rallying already under the belt that the market is closer to taking a pause than doubling the move already made without one.

The fact that many of the converts Friday night were talking of a continued strong rally is only evidence that there will be a pause. They missed the signs showing the rally was laying its foundation, and now that they missed it they want to get on the bandwagon quickly. Thus we look for a pause once the rumor becomes fact and the great compromise in the senate is revealed to be just another reconfigured spending and welfare bill (i.e. giving tax 'cuts' to those that don't pay taxes).

That will be a dose of reality that will force some profit taking. We watch to see how the stocks hold up, how they come back to test those Friday gaps higher. We anticipate they will fill the gap and/or hold near support in some form and set up new entry points for us. We can position ourselves well once more for the next run higher with this kind of test.

It will be tumultuous once more. One thing this consolidation has shown us is that, despite the ability to absorb bad news and allow good stocks to move higher, it can still throw curves. That is why many did not believe what the market was showing. A break higher by NASDAQ 100 and NASDAQ will tempt some sellers as did the last breakout. Once more we need to keep our wits, let the market test, and then take what it gives us.

Support and Resistance

NASDAQ: Closed at 1591.71
The 90 day SMA at 1591
1603 is the December peak
1620 from the early 2001 low
1644 from August 2003
1666 is the January 2009 peak
1752 from 2004
1782 from August 2004
1786 is the November 2008 high. Key level.
1948 is the early October 2008 gap down level

1569 is the late January 2009 peak
1565 is the second low in October 2008
The 50 day EMA at 1558
1542 is the early October 2008 low
1536 is the late November 2008 peak
The 50 day SMA at 1530
1521 is the late 2002 peak following the bounce off the bear market low
1493 is the October 2008 low & late December 2008 consolidation low.
1434 is the January low (1440.86 closing)
1428 is the November 2008 low, the bear market low
1398 is the early December 2008 low
1387 is the 2001 low
1295 is the November 2008 low

S&P 500: Closed at 868.60
The 50 day EMA at 877
878 is the late January 2009 peak
889 is an interim 2002 peak
896 is the late November 2008 peak
899 is the early October closing low
The 90 day SMA at 901
919 is the early December peak
944 is the January 2009 high
965 is the 2003 consolidation low
995 from June 2003 consolidation peak
1008 is the November 2008 peak
1065 is the Q4 2003 level that SP500 started the run to 2007 after the first run in the recovery.

866 is the second October 2008 low
857 is the December consolidation low
853 is the July 2002 low
The 18 day EMA at 850
848 is the October 2008 closing low
The 10 day EMA at 846
839 is the early October 2008 low
818 is the November 2008 low
815 is the early December 2008 low
804 is the low on the January 2009 selloff
800 is the March 2003 post bottom low
768 is the 2002 bear market low
741 is the November 2008 low

Dow: Closed at 8280.59
8419 is the late December closing low in that consolidation
8451 is the early October closing low
The 50 day SMA at 8467
The 50 day EMA at 8477
8521 is an interim high in March 2003 after the March 2003 low
8626 from December 2002
The 90 day SMA at 8700
8829 is the late November 2008 peak
8934 is the December closing high
8985 is the closing low in the mid-2003 consolidation
9088 is the January 2009 peak
9200 is the July peak in the 2003 consolidation
9323 From June 2003 peak
9575 from September 2003, May 2001
9654 is the November 2008 peak

8197 was the second October 2008 low
8175 is the October 2008 closing low. Key level to watch.
8141 is the early December low
The 10 day EMA at 8128
7965 is the mid-November 2008 interim intraday low.
7909 is the January low
7882 is the early October 2008 intraday low. Key level to watch.
7702 is the July 2002 low
7524 is the March 2002 low to test the move off the October 2002 low
7449 is the November 2008 low
7282 is the October 2002 low

Economic Calendar

These are consensus expectations. Our expectations will vary and are discussed in the 'Economy' section.

February 6 - Friday
January Average Workweek (8:30): 33.3 actual versus 33.3 expected, 33.3 prior
Hourly Earnings, January (8:30): 0.3% actual versus 0.2% expected, 0.4% prior (revised from 0.3%)
Nonfarm Payrolls, January (8:30): -598K actual versus -540K expected, -577K prior (revised from -524K)
Unemployment Rate, January (8:30): 7.6% actual versus 7.5% expected, 7.2% prior
Consumer Credit, December (14:00): -$6.6B actual versus -$3.5B expected, -$11.0B prior (revised from -$7.9B)

February 10 - Tuesday
December Wholesale Inventories (10:00): -0.7% expected, -0.6% prior

February 11 - Wednesday
December Trade Balance (8:30): -$37.0B expected, -$40.4B prior
Crude Oil Inventories, 2/06 (10:35): 7.2M prior
Treasury Budget, January (2:00): -$75.0B expected, -$83.6B prior

February 12 - Thursday
02/07 Initial Jobless Claims (8:30): 610K expected, 626K prior
Retail Sales, January (8:30): -0.3% expected, -2.7% prior
Retail Sales ex-auto, January (8:30): -0.4% expected, -3.1% prior
Business Inventories, December (10:00): -0.6% expected, -0.7% prior

February 13 - Friday
February Preliminary Michigan Sentiment (9:55): 61.5 expected, 61.2 prior

By: Jon Johnson, Editor
Copyright 2008 | All Rights Reserved

Jon Johnson is the Editor of The Daily at

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