Monday, September 28, 2009

Dire Predictions for the Government

- Economic worries set the tone as the technical pullback continues.
- Durable goods orders, new home sales strike a sour note to end the week
- Dollar stabilizes some to end the week but still remains very weak
- Dire predictions for the government and the economy as the US prints excessive money without the backstop of recessions past.
- Pullback likely to continue as indices are set for a June-like test.

Stocks never get on track as earnings, economic issues provide no reason to reverse the pullback.

The market was in no mood to rally on Friday. Thursday night, RIMM set the tone when its revenues missed and its guidance was below expectations. Friday morning, durable goods orders were much worse than expected and new home sales were not up to par either (just as we saw with existing home sales on Thursday). The confidence was up in Michigan, but that was not enough to give investors any confidence. Renewed economic worries pervaded the market on Thursday and Friday as the economic data, after a couple of months of improvement, all of a sudden took a step back. As it stepped back, so did investors. They continued the selling that started on Wednesday afternoon when the market reversed late.

Is this something that we can blame on any particular catalyst? We could blame the dollar; it's rebounding some from the slaughter it took the week before, but the dollar was not that strong on Friday and did not recoup much ground. There is also that renewed worry about the US economy. There is a concern that the economy is going to come back after the initial bust higher and double dip. This was more of a technical correction. The market had a strong run in July and then a resumption of that move in September. It has pretty much duplicated the length of time the market moved off of the lows in March through May. We are seeing what I consider to be a technical pullback after two very solid runs -- the most recent being in the first part of September which was supposed to be a bad month for stocks.

With those two factors playing in, that set the stage for when Mr. Warsh of the Fed wrote an op-ed that came out on Friday morning and said that, despite the FOMC saying on Wednesday that interest rates would remain low for a long time to come, that the Fed may have to quickly raise interest rates and remove some of the facilities in place to help foment the recovery. On one hand there are worries about the economy not being that strong, and on the other hand there are worries that the Fed feels like it has to take the stimulus back because of fears of massive inflation. With those competing factors, the investors decided to punt on Friday and continue the pullback that started on Wednesday afternoon with the reversal.

There was too much worry in the market for any buyers to come back in, so the market basically said, "We're out of here" and decided to go into the weekend with losses. There were modest losses. The market gapped lower and it sold some more, but then it managed to recover a little bit of the ground in the afternoon. It was not a significant recovery as the indices still closed lower.

SP600 - 0.34%, NASDAQ 100 - 0.9 1%, NASDAQ - 0.79%, SP500 - 0.6 1%. They were down but, unlike on Thursday when the small and mid-cap growth areas were hit the hardest, on Friday it was spread out to technology and to the financials in the SP500. That allowed some of the smaller areas to recover or show a relatively better day than on Thursday. The end result is that the market is making a pullback and the indices are still at near support. Trendlines still remain intact and the uptrend is in place. The question moving into next week is just how much of a pullback are we going to get? It may be something mild that comes back to basically where it is now, or we might see more of a June-like pullback where the indices lost roughly 9% as we consolidated that strong, initial run.


INTERNALS. The internals saw some mild distribution last week, particularly on NASDAQ. When the selling started on Wednesday, volume spiked up on NASDAQ. Volume was above average as it has been for the last three weeks, but it spiked up on Wednesday when the market reversed late. Even though it was lower on Thursday and Friday, it was still relatively strong compared to the upside sessions earlier in the rally. Even though it was modest in terms of not increasing in strength, it was still showing relative strong volume to the downside. You could call that distribution. SP500 was not nearly as prone to distribution last week; it had difficulty even making it to average as far as volume is concerned. All week long volume was below average. On Thursday it was average, but that was a day of selling. There was mild distribution, but it was modest relative to the upside in the early part of the rally in September.

CHARTS. This was more of a technical pullback than any other real catalyst impacting the market such as the possibility of a weaker economy. Stocks had rallied a long way starting in July. There were 10-11 weeks of rallying very similar to the rally from March to early June. There was a strong, long rally and now we are seeing basically a technical pullback. The question is how far will it pull back this time? Is it going to be just a test of near support, or is it going to be something deeper, similar to what we saw in June and early July? Right now, SP500 is at a support level which is near the October intraday high. That is not very serious support. That is not going to be something in and of itself that holds it up, but there is a double hump in August that has good support. That puts it around 1012 at the low end from early August, or later in the month from 1030. For all intents and purposes, SP500 is at the peaks from late August. It would be very easy for it to sell down to the early August levels around 1010.

NASDAQ is holding a similar pattern. It is holding the mid-September low that was the point where it bounced before it turned over and fell off of the table. Will it hold there? That is a good place for it, but there is more support down (as with SP500) at the early August level near 2015. If you take it down to the lows of that range, what you see is a range of support from roughly 2015 in early August to around 1950-1960. That is a very reachable area for NASDAQ on this turn down, and that is a significant area because that is part of the gap point in October of 2008 when NASDAQ gapped lower. What if there is a decline that is similar to those back in June and July? On both NASDAQ and SP500 there was a 9% decline from the June peak to the July low. Right now, the indices are down roughly 3.5%, about 1/3 of the way of that selling. If we go 9% on SP500, that puts it down to 982 and puts it at about the mid-August low.

If NASDAQ takes a 9% decline on this, roughly matching the June pullback, that will drop NASDAQ down to roughly 1972 which would be near the early September low. Again, an interesting point because this coincides very neatly with NASDAQ falling back to the gap points from October 2008. It is a very neat, logical place for it to pull back, and that puts it also just above the June peak. We will be watching it as it pulls back, both NASDAQ and SP500, to see what kind of Fibonacci retracements we get on that. I will be watching to see if we get a 38% or a 50-61% or if it goes all the way to 78%. We will see what kind of pullback we get, and that will give an indication of how much strength there is in the move and how much strength there is in the selling that has cropped up in the market.

In sum, this is a technical pullback brought about by none other than the success that the indices have had in this July-September run. You typically cannot have this kind of move without having a pullback. Even though all of the liquidity was still there in June and July, the market declined 9%. There has been another move of not the same percentage but of the same time period. We could very easily have a pullback over the same period of time, which was about six weeks. Maybe it is not 9%, but that is a pretty logical level when you examine the charts.

LEADERSHIP. Leadership was kicked around last week, but it was not trounced by any means. The financials were up but they pulled back. Biotechs continued to look solid even though they were knocked around a little bit. CELG bounced back up on Friday. The financials had a great first part of the month, and they are pulling back as well. There were big names that had good moves but, very similar to the large indices, they are not suffering much at all. Software is very strong and now it is also pulling back. It is not in bad shape and is one of the leadership groups right now. We will look for some pullbacks over this next week or two and see if we can get new buys there as well. Telecom has performed well, and we'll see if there will be some kind of pullback that gives us a buy. The theme is that the money is still plentiful out there, but we are probably going to have something of a pullback in the leaders despite that. Even plentiful money cannot keep the market moving up forever.

The irony of leadership and the theory that the economy may be starting to falter and double dip is that retail still remains quite solid. If there are fears of economic weakness, the retail stocks are not showing it (and, of course, retail plays right into the hands of the consumer). Retail stocks are going to rally ahead of consumer strength. I am a believer of what the market shows as a leading indicator, so when I see a lot of retail stocks that have enjoyed good runs and are still in good shape, I want to pay some attention to that. There is a whole group of stocks in retail that are in good shape. Some or pulling back while some are extending their gains. If you read the message of the market, it is saying that while there are concerns about whether or not the economy is going to continue to improve as we have seen, the retail stocks say that it is going to improve.


Durable goods orders join the recent disappointments.

The theme toward the end of the week was whether or not the US was going to be able to sustain the somewhat modest recovery it has been enjoying over the past couple of months. The durable goods orders were down on Friday (-2.4% versus +0.4% expected; 4.8% shown in July). There is a serious issue with respect to orders of those goods that are supposed to last three years or more. That was a bit of salt in the wounds on top of the existing home sales that fell on Thursday.

New home sales fall but inventories are trending nicely lower.

After the durable goods orders were out, the new home sales came out and they were disappointing as well (429K, less than expectations; 426K in July). These were disappointing numbers. The inventory level fell (-7.3 months from 7.6 in July). There is movement again with respect to the inventories, and that is what has to recover to a level where there is a tight enough market where buyers will have to face a stiffer price competition. That is what sellers need - they want to have some equity built back into their house and enjoy some gains again and feel like the bottom is not falling out of one of the primary investments that most Americans have. If your house keeps falling in value, while you have a place to live, you have a concern as to whether your store of wealth will actually be a store of wealth when you need it. A lot of people have bigger homes when they get older, they want to retire, sell out, and be able to take some equity out of their house when they sell it. Right now they are worried that that may not be the case, and that is one of the things that is somewhat stymieing the consumer.

Then again, the consumer did quite well in the last round of retail sales. The consumer, as they said in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, ain't dead yet. Do not give up on them just yet, and maybe we can get more of a boost out of the consumer (and the businesses as well) as this little fledgling economic bounce continues. That was a positive. We did see some decent recovery.

In Michigan, the sentiment was solid (73.5 versus 70.5 expected; 65.7 in August). That was much stronger and indeed it was much better than expected, but it was not enough to get things moving in the stock market on Friday. There are more serious issues as far as investors are concerned, and again there was the overriding technical reason of the market needing somewhat of a pullback and correction.

The dollar did bounce a bit last week and showed some strength after getting hit so hard (closing 1.4675 Euros versus 1.4651 Thursday). The problem the dollar is having right now is the Yen because the dollar is becoming something of the carry trade currency. It is getting sold, and that is continuing to put pressure on it because it is the currency feature in the carry trade.

Some dire predictions. There always are, right?

I want to talk about some longer term predictions. There is an individual I admire named Marc Faber, and he has some pretty stark predictions about what is going to happen to the US economy in 5-6 years. Basically, he is calling for a collapse of the government in about 6 years. He is not talking about just a collapse of the economy, but a collapse of the government because of all of the debt that has been taken on. Trillions upon trillions have been added and, as he has noted, history has shown us that when you have economic collapses or economic bubbles break as a result of excessive credit creation, you cannot fix the problem by simply creating more liquidity and more credit. You can inflate your way higher and kick the can down the road, but eventually the road ends and there is a cliff at the end. Like Wile E. Coyote, you end up falling over the cliff and leaving a little puff of dust when you hit the bottom. Of course, when you have the world's largest economy, it will be a little bit more than just a puff of dust when you fall off and hit that bottom.

His concern is that we are trying to once again inflate our way out of it. He notes that Greenspan was the king of this - he started the ball rolling. He got the modern Fed in the position it is in now where its hand is forced to inflate and print money on the way to trying to stave off a systemic collapse. The interesting thing that Mr. Faber notes is that if your economy was improving, if this credit extension was really working, then our currency should be rising. I have said that before - a strong economy begets a rising currency, and that is just not happening right now. Our currency is getting pounded, and although there are other factors pushing it lower (such as it being the target of a renewed carry trade in the world), when you print trillions of dollars with nothing backing it, then you do have problems with your currency and it will decline. Mr. Faber says that the dollar will continue to plummet and gold should rise. It had broken $1K but now it is back under, but he predicts gold is going to $3K. The basic premise is that we had an economic shutdown last fall based upon loose credit, and the house of cards collapsed. Our response has been not to let the banks that made bad loans fall and not to let people lose their homes, but it has been to try to create inflation and give more credit out in an attempt to produce enough of a economic recovery to jump-start the great economic engine again here in the US so we could produce our way out of it. We have been lucky and able to do that in the past, but here is where my analysis comes in.

The reason we are not going to be able to do it (or not as easily able) this time is because there are other countries out there now - China, Brazil, India - that are becoming industrial powerhouses. They do not need to look to the US to buy their goods to get them out of economic troubles; they can look at home. These countries are becoming wealthy, and I always said that that was one of the serious problems that the US faced with such a large current account deficit and budgetary deficit. One day the economies that are funding our debt will wake up and realize they are rich and do not have to sell their stuff to the US but can sell it to their own people. Then they do not have to keep buying our currency. Our currency is already under pressure, and that would be the death knell that would send it down to nothing - or close to it. We will not have people wanting to produce goods to fund our economy so we can produce and consume our way out of it. We have the stimulus that the Obama administration passed, and I have been critical of it. I have said that it is the 1930's and 1970's type of stimulus, where it is into digging ditches and refilling them versus trying to invest in the US and produce an educated populace and put money into entrepreneurs hands to produce the new businesses that will lead to the new technologies like we saw in the 1980's and 1990's.

Even if we use the Reagan or Kennedy-style supply side economics that unleashed tremendous investment booms in the US and catapulted us into the technological lead in the world, could it stave off the kind of collapse that Mr. Faber is suggesting is going to happen? With the spending that we have thus far, and if we are going to try to pass the healthcare plans that are being kicked around, the costs are going to be staggering. Whether it is the Medicare multiplier, which is ten times what they anticipated it would be, or the Medicaid multiplier which was 100 times what it was anticipated to be, this is pretty much break-the-bank kind of spending. The irony of this is that this administration is telling us that we have to spend more money in order to save money. I do not know about you, but my wife used to come home from big sales that were 40-60% off saying "Look how much money I saved buying stuff that I would not have bought but for the fact that it was on sale." It appears that this is the kind of mentality that has taken over Washington. Somehow they think this is going to save us money, but has there ever been a program that the federal government has started that has saved us money? No, to the contrary, they always cost 10-100 times more than anticipated, and we are taking about break-the-bank kind of spending at those levels.

This debate has become not driven by logic but ideology. It is always very dangerous when we start forgetting what we know about the past and make the same mistakes again - this time on a colossal scale that we may not ever be able to recover from. What do we do? If this country is going to print such massive amounts of money that our currency becomes basically worthless, then buy some gold. Right now, stocks in the US are rallying, so participate in that. It is not a good place to necessarily be in interest bearing accounts because the Fed is keeping the rates at basically zero, and the Fed said it would be comfortable with a 6% inflation rate right now. The Fed will be happy with 6% inflation which means you would be getting 0% on your dollars and inflation would eat 6% annually into your money. On top of that, your dollars would be losing value because of the currency exchange risk. As we print more and more money and the other economies in the world that are industrializing become more and more confident in their ability to sustain themselves, then they buy less dollars and we go down in price further. Not only that, but everything we import becomes more and more expensive because anything priced in dollars has to inflate in value in order to make up the difference to the producer due to the falling dollar.

I heard a fairly smart economist the other day make a fool out of himself by saying that it does not really matter because if you buy everything in the US you will be okay. That is absolute nonsense. Most of our oil does not come from the United States, it comes from other countries and it is valued in dollars. Every time that we allow our dollar to fall, we are raising the prices of all of our energy costs. Energy is a main input cost in nearly everything that we produce, whether it is the actual energy used to power the machines or the petrochemicals that go into much of what we produce.

The problem that we have is that we are willingly debasing our currency by printing dollars that we do not have and we are ready to spend tens of trillions of dollars - at a minimum - that we do not have. That is why our currency is falling and, while it is not collapsing yet, it is on a steady decline. Maybe we can produce our way out of this. I do not have much faith in that just because of the kind of stimulus we have and the overhang of all the trillions of dollars that we are printing and spending. We are digging a hole that will be very difficult to get out of and have to think about what may happen down the road. It is one of those situations like last fall when one of my friends called me and said, "Jon you need to take all of your money out of everything and put your dollars in a safe deposit box because you may not be able to get any if nothing is done." My response to him was, "Well, it will not be worth anything if that happens, so why bother?" He thought about it a minute and agreed. If you have Armageddon, does it really matter? In the long run, not really. If we have that, then everyone is going to suffer. Realize that gold will go up in value, however, and hard things will go up in value because those are things you can hold and sustain. The question is where are you going to store them? If the system breaks down and there is chaos, you are not going to be able to do anything with them or be able to get anyone to give you them just because you hold a piece of paper saying you have a right to them.

That is something to think about. I always hate doom and gloom, but this is interesting. Mr. Faber is a very smart man. He called the crash, and he called this little rally we have had off of the bottom - he has made a number of very good calls in the past. He is quite prescient and it is interesting to listen to what he has to say.



VIX: 25.61; +0.66
VXN: 25.77; -0.13
VXO: 24.85; +0.93

Put/Call Ratio (CBOE): 0.96; -0.03

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.

Bulls: 47.9%. While the market moved higher the past two weeks bullish sentiment fell. It hit 50.6% three weeks back but some worry is creeping in. Success breeds doubters, eh? Still well over the 35% level that is the threshold for what is considered a bullish climate. It does not mean things are necessarily bearish; that takes a reading in the 60% range. Hit a high of 47.7% mid-June on the run from the March lows. Again, to be seriously bearish it needs to get up to the 60% to 65% level. Dramatic rise from 21.3% in November 2008, the bottom on this leg. 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.

Bears: 24.4%. Bears continue to bounce higher on that same skepticism impacting the bullish figures, but the bounce is slowing (24.1% 2 weeks back). Hit a low of 21.3% on this leg. Rebounding some from the big drop 31.1% and 35.6%. For reference, cracking above the 35% threshold considered bullish. Hit a high on this run at 47.2%. For reference, bearishness hit a 5 year high at 54.4% the last week of October 2008. The move over 50 took bearish sentiment to its highest level since 1995. Extreme negative sentiment. Prior levels for comparison: 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). That was a huge turn, unlike any seen in recent history.


Stats: -16.69 points (-0.79%) to close at 2090.92
Volume: 2.282B (-10.24%)

Up Volume: 825.516M (+397.132M)
Down Volume: 1.543B (-634.168M)

A/D and Hi/Lo: Decliners led 1.34 to 1
Previous Session: Decliners led 3.09 to 1

New Highs: 37 (-12)
New Lows: 11 (+2)





Stats: -6.4 points (-0.61%) to close at 1044.38
NYSE Volume: 1.195B (-11.43%)

Up Volume: 378.85M (+203.985M)
Down Volume: 795.856M (-367.717M)

A/D and Hi/Lo: Decliners led 1.27 to 1
Previous Session: Decliners led 3.19 to 1

New Highs: 175 (-7)
New Lows: 31 (0)




Stats: -42.25 points (-0.44%) to close at 9665.19
Volume DJ30: 189M shares Friday versus 201M shares Thursday.



This week we will likely see a continuation of this technical pullback that I have been talking about. There has been a move higher in the market, and it is roughly equal in time from March to May. The question is how deep this pullback will be? 9% as in June, or is this the extent before a bounce? No one knows for sure, but the selling has not been very intense thus far, and there is still plenty of liquidity in the market although the Fed did inject some uncertainty about that at the end of the week. After Wednesday it said it would keep the money going, but on Friday, Mr. Warsh (who many look at as a surrogate speaker for Mr. Bernanke) said the Fed may have to turn the ship pretty quickly if things sour on the inflation front (and the currency as well). When you print this much money, that could happen relatively quickly. That could cause them to turn the ship, and that is what made investors somewhat nervous on Thursday and Friday. Add that it was just technically ready to pull back, and you have the making for a pullback ahead.

In anticipation we lightened up a lot of positions during the week. On Friday a lot of stocks were pulling back a little more but were fading into support, and you do not like to sell stocks at support. Let them bounce and see how they bounce. If they bounce with any strength, you let them run. If they bounce and fizzle out, you pull the cord and get out of them and then look for more downside plays and watch for other plays to develop to the upside.

As for the leaders, the money is still spreading out around the market to set back up whether it be in biotech, energy, software or telecom. There are stocks in sectors that are setting back up, so we watch for them. One thing about the choppy action in some sectors the past couple of week: there are a lot of ABCD patterns setting up. We have put those on the report and now we wait to see if they break upside or if the entire market is going to make the test. For now be patient and do not rush into a lot of positions. When the time is right, we will move in and make some money. Have a great weekend and I will see you on Monday.

Support and Resistance

NASDAQ: Closed at 2090.92
2155 is the March 2008 intraday low
2167 from the July 2008 intraday low
2169 is the March 2008 closing low (double bottom)
2099 is the mid-September 2008 closing low

The 18 day EMA at 2087
The March up trendline at 2075
2070 is the September 2008 intraday low
2060 is the August peak
2016 is the early August peak
The 50 day EMA at 2010
1984 from late September
1962 is the bottom of the August 2009 range.
1947 is the October gap down point
1897 is the October post gap intraday high.
1880 is the June peak
1862 is the July peak
1786 is the November intraday high
1780 is the November 2008 closing peak
1773 is the May intraday peak
1770 is the mid-October interim peak
The 200 day SM A at 1717

S&P 500: Closed at 1044.38
1106 is the September 2008 low
1133 from a September 2008 intraday low
1185 from late September 2008
1200 from the July 2008 low

The 18 day EMA at 1045
1044 is the October 2008 intraday high
The August peak at 1040
The early August intraday peak at 1018
The 50 day EMA at 1011
The November 2008 peak at 1006 closing 1007.53 intraday
992 is the August 2009 consolidation low
956 is the June intraday peak
944 is the January 2009 high
935 is the January closing high
932 is the July peak
930 is the May peak
919 is the early December peak is bending
899 is the early October closing low
896 is the late November 2008 peak
The 200 day SMA at 896
888.70 is the April intraday high.

Dow: Closed at 9665.19
9855 is the early September peak in its lateral range
9918 is the September 2008 peak
10,365 is the late September low

9654 is the November 2008 high
The 18 day EMA at 9644
9625 is the October 2008 closing high
9620 is the August 2009 peak
9387 is the mid-October peak
The 50 day EMA at 9359
9116 is the August low
9088 is the January 2009 peak
8985 is the closing low in the mid-2003 consolidation
8934 is the December closing high
8878 is the June peak
8829 is the late November 2008 peak
8626 from December 2002
8588 is the May high
8581 is the July peak
8521 is an interim high in March 2003 after the March 2003 low
8451 is the early October closing low
The 200 day SMA at 8441
8419 is the late December closing low in that consolidation

Economic Calendar

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

September 29 - Tuesday
Case-Shiller Housing, July (09:00): -14.20% expected, -15.44% prior
Consumer Confidence, September (09:00): 57.0 expected, 54.1 prior

September 30 - Wednesday
ADP Employment, September (08:15): -200K expected, -298K prior
GDP - Final, Q2 (08:30): -1.2% expected, -1.0% prior
Chicago PMI, September (09:45): 52.0 expected, 50.0 prior
Crude Inventories, 09/25 (10:30): 2.85M prior

October 01 - Thursday
Personal Income, August (08:30): 0.1% expected, 0.0% prior
Personal Spending, August (08:30): 1.1% expected, 0.2% prior
Initial Claims, 09/26 (08:30): 535K expected, 530K prior
Continuing Claims, 09/19 (08:30): 6178K expected, 6138K prior
Construction Spending, August (10:00): -0.2% expected, -0.2% prior
ISM Index, September (10:00): 54.0 expected, 52.9 prior
Pending Home Sales, August (10:00): 1.0% expected, 3.2% prior
Auto Sales, September (14:00)
Truck Sales, September (14:00)

October 02 - Friday
Average Workweek, September (08:30): 33.1 expected, 33.1 prior
Hourly Earnings, September (08:30): 0.2% expected, 0.3% prior
Nonfarm Payrolls, September (08:30): -180K expected, -216K prior
Unemployment Rate, September (08:30): 9.8% expected, 9.7% prior
Factory Orders, August (10:00): 0.5% expected, 1.3% prior

By: Jon Johnson, Editor
Copyright 2009 | All Rights Reserved

Jon Johnson is the Editor of The Daily at

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