Sunday, February 14, 2010

Retail Sector Shows Strength Friday

- Market survives a week full of news and geopolitical intrigue.
- Greece was bad, but Friday EU GDP was disappointing and China again raised bank reserve requirements.
- China real estate, industrial capacity facing big Japan-like bubbles
- Retail sector faces adversity, shows strength Friday.
- Market looks a lot like June and July 2009 so don't write it off just yet.

Earnings may be mostly over but there is no lack of news or intrigue.

Earnings were mostly over, but there was no shortage of news. The news was dominated by Greece and the PIIGS and whether there will be a bailout from significant countries in the European Union. That dominated the trade on the week and pressured the market considerably. Note that the market did not break down on the week; indeed, it drifted to the upside even with the bad news. Looking at a 60-minute chart of the week, you can see how the action unfolded. Typically, there were gaps up or down, but there were recoveries. There was a gap lower with a recovery on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The market continued to show resilience in the face of negative news. Most of that negative news was outside of the US. The US had good earnings, and there were decent economic reports that showed a continued, steady (though not dramatic) improvement in the underlying economics. That has been enough, thus far, to hold the market together and keep it moving higher. Friday was an explosive news day taking everything into consideration. It was settled during the week that the EU, or the IMF, or a combination thereof would bail out Greece and, by extension, bail out the other PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain). The issue was whether the rest of Europe could handle the bailout.

There was more water splashed on the situation on Friday when China increased the reserve requirements for its banks by 50BP. That is the second such increase within a month. The European Union's GDP was much lower than expected at 0.1% growth versus 0.3% expected and 0.4% in Q3. It is down 2.1% year-over-year. That is a significant drop as Europe is supposedly emerging and growing stronger coming out of the 2008 crash. That is obviously not the case. Germany's GDP was flat versus a 0.7% gain in Q3. Italy fell 0.2%. France was strong at least as far as EU terms are concerned rising 0.6% versus the 0.2% gain expected. This slowing of GDP growth in Europe is very serious. Europe never got over the problems of 2008. It papered over them, as did the US, trying to fill the chasm with printed Euros. It has never cured the problem, and cracks are starting to show up cracks that a lot of money printing and huge deficits are causing. They cannot hem in the underlying problem, and that is a major concern moving ahead in 2010. It may not show up until later in the US, but I am very concerned that it will eventually appear.

As noted earlier, it did not hamper the US markets. They did not go much of anywhere, but it did not break them down. There was a lot of bad news swallowed by them, and that is a good sign. Looking at the SPY intraday chart, Friday is an indication of the same. There was a big gap lower because there was serious news to deal with a rally, a selloff, and then a steady comeback. There was the same action on Thursday. It was both short covering and real buying. There was buying because at the end of the day, Berkshire was moving into the SP500. There had to be a lot of reshuffling with respect to market cap and what stocks were bought and sold. Berkshire was going in with a big market cap, taking the place of the stock that was coming out, so there had to be a lot of buying and selling. There was buying, but we also had the short covering along with that. Considering that the indices have been in a roughly five-week pullback, you can understand why there was a bounce into the end of the week in front of a three-day weekend. No one wanted to be caught on the wrong side of the fence with a long weekend and with all the issues still on the table. There was a nice bounce coming up, but when you look at the patterns, there are also good-looking stock patterns. They are down at the start, but vastly improved as the day went on. Again, that was a pattern for the week. The market was able to overcome bad news and weak starts to make some headway against the rather new short-term downtrend for 2010.


Dollar. With the trouble in Europe, there was a flight to safety in the dollar. That bolstered it and its continued trend to the upside. It was not a runaway move, however, because the dollar has moved into a significant resistance point from the June and July consolidation. It runs from roughly 79 to 81.50. Intraday, the dollar hit at 80.75 on the high, so it is right in the middle of that range and bouncing. Nonetheless, it put in another good day (1.3618 Euros versus 1.3692 Thursday). During the day, it was down below 1.36 Euros, trading in the 1.35 range. That is significant. 1.36 - 1.38 is the range it has bounced up and down in lately, and that is what the traders are watching. If it makes a breakout above that, then it has cleared this resistance and we are looking up at 82 - 83 as the next range. 84 is the next serious resistance for the dollar.

Oil. Oil had a difficult session. It had a good week, bouncing off the 200 day EMA and making a higher low above the December low. It sold back somewhat on Friday and was roughed up a bit given the strength in the dollar and given that oil inventories were higher than expected at 2.4M barrels. It had a bit of a rough day, but it was a modest setback. It bounced well off the low.

Gold. Gold had another session of flat trade after a good bounce for the week. It was slaughtered over a week ago with Chinese news and the problems in Greece. It recovered and held up very well on Friday even with more trouble out of Europe and China raising its bank reserves. It sold off a little but bounced back. It was a deflationary move when it tanked on the news, but it has recovered and shrugged it off on Friday. It is not that much of a deflationary story with this particular move. Nonetheless, the yellow metal is in a base it has come back. It tried to double bottom but failed. It has now come back and looks like it will make a lower high and continue back down to 1050 (where there is solid support from the October peak) and base out. It could be just over halfway through a longer base, and bases set the foundation for further gains. Thus, I do not see gold as an immediate buy given that it failed on this move. It is setting up for a break higher in the not-too-distant future, however.

Bonds. Bonds sold off despite the economic uncertainty coming out of Europe and the turmoil with bank regulation in China. On Friday, the 10 year bond closed down (3.69% versus 3.72% Thursday) as bonds rallied back given some of the uncertainty over in Europe. There was some of that factored in, but bonds were selling off overall. That is typically an indication that investors do not see much trouble down the road.

The US sold many treasury notes, as it has been doing, but they were not well-received auctions. They were not complete busts, as with some Greek auctions, but the US had to offer significantly higher interest rates than anticipated to lure buyers into the market. We raised the money we wanted to raise, but it will cost us more. That adds to the debt burden that every man, woman, and child in the US bears right now (roughly $125K by conservative GAO estimates). We are bringing in the money, but it is costing more, so our debt service goes up as well. We are engaged in a vicious cycle, and the bond market is showing the wear and tear since fewer people want our paper. We are not nearly as bad as some of the other countries. Some are already above 100% with respect to their debt-to-GDP ratio. We are not near that, so I suppose we are a bastion of economic sanity over here. Although, when you look at the rest of the western economies, that seems to be the case.



Volume. Volume was up 5.5% to 2.1B on NASDAQ, and it rose 25% to 1.3B on the NYSE. I cannot put too much emphasis on that because a lot of that volume was late in the day with the SP500 rebalance. That is why volume jumped back above average on SP500. Do not take that to the bank, however. Even though it is an incongruity with a Friday trade before a three-day weekend, the SP500 rebalance was the culprit.

Breadth. The advance/decline line was tame. Advancers led 1.5:1 on NASDAQ, and it was a dead heat on the NYSE at 1:1. That is not too bad given that the Dow and SP500 closed down for the session.


NASDAQ. NASDAQ was able to break through its 10 day EMA on both Thursday and Friday after giving them up intraday. It closed at the 18 day EMA. There is better volume, but I am throwing that out even though that is on NASDAQ as well. It just does not tell us much. It is in the teeth of the November and December trading range, putting it just below the October peak. This is a very important resistance range, all the way up to 2205. The 50 day EMA is sitting there as well. There are a few layers of ice on top of NASDAQ. It looks as if it wants to break down again, but there are days were it is moving higher. Techs are trying to lead, and it very well could break out. Liquidity is still there. The Fed is still printing money even though Bernanke's testimony said they would stop at some point. The money is still hitting, but it is a matter of whether there is enough to push it through. If SP500 does not make it, NASDAQ has less of a chance.

SP500. The SP500 made a recovery during the week, and that was in the face of a lot of bad news. That can be viewed as a positive. It never did break over the 10 day EMA, which is the closest resistance in any downtrend. It tried to make the move, but it has not yet. It has not collapsed yet, however, so there is a positive. It is holding at the September peak, unable to make the break through at this juncture. This pattern is a bear flag. There is a selloff and a rebound that takes it to resistance. It took it to the October peak when it bounced in early February. It then collapsed down to the bottom of that range before bouncing this week and taking it up to resistance at the September peak. The question is whether it will collapse to the next lower rung at 1025 or make the break to the upside. Looking at the pattern, you would say no. Even though it did show resilience last week, the path still appears to be downside for the SP500. Will it hold 1050 or can it break through 1075? It is in an important range, and we will see how it plays out. If I were to throw a dart against the wall, I would say it will test a bit more, but you never know what the market will do, particularly when there are so many geopolitical events affecting the market on a daily basis.

SOX. The semiconductors were an important mover. They were the first to fall, and they were the first to try to bottom and start to bounce. They made it back up to a key level at the September and October twin peaks. They actually moved through the 50 day EMA intraday on Friday, only to give it up on the close. It also closed just below the top of the range represented by September and October. That is showing its own bear flag after making a lower low, but it did pop up to an interim high. It has broken the immediate trend, but it still has serious resistance to crack through. Many people are looking at semiconductors right now, and they had a good week. The question is whether they can continue after a week of decent gains or if they will fall back down. The overall bias in the entire market is somewhat down, and it will be tough for them to make the move. They were the leaders, however, and if anyone in any group will make a move, I would anticipate it being the semiconductors.

SP600. The SP600 had a decent bounce of its own, particularly to end the week. That took it up to the September peak and the 50 day EMA. That is a good move. It closed the high and did not back off at all. The small caps are the canaries of the economy, and we will see if they continue to improve as the numbers have been showing. If it does not follow the European model, then it could break higher and give us a good look and indication as to what will happen with our economy in the summer.


Retail. On Thursday night, there were after-hours earnings in the casual dining area that were taking those stocks down, and that sector had been a solid leader in the market. I was concerned, with the after-hours selling, that it would bleed into Friday the market would lose a leadership group. BWLD had its wings plucked off and it crashed and burned. PNRA reported earnings and was down after hours, but after gapping lower, it reversed and closed higher. It is maintaining its uptrend. The buyers were ready to step in, and that is a very good sign. One of the other after-hours reports was CMG, and it gapped lower as well, but then it reversed and surged close to 4% on the session. That is big volume, and I am happy to see that one of the leadership groups in the market was still able to show strength in the face of adversity.

Energy. Energy continues to struggle. HAL has a bear flag. There was the same action in SLB on Thursday. CHK is a stock in natural gas that I still like. It is trying to hold at the 200 day EMA and make a higher low. These are not what you would call fantastic patterns to the upside, but they are possibilities for rebounds (at least with respect to CHK). We will see if HAL can make something positive out of a bear flag. Across the energy sector, the patterns are not good. They have work to do, and that is the case in many of the market sectors.

Metals. FCX double bottomed and bounced, finally showing some good volume to end the week. There is nothing wrong with that, although it is not taking off to the upside given the general sluggishness in the market. It performed very well considering what China was doing with the banks and the reserve requirements. Metals are tied to what happens in China and Brazil. Whenever China sneezes or does something to slow down its expansion, it shows up in the metals. AKS shows that steel is recovering, similar to copper, but the patterns are not fabulous. They are not the good patterns we were playing before the start of the New Year.

Agriculture. MOS broke through the 50 day EMA, and this is interesting. This is similar to FCX, CHK, and some of the other stocks that have come down and held the 200 day EMA and put in a double bottom and bounced. That is the one pattern that is working near term to the upside right now. It is that short double bottom over a key support level, mostly (and usually) at the 200 day EMA.

Financials. I have not looked at financials lately because they have not done anything. That can be something good given that a lot of the market was selling off. GS has been moving laterally for a couple of weeks after selling off sharply and jumping higher in early February. It has not done anything, but it has been holding up the SP500 because it has not sold off. All of the financials are in a similar situation. They sold down early in the month and have now rebounded some. They are trying to hang on but are struggling. JPM is showing the same kind of action.

Healthcare. Healthcare remains one of the strong areas, but it is sporadic. RMD is a position we picked up as it gapped over resistance, held on a test, and took off to the upside again on solid volume. We always look for that kind of solid, consistent play. AMED continued higher on Friday as well. They are showing gains. They are not runaway gains, but they are positive. Not all stocks in healthcare are performing well, although there are better setups across those sectors versus other areas of the market. That is because it is a more defensive area. I like healthcare because it is defensive as well as a growth area. You can still get great moves in upside even when the rest of the market turns a bit negative.


China is learning the Greenspan lesson from 1999.

Please view the Economy Video at the following link:



VIX: 22.73; -1.23
VXN: 22.97; -0.46
VXO: 23.24; +0.15

Put/Call Ratio (CBOE): 0.91; +0.05

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: 34.1%. Sharp decline in bulls as the impact of the prior 4 week decline finally hit. Of course it hit just as the market bounced this past week. Still, it is now below the 35% level, down from 38.9%, and that is considered bullish for the market overall. After peaking at 53 on this move the bulls continue to run, falling to a new low post- July 2009. Once again bulls peaked out near the 50% level. Bulls have bumped at 50ish since late August 2009, falling to 45ish and then rebounding. Getting close to the 35% level that is the threshold for what is considered a bullish climate. 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: 26.1%. A commensurate rise in bears, jumping from 22.2%. Over 35% is considered bullish for the market, so still a ways off even though bulls are falling to a bullish level. Continuing the rise from 16%ish on the lows this leg where it held for several weeks. Peaked near 28% in November, falling short of the 35.6% hit in July 2009. 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: +6.12 points (+0.28%) to close at 2183.53
Volume: 2.162B (+5.45%)

Up Volume: 1.331B (-440.453M)
Down Volume: 808.504M (+482.233M)

A/D and Hi/Lo: Advancers led 1.47 to 1
Previous Session: Advancers led 2.88 to 1

New Highs: 63 (+8)
New Lows: 22 (+2)





Stats: -2.96 points (-0.27%) to close at 1075.51
NYSE Volume: 1.328B (+25.08%). Volume was up but thanks to the Berkshire addition to the index.

Up Volume: 550.91M (-291.498M)
Down Volume: 758.725M (+550.969M)

A/D and Hi/Lo: Advancers led 1.04 to 1
Previous Session: Advancers led 3.17 to 1

New Highs: 96 (+10)
New Lows: 38 (-1)




Stats: -45.05 points (-0.44%) to close at 10099.14
Volume DJ30: 296M shares Friday versus 194M shares Thursday. SP500 rebalance volume my friends.



There will be plenty of economic data coming out, and you can bet there will be more data with respect to what is happening in Europe and China. The US will get a good look at what is going on with capacity utilization and industrial production. There will be minutes from the FOMC. There will be several regional PMI or manufacturing reports. That will give a good look into just how the US is proceeding. This is all after a three-day weekend, which is a very long time when you have so much information and intrigue swirling through the world. Asia and Europe will be open on Monday, so there is plenty of time for news to hit, and the market is extremely news driven right now.

The market still looks weak from our perspective. The SP500 and the bear flag it formed this past week could be viewed as a positive because it absorbed a lot of bad news and still rose. Looking at the overall pattern, however, this is a stair step lower. It is not even an ABCD pattern because there is not the sharp impulse move higher. It moved up, leveled off, and then just carried through the momentum to the peak. It is simply stair stepping right now, making lower highs and lower lows. It is at an important level, and it could make the break higher. They are showing resilience, and we could get a continued bounce higher if there is no bad news. A test up to the bottom of this old peak in January would be a very good indicator of how the market strength is. If it did, it would likely fail and come down for a deeper test. That is historically what the market does, but it does not necessarily have to do that. It can stair step down to the 1025 level or 1000 level and form a nice base in through March or April. That is just about the time that earnings are ready to come in for Q1, and then it could be ready to make a move higher.

The question is what news is out there to drive stocks higher at this point. We are through earnings, and they were not bad. There has been plenty of decent US economic news, but the market has sold off over the past month or so. Where will the good news come from with Europe in trouble and China trying to reign in its economy? The liquidity that has been driving the market is still out there. Ben Bernanke says it will be removed at some point, but he cannot afford to remove it now. He is a student of history, and he has seen what Japan did and what the US did during the Great Depression and the 1970's. He does not want to be saddled in the history books as the Fed Chief who pulled away the punchbowl too quickly before we were in a recovery. The problem is that he is not getting much help from the administration. Their policies will not do much to create the kind of booming economy that our free enterprise system works best with. He has his hands full with a difficult task. He will keep the liquidity open as long as he can because there is no sign of inflation. There is something of a deflation worry, as gold has been telling us. When the news hit out of Europe and China, when the negatives came in, gold went down instead of bouncing. People were afraid that there would be deflation, not inflation. Remember, gold is at its best when there is uncertainty and a worry of inflation. Worries of deflation spiked it out of a double bottom and it made a lower low. Given the news coming out of Europe (even though there will be a rescue), I am still leaning toward there being further downside before there can be a sustained bounce. By sustained bounce, I mean one that can have a real chance of breaking the January peaks. There can be that bounce I was talking about that moves up to those levels to test. Historically, that would be something seen in a deeper correction. We will have to watch for that.

We have some downside plays and will continue to look at them over the weekend. Since the market bounced back this past week, you can bet there will be more bear flags from stocks that were hit hard, recovered, but are stalling at a resistance level. We will be able to pick some downside plays in the event that the market continues lower. If that is the case, we will let our current downside plays run. We will also look for some upside because, as you have seen, there are great stocks in good position to move higher. We have had excellent gaps to the upside that have held, and the stocks are moving higher. There is a dichotomy in the market. It is not sure what it wants to do internally because there are stocks heading higher and stocks heading lower. We have not reached the point where there is a predominant negative or positive theme that drives all stocks one way or the other. Indeed, we are in a rather mild and ordinary correction after a whale of a run off the March lows. The closest thing we can look back to is the June and July correction after that initial run. If you look at this and compare it to now, they look very much the same. Step down, bounce, a lower low, and then a takeoff.

It still looks negative to me, but it still could come back. As in June and July, if it will hold, it will hold right where it has been at the September and October lows. They look very similar in pattern. They held at those prior lows and bounced off that. It has made significant lows, it has come back to test them, and it is either going to hold or break higher. We are in an important inflection point, and we will stay flexible. Keep buying stocks or positions (up or down) that are at good risk/reward levels. That means you have plenty of upside or downside, but you have a good stop point close at hand. Then, if it breaks, you can get out of dodge and look for bigger and better gain. We will try to play both sides of the fence to be ready for the break because, at some point, it will break. Without a doubt, the market does not move sideways forever. With the similar look right now from June and July, I want to be ready to take the ball either way. Once the market tips its hand, we will close out one side and move in the other direction. We can still make money even as the market bounces up and down in this range. Have a great weekend.

Support and Resistance

NASDAQ: Closed at 2183.53
2167 from the July 2008 intraday low
2168 is the September 2009, intraday peak
2169 is the March 2008 closing low (double bottom)
2177 is a low from March 2008
2191 is the October 2009 peak
The 50 day EMA at 2203
2205 is the November 2009 peak
2210 (from September 2008) to 2212 (the July 2009 closing low)
2218 is the August 2005 peak
2245 from July 2008 through 2260 from late 2005.
2275 - 2278 from the February 2008 and April 2008 lows
2292 is a low from January 2008
2319 from the September 2008 peak
2326.28 is the January high
2324-2370 is a range of resistance from early 2008
2382-2395 from 2008
2412-2415 represents a series of peaks and lows in 2007, 2008
2453 is the August 2008 peak

2155 is the March 2008 intraday low
2143 is the October 2009 range low
2099 is the mid-September 2008 closing low
2070 is the September 2008 intraday low
2060 is the August peak
2048 is the early October 2009 closing low
The 200 day SMA at 2032
2015 from an early August 2008 peak

S&P 500: Closed at 1075.51
1078 is the October range low
The 10 day EMA at 1078
1084 to 1080 (September 2009 peak)
The 50 day EMA at 1098
1101 is the October 2009 high
1106 is the September 2008 low
1114 is the November 2009 peak
1119 is the early December intraday high
1133 from a September 2008 intraday low
1150 is the January 2010 peak
1156 is the Sept 2008 low
1185 from late September 2008
1200 from the July 2008 low

1070 is the late September 2009 peak
1044 is the October 2008 intraday high
The August peak at 1040
The early October 2009 closing low at 1025
The 200 day SMA at 1024
The early August intraday peak at 1018
The November 2008 peak at 1006 closing 1007.53 intraday
992 is the August 2009 consolidation low

Dow: Closed at 10,099.14
The 50 day EMA at 10,267
10,285 is the late December consolidation peak
10,365 is the late September 2008 low
10,496 is the November 2009 high
10,609 from the Mid-September 2008 interim low
10,963 is the July 2008 low

10,120 is the October 2009 peak
9829 is the September 2008 closing high
9918 is the September 2008 peak
9855 is the early September peak in its lateral range
9835 is the late September 2009 peak
9654 is the November 2008 high
9625 is the October 2008 closing high
9620 is the August 2009 peak
The 200 day SMA at 9531
9430 is the early October low
9387 is the mid-October peak

Economic Calendar

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

February 12 - Friday
Retail Sales, January (08:30): 0.5% actual versus 0.3% expected, -0.1% prior (revised from -0.3%)
Retail Sales ex-auto, January (08:30): 0.6% actual versus 0.5% expected, -0.2% prior
Mich Sentiment, February (09:55): 73.7 actual versus 75.0 expected, 74.4 prior
Business Inventories, December (10:00): -0.2% actual versus 0.2% expected, 0.5% prior (revised from 0.4%)
Crude Inventories, 2/5 (11:00): 2.42M actual versus 2.32M prior

February 16 - Tuesday
Empire Manufacturing, February (08:30): 18.00 expected, 15.92 prior
Net Long-Term TIC Fl, December (09:00): $50.0B expected, $126.8B prior

February 17 - Wednesday
Housing Starts, January (08:30): 580K expected, 557K prior
Building Permits, January (08:30): 615K expected, 653K prior
Export Prices ex-ag., January (08:30): 0.5% prior
Import Prices ex-oil, January (08:30): 0.4% prior
Industrial Production, January (09:15): 0.8% expected, 0.6% prior
Capacity Utilization, January (09:15): 72.6% expected, 72.0% prior
Treasury Budget, January (14:00): -$46.0B expected, -$91.9B prior
Minutes of FOMC Meet, 1/28 (14:00)

February 18 - Thursday
Continuing Claims, 02/6 (08:30): 4500K expected, 4538K prior
Initial Claims, 02/13 (08:30): 430K expected, 440K prior
PPI, January (08:30): 0.8% expected, 0.2% prior
Core PPI, January (08:30): 0.1% expected, 0.0% prior
Leading Indicators, January (10:00): 0.5% expected, 1.1% prior
Philadelphia Fed, February (10:00): 17.0 expected, 15.2 prior
Crude Inventories, 2/12 (11:00): 2.42M prior

February 19 - Friday
CPI, January (08:30): 0.3% expected, 0.1% prior
Core CPI, January (08:30): 0.2% expected, 0.1% prior

By: Jon Johnson, Editor
Copyright 2010 | All Rights Reserved

Jon Johnson is the Editor of The Daily at

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