Sunday, December 09, 2012

Stocks Advance, But Still Just a Slow Burn


- Stocks advance, but still just a slow burn versus a new surge.
- Jobs increase (again at the low pay end), unemployment rate falls (again because people disappear), but there is some improvement as well.
- Michigan Sentiment takes a post-election reality turn.
- What's with all the earthquakes?
- Stocks taking their time in trying to break higher, allowing more to set up, but they need to get on with the Christmas rally.
- If the Fed announces QE4, will the market react the same as it did to QE3?

Market gets what it should want but still hesitates.

Futures were iffy and trending lower, but when the jobs report hit the wire with 146K jobs (a 56K beat) and unemployment down to 7.7%, the headline readers jumped in and futures jumped to the upside. Sharply upside. Looked as if the market finally got the catalyst it needed to break the weeklong lateral consolidation.

After the initial pop, however, stocks again remained tentative. The highs were hit near the opening bell. Perhaps investors were not as enthralled with the jobs report as the initial stock jump suggested. They also may not have been too pleased with Michigan sentiment dropping over 8 points as expectations plummeted 13 points.

All that pre-election hope is meeting reality. Rhetoric and lofty, less than factual statements only go so far when citizens face the same economic problems.

There was another, non-market disturbing news theme. Early in the morning I read about a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Japan near the reactor that went down in the prior quake and tsunami.

Later in the day New Zealand reported a 6+ quake. New Guinea reported a quake as well. On top of the natural disasters are the usual manmade ones. Unrest in Egypt. Syria's leader reportedly thinking of using chemical weapons on his own people. North Korea is readying the test launch of another ballistic missile and Japan has promised to shoot it down. Financial upheaval on the entire European continent and the US is no bastion of financial safety. All that is needed are some locusts, blood in the seas and there you go. December 21 is the end of the Mayan calendar, just 13 more shopping days left!

Plagues may be coming, but so may be more Fed stimulus. The obvious question is whether that would be a plague or deliverance. Friday there was plenty more speculation whether the Fed would come to the table with more QE. That move was rather widely expected until the Friday report. Indeed, many still believe the Fed will act either regardless of the report or because the report's internals were not that strong, presenting more of the same trends that indicate a less than healthy jobs market.

Perhaps continued anticipation of additional QE is why the market, after not finding solace in the jobs report, held its ground.

Stocks started nicely higher on the jobs headlines, faded on the Michigan Sentiment miss, and continued lower to midmorning. As is often the case, midmorning was the turning point. Stocks found bottom roughly at the Thursday close and started back upside. Slow, steady, boring, but they recovered ground into the close. SP500 never made it back to the session high and NASDAQ barely made it off the day's lows; it was not strong but they did recover. Indeed, DJ30 and its pattern that we hated the most led the market as it did manage to close out at session highs.

In the end it was another mixed showing, mostly upside, but again no great upside break. The indices set up for a nice upside break with a tight lateral move, and all they are doing at this juncture is melting to the upside. Not terrible action but certainly not a renewal of buyers, not a surge of upside interest. Don't get me wrong; stocks can melt upside no problem. Those just are not always the greatest upside runs. Kind of like that 'light drizzle' discussed Thursday night.

Kate: I had this feeling about him . . . It wasn't exactly a thunderclap or a lightning bolt, it was more like a . . .
Luc: Light drizzle?

SP500 4.13, 0.29%
NASDAQ -11.23, -0.38%
DJ30 81.09, 0.62%
SP400 0.11%
SOX 0.22%
Russell 2000 0.06%


Dollar. 1.2930 versus 1.2963 US dollar/Euro. The dollar was much stronger versus the euro on the news of the jobs report, but as the day wore on the dollar lost its mojo. Compared to other currencies, however, the dollar finished strong, rebounding from a week of weakness. Note how it bounced off the October high, using that as support.

Bonds. 1.63% versus 1.57% 10 year Treasury. Stocks may not have been totally overwhelmed by the jobs report, but bonds were taking it seriously, selling off hard to the 50 day EMA. Perhaps this is a signal the Fed will not act with a QE4. Some people seem to believe it is a fait accompli. Bonds were not so sanguine.

Gold. 1705.10, +3.30. Not much of a gain but it is the action Wednesday to Friday is what is interesting. Gold tapped at the same low three straight sessions and bounced off of that support. Working on setting up that double bottom over the 200 day SMA.

Oil. 85.98, -0.28. Faded a bit further in a down week overall. Oil is at some support but it failed at the 50 day EMA and that suggests it continues to weaken in its downtrend below the 50 day EMA.



Stats: -11.23 points (-0.38%) to close at 2978.04
Volume: 1.591B (-5.8%)

Up Volume: 673.5M (-506.5M)
Down Volume: 905.69M (+385.41M)

A/D and Hi/Lo: Decliners led 1.16 to 1
Previous Session: Decliners led 1.04 to 1

New Highs: 51 (+8)
New Lows: 30 (-9)

Stats: +4.13 points (+0.29%) to close at 1418.07
NYSE Volume: 551M (-1.96%)

A/D and Hi/Lo: Advancers led 1.22 to 1
Previous Session: Advancers led 1.13 to 1

New Highs: 97 (+13)
New Lows: 26 (-3)

Volume: Lower trade Friday after already declining trade on the week. Just not a lot of volume pushing on stocks and they certainly are not going very far with such a light push. Between holidays so a bit lighter volume is normal, so not sweating it too much. Just a bit worrisome that the market is getting the catalysts it seems would break it higher, but they are not doing it even with low trade.

Breadth. Flat yet again, but then again, the market has not been racing on the week either.


SP500. Continued a modest move off the 50 day EMA on more below average volume. Trying to get some momentum off the test of the mid-November relief bounce. Moving up but just not a lot of strength. Light drizzle, eh? Financials were rallying , however, and thus SP500 moved up to the mid-August high. Still at resistance and on low volume to boot. Okay, yes there are plenty of reasons to not like it, but SP500 continues to the upside.

NASDAQ. Amazing how NASDAQ follows AAPL. That is what happens when one stock is forecast by GS to account for 33% of the Q4 GDP consumption and it consequently comprises the bulk of the index's market cap. Anyway after the Thursday AAPL-led bounce NASDAQ gapped upside through the 200 day SMA and near the 2011 up trendline only to reverse when AAPL reversed. NASDAQ's pattern is very similar to SP500, kind of an inverted head and shoulders and thus kind of positive. That leaves it in position to rally but it certainly is having a hard time getting the move going. Needs AMZN, EBAY, DELL, CSCO, etc. to continue their rallies.

Russell 2000/SP400. Gapped upside but faded to flat, still working on the lateral move started late November when the small caps gapped through the down trendline. Nice, looks good, still waiting on the move.

SP400 midcaps are bleeding higher similar to SP500, posting four consecutive upside moves that took the index right up to . . . the same resistance it tested Monday when it shot higher but reversed. Still has the October and November highs it is working on. Hate these bleeds higher.

SOX. Solid Thursday bounce off the 50 day EMA and then a doji with a slight gain Friday. Not the move we wanted to see and SOX is right at some resistance. Nonetheless it showed some leadership; the chips are trying to turn.

DJ30/DJ20. DJ30 led the market Friday. Bumped the 50 day EMA for a week, we hated the pattern, and so it broke upside through resistance at 13,100.

DJ20. Bounced of the 50 day EMA early in the week and through the 200 day SMA. Modest gain Friday and still looks in position to continue its move to the top of the range.

Summary: Not making a sharp break, just continuing the lateral move in the case of the midcaps, bleeding higher in the case of SP500, actually jumping upside for the Dow, or falling with AAPL as is NASDAQ. Quite mixed action, but all of it is inside of a fairly tight range, not giving back the rally that started Thanksgiving week.


Big names. AAPL reversed the Thursday gains and sold. AMZN is slowing its move, testing in a way as it slows the gain. EBAY is holding the 10 day EMA and looks very good in this test as well. GOOG gapped upside then reversed. Still a good pattern. These leaders are a bit tired but GOOG is ready to takeover and lead.

Financial. Continuing the upside move led by the big banks. JPM jumped over 2.5%, C added 1.7% to its solid weekly gain. Not all financials are moving; credit services lag.

Retail. A very mixed bag so to speak. You know, holiday shopping and all. LTD enjoys a nice pullback. COH looks as if it wants to bounce off a rounded bottom. M, JWN -- the big boxes in the malls -- are holding up but are not in position to surge. Eateries are struggling overall.

Tech. Still weak but trying to improve in some places. ADTN is interesting. FFIV is at the bottom of the channel and it may just be ready for an upside break. JNPR broke through the 200 day SMA. Some moves, some setting up, a lot not really in position to take the lead.

Industrial. CAT cleared the recent highs on the week. DE is decent in a two month pennant. JOY is trapped below the 50 day EMA.



Okay, here is the jobs scoop: better headlines, some better indications, but some still very troubling longer-term trends.

Most pundits admitted the headlines did not tell the true story, but they also said there were signs of continued improvement. There were. Of course the improvement was not the paltry number of jobs even if it was a big beat over very terrible expectations. The silver lining most saw was the 465K non-seasonally adjusted new workers added; that was in line with pre-crisis trends at this time of year and shows that retailers are getting back to expectations of a solid consumer. Why I am not sure; every piece of data seen of late shows consumption is lower (the most recent GDP iteration is the case in point), but perhaps they know something the data is not showing. Or, perhaps they are hoping for something that is not there, forgetting a couple of old but useful sayings:

Those who expect nothing are never disappointed.
No brain, no headache.

No brain . . .

Nonfarm Payrolls, November (8:30): 146K actual versus 90K expected, 138K prior (revised from 171K)

Nonfarm Private Payrolls, November (8:30): 147K actual versus 120K expected, 189K prior (revised from 184K)

Unemployment Rate, November (8:30): 7.7% actual versus 8.0% expected, 7.9% prior

Hourly Earnings, November (8:30): 0.2% actual versus 0.1% expected, 0.0% prior

Average Workweek, November (8:30): 34.4 actual versus 34.4 expected, 34.4 prior

Here are the less covered facts, the seedier side of the report. Please ask small children and those who can't handle the truth to leave the room.

FIRST, the average workweek remained a meager 34.4 hours for about the tenth month straight (or so it seems). There is simply no growth in hours worked despite all of the talk of jobs added each month. Why does this matter? Employers don't hire when they are not working their employees to the point the employees are learning the words to that 1977 classic country song by Johnny Paycheck, 'Take this Job and Shove It.' Economic times were bad then as well. How appropriate.

A corollary to the 'work them until they quit' rule is the employee view when times are bad and jobs are scarce: 'keep your head down, shut up, keep job.' Those who want to work are happy to have a job and are simply doing their job. Thus they are willing to take the hours and the low pay for a paycheck. Here is the rub, however, in two parts. Part One, the hours just are not there because there is not enough work to keep them for long hours. Or, Part Two, the work is there but employers cannot get enough skilled laborers and thus they have to turn down work and thus the hours remain low overall. We are hearing BOTH from our business contacts as discussed below.

Unemployment rate falls to 7.7% on less workers looking for work. Nothing new there.

SECOND, and much more interesting and intriguing, is the continuing decline in the labor force. It came in at a sterling 63.6%, falling 0.2%. Can you fathom that in the United States almost 40% of those capable of working ARE NOT working?

350,000 more workers left the workforce. Fewer and fewer people are looking for work. Thus the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%. No job, no prospects, and most importantly, no income to tax to pay into the Treasury.

Investor's Business Daily

If you pay someone to do nothing, he will do nothing -- Jon Johnson

Moreover, why even take a job if it is there and doesn't pay any more than you can get from the various government programs that you can stack one upon the other. I saw a story on CNBC today that highlights part of what I discussed a week ago about the effort to find a job and work versus simply collecting benefits. Phil Lebeau talked to machine shops making oil and gas production and exploration items that had the work but could not keep people at the starting level interested in doing the work. After a few days or even a day they throw in the towel because they can sit and do nothing and have as much disposable income as they made as an apprentice. A machine shop paying $13/hour for an apprentice translates into about $25K for the year. You can sit on your duff and collect benefits and then do a little cash only work on the side and live better than the poor schmuck who works 9 to 5. As I always say, if we want to pay people to do nothing, they will do nothing. That is what we are finding out but are not rectifying.

Wal-Mart greeter workforce?

THIRD, we see more of that same problem of job quality versus quantity, and who the jobs are going to. Wages are stagnant, and in real terms are declining. Personal Income and Spending and the GDP revision show this. Most jobs created are in the lower third of the income scale. That has been the case during this entire recovery. The numbers are striking.

Who is working those jobs? As we have reported before, they are going to the older workers.

16 to 19 years: 6K
20-24 years: 62K
25-54 years: -359K
55-69: 177K

The 25 to 54 demographic is the prime wage earning segment. It is getting crushed. The middle class the President champions is being destroyed by his policies.

Don't believe it? Let's look at the numbers since January 2009:
55-69: 4,000,000
16-19 and 20-24 and 25-54: -3,000,000


Zero Hedge put it in graphic form:

Low hourly wages, older workers getting all the jobs. What jobs are these?

Hi. Welcome to Wal-Mart. How may I help you?



VIX: 15.9; -0.68
VXN: 18.35; -0.14
VXO: 16.24; -0.82

Put/Call Ratio (CBOE): 0.8; -0.12

Bulls versus Bears

Bulls: 43.6% versus 39.3% versus 37.2% versus 38.3% versus 43.6 versus 41.5% versus 45.7% . Big jump as investors react to the Thanksgiving rally. Getting right back to where they were a month back ahead of the selling. Got closer to 35% but no cigar. Background: Undercut 35%, the threshold for bullishness, in early June. As noted, hit 34% in early June. It did its job and the market is on the rally. Hard drop to 34 from 39.3% as economic reality and a choppy stock market hit. Off the 55+ level hit in late February. That was the highest level since April and May of 2011, the peak of the post-bear market high. 35% is the threshold level suggesting bullishness. To be seriously bearish it needs to get up to the 60% to 65% level.

Bears: 25.5% versus 27.7% versus 27.7% versus 28.7% versus 27.7% versus 27.7% versus 25.5%. What goes around comes around. Bears are fading to the level hit almost two months back just a bulls are rising toward that level. On the last run never made it to the 35% that can be a bullish indication, but the bulls were weak enough back in June. Over 35% is the threshold to be really be a good upside indicator. 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.


Stocks moved up on the week but were a letdown overall, unable to make that big upside break after a good lateral consolidation. If they survive the weekend, they will still be in position. So far no major catastrophe has hit. The bleed higher has not gone too far to take away the consolidation's impact, and it hasn't destroyed too many consolidation attempts (they move higher before they are ready and then flop).

Still a lot of data this coming week with the FOMC meeting the early week highlight. The Friday jobs report renewed the debate regarding any further QE, but frankly Bernanke said he would not remove any until the economy was really improving. Of course that doesn't mean he will ADD to it if things are better. It is 50-50 in our book though some say it is a done deal.

Question is, if there is QE4 will that have any positive impact? Will it have any negative impact? Stocks rallied into September on the promise of QE3 then sold on the announcement. Of course, that was a big rally. This recent move is a blip, an oversold bounce that has left the large cap indices with very questionable patterns. Not that much anticipation. Either not enough time to get in a good rally ahead of more stimulus or perhaps investors simply believe any more stimulus won't have as much impact. QE3 was all in the anticipation, not in the having.

After a time you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true. -- Spock from 'Amok Time'. A play on the old market adage, buy on the rumor, sell on the news.

The point I was getting to (albeit slowly): will there be a post-FOMC announcement selloff as in September? Could be, but as noted, this has not been much of a move at all and has not been that powerful. Some strong leaders for sure (AMZN, EBAY), but new ones are not exactly waiting in line to take their place at the front. That is always the most important tell in a rally, and that keeps us, despite the apparent upside bias in the market, concerned about the longevity of this move. Again, there still isn't much of a pattern by SP500 and DJ30; they can continue higher, but this is more of a reaction than a base. That and the leadership issue raise serious doubts for us and this rally.

For now, however, there are stocks still attempting to set up even with the drift higher. The indices certainly look as if they want to continue the holiday rally (I will call it that as it spans, thus far, Thanksgiving and the period leading into Christmas). As noted, to do that they need more stocks to take the torch and lead. Many stocks have bounced from weak patterns and are trying to figure out what they do next. Not the best patterns to chase.

Others, however, are in better tests after breaking from good bases (e.g. EBAY) or are just coming off rounded bottoms (e.g. GOOG, COH). If they move we will use them to make money before the year end. After that, more taxes on your income, and a tax on each financial transaction. New year, new issues, but making money is still the way to get your way.

So, we will grab plays as they show themselves and ride them in the continuing move. If stocks want to rally into Christmas (or 12-21 if that is it), then we are going to ride it for all it is worth. If they stumble post FOMC, well then the indices will test that prior low and try to set up a retracement double bottom or some other pattern. Watch for a post-FOMC reversal signal such as a surge then purge on high volume or a move higher that just runs out of volume and MACD does not follow higher. If no topping signals show up, , happy holidays!

Support and resistance

NASDAQ: Closed at 2978.04

The 200 day SMA at 2988
2988 is the July 2012 high
The 50 day EMA at 2992
2999 is the bottom of the August 2012 consolidation
3000 is the February 2012 post-bear market high
3008 is the up trendline from 2011
3024 is the gap point from early May
3026 from 10/2000 low
3042 from 5/2000 low and several other price points
3076 is the late April 2012 high
3090 is the mid-March interim high
3037 is the October low
3101 is the August 2012 high
3134 is the March 2012 post-bear market peak
3171 is the October intraday high
3197 is the September 2012 post-bear market high
3227 is the April 2000 intraday low
3401 is the May 2000 closing low

2977 to 2980 is the bottom of the late October 2012 consolidation
2962 is the April 2012 low
2950 is the mid-April closing low
2942 is the mid-June 2012 high
2900 is the March 2012 intraday low
2858 is the late July 2011 peak
2847 is the mid-May 2012 low
2838 from the July 2012 lows
2778 from the May 2012 low and June 2012 gap point.
2747 is June 2012 closing low
2726 IS June 2012 intraday low

S&P 500: Closed at 1418.07

1425 from May 2008 closing highs and the October 2012 low
1427 is the August 2012 peak
1434 from early November 2012
1433 from August 2007 closing lows
1440 from November 2007 closing lows
1464 is the June up trendline
1463 is the September closing high
1466 is the September closing high
1471 is the October 2012 intraday high
1475 is the September 2012 high
1499 from January 2008
1539 from June 2007

The 50 day EMA at 1409
1408 is the late October range closing low
1406 is the early May 2012 peak
1402.22 is the closing low of the August 2012 lateral consolidation
The 200 day SMA at 1386
1378 is the February 2012 peak
1375 is the early July 2012 peak
1371 is the May 2011 peak, the post-bear market high
1363.46 is June 2012 high
1359 is the April 2012 low
1357 is the July 2011 peak
1344 is the February 2011 peak
1340 is the early April 2011 peak
1332 is the early March 2011 peak
1325 is the July 2012 intraday low
1309 is the right shoulder low from June 2012
1295 to 1294 is the April 2011 low and the February 2011 consolidation low (bottom of the trading range)
1293 is the October 2011 peak
1275 is the January 2010 low, early January 2011 peak
1267 is the December 2011 peak
1266 is the June 2012 base low

Dow: Closed at 13,155.13

13,297 is the April 2012, prior post bear market high
13,300 to 13,331 is the August 2012 post-bear market high
13,653 is the September 2012 high
13662 is the October 2012 intraday high
13,668 from 12-2007 peak
13,692 from 6-2007 peak
14,022 from 7-07 peak

13,058 from the May 2008 peak on that bounce in the selling
The 50 day EMA at 13,061
13,056 is the February 2012 high
The 200 day SMA at 12,998
12,716 is the April 2012 closing low
12,524 is a range of support from early 2012 and summertime 2012
12,391 is the February 2011 peak
12,369 is the left shoulder low from May 2012
12,284 is the October 2011 peak
12,258 is the December 2011 peak
12,110 from the March 2007 closing low
12,094 is the April 2011 low
12,035 is the June 2012 base low
The June 2011 low at 11,897 (closing)
11,734 from 11-98 peak
11,717 is the late August 2011 peak

Economic Calendar

December 3 - Monday
ISM Index, November (10:00): 49.5 actual versus 51.2 expected, 51.7 prior
Construction Spending, October (10:00): 1.4% actual versus 0.4% expected, 0.5% prior (revised from 0.6%)
Auto Sales, November (14:00): 5.2M prior
Truck Sales, November (14:00): 6.0M prior

December 5 - Wednesday
MBA Mortgage Index, 12/01 (7:00): 4.5% actual versus -0.9% prior
ADP Employment Change, November (8:15): 118K actual versus 125K expected, 157K prior (revised from 158K)
Productivity-Rev., Q3 (8:30): 2.9% actual versus 2.7% expected, 1.9% prior
Unit Labor Costs -Rev., Q3 (8:30): -1.9% actual versus -0.8% expected, -0.1% prior
Factory Orders, October (10:00): 0.8% actual versus -0.1% expected, 4.5% prior (revised from 4.8%)
ISM Services, November (10:00): 54.7 actual versus 53.7 expected, 54.2 prior
Crude Inventories, 12/01 (10:30): -2.357M actual versus -0.347M prior

December 6 - Thursday
Challenger Job Cuts, November (7:30): 34.4% actual versus 11.6% prior
Initial Claims, 12/1 (8:30): 370K actual versus 382K expected, 395K prior (revised from 393K)
Continuing Claims, 11/24 (8:30): 3205K actual versus 3275K expected, 3305K prior (revised from 3287K)

December 7 - Friday
Nonfarm Payrolls, November (8:30): 146K actual versus 90K expected, 138K prior (revised from 171K)
Nonfarm Private Payrolls, November (8:30): 147K actual versus 120K expected, 189K prior (revised from 184K)
Unemployment Rate, November (8:30): 7.7% actual versus 8.0% expected, 7.9% prior
Hourly Earnings, November (8:30): 0.2% actual versus 0.1% expected, 0.0% prior
Average Workweek, November (8:30): 34.4 actual versus 34.4 expected, 34.4 prior
Michigan Sentiment, December (9:55): 74.5 actual versus 82.4 expected, 82.7 prior
Consumer Credit, October (15:00): $14.2B actual versus $9.9B expected, $12.2B prior (revised from $11.4B)

December 11 - Tuesday
Trade Balance, October (8:30): -$42.7B expected, -$41.5B prior
Wholesale Inventories, October (10:00): 0.4% expected, 1.1% prior

December 12 - Wednesday
MBA Mortgage Index, 12/08 (7:00): 4.5% prior
Export Prices ex-ag., November (8:30): 0.2% prior
Import Prices ex-oil, November (8:30): 0.3% prior
Crude Inventories, 12/08 (10:30): -2.357M prior
FOMC Rate Decision, December (24:30): 0.25% expected, 0.25% prior
Treasury Budget, November (14:00): -$113.0B expected, -$137.3B prior

December 13 - Thursday
Initial Claims, 12/08 (8:30): 375K expected, 370K prior
Continuing Claims, 12/01 (8:30): 3200K expected, 3205K prior
Retail Sales, November (8:30): 0.4% expected, -0.3% prior
Retail Sales ex-auto, November (8:30): 0.0% expected, 0.0% prior
PPI, November (8:30): -0.5% expected, -0.2% prior
Core PPI, November (8:30): 0.1% expected, -0.2% prior
Business Inventories, October (10:00): 0.4% expected, 0.7% prior

December 14 - Friday
CPI, November (8:30): -0.2% expected, 0.1% prior
Core CPI, November (8:30): 0.1% expected, 0.2% prior
Industrial Production, November (9:15): 0.4% expected, -0.4% prior
Capacity Utilization, November (9:15): 78.0% expected, 77.8% prior

By: Jon Johnson, Editor
Copyright 2012 | All Rights Reserved

Jon Johnson is the Editor of The Daily at

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