Sunday, December 21, 2014

Monday Watch

Weekend Headlines 
  • North Korea Threatens Greater Pain If Punished Over Sony Hacking. North Korea warned that any U.S. punishment over the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment would lead to damage “thousands of times greater,” with targets including the White House and Pentagon. Hackers including the “‘Guardians of Peace’’ group that forced Sony to pull a comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong Un ‘‘are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world,’’ the Kim-led National Defense Commission said in a statement published yesterday by the official Korean Central News Agency. Even so, North Korea doesn’t know who the Guardians are, the commission said. 
  • North Korea: 1.2 Million Troops, Nukes and a 3,000-Strong Cyber-Elite. North Korea’s alleged ability to hack into Sony Pictures Entertainment is extending Kim Jong Un’sreach far beyond the range of his missiles. While North Korea has kept Western defense officials guessing for years about a nuclear program that it may or may not ever use, the regime’s ability to wage cyber war adds a new dimension to its standing abroad.
  • Poroshenko Meets Belarus Leader as Ukrainian Peace Efforts Stall. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met the leader of Belarus, whose country hosted negotiations that clinched a cease-fire in September, as efforts faltered to agree on a new round of talks with pro-Russian separatists. The agreements reached in Minsk are the “basis of the peace process in Ukraine,” Poroshenko told Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko yesterday in Kiev. “There’s now no alternative model to de-escalate the situation.”
  • China Offers Enhanced Cooperation as Russia Struggles. China offered enhanced economic ties with Russia at a regional summit this week as its northern neighbor struggled to contain a currency crisis. “To help counteract an economic slowdown, China is ready to provide financial aid to develop cooperation,” Premier Li Keqiang said at a Dec. 15 gathering in Astana, Kazakhstan. While the remark applied to any of the five other nations represented at the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization group, it was directed at Russia, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named as the plans weren’t public. 
  • U.S. Soldiers Fight Islamic State in Iraq, Kurds Advance. U.S. soldiers clashed with Islamic State militants, helping the Iraqi army repel attacks against the town of al-Baghdadi in the western Anbar province, Al Jazeera TV reported, as Kurdish forces advanced in the north. The U.S. troops were from al-Assad military base, the biggest in Anbar, First Lieutenant Muneer al-Qoud from the Iraqi police said by phone. Meanwhile, a U.S. senior military official said there are no U.S. ground troops fighting in Iraq, though forces can engage in self-defense if required. 
  • U.S. to Release Four Guantanamo Bay Prisoners to Afghanistan. Four prisoners from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are to be repatriated to Afghanistan, the Defense Department said. Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani and Mohammed Zahir were to be released as part of an effort by President Barack Obama to accelerate transfers and close the facility. An interagency task force reviewed their cases to determine whether the prisoners met the standards for release and examined issues including security before unanimously approving the transfers. 
  • South Korea Cuts 2015 Growth Forecast, Warns on External Risks. South Korea lowered its growth forecast and said it will revise capital controls to guard against higher U.S. interest rates and other external risks to Asia’s fourth-biggest economy. The economy will expand 3.8 percent next year, less than a July estimate of 4 percent, the finance ministry said, citing weaker-than-expected domestic demand. The ministry may revise rules in 2015 on currency forwards and foreign currency liabilities to prevent abrupt outflows, a statement showed. 
  • Asian Stocks Rise as Crude Extends Gains While Kiwi Drops. Asian stocks rose, with the regional index headed for its steepest three-day advance in almost two months, as commodity shares climbed amid a rally in crude oil. New Zealand’s dollar dropped while Japanese bonds extended gains. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.6 percent by 11:04 a.m. in Tokyo, bringing its gain since Dec. 18 to 3 percent. 
  • Iron Ore Price Outlook Cut 33% by Australia as Glut Expands. Australia cut its iron ore price estimate for next year by 33 percent as surging output in the world’s top exporter outpaces Chinese demand growth, adding to a surplus. Prices will average $63 a metric ton, the Department of Industry said today. That compares with $94 a ton forecast in September by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, which is now part of the department. The commodity is set to average about $88 this year, today’s quarterly report says.
  • Age of Plenty Seen Over for Gulf Arabs as Oil Tumbles. The boom that adorned Gulf Arab monarchies with glittering towers, swelled their sovereign funds and kept unrest largely at bay may be over after oil prices dropped by almost 50 percent in the last six months. The sheikhdoms have used the oil wealth to remake their region. Landmarks include man-made islands on reclaimed land, as well as financial centers, airports and ports that turned the Arabian desert into a banking and travel hub. The money was also deployed to ward off social unrest that spread through the Middle East during the Arab Spring. 
Wall Street Journal: 
  • White House Weighs Options Against North Korea. Moves Include Financial Sanctions, Restoring to List of Terror Sponsors. The White House is considering an array of options for responding to North Korea’s alleged hacking of Sony Pictures, including measures that would intensify financial pressure on Pyongyang by targeting banks and trading companies controlled by leader Kim Jong Un and his ruling elite, according to senior administration officials.
  • Castro thanks US in speech but reaffirms Communism. President RaĂșl Castro declared victory for the Cuban Revolution on Saturday in a wide-ranging speech, thanking President Obama for “a new chapter” while also reaffirming that restored relations with the United States did not mean the end of Communist rule in Cuba.
Zero Hedge:
Financial Times:
  • US regulator probes ETF pricing structures. Extreme movements in the prices of bonds, commodities and other assets have prompted regulators at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to take a closer look at the inner workings of exchange traded funds. Wall Street’s top regulator has been talking to the firms responsible for ensuring the smooth functioning of such ETFs as it seeks to gauge the resilience of the structures to sharp fluctuations in the underlying market they track.
  • ECB's Constancio Sees Negative Inflation Rate. Oil Price decline "doesn't create a simple situation for us in the short-term," ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio cited as saying in interview. Sees negative inflation rate in coming months. ECB wants to prevent "dangerous vicious circle of declining prices, rising real wage costs, falling profits, shrinking demand and further declining prices," he said. Given that many economist expect weak economy in euro area until 2018 sees downward pressure on inflation expectations.
Yonhap News:
  • N. Korea threatens ultra-harsh action on U.S. soil over hacking allegation. North Korea threatened to carry out ultra-harsh military action on U.S. soil Sunday, one day after U.S. President Barack Obama vowed a proportional response against the North's alleged hacking attack into Sony Picture. In a follow-up to the FBI's recent hacking accusation against Pyongyang, Obama vowed Friday (U.S time) to "respond proportionally," hinting at retaliatory action over the communist country's alleged hacking attack on the distributor of a controversial movie about North Korea, "The Interview."
Kyodo News:
  • China building military base on islands near Senkakus: sources. China's military is building large-scale base facilities on islands near the Senkaku Islands southwest of mainland Japan, several Chinese sources said Sunday. Construction is under way in the Nanji Islands in Zhejiang Province, lying about 300 kilometers to the northwest of the Japanese-administered, uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. China claims the Senkakus as Diaoyu.
Night Trading
  • Asian indices are +.25% to +1.25% on average.
  • Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 105.0 unch.
  • Asia Pacific Sovereign CDS Index 67.75 -.75 basis point.
  • S&P 500 futures -.02%.
  • NASDAQ 100 futures -.05%.
Morning Preview Links

Earnings of Note

  • (SCS)/.26
Economic Releases
8:30 am EST
  • The Chicago Fed National Activity Index for November is estimated to rise to .25 versus .14 in October.  
10:00 am EST
  • Existing Home Sales for November are estimated to fall to 5.2M versus 5.26M in October.
Upcoming Splits
  • (MARA) 2-for-1
Other Potential Market Movers
  • The China Leading Economic Index and the 2Y T-Note auction could also impact trading today.
BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are higher, boosted by financial and commodity shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly higher and to weaken into the afternoon, finishing mixed. The Portfolio is 50% net long heading into the week.

Weekly Outlook

Week Ahead by Bloomberg. 
Wall St. Week Ahead by Reuters.
Stocks to Watch Monday by MarketWatch.
Weekly Economic Calendar by

BOTTOM LINE: I expect US stocks to finish the week mixed as global growth worries, rising European/Emerging Markets/US High-Yield debt angst and earnings concerns offset central bank hopes, seasonal strength and short-covering. My intermediate-term trading indicators are giving neutral signals and the Portfolio is 50% net long heading into the week.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Market Week in Review

  • S&P 500 2,070.65 +3.41%*
 photo uyp_zps1ba75f21.png

The Weekly Wrap by

*5-Day Change

Weekly Scoreboard*

  • S&P 500 2,070.65 +3.41%
  • DJIA 17,804.80 +3.03%
  • NASDAQ 4,765.38 +2.40%
  • Russell 2000 1,195.94 +3.77%
  • S&P 500 High Beta 34.37 +4.12%
  • Wilshire 5000 21,505.65 +3.44%
  • Russell 1000 Growth 966.69 +3.09%
  • Russell 1000 Value 1,031.86 +3.70%
  • S&P 500 Consumer Staples 501.89 +2.13%
  • Solactive US Cyclical 140.92 +3.25%
  • Morgan Stanley Technology 1,020.96 +3.93%
  • Transports 8,989.45 +1.73%
  • Utilities 613.49 +2.67%
  • Bloomberg European Bank/Financial Services 103.06 +1.1%
  • MSCI Emerging Markets 38.71 -.81%
  • HFRX Equity Hedge 1,173.90 -.02%
  • HFRX Equity Market Neutral 986.14 -.35%
  • NYSE Cumulative A/D Line 229,637 +1.39%
  • Bloomberg New Highs-Lows Index -136 +701
  • Bloomberg Crude Oil % Bulls 31.43 +22.58%
  • CFTC Oil Net Speculative Position 284,709 +8.52%
  • CFTC Oil Total Open Interest 1,475,862 +2.13%
  • Total Put/Call .87 -20.18%
  • OEX Put/Call .85 -7.61%
  • ISE Sentiment 68.0 +1.49%
  • NYSE Arms .93 -36.30%
  • Volatility(VIX) 16.49 -21.77%
  • S&P 500 Implied Correlation 64.24 -9.64%
  • G7 Currency Volatility (VXY) 9.49 -1.35%
  • Emerging Markets Currency Volatility (EM-VXY) 11.01 +12.92%
  • Smart Money Flow Index 17,222.46 -1.21%
  • ICI Money Mkt Mutual Fund Assets $2.693 Trillion -.50%
  • ICI US Equity Weekly Net New Cash Flow -$4.969 Billion
  • AAII % Bulls 38.7 -14.0%
  • AAII % Bears 26.9 +20.3%
Futures Spot Prices
  • CRB Index 240.29 -1.42%
  • Crude Oil 57.13 -.63%
  • Reformulated Gasoline 155.95 -2.09%
  • Natural Gas 3.46 -8.14%
  • Heating Oil 196.22 -2.49%
  • Gold 1,196.0 -2.14%
  • Bloomberg Base Metals Index 183.95 -2.19%
  • Copper 288.45 -1.54%
  • US No. 1 Heavy Melt Scrap Steel 309.0 USD/Ton unch.
  • China Iron Ore Spot 69.17 USD/Ton +.26%
  • Lumber 340.60 +.53%
  • UBS-Bloomberg Agriculture 1,255.57 +.35%
  • ECRI Weekly Leading Economic Index Growth Rate -3.1% -80 basis points
  • Philly Fed ADS Real-Time Business Conditions Index .6459 -5.23%
  • S&P 500 Blended Forward 12 Months Mean EPS Estimate 126.0 -.53%
  • Citi US Economic Surprise Index 31.50 +1.9 points
  • Citi Eurozone Economic Surprise Index -.8 +19.5 points
  • Citi Emerging Markets Economic Surprise Index -12.80 +2.7 points
  • Fed Fund Futures imply 50.0% chance of no change, 50.0% chance of 25 basis point cut on 1/28
  • US Dollar Index 89.60 +1.45%
  • Euro/Yen Carry Return Index 152.63 -1.25%
  • Yield Curve 152.0 -2.0 basis points
  • 10-Year US Treasury Yield 2.16% +8.0 basis points
  • Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet $4.462 Trillion +.30%
  • U.S. Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap 16.03 -11.79%
  • Illinois Municipal Debt Credit Default Swap 178.0 -21.0%
  • Western Europe Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap Index 29.48 -5.91%
  • Asia Pacific Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap Index 67.86 -9.21%
  • Emerging Markets Sovereign Debt CDS Index 304.64 -7.20%
  • Israel Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap 75.50 -2.58%
  • Iraq Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap 378.04 -.03%
  • Russia Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap 451.64 -6.83%
  • China Blended Corporate Spread Index 343.22 +2.93%
  • 10-Year TIPS Spread 1.69% +6.0 basis points
  • TED Spread 22.25 -.25 basis point
  • 2-Year Swap Spread 22.75 -1.25 basis points
  • 3-Month EUR/USD Cross-Currency Basis Swap -14.0 -6.0 basis points
  • N. America Investment Grade Credit Default Swap Index 65.10 -9.52% 
  • America Energy Sector High-Yield Credit Default Swap Index 627.0 -3.96%
  • European Financial Sector Credit Default Swap Index 65.99 +1.98%
  • Emerging Markets Credit Default Swap Index 326.48 -15.72%
  • CMBS AAA Super Senior 10-Year Treasury Spread  to Swaps 88.0 -.5 basis point
  • M1 Money Supply $2.892 Trillion +1.124%
  • Commercial Paper Outstanding 1,074.0 -1.20%
  • 4-Week Moving Average of Jobless Claims 298,750 -500
  • Continuing Claims Unemployment Rate 1.8% -10 basis points
  • Average 30-Year Mortgage Rate 3.80% -13 basis points
  • Weekly Mortgage Applications 360.0 -3.30%
  • Bloomberg Consumer Comfort 41.7 +.4 point
  • Weekly Retail Sales +4.0% +10 basis points
  • Nationwide Gas $2.45/gallon -.15/gallon
  • Baltic Dry Index 814.0 -5.68%
  • China (Export) Containerized Freight Index 1,036.41 +1.95%
  • Oil Tanker Rate(Arabian Gulf to U.S. Gulf Coast) 35.0 unch.
  • Rail Freight Carloads 280,337 +4.54%
Best Performing Style
  • Small-Cap Growth +3.9%
Worst Performing Style
  • Large-Cap Growth +3.1%
Leading Sectors
  • Oil Service +10.9%
  • Energy +10.1%
  • Steel +6.0%
  • Computer Hardware +5.4%
  • Networking +5.3%
Lagging Sectors
  • Retail +1.7% 
  • Internet +1.6%
  • REITs +1.5%
  • Gold & Silver +1.0%
  • Restaurants -.5%
Weekly High-Volume Stock Gainers (19)
Weekly High-Volume Stock Losers (19)
Weekly Charts
*5-Day Change

Stocks Slightly Higher into Afternoon on Central Bank Hopes, Less Emerging Markets Debt Angst, Oil Bounce, Gaming/Energy Sector Strength

Broad Equity Market Tone:
  • Advance/Decline Line: About Even
  • Sector Performance: Mixed
  • Volume: Above Average
  • Market Leading Stocks: Underperforming
Equity Investor Angst:
  • Volatility(VIX) 16.96 +.89%
  • Euro/Yen Carry Return Index 152.65 +.11%
  • Emerging Markets Currency Volatility(VXY) 11.0 -2.22%
  • S&P 500 Implied Correlation 65.73 +2.45%
  • ISE Sentiment Index 62.0 -58.11%
  • Total Put/Call .93 +22.37%
  • NYSE Arms .91 +81.91% 
Credit Investor Angst:
  • North American Investment Grade CDS Index 64.56 -.77% 
  • America Energy Sector High-Yield CDS Index 628.0 +.49%
  • European Financial Sector CDS Index 66.0 +.50%
  • Western Europe Sovereign Debt CDS Index 29.58 -2.07%
  • Asia Pacific Sovereign Debt CDS Index 67.96 -.95%
  • Emerging Market CDS Index 329.21 -8.64%
  • China Blended Corporate Spread Index 343.21 -1.46%
  • 2-Year Swap Spread 22.75 +1.0 basis point
  • TED Spread 21.0 -1.25 basis points
  • 3-Month EUR/USD Cross-Currency Basis Swap -14.0 +.5 basis point
Economic Gauges:
  • 3-Month T-Bill Yield .03% -1.0 basis point
  • Yield Curve 154.0 -3.0 basis points
  • China Import Iron Ore Spot $69.17/Metric Tonne +1.10%
  • Citi US Economic Surprise Index 31.50 -.1 point
  • Citi Eurozone Economic Surprise Index -.8 +1.3 points
  • Citi Emerging Markets Economic Surprise Index -12.80 +.1 point
  • 10-Year TIPS Spread 1.67 +2.0 basis points
Overseas Futures:
  • Nikkei Futures: Indicating +184 open in Japan
  • DAX Futures: Indicating +9 open in Germany
  • Slightly Higher: On gains in my tech/biotech sector longs
  • Disclosed Trades: None
  • Market Exposure: 50% Net Long