November 30, 2010
We’re expecting a couple of mildly encouraging economic reports this morning. At 9:45, the November Chicago Purchasing Managers Index is expected to inch up to a reading of 61, up a fraction from October’s 60.2. Anything over 50 indicates economic expansion in the Midwest. Then at 10 o’clock, the Conference Board’s survey of Consumer Confidence is expected to build off October’s rise and climb to a level of 52.
Over in the city that never listens, Washington, D.C., President Obama will meet today with Congressional leaders (even Republicans.) Hopefully everyone becomes reacquainted and can maybe even agree to tell us what the tax rules are for THIS year, let alone next year, while we still have a couple of weeks to plan. Call me crazy for asking, but if nothing else, there’s always hope.
Europe is hoping for some stability in the Euro, which seems even more wistful this morning, as markets >
Our stock market fell sharply yesterday until European markets closed at 2 o’clock. At that point, the falling euro stabilized and the U.S. dollar started to fall, driving stock prices almost all the way back to break even. So that inverse relationship, as strange as it seems, remains in place.
More red arrows than green overseas this morning, and we’ll likely start on another ditch as the futures are getting uglier by the minute. At this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down more than 10 points, the Dow futures are down 85, and the NASDAQ futures are about 21 points below fair value.
It will be a pretty light week for economic and earnings reports until Friday, when we’re expecting what could be pretty interesting November Employment Report. This morning, however, the focus is in Europe, where the Irish bailout package has finally taken shape.
Nearly $113 billion in aid will be made available, and Ireland will cut government spending by 20 billion dollars over the next four years. The interest rate will be a below-market 5.8 percent, and Ireland will be able to keep in place its low corporate tax rate. Now that that’s settled, credit default swap spreads on Spanish and Portuguese debt are soaring this morning, as those cash-strapped governments appear to be next in line for a rescue.
Speaking of “in line for a rescue,” the state of Illinois will float a 1½ billion dollar issue of tobacco bonds today. Believe that there will be a lot of other debt-ridden states watching the demand for those bonds very intently.
Reports from the retailers were good over the Black Friday weekend, with sales strong both online and off. Today, of course, everyone is back at the office – to continue their shopping online.
Most Asian markets were higher overnight, but Europe has turned lower, and on Euro weakness, the dollar is once again stronger, and that has had our futures on the slide since the five o’clock hour this morning.
At this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 6 points, the Dow futures are down 50, and the NASDAQ futures are about 12½ points below fair value.
Today’s the last full trading day of the week and we’ll be jam-packed with economic and earnings reports to consider.
Apparently the rich are spending their money before the Bush tax cuts expire. Tiffany reported operating earnings of 43 cents per share. That was a six cent beat. Tiffany also raised full-year guidance by a dime. Deere & Company reported $1.07 versus the expected 95 cents on much better than expected revenue.
In just fifteen minutes we’ll get the October Durable Goods number, which is expected to show no increase at all, after a 3½ percent pop last month. October Personal Income and Consumption numbers, however, are expected to be higher on the order of one-half of one percent. At 9:55 the University of Michigan’s final read on Consumer Sentiment and the 10 o’clock New Home Sales report are each expected to improve slightly.
No more exploding shells in Korea overnight. However, the Irish government is expected to announce their fiscal austerity bomb later today, including 10 billion euros in spending cuts and 5 billion euros in new taxes. Those moves are required before the IMF and EU come to Dublin to bailout Irish bonds. Earlier today Standard & Poor’s downgraded Irish sovereign debt by two notches to AA minus. Evidently they’ve just detected something a bit amiss in the Emerald Isle.
Chinese stocks rose overnight. Major European markets are trending higher. Our futures have been modestly higher all morning, and still are in front of the 8:30 data barrage. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are higher by more than 3 points, the Dow futures are up about 33, and the NASDAQ futures are about 8 points above fair value.
Global economic problems had stock prices in a big hole yesterday, which we pretty much crawled out of by 4 o’clock. And although the corporate news has been pretty good this morning, worries about the Korean hostilities have traders rushing into the dollar as a safe haven. And, as we’ve seen in the current environment, what’s good for the dollar is almost always bad for stock prices.
Let’s run down the corporate news. Last night, Hewlett-Packard reported that stronger than expected corporate demand offset weakness in consumer purchases to deliver $1.33 last quarter. That beat estimates by 6 cents. HP also raised guidance for the current quarter. Analog Devices checked in with 73 cents, which was a 3 cent beat. And it looks like J Crew may be going private again. There’s a deal on the table that should have J Crew stock up 15% or so today.
In just about 10 minutes, we’ll get the first revision of 3rdquarter Gross Domestic Product. Expect a revision up to 2.4 percent.
Overseas markets are lower across the board on the Korean news. Chinese stocks dropped on the order of two to three percent.
We’ll need a pretty good GDP number to avoid a significant slip at 9:30.
Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 11 points, the Dow futures are down about 93, and the NASDAQ futures are about 16 points below fair value.
It’s the start of a 3½ day week as far as traders are concerned, but we’ll still get our share of interesting news. Good news this morning as Ireland is reportedly close to agreeing to a European-funded bailout, although “close” and “done” are too different things.
Later today, Hewlett-Packard will be front and center with their new CEO Leo Apotheker delivering the quarterly report for the first time. Expect $1.27 of operating earnings from HP, but focus on their first quarter outlook as the really important news.
Tyson Foods and Lazy Boy also report earnings today.
Tomorrow we’ll get the Government’s latest estimate of just how much the economy will grow in 2011. Most expect that the picture will not be quite as rosy as the last estimate of 3½ to 4.2 percent.
And just in case you were thinking about spending the long Thanksgiving weekend doing your year-end tax planning, forget it. Everyone’s favorite group of slackers, the lame-duck Congress, has adjourned for their Thanksgiving vacation leaving tax rates, the alternative minimum tax, the research credit and, of course, the estate tax and the taxpaying public twisting in the wind until the very last minute.
Overseas markets are mixed.
Our futures were mildly higher most of the morning, but took a little dipsy-doo just within the past fifteen minutes. We’re looking for lower prices as things stand right now. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 3½ points, the Dow futures are down 31, and the NASDAQ futures are about 5 points below fair value.
Well, now that the big rush is over, we’ll see where shares of General Motors start to settle out. After first trading at 35 dollars yesterday, an briefly rising to 35.99, GM shares ended the day at $34.19, which means that at least on day one, if you bought GM shares and didn’t get it at the “friends and family” price of $33 bucks, you’re likely a little under water this morning. Of course, what happens during one day is speculation. Investing is a longer-term affair. It will be the long-term performance of GM the company that will determine whether buying GM the stock is a good move.
China continues to make moves to tamp down on a burgeoning inflation problem. Chinese CPI is nearly 4½ percent, and today, the People’s Bank of China raised the reserve requirement for their banks for the third time in two months.
Dell Computer, Heinz and Ann Taylor are all out with better-than-expected earnings reports this morning. Ann Taylor same store sales were higher by almost 12 percent on the quarter.
Dupont shares were upgraded by a major investment house this morning.
At this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 2½ points, Dow futures are down 27, and the NASDAQ futures are about 7 points below fair value.
It’s obviously a big day for General Motors as the “GM” ticker symbol comes back to life. The vast majority of people who want to buy a share of the new GM common will have to wait until after 9:30 this morning when the big investment banks and the big hedge funds and other big well-connected money guys flip the shares that they have been allocated.
Everyone’s big question is – “How much is a share really worth?” Remember, a share of stock is really two things; first of all, it’s a share of the corporate enterprise that has a value based on the company’s net worth, its market share, its debt rating, its income and the prospects for future income. Secondly, a share of stock is a “commodity.” There are only so many of them out there, and the price will be determined by investor demand for that limited resource. So even if on a corporate enterprise basis GM may not be worth 33 bucks per common share, investor demand in the short run may drive the price higher, no matter how many new Chevy Volts get sold.
At 10 o’clock this morning, we’ll get a couple of economic surveys that are each expected to show improvement. The October Leading Economic Indicators is expected to improve by one-half of one percent, following the September three-tenths of a percent increase. The November Philadelphia Fed Survey is expected to reflect improving business conditions in the Northeastern region of the country.
Japanese stocks rose two percent overnight. China was up one percent. European markets are up about a percent and a half.
Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are higher by 13 points, Dow futures are up just about 100 points, and the NASDAQ futures are about 24 points above fair value.
The initial public offering of General Motors just keeps growing and growing and growing. As the public continues to clamor (for whatever reason) for GM shares, the Government keeps throwing more chum into the water. As of this morning, it looks like 478 million common shares will be on the block, but don’t be surprised if the bankers exercise their option up to 550 million shares. If that happens, and if the shares price at 33 bucks, which is the high end of the currently stated target range, it may well become the largest IPO of all time.
We’ll follow up yesterday’s relatively tame Producer Price Index number with the October Consumer Price Index at 8:30. Expect a rise of three-tenths of a percent, which would be up from September’s one-tenth of a percent. We’ll also get the October Housing starts at 8:30, which are expected to be flat at the annualized level of 600,000 ever.
European markets are stabilizing, as European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund officials visit Ireland this morning, and they’re not there for the golf. They’re trying to get Irish officials to accept a bailout package to avoid a bit of a debt contagion among Europe’s weaker economies.
Our futures have been wavering between flat and modesty higher all morning, and it looks like we’ll have to wait for the housing and CPI numbers at 8:30 to pick a firm direction. Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are higher by about 2 points, Dow futures are up 12½, and the NASDAQ futures are about 7 points above fair value.
The futures have improved from their lows of the morning, but we’re still looking at a rough start for stock prices at the open. The trouble started overnight in Asia.
The Chinese Government announced new restrictions on foreigners’ ability to buy residential or commercial real estate, as they continue to tamp down on a pending real-estate bubble. Also overnight, South Korea’s central bank raised interest rates in an effort to head off the inflation that our central bank seems hell-bent to create. Our October Producer Price Index is due at 8:30. Expect an eight-tenths of a percent increase.
Furthering the overseas headaches are more concerns over the ability of the Irish government to raise cash to repay or refinance their debt.
General Motors is apparently in a position to raise plenty of cash. Word is that this week’s IPO of GM common and preferred stock will now raise at least 13.6 billion dollars, and the IPO price of the common will be at least 32 dollars per share, up from the mid-20’s price that was expected.
Walmart matched earnings estimates this morning. Home Depot and Dick’s Sporting Goods did better than expected. But all three companies raised their full-year guidance as they are looking for an active Holiday season. Qualcomm also beat estimates.
Honeywell cut its guidance by more than 25% this morning, but don’t panic – it’s an accounting method change, not a fall off in business.
Chinese stocks were lower by 4 percent overnight. European markets are lower, and at this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down 6 points, Dow futures are down 45, and the NASDAQ futures are about 15 points below fair value.
We’re starting to see a bit of a disconnect from the recent market trend. For months now, there’s been and almost perfectly inverse correlation between the dollar and the stock market. However, that relationship has been breaking down during the past week or so. This morning, we’re seeing a slightly stronger dollar, yet overseas markets are higher and our futures are in pretty good shape. Maybe we’ll start getting back to looking at corporate performance rather than central bank policy.
Corporate performance of the retailers will be under the microscope this week. We’ll kick things off at 8:30 with the report on October Retail Sales. The index is widely expected to have risen by seven-tenths of one percent, which would be just a touch better than the September number. Individual retailers reporting earnings today include Lowes’, Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom.
On the merger front, Caterpillar is buying mining equipment maker Bucyrus for 7.6 billion in cash. They’re also assuming a billion in debt. The 92 dollar per share purchase price is a 32 percent premium to Friday’s close. In a 2½ billion dollar deal, EMC is buying Isilon on the theory that one data storage company is better than two.
Markets in Mexico and many Muslim countries are closed for a holiday. Most overseas markets that are open are higher. At this point, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up almost 4 points, Dow futures are up 27, and the NASDAQ futures are about 12 points above fair value.
We’ll get off to another rough start this morning, but likely not nearly as rough as they had in China overnight. Chinese indexes were lower on the order of 5 or 6 percent on worries that the Chinese Government will soon raise interest rates again. Yesterday’s report of higher than expected consumer and producer prices gets the blame.
They’re looking to blame someone at Disney for yesterday’s early release of quarterly results. The numbers were supposed to be released after the market closed, but were (supposedly) inadvertently leaked earlier in the afternoon. The results, by the way, weren’t very good. Disney missed the estimated earnings and revenue numbers, with profit falling 7% from a year ago. Weak results at ESPN and the theme parks took the blame. Disney traded markedly lower yesterday afternoon on the leaked information, but looks to recover about one percent this morning as traders have had a chance to look at Disney’s forecast for the current quarter..
Also looking higher are shares of graphic chip-maker Nvidia. Nvidia’s CEO teased last night that the new Android-based tablet computers, that will be introduced in the months to come using Nvidia’s “Tegra” chip may go Apple’s ipad one better with new and “magical” features. Nvidia shares are bid about 5 percent higher pre-market.
At 9:55 this morning The University of Michigan’s first look at November Consumer Sentiment is expected to rise to a reading of 69.
Overseas we see a sea of red numbers. Right now, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down more about 9 points, Dow futures are down 67, and the NASDAQ futures are about 14 points below fair value.
There’s a lot of news to chew this morning, and most of it will leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Yesterday afternoon, Cisco Systems reported earnings for last quarter that were higher than analysts had expected. Now the real news – Cisco anticipates only 3 to 5 percent revenue growth for the current quarter, when everyone was expecting something more like 13 percent. Cisco shares are indicated nearly 17 percent lower in the pre-market.
Turning to economic news – well, there’s more trouble there. Overnight, China reported that Consumer Prices rose 4.4 percent and Producer Prices rose 5 percent in October. Both of those numbers were almost a half-percent higher than expected, as food prices in China rose 10 percent. So what, you say? Is my carry-out going to cost more? No, but if the Chinese government decides to slow inflation by raising interest rates even more, it will slow a lot of things – including corporate profits of many companies doing business there, which nowadays means any company of significant >
Kohl’s matched earnings estimates this morning. Viacom beat the earnings estimate by 5 cents per share, but it doesn’t matter.
Our futures have been sinking most of the morning, although they did rally back a bit during the past 10 minutes. Right now, adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 8 points, Dow futures are down 58, and the NASDAQ futures, on the Cisco forecast, are a real mess – just about 28 points below fair value.
General Motors pretty much outlined what the quarterly financial results would look like last week and this morning, they confirmed those numbers. Third quarter net income was 2 billion dollars, right in the middle of the forecast. Free cash flow was 1.4 billion on revenue of 34.1 billion dollars. GM expects to be making 11 to 13 billion dollars per year, before taxes, once car sales return to normal levels, whenever that happens. It will be interesting to watch the stock price when the long awaited IPO rolls out next week.
At 8:30 this morning, United States’ trade deficit is expected to decline just a bit to 45 billion dollars. Overnight, the Chinese Government announced that their imports rose 25% while exports grew 23%. While that sounds like a recipe to reduce their trade surplus, the October Chinese trade surplus soared to 27 billion dollars from 17 billion in September, because that 23% export growth came off a much higher base. Suffice it to say that those that criticize the Chinese for unfair trade practices will likely seize on the data to support their argument.
Also coming at 8:30 this morning will be the weekly jobless claims report. Expect 450,000 new claims, which is about the same number we’ve been looking at since the first of the year.
Overseas markets are mixed, but on the main a bit lower. Our futures are pretty unexciting as well.
Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are about 2 points, Dow futures are down 12, and the NASDAQ futures are just a fraction of a point below fair value.
Chevron is making its third largest acquisition ever, and the company it’s buying has a Michigan connection. Chevron is buying Atlas Energy for $43.34 per share of cash and stock. That’s about a 37% premium to the closing price of Atlas shares last night. Atlas is in the natural gas and shale end of the energy business with a significant chunk of business in northern Michigan.
If you don’t own Atlas, maybe you own some gold. The price of an ounce of gold spiked again this morning, briefly above $1,422 per ounce. It’s settled down a bit from there, but as long as the Fed continues to cheapen the dollar, look for commodities like the metals and oil to price higher. Better start getting used to that $3 per gallon gasoline.
Sara Lee reported lower income than a year ago on slightly lower than expected revenue. They are, however, going to sell their North American Bakery Business for just a little less than a billion dollars to a Mexican Company named Grupo Bimbo. Yeah, I know. I didn’t ask.
Asian markets were mixed overnight, but major European markets are higher.
Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are higher by a about 2½ points, Dow futures are up 25, and the NASDAQ futures are about 8 points above fair value.
The big flood of earnings reports is behind us, but there is some encouraging news this morning from Chrysler. Although the 3rdquarter was still an 84 million dollar loss according to GAAP, Chrysler reported an operating profit of 239 million dollars. More importantly, market share rose slightly and Chrysler says they’ll make 700 million on an operating basis for the year, with positive cash flow of a half-billion versus earlier expectations of a net cash drain. It looks like we can expect an IPO from Chrysler sometime next year.
McDonalds October same store sales in the United States missed the estimated increase of 6.1 percent by a half-percent. However, worldwide, same store sales rose 6.5 percent, which is more than a full percent higher than expected.
China’s Vice Finance minister criticized the Fed’s latest Quantitative Easing, calling “QE1” necessary, but “QE2” potentially dangerous, especially to the stability of emerging markets.
Australiawas a little less than a half percent lower overnight, but Asia, in general was higher. Major European markets are a bit lower. Our futures are down just about exactly as much as they were at this point last Friday, and are holding up pretty well, in the >
As the value of the dollar slowly sank in the West, stock prices rose like the morning sun once again yesterday and are now back to levels we haven’t seen people were still getting paychecks from Lehman Brothers.
Speaking of paychecks, or lack thereof, the big data point of the day comes to us courtesy of the Labor Department at 8:30. That, of course, is the October Employment Report. The ADP Report on Wednesday was a little better than expected, the Monster online Job Report was a little worse than expected yesterday. So, let’s play it down the middle. Expect an unemployment rate unchanged from last month’s 9.6% and the addition of 60,000 non-farm payroll jobs. Anything over 100,000 or less than zero would be a huge surprise. We haven’t seen a positive number since early this year when temporary census jobs skewed the overall numbers.
Ben Bernanke sits down for a chat with students at Jacksonville University at 2 o’clock this afternoon. But before and after that, no fewer than 6 Federal Reserve Governors will be running around giving speeches. Perhaps most interestingly, at 9:30, Kansas City Fed Governor Tom Hoenig will speak. Hoenig has been the only dissenting vote of late regarding Open Market Committee decisions.
Japanese stocks were up almost 3 percent overnight on the heels of our rally. Europe is much more of a mixed picture and our futures are looking a little weaker in front of the Labor Department Report six minutes from now.
Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are down about 2½ points, Dow futures are down 23, and the NASDAQ futures are about 4 points below fair value.
There’s a reason the “old sayings” are not only “old” but “still around.” That’s because they are true. Right up there with the “oldest sayings” regarding the stock market is “Don’t fight the Fed.” When the Fed eases monetary policy, stocks will head higher. When they substantially tighten policy and raise interest rates, look out below.
We’re seeing the result this morning of yesterday’s announcement that the Fed will buy 600 billion dollars of Treasury bonds over the next eight months. That’s about 20% more than the market expected and it's inflating the prices of stocks and commodities this morning. In the long-term, of course, artificially low interest rates will inflate the price of everything that we buy. But that, of course is a long-term problem. It’s the short-term “shellacking” that folks in Washington are trying to avoid. The Bank of England held interest rates at ½ of one percent this morning.
The Canadian government loves its fertilizer. So much, in fact that they have decided to block BHP Billiton’s bid to buy Potash. BHP has 30 days to come up with a plan that the Canadians like.
The weekly jobless claims number at 8:30 is expected to come in at 443,000. That would be higher than last month, but lower than the numbers we’ve seen most of the year.
Overseas all major markets are higher, and here we go again.
Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up about 11 points, Dow futures are up 79, and the NASDAQ futures are about 23 points above fair value.
As we get going this morning, we all realize that it will be hard to enjoy life without a steady stream of negative campaign advertising, but soldier on we must.
In case you happen to have about a half a trillion dollars of old mortgage backed securities and other stuff tucked away in the attic and you’re looking for a buyer, look no farther than the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee statement at 2:15 this afternoon. Helicopter Ben Bernanke and his merry men and women will likely give us the details of QE2. That’s not a big boat, it’s the Fed’s latest scheme designed to keep interest rates low, and kick-start the economy, even if it results in kicking the value of the dollar down the basement stars.
There are some problems in the Irish and the Greek bond markets this morning, as political infighting is casting doubt on just how much the politicians there will be able to right their fiscal ship.
Time Warner reported better than expected earnings, 62 cents versus the expected 53 cents, although revenue was a little light.
No trading in Japan overnight. China and Spain are a bit lower, but most major markets overseas are higher.
Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up about 4 points, Dow futures are up 29, and the NASDAQ futures are about 3 points above fair value.
The phone lines at U-Haul should be hoppin’ today and tomorrow as a lot of politicians make arrangements for new digs come January. But, no matter how much of the vote goes ‘blue’ or ‘red,’ our stock futures are heavily in the green at this hour.
In spite of a new 7.7 billion dollar charge, relating to the Gulf Oil spill, BP posted operating results that were much better than expected this morning, earning 5.5 billion dollars which was almost a billion more than analysts had expected. Total Gulf spill costs are now at 40 billion dollars.
Pfizer is also out with a decent report. 54 cents of operating profit beat estimates of 51 cents. Pfizer raised their guidance, but the high end of the range in now just a bit more than Wall Street already expected.
The big miss of the morning is Archer Daniels Midland. Their 54 cent profit was 21 cents short and ADM shares will trade lower at the open.
Interest rates were hiked again overnight in Australia and India. In markets where the central banks are actually interested in protecting their currency and heading off inflation, Australia’s target rate is now at 4.75 percent. India’s target lending rate is 6.25 percent. Just as a reminder, our rate is about zero.
November 1, 2010
Every week is interesting in the markets. It’s just that some weeks are more interesting than others. This week may be more interestinger than that.
Of course, there’s an election tomorrow, a two-day Fed meeting that ends Wednesday with the expected announcement of additional “quantitative easing” and the October Employment report on Friday. In short, a lot of potentially market-moving news is on the way, although our futures are indicating a market that will be moving higher in advance of all that.
There are two purchasing manager reports that indicate that manufacturing activity is rising more than expected and fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product may be up 9 percent. Unfortunately, we’re talking about China here – not the U.S. Our October ISM Index is due at 10 this morning. Expect a slight decline from September to a level of 54.0.
Exco Resources is being taken private at about a 28% premium to Friday’s close and McKesson is buying U.S. Oncology for 2.16 billion dollars.
Chinese stocks rose almost 3 percent overnight. Japan was lower and Europe is a mixed picture. All that being said, unless we get some horrible personal income and consumption data at 8:30, we’ll be heading higher at 9:30.
Adjusted for fair value, the S&P 500 futures are up 5 points, Dow futures are up 38, and the NASDAQ futures are about 7 points above fair value.