Monday, April 30, 2012
My favorite way to trade financials is through the Financial Select Sector SPDR  (NYSE: XLF ) ETF. Half of XLF's top ten holdings are bank stocks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase. These three banks, which make up more than 20% of XLF's valuation, reported upbeat earnings  last week.
XLF is up 35% in a few short months from the $11.50 base formed in December. The question now is how to profit  from this sector's strength while limiting risk on any pullback.
And there's plenty of upside potential. Just a halfway retrenchment from the 2009 lows to the 2007 highs targets an objective at $22, a 40% gain if you bought shares  at current prices.
An aggressive investor could buy shares and place an exit order on any brake below the established trend line at $15. All too often, however, a short-term fluctuation forces out positions before then moving in the desired direction. (more)
The lack of volume coupled with the divergence between the two momentum indicators (ROC still trending down while RSI is trending up) make it hard to believe that the index would have enough power to break the resistance of a sideways trading range dating back to Feb. 13, 2012.
But lately, the legitimate reasons for investing overseas have been joined by a couple of new ones: disgust with a ridiculously intrusive US tax system and worry that the country is becoming something different and less predictable.
As the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn reports below, a small but growing number of Americans aren’t just moving money offshore, but are renouncing citizenship altogether: (more)
From Silver Seek / By Stephan Bogner / April 27, 2012
History does not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.“ (Mark Twain)
Between 1970 and 1979, the silver price was increasing steadily from $1.50 to $6, before taking off in September 1979 from $10 to $50 within 5 months. During that bull cycle, demand for silver did not increase but actually declined (sharply in 1979). It was as late as 1983 when demand increased confidently from 12,000 to 27,000 tons per year until 2000 – yet the silver price was in a 20 year bear market during that time. In 2003, when silver started its new bull market, the demand actually dropped to 23,000 tons until 2005 – during which 2 years silver almost doubled from $4.50 to $8. Since 2005, demand is rising stronger than ever, having reached 33,000 tons in 2010, whereas the silver price is rising strongly as well.
The initial comparisons indicate one important phenomenon in the silver market, namely that (industrial) silver demand is “price inelastic”: that is, changes in price have a relatively small effect on the quantity demanded. The demand for other commodities is known to be “price elastic”: that is, changes in price have a relatively large effect on the quantity demanded (if tomato prices blow up, go bananas). This basically translates into: no matter if the silver price crashes or explodes, demand – unimpressed – will keep its own dynamic pace, because demand does not respond to price changes. Firstly, silver is the most broadly used metal, because of its unique characteristics, such as highest thermal and electrical conductivity of all metals. In most of its few thousand application fields, silver is considered a non-substitutable product. In contrast for example, when the platinum price increases too strongly, automotive demand traditionally substitutes for cheaper palladium thus potentially driving down the platinum price. Secondly, silver typically makes up only a relatively small component in the total of the product and the total of its costs. Both these demand characteristics/inelasticities (not substitutable and small cost component) are crucial to understand the silver price, because they remind that no matter if price explodes or crashes, (industrial) demand virtually does not care, but keeps on consuming as per its own factors/fundamentals. Notwithstanding, an increased demand principally has a positive effect on the price, of course (GFMS expects fabrication demand in 2012 to rise by approx. 3-5% to around 29,000 tons silver, whereas fabrication demand accounts for more than 80% of total demand; fabrication demand includes industrial applications, photography, jewelry, coins and silverware).
The latest bust was bad. Prices fell nearly 50%. But the big-picture trend is in your favor. And the gains could be extraordinary.
Let me explain...
Since 2001, global food prices have surged over 130%. Take a look...
This chart shows two decades worth of the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) "Food Price Index." This index  measures the change in international prices of food commodities, like meat, dairy, and grains. (more)
|MONDAY, April 30|
|8:30 am||Personal income||March||0.3%||0.2%|
|8:30 am||Consumer spending||March||0.4%||0.8%|
|8:30 am||Core PCE price index||March||0.2%||0.1%|
|9:45 am||Chicago PMI||April||60.8%||62.2%|
|TUESDAY, May 1|
|10 am||Construction spending||March||0.5%||-1.1%|
|TBA||Motor vehicle sales||April||14.4 mln||14.4 mln|
|WEDNESDAY, May 2|
|8:15 am||ADP employment||April||--||209,000|
|10 am||Factory orders||March||-1.5%||1.3%|
|THURSDAY, May 3|
|8:30 am||Weekly jobless claims||4-28||379,000||388,000|
|8:30 am||Unit labor costs||1Q||3.0%||2.8%|
|10 am||ISM nonmanufacturing||April||55.5%||56.0%|
|FRIDAY, May 4|
|8:30 am||Nonfarm payrolls||April||165,000||120,000|
|8:30 am||Unemployment rate||April||8.2%||8.2%|
|8:30 am||Average hourly earnings||April||0.2%||0.2%|
Saturday, April 28, 2012
At first blush, South Africa seems like a strange addition to the group. It isn't ranked in the top 10 countries in terms of population as its fellow members are, its land area isn't as large, and its gross domestic product (GDP) is a quarter of Russia's ($1.45 trillion to $357 billion). The move may be part of a greater BRIC strategy to get on the good side of a country in a rapidly developing continent, since Brazil, Russia, India and China all have economic ties to Africa that they want to entrench. The population in the Southern Africa region, in which South Africa is considered the gateway country, represents 20% of Africa's current total population of nearly 1 billion people. Among its peers, South Africa is considered to be the most developed country, has greater political stability and is considered less corrupt (according to Transparency International).
by Daniel P. Collins FuturesMag:
Jim Sinclair is not simply a gold bug; he successfully has called every major move in the precious metal — both up and down — over a generation. But he is not merely a market guru either. Sinclair has had a love affair with markets for 50 years. He has owned brokerages, clearing firms, mining companies and a precious metals dealer. His Sinclair Group of Companies, founded in 1977, offered brokerage services in stocks, bonds and commodities operating in New York, Kansas City, Toronto, Chicago, London and Geneva until he sold them in 1983. At one time he was considered the largest gold trader in the world, but today he is running his African-based Tanzanian Royalty Exploration Company and the MineSet web site that provides unique macroeconomic information to his loyal followers. Sinclair is a good person to listen to.
Futures Magazine: You have been right on gold for years. How?Jim Sinclair: Gold has been a primary focus of mine for 50 years; I’m 71, if you put enough time into a subject you probably ought to get to know it. It became obvious to me that gold had performed extraordinarily well as a currency vs. the dollar; it performed very well in the 1980s and it performed very well on the downside. It was obvious to me that a turn was coming in 2001 and we reached a high in the U.S. currency and accordingly I felt we reached a low in gold.
Read More @ FuturesMag.com
It goes from very overbought to the 50 level where it finds support. From there it attempts to get back over 70, but stalls and proceeds to roll over and visit the 40 level where it finds support. After a quick visit back to 50 it finds support and retests the 40 level. Now we are in a position where this could break down and really start to sell off. It doesn’t have to happen, but it’s in a position too…and that’s what is key here. It’s also interesting how all of this bearish RSI action corresponds with a negative MACD and a chart that is holding it’s head right above the neckline.
Most of the growth is in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), a subclass of the exchange-traded product family. But a handful of exchange-traded notes (ETNs) are also a small part of this market .
And while there are ETFs for everything from copper to cocoa, ETNs offer  a unique type of exposure to mainly two high-yield groups: master limited partnerships (MLPs) and business development companies (BDCs).
Readers of my High-Yield Investing  newsletter know that I'm a big fan of MLPs and BDCs. These unique businesses allow investors to capture higher yields than many blue chip stocks and bonds .
MLPs are in the pipeline business, transporting oil and natural gas from the drilling site to the "downstream " facilities such as refineries and storage facilities. They earn a fee based on the volume  transported, and in turn are not as sensitive to energy prices as drilling companies, for example. This provides a reliable stream of income, much of which is passed right on to investors in the form of sizeable dividends. (more)
Record-Low 53% of Americans Say Their Home's Value Has Increased
Fifty-three percent of Americans believe their house is worth more today than when they bought it, down significantly from 80% in 2008 and 92% in 2006. It confirms that many Americans are underwater in terms of the value of the home they currently own. (more)
For each stock, the neutral (N) zone represents between one standard deviation above and below its 50-day moving average. The light red shading represents between one and two standard deviations above the 50-day, and vice versa for the light green shading. The dark red shading represents between two and three standard deviations above the 50-day, and vice versa for the dark green shading. Moves into the red shading are considered overbought, while moves into the green shading are considered oversold.
Just 5 of the stocks shown have moved lower within their trading ranges over the last week, while 25 have moved higher. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) have had the biggest moves higher since last Thursday's close.
At the moment, 8 of the 30 largest S&P 500 stocks are in overbought territory, while 4 are oversold. Four stocks are in extreme overbought territory — AT&T (T), Pfizer (PFE), Coca-Cola (KO) and Verizon (VZ). The 4 oversold stocks are Wal-Mart (WMT) — which was overbought last week, Cisco (CSCO), McDonald's (MCD) and ConocoPhillips (COP).
Looking at year to date performance, the biggest stock in the S&P 500 (and in the world) — Apple (AAPL) — is up the most out of all the stocks listed with a gain of 50.54%. Bank of America (BAC) ranks a close second with a YTD gain of 49.19%, followed by JP Morgan (JPM), Citigroup ©, Microsoft (MSFT) and Wells Fargo (WFC). Google (GOOG) has been the biggest loser out of the 30 biggest stocks so far this year with a decline of 4.44%. McDonald's (MCD) — which was one of the best performing stocks in 2011 — is down the second most at –4.43%.
Interested in running your portfolio through the Bespoke Trading Range Screen? Become a Bespoke Premium Plus member today.
I was at a party during Thanksgiving break of my freshman year of college. One of detractors came up and thumped me in the sternum. "You were right about R.E.M.!"
The herd had caught on.
R.E.M. went on to a major label, multimillion-dollar deal and became mainstream. I still liked R.E. M., but it had grown beyond being an outlier band from Athens, Georgia. Their output changed, perhaps dictated by a much bigger audience. (more)
The Trade of the Day first recommended AMGN on Dec. 19 at $60.25 when it broke from a huge cup-and-handle formation. We recommended it again on April 3 while the stock was consolidating within a bull channel with a target of $75.
On Monday, AMGN broke from its channel, and on Wednesday, the company reported Q1 earnings of $1.59, beating analysts’ estimates of $1.43, and posted higher-than-expected revenues. Analysts raised their target to $79.
Technically the break from the bull channel is a strong indication that prices are headed higher. The MACD triggered a new buy signal, and we are raising the trading target for AMGN to $80.
Friday, April 27, 2012
From the Economic Collapse / April 24, 2012
If you enjoy watching financial doom, then you are quite likely to really enjoy the rest of 2012. Right now, red flags are popping up all over the place. Corporate insiders are selling off stock like there is no tomorrow, major economies all over Europe continue to implode, the IMF is warning that the eurozone could actually break up and there are signs of trouble at major banks all over the planet. Unfortunately, it looks like the period of relative stability that global financial markets have been enjoying is about to come to an end. A whole host of problems that have been festering just below the surface are starting to manifest, and we are beginning to see the ingredients for a “perfect storm” start to come together. The greatest global debt bubble in human history is showing signs that it is getting ready to burst, and when that happens the consequences are going to be absolutely horrific. Hopefully we still have at least a little bit more time before the global financial system implodes, but at this point it doesn’t look like anything is going to be able to stop the chaos that is on the horizon.
The following are 22 red flags that indicate that very serious doom is coming for global financial markets….
Jim welcomes back Bud Conrad, Chief Economist at Casey Research. Bud sees large and growing demands for credit from the federal government, which will require the Fed to continue to create a large and growing supply. This will lead to debasement of the dollar, higher inflation, and higher interest rates, all long-term negatives for the US economy. As government debt grows, the interest to be paid grows as well. If rates rise, the scenario becomes much worse.
As well as being chief economist for Casey Research, Bud is also author of the book Profiting from the World's Economic Crisis. Bud holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Yale and an MBA from Harvard. He has held positions with IBM, CDC, Amdahl, and Tandem. Currently, he serves as a local board member of the National Association of Business Economics and teaches graduate courses in investing at Golden Gate University. Bud, a futures investor for 25 years and a full-time investor for a decade, is also a regular lecturer for American Association of Individual Investors. In addition, he produces original analysis for Casey Research, including unique charts and research on the economy and investment markets. Bud's commentary may be found in The Casey Report every month.
click here for audio
Marc Faber : 'Over the last few months, the market has acted very badly. There are less new hires, the volume has dried out, insider sales have picked up, and this is the beginning of a downward trend. We may easily have a correction of 10-20% here. Most stocks are already down 10% from their highs. Markets have more than doubled from the lows in 2009. The global economy has actually deteriorated. 'It has optically improved because of huge government spending but in principle we are in a worse position today than we were in 2008 and 2009. There will be more money printing and if your are hyper bearish, maybe you are better off in equities than you are in government bonds and cash. I also advocate to own some gold'.
So, every time the 7% mark has been breached, the housing market’s taken a dive two or three years later. There is no reason to suggest this time it’s different, says finance professor and economist George Athanassakos. Expect a “severe correction.”
He even has a handy chart. Copy, paste and email it to your 25-year-old daughter about to buy her first condo with 5% down and daddy’s co-signature. This could save Christmas dinner next year:
In fact the Canadian housing market, one of the few in the western world still supported by endorphins and hormones, is gaining the attention of a few academics who think we’re, well, nuts. Like Neville Bennett, of Canterbury University in New Zealand, where they’ve had a bubble of their own. Cheap rates, lax lending standards and $85 billion in mortgages to people with dodgy credit spell disaster, he suggests: (more)
The numeric implications as well as the magnitude of the student loan bubble have been discussed extensively before. Yet just like most people’s eyes gloss over when they hear billions, trillions or quadrillions, so seeing the exponential chart of Federal Student debt merely brings up memories of a math lesson from high school, or at best, makes one think of statistics. And as we all know statistics are faceless, nameless and can never apply to anyone else. It is the individual case studies that have the most impact. Which is why we would like to introduce you to Devin and Sarah Stang – student loan debt slaves in perpetuity.
First, for those who are still unfamiliar with the brush strokes, here is the big picture, courtesy of AP:
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimates 37 million Americans have student loan debt, totaling $870 billion. The average balance is around $23,000 (though that partly reflects a relatively small number of very large balances; the median is $12,800). Only 39 percent are paying down balances. An estimated 5.4 million borrowers have at least one student loan account past due.
Roughly 85 percent of outstanding student loan debt is owed to the federal government. The remaining 15 percent that’s counted as private student debt is owed to various non-federal lenders, ranging from banks to loan companies like Sallie Mae Corp. to non-profits and state-affiliated agencies (under the Durbin bill, loans from any government-funded entity still wouldn’t be dischargeable, only those from truly private lenders).
Generally, it’s these private loans that bring borrowers to the door of bankruptcy lawyers like Barrett. Private student loans often lack the protections of federal ones, and have rates that typically start higher and can shoot up. A recent survey of bankruptcy attorneys found 81 percent reporting more clients with student debt in recent years, and roughly half reporting a significant increase.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
The United States Has Plenty Of Oil: 10 Facts About America’s Energy Resources That Will Blow Your Mind
The United States is not running out of oil. In fact, nobody on the entire globe has more energy resources than the United States does. The truth is that we are absolutely swimming in oil and natural gas and we have so much coal that we have no idea what to do with it all. At current consumption rates, America has enough energy resources to completely satisfy all of its needs well into the 22nd century. If we would just access those resources, we would not have to import a single drop of foreign oil. But most Americans don’t realize that we have plenty of oil. In fact, our education system has brainwashed most Americans into believing that our energy resources are rapidly being depleted and that we will soon enter a great energy crisis. We are all constantly told that we must transition to “green energy” before it is too late. But the reality is that America is an energy rich nation and new discoveries of oil and natural gas deposits are being made all the time. Shouldn’t someone tell the American people the truth about these things?
Read More @ EndOfTheAmericanDream.com
The commodity metal copper is known in the financial world as “Dr. Copper,” because, historically, the copper spot price has predicted the health of the global economy, as it is an important input resource to a huge number of industrial processes.
With all of the bad news coming out in the last few weeks, after a seemingly upbeat start to the year, and the Fed’s take on the economy out today, it seems a good time to check in on our trusty time-tested bellwether.
It is an opportune to discuss the metal as Cesco Week, the leading series of events in the world copper industry, just wrapped up in Santiago, Chile. According to the FT:
“The consensus at Cesco week, from within the mining industry and beyond, was that much of the supply would not arrive on time.”
Supply problems facing the industry are many. Eric King interviews many heads of mining firms, and has identified a pattern; a dire shortage of mine engineers and contractors. The CEO’s tell him that mining professionals are in demand and are being paid far more than in the past and in many cases, must be flown to locations. Costs of labor of all types are rising rapidly, and strikes are becoming more and more common. (more)
Signs the Dollar Is Going the Way of the Dodo
The biggest oil-trading partners in the world, China and Saudi Arabia, are still using the petrodollar in their transactions. How long this will persist is a very important question. China imported 1.4 million barrels of oil a day from Saudi Arabia in February, a 39% increase from a year earlier, and the two countries have teamed up to build a massive oil refinery in Saudi Arabia. As the nations continue to pursue increased bilateral trade, at some point they will decide that involving US dollars in every transaction is unnecessary and expensive, and they will ditch the dollar.
When that happens, the tide will have truly turned against the dollar, as it was an agreement between President Nixon and King Faisal of Saudi Arabia in 1973 that originally created the petrodollar system. Nixon asked Faisal to accept only US dollars as payment for oil and to invest any excess profits in US Treasury bonds, notes, and bills. In exchange, Nixon pledged to protect Saudi oilfields from the Soviet Union and other potential aggressors, such as Iran and Iraq.
Read More @ CaseyResearch.com
From Financial Sense / By Lance Roberts / April 24, 2012
It seems that political leaders in Europe, particularly Germany, may be giving up on the idea of austerity measures to reign in the excessive debt levels that have run amok in these countries, as well as in the U.S., over the last 30 years. Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, has been a driving force on the insistence of tough debt cutting measures and fiscal targets in exchange for bailout funds since the beginning of the Greek crisis. In a NY Times article published yesterday Jordi Vaquer i Fanes, a political scientist and director of the Barcelona Center for International Affairs in Spain stated: “The formula is not working, and everyone is now talking about whether austerity is the only solution. Does this mean that Merkel has lost completely? No. But it does mean that the very nature of the debate about the Euro-zone crisis is changing.”
What is both disturbing and disappointing are the lack of foresight that is being exhibited by both the media and the leaders of not only Europe but the U.S. as well. It should not be a surprise to anyone that the austerity regimen, agreed to last month as a long term solution to Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, is going to cause economic growth to slow. We have been very vocal about this point in past missives. Austerity measures cannot be imposed when an economy is saddled by rising debt costs and high unemployment. Austerity, by its very nature, will reduce economic output and therefore requires a strongly growing economy to offset the drag of the reduction of government spending.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The MSCI World , a popular index  of global stock market  performance, shows a similar seasonal pattern. In fact, returns for the MSCI World Index in the months of May through October over the same post-1950 era are negative. The old adage to sell in May has gained even more prominence over the past two years, as stocks have endured gut-wrenching corrections in the summers of 2010 and 2011, only to enjoy powerful year-end and New Year rallies.
I'd never recommend managing your portfolio using simplistic seasonal rules, but it's only prudent for investors to contemplate the potential for at least a short-term correction  in global equity markets. (more)
Maybe you can't go back in time, but you don't have to.
The Bakken oil shale boom going on in North Dakota right now is just as big-if not bigger.
Just take a look at what's been happening in Williston, ND, the epicenter of the Bakken oil shale boom.
In Williston, it's like the recession never happened.
Unemployment is under 0.8% -- that's right, less than 1%, far below the national average of 8.2%. And the new oil jobs pay well, too. The average oil worker is making more than $90,000 a year.
The flood of jobs has made Williston the fastest-growing small city in the United States.
Consequently, there was no collapse in home prices in Williston. The inrush of new employees to work the Bakken oil shale boom has actually created a housing shortage.
A one-bedroom apartment that went for $500 in 2005 costs at least $2,000 now. Builders literally cannot build homes fast enough.
The rapid population growth from the Bakken oil shale boom has left many people sleeping in cars and tents. Williston just this week was forced to pass an ordinance that makes it illegal to live in a camper within city limits.
And while other states have been cutting services, shedding jobs and raising taxes, North Dakota is building up the state trust fund and reducing property taxes. All that, and still it projects a $1 billion surplus for its two-year budget. (more)
Happy Tax Day Welcome to America -
Land not of the Free - but of Economic Slaves
click here to read in PDF
A few weeks ago, the S&P 500 closed above 1,400 for the first time since May 2008, before the Lehman Brothers collapse led off the financial crisis. In total, the index  has gained a remarkable 11% so far this year (compared with 0% for all of last year).
That's good news, right?
Well, lower-yielding financials and tech stocks have led the move higher, while defensive high-yield utilities and master-limited partnerships (MLPs) have lagged to the downside.
For instance, the Alerian MLP Index is up less than 1% year-to-date, while the utility sector, down more than 3%, is currently the worst-performing sector in the S&P 500.
Last year, these two groups outperformed as nervous investors sought safe dividend  returns amid volatile markets. This year, however, the reverse started taking place. Financial and technology companies listed on the S&P 500 have risen about 17%.
Investors have taken more chances on increased signs of economic recovery in the United States and easing concerns about Europe's debt crisis. As a result, some are investing their capital into riskier sectors, such as energy, that can benefit from economic growth. (more)
Here is a chart that illustrates this data series from its inception in 1970. I'm plotting the "Moving 12-Month Total on ALL Roads," as the DOT terms it. See Figure 1 in the PDF report, which charts the data from 1987. My start date is 1971 because I'm incorporating all the available data from the DOT spreadsheets.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500 turned in their best performances since 1998, rising 8.14% and 12.0%, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Nasdaq was even stronger, riding a tech-stock rally to a gain of nearly 19% - its best yearly start since 1991.
But as every seasoned investor knows, the markets never go straight up or straight down.
Prospects for continued strength may seem bright, but the recent five-day slide that took the Dow down almost 550 points might be pointing to something else entirely.
That's why now is the perfect time to consider shifting at least some of your funds into "defensive" stocks.
How to Shop For Defensive StocksThe following criteria generally describe defensive stocks:
- Those in non-cyclical industry groups, meaning they are capable of maintaining or increasing their revenues and earnings regardless of whether the overall economy is growing, flat or even slumping.
- Companies that provide products or services in fairly constant demand, even when the economy slows. Examples include producers of consumer staples; food packagers and distributors; healthcare and pharmaceutical companies; suppliers in certain addictive "sin" markets, such as tobacco and alcohol; and essential utilities.
- Those that have a recognizable brand name (or names) that consumers look for first, even when times are hard and cash is short.
- Stocks that pay steady - and historically increasing - dividends, which can provide both income and a cushion against short-term drops in share prices.
- Stocks with below-average volatility (beta) relative to the overall market, or a negative correlation with the primary business and/or market cycles.
- Dire warnings about an imminent spike in bond yields have been making the news lately, but we believe some of them are overly dramatic.
- Nevertheless, interest rates clearly have more room to rise than fall, and as the economy recovers, rates are likely to move higher.
- In our view, investors should manage their bond portfolios to mitigate the risk of rising rates, rather than abandoning the asset class altogether.
- You can try to lower interest-rate risk by reducing the average maturity of bond holdings, using laddered portfolios and focusing on higher-coupon bonds.
Dire warnings about the coming collapse of the US bond market have grown in frequency and volume over the past two years. Some of these warnings have come from very prominent voices: Warren Buffett was quoted saying that bonds are "dangerous" and "should come with a warning label," while Professor Burton Malkiel of Princeton suggested in aWall Street Journal editorial that bonds are no longer appropriate for "prudent" investors.
We believe warnings like these are dangerous and imprudent because they may lead investors to abandon diversified portfolios and unwittingly take more risk. Let's put the situation into perspective: Bond yields have been falling for more than 30 years. The 1.8% low in 10-year US Treasury yields reached at the end of January may be the lowest level we see for a while. However, the "spike" in rates from those lows has been pretty modest.
Ten-Year US Treasury Yields Trend Steadily Downward
Source: Bloomberg, as of March 29, 2012.
In our view, current economic conditions don't point to a risk of a significant increase in rates in the near term. Although the US economy has shown signs of stronger growth, Europe has tipped into recession and leading indicators for some major emerging-market economies such as China and Brazil are slowing. As a result, central banks around the globe have been lowering interest rates. Inflation pressures have actually eased since late last year despite the recent rise in energy prices. Finally, we see longer-term demographics pointing to rising demand for fixed income as the population ages. (more)
After falling off a cliff in October 2011, the stock stabilized and found support in the $14-$16 range. CROX then put in a breakaway gap on Jan. 11, which gave way to a move into the high teens/low $20 range where it has been consolidating for a couple of months. The $22.50 area has served as resistance since late March, but looks to have potential to give way to a first stop near $24 if it breaks.
A partial starter long position here with a price target at $24 and a stop at $21 looks like a good setup. The stock has a beta of 1.27 versus the S&P 500. Should the broader market bounce and retest the 2012 highs, this may allow for some alpha to be generated with the stock.
The company is scheduled to report its Q1 earnings on April 25 after the close, and as such, any long positions in the stock are subject to potential severe price movement if the news is not as expected.
Click to Enlarge
Jan-Feb-March 2012 petroleum and gasoline usage vs. the same three months in prior years.
However, the Great Recession is over, yet gasoline sales have not rebounded. Is this an indication another recession is on the horizon? That the recession never ended? Something else? (more)
But Tilson said that he would avoid three companies that have been selling off sharply this week because he doesn't see a cap to their downfall.
Those companies are Nokia, Research in Motion, and First Solar. Tilson is short all three.
"This week, Nokia, RIMM, First Solar are all in the headlines. The businesses are in full scale collapse," Tilson said. "The stocks are down 60 to 80 percent, yet we are short those three companies because we don't think their businesses will stabilize. We see lots more bad news coming. So the key is you have to invest in businesses that are at least going to stabilize their operations and the bad news will fade. If the bad news continues you're in a value trap."
Issues at Research in Motion and Nokia have widely been discussed over the past few years. Mainly, since the launch of the iPhone, Apple (and to a great extent Google) has eaten their lunch.
The two have bet their businesses on new product launches: at Nokia it's the Windows powered Lumia and at RIM it's the upcoming Blackberry 10 OS.
But First Solar, once a darling of the green energy industry, has seen sales collapse as highly subsidized markets like Germany have seen government funding cut.
First Solar this week said that it would cut its workforce by some 30 percent, eliminating 2,000 positions across the company's global operations.
The solar giant plans to close all of its operations in Frankfurt, Germany and indefinitely idle some production lines in Malaysia, adding to reductions already taking place in Europe and the U.S.
The attitude to trading in the markets is no different than the attitude required for surfing. By blending good analysis with effective implementation, your success rate will improve dramatically and, like many skill sets, good trading comes from a combination of talent and hard work. Here are the four legs of the stool that you can build into a strategy to serve you well in all markets.
Leg No. 1 - Approach
Before you start to trade, recognize the value of proper preparation. The first step is to align your personal goals and temperament with the instruments and markets that you can comfortably relate to. For example, if you know something about retailing, then look to trade retail stocks rather than oil futures, about which you may know nothing. Begin by assessing the following three components.
Monday, April 23, 2012
GoldSeek Radio's Chris Waltzek talks to ERIC SPROTT - April 17, 2012 . Eric Sprott, Chairman of Sprott Asset Management, and Chris Waltzek of GoldSeek Radio, talk about the outlook for Precious metals . They comment on how increasing interventions by central banks, from zero interest rates to money printing and bond buying have completely distorted the financial markets.
Paper money has NOT been around for 'hundreds of years'. Paper money after the American Civil War could be traded in for gold or silver. That ended for gold in the 1930's and for silver in the early 1960's. Paper currency that has an intrinsic value, 1 dollar silver certificate meant you could exchange it for silver coins. Holding the paper money was like holding the physical metal. Fiat money has no intrinsic value. It is paper!
MAKE SURE YOU GET PHYSICAL SILVER IN YOUR OWN POSSESSION. Don't Buy SLV, or Futures or Pooled Accounts or any other BS paper silver product .Remember anything on paper is worth the paper it is written on. Go Long Stay long the bull market have even started yet
But first, here is what Turk had to say about the action in gold and silver, and what investors should expect going forward:
"The spring is already coiled, Eric, but it is being wound tighter and tighter by this relentless testing of support. For more than a month, gold and silver have been confined to a very narrow trading range.
... The precious metals bend a little with these bouts of selling pressure being put on them. But they come right back, which is why I describe them like a spring being wound up. So when this spring starts to unwind, which it will, look out above. (more)
I like to consider myself a contrarian  investor. Zigging when others are zagging is usually the surest way to find underpriced stocks and avoid overheated ones that are due for a pullback.
But this time, the crowd just might be right.
As it turns out, analysts and investors have been singing the same tune -- at least when it comes to the outlook for a certain rare metal.
Let me explain...
Back in January, I made a on platinum in my Scarcity & Real Wealth  advisory and pointed out a few reasons why it was likely to bounce in 2012. At the time, the metal was trading for $1,360 an ounce -- today, it sells for about $1,600 an ounce.
Meanwhile, the ETFS Physical Platinum Fund (NYSE: PPLT ) has already climbed about 15% for the year.
So far, so good.
As a close sibling, palladium many of the same traits and uses, most notably as a key component in automobile catalytic converters. The main difference is that palladium has historically been favored in gasoline engines, whereas platinum is more common in diesel.
But diesel makers are increasingly turning to palladium because it's cheaper.
Global carmakers are widely expected to roll out 80 million vehicles this year. Those cars and trucks will leave the assembly lines with 6.24 million ounces of palladium -- 6% more than what was consumed last year and a new record high, according to Barclays Bank,.
Where will the metal come from?
Russia's main mining giant is more concerned with nickel production (which accounts for 90% of sales). And South African producers have been plagued by energy shortages and labor disputes. The country's output is expected to be the thinnest in years.
This will likely be the sixth consecutive year of falling global mine production.
To cover the shortfall, palladium suppliers have been dipping into secondary, above-ground sources, namely a strategic stockpile in Russia. But this key source is running dry and may almost be depleted.
With more cars on the road and fewer supplies coming out of key mines,forecasters are bracing for a palladium shortage of 215,000 ounces this year. And thanks to the introduction of commodities-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs), it's pretty easy to gauge the investment community's appetite for specific metals.
Russia shipped just 500,000 ounces of palladium ingots and powder to Switzerland (one of Europe's two main storage hubs) in 2010, the lowest amount in 15 years. Barclays says Russian shipments will plunge to just 300,000 ounces this year and may be exhausted altogether by 2014.
Right now, people are clearly hungry for palladium.
This deficit  is a big reason why ETF investors from New York to Zurich are suddenly hoarding the metal.
There are 58.9 metric tons of palladium stockpiled in ETF bank vaults, according to Bloomberg. This total represents a healthy 14% increase in palladium fund holdings since the start of the year -- the strongest quarterly increase since 2010.
Palladium prices on the London Metals Exchange have been essentially flat, but fund assets have been rising sharply, thanks to new inflows from shareholders -- cresting at $1.23 billion last week.
It's no coincidence that 11 top metals analysts are forecasting palladium to surge to $850 an ounce by the end of 2012.
This implies a 33% increase from current levels near $640, which easily bests the price appreciation  outlook for silver (13%) and gold (15%).
Action to Take --> In 2001, the last time we saw a major supply shortage, panicked buyers went on a binge that pushed palladium spot  prices to a record $1,100 per ounce.
There may not be a repeat of that, but there are sound reasons why palladium remains a good long-term bet. The metal exhibits many of the characteristics that I pound on the table in my Scarcity & Real Wealth  advisory -- it's a scarce (and dwindling) resource with growing global demand and real tangible wealth. In a world of crooked politicians, paper money and ballooning government debt, it's essential that investors own investments exactly like this one.
First Trust Global Platinum (Nasdaq: PLTM ) is an ETF that offers undiluted exposure to platinum and palladium producers. The fund enjoyed a nice 8.3% bounce in the first quarter, but I think there are more gains in store for shareholders through the remainder of 2012.
While there are somewhat different dynamics at work in Europe, I would like to point out the historical spread between the S&P 500 and the Euro Stoxx 50 indexes.
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The middle of the chart shows that the spread is at historic highs, which either means the Euro Stoxx 50 has to rise in relation to the S&P 500, or the S&P 500 has to fall and catch up with the Euro Stoxx 50.
At the bottom of the chart, also note the historic correlation of the two indices is always positive. There certainly is the off-chance that “this time it’s different,” but as traders we must focus on the higher probability setups and that means giving a mean-reversion trade such as this the benefit of the doubt.
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On April 10, the S&P 500 held the uptrend dating back to the Oct. 4 low, and over the past few days continued retesting that very uptrend. The 50-day simple moving average has been useless as support and resistance, as I always point out to subscribers. Yet from a broader perspective, if the S&P 500 were to break below the macro uptrend, then 1,340 and 1,300 should be the next viable downside targets.
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If we look at this a little closer on the S&P 500 15-day 60-minute chart, note that we have retraced 61.8% of the move from 1,422 down to the recent lows at 1,357. In addition, we are now seeing a bear flag formation that also has a first target at 1,340.
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The semiconductor complex as measured by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) put in a lower high, and by so doing, failed to confirm the higher high that the S&P 500 has given us.
Of course, individual stocks such as Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) have done great this year, in line with the S&P 500 making new highs. Either way, a confirmation by the SOX would be one checked box that would make me feel more at ease if I were net long stocks at this juncture.
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That brings us to the financials, which were the best-performing sector in the first quarter. Even after some profit-taking in individual names following their first-quarter earnings announcements, on the whole they remain healthy looking. Yet the sector is very much disliked even after having been on the bench for the better part of the past four years. If and when we get a more meaningful price correction in U.S.equities this year, the financials remain my preferred go-to sector at such time.
While the bears had a real chance to make a statement yesterday, they again gave in to the bulls who bought into the market during the last hour. Nevertheless, the above charts of the S&P 500 show that we are very close to potentially seeing 1,340. Should yesterday’s lows or thereabouts hold, we still have a shot at revisiting 1,420 and possibly above, but the bulls have to fight hard.
When your interviewer wraps up your job interview by asking if you have any questions, you might think that he or she is finished assessing you, but that's not quite the case. Interviewers draw conclusions about you based on the questions you ask--or don't ask. You don't want to give the impression that you're not very interested in the job, or that you're only concerned about the compensation. Instead, ask about the work, company, and team. Here are 10 great questions for your interviewer:
1. What are the biggest challenges the person in this position will face?
This question shows that you don't have blinders on in the excitement about a new job; you recognize that every job has difficult elements and that you're being thoughtful about what it will take to succeed in the position.
2. Can you describe a typical day or week in the position?
This question shows that you're thinking beyond the interview and that you're visualizing what it will be like to do the work itself. This is different from many candidates, who appear to be focused solely on getting the job offer without thinking about what will come after that.
3. What would a successful first year in the position look like?
Asking this shows that you're thinking in the same terms that a manager does--about what the position needs to contribute to the team or company to be worthwhile. You'll also sound like someone who isn't seeking to simply do the bare minimum, but rather to truly achieve in the role. (more)
Saturday, April 21, 2012
This development boom, and accompanying price increases, is not about housing to meet a sudden surge in population. It is not about an economic boom. If it was, Calgary and Edmonton would have 128 cranes, like Toronto does, building housing and pushing up all prices. Instead, this is taking place in Toronto and Vancouver where economies are moribund.
Conventional wisdom is that this is the market at work. This is not the market at work. This is manipulation of a government system of open-ended mortgage insurance that is poorly supervised. What is going on here is a deluge of hot money from abroad that is creating an artificial and potentially dangerous real estate bubble. This mania happened in several other countries — where it was shut down — and has spread to Canada. Officials here have been urging restraint but that is not the solution. A ban on foreign buying of residences is the only solution. (more)