Monday, January 31, 2011

Market Data & Graphs: Week Ending January 28, 2011

Market Index 12/31  Close 1/28    Close Week Change Simple YTD %
Dow Industrials Avg 11,577.50 11,823.70 -0.41% 2.13%
S&P 500 1,257.64 1,276.34 -0.55% 1.47%
Fed Funds Rate 0.10% 0.18% 0.00% 44.44%
10 yr T-note Yld 3.29% 3.32% -0.08% 0.90%
5 yr T-note Yld 2.01% 1.91% -0.10% -5.24%
5 yr TIPS - 'Real' Yld -0.06% -0.33% -0.13% 81.82%
Implied 5 yr Inflation % 2.07% 2.24% 0.03% 7.59%
2 yr T-note Yld 0.59% 0.54% -0.07% -9.26%
2-10 Yr Slope 2.70% 2.78% -0.01% 2.88%
90 day T-bill Yld 0.12% 0.14% -0.01% 14.29%
Gold ($/oz) $1,421.40 $1,341.70 $0.70 -5.94%
WTI Oil ($/brl) $91.38 $89.34 $0.23 -2.28%
VIX "Worry Index" 17.75 20.04 1.57 11.43%

Credit Spreads 12/31  Close 1/28    Close Week Change Simple YTD %
Inv Grade Credit Idx 4.78% 4.66% -0.06% -2.58%
Low Grade Credit Idx 8.32% 7.93% -0.05% -4.92%
Markit CDX Inv Grd Idx 85 83 -2.35% -2.41%
Markit CDX Mid Grd Idx 131 124 -2.36% -5.65%

Friday, January 28, 2011

Got Gold?

This chart from Chart of the Day provides a long-term view of the gold market. As today's chart illustrates, gold has been in a strong bull market since 2001. Today's chart illustrates that the pace of that upward trend increased beginning in mid-2005. Following the financial crisis of late 2008, gold surged once again. More recently, gold has pulled back from resistance (red line) of its accelerated trend channel. However, gold has pulled back to and is currently testing what is two-year, intermediate support (see green dashed line) for the eighth time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to Export Inflation

The economic concept of currency exchange rates and it's economic cousin, importing inflation/deflation, have been difficult to grasp. Here is a link to a Caroline Baum article on Bloomberg that goes a long way to clearing the fog. Here are a couple of salient points that helped a lot.

"First, let’s define inflation so we’re all on the same page. Inflation is, depending on one’s orientation, too much money chasing too few goods and services or, in the extreme case favored by Austrian economists, an increase in the money supply. In other words, money is key.
The Fed can print dollars, and those dollars may very well find their way into global commodities prices, emerging debt and equity markets or country-specific goods. That’s not inflation. No matter how many dollars the Fed prints, it cannot affect another country’s inflation unless that country is complicit in increasing its own money supply to prevent its currency from appreciating.
China is making a choice to import inflation. (Actually, in pegging the yuan to the dollar, the PBOC is choosing to cede control over its domestic monetary policy to the Federal Reserve. Inflation is the result.)"

"Sovereign nations need sovereign monetary policies. The European Central Bank is learning just how hard it is to fashion a one-size-fits-all short-term interest rate for 17 very different countries.
No single central bank can play that role for the world (gold standard bearers, hold your fire), just as no central bank can export inflation without a willing importer on the other side."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Market Data: Week Ending January 21, 2011

Market Index 12/31  Close 1/21    Close Week Change Simple YTD %
Dow Industrials Avg 11,577.50 11,871.80 0.72% 2.54%
S&P 500 1,257.64 1,283.35 -0.76% 2.00%
Fed Funds Rate 0.10% 0.18% 0.00% 44.44%
10 yr T-note Yld 3.29% 3.40% 0.08% 3.24%
5 yr T-note Yld 2.01% 2.01% 0.09% 0.00%
5 yr TIPS - 'Real' Yld -0.06% -0.20% 0.07% 70.00%
Implied 5 yr Inflation % 2.07% 2.21% 0.02% 6.33%
2 yr T-note Yld 0.59% 0.61% 0.04% 3.28%
2-10 Yr Slope 2.70% 2.79% 0.04% 3.23%
90 day T-bill Yld 0.12% 0.15% 0.00% 20.00%
Gold ($/oz) $1,421.40 $1,341.00 -$19.50 -6.00%
WTI Oil ($/brl) $91.38 $89.11 -$2.43 -2.55%
VIX "Worry Index" 17.75 18.47 3.01 3.90%

Credit Spreads 12/31  Close 1/21    Close Week Change Simple YTD %
Inv Grade Credit Idx 4.78% 4.72% 0.06% -1.27%
Low Grade Credit Idx 8.32% 7.98% 0.07% -4.26%
Markit CDX Inv Grd Idx 85 85 0.00% 0.00%
Markit CDX Mid Grd Idx 131 127 0.00% -3.15%

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Scanning Real Estate

Activity in the real estate (RE) market is a good reflection of consumer sentiment. RE is the most sought after, and government encouraged, purchase American's can make. As a homeowner, people become consumers of big ticket sales and the country's GDP perk's up and stays there. For me to believe the signals of economic recovery are getting solid, there will have to be several indications of consumer confidence surging. That is because consumer spending makes up nearly 70% of US GDP. This week there are a couple of encouraging reports on December starts of new housing (the start of construction of a new building intended primarily as a residential building) and existing home sales (the number of previously constructed homes, condominium and co-ops in which a sale closed during the month). These reports seem to signal still weak but improving single family sales in December. Low interest rates together with prices reflecting the weak market combined to close sales at a rate large enough to shrink the excess inventory balloon. Multi-family buildings were the driver for most of the increased building activity.

From Bloomberg regarding sales: Higher mortgage rates appear to have motivated buyers during December as existing home sales surged 12.3 percent to a higher-than-expected annual rate of 5.280 million (November revised 20,000 higher to 4.700 million). Details show even strength across regions and a big draw down in supply to 8.1 months from November's 9.5 months. Supply is the lowest its been since March. Home prices slipped in the month, down nearly one percent to a median $168,800.

From Bloomberg regarding building: Housing starts in December slipped back 4.3 percent, following a 3.8 percent rebound in November. The December annualized pace of 0.529 million units fell short of the median forecast for 0.550 million units and is down 8.2 percent on a year-ago basis. The reversal in December was led by a 9.0 percent drop in single-family starts, following a 5.8 percent gain the month before. The multifamily component rebounded 17.9 percent after declining 5.0 percent in November.
Housing permits, in contrast, made a 16.7 percent comeback in December after declining 1.4 percent in November. Overall permits posted at an annualized rate of 0.635 million units and are down 6.8 percent on a year-ago basis. The latest boost was led by the multifamily component which was up a sharp 53.5 percent while single-family permits improved 5.5 percent. However, the Commerce Department noted that building code changes took effect on January 1 in California, Pennsylvania and New York. In turn, some of the multifamily strength likely is due to construction companies getting approval before the tighter regulations.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Economic Condition Review 4Q 2010

As 2010 ended, the wait began for Q4 corporate earnings reporting season. Expected are confirmation of the health of the US consumer and corporate guidance leading to confirmation of an economic recovery that is sustainable. Commercial balance sheets are doing everything possible to restore financial health, including cutting expenses by laying off workers and paying off debt. Banks, the primary source of credit for econimci expansion, both consumer and commercial borrowers, are lending only to prime customers, letting growth of credit remain below trend. Most businesses do not have pricing power, so prices are holding the line so far despite rising commodity prices. Exceptions are businesses with pricing power such as health care, food and energy. Inflation (see Q4 CPI) for gasoline in 2010 came in at 13.8%, the overall energy component at 7.7%, and in the major grocery store food groups, the index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs posted the largest increase at 5.5 percent.

During Q4 2010 the Fed implemented the follow-on to quantitative easing we call QE2. This liquidity program is ultimately responsible for accomplishing one of what has become three objectives (maintain price stability, maintain full employment, and now support reflation of US stock market indexes). Obviously the one objective the Fed is succeeding at is reflation of the stock markets. So far, the Fed is not being successful at their two primary objectives. Now a big question is how can US stocks maintain their advance without the rest of the world's participation. Hello Ben. An answer please.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Market Data: Week Ending January 14, 2011

Market Index 12/31  Close 1/14    Close Week Change Simple YTD %
Dow Industrials Avg 11,577.50 11,787.40 0.96% 1.81%
S&P 500 1,257.64 1,293.24 1.71% 2.75%
Fed Funds Rate 0.10% 0.18% -0.01% 44.44%
10 yr T-note Yld 3.29% 3.32% -0.04% 0.90%
5 yr T-note Yld 2.01% 1.92% -0.04% -4.69%
5 yr TIPS - 'Real' Yld -0.06% -0.27% -0.04% 77.78%
Implied 5 yr Inflation % 2.07% 2.19% 0.00% 5.48%
2 yr T-note Yld 0.59% 0.57% -0.03% -3.51%
2-10 Yr Slope 2.70% 2.75% -0.01% 1.82%
90 day T-bill Yld 0.12% 0.15% 0.02% 20.00%
Gold ($/oz) $1,421.40 $1,360.50 -$13.70 -4.48%
WTI Oil ($/brl) $91.38 $91.54 $1.99 0.17%
VIX "Worry Index" 17.75 15.46 -1.68 -14.81%

Credit Spreads 12/31  Close 1/14    Close Week Change Simple YTD %
Inv Grade Credit Idx 4.78% 4.66% -0.04% -2.58%
Low Grade Credit Idx 8.32% 7.91% -0.09% -5.18%
Markit CDX Inv Grd Idx 85 85 -2.30% 0.00%
Markit CDX Mid Grd Idx 131 127 0.00% -3.15%

Friday, January 14, 2011

December & Yr 2010 Consumer Price Index Summary

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.5 percent in December on a
seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months,
the all items index increased 1.5 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The energy index increased in December. The gasoline index rose sharply and accounted for about 80
percent of the all items seasonally adjusted increase. The household energy index, which declined in
November, increased as well. The food index increased slightly in December, with the fruits and
vegetables index rising notably.

The index for all items less food and energy also rose in December. An increase in the shelter index
accounted for about 60 percent of the rise, and the indexes for airline fares, medical care and apparel
rose as well. These increases more than offset declines in the indexes for communication, recreation, and
household furnishings and operations.

Year in Review
The rate of increase in the CPI slowed in 2010 as the December to December increase fell from 2.7
percent in 2009 to 1.5 percent in 2010. A deceleration in the gasoline index accounted for much of the
slowdown, as it increased 13.8 percent in 2010 after rising 53.5 percent in 2009. The index for
household energy, which declined in 2009, rose 0.8 percent in 2010 as increases in the indexes for fuel
oil and electricity more than offset a decline in the natural gas index. The energy index as a whole,
which rose 18.2 percent in 2009, increased 7.7 percent in 2010.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ten Year Note: Somebody's Buying

 This info is reported by Econoday on Bloomberg:

Coupon Rate2.625% 
Total Amount$21 B 
Yield Awarded3.388% 

New Year investment inflows are flowing into Treasury auctions this week especially today's 10-year auction (a reopening of the 2.625 percent November issue). Retail demand appears to be especially strong as dealers ended up taking only 39 percent of the auction vs a 46 percent average. (Scanner: emphasis added) Coverage of 3.30 is well above average. Topping it off, the auction stopped out at 3.388 percent, two basis points below the 1:00 bid. Money is moving into the Treasury market following the results.

Scanner: The chart below shows that the Total Amount for 2009 is identical to the amount of the auction in January 2011. The amount with the annual reports is the average for monthly auctions in the year. The 2010 monthly reports are showing the monthly auction amounts.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) for 2011

Each January there is turnover of at least four of the eleven seats on the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC). The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is responsible for the discount rate and reserve requirements, and the Federal Open Market Committee is responsible for open market operations. Here is a link to a previous post with some additional background on the FOMC and the nine 2010 members.

The new members for 2011 will be presidents from four of the 12 Regional Bank Branches. The four Branches are in Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and Minneapolis. In addition, Janet Yellen, President of the San Francisco Branch, and Sarah Bloom Raskin, formerly the Commissioner of Financial Regulation for the State of Maryland, (the state ranks #12 as of 12/31/2010 on the unofficial problem bank list) were each appointed Governor's on The Fed Board last October, making them long-term members. In Yellen's appointment her vote is retained past 2010 because her Branch moves to the non-voting alternate member list for the 2011 term. Non-voting Reserve Bank presidents attend the meetings of the Committee, participate in the discussions, and contribute to the Committee's assessment of the economy and policy options.

Below is a look at representative quotes from speeches made recently by each ot the new members. Bloom Raskin has given only one speech as a board member. These might provide helpful background when the time comes to speculate about whether the program of quantittative easing gets extended. The current program is scheduled to stop by the end of June 2011.

The speech by Kocherlakota is given to an audience of college students and so he talked in terms that more people can understand. Many of the other speeches are weighted with econo jargon. Never-the-less, a quick browse will be enlightening for understanding more about the Fed's practices and plans for managing through the policy challenges that the economies of the world are faced with.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Market Data: Week Ending January 7, 2011

Market Index 12/31  Close 1/07    Close Week Change Simple YTD %
Dow Industrials Avg 11,577.50 11,674.80 0.84% 0.84%
S&P 500 1,257.64 1,271.50 1.10% 1.09%
Fed Funds Rate 0.10% 0.19% 0.09% 47.37%
10 yr T-note Yld 3.29% 3.36% 0.07% 2.08%
5 yr T-note Yld 2.01% 1.96% -0.05% -2.55%
5 yr TIPS - 'Real' Yld -0.06% -0.23% -0.17% 73.91%
Implied 5 yr Inflation % 2.07% 2.19% 0.12% 5.48%
2 yr T-note Yld 0.59% 0.60% 0.01% 1.67%
2-10 Yr Slope 2.70% 2.76% 0.06% 2.17%
90 day T-bill Yld 0.12% 0.13% 0.01% 7.69%
Gold ($/oz) $1,421.40 $1,374.20 -$47.20 -3.43%
WTI Oil ($/brl) $91.38 $89.55 -$1.83 -2.04%
VIX "Worry Index" 17.75 17.14 -0.61 -3.56%

Credit Spreads 12/31  Close 1/07    Close Week Change Simple YTD %
Inv Grade Credit Idx 4.78% 4.70% -0.08% -1.70%
Low Grade Credit Idx 8.32% 8.00% -0.32% -4.00%
Markit CDX Inv Grd Idx 85 87 2.35% 2.30%
Markit CDX Mid Grd Idx 131 127 -3.05% -3.15%

Friday, January 7, 2011

Watching DXY Correlation

It's a New Year and looking backwards can be interesting. We saw currency markets turning exceptionally volatile and solid results continuing in both bond and stock markets. Precious metals and commodities provided outperformance in 2010.  

Today, it's time to look at now and into the future. It looks to me like the time to reduce equity market risk for conservative portfolio's and to look for an attractive entry point for the new positions. More aggressive portfolio's can tolerate the equity markets better. IMHO, it may be that the equity indexes have more upward resistance from the US$ index which has been busting higher, currently through 81. This can be illustrated with the price correlation between the two prices, which as seen next, no longer seems intact, at least for the recent past.

The graph below shows the scenario as of last night, illustrating the US$ index in candlesticks and the S&P 500 in the black line.

Next is a look at the US$ index with the DBP (precious metals) ETF as a metals proxy. Price weakness is already seen in the metals. The price correlation between these two prices still seems intact.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Market Data & Graphs: Week Ending December 31, 2010

Market Index 2009   Close 12/31  Close Week Change Simple YTD %
Dow Industrials Avg 10428.05 11,577.50 0.03% 11.02%
S&P 500 1115.1 1,257.64 0.07% 11.33%
Fed Funds Rate 0.25% 0.10% -0.11% -150.00%
10 yr T-note Yld 3.85% 3.29% -0.10% -17.02%
5 yr T-note Yld
2.01% -0.05%
5 yr TIPS - 'Real' Yld
-0.06% -0.05%
Implied 5 yr Inflation %
2.07% 0.00%
2 yr T-note Yld 1.14% 0.59% -0.06% -0.55%
2-10 Yr Slope 2.70% 2.70% -0.04% 0.00%
90 day T-bill Yld
0.12% -0.01%
Gold ($/oz) $1,096.95 $1,421.40 2.88% 29.58%
WTI Oil ($/brl) $79.36 $91.38 -0.14% 15.15%
VIX "Worry Index" 21.68 17.75 7.77% -18.13%

Credit Spreads
12/31  Close Week Change
Inv Grade Credit Idx
4.78% -0.05%
Low Grade Credit Idx
8.32% -0.04%
Markit CDX Inv Grd Idx
85 -1.16%
Markit CDX Mid Grd Idx
131 -0.76%