Monday, February 20, 2017

Tuesday Watch

Today's Headlines
  • Le Pen Advances in French Polls as Security Concerns Sway Voters. Marine Le Pen gained ground on her rivals for the French election as she benefits from concerns about security while other candidates trained their fire on independent front-runner Emmanuel Macron. Monday’s daily OpinionWay poll showed that first-round support for anti-euro candidate Le Pen rose 1 percentage point to 27 percent, with Macron and Republican Francois Fillon unchanged at 20 percent each. While no surveys so far have shown Le Pen even close to a victory in May’s run-off, she’s quickly narrowing the gap to her rivals. OpinionWay showed Macron would defeat Le Pen by 58 percent to 42 percent in the second round. His advantage has halved in less than two weeks.
  • China Can Do More Than Stop Buying Coal to Pressure North Korea. If China really wanted to pressure North Korea, it could go a lot further than a ban on buying the isolated country’s coal. Fuel and commodity exports to North Korea, worth at least about $450 million last year, may be more vital to Kim Jong Un’s regime than the cash it will lose after Beijing pledged on Saturday to halt coal imports. Despite pressure from the U.S, it’s unlikely China will clamp down on the trade it views as livelihood assistance because that would risk destabilizing its neighbor, according to Jonathan Berkshire Miller, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • U.A.E. to Build Russian Warplane as Iran Stokes Mideast Tensions. The United Arab Emirates signed an outline agreement to buy Sukhoi Su-35 warplanes and will work with Russia to develop a next-generation fighter that could enter service in seven or eight years, according to Moscow-based industrial conglomerate Rostec Corp. While the latest version of the Sukhoi jet, based on the Su-27 Flanker and previously exported to China, would satisfy the Gulf state’s more immediate requirements, the proposed future model would essentially be “a brand new fighter,” Rostec Chief Executive Officer Sergey Chemezov said Monday.
  • Greek Bailout Deal Delayed for Months as Deadline Missed Again. The latest stand-off between Greece and its creditors looks set to go on for several more months as euro-area finance ministers poured cold water on a quick agreement that would unlock further loans. Where once officials had pinpointed Monday’s meeting of euro-area finance chiefs as the final chance for a deal before Europe’s politicians get too distracted with national elections, now the maximum that can be achieved at the talks in Brussels is agreement on when to send bailout monitors back to Athens.
  • European Stocks Inch Higher in Thin Trading as Unilever Drops. European stocks edged higher, with gains in miners and telecommunications firms tempered by a slide in Unilever NV. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.2 percent at the close, with commodity producers snapping a two-day drop as metal prices increased.
  • Dollar Strengthens While Most Asian Equities Climb. The U.S. currency advanced against its major peers after a Federal Reserve official said a March interest rate hike is not off the table. The pound was the strongest among G-10 currencies as a debate among British lawmakers on Brexit headed into a second day. Traders are awaiting earnings from HSBC Holdings Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd. after a U.S. holiday damped activity on Monday. The yen fell 0.3 percent to 113.47 per dollar, after declining 0.2 percent Monday. The Aussie slipped 0.3 percent to 76.69 U.S. cents after a 0.3 percent advance on Monday. The Topix index added 0.3 percent, rising for a second day. South Korea’s Kospi index climbed 0.8 percent to the highest level since July 2015. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.1 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index was little changed.
  • Burger King Owner Said in Advanced Talks to Buy Popeyes. Restaurant Brands International Inc., the owner of Burger King, is in advanced talks with Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. about a takeover of the fried-chicken chain, according to people familiar with the matter. Negotiations between the companies are ongoing, and a transaction could be announced as early as this week, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public. Talks could still fall apart, the people said. Popeyes has a market value of about $1.37 billion, while Restaurant Brands is worth $25 billion.
Wall Street Journal:
  • Amid Trump Controversies, Tax Overhaul’s Uncertain Path. Congressional Republicans say an ambitious plan is in the works, but obstacles remain. Almost lost in the multiple recent Trump White House controversies—some significant, some silly—is this reality on a matter of real substance: Clouds of uncertainty hang over the one matter that many Republicans would put atop their priority list, a big tax cut.
Zero Hedge:
Digital Look:
  • Citi sees copper futures peaking above $8,000 by 2020. A "dramatic" crunch in miners' capital spending had set the stage for the price of copper to peak above $8,000 per metric tonne by the end of the decade, Citi said. Citi's analysts said the worst investment drought copper miners had seen since 2012 had "eviscerated the copper project pipeline for much of the remainder of the current decade."
Night Trading
  • Asian indices are unch. to +.50% on average.
  • Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 101.25 -.25 basis point.
  • Asia Pacific Sovereign CDS Index 26.75 -.25 basis point.
  • Bloomberg Emerging Markets Currency Index 71.38 -.08%.
  • S&P 500 futures +.17%.
  • NASDAQ 100 futures +.20%.

Earnings of Note
  • (AAP)/1.09
  • (CBRL)/2.14
  • (EXPD)/.59
  • (HD)/1.33
  • (LL)/-.31
  • (M)/1.95
  • (MDT)/1.11
  • (PWR)/.58
  • (RRGB)/.35
  • (SOHU)/-2.29
  • (WMT)/1.29
  • (CPRT)/.57
  • (DDS)/2.30
  • (FSLR)/.99
  • (FE)/.40
  • (LZB)/.45
  • (NEM)/.32
  • (PZZA)/.65
  • (TEX)/-.06
  • (VMI)/1.45 
Economic Releases 
9:45 am EST
  • Preliminary Markit US Manufacturing PMI for February is estimated to rise to 55.2 versus 55.0 in January.
  • Preliminary Markit US Services PMI for February is estimated to rise to 55.8 versus 55.6 in January. 
Upcoming Splits
  • None of note
Other Potential Market Movers
  • The Fed's Harker speaking, Eurozone Manufacturing & Services PMI, 2Y T-Note auction, (SMG) investor day and the (UPS) investor conference could also impact trading today.
BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are mostly higher, boosted by technology and industrial shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open mixed and to rally into the afternoon, finishing modestly higher. The Portfolio is 100% net long heading into the week.

Weekly Outlook

BOTTOM LINE: I expect US stocks to finish the week mixed as yen weakness, economic optimism and tax reform hopes offset profit-taking, European/Emerging Markets/US High-Yield debt angst and earnings outlooks. My intermediate-term trading indicators are giving neutral signals and the Portfolio is 100% net long heading into the week.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Today's Headlines

  • Trump Seen Winning Support to Declare China as Yuan Manipulator. President Donald Trump would win congressional support if he declared China a currency manipulator as pledged during his election campaign, according to two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, said on a panel at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that Congress has an opportunity to unite around action against China.
  • Iran Mocks Trump Threats, Sets Sights on Gulf Nation Deals. Iran’s foreign minister mocked being “put on notice” in a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump and said his country is focused on building Persian Gulf alliances. Mohammad Javad Zarif prompted laughter from a crowd of trans-Atlantic military and political officials at a global security conference on Sunday by observing that “tweet is now very fashionable’’ before answering whether his country was concerned about the possibility of more U.S. sanctions.
  • European Bond Investors Seek Havens as Political Risks Increase. European bond investors gravitated toward the safest assets on Friday as political and economic developments pointed to a muddier outlook for the continent. German bunds led gains among core euro-region securities after French Socialist Party presidential candidate Benoit Hamon said he’s in talks with far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon about a potential single candidacy. That boosts the chance that the anti-euro Marine Le Pen may not face a centrist candidate in the final round of voting in May. Austrian and Dutch securities also advanced.
  • Japan’s Exports Increase Less Than Forecast in January. The value of exports rose 1.3 percent in January from a year earlier. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg indicated a 5 percent increase. Import values climbed 8.5 percent over the same period, versus an estimated 4.8 percent rise. This was the first increase since December 2014. 
  • OPEC Wins Investors Back as Cuts Prompt Record Bets on Oil Rise. Investor optimism that West Texas Intermediate oil prices will rise reached an all-time high as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries delivers on pledges to reduce production. The International Energy Agency said the group has achieved a record 90 percent initial compliance with an output accord. The U.S. benchmark has traded between $50.71 and $54.34 since Jan. 10 as balancing forces -- the OPEC curbs and the U.S. shale boom -- have kept volatility to a minimum.
  • Yen Gains Weigh on Japan Stocks; Unilever in Focus. Japan’s Topix fell for a third straight session as the yen maintained a three-day advance. Gold increased after climbing for seven out of the past eight weeks. Trading in Kraft and its erstwhile target remains in focus on the back of Friday’s surge in both stocks. People familiar with the talks at the weekend said 3G Capital and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. decided Unilever’s negative response made a friendly transaction impossible. The Topix dropped 0.5 percent at 9:31 a.m. in Tokyo, after retreating 0.1 percent last week. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1 percent. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 0.1 percent.
Wall Street Journal:
  • Cleveland Fed chief 'comfortable' raising rates if economy keeps performing. Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester said on Monday she would be comfortable raising interest rates at this point if the economy kept performing the way it did. "We did have a temporary oil price shock which held down inflation, we had the dollar appreciation which held down inflation. Those have passed through and the trend in inflation is, it's moving up," Mester said at a central banking seminar in Singapore. "So I'm comfortable that inflation is near its goal and moving towards its goal... I'd be comfortable with an increase in the (federal) funds rate at this point, if the economy keeps going the way it's going."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Today's Headlines

  • Trump Rally Inches Forward as Banks Lead Fourth Weekly Advance. U.S. stocks climbed for the fourth straight week as financial companies rallied, economic data beat expectations and corporate earnings continued to show profit growth. Banks posted their biggest-five day gain this year as the 10-year yield climbed and Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen told Congress more interest-rate hikes would be appropriate if the economy stays on course. The S&P 500 Index added 1.5 percent to a record 2,351.16. The The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.8 percent to 20,624.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index ended the week at an all-time high as health-care and phone stocks in the gauge rallied.
  • Russia Watches U.S. Reassure Allies, and It's Disappointed. Shortly after Vice President Mike Pence pledged to “hold Russia to account” while looking for common ground in a speech to European allies, a hawkish Russian legislator reached out to shake his hand as he passed through a crowded hotel corridor. “Mr. Vice President, I am from Moscow and we hope we will reach those arrangements you were talking about,” said Alexei Pushkov, a member of the defense committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. He enthusiastically told reporters afterward that he saw the Vice President’s smile as a good sign.
  • U.S. Coal Mines Are Opening in a Year of 'Cautious Optimism'. There’s newfound optimism in America’s coalfields with spot prices for metallurgical coal -- the sort used in steelmaking -- twice as high as they were a year ago. China curtailing its own production and tightening seaborne markets helped stoke a rally last year. President Donald Trump is now promising to bring coal jobs back, making his first move this week to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations that targeted the sector.
Wall Street Journal:
  • Had bullish commentary on (VSAR), (GBT), (NBIX), (FOLD), (BIIB), (GILD), (ADNT), (GM), (ANTM), (SYF) and (HES).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Market Week in Review

  • S&P 500 2,346.39 +1.27%*
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The Weekly Wrap by

*5-Day Change

Weekly Scoreboard*

  • S&P 500 2,346.39 +1.27%
  • DJIA 20,574.10 +1.53%
  • NASDAQ 5,826.80 +1.64%
  • Russell 2000 1,397.72 +.62%
  • S&P 500 High Beta 38.19 +.47%
  • Goldman 50 Most Shorted 121.89 -1.11%
  • Wilshire 5000 24,393.15 +1.20%
  • Russell 1000 Growth 1,124.29 +1.25%
  • Russell 1000 Value 1,137.56 +1.18%
  • S&P 500 Consumer Staples 558.13 +1.57%
  • Vanda Cyclicals-Defensives 1.3161 +1.51%
  • Morgan Stanley Technology 1,347.33 +1.60%
  • Transports 9,472.88 +.84%
  • Utilities 669.72 +.05%
  • Bloomberg European Bank/Financial Services 94.85 +1.49%
  • MSCI Emerging Markets 38.31 +.77%
  • HFRX Equity Hedge 1,185.30 +.81%
  • HFRX Equity Market Neutral 998.35 +.24%
  • NYSE Cumulative A/D Line 282,698 +.81%
  • Bloomberg New Highs-Lows Index 843 +243
  • Bloomberg Crude Oil % Bulls 20.6 +11.8%
  • CFTC Oil Net Speculative Position 476,990 -3.19%
  • CFTC Oil Total Open Interest 2,191,158 +.44%
  • Total Put/Call .99 +1.02%
  • OEX Put/Call .26 -68.7%
  • ISE Sentiment 80.0 +10.0%
  • NYSE Arms 1.10 +1.80%
  • Volatility(VIX) 11.54 +6.45%
  • S&P 500 Implied Correlation 46.20 -3.1%
  • G7 Currency Volatility (VXY) 10.35 -4.34%
  • Emerging Markets Currency Volatility (EM-VXY) 9.79 -3.83%
  • Smart Money Flow Index 19,699.59 +1.46%
  • ICI Money Mkt Mutual Fund Assets $2.675 Trillion -.08%
  • ICI US Equity Weekly Net New Cash Flow -$.031 Billion
  • AAII % Bulls 33.1 -7.6%
  • AAII % Bears 32.4 +17.0%
Futures Spot Prices
  • CRB Index 191.80 -1.11%
  • Crude Oil 53.18 -1.32%
  • Reformulated Gasoline 150.76 -5.75%
  • Natural Gas 2.84 -5.57%
  • Heating Oil 162.68 -2.32%
  • Gold 1,239.10 +.36%
  • Bloomberg Base Metals Index 180.03 +.26%
  • Copper 270.55 -2.65%
  • US No. 1 Heavy Melt Scrap Steel 260.0 USD/Ton -6.92%
  • China Iron Ore Spot 90.37 USD/Ton +4.33%
  • Lumber 364.30 -1.63%
  • UBS-Bloomberg Agriculture 1,189.20 -1.18%
  • Atlanta Fed GDPNow Forecast +2.4% -30.0 basis points
  • ECRI Weekly Leading Economic Index Growth Rate +11.1% -70.0 basis points
  • Philly Fed ADS Real-Time Business Conditions Index -.0851 +5.97%
  • S&P 500 Blended Forward 12 Months Mean EPS Estimate 132.69 +.11%
  • Citi US Economic Surprise Index 53.10 -12.3 points
  • Citi Eurozone Economic Surprise Index 41.50 -10.3 points
  • Citi Emerging Markets Economic Surprise Index 42.10 +3.5 points
  • Fed Fund Futures imply 68.0% chance of no change 32.0% chance of 25 basis point hike on 3/15
  • US Dollar Index 100.89 +.18%
  • MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index 1,563.49 +.84%
  • Euro/Yen Carry Return Index 125.03 -.53%
  • Yield Curve 122.0 unch.
  • 10-Year US Treasury Yield 2.42% +1.0 basis point
  • Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet $4.416 Trillion -.03%
  • U.S. Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap 27.22 -9.34%
  • Illinois Municipal Debt Credit Default Swap 404.0 -.07%
  • Western Europe Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap Index 22.0 -9.65%
  • Asia Pacific Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap Index 27.04 -6.49%
  • Emerging Markets Sovereign Debt CDS Index 67.45 -3.07%
  • Israel Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap 67.43 -.79%
  • Iraq Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap 601.42 -7.8%
  • Russia Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap 176.25 +.20%
  • iBoxx Offshore RMB China Corporate High Yield Index 134.60 +.19%
  • 10-Year TIPS Spread 2.02% +2.0 basis points
  • TED Spread 54.0 +4.0 basis points
  • 2-Year Swap Spread 36.25 +5.0 basis points
  • 3-Month EUR/USD Cross-Currency Basis Swap -25.75 +.25 basis point
  • N. America Investment Grade Credit Default Swap Index 64.12 -1.35%
  • America Energy Sector High-Yield Credit Default Swap Index 377.0 -.3%
  • European Financial Sector Credit Default Swap Index 92.49 -1.30%
  • Emerging Markets Credit Default Swap Index 227.09 -1.79%
  • CMBS AAA Super Senior 10-Year Treasury Spread to Swaps 139.0 +1.5 basis points
  • M1 Money Supply $3.335 Trillion -2.0%
  • Commercial Paper Outstanding 965.30 -.1%
  • 4-Week Moving Average of Jobless Claims 245,250 +1,000
  • Continuing Claims Unemployment Rate 1.5% unch.
  • Average 30-Year Mortgage Rate 4.15% -2.0 basis points
  • Weekly Mortgage Applications 379.0 -3.71%
  • Bloomberg Consumer Comfort 48.1 +.9 point
  • Weekly Retail Sales +.8% +10.0 basis points
  • Nationwide Gas $2.29/gallon +.02/gallon
  • Baltic Dry Index 710.0 +1.14%
  • China (Export) Containerized Freight Index 845.43 -3.24%
  • Oil Tanker Rate(Arabian Gulf to U.S. Gulf Coast) 40.0 unch.
  • Rail Freight Carloads 264,761 -2.47%
Best Performing Style
  • Large-Cap Growth +1.1%
Worst Performing Style
  • Small-Cap Value +.4%
Leading Sectors
  • Biotech +3.2%
  • Banks +3.1%
  • Steel +3.0%
  • Drugs +2.6%
  • Social Media+2.5%
Lagging Sectors
  • Energy -2.5% 
  • Gold & Silver -2.7%
  • Oil Service -2.7%
  • Tobacco -3.3%
  • Gaming -3.9%
Weekly High-Volume Stock Gainers (32)
Weekly High-Volume Stock Losers (21)
Weekly Charts
*5-Day Change