February 5, 2009

Global Market Comments for February 5, 2009
Featured Trades: ($GOLD), ($SILVER), (BRK/A), (GS), (GE), ($SSEC), ($BDI)

1) UBS was matched by Goldman Sachs in raising its 2009 target for gold ($GOLD) up to $1,000, triggering a $30 rally to $920.While jewelry demand from India and the Middle East remains weak, this is being more than offset by the ongoing financial crisis boosting safe haven buying in the US of coins, bars, and ETF's. Deleveraging of long gold positions by hedge funds is now almost done. Buyers of gold are now spilling into other precious metals like silver ($SILVER), which is up 47% to $12.50/ounce from its October lows, and can offer can offer investors double the upside volatility.

Silver.png picture by sbronte

2) One of Warren Buffet's key indicators for timing stock buys is the ratio of  total equity assets to GNP. In 2007 stocks peaked at 190% of GNP, and have since fallen to 70%, a level only seen during the thirties and the early eighties. While the Sage of Omaha's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A) has been hammered by 50% in the last four months, with too early purchases of Goldman Sachs (GS) and General Electric (GE), this indicator could be worth tracking.

Berkshire-1.png picture by sbronte

3) In case you missed the business section of the San Francisco Chronicle today, there is a fabulous graphic illustrating the hard times for the city's commercial real estate market. The epicenter of the melt down is Tishman Speyer's 556,000 sq. ft. 555 Mission Street, which opened in late 2008 during the worst possible market conditions, and remains 70% empty. What is really impressive is how bad the implosion of the legal profession is hitting landlords. The dissolution of Heller Ehrman has emptied 350,000 sq. ft. 333 Bush Street, while 388,000 sq. ft. 101 Second Street has been vacated by the dissolution of Thelen LLP. Conditions will worsen as more new buildings started during better times come on the market.

4) The free online telephone and video conferencing service Skype has launched its version 4.0. The upgrade is faster, has better quality video streaming, and allows you to attach files, like photos, to your calls. It still only offers 1:1 communication though, not the group calls available at more expensive video conferencing competitors.

5) Hedge Fund Traders scouring the world for leading indicators hinting that it is safe to get back into the water currently have a laser like focus on Shanghai, which fell an amazing 72% from its October 2007 top. China's once red hot largest domestic stock market, which is closed to direct investment by foreigners, peaked nine months before China's own economic slide began in earnest after the Olympics. This has given the unregulated emerging market oracle like status among global market timers. This week, the Shanghai Composite ($SSEC) broke out of a six month trading range to the upside, possible entering a new uptrend. The move, along with the record 15% explosion upward yesterday by the Baltic Dry Shipping Index ($BDI), and turning noises being made by the dollar, is prompting some managers to quietly lift their global equity exposures.

Shanghai.png picture by sbronte


'If you're gonna owe money, owe more than you can pay, then people can't afford to foreclose,' said Clint Murchison, a famous Texas oil wildcatter during the thirties.