August 14, 2008

Global Market Comments for August 14, 2008

1) The momentum traders have definitively bailed from the crude/commodities trade, taking the fluff out of the market and equity valuations in the area down so much that even value players are starting to have a look see. Crude is not dead, it is just resting, and these names will fly again. My five year scenario for crude is that we go to the $50’s then $200, then below $20. Hold on to your hat!

2) With the Obama boom now fading, McCain is rising in the polls. So Alliant Technology (ATK), one the largest suppliers of ammunition to the army, has jumped 17% to $112 in the past month. McCain has promised that we will stay in Iraq 100 years if necessary. I hope he doesn’t draft 56 year olds. Ten hut!

3) Germany and France posted negative GDP growth in Q2 when a weak dollar allowed the US to skirt an actual recession. I have been expecting this weakness for months, which has been a major factor behind the current collapse of the euro, which hit a new low today of $1.4750. Real estate in Europe is in free fall.

4) Weekly natural gas inventories rose by 50 billion cubic feet, triggering a rally off of an $8.05 bottom. Gas, down from $13.50 in June, may have put in a bottom for the time being.

5) Erik Prince, CEO of?? the San Diego based private mercenary firm Blackwater Worldwide, says that he is billing the US government $550/ day each for the 1,000 men it has in Iraq and the 500 men in Afghanistan. He says that Blackwater is expanding its training and air support operations and cutting back on politically sensitive ‘security’ services because of the PR problems it creates. Prince complains that his company is ‘misunderstood’.

6) 50%-75% of all trading on the NYSE is now driven by mathematical algorithms. This along with the ending of the uptick rule is the cause of this year’s vastly increased market volatility.

August 13, 2008

Global Market Comments for August 13, 2008

1) Panic buying of the dollar spilled over from the euro into the British pound, which soared overnight from $1.91 to $1.87. Britain’s economic data is now looking as dire as those in the US.

2) Gasoline inventories fell a surprising 6.4 million barrels as the summer driving season draws to a close. Wholesalers are trying to keep stocks to a minimum to avoid the hit from falling prices. Crude jumped $5 to $117.50.

3) Demand destruction for gasoline is accelerating. According to the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove 12.2 billion fewer miles in June than a year earlier, saving 635 million gallons of gasoline, which equates to 1 million barrels/day of crude oil consumption. This is 5% of our 20 million barrels/day total. High gas prices have spurred advocates to pack the November ballot with transit bills, including the long awaited funding of a BART extension from Fremont to San Jose and a $40 billion high speed bullet train from San Diego to San Francisco.

4) Honda launched the first hydrogen hybrid car, the FCX Clarity. The innovative vehicle gets 220 miles per $20 top up and recharges batteries while running on hydrogen, giving it an equivalent fuel economy of 77 miles/gallon. Only water vapor comes out of the tail pipe. The car can be leased for $600/month in California only. But you have to be a movie star to get one now.

5) July retail sales came in at -0.1%, slamming the stock market. Zero wage growth is the main problem. It is the worst time in 35 years to launch a new consumer luxury brand.

6) Yesterday’s US Dept. of Agriculture report caused Corn prices to crash to a new low for the year of $4.85, down from its $7.65 peak in only June. The agency jacked up its crop forecast for 2008-2009 from 11.7 to 12.3 million bushels and goosed expected yields from 148 to 155 bushels/acre. Ethanol producer BioFuel Energy (BIOF) saw its stock plunge 60% after it announced enormous losses from over hedging of Corn around the market peak. The stock has fallen from $5 to 75 cents since June. Play with fire and you get burned. The economic rationale behind ethanol, from the start entirely politically based, was always dubious at best.

August 13, 2008

Global Market Comments for August 13, 2008

1) Panic buying of the dollar spilled over from the euro into the British pound, which soared overnight from $1.91 to $1.87. Britain’s economic data is now looking as dire as those in the US.

2) Gasoline inventories fell a surprising 6.4 million barrels as the summer driving season draws to a close. Wholesalers are trying to keep stocks to a minimum to avoid the hit from falling prices. Crude jumped $5 to $117.50.

3) Demand destruction for gasoline is accelerating. According to the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove 12.2 billion fewer miles in June than a year earlier, saving 635 million gallons of gasoline, which equates to 1 million barrels/day of crude oil consumption. This is 5% of our 20 million barrels/day total. High gas prices have spurred advocates to pack the November ballot with transit bills, including the long awaited funding of a BART extension from Fremont to San Jose and a $40 billion high speed bullet train from San Diego to San Francisco.

4) Honda launched the first hydrogen hybrid car, the FCX Clarity. The innovative vehicle gets 220 miles per $20 top up and recharges batteries while running on hydrogen, giving it an equivalent fuel economy of 77 miles/gallon. Only water vapor comes out of the tail pipe. The car can be leased for $600/month in California only. But you have to be a movie star to get one now.

5) July retail sales came in at -0.1%, slamming the stock market. Zero wage growth is the main problem. It is the worst time in 35 years to launch a new consumer luxury brand.

6) Yesterday’s US Dept. of Agriculture report caused Corn prices to crash to a new low for the year of $4.85, down from its $7.65 peak in only June. The agency jacked up its crop forecast for 2008-2009 from 11.7 to 12.3 million bushels and goosed expected yields from 148 to 155 bushels/acre. Ethanol producer BioFuel Energy (BIOF) saw its stock plunge 60% after it announced enormous losses from over hedging of Corn around the market peak. The stock has fallen from $5 to 75 cents since June. Play with fire and you get burned. The economic rationale behind ethanol, from the start entirely politically based, was always dubious at best.

August 12, 2008

Global Market Comments for August 12, 2008

1) Oil pipelines are exploding in Georgia and Turkey, new wars are breaking out, and crude still goes down. The suddenly unloved commodity is clearly gunning for the 200 day moving average at $107, and broader support kicks in at $100. Texas tea has suddenly become the red headed step child of the market.

2) The Olympic coverage has given a huge boost to McDonald’s (MCD), a major sponsor. The stock has jumped to an all time high of $67.

3) With the Beijing games underway, efforts are accelerating to complete construction of the 2012 London Olympic Park. The one square mile site in the east London slums of Lower Lea Valley have seen cost overruns push the budget from $6.8 billion to $18.6 billion.?? The neighborhood is so bad that ‘when you take the tube out there, life expectancy declines with every stop,’ said one staffer. A profusion of undiscovered WWII bombs, a stone aged cemetery, and a toxic waste dump have also caused delays. The collapse of the UK real estate market has frustrated plans to resell the Olympic Village as a condo development. The last time the British attempted a major project like this, the 2000 Millennium Park, multi billion dollar losses resulted.

4) Gold medal winning Michael Phelps eats 12,000 calories/day in order to swim five hours/day. If he eats any less than that he starts to lose weight. By comparison, a Marine in combat needs 5,000 calories, you and I get by on 3,000 calories, and your typical vegetarian eats maybe 1,500 calories. Warnaco Group (WRC), inventor of the revolutionary Speedo LZR Racer swim suit worn by Phelps, which it developed with NASA, has seen its stock rocket 42% from $38 to $54 in the past month. Speedo has promised Phelps a $1 million bonus if he breaks the Mark Spitz gold medal record. Speedo is offering the $550 stitchless swimsuit free to all Olympic athletes, and has flown in 3,000 to Beijing to meet demand.

5) Gold collapsed by $36 yesterday to $810 as margin calls force speculators to unwind longs. See my earlier comment that gold will ‘roll over and die’.

6) Two thirds of all US companies paid no income tax from 1998 to 2005.

7) GE owned NBC Universal has earned over $1 billion in advertising from 3,600 hours of Olympic coverage . The company paid $894 million for exclusive broadcast and online rights to the games. Over two billion people are believed to have watched the opening ceremony.

August 12, 2008

Global Market Comments for August 12, 2008

1) Oil pipelines are exploding in Georgia and Turkey, new wars are breaking out, and crude still goes down. The suddenly unloved commodity is clearly gunning for the 200 day moving average at $107, and broader support kicks in at $100. Texas tea has suddenly become the red headed step child of the market.

2) The Olympic coverage has given a huge boost to McDonald’s (MCD), a major sponsor. The stock has jumped to an all time high of $67.

3) With the Beijing games underway, efforts are accelerating to complete construction of the 2012 London Olympic Park. The one square mile site in the east London slums of Lower Lea Valley have seen cost overruns push the budget from $6.8 billion to $18.6 billion.?? The neighborhood is so bad that ‘when you take the tube out there, life expectancy declines with every stop,’ said one staffer. A profusion of undiscovered WWII bombs, a stone aged cemetery, and a toxic waste dump have also caused delays. The collapse of the UK real estate market has frustrated plans to resell the Olympic Village as a condo development. The last time the British attempted a major project like this, the 2000 Millennium Park, multi billion dollar losses resulted.

4) Gold medal winning Michael Phelps eats 12,000 calories/day in order to swim five hours/day. If he eats any less than that he starts to lose weight. By comparison, a Marine in combat needs 5,000 calories, you and I get by on 3,000 calories, and your typical vegetarian eats maybe 1,500 calories. Warnaco Group (WRC), inventor of the revolutionary Speedo LZR Racer swim suit worn by Phelps, which it developed with NASA, has seen its stock rocket 42% from $38 to $54 in the past month. Speedo has promised Phelps a $1 million bonus if he breaks the Mark Spitz gold medal record. Speedo is offering the $550 stitchless swimsuit free to all Olympic athletes, and has flown in 3,000 to Beijing to meet demand.

5) Gold collapsed by $36 yesterday to $810 as margin calls force speculators to unwind longs. See my earlier comment that gold will ‘roll over and die’.

6) Two thirds of all US companies paid no income tax from 1998 to 2005.

7) GE owned NBC Universal has earned over $1 billion in advertising from 3,600 hours of Olympic coverage . The company paid $894 million for exclusive broadcast and online rights to the games. Over two billion people are believed to have watched the opening ceremony.

August 11, 2008

Global Market Comments for August 11, 2008

1) The magnitude and the volume seen on Friday suggests that the euro has had it. Trillions of dollars worth of hedges by banks and multinationals are being simultaneously unwound. Look to sell rallies from here. This means that the commodity trade, including crude, will be broken for the rest of the year. These will fall until all of the late long side entrants, of which there were many, get wiped out. Crude hit the $112 handle this morning before rallying on the Russia/Georgia conflict, down a spectacular $36 in six weeks. Emerging market equities will also get hurt big time.

2) Couples are expected to spend more evenings together over the next two weeks staying home watching those young hard bodies at the Olympics. Anticipating this, the stock for Church & Dwight (CHD), maker of Trojan condoms, soared 13% on Friday.

3) Farmers plan to plant more crops next year that use less fertilizing as a way of dealing with escalating input costs. This means growing less wheat and more soybeans. Although grains are more than 30% off their 2008 tops, fertilizer prices have yet to drop, squeezing farming margins. To add insult to injury, fertilizer companies like Mosaic (MOS) and Potash (POT) are insisting on payment in full one year in advance to guarantee deliveries.

4) There is no doubt that the Olympics are having an impact on the markets. The news flow has shrunk and volumes are off. Practically every Fortune 500 CEO and hedge fund managing partner are at the games. Even a lot of the financial journalists are gone to report on the ‘Chinese economic miracle’ story. No doubt part of last week’s impressive move up in the dollar and US stocks sprang from position flattening and book squaring ahead of the games.

5) 90% of the 165,000 gas stations in the US are individually owned and are losing money at current prices. So there is absolutely no point in flipping the bird as you drive buy if you don’t like the price.

TRADE OF THE DAY

Two of the four BRIC’s, Brazil and Russia, depended on rising energy prices as a major leg of their bull cases. In the past six weeks crude has plummeted $34. With Russia (RSX) down 32% and the Bovespa ($BVSP) down 27%, investors are looking at a rare opportunity to get into these high growth markets over the next few months at much cheaper levels.

August 11, 2008

Global Market Comments for August 11, 2008

1) The magnitude and the volume seen on Friday suggests that the euro has had it. Trillions of dollars worth of hedges by banks and multinationals are being simultaneously unwound. Look to sell rallies from here. This means that the commodity trade, including crude, will be broken for the rest of the year. These will fall until all of the late long side entrants, of which there were many, get wiped out. Crude hit the $112 handle this morning before rallying on the Russia/Georgia conflict, down a spectacular $36 in six weeks. Emerging market equities will also get hurt big time.

2) Couples are expected to spend more evenings together over the next two weeks staying home watching those young hard bodies at the Olympics. Anticipating this, the stock for Church & Dwight (CHD), maker of Trojan condoms, soared 13% on Friday.

3) Farmers plan to plant more crops next year that use less fertilizing as a way of dealing with escalating input costs. This means growing less wheat and more soybeans. Although grains are more than 30% off their 2008 tops, fertilizer prices have yet to drop, squeezing farming margins. To add insult to injury, fertilizer companies like Mosaic (MOS) and Potash (POT) are insisting on payment in full one year in advance to guarantee deliveries.

4) There is no doubt that the Olympics are having an impact on the markets. The news flow has shrunk and volumes are off. Practically every Fortune 500 CEO and hedge fund managing partner are at the games. Even a lot of the financial journalists are gone to report on the ‘Chinese economic miracle’ story. No doubt part of last week’s impressive move up in the dollar and US stocks sprang from position flattening and book squaring ahead of the games.

5) 90% of the 165,000 gas stations in the US are individually owned and are losing money at current prices. So there is absolutely no point in flipping the bird as you drive buy if you don’t like the price.

TRADE OF THE DAY

Two of the four BRIC’s, Brazil and Russia, depended on rising energy prices as a major leg of their bull cases. In the past six weeks crude has plummeted $34. With Russia (RSX) down 32% and the Bovespa ($BVSP) down 27%, investors are looking at a rare opportunity to get into these high growth markets over the next few months at much cheaper levels.

August 8, 2008

Global Market Comments for August 8, 2008

1) The dollar had its largest one day move up against the euro in seven years to $1.49, not because things are getting better here, but because things are getting worse at an alarming rate in Europe. Stocks celebrated by soaring 320 points and crude fell to a new low in the move to below $115. Airlines were the best sector, with United Airlines (UAUA) up 440% to $11 from its July low. Please see my earlier recommendations to buy airlines, sell crude, and sell the euro. Watch gold roll over and die.

2) China has spent a total of $70 billion preparing for the Olympics. They have priced tickets at a very reasonable $12 to enable the masses to attend. A record 6.5 million have been sold so far. The opening ceremony tickets only cost $29, but were scalped for $2,000. 500,000 visitors have descended on the city to watch 202 countries compete. The Shanghai market plunged 4.6% to a 19 month low of 2,600 as locals cashed out to watch the games. A UK based website sold $40 million worth of opening ceremony tickets.?? The unfortunate buyers didn’t find out they were fake until after they arrived in Beijing.

3) The Dry Shipping (DRYS), an incredibly volatile, highly sensitive and usually accurate leading indicator of international economic activity, has dropped from 120 to 70 since May. DRYS is a measure of spot ship charter rates.

4) Energy stocks are getting so beat up, with many having given up all of this year’s gains, that the time to take another look is fast approaching. The coal stocks have to be a top choice and may lead the next leg up. Consol Coal (CNX) has halved from $120 to $60 in only six weeks, while Peabody Energy (BTU) is down from $90 to $55.

5) A one cent drop in the retail price of gasoline adds $1 billion in consumer spending power.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Did the Olympics put the top in oil? Every time one heard mention of the Beijing games this year the next phase uttered was always ‘insatiable demand for oil and commodities’. The laser like focus on the Olympics had the unintended byproduct of drawing extra attention to global materials shortages. The collapse of commodity markets that started six weeks ago may have been triggered by traders discounting the expiration of this support factor.

August 8, 2008

Global Market Comments for August 8, 2008

1) The dollar had its largest one day move up against the euro in seven years to $1.49, not because things are getting better here, but because things are getting worse at an alarming rate in Europe. Stocks celebrated by soaring 320 points and crude fell to a new low in the move to below $115. Airlines were the best sector, with United Airlines (UAUA) up 440% to $11 from its July low. Please see my earlier recommendations to buy airlines, sell crude, and sell the euro. Watch gold roll over and die.

2) China has spent a total of $70 billion preparing for the Olympics. They have priced tickets at a very reasonable $12 to enable the masses to attend. A record 6.5 million have been sold so far. The opening ceremony tickets only cost $29, but were scalped for $2,000. 500,000 visitors have descended on the city to watch 202 countries compete. The Shanghai market plunged 4.6% to a 19 month low of 2,600 as locals cashed out to watch the games. A UK based website sold $40 million worth of opening ceremony tickets.?? The unfortunate buyers didn’t find out they were fake until after they arrived in Beijing.

3) The Dry Shipping (DRYS), an incredibly volatile, highly sensitive and usually accurate leading indicator of international economic activity, has dropped from 120 to 70 since May. DRYS is a measure of spot ship charter rates.

4) Energy stocks are getting so beat up, with many having given up all of this year’s gains, that the time to take another look is fast approaching. The coal stocks have to be a top choice and may lead the next leg up. Consol Coal (CNX) has halved from $120 to $60 in only six weeks, while Peabody Energy (BTU) is down from $90 to $55.

5) A one cent drop in the retail price of gasoline adds $1 billion in consumer spending power.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Did the Olympics put the top in oil? Every time one heard mention of the Beijing games this year the next phase uttered was always ‘insatiable demand for oil and commodities’. The laser like focus on the Olympics had the unintended byproduct of drawing extra attention to global materials shortages. The collapse of commodity markets that started six weeks ago may have been triggered by traders discounting the expiration of this support factor.

August 7, 2008

Global Market Comments for August 7, 2008

1) Today was the day of the AIG shock, which reported an H1 loss of $13.6 billion. All of the credit default swaps they wrote are coming back to roost. The news took the Dow down 220.

2) Whole Foods (WFMI) is suspending its dividend, canceling new store openings, and offering more low cost food in the wake of a 31% decline in earnings. The Texas based food retailer, also known as ‘whole paycheck’ by its long suffering clientele, has seen its stock plunge 74% from $70 to $18 in the past two years.

3) If the predictions of Chinese Olympic prowess prove correct, China will have invested $7 million per medal in training costs.

4) Last year PG&E obtained 47% of its energy from natural gas, 11.7% from renewable sources like hydro, solar, and biomass, and 4% from coal. The company is gearing up for a big increase in demand for electricity from plug in cars over the next decade.

5) Weekly jobless claims hit a 6 ?? year high of 455,000.

6) Citibank has agreed with the SEC to buy back $7 billion in auction rate securities. These short term municipal notes were sold as a quasi money market instruments to high net worth individuals, but ended up becoming totally illiquid when the credit crisis hit. C needs this like a hole in the head. The stock dropped 4%. The settlement is expected to hit other investment banks, like Lehman (LEH), with a tidal wave of litigation.

7) It is clear that the big three auto makers are about to become the big two. General Motors (GM) and privately owned Chrysler are in a race to go under. Ford (F) now appears to be the strongest, or least weakest of the trio.

8) Pending home sales for June were up a surprising +5.3%, but still down -12.3% YOY. Sales were strongest in markets like Sacramento and Las Vegas where the biggest price falls have occurred. More than 40% of are sales are still from foreclosures.