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How the Markets Will Play Out This Quarter

I think I have figured out the course of the global financial markets over the next few months.

We are currently transitioning from an economic data flow from Q1 that was very weak, to the second quarter, which will almost certainly deliver us a robust set of numbers. This is on the heels of a white hot Q1, 2014.

Hot, cold, hot; this is a trader?s dream come true, as it gives us the volatility we need to make a fortune, as we skillfully weave in and out of these gyrations.

That is, if you read the Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader.

This is not a new thing. A weak Q1 has been a recurring event over the last 30 years. The anomaly has been so reliable that not a few traders have been able to earn a living from it. :) Heaven help us if the government ever tries to fix it.

To further complicate matters, some markets see this, while others have yet to open their eyes.

The stock market (SPY), (QQQ), (IWM) agree with my view, probing new all time highs, while companies announce diabolical Q1 earnings (Twitter (TWTR)? Yikes!). So do commodities, like oil (USO) and copper (FCX), whose recent strength suggests we are on the doorstep of a great economic Golden Age.

However, the foreign exchange market (FXE), (FXY) doesn?t see it this way. They can only comprehend the last data point that just crossed the tape.

If it is weak, they assume the Federal Reserve won?t even think about raising interest rates until well into 2016. If it is healthy, they bet the Fed will jack up rates tomorrow.

You might assume this is ridiculous, and you?d be right. However, forex traders live in a world where interest rate differentials are the principal, and to many the only driver of foreign exchange rates.

One market is right, and one is wrong. Did I mention that this is also a license for we nimble traders to print money?

Of course, you can play both side of the fence, as I do. That?s how I was able to coin it with a long position in the euro (a weak economy trade) the same day my long US equity portfolio (a strong economy trade) was going through the roof.

Let me give you another iteration of these scenarios. Inside the dollar correction we are seeing a pronounced sector rotation among US stocks.

Traders are moving out of small caps (IWM) that sheltered then from a strong dollar into large caps (SPY). They are also taking profits in biotech and rolling it into financials (GS), cyber security (PANW) and solar (TAN).

Goldman Sachs (GS) gave us more rocket fuel for the bull case for of American stocks this morning. The sage investment bank, in which my Trade Alert Service currently maintains a profitable long position, says that corporations will return a mind blowing $1 trillion to investors in 2015.

Share buy back from companies should rise by 18%, while dividends should pop by 7%. It is all a continuation of a six-year trend.

Apple (AAPL) certainly kicked off this quarter?s cavalcade of higher payouts on Monday, when it added $50 billion to its own stock repurchase program and jacked up its dividend by 11%.

Markets could get even more interesting after next week, when some 80% of S&P 500 companies will have existed the ?black out? period when they are not allowed by SEC regulations to buy their own stock.

I say ?tally ho,? and ?tally ho? again.

SPY 4-29-15

FXE 4-29-15

FCX 4-29-15

WTIC 4-29-15

Fox HuntIt?s Tally Ho for the Stock Market

Entering the Quiet Time

I?ll let you in on my top secret investment strategy that has brought me blockbuster results over the past six years.

Listen to the Wharton Business School?s professor, Jeremy Siegel.

The good doctor has been unremittingly bullish year in and year out, nearly pegging the stock index performance annually.

So, when he says that the Dow Average is going to rise to 20,000 by the end of 2015, that?s good enough for me. In fact Siegel thinks that at current price earnings multiple of 17 times, the bull market has years to run.

It would not be until we hit nosebleed levels of 25X or 30X earnings that he would get worried. And the current ultra low level of interest might even make these high multiple numbers justifiable.

So for the foreseeable future, we are going to see long periods of tedious range trading, followed by frenetic rounds of buying, once the market decides that it is time to discount the next rise in corporate earnings.

We happen to be in one of those range-trading periods right now, which my partner, Mad Day Trader Jim Parker, thinks could last all the way until September.

Actually, it is a little more complicated than that.

There is good reason for the stock market to go to sleep over the next two weeks.

Do you hear that great sucking sound? That is the noise of 170 million tax payers writing checks to the US Internal Revenue Service.

Foreign readers may not realize this, but tax payments are due in the United States on April 15 every year. I would ask for your sympathy, but I know all of you pay far more in taxes than we do. I know, because I used to pay them myself when I lived abroad for 23 years.

Of the $6 trillion in revenues from all sources due to Uncle Sam in 2015, 37%, or $2.2 trillion will come in the form of individual income taxes. That is a big hit for the financial system. That means for the next two weeks there won?t be any extra money lying around to put into the stock market.

There is another reason why the stock indexes are stagnating here. The Q1, 2015 corporate earnings reporting season kicks off when Alcoa (AA) reports on April 8, or in six trading days. Until then, we are in the quiet period, and companies are not allowed the buy back their own stock.

This is a big deal, since companies buying back their own shares have provided major support for the stock market for many years. Possibly a quarter of all the net cash flow pouring into stocks since 2009 has come from this source.

Take it away, even for a short period, and the most bullish thing the market can do is move sideways, which is exactly what it has been doing for the past two months.

What happens when the tax payment deadline passes and the quiet period ends? Stocks take off like a bat out of hell. That will take us to the spring interim peak.

This is why I strapped on three new ?RISK ON? positions last Friday, longs in the Russell 2000 (IWM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) and a short in the euro (FXE).

Total Revenue US 2015

Buyback Blackout Period

ijr 3-24-15

spxew 3-24-15

rut 3-24-15

COMPQ3-24-15

RCD 3-24-15

QQQ 3-24-15

Shhhh

Austerity Hits Wall Street

This year, your bonus is that you get to keep your job. That is the bad news that will be dished out to many disappointed staff during annual reviews at the major Wall Street firms this year.

We all know that volumes have been trading at subterranean levels which have created a real drought of commission incomes. New regulations imposed by Dodd-Frank and the Volker rule mean that banks have to become boring, no longer able to juice earnings with trading revenues. For boring, read less profitable, leading to smaller budgets for compensation. This is the price of preventing banks from committing suicide with your money in hand.

Industry compensation experts are seeing bonus cuts of up to 30%. Equity divisions are seeing the greatest cuts, followed by bond departments, and investment banking. Senior staff are being nudged toward early retirement to further reduce overhead. Only private wealth managers are seeing pay increases, thanks to their ability to charge rich fees for enhanced customer service and place high margin products, like local municipal bonds.

The scary thing is that shrinking payouts is a trend that could continue for years, unless a new bull market suddenly appears out of nowhere. When I first started working on Wall Street nearly 40 years ago, one out of three taxi drivers were brokers rendered jobless by deregulated commissions. Be careful next time you cross the street. You might get hit with some free investment advice.

 

 

 

Did You Say ?Buy? or ?Sell??