Posts

September 16, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 16, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or CHOPPY WEATHER AHEAD),
(SPY), (TLT), (FB), (GOOGL), (M), (C),
 (XOM), (NFLX), (DIS), (FXE), (FXI)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Choppy Weather Ahead

When commercial pilots fly across the US, they often give each other a heads up about dangerous conditions so other can avoid them. “Chop” is a common one, clear air turbulence that appears on no instruments. Usually, a simple altitude change of a few thousand feet is enough to deal with the problem.

“Chop” is what we traders have had to deal with in the stock market a lot for the past 18 months ever since the trade war with China started. Look at the S&P 500 (SPY) and you see that we have been covering the same ground over and over again, much like trench warfare in WWI. Since April 2018, we have crossed the $270-$290 space no less than six times.

We are just now kissing the upper edge of that band. What happens next depends on your beliefs. If you think the trade war will end in the next month and we don’t go into recession, then the markets will break out to new all-time highs, blasting all the way up to $320. If you don’t, you want to be fading this move, unloading risk, and entertaining short plays.

I’ll let you decide.

As for me, I have been suspicious of this rally since it started the third week of August. It has been led by banks, energy, retailers, and all the other garbage with terrible fundamentals that have been falling for years. In other words, it is pure short covering. There is no net money coming into the market. In the meantime, technology has not fallen, it has ground to a halt awaiting the next flood of capital.

It was Apple (AAPL) day in Silicon Valley, with the world’s largest company rolling out a host of new services and upgrades. The new Apple TV Plus streaming service was the focus, coming out with a $5 a month price, easily undercutting Disney Plus (DIS) at $10 and Netflix (NFLX) at $15.

It is an in-between generation year, so we didn’t get anything big. But with 200 million iPhones needing replacement in coming years (AAPL) is still a good long-term hold. All eyes will be on the share buy backs.

The next antitrust assault on big tech arrived, with Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) now in the sights of 49 US states. This will go nowhere as technology has been leading to lower prices, not higher ones. What is the monopoly value of a service that is given away for free? The choice is very simple: let the US continue to dominate tech, or let China take it over.

Job growth is slowing, and the belief that it has peaked for this cycle is growing. Job openings fell 31,000 in August to 7.2 million according to the Department of Labor. The big loss was in wholesale trade, the big gain in information technology. The economy is moving from old to new.

The John Bolton firing, the national security advisor, crushed oil as the chance of a major Middle Eastern war decline, knocking $1.50 off of Texas Tea. That negotiation with the Taliban didn’t go so well, with them blowing up our people while talking with Mike Pompeo. The risk is that Trump’s next national security advisor could be worse. That’s been the trend. The last national security advisor took money from the Russians.

Europe pulled out all the stops (FXE), renewing a stimulus program with massive quantitative easing. Euro interest rates also to be cut. Eventually, a lot of that money will end up back in the US, the only place in the world with decent investment returns. That’s why our stocks are now a few pennies short of a new all-time high.

We saw more of Trump talking up the market ahead of trade talks, with the administration considering half a deal on trade tariffs, while throwing technology under the bus with an intellectual property walkaway. Good for the Midwest, terrible for the west coast.

The bond market meltdown continued, with one of the sharpest collapses in history, down 11 points in a week, The ten-year US Treasury bond yield (TLT) has spiked from 1.44% to 1.90% in a week. Hope you got the rate lock on your refi last Friday. Long bonds had become the most overcrowded trade in a decade. Give it a month to digest, then take another run at the highs in prices, lows in yields.

China (FXI) bought ten shiploads of soybeans (SOYB), hoping for a positive outcome in the October trade talks. Or did they make the purchase to start the trade talks in the first place? Who knows? Price spikes 5%, at last! It’s why stocks are pushing to new all-time highs.

The budget deficit toped $1 trillion in the first 11 months of fiscal 2019, the highest since the financial crisis. Running deficits this big during peace time with 2% economic growth will leave us with no way to get out of the next recession. It’s setting up the most predictable financial crisis in history, the next one. It’s just a matter of time before the chickens come home to roost. By the time Trump leaves office, the national debt will have increased by $4 trillion, or 20%.

The Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service is treading water in this wildly unpredictable month.

My Global Trading Dispatch stands near an all-time high of 334.99% and my year-to-date remains level at +34.85%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +34.35%. 

I’ll be running my 40% long in technology stocks into the September 20 options expiration because there is nothing else to do. After watching the bond market crater by 11 points, I could no longer restrain myself and stuck my toe in the water with a small long with yields at 1.90%. I may have to sweat a move to a 2.00% yield, but no more. I break even at 2.10%.

The coming week will be one of the biggest of the year, thanks to the Fed.

On Monday, September 16 at 8:30 AM, the New York Empire State Manufacturing Index is out.

On Tuesday, September 17 at 9:15 AM, the US Industrial Production is published.

On Wednesday, September 18, at 8:30 AM, August Building Permits are released. At 2:30 PM, the Federal Reserve announces its interest rate decision. If they don’t cut look out below?

On Thursday, September 19 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. At 10:00 AM, Existing Home Sales are printed.

On Friday, September 20 at 8:30 AM, the Baker Hughes Rig Count is released at 2:00 PM.

As for me, my entire weekend is committed to the Boy Scouts, doing assorted public services projects with the kids, timing a mile run for the Physical Fitness merit badge, and cleaning up San Francisco Bay. Hopefully, I will get some time to review my charts. I usually look at 200 a weekend.

Good luck and good trading.

John Thomas
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader

 

 

 

 

September 9, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 9, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or SAVED BY A HURRICANE)
(FXB), (M), (XOM), (BAC), (FB), (AAPL),
 (AMZN), (ROKU), (VIX), (GS), (MS),

 

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Saved by a Hurricane

This was the week when the stock market was saved by Hurricane Dorian.

Why a hurricane?

Because it gave President Trump something else to Tweet about beside China and Jay Powell. The White House went totally silent, at least on matters concerning the stock market. There, the focus instead turned on whether Trump predicted Dorian was going to hit Alabama (it didn’t).

Thank goodness for small favors.

Instead, investors got to hear about progress was purported to be made on the China trade talks with a possible October meeting.

It all reminds me of the 1968 Paris peace talks, which I visited, where I remember Ambassador Avril Harriman storming out of the Majestic Hotel with a very stern expression on his face. They had just spent a year arguing with the North Vietnamese over the shape of the table (they finally settled on an oval).

Brexit finally started lurching towards its inevitable demise. Hard Brexit failed in Parliament, a disaster for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose own party and even his own brother voted against him.

Elections will follow which will finally plunge a dagger through the heart of Britain’s attempt to leave the European Community. If this happens, it will be a huge positive for risk markets globally. This is the beginning of the end. Get ready to buy the pound (FXB).

The bad news? Don’t count on this happening again this week, unless we get another hurricane. When a stock market rally is led by sectors with the worst fundamentals, like retail (M), energy (XOM), and banks (BAC), you want to run a mile. It means the rally was driven by short-covering, we are now at a market high, and the short players have a ton of cash.

I have been pounded with questions all week if the bottom is in and if it’s time to load the boat with tech stocks yet again. I have to answer with a firm “Not yet!” We still have three weeks to go in September with plenty of time for more volatility.

If the Fed cuts interest rates by 25 basis points, the Dow average could crater by 1,000 points. If they don’t cut, which I give a 50/50 chance, it will be down by 2,000 points.

They will be encouraged to cut by an August Nonfarm Payroll Report that came in at a tepid 130,000. The headline Unemployment Rate remained unchanged at 3.7%, a 50-year low. Average Hourly Earnings were an inflationary 0.4%, or 3.2% YOY. June and July were revised down.

The 2020 census was a big factor in August, where the US government hired 25,000 workers to prepare for next year. Without this, August would have come in at a weak 105,000 jobs.

Manufacturing hiring amounted to only 3,000, while Retail lost 11,000 jobs for the seventh consecutive monthly decline. The broader U-6 “discouraged worker” unemployment rate rose from 7.0% to 7.2%.

To demonstrate how much value you are gaining with this service, I generated the chart below. Since January 26, 2018 when the S&P 500 peaked, the total return has been zero, with a lot of heart-stopping volatility, including one 20% drawdown.

That has been the cost to the stock market of the trade war, which started only a few days later. The profit created by the Mad Hedge Fund Trader during the same period has been 58.97%.

You couldn’t even beat the Mad Hedge Fund Trader by pouring all your money into big technology stocks. Over the same time, Facebook (FB) fell 4.1%, Apple (AAPL) rose 21.7%, and Amazon (AMZN) by 22.2%.

The only way you could have topped my performance was to pour your life savings into Roku (ROKU), right when Amazon was about to put it out of business. Jeff Bezos partnered with Roku instead of delivering a 225% pop in the shares.

You might think such a performance is blown out of proportion, exaggerated, and fake. However, it is perfectly consistent with the numbers generated for the in-house trading books by senior traders at Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) where I come from.

In fact, during my day, if a trader earned less than 30% a year on his capital, he got fired or transferred over to covering retail accounts because the firm had so many better places to invest. They are also consistent with the performance of the top-end hedge managers, of which I used to be one.

Chinese Manufacturing Activity fell for four consecutive months taking the Purchasing Managers Index below a recessionary 50. If you wreck the economy of the world’s largest customer, the rest of the world goes into recession.

US Manufacturing hit a three-year low, the ISM Manufacturing PMI diving from an average 56.5 to 49.1 in August. Anything below 50 is a recession indicator. Hoping that China will bleed worse than us in a trade war is not a winning strategy. Stocks dove 300 points and the Volatility Index (VIX) shot up to $21 on the news. Avoid risk, as this is going to be a terrible month.

The prospect of a China meeting popped stocks 400 points, with an agreement to meet in October, citing progress on a phone call. Boy, I’m getting tired of this. When can we go back to looking at earnings, dividends, and book value?

The European Central Bank will almost certainly ease this week. It hasn’t worked for ten years so let’s try it again. They’re obviously not printing enough Euros. Overnight rates will fall from -0.4% to -0.6%. Some 30 billion euros a month will hit the economy in a new QE.

The Atlanta Fed downgraded the economy, cutting its Q3 GDP growth forecast from 2.0% to 1.5%. Expect a string of poor data points in the coming months as the delayed effect of an escalated trade war. However, the non-manufacturing service economy remains strong. That’s me, and probably you too.

The Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service has posted its best month in two years. Some 22 or the last 23 round trips, or 95.6%, have been profitable, generating one of the biggest performance jumps in our 12-year history.

My Global Trading Dispatch has hit a new all-time high of 334.48% and my year-to-date shot up to +34.35%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +34.30%. 

Better yet, since July 31, we generated a 20% profit for the trade alert service while the gain in the Dow Average was absolutely zero!

I raked in an envious 16.01% in August. All of you people who just subscribed in June and July are looking like geniuses. My staff and I have been working to the point of exhaustion, but it’s worth it if I can print these kinds of numbers.

As long as the Volatility Index (VIX) stays above $20, deep in-the-money options spreads are offering free money. I am now 40% long big tech. It rarely gets this easy.

The coming week will be a snore, as it always is after the jobs data.

On Monday, September 9 at 11:00 AM, August Consumer Inflation Expectations are out.

On Tuesday, September 10 at 12:00 PM, the NFIB Business Optimism Index for August is released.

On Wednesday, September 11, at 8:30 AM, the US Producer Price Index is announced.

On Thursday, September 12 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. At the same time, the US Inflation Rate is published.

On Friday, September 13 at 8:30 AM, the US Retails Sales are printed. The Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM.

As for me, I’ll be driving up to Lake Tahoe to make final preparations for the October 25-26 Mad Hedge Lake Tahoe Conference. A record number of black bears have been breaking into homes this summer and I just want to make sure my lakefront estate is OK.

It seems that Airbnb tenants have been leaving trails of cookies to their front doors and painting their refrigerators with peanut butter so they can get better selfies with their ursine neighbors.

Not a good idea.

I’ll be avoiding Interstate 80. A truck carrying 1,000 live chickens crashed there yesterday and the California Highway Patrol was last seen chasing them down the freeway.

Good luck and good trading.

John Thomas
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 29, 2019

Global Market Comments
April 29, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, OR ANOTHER LEG UP FOR THE MARKET),
(SPY), (TLT), (DIS), (INTU), (FCX), (MSFT),
 (QQQ), (CVX), (XOM), (OXY), (TSLA)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Another Leg Up for the Market

This is one of those markets where you should have followed your mother’s advice and become a doctor.

I was shocked, amazed, and gobsmacked when the Q1 GDP came in at a red hot 3.2%. The economy had every reason to slow down during the first three months of 2019 with the government shutdown, trade war, and terrible winter. Many estimates were below 1%.

I took solace in the news by doing what I do best: I shot out four Trade Alerts within the hour.

Of course, the stock market knew this already, rising almost every day this year. Both the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ (QQQ) ground up to new all-time highs last week. The Dow Average will be the last to fall.

Did stock really just get another leg up, or this the greatest “Sell the news” of all time. Nevertheless, we have to trade the market we have, not the one we want or expect, so I quickly dove back in with new positions in both my portfolios.

One has to ask the question of how strong the economy really would have been without the above self-induced drags. 4%, 5%, yikes!

However, digging into the numbers, there is far less than meets the eye with the 3.2% figure. Exports accounted for a full 1% of this. That is unlikely to continue with Europe in free fall. A sharp growth in inventories generated another 0.7%, meaning companies making stuff that no one is buying. This is growth that has been pulled forward from future quarters.

Strip out these one-off anomalies and you get a core GDP that is growing at only 1.5%, lower than the previous quarter.

What is driving the recent rally is that corporate earnings are coming in stronger than expected. Back in December, analysts panicked and excessively cut forecasts.

With half of the companies already reporting, it now looks like the quarter will come in a couple of points higher than lower. That may be worth a rally of a few more percentage points higher for a few more weeks, but not much more than that.
 
So will the Fed raise rates now? A normal Fed certainly would in the face of such a hot GDP number. But nothing is normal anymore. The Fed canceled all four rate hikes for 2019 because the stock market was crashing. Now it’s booming. Does that put autumn rate hikes back on the table, or sooner?

Microsoft (MSFT) knocked it out of the park with great earnings and a massive 47% increase in cloud growth. The stock looks hell-bent to hit $140, and Mad Hedge followers who bought the stock close to $100 are making a killing. (MSFT) is now the third company to join the $1 trillion club.

And it’s not that the economy is without major weak spots. US Existing Home Sales dove in March by 5.9%, to an annualized 5.41 million units. Where is the falling mortgage rate boost here? Keep avoiding the sick man of the US economy. Car sales are also rolling over like the Bismarck, unless they’re electric.

Trump ended all Iran oil export waivers and the oil industry absolutely loved it with Texas tea soaring to new 2019 highs at $67 a barrel. Previously, the administration had been exempting eight major countries from the Iran sanctions. More disruption all the time. The US absolutely DOES NOT need an oil shock right now, unless you’re Exxon (XOM), Chevron (CVX), or Occidental Petroleum (OXY).

NASDAQ hit a new all-time high. Unfortunately, it’s all short covering and company share buybacks with no new money actually entering the market. How high is high? Tech would have to quadruple from here to hit the 2000 Dotcom Bubble top in valuation terms.

Tesla lost $700 million in Q1, and the stock collapsed to a new two-year low. It’s all because the EV subsidy dropped by half since January. Look for a profit rebound in quarters two and three. Capital raise anyone? Tesla junk bonds now yielding 8.51% if you’re looking for an income play. After a very long wait, a decent entry point is finally opening up on the long side.

The Mad Hedge Fund Trader blasted through to a new all-time high, up 16.02% year to date, as we took profits on the last of our technology long positions. I then added new long positions in (DIS), (FCX), and (INTU) on the hot GDP print, but only on a three-week view.

I had cut both Global Trading Dispatch and the Mad Hedge Technology Letter services down to 100% cash positions and waited for markets to tell us what to do next. And so they did.

I dove in with an extremely rare and opportunistic long in the bond market (TLT)  and grabbed a quickie 14.61% profit on only three days.

April is now positive +0.60%.  My 2019 year to date return gained to +16.02%, boosting my trailing one-year to +21.17%. 
 
My nine and a half year shot up to +316.16%. The average annualized return appreciated to +33.87%. I am now 80% in cash with Global Trading Dispatch and 90% cash in the Mad Hedge Tech Letter.

The coming week will see another jobs trifecta.

On Monday, April 29 at 10:00 AM, we get March Consumer Spending. Alphabet (GOOGL) and Western Digital (WDC) report.

On Tuesday, April 30, 10:00 AM EST, we obtain a new Case Shiller CoreLogic National Home Price Index. Apple (AAPL), MacDonald’s (MCD), and General Electric (GE) report.

On Wednesday, May 1 at 2:00 PM, we get an FOMC statement.
QUALCOMM (QCOM) and Square (SQ) report. The ADP Private Employment Report is released at 8:15 AM.

On Thursday, May 2 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are produced. Gilead Sciences (GILD) and Dow Chemical (DOW) report.

On Friday, May 3 at 8:30 AM, we get the April Nonfarm Payroll Report. Adidas reports, and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A) reports on Saturday.

As for me, to show you how low my life has sunk, I spent my only free time this weekend watching Avengers: Endgame. It has already become the top movie opening in history which is why I sent out another Trade Alert last week to buy Walt Disney (DIS).

I supposed that now we have all become the dumb extension to our computers, the only entertainment we should expect is computer-generated graphics with only human voice-overs.

Good luck and good trading.

John Thomas
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 7, 2019

Global Market Comments
March 7, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(BETTER BATTERIES HAVE BECOME BIG DISRUPTERS)
(TSLA), (XOM), (USO)

December 14, 2018

Global Market Comments
December 14, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(DECEMBER 12 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(SPX), (MU), (PYPL), (SPOT), (FXE), (FXY), (XLF), (MSFT), (AMZN), (TSLA), (XOM), 
(SIGN UP NOW FOR TEXT MESSAGING OF TRADE ALERTS)

November 7, 2018

Global Market Comments
November 7, 2018
Fiat Lux

SPECIAL ELECTION ISSUE

Featured Trade:
(THROWING RED MEAT TO MY BASE)
(RTN), (LMT), (NOC), (HON), (XOM), (CVX), (DVN)

October 17, 2018

Global Market Comments
October 17, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(WHO WAS THE GREATEST WEALTH CREATOR IN HISTORY?)
(FB), (AAPL), (GOOG), (AMZN),
 (XOM), (BRKY), (T), (GM), (VZ), (CCA),
(WHY DOCTORS MAKE TERRIBLE TRADERS?)