Friday, October 2, 2009

Weekly Market Update (10/2/09)‏


The US economy shed 263,000 jobs in September, which was below the consensus forecast by nearly 100,000. At the same time, the unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high of 9.8% during the month. more...

Treasuries traded higher this week, with the intermediate part of the yield curve, mostly 5 year and 7 year yields outperforming all other maturities. more...

Large-Cap Equities
The stock market fell for the second straight week on concerns of a slower than expected economic recovery. more...

Corporate Bonds
Investment grade primary activity continued its recent run as an eclectic mix of issuers tapped the market. more...

Mortgage-Backed Securities
Is the range bound trade over? A relapse in equities and weaker-than-expected economic reports sent bond yields to their lowest levels since May. more...

Municipal Bonds
The municipal bond market turned in a fantastic monthly performance in September. Total return for the month on the broad Barclays Municipal Bond Index ranked as one of the top 3 months in the last 20 years, at 3.6%. more...

After posting the largest gains in the modern history of the high yield market of over 22% in the second quarter, the asset class did not disappoint in the third quarter. more...

Eastern European Equities
The CECE index of equities traded in Central Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland) lost -3.7% this week, while the Russian stock index RTS went down -0.1%. more...

Global Bonds and Currencies
Major non-US government bond markets had another positive week, supported by equity market declines and concerns over the sustainability of the global recovery in the wake of some disappointing US data, even though domestic data developments were mixed to positive. more...

Emerging-Market Bonds
Emerging market dollar-pay debt spreads were unchanged this week. Although risk appetite receded as reflected through lower global equity indices, emerging market bonds remained supported by strong inflows into the asset class more...

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Factory Orders

Released on 10/2/2009 10:00:00 AM For August, 2009
Prior Consensus Consensus Range Actual
Factory Orders - M/M change 1.3 % 1.0 % -0.8 % to 1.6 % -0.8 %

The manufacturing recovery is having a bumpy lift off. Manufacturing activity first moved higher in June then improved further in July but then dipped back in August. Factory orders for August fell 0.8 percent vs. a 1.4 percent rise in July (1.3 percent first reported) and vs. a 0.9 percent rise in June. August's data were pulled lower by durable goods, down 2.6 percent in the month (revised from an initial 2.4 percent). August orders for non-durable goods make their appearance with this report, up 0.8 percent and reflecting higher prices for oil & coal but not nearly enough to offset the drop in durable goods.

Weakness in durable goods is centered in transportation which is skewed not by motor vehicles, which despite cash-for-clunkers have been steady and which rose 2.0 percent in August, but have been skewed by aircraft where a huge jump in July made for a huge drop in August. Most categories outside of transportation also show month-to-month weakness. Capital goods readings fell back from big gains in July and point to trouble for export data in next week's international trade report. Consumer goods readings were mixed showing weakness for durable goods but strength for nondurables.

Among other data in the report, factory shipments fell 0.3 percent vs. a 0.3 percent rise in July. This particular reading raises the question whether the manufacturing sector actually did dip back into negative territory during August. Unfilled orders fell 0.4 percent while inventories fell 0.8 percent as manufacturers continued to keep costs down. But yesterday's ISM manufacturing report showed a pivotal slowing in the rate of inventory draw, pointing to a month-to-month gain for September inventories in what arguably would mark the end of the inventory correction. The outlook for the manufacturing sector is positive but uncertain as the sector's recovery is proving, as was expected, to be gradual not explosive.

Employment Situation

Released on 10/2/2009 8:30:00 AM For September, 2009
Prior Consensus Consensus Range Actual
Nonfarm Payrolls - M/M change -216,000 -170,000 -235,000 to -135,000 -263,000
Unemployment Rate - Level 9.7 % 9.8 % 9.6 % to 9.9 % 9.8 %
Average Hourly Earnings - M/M change 0.3 % 0.2 % 0.1 % to 0.3 % 0.1 %
Average Workweek - Level 33.1 hrs 33.1 hrs 33.1 hrs to 33.2 hrs 33.0 hrs

The September jobs report was disappointing-but the consensus may have grown too optimistic. In reality, job losses are not nearly as severe as earlier in the recession and the unemployment rate is drifting up slowly as expected. Nonfarm payroll employment in September fell 263,000, following a revised decline of 201,000 in August and a revised decrease of 304,000 in July. The September drop in payroll employment was worse than the consensus forecast for a 170,000 contraction. August and July revisions were down a net 13,000 (the net declines were worse).

Job losses were widespread in both goods-producing and service-providing sectors. By major categories, goods-producing jobs decreased 116,000 in September, following a 132,000 drop the month before. In the latest month, construction jobs fell 64,000 while manufacturing declined 51,000 and mining slipped 1,000. Service-providing losses, however, surged back to a 147,000 fall, after contracting only 69,000 in August. The drop in service-providing jobs was led by trade & transportation, down 60,000, and by government, down 53,000. Trade was tugged down mainly by retail jobs which fell 39,000. Government weakness was led by the non-education component of local government, down 24,000, as revenue shortfalls have forced job cuts despite fiscal stimulus monies.

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, payroll employment has fallen by 7.2 million.

On a year-ago basis, payroll jobs were down 4.2 percent in September-slightly better than down 4.3 percent the previous month.

Wage inflation eased sharply as average hourly earnings in September grew 0.1 percent, following a 0.4 percent gain in August. The consensus had projected a 0.2 percent rise for the latest month. The average workweek slipped to 33.0 hours from 33.1 hours in August, coming in below the market forecast for 33.1 hours.

Turning to the household survey, the civilian unemployment rate continued its uptrend, rising to 9.8 percent from 9.7 percent in August and compared to the market forecast for 9.8 percent. The latest rate is the highest since 1983.

Today's employment report will set equities back as futures were down notably on the release. Bond yields fell. However, the numbers are not dramatically negative and on average over the last few months reflect improvement. It is too early to write off the recovery given that nearly everyone expected a sluggish and choppy recovery.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
Nonfarm payroll employment in August fell 216,000, following a decrease of 276,000 in July and a decline of 463,000 in June. By major categories, goods-producing jobs dropped 136,000 in August, following a 122,000 decrease the month before. The slowing in overall payroll job cuts was due to fewer pink slips in the services sector. Service-providing losses were cut in half with an 80,000 decline after falling 154,000 in July. Wage inflation warmed up a bit-likely due to a jump in the minimum wage. Average hourly earnings in August rose 0.3 percent, matching July's gain.

The employment situation is a set of labor market indicators based on two separate surveys in this one report. Based on the Household Survey, the unemployment rate measures the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labor force. Other key series come from the Establishment Survey (of business establishments). Nonfarm payroll employment counts the number of paid employees working part-time or full-time in the nation's business and government establishments. The average workweek reflects the number of hours worked in the nonfarm sector. Average hourly earnings reveal the basic hourly rate for major industries as indicated in nonfarm payrolls.

Market Reflections 10/1/2009

Disappointment for jobless claims, a less-than-robust ISM manufacturing report and a big plunge in vehicle sales tripped a move toward safety and profit-taking in stocks. The S&P ended at its lows in a rush of late session selling, down 2.6 percent to 1,029. Initial jobless claims did rise but after several weeks of substantial improvement, and ISM data showed steady month-to-month expansion with inventories now kicking in to make up for slowing but still sizable rates of month-to-month growth in orders and production. But vehicle sales have no silver lining, pointing to big trouble for the September retail sales report. Demand for safety helped the dollar, with the dollar index up 0.6 percent to 77.19, and also helped Treasuries where the 10-year yield fell 12 basis points to 3.19 percent.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Market Reflections 9/30/2009

The book on second-quarter GDP is now closed showing a mild 0.7 percent decline, improvement that may turn to growth in the third quarter. Other data in the session include a weaker-than-expected showing in ADP data that points to mild disappointment for Friday's jobs report, while the Chicago purchaser report points to out and out disappointment for upcoming manufacturing data.

Safety was the trade for Wednesday with the S&P down 0.3% at 1,057. Oil rallied strongly despite a build in weekly inventories, one however offset by a draw in gasoline stocks. Perhaps more importantly, the data show a fourth month of year-on-year demand growth with September proving the strongest yet at 6 percent in what is hinting at consumer strength. Oil rose more than $3 to $70.25. Gold rose more than $10 to back over $1,000 at 1,008.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Market Reflections 9/29/2009

Consumer confidence edged back in September as consumers expressed deepening pessimism over the jobs market and their income outlook. But the markets, awaiting Friday's jobs report, held steady in quiet trading. The S&P fell 0.2 percent to end at 1,060. The dollar index firmed 0.2 percent to end at 77.07 while commodities were little changed with oil ending at $66.50 and gold at $990.

Mistakes Traders Make

An interesting survey has just found its way into my inbox, courtesy of Ratio Trading. The survey of more than 500 experienced futures brokers asked what, in their experience, caused most traders to lose money. There are some repetitions in the list, but it is nevertheless a worthwhile exercise to give it a quick read to again remind ourselves of the many investment pitfalls out there.

1. Many futures traders trade without a plan. They do not define specific risk and profit objectives before trading. Even if they establish a plan, they “second guess” it and don’t stick to it, particularly if the trade is a loss. Consequently, they overtrade and use their equity to the limit (are undercapitalized), which puts them in a squeeze and forces them to liquidate positions.

Usually, they liquidate the good trades and keep the bad ones.

2. Many traders don’t realize the news they hear and read has already been discounted by the market.

3. After several profitable trades, many speculators become wild and aggressive. They base their trades on hunches and long shots, rather than sound fundamental and technical reasoning, or put their money into one deal that “can’t fail.”

4. Traders often try to carry too big a position with too little capital, and trade too frequently for the size of the account.

5. Some traders try to “beat the market” by day trading, nervous scalping, and getting greedy.

6. They fail to pre-define risk, add to a losing position, and fail to use stops.

7 .They frequently have a directional bias; for example, always wanting to be long.

8. Lack of experience in the market causes many traders to become emotionally and/or financially committed to one trade, and unwilling or unable to take a loss. They may be unable to admit they have made a mistake, or they look at the market on too short a time frame.

9. They overtrade.

10. Many traders can’t (or don’t) take the small losses. They often stick with a loser until it really hurts, then take the loss. This is an undisciplined approach…a trader needs to develop and stick with a system.

11. Many traders get a fundamental case and hang onto it, even after the market technically turns. Only believe fundamentals as long as the technical signals follow. Both must agree.

12. Many traders break a cardinal rule: “Cut losses short. Let profits run.”

13. Many people trade with their hearts instead of their heads. For some traders, adversity (or success) distorts judgment. That’s why they should have a plan first, and stick to it.

14. Often traders have bad timing, and not enough capital to survive the shake out.

15. Too many traders perceive futures markets as an intuitive arena. The inability to distinguish between price fluctuations which reflect a fundamental change and those which represent an interim change often causes losses.

16. Not following a disciplined trading program leads to accepting large losses and small profits. Many traders do not define offensive and defensive plans when an initial position is taken.

17. Emotion makes many traders hold a loser too long. Many traders don’t discipline themselves to take small losses and big gains.

18. Too many traders are under financed, and get washed out at the extremes.

19. Greed causes some traders to allow profits to dwindle into losses while hoping for larger profits.
This is really a lack of discipline. Also, having too many trades on at one time and overtrading for the amount of capital involved can stem from greed.

20. Trying to trade inactive markets is dangerous.

Source: Ratio Trading, September 4, 2009.^DJI

One view of the future from Marc Faber: (link to video above)

Bullish Today, Marc Faber Is "Highly Confident" the Future Will Be Very Bleak
Posted Sep 22, 2009 07:30am EDT by Aaron Task in Investing, Newsmakers
"The future will be a total disaster, with a collapse of our capitalistic system as we know it today, wars, massive government debt defaults and the impoverishment of large segments of Western society," Marc Faber writes in the September issue of The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report.
A statement like that pretty much speaks for itself, but it's a bit more complicated than appears on first blush.

Faber has been bullish -- especially on commodities and emerging market stocks -- for some time now and believes the current global recovery trade will last another two-to-three years, as discussed in more detail in a forthcoming clip. But he has major long-term concerns about the dollar's long-term viability given rising U.S. deficits, massive unfunded mandates and the fact "we have a money-printer at the Fed."

This combination will eventually lead to runaway inflation, wholesale debasement of the dollar, and a major lowering of living standards for most Americans and many Europeans as well, says Faber, who is "highly confident" in this grim prediction

Here is a contrasting view from Henry Blodgett (linked here

Everyone Thinks Interest Rates Are Going Higher
Henry Blodget|Sep. 28, 2009, 8:01 AM

The consensus is almost always wrong, which is why today's conventional wisdom that interest rates will drift higher merits examination.

If the consensus is wrong this time, too, it means one of two things:

Interest rates will scream higher, clobbering adjustable-rate debtors and killing the economy.
Interest rates will continue to drift lower, as deflation takes hold.
We continue to believe we'll get hyper-inflation at some point (option 1), because we think the Fed will be more worried about killing the recovery than controlling inflation and will therefore err on the side of the former.

That said, right now, the prevailing trend clearly is deflation. And as Japan has showed, the spate of deflation before the hyper-inflation takes hold can last a while.

Why deflation? Despite the sequential uptick in house prices in the past few months, we still don't think we've seen the bottom. The banks are still facing huge losses in commercial real estate, which means they're likely to keep hoarding their capital and not inject new loans into the economy. This should restrain the growth of the money supply. Consumers are starting to save and retiring debt, which should rein in their spending (and, consequently, trigger price declines to try to entice them). We still have huge slack in our manufacturing industries--capacity utilization is very low.

All of which is to say... We wouldn't be surprised if the obvious trade here--interest rates will drift higher as the economy recovers--is wrong.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Market Reflections 9/28/2009

Mergers headed Monday's news including multi-billion deals involving Xerox and Abbott Laboratories. The S&P gained 1.8 percent to 1,062 but volume was low given the Yom Kippur holiday. The dollar index firmed 0.5 percent to 76.99 after European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet stressed the importance of a strong dollar. Another missile test by Iran added some premium to oil which ended $1 higher at $67. Gold was little changed at just above $990.