Lombardi: Stock Market Commentary & Forecasts, Financial & Economic Analysis Since 1986

Posts Tagged ‘bear market’

Reaching the Point of Maximum Optimism

By for Profit Confidential

Bear Market Twists News to Lure in More InvestorsThis past Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 175,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in the month of February. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 7, 2014.)

The way the media reported it…

“Friday’s jobs market report caught the market by surprise,” was what most media outlets were telling us via their untrained reporters. The expectation was an increase of 149,000 jobs in February (after a dismal December and January jobs market report) and so the usual happened—stocks went up and gold went down on a jobs market report that was only slightly better than what was expected.

The consensus, from what I read, is that the jobs market in the U.S. economy is getting better. Of course, I think of this as hogwash. And as I’ll tell you in a moment, this is the kind of misinformation that is characteristic of what happens in a bear market in stocks, not a bull market.

Within February’s jobs market report, we find:

The long-term unemployed (those who have been out of work for six months or more) accounted for 37% of all the unemployed in the U.S. economy. The longer a person is unemployed—likely because that person has not been re-trained for the jobs market—the less likely it is that person will eventually find work.

Today, once a person becomes unemployed in the U.S. economy, that person remains unemployed for an average of 37 weeks! This number remains staggeringly high. Before the financial crisis, this number was below 15 weeks. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed March 7, 2014.)

When you have a … Read More

2014: The Year the Stock Market Topped Out?

By for Profit Confidential

Federal ReserveTo close off the week, I’d like to offer some words of wisdom from my old friend Tony Jasansky, P.Eng. Tony has spent more than 40 years studying and analyzing the markets. He’s one of the best stock market analysts I know. Here’s what he has to say about stocks right now…

“The only obvious difference between Janet Yellen, the incoming Chair [of the Federal Reserve], and the present Chair, Ben Bernanke, is in their gender. Investors who have loved Bernanke’s monetary abandon are already placing their money on Janet being just as energetic in keeping the money pump going. In recent days, both of them emphasized that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low even after the monthly $85.0-billion bond purchases have wound down.

With commodities including gold in a bear market, and the bubble in bonds waiting to be deflated by the Fed’s soon-to-end bond purchases, stocks are still seen as the ‘best game in town.’ The five-year bull market probably won’t end until it reaches a bubble stage, comparable to the 2000 and 2007 tops. Observing the recent changes in indicators measuring the degree of investors’ fear and greed, my wild guess is that 2014 will be the year of another big top.

Last month, I said the overbought market conditions, measured by the price and breadth indicators, pointed to a short-term correction. Instead of the expected ‘healthy correction,’ the U.S. market moved sideways for two weeks before resuming its uptrend, lifting most indices by another 3%.

The resumption of the uptrend and the successive daily highs hit by virtually all major U.S. stock market indices … Read More

Why the Prediction I Got Wrong Back Then Is So Vital Today

By for Profit Confidential

stock market crashBack in late 2011, I created a widely circulated video that included six predictions. I hit it on the head with five of those predictions. But the winners are not what are important to my readers today; it’s the prediction I didn’t get right that’s vital now

Back then, I said the U.S. dollar was “dead” and wouldn’t go anywhere. I pointed out that if it were not for the continued crisis in the eurozone, the greenback would fall flat on its face. The dollar hasn’t gone anywhere since. And if it were not for investors taking their money out of European banks and moving them into U.S. dollars, our dollar could have collapsed.

My second prediction back then was that the euro would decline in value. And it has. Prediction three was that both interest rates and inflation would rise. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury has risen about 50% since then. As for inflation, if we calculate it the way the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was calculated when Jimmy Carter was president, it would be almost three times the rate the government tells us it is today.

I compared the rally in stocks that started in 2009 to the period following the 1929 stock market crash (1934 to 1937) and warned that stock prices would eventually follow the same fate they did after the “fake” stock market rally that followed the 1929 crash. I still have that opinion today.

What I got wrong in my “Critical Warning Number Six” was my prediction on gold bullion—and I believe that equates to a bigger opportunity for my readers … Read More

Has Gold Lost Its Shine For Good?

By for Profit Confidential

280613_PC_leongBack in April, I said gold was looking bad on the chart and that as long as the stock market continued to advance higher, the prospects for gold were dim. (Read “Is Gold’s Near-Death Crisis Over-Exaggerated? Concerns of a Market Meltdown May Not Be.”)

Fast-forward two months, and while stocks have been in a minor correction, there continues to be distaste for holding gold.

The reality is that inflation is benign and will likely stay that way for a few years. The world’s central banks continue to drive easy money into the system and investors are looking elsewhere to make money, ignoring the precious metals, especially gold, traditionally a safe-haven investment.

The problem now is that there’s really no need for a safe haven at this juncture.

Gold is down 36% from its peak of $1,920 in September 2011, and it’s not looking good.

I even feel that gold is vulnerable to $1,200 on the chart. Take a look at the long-term chart of spot gold featured below. The lower support appeared to be in place until the slide on Wednesday to the $1,224 level. The threat now is that gold could continue to break down and make a move toward $1,200. If this happens, we could actually see a move down to the $1,100 level, based on my technical analysis.

Gold-Spot Price Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Of course, the futures market appears to be betting on a rally. The contracts all the way out to December 2018 show the spot price above $1,200, but I have seen this more positive sentiment before, and it subsequently failed to pan out…. Read More

Why We Have Seen the End of the S&P 500’s Bear Market Rally

By for Profit Confidential

Since the announcement from the Federal Reserve about tapering off quantitative easing, the key stock indices have been showing increased selling pressures. Just take a look at the chart of the S&P 500 below.

 SPC S and P 500 Large Cap Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The S&P 500 started 2013 with momentum to the upside. Investors bought in hopes that the index would continue to go higher, and by no surprise, it did reach its all-time high. As expected, after the Federal Reserve announcement, sellers took hold of the S&P 500, and it broke below its 50-day moving average for the first time this year (indicated by the black circle in the chart above)—a bearish indicator, according to technical analysts.

The last time the S&P 500 reached this far below its 50-day moving average was in October 2012. When that happened, the S&P 500 declined six percent, and it didn’t recover until December (as noted by the green circle in the above chart).

Note: other key stock indices like the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ Composite Index have also fallen below their 50-day moving averages.

Looking at this, I have to ask: is the bear market rally that lured investors into buying over?

The decline in the key stock indices has certainly proved my theory: money printing was a major factor in their flight to their all-time highs. Now, when we have hints that the Federal Reserve will be pulling back on its quantitative easing, the key stock indices are sliding lower.

Corporate earnings, one of the main reasons for the rise in the key stock indices, aren’t improving as expected either. As a matter … Read More

What Recovery? Americans on Food Stamps Outnumber Population of Spain

By for Profit Confidential

Americans on Food Stamps Outnumber Population of SpainAs of March of this year, 47.7 million Americans are now on some form of food stamps. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of Americans resorting to food stamps increased more than 171%. In 2000, there were just 17.1 million Americans on food stamps. (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, June 7, 2013.)

There are more individuals on food stamps in the U.S. economy than the entire population of Spain—46.17 million. (Source: World Bank web site, last accessed June 21, 2013.)

That costs the government money. The expenditure for food stamps in 2012 was $74.6 billion, almost 116% higher than what it paid in 2008. That’s a cost that could pick up even more speed if, as all indicators show, inflation begins to rise.

The key stock indices in the U.S. economy have skyrocketed since the Great Recession, due in large part to money printing, but the average American Joe hasn’t seen his living conditions improve—in fact, they have actually deteriorated.

Instead, the rich appear to be getting richer and the poor are facing more challenges, while the middle class is disintegrating. According to a Pew Research report, the bottom 93% of households in the U.S. economy witnessed their net worth drop by four percent between 2009 and 2011. The richest seven percent of U.S. households saw their wealth increase by 28% in the same period. (Source: Associated Press, April 23, 2013.)

The misery for the middle class doesn’t end here; the Census Bureau reported in the first-quarter that home ownership in the U.S. economy dropped to its lowest level in 18 years. Just 65% of Americans owned their homes in … Read More

A Mirage Called the Stock Market

By for Profit Confidential

A Mirage Called the Stock MarketWhile an economic slowdown is looming over the global economy, no one seems to care, as stock markets continue to reach new record-highs—giving investors false hopes of economic growth. But how long can this mirage actually last?

The economic slowdown in the global economy I’m talking about is a worldwide pullback in growth. Take India as the first example. According to India’s Central Statistics Office, the Indian economy is growing at five percent—its slowest pace in a decade! The director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry was quoted late last week as saying, “With no visible pick-up in any key levers of the economy, the situation remains grim.” (Source: Mallet, V., “India records slowest growth in a decade,” Financial Times, May 31, 2013.)

China, the second-biggest economic hub in the global economy, is facing headwinds, as its economy is growing at its slowest pace since 2009. Japan has undergone the largest per-capita quantitative easing program in history (its debt-to-gross domestic product [GDP] is running above 200%), and that country is back in a recession.

The unemployment rate in the eurozone was reported last week at 12.2% for April. It was 12.1% in March. The unemployment rate in Spain stood at 26.8 % and in Portugal, it stood at 17.8%. (Source: Eurostat web site, May 31, 2013.)

And industrial metal prices, which are supposed to be a leading indicator, are all heading downward.

Take a look at the chart below of the Dow Jones-UBS Industrial Metals Index. This index provides an overall picture of the performance of industrial metals.

$DJAIN Dow Jones-UBS Industrial Metals Index stock chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Since the beginning of the … Read More

If This Is Economic Growth, Then What Will an Economic Slowdown Look Like?

By for Profit Confidential

As I have written in these pages many times before, economic growth in a country happens when people are finding jobs, real wages are rising, consumers are spending, businesses are expanding and seeing their inventories decline, and the general standard of living is rising.

But all of these events are missing in the U.S. economy.

The jobs growth we have witnessed following the Great Recession has been in low-wage-paying sectors. Despite the politicians telling us we have economic growth, we still have a significant number of Americans unemployed or working part-time because there aren’t any full-time jobs for them. The underemployment rate, which I consider to be a better measure of the jobs market situation, still stands around 14%, and it’s been at that number or higher for years.

In periods of economic growth, businesses spend their money, creating higher-paying jobs as they do. In the current U.S. economy, businesses are still shying away from spending; rather, they hold a pessimistic view on the economic growth potential of the current U.S. economy. Many companies have taken to the process of buying their shares back in order to make their per-share corporate earnings look better.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal consumption expenditure, a measure of consumer spending in the U.S., decreased 0.2% in April after a dismal rise of only 0.1% in March. (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, May 31, 2013.)

Disposable income (what Americans have left after paying taxes) also declined in April, shedding 0.1% in the month.

Even with all the gains in the key stock indices and politicians saying we have economic growth in the … Read More

It’s Official: NYSE Margin Debt Hit New Record, Surpasses 2007

By for Profit Confidential

Margin Debt Hit New RecordIs it just me, or have investors completely abandoned the concept of risk and reward?

The reality of the situation is that the key stock indices are treading in shark-infested waters and the risks are piling up daily. I see bearish signals all over, but the theme among investors, even conservative investors, continues to be “keep buying.”

It’s official…

Margin debt—that’s the amount of money borrowed to purchase stocks—on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) reached its all-time high in April. Margin debt on the NYSE registered at $384.3 billion as the key stock indices hit new record-highs. (Source: New York Stock Exchange web site, last accessed May 29, 2013.) The highest margin debt ever reached prior to this was in July of 2007, when it stood just above $381.0 billion. At that time, just like today, the key stock indices were near their peaks and “buy now before it’s too late” was the prominent theme of the day

Looking ahead, corporate earnings, which ultimately drive the direction of the key stock indices, don’t look so good. So far, 106 companies in key stock indices like the S&P 500 have provided their corporate earnings outlooks for the second quarter, and more than 80% of them have issued earnings outlooks that are negative! Corporate earnings growth for the second quarter is now projected to be only 1.4%—and the estimate keeps going down! (Source: FactSet, May 28, 2013.)

And this chart doesn’t look good either:

 XLU Utilities Selected Sector SPDR NYSE Chart May 2013

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The above chart shows the performance of the S&P 500 utilities stocks through an exchange-traded fund (ETF) called the Utilities Select Sector SPDR … Read More

“People Running Through the Gate” to Buy Gold?

By for Profit Confidential

People Running Through the GateAs I have been writing in these pages, after a bull market that has gone on for 12 years, the recent pullback in gold bullion prices should be seen as a correction in an ongoing bull market in the metal. I see the pullback as a buying opportunity.

While news headlines flash a bearish sentiment towards gold bullion prices, the gold bears are screaming about how much money central banks have lost due to the plunge in prices and the gold miners are facing pressures. The usual gold bullion consumer countries, India and China, are seeing robust demand.

According to the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation, India is experiencing its greatest demand this year as gold bullion prices have declined. (Source: Bloomberg, April 18, 2013.)

In China, customers are lining up to buy gold bullion. According to the director of sales and operations at Chow Sang Sang Holdings International Limited, the number of gold bullion products sold in the Hong Kong and Macau area during the weekend of April 13 soared 150%.

Other countries in the global economy are witnessing increased demand for the metal as well. As talk of gold bullion entering a bear market continues, consumers from countries like Australia and Japan have ramped up their gold buying.

Gold bullion sales at The Perth Mint in Australia have soared. The treasurer of The Perth Mint, Nigel Moffatt, commented on this situation by saying, “the volume of business that we’re putting through is way in excess of double what we did last week.” He added, “there’s been people running through the gate.” (Source: “Golden times for Perth … Read More

Is Gold’s Near-Death Crisis Over-Exaggerated? Concerns of a Market Meltdown May Not Be

By for Profit Confidential

Is Gold’s Near-Death Crisis Over-ExaggeratedCommodity prices have been heading lower on the charts.

In fact, it has been an awful few days for gold as prices plummeted, failing to hold $1,500 an ounce.

Prices dove right through support at $1,400 to $1,385.62 on Monday—the lowest level since 2011.

The shiny yellow ore is in a bear market. Down 27% from its magical peak of $1,920 in September 2011, it has been nothing but turmoil for investors in the yellow metal.

As I said in a recent commentary, I have lost confidence in the metal as a safe haven investment at this point. I’m not even sure I would enter on the current weakness.

The price chart says “sell.” Follow the trend, and you may be able to squeeze out some profits on an oversold bounce trade; but extending the trend forward, things don’t look good for gold.

Now we will need to see if the precious metal can hold $1,400.

As we move lower, there are now concerns of a meltdown in the gold sector, especially if prices continue to trend lower toward the $1,200 level.

Goldman Sachs, which recently turned bearish and advised shorting the metal, is fearful of gold prices dropping to the $1,200-an-ounce level—as this level also represents the cash cost to produce gold at this point. (Source; Cosgrave, J., “The Scary Number for Gold Investors: $1200,” CNBC, April 15, 2013.)

The $1,200-an-ounce cost of production is clearly an issue, especially for the smaller mining companies that are not as cost-effective or able to survive a cash crunch, compared to the mid- to large-tier producers, like Newmont Mining Corporation (NYSE/NEM). (Read … Read More

Already Fragile Economy Hit with Falling Retail Sales, Rising Business Inventories

By for Profit Confidential

Rising Business InventoriesGross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. economy mainly consists of consumer spending. Hence, the more consumers spend and buy, the better our economic conditions become. In 2012, consumer spending in the U.S. economy accounted for more than $11.1 trillion. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed April 12, 2013.)

Unfortunately, as we finish the first quarter of 2013, economic indicators are suggesting U.S. consumer spending is under severe pressure.

Retail sales in the U.S. economy just took a wrong turn and dropped 0.4% in March from February’s sales. Consumer spending at electronics and appliance stores, health and personal care stores, and general merchandise stores posted a negative growth compared to the same period in 2012. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, April 12, 2013.)

Similarly, a key indicator of future consumer spending, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index declined to the lowest point in nine months in April. The preliminary consumer sentiment index registered at 72.3 in April, down from 78.6 in March. (Source: Reuters, April 12, 2013.) Remember: consumers turning pessimistic means a pullback in consumer spending.

At the other end of the equation, we see businesses in the U.S. economy increasing their inventories. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, manufacturing and trade inventories in February of this year edged up almost five percent from a year ago. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, April 12, 2013.)

Businesses often build up inventories in anticipation of demand, but looking at consumer sentiment and retail sales, I highly doubt that’s the case. It’s actually the opposite; business inventories are increasing because of a lack of demand…. Read More

Base Metal Demand Turning Bleak; Not a Good Sign for Global Economy

By for Profit Confidential

The threat of an economic slowdown in the global economy is increasing each day, but thanks to the optimistic stock markets flaring due to easy money, the threat goes unnoticed.

Copper stockpiles in the London Mercantile Exchange warehouses have reached a 10-year high. Since the beginning of this year, copper inventories have surged 84%. (Source: Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2013.)

According to the World Steel Association, steel demand in Japan is expected to decline (for the second year in a row) by 2.2% in 2013 and a further 0.6% in 2014. Similarly, the use of steel in the U.S. is expected to slow this year compared to 2012. (Source: World Steel Association, April 11, 2013.)

Other base metals, often referred to as “industrial metals,” are witnessing their demise as well. Consider the chart below of the Dow Jones-UBS Industrial Metals Index.

$DJAIN Dow Jones UBS industrial metals chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

This index, comprising different base metal prices, has been declining since February and has shed more than 11% of its price. Base metals are used in many different industries, and if their demand slows and prices decline, then that’s not a great sign for the global economy.

Dear reader, it’s not a hidden fact: major economic hubs in the global economy are slowing down. In the U.S., we have high unemployment. Once-strong nations like Germany and France are being suppressed by an economic slowdown in the eurozone. Japan is in an outright recession. China’s economy is slowing, too.

After the economic slowdown of 2009, central banks in the global economy were able to inject significant amounts of money into their countries. Looking forward, … Read More

The Truth Behind Today’s Pathetic Jobs Numbers

By for Profit Confidential

Truth Behind Today’s Pathetic JobsThis morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported there were only 88,000 jobs added to the U.S. jobs market last month. This will certainly give the politicians more bragging rights: the unemployment rate in the U.S. economy decreased to 7.6% in March, down from 7.7% in February. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 5, 2013.)

As I always say, the devil resides in the details. The anemic jobs numbers report today showed, once again, how tormented the U.S. economy really is. In the month of March, the civilian labor force declined by almost 500,000 people!

Problems in the U.S. jobs market still persist. The number of Americans unemployed for more than six months hasn’t improved. They still make up almost 40% of the unemployed in the U.S. economy. Keep in mind; the longer they stay out of work, the harder it will be for them to get back into the jobs market, as they lose their skills.

The underemployment rate, a measure I consider to be a good indicator of the jobs market, still hasn’t shown any major improvements. In March, it stood just under 14%, compared to 14.3% in February.

March’s jobs market report is worrisome to say the least. Over the past 12-month period, on average, the U.S. economy has seen 169,000 jobs added each month. With only 88,000 jobs added last month, March’s jobs created were 48% below the 12-month average!

If you take out stock buyback programs, companies in key stock indices are struggling with profit growth. And I believe they have no other option than to cut their labor forces to maintain profits.

We … Read More

Why Silver Prices Will Go Higher Despite Bearish Sentiment

By for Profit Confidential

Just like gold bullion, silver prices have come under severe scrutiny lately. Many in the mainstream say silver prices are in a bear market.

According to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the amount of bearish bets is inching closer to bullish bets on silver for the first time since 2007. (Source: Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2013.) This means that the number of investors turning bearish on silver prices is increasing. From trading just above $30.00 at the beginning of 2013, silver prices have declined below $27.00, or by 10%.

But what holds true is that just like gold bullion, the fundamentals behind silver prices are strong as well.

In a report issued by GFMS Thomson Reuters and commissioned by the Silver Institute in November of 2012, average industrial demand for silver in 2000 was 383.3 million ounces (Moz). By 2008, this number increased to 492.7 Moz. In spite of the deep downturn in the U.S. economy and global uncertainty, silver industrial demand reached new heights by 2010—499.6 Moz. For the years 2012 to 2014, GFMS Thomson Reuters estimates the average silver industrial demand to be around 483.3 Moz per year. (Source: “The Outlook for Silver Industrial Demand,” GFMS Thomson Reuters, November 2012.)

From the supply side, silver production hasn’t increased as much as the demand. The U.S. Geological Survey reported that, in 2011, worldwide silver mine production was 23,300 tons, or 821.8 Moz. By 2012, silver mine production only increased by little more than three percent. (Source: “Mineral Commodity Summaries,” U.S. Geological Survey, January 2013.)

Now bring in the investment demand (which I believe will drive the … Read More

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