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

Posts Tagged ‘central banks’

What’s Up Three Times More Than Stocks So Far This Year?

By for Profit Confidential

Where Gold Will Trade in the Second Half of 2014Investors who bought gold bullion in early 2014 know it was a great decision. The precious metal has increased 10.2% in price between January and June, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed by just three percent.

So far, so good—and as expected.

Going forward, it will not be surprising to me to see the precious metal outperform the stock market in the second half of the year as well.

Why will this happen?

As demand for gold bullion continues to rise and as supply declines (the exact situation we have today), gold bullion prices will have no option but to rise.

In the table below, I have plotted the production of gold bullion at U.S. mines for the first three months of the year compared to the first three months of 2013. Production at U.S. gold mines is declining month after month.

Production at U.S. Gold Mines, 1Q2013 vs. 1Q2014

Month 2013 Output (in Kg) 2014 Output (in Kg) % Change Year-over-Year
January 18600 18,500 -0.54%
February 17,300 17,100 -1.16%
March 18,700 18,200 -2.67%
Total 54,600 53,800 -1.47%

Data source: U.S. Geological Survey web site, last accessed July 1, 2014

While the chart above only details U.S. gold mining production, gold bullion production across the global economy is declining. Last year, as the yellow metal witnessed a massive sell-off in price, gold mining companies cut back on their exploration and capital expenditures budgets. This is now catching up and derailing production. And I see the situation for supply only getting worse.

Meanwhile, demand for gold bullion keeps rising.

We continue to see significant demand for the precious metal—and not … Read More

This Is Odd…

By for Profit Confidential

Demand for Stocks Outweighs Supply at This PointOne of the oddest things to happen with the stock market since it has recovered is that the number of shares trading hands each day has slowly disappeared.

In the table that I have created for you below, I list the trading volume for the S&P 500 for each June since 2009 and the percentage change in volume from the previous June.

Trading volume on the S&P 500 has dropped 60% since 2009!

Trading Volume, S&P 500, June of Each Year, 2009 – 2014

Year Volume (Shares Traded Per Month) Year-Over-Year % Change
June 2009 93,147,496,448
June 2010 91,971,043,328 -1.3%
June 2011 63,674,499,072 -30.8%
June 2012 59,703,365,632 -6.2%
June 2013 51,560,980,480 -13.6%
June 2014 38,765,629,440 -24.8%

Data source: www.StockCharts.com, last accessed July 1, 2014

What’s happening here? How can the stock market rise year after year if trading volume is down?

It’s very simple, but I’ll explain this new phenomenon in a moment. First, look at the chart of the S&P 500 below. Pay close attention to the volume at the bottom of the chart. As volume on the S&P 500 collapsed, the price of the index rose.

S&P 500 Large Cap Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Volume is collapsing because the number of shares companies have outstanding is being reduced at an accelerated rate. For example, in the first quarter of 2014, S&P 500 companies purchased $154.5 billion worth of their shares back (stock buyback programs). Over the trailing 12 months, S&P 500 companies purchased more than half-a-trillion-dollars worth of their own shares—$535.2 billion to be exact. (Source: FactSet, June 18, 2014.)

Add to the shrinking number of shares outstanding the fact that central … Read More

Guess Who Is Pushing the Stock Market Higher Now

By for Profit Confidential

So That's Why Stocks Have Been Moving Higher…When I look at the stock market, I ask who in their right mind would buy stocks?

While key stock market indices creep higher, the fundamentals suggest the complete opposite. But despite valuations being stretched, insiders selling, corporate revenue growth being non-existent, and the U.S. economy contracting in the first quarter of this year, the S&P 500 is up seven percent since the beginning of 2014, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is getting closer to the 17,000 level, and the NASDAQ is back above 4,000.

As I have written before, a company can buy back its stock to prop up per-share earnings or cut expenses to improve the bottom line, but if revenue isn’t growing, there is a problem. In the first quarter of 2014, only 54% of S&P 500 companies were able to grow their revenue. (Source: FactSet, June 13, 2014.)

Going forward, things aren’t looking bright either. For the second quarter of 2014, 82 S&P 500 companies have already provided negative guidance for their corporate earnings. I expect this number to climb higher.

And consumer spending, the driver of the U.S. economy, is very weak, as evidenced by negative gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. economy in the first quarter of this year.

So if the overall environment is negative for the equities, who is buying stocks and pushing the stock market higher?

The answer (something I suspected some time ago): central banks are buying stocks.

A study done by the Official Monetary and Financial Institution Forum (OMFIF) called Global Public Investors 2014, states that central banks and public institutions around the world have gotten involved … Read More

How to Invest in a Market Constructed by Central Banks

By for Profit Confidential

How to Profit in a Fed-Built MarketThe resilience the stock market continues to have is a reflection of what continues to be extreme monetary stimulus. And while the stock market is a leading indicator and a bet on a future stream of earnings and economic activity, throughout history, the underlying goal of central banks has been price inflation.

Seemingly, the capitalist economic system is based on two basic underlying factors: property rights and price inflation. And in modern history, the latter, through central bank intervention, is the most important catalyst for the stock market.

In capital markets, long-run history is a very good guide and an important tool in helping to shape your market view. And most importantly, it’s very helpful in laying the groundwork for separating present-day conjecture from what has actually transpired before.

I’m reminded of J. Anthony Boeckh’s book titled The Great Reflation, which provides a non-political long-run analysis on the U.S. economy and its cycles.

It’s a historical breakdown of interest rates, inflation, and monetary and fiscal policies, and how they have affected the stock market. It is required reading for any serious long-term investor.

Written in 2010, the book breaks down financial crises and looks at the long-run effects of price inflation and the effects on capital markets. Boeckh offers some poignant analysis on all kinds of financial topics, and many of his observations have not only come to fruition, but they are also worth consideration.

Boeckh plainly states that the global financial system is flawed because of fiat paper money. And because we use paper money, price inflation exists and capital markets are subject to bubbles.

Add in … Read More

Dying for Gold? This Man Almost Did

By for Profit Confidential

Four Key Arguments for Owning GoldThe most compelling argument for owning gold bullion I have ever heard…

A 63-year-old businessman went to a doctor complaining he had swallowed a bottle cap in anger after he had a fight with his wife. After a three-hour surgery, the doctors found 14 ounces of gold bullion in the man’s stomach. The police and Customs were called, and the gold recovered was confiscated. (Source: “Gold bars removed from Indian man’s stomach,” BBC News, April 18, 2014.)

This is just one of the many ways smugglers are bringing gold bullion into India. In this particular case, this man was willing to die for gold!

You see, the Indian government has imposed rigorous duties on importing gold bullion into the country. As a result, imports of gold bullion between May of 2013 and November fell more than 88%. In May of 2013, 162,000 kilograms (kg) of gold bullion was imported into India, and by November 2013, it had declined to 19,300 kg. (Source: Ibid.) As the government imposed its high duties, smuggling of the precious metal into the country increased. And as I just told you, people are risking their lives to get the yellow metal into the country.

To recap what I have been writing about gold bullion:

  1. More and more central banks have been buying gold bullion to stabilize their reserves. For years, central banks sold their gold; now they are buying it back.
  2. The decline in gold prices has forced gold miners to cut exploration projects for the simple reason that they need to conserve cash. Less exploration means less supply down the road. Also, there has been
  3. Read More

Cornering the Gold Market: China Close to Buying Half of World Gold Production

By for Profit Confidential

China Demand Gold Approaches Half Annual World ProductionMy long-time readers know I’ve been a gold bullion bull for years—ever since 2002! And whenever gold bullion prices get weak, I just buy more. In fact, last year, when gold bullion prices took it on the chin, I bought more.

I like to buy an investment when it is down and out of favor. And that’s how I look at gold today. When I study the demand/supply equation, I see demand rising (especially from China) and supply decreasing as companies pull back on their exploration budgets because gold prices have come down. Because of this, 2014 production of gold bullion will be less than 2013’s.

In 2013, China bought 1,132 tonnes of the precious metal, making it the biggest buyer of gold in the world. According to the World Gold Council, demand for gold bullion in China will increase by 20% by 2017 to 1,350 tonnes annually. (Source: World Gold Council, April 15, 2014.)

Of interest, Chinese households have savings of $7.5 trillion in bank accounts but only $300-billion worth of gold bullion as savings. (Source: Ibid.) Imagine what would happen if only 10% of household bank savings in China moved towards gold bullion.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), total gold world mine production in 2013 was 2,770 tonnes. (Source: U.S. Geological Survey, February 2014.) This means the Chinese are buying 41% of all gold mine production!

While it might not sound right if you own gold, what happened to gold bullion prices last year was actually a blessing in disguise. Yes, it did take the speculators out, but it also gave a chance for long-term investors … Read More

Should You Be Buying More Gold Ahead of the ECB’s Printing Decision?

By for Profit Confidential

The European Central Bank Presents Another Reason to Be Bullish on GoldFrom our recent reader survey, I see our readers are not that concerned about what happens in the eurozone. But there’s a phenomenon occurring there that I believe every investor who is interested in gold bullion should be aware of.

Let me explain…

It’s a known fact that when central banks print more of their paper money, it’s usually bullish for the yellow metal. We saw this after 2009, when the Federal Reserve started to print more paper money; gold bullion prices skyrocketed.

In the eurozone, there continues to be major economic problems in the region. Italy, the third-biggest economic hub in the eurozone, has reported its unemployment rate hit 13% in February—the highest unemployment rate ever recorded in the country. (Source: Reuters, April 1, 2014.)

To help countries like Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal with their economic woes, the European Central Bank (ECB) has lowered its benchmark interest rate—but that hasn’t spurred bank lending as bad debts on the books of major eurozone banks keep piling up. Even once-strong eurozone countries like France are under economic scrutiny.

Now, as no surprise, the ECB has started talk about following the same route the Federal Reserve has taken—printing paper money.

At a conference last week, one of the ECB’s Executive Board members, Yves Mersch, said the ECB is ready to turn on its printing presses. The president of the ECB, Mario Draghi, has also said quantitative easing in the region may be needed if inflation in the eurozone continues to remain subdued. (Source: Reuters, April 7, 2014.)

Hence, to the printing presses of the Federal Reserve, the Central Bank … Read More

Why Is the U.S. Dollar Collapsing in Value All of a Sudden?

By for Profit Confidential

Whey the Fed May Need to Reverse its Decision to Cut Back on Money PrintingWhen news first broke from the Federal Reserve that it would slow down the pace of its quantitative easing program, the consensus was that the U.S. dollar would start to rise in value as the Fed would be printing fewer new dollars and actually eliminating all new paper money printing by the end of 2014.

But the opposite has happened.

Below, I present the chart of the U.S. Dollar Index, an index that compares the value of the dollar to other major world currencies.

US Dollar Index - Cash Settle (EOD) Ice ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

As the chart clearly shows, the dollar started on a strong downtrend in July of 2013. When I look at the dollar compared to individual currencies like the euro and British pound, the picture looks even worse.

The common belief since the Credit Crisis of 2008: when there’s uncertainty, investors run towards the safety of the U.S. dollar. But something started to happen in mid-2013. Despite China’s economic slowdown, despite the situation with Russia and Ukraine, and with the Federal Reserve cutting back substantially on its money printing program, one would think the U.S. dollar would rally in value—but the opposite is happening.

Two reasons why the greenback is falling in value so fast:

First, world central banks have been slowly selling the U.S. dollars they keep in their reserves, as the percentage of world central banks that use the dollar as their reserve currency has fallen from more than 70% in the year 2000 to just over 60% today.

Secondly, with the Japanese and Chinese reducing the amount of U.S. Treasuries they buy and with the Federal Reserve reducing the paper … Read More

What the Breakout in the Gold-to-Copper Ratio Is Telling Us

By for Profit Confidential

Copper Flashing a Buy Signal for GoldCopper is considered an industrial metal, used in industries across the board. When copper prices fall, it’s usually an indicator of a slowdown in the global economy. On the contrary, gold bullion isn’t much of an industrial metal; rather, it is used as a hedge against uncertainty in the global economy.

When you look at these two metals together, often referred to as the gold-to-copper ratio, they tell us something very important: the ratio of how many pounds of copper it takes to buy one ounce of gold bullion has long been an indicator of sentiment in the global economy.

If the gold-to-copper ratio is in a downtrend, it means investors are betting on the global economy to grow. In contrast, if it is increasing (if the number of pounds of copper it costs to buy an ounce of gold is rising), it tells us investors are concerned about protecting their wealth in a slowing global economy.

Below, you’ll find a chart of the gold-to-copper ratio.

GOLD - Spot (EOD) Copeer ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Looking at the chart above, it is clear something happened at the beginning of 2014. Investors became very worried. Since the beginning of the year, the gold-to-copper ratio has increased more than 28%—the steepest increase in more than two years.

And the weekly chart of copper prices looks terrible too:

Copper - Spot Proce (EOD) CME ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Copper prices have been trending downward since 2011. In 2013, these prices broke below their 200-day moving average and recently, they broke below a very critical support level at $3.00. While all of this was happening, on the chart, there was also a formation of a … Read More

What the “Microsoft Indicator” Says Now

By for Profit Confidential

Microsoft the Best Market Indicator at This TimeEarnings estimates for Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) are going up and the stock, which recently accelerated, finally looks like it has broken out of a 13-year consolidation.

Microsoft has been an income play for quite a while. Currently yielding three percent, the company’s forward price-to-earnings ratio is around 12.5 and is not dissimilar from many other blue chips.

Then there’s Intel Corporation (INTC). This company has been struggling for capital gains, but it’s yielding 3.6% and isn’t expensively priced.

What these technology companies illustrate so well is the business cycle, both in terms of operational growth and also as equity securities. Getting the cycle correct (the right place/stock at the right time) is the toughest thing for any investor or businessperson.

Regarding stocks, both Microsoft and Intel’s long-term charts clearly show how extremely overpriced their share prices were during the bull market of the 90s. Intel’s long-term stock chart is featured below:

INTC Intel Corp. Nasdaq GS Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The benefit of the very long term is that it provides a normalized but still decent rate of return with these kinds of stocks. No enterprise or investor can escape the business cycle, whether it is industry-specific, a local reality, or the general economy.

Railroad stocks have been super hot over the last several years, but for long periods of time, they were not. The solid dividend-payers that they are, you’d be hard-pressed to find Union Pacific Corporation (UNP) competing with Apple Inc. (AAPL) or Google Inc. (GOOG) for headlines.

I feel that stocks have broken out of their previous consolidation phase in favor of a new long-term cycle. But while last year’s stunning … Read More

Demand/Supply Equation for This Investment Guarantees Higher Prices Ahead?

By for Profit Confidential

The Perfect Recipe for Higher Gold PricesThe demand and supply situation of gold bullion is clearly going in favor of the bulls, and I continue to believe the precious metal is presenting investors with a buying opportunity of a lifetime. I believe that if I buy now, I will profit later.

Let me explain…

Demand for gold bullion is rising, and it’s not just happening in the typical precious metal-consuming countries like India and China, but in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world as well. Central banks are also buying.

2013 was a very interesting year when it came to demand for the precious metal. We saw a massive amount of sellers come in and bring down the prices for gold bullion. Gold bugs like John Paulson changed their tone towards the yellow metal as prices fell.

But while the sentiment towards gold bullion was turning negative, central banks were buying more of the precious metal. Why were they buying? As I have told my readers over and over again, the currency markets jeopardize their reserves. According to the World Gold Council, in 2013, central banks around the global economy bought 369 tonnes of gold bullion. (Source: World Gold Council, February 18, 2014.)

Central banks have now been net buyers of gold bullion for 12 consecutive quarters, or since 2009. They were net sellers of the precious metal before then.

And central banks aren’t the only ones buying gold bullion; consumers are buying as well. At the global level, the demand for gold bullion bars and coins in 2013 increased to 1,654 tonnes, compared to 1,289 tonnes in 2012. This was the highest amount ever … Read More

Uncertainty in Emerging Markets Creating Certainty in Only One Market

By for Profit Confidential

This Is the Only Play that Will RewardFasten your seatbelt, dear reader. We’re in for a global financial crisis, a currency fiasco, and a stock market collapse all in the same year!

I’m being too bearish? Not after you read this…

In their search for economic growth in 2009, the Federal Reserve and other major central banks in the global economy started lowering interest rates and printing paper money.

While the central banks of the world wanted economic growth, they inadvertently created the “trade” for big investors like financial institutions and banks. I talked about this last Friday. (See “Stock Market: The Great Collapse Back to Reality Begins.”)

The “trade” had investors borrowing money from low interest rate countries and buying bonds in high interest rate countries, pocketing the spread. In the world of finance, this is often referred to as the “carry trade.” It works as long as the currencies of the low interest rate country and the higher interest rate country stay stable.

But now, the “trade” is backfiring as the currencies of emerging markets go into free fall.

China, the biggest economy in the emerging markets and second-biggest in the global economy, got most of the “trade” money. According to the Bank for International Settlements, in 2013, foreign currency loans and borrowing by Chinese companies from other countries was close to a trillion dollars. In 2009, it was only $270 billion. (Source: Telegraph, February 1, 2014.)

European banks have the biggest exposure to emerging markets, having lent them $3.0 trillion. Breaking down this number even further, British banks have loaned $518 billion to the emerging markets; Spanish banks come in second … Read More

Exodus Away from U.S. Dollar On?

By for Profit Confidential

Fundamentals That Once Supported Greenback Damaged“Michael, you don’t know what you are talking about.” That’s pretty much what I was told back in 2005 and 2006 when I was warning extensively that the U.S. housing market would collapse.

When a boom in any form of investment is going on, and millions of people are participating in that boom, it’s hard to convince people the boom is about to bust. At a certain point, we start hearing that old saying “it’s different this time,” which means people simply don’t believe the boom will end. They try to legitimize it.

But like all booms, the bust did happen. The housing market went bust big-time, and we all know what happened after that.

Today, there’s another asset class that is booming, that investors large and small are literally running to. No, I’m not talking about the stock market (it’s already in bust mode). I’m talking about the greenback, the good old U.S. dollar.

In recent days, and despite trillions of dollars in new money created by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. dollar has gained traction as investors search for safety amid the collapsing emerging markets.

Personally, I think investors are wrong to find security in the U.S. dollar. In fact, I see its days as the leading currency of the world being numbered.

But the fundamentals that make the dollar a “safe haven” are damaged. Aside from the fact the Federal Reserve has printed trillions in new money and the government continues to take on never-to-be-repaid debt daily, central banks around the world are reducing the amount of the reserves they keep in U.S. dollars.

Please look … Read More

Massive Shock Coming to the Gold Market Soon?

By for Profit Confidential

Where Is the GoldI have said it many times: central banks will be the major drivers of gold bullion prices going forward. Countries like China and Russia will need more of the yellow metal, because they simply don’t have enough in their reserves compared to the United States, France, Germany, or Italy (the four central banks with the biggest gold bullion reserves).

A news story that ran last week in the Shanghai Daily said the People’s Bank of China is expected to announce it has more than doubled its gold bullion reserves—from 1,054 tons to 2,710 tons. The article explained that China’s central bank bought about the same amount of gold in 2013 that it did during the years from 2009 through to 2011 combined! (Source: Shanghai Daily, January 17, 2014.)

Yes, I hear the stories of how gold prices are being manipulated. But how long can the manipulation—if it really does exist—go on in light of such aggressive gold buying from central banks like China’s?

In 2013, the Bundesbank, the central bank of Germany, said it would like to bring half of its gold bullion stored at the central bank of France and the U.S. Federal Reserve back to Germany. This amounts to 674 tons. But Germany was told it would take seven years to get the gold back to Germany!

In 2013, only 37 tons of the gold bullion came back to the Bundesbank: five tons came from the Federal Reserve and the rest came from France. (Source: Kitco News, January 20, 2014.) So where’s the gold? If the Bundesbank is bringing back only five percent of its gold each … Read More

If Gold’s a Bad Investment, Why Is This Country Buying 150% More of It?

By for Profit Confidential

150114_PC_lombardiI see more negativity towards gold bullion these days than ever before. And the more pessimism I hear and see, the more bullish I get on the precious metal.

After a bull market in gold bullion that lasted 12 straight years, 2013 was the correction year for gold bullion. It was the year that “separated the men from boys,” the investors from the speculators, when it came to gold bullion.

Consumer demand for gold coins continues to accelerate, and central banks around the world continue to be net buyers of the precious metal. Even small countries are getting in on the action. In 2013, Turkey imported 150% more gold bullion than it did in 2012! Turkey imported 302.3 tons of gold bullion in 2013, compared to 120.78 tons in 2012. (Source: Hurriyet Daily, January 3, 2014.)

The mainstream argument against gold bullion is that since there’s economic growth now, you don’t really need the precious metal…there’s no “crisis,” uncertainty, or inflation to send gold bullion prices higher. I don’t buy this argument for a New York minute.

The global economy is in a very fragile state. Major economic hubs are facing issues. China, India, Australia, the eurozone, and the U.S. economy show bleak economic performance. Just look at how bad the U.S. December jobs numbers were. (See “Pathetic December Jobs Numbers Proof 2014 to Be Challenging Year.”)

The third-biggest economy in the world, Japan, after years of money printing, reported an account deficit of 592 billion yen in November 2013—the country’s imports were more than its exports, as imports were up 230% over the same period a … Read More

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