Short positions in WTI futures contracts held by producers or merchants totaled more than 540,000 contracts as of October 2016, the most since 2007. Banks have tightened lending standards as crude oil prices declined, and some banks require producers to hedge against future price risk as a condition for lending. As a result, an oil crash may be just the windfall domestic shale producers need.
While 3M's current quarter data was good, the largest Dow component confirmed a recurring trend observed among other reporting companies, namely skepticism about the future, when it trimmed the upper end of its full year EPS guidance: "For full-year 2016, 3M updated its forecast for earnings per share to be in the range of $8.15 to $8.20 versus a prior range of $8.15 to $8.30."
When it comes to one of America's favorite pastimes, eating out, the "recovery" fiction peddlers have finally won: according to the latest Restaurant sales data, not only has the number of Americans eating in restaurants tumbled, but restaurant operators are the gloomiest they have been about the state of their industry since the financial crisis.
Corporate buybacks plus dividends will surpass $1 trillion in 2016, for the first time ever, according to Barclays calculations. This means that payouts to shareholders will surpass total S&P500 cash flow by a whopping $115 billion. And with corporate balance sheets increasing encumbered, Barclays believes that the rate of payouts, rising at 20% in recent years, is about to grind to a halt, meaning that for stocks, the "party is almost over."
The problem for the Fed is that once again the window for a “rate hike” has likely closed. Economic uncertainty, deflationary threats, and market volatility will keep them boxed in for now. Unfortunately, the recent spike in LIBOR has likely already done a bigger job of tightening monetary policy than the Fed actually intended to do. This could cause problems in the not too distant future.
Over the past year we have seen numerous occasions where regional Fed diffusion indexes posted a headline rebound despite all their components deteriorating. Today was one such day, when moments ago the NY Fed released the Empire State Mfg Survey, which "somehow" rose from -4.21 to -1.99 (it still missed expectations of a -1.00 print). We say somehow because thie "rise" happened even as every component in the index declined.
After 2 brief dead-cat-bounce months of hope, The Empire Fed business survey has tumbled back into contraction (-4.21 missing expectations of +2.0). The index is now at 3 month lows despite rises in the number of employees, average workweek, shipments, and new orders but 'hope' tumbles to its lowest since Feb 2016.
One of the biggest “lies” in the financial world is that if you just invest your money in the markets over the long-term, you will average 7, 8 or 10% a year. Asset-gatherers don't give enough credence to the long-term effects of the “when” you start your investing cycle. The primary problem is that investors DO NOT have 100-years to invest BEFORE their disbursement cycle begins. Unfortunately, with stock valuations pushing the second highest level in history, forward return expectations (before inflation, taxes, and expenses) are extremely low.