Weekly Bull/Bear Recap: October 17-21, 2011

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Submitted by Rodrigo Serrano of Rational Capitalist Speculator

Weekly Bull/Bear Recap: October 17-21, 2011

Bull

+ So far for the reporting season, 63.7% of S&P 500 companies have beaten consensus earnings per share estimates, which is stronger than the past 2 quarters.  Meanwhile, revenue per share has come in line with average beat rates.  This earnings season has been been positive for equity markets.  They have just broken through the top end of the roughly 3 month range.  

+ The Beige Book paints the picture of a stabilized economy after the summer slowdown.  The economy has leveled out even after all the exogenous shocks it took on: the Japanese earthquake, higher gas prices, a stock market crash, and Eurozone worries.  Once Europe gets its house in order, the economy will reaccelerate and confound the bears.  This thesis is clearly on display with the latest Conference Board Leading Indicators report, which published a positive reading of +0.2%.  Meanwhile, the 4-week average of jobless claims falls to the lowest level since April and the Gallup Poll reports that unemployment has plunged.   We’re not in recession, only a soft-patch. Here’s some more evidence…      

+ …Industrial production for September rises 0.2% and is line with projections.  Manufacturing isn’t falling out of bed, in fact, the soft-patch is ending as the Philly Fed Index surges from -17.5 to +8.7 in October (annihilating expectations of -9.4). Both New Orders and Backlogs swing into positive territory, while expectations improve from 21.4 to 27.2.  

+ It’s not only in manufacturing where we see increasing activity.  The housing market is generating more bustle as the Buildfax Residential Remodeling Index hits a new all-time high.  Housing starts rocket 15%, while the Home Builder Sentiment Index for October rises a much higher than expected 4 points.  While the break-even is 50, it shows that the housing market is healing.  It’s a step in the right direction and is good news for the sector primarily responsible for our economy’s large challenges.  Furthermore policymakers are doing their part to increase demand.  The sector is moving forward.    

+  More countries, such as the BRICS, are stating that they are willing to support the Eurozone via capital injections with the IMF.  Global leaders are realizing the gravity of the situation and are uniting to put forth the proper prescriptions to address the issues.  The path towards a solution just got easier as Fitch states that an expansion of the EFSF wouldn’t put France’s AAA rating in jeopardy.  Furthermore, Spain posted an unexpected rise in industrial production orders after an encouraging industrial production number 2 weeks ago.  The country will not enter recession, which will result in an improved fiscal situation.  Notice how Spain’s 10-yr yield has been inconspicuously absent from the latest run up in yields.  The Eurozone will achieve a solution, just when most in the investment community aren’t expecting such an outcome.  This will lead to a powerful rally as bearishness remains elevated.     

+ Consumer price inflation is beginning to subside and will give the Fed more wiggle room to renew QE in order to support the recovery in the near future.  The Fed will have the market and economy’s back soon.  The bears are frustrated that even without QE, the economy has been growing and the market has been supported.  

+ As the global economic restructuring continues, we are starting to see its benefits.  The Chinese are working to expand their consumer economy.  With sky-high savings rate and further development, we will have end-demand from that country for decades.  Their economy is on sound footing.  As wages begin to equalize between China and the U.S., more companies are “re-shoring” back to America.  This migration back to the U.S. will result in a wave of investment and job creation.  The best part is that this restructuring is taking place without a slowdown in global trade!  

+  In what will surely help oil supply issues with Libya, reports proclaim Gaddafi has been fatally injured.  Libya is finally liberated and will result in a speedy recovery of its people as well as oil production.  Oil prices will further decline sending Gas prices, which have dropped 13% since peaking in May, lower and help consumer spending.  

Bear

- Sure Bulls, the economy is getting better because surveys and metrics are increasing.  Sure….now open your eyes and see the bigger picture; see reality.  The Occupy Wall Street protests have metastasized throughout the world.  The more bailout packages are implemented, the more ardent and violent the remonstrances will become.  The end of the road for the infamous policy of bailouts is at hand.  Banksters nor the Fed are helping their case.  It has become politically (not to mention morally) unacceptable for investors and the wealthy to get bailed out at the expense of billions of taxpayers and the poor.  

- It’s funny how the bulls/vacuum tubes keep getting fooled by European officials.  Merkel says that “dreams” of this package solving all the Eurozone’s problems are misplaced, while a second summit is scheduled for Wednesday.  Meanwhile, the negative omens are becoming hard to ignore (but they still are!):  Greece is dangerously close to descending into anarchy.  Utility of the EFSF changes every couple of hours not to mention the amount of guarantees.  Words of warning for France, this time from both Moody’s and S&P.  A cut in the country’s 2012 growth forecast won’t help matters.  Moody’s wasn’t as nice to Spain, cutting their rating on Spanish “Bonos” citing falling growth and a budding banking crisis.  S&P was even meaner to Italian banks (24 got the ax).  Germany axes 2012 growth forecasts, while Greece is making it hard to justify throwing good money after bad.  Officials in the region ban CDS outright; here’s the beginning result of that great idea.  Next up, a banning of ratings of sovereign debt from rating agencies (Period)  Europe is on the precipice.  Will next week be “Black Week”?           

- Manufacturing data is still showing a faltering recovery.  The Empire Manufacturing index for October shows a larger than expected contraction in the NY area.  Looking ahead 6 months, expectations are dimming as well.

- On the global economy front (sans-Europe), the Chinese are ticked with the U.S. Senate after they passed currency legislation to further pressure them to allow the Yuan to appreciate.  Beijing and Washington are playing a dangerous game of chicken in what could be a plunge into protectionism, which would absolutely be disastrous for the global economy.  Brazil lowers its key interest rate less than 2 months after the last cut (so the global economy is recovering eh?).  The UK economy is slowing down, while prices continue to rise (stagflation).   

- China’s GDP growth falls to the lowest since the dark days of 2009 and underperforms expectations.  Bulls say that the performance is good and the market is overreacting.  The signs of a poor and deteriorating banking system, a property market slowdown, high inflation, and a weakening export sector (the reason why the Yuan doesn’t appreciate faster) have not deterred their view.  Meanwhile, copper sinks more than 5% for the week.  The Shanghai Index hits lows last seen since…(drum roll)…..March ‘09.  The bulls are frogs in 95 degree Celsius water and getting hotter.  Many still believe that their economy will withstand a Europe shock and result in a soft-landing.  Few expect China to wither.  This is exactly the environment that leads to market downdrafts. 

- Bullish hopium for a housing comeback is premature.  ”The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 8.8% from one week earlier and is at the lowest level in the survey since December 1996”.  Remember “Foreclosure-gate”?  Ready for a possible comeback?  Existing Home Sales keep scraping the bottom.  Positive seasonal effects on housing prices have come to an end.  On the commercial side, the Architecture Billings Index declined in September and is back in contraction.  ”It appears the conditions seen last month were more of an aberration.”     

- PPI runs hotter than expected, coming in with a headline reading of 6.9% YoY in September.  When paired with an increase in import prices of +13.4%, inflation at the the producer and importer level will buoy the CPI, or decimate company margins if consumer’s wages can’t keep up.  Many bulls viewed the tamer CPI readings as a signal for more wiggle room for QE3.  Sure, go ahead bulls, let’s break that 23-yr high in the Misery Index.  We are one QE away from stagflation.  

- 11 consecutive declines in the ECRI.  ’nough said.