Following the just concluded recent visit by John Kerry to Russia, one may have been left with the impression that the tensions of the Cold War are dead and buried. Just the opposite it appears. In what may be a well-timed and orchestrated announcement, moments ago Russia announced that it had caught an American, Ryan Fogle, a third-secretary at the US Embassy in Moscow, "red-handed" as he tried to recruit a Russian intelligence officer to work for the CIA. There goes any leverage the US may have had in attempting to persuade Russia to relent on the joint-Western push to "liberate" Syria. Just as Russia, run by a former KGB spy, had intended all along, and just another slap in the face of the US department of state, which lately can't seem to find its way out of a scandal-ridden (and redacted) paper bag to save its life. But perhaps most amusing is that in the attached letter given to the recruitment prospect, the CIA give out the email address to be used to indicate interest in working for Langley as follows: unbacggdA@gmail.com. How the times have changed.
The Bernanke Chicago speech became little more than a side show Friday. He did say the Fed was keeping a watchful eye on yield risk-taking given ZIRP. He’s a little late to that observation methinks.
Succinctly summarizing the positive and negative news, data, and market events of the week...
Four of them are beyond any kind of democratic control, beholden only to the elite club of unelected Eurocrats, the European Council.
IRS to Spy on Our Shopping Records, Travel, Social Interactions, Health Records and Files from Other Government InvestigatorsSubmitted by George Washington on 05/02/2013 13:58 -0400
More and More People Are Staring Into Our Fishbowl
“… current policies come with a cost even as they act to magically float asset prices higher…, a bond and equity investor can choose to play with historically high risk to principal or quit the game and earn nothing." Bill Gross, PIMCO
"Off the highs" is perhaps the phrase that the mainstream should be using. The S&P gave up allits post-EU-close gains into the US close. It seems, as we noted earlier, that AAPL capturing its 50DMA, relative strength in VIX and Bonds, and a total lack of volume just could not lift the S&P 500 to new highs. The early short squeeze provided the momentum but that faded into the last hour or so. USD weakness supported the risk rally (as very little else did) and commodities were all higher on the day with the Brent Vigilantes on the prowl once again as WTI topped $94.50 back to near 3-week highs. AAPL's best day in over 3 months (up to its 50DMA) led Tech to lead the day (and the Nasdaq was the notable outperformer). The exuberance led stocks rich relative to all risk-assets and the slide into the close merely corrected to that risk-asset-proxy. JPY carry was not helpful as JPY tried and failed to recover the 98.00 level. Silver outperformed. With the Japanese on vacation last night, JPY's rip into the close is a little worrying for the risk-on crowd but month-End here we come...
Bulls are still in charge of markets despite the shallow 2 to 3% correction the previous week. The conundrum for most investors remains, where else are you to put your money despite obvious risks and deceptive conditions? The Fed is forcing people into stocks, period.
With stocks short-term oversold it certainly wasn’t much of a surprise that options expiration Friday could manipulate volume and performance. Da Boyz in the options pits (mostly electronic now) were hunting down strike prices to exercise existing options as they can. It’s a technical event with an outcome that surely can mislead Main Street.
With the financial experts claiming, some gleefully, that gold has "lost its safe haven status" in the aftermath of its biggest tumble in 30 years, many commentators thought (hoped?) that the dramatic price drop would steer people away from gold ownership. To my eyes, the past week has all the earmarks of a high-gloss propaganda campaign complete with well-placed anti-gold stories in the media and the careful use of language aimed at sowing doubt about gold's ability to be a store of wealth. But for those who consider gold a store of value, the recent gold slam is a gift: an invitation to purchase more sound money with fewer units of paper currency. In other words, a sweet deal. Gold and silver on sale and the world is taking advantage.
Despite the ubiquitous last-hour rampalooza, the S&P 500 was unable to close back above its 50-day moving average. This is the first close below this key price level in 2013 as high-beta Tech (AAPL) and Homebuilders underperformed notably (on the day and week) and stocks are below Cyprus levels (and marginally above Italian election levels). VIX pushed back above 18% for the first time in 7 weeks (for its biggest spike since the Italian elections). Volume was above average and average trade size was low (suggesting no capitulation yet). Away from stocks, markets were remarkably subdued. Treasuries traded in a narrow 3bps range and closed unchanged (though stocks are catching down). The USD closed practically unchanged from yesterday's US close. Credit markets tracked lower with stocks (though the HY ETF held up). Commodities generally drifted higher (aside from Silver) with WTI up 2% on the day amid Syrian headlines. This is worst 5-day slump in 5 months.
“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
Homeland Security Agencies Wasted Money On Seminars Like “Did Jesus Die for Klingons Too?” & Training for a “Zombie Apocalypse”Submitted by George Washington on 04/16/2013 11:54 -0400
While We’re Waiting to Learn Who the Boston Terrorists Were … Let’s Review How Stupid Our Anti-Terrorism Policies Have Been
Friday saw panic selling in gold as the metal broke $1,500 in a free-fall move. Is this a sign of “risk on” or something more sinister? Perhaps Cyprus is a major seller or there’s a large margin call somewhere. Some even assert some countries with debt problems are selling gold to raise capital to finance their country’s needs.
The 'down-up' streak is over, long live the next streak. Precious metals had a big day with Silver and Gold surging 1-2% (among the biggest moves in 7 months); Treasuries pushed higher in yield from the open but faded rapidly into the close to end unchanged ay 1.75%; Commodities in general were bid on the back (supposedly) of China's lower inflation print; IG credit was bid while HY credit (spreads not the HYG ETF) rolled over into the close. What was most evident was the total and utter failure of the 3:30pm Ramp - it seems our discussion of the farce last night brought a world of front-runners to the game and ruined the Algos day as instead rallying S&P 500 futures dropped 4 points in the last 30 minutes - this is the biggest 3:30-to-4:00 loss in six week (and 3rd biggest of year). The world was celebrating another new all-time high in the Dow and the S&P gave back half its gains to close +4 points; but the Dow Transports closed -0.3%, and the Russell 2000 (for so long Bernanke's policy tool) ended -0.23%.