Morning in Arizona

Morning in Arizona

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Batten Down the Bonds

Financial Review

Batten Down the Bonds


DOW + 21 = 18,868
SPX – 0.25 = 2164
NAS – 18 = 5218
10 Y + .10 = 2.22%
OIL + .26 = 43.67
GOLD – 7.60 = 1221.00

Another record high close for the Dow.

U.S. bond yields are sharply higher across the board following a public market holiday on Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note topped 2.25%; they surged 37 basis points last week, the most in three years, amid speculation Trump’s plans to boost spending and cut taxes will widen the budget deficit and stoke inflation.

The 30-year Treasury bond yield is over 3% for the first time since January. The two-year yield crossed the 1.00% threshold for the first time since January.

The movement has also lit a fire under the greenback, with the U.S. dollar index up more than 1%, hitting 100 for the first time in almost a year.

The global bond rout is intensifying. Long-dated bonds are getting hit hardest in Europe. The selloff wiped a record $1.2 trillion off the value of bonds around the world last week. Investors rotated into stocks, as global developed-market shares beat investment-grade debt by the most since 2011 amid concern the stimulus will stoke inflation and lead the Fed to increase rates.

President-elect Donald Trump has made the first official appointments to his White House administration after a shake-up on Friday that saw VP-elect Mike Pence replace Chris Christie as the head of his transition team. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has been selected as Chief of Staff, while Trump’s campaign Chairman and former head of news outlet Breitbart, Steve Bannon, will lead as Chief Strategist and Senior Counsel.

The common view is that the inflation trade has been reignited by the election results. If this were so, the two major inflation markers in the commodity market, gold and oil, would have rallied strongly. Instead, gold sold off approximately $70 or over 3% from its level a week before the election, while the price of oil has been slightly weaker. Industrial metals, especially copper, did see major rallies.

This was not across the board, however. Aluminum, which has almost as widespread commercial use as copper, fell about 3%, while copper was up 17% in the days immediately following the election. Tin was up around 6% and nickel 9% from a week earlier. The inflation argument came mostly from action in the global bond markets.

While it is true yields soared, they have been at unsustainably low rates for years now. Still, it looks like the bond market is sending a message about a fiscally expansive, deficit spending growth agenda – there will be price to pay.

And while the Dow and the S&P rallied following the election, the big winner was the Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks. And while small-cap stocks can outperform in inflationary environments, this rally is probably provoked by the idea that small-cap companies are less likely to do business internationally and more likely to get most of their sales domestically. The companies that tend to have most of their sales overseas are tech companies, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq hasn’t rallied at all. So, the stock rally has been selective and not broad-based.

Next, consider that the Federal Reserve will probably raise rates sooner and later. Fed funds futures rates are pricing in an 84% probability of an interest rate increase at the Fed’s meeting in December. PIMCO said the central bank may move three times by the end of 2017. Those rate hikes will hit the markets much sooner than any legislative action, which tends to move very slowly.

Japan’s economic growth handily beat expectations in the July-September period, expanding for a third straight quarter as exports recovered, but weak domestic activity cast doubt on hopes for a sustainable recovery. While GDP grew at an annualized 2.2% pace, household spending and capital investment were flat on quarter.

Mixed Chinese economic data for October came out overnight, released by the National Bureau of Statistics. Retail sales rose a weaker-than-expected 10%, slowing from the previous month’s 10.7% growth, while industrial output expanded 6.1%, matching September’s pace but remaining a hair below expectations.

After gathering in Brussels to discuss the future of Europe-U.S. relations, EU foreign ministers said the bloc would stand by its key foreign-policy positions on issues including the Iran deal, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and climate change, but vowed to work with the Trump administration. Not everyone attended the emergency meeting. Britain’s Boris Johnson called it “unnecessary.”

Colombia’s government and Marxist FARC rebels have agreed on a new peace pact to end a 52-year war, six weeks after the original was narrowly rejected in a referendum amid objections it was too favorable to the rebels. The new accord, which will be presented to Congress for a vote, includes several new provisions – from requiring FARC to surrender money and holdings to infrastructure development for the countryside.

Just one day after the IEA warned the world could drown in oil if production does not fall beneath demand sometime soon, OPEC released a new market whammy, offering up the cartel’s production figures, which largely jive with figures reported by the IEA yesterday: OPEC has increased its oil production. OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report revealed daily oil production for the cartel of 33.64 million barrels for October—up by 240,000 barrels per day in September—largely confirming the IEA’s report.

A little over 90% of S&P 500 companies have reported their quarterly results, and it’s become clear that the recession in corporate profits has come to an end. Since the second quarter of 2015, S&P 500 earnings reports have shown a decline in profits – year-over-year. A decline for two consecutive quarters indicates an earnings recession.

Based on the companies that have reported so far this quarter, S&P earnings will be up 2.75% from the prior year’s third quarter. Leading the comeback is the financial sector, which posted growth of 13.1% in profits from the third quarter of last year. According to FactSet, 71% of companies that have reported beat their estimates, higher than the five-year trailing average of 67%.

Samsung Electronics is buying Harman Industries for $112 a share in cash, or a total equity value of about $8 billion, placing the company in the vanguard of the auto industry. The deal – Samsung’s largest acquisition in its history – will reshape the pecking order in the global automotive supply chain.  Samsung could combine its display and semiconductor operations with a business that already provides sound, electronics, and other smart components for a new generation of digitally connected cars.

In Europe, Novartis AG is said to be in talks to acquire U.S. generic-drugs maker Amneal Pharmaceuticals in a deal which could value the closely-held company at as much as $8 billion. Siemens, meanwhile, agreed to buy software company Mentor Graphics for $4.5 billion, a premium of 21 percent on Friday’s closing price.

American Apparel files for bankruptcy. The retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in just over a year, (so maybe we should call it Chapter 22) listing assets and liabilities in the range of $100 million to $500 million. The company exited court protection in early 2016 but quickly encountered trouble again.

Toyota will pay up to $3.4 billion to settle claims that some of its trucks and SUVs lacked proper rust protection, leading to premature corrosion of vehicle frames. The proposed settlement covers about 1.5 million Tacoma compact pickups, Tundra full-size pickups and Sequoia SUVs and estimates the value of frame replacements at around $15,000 per vehicle. However, Toyota admitted no liability or wrongdoing in the proposed settlement.

Hedge fund filings will give investors a chance to see what they were betting on when the third quarter ended. Hedge funds have had a tough time of it recently with some $50 billion flowing out of the industry this year. Hedge fund managers are required to disclose their holdings to the SEC in a Form 13F. Filed four times a year, the reports show which sectors these traders were betting on when the quarter ended, roughly 45 days ago.

Out of 13 western states, California and Texas have the highest number of single-family residential homes in extreme risk wildfire areas, per a new report from CoreLogic. CoreLogic’s scale has four categories: low, moderate, high and extreme risk, and 1.8 million homes across 13 western states fall into the high and extreme risk category.

While only a small percentage of the millions of homes that fall somewhere on the scale, these 1.8 million homes represent a combined total reconstruction value of nearly $500 billion. The other 27 million homes on the scale — those at low and moderate risk — have an estimated reconstruction cost value of $6.7 trillion.

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