Morning in Arizona

Morning in Arizona

The Headline Animator

Monday, November 07, 2016

What Are the Odds?

Financial Review

What Are the Odds?


DOW + 371 = 18,259
SPX + 46 = 2131
NAS + 119 = 5166
10 Y + .05 = 1.83%
OIL + .85 = 44.92
GOLD – 22.80 = 1282.20

Wall Street this week is all about the election. The FBI’s decision to bring no charges against Hillary Clinton appears to be giving some investors peace of mind. At least momentarily; at least enough to break a string of 9 consecutive declines on the S&P 500, the longest losing streak since 1980.

It was uncertain whether the FBI announcement came in time to change voters’ minds; it’s estimated that 42 million Americans have already cast early votes. Maybe the best news is that in a little over 24 hours, it will be over. Finally.

Until then, we can look at the bookies and the polling sites. Here is a quick rundown of the foreign bookies – so these are betting odds, not percentage of the vote.

PredictIt, an online trading platform jointly run by Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and Washington, D.C.-based political consulting firm Aristotle International Inc: Clinton – 81 percent, Trump – 20 percent.

Iowa Electronic Markets, winner-takes-all trading market: Clinton – 71 percent, Trump – 28 percent.

UK-based Betfair, internet betting exchange: Clinton – 83 percent, Trump – 18 percent.

Ireland’s Paddy Power, bookmaker: Clinton – 83 percent, Trump – 18 percent.

Foreign gamblers can bet on more than the outcome. A survey of foreign betting sites comes up with some interesting ways to bet the election, including voter turnout, the over/under on toss-up states, and even the time of a concession speech, or for that matter, whether there will be a concession speech. But for American voters, the choice is more basic – pick one or the other.

Among the major news outlets: Fox News shows Clinton holds a 4-point lead over Trump among likely voters – 48 percent to 44 percent. A CBS News poll shows Clinton holding a 4-point lead over Trump – 45 percent to 41 percent.

A Washington Post/ABC poll released earlier on Monday also found Clinton with a 4-percentage point lead. A separate Bloomberg Politics-Selzer & Co poll found a 3-point lead for Clinton. NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll shows Clinton with a 6-point lead over Trump.

Trump led by 5 points in the Los Angeles Times/USC daily tracking poll 48%-43%. And the IBD/TIPP tracking poll also had Trump ahead by 2 points.

Polling aggregators are also leaning toward Clinton. RealClearPolitics figures Clinton has a 2.2 percentage point lead in a four-way race. Clinton also leads in state polls. If every state voted according to its RCP average, she would win with 297 electoral votes to Trump’s 241, surpassing the needed 270.

Fivethirtyeight.com calculates Clinton has a 67 percent chance of winning compared to 32 percent for Trump, with Clinton taking 295 electoral votes compared to 241 for Trump. The Upshot gives Clinton an 84 percent chance to win.

Quinnipiac University released polls in Florida and North Carolina – two states where Clinton and Trump have been locked in tight races that could help decide the winner – show Clinton ahead by 1 point in Florida and 2 points in North Carolina. Both polls fall well within the 3.3-point margin of error and put the two candidates at a virtual tie. Meanwhile, a new CBS poll has Trump with a 1 percentage point lead in Ohio, and Florida is a tie.

After a long year of seemingly endless polling, the final batch of polls give a slim advantage to Clinton. Nobody calls it a slam dunk, even though Wall Street started the celebration a couple of days early. And then this sets up the Wall Street traders for the possibility of a Brexit-like come-uppance.

You will recall that the UK vote on a referendum to exit the Euro Union, while close among the polling firms, was considered a near impossibility by traders and betting parlors. You will also recall that financial markets had a sharp sell-off followed by a strong rebound.

Here is what we think we know: Clinton will probably win, possibly with a majority in the Senate but not the House. That is not a guarantee, I am just reporting on probabilities; and this is the scenario now priced into the markets. A Clinton sweep or a Trump sweep would likely result in a sell-off and then we wait for rebound, or not.

Typically, the day after the election sees a sell-off and today’s relief rally may be short-lived. In other words, trading based on the election is a big gamble right now. The worst-case scenario is that we don’t have a decision tomorrow night; the worst-case scenario involves recounts, (fivethirtyeight assigns an 8% chance of a recount in a state that decides the Electoral College), which would almost surely make its way to the Supreme Court, which is of course one justice shy and split 4-4.

Feel free to let your paranoia run wild and create your own variations.

Most likely, sometime Tuesday evening, we will have a new president-elect. The markets will probably react. You don’t have to jump into that initial reaction but you should be formulating some longer-term strategies, not based on emotional reaction. And don’t forget to follow the Fed; Fischer, Bullard, Evans, Kashkari and Williams are all slated to speak this week.

Stock markets in Asia and Europe moved higher to start the week. The US dollar index is stronger by roughly 0.5%. Volatility as measured by the VIX, which had surged on the recent downwards moves, dropped by 4 points to roughly 18.5, reversing all its jump over the past week. Gold dropped. Oil prices moved higher after 7 losing sessions.

Not much economic data today and certainly nothing to move markets. A Federal Reserve survey shows banks continued to tighten lending standards to commercial real estate loans in the third quarter. The Fed survey also found that demand for home mortgages strengthened over the third quarter. Demand for auto and credit card loans also rose. Standards for consumer loans were unchanged.

The largest U.S. gasoline pipeline restarted its main gasoline conduit Sunday morning after a deadly explosion shut Line 1 for six days and forced Gulf Coast refiners to cut rates. Colonial anticipates fuel products leaving the pipeline’s Houston origin to arrive in Linden, New Jersey, where the system ends, within approximately three days.

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.0 struck near Cushing, Oklahoma, prompting evacuations, but there were no reports of injuries. Oil pipelines intersect in Cushing, which is considered a hub for crude shipments. Oil is sharply higher this morning after a statement said OPEC producers were committed to a deal made in September to cut crude output to try to boost the market.

Berkshire Hathaway missed estimates on earnings but beat on revenue. Other information in the report suggested the Warren Buffett-run firm maintained its 10 percent stake in Wells Fargo despite the bank’s sales practices scandal. The filing shows Warren Buffett is sitting on more cash than ever. Berkshire Hathaway had almost $85 billion on its books at the end of the quarter.

In other earnings news:
 HSBC posted a 46% drop in pretax profit following a big loss on the sale of its Brazilian business. Nissan Motor cut its first-half net income forecast as a strong yen offset rising sales, but maintained its full-year dividend plan. Softbank’s second quarter profit rose nearly 7%, boosted by a strong performance in its domestic telecoms division.

Oracle has narrowly overcome opposition to its $9.3 billion offer for NetSuite after threatening to walk away if stakeholders held out for a higher price. Nearly 56% of NetSuite shareholders who were eligible to vote chose to take its offer, laying the groundwork for the deal to close today. The tie-up will add nearly $1 billion to Oracle’s revenues from cloud software.

T. Rowe Price had pushed Oracle to pay more, arguing that Oracle’s executive chairman and CTO, Larry Ellison, had a conflict of interest that stopped NetSuite from getting alternative bids and top dollar. Instead, Oracle issued a take-it-or-leave-it offer deadline of Friday at midnight. And if the deal hadn’t gone through, NetSuite would have found itself competing increasingly with Oracle, which now has its own financial software cloud.

Looking to rebound from its Note 7 fiasco, Samsung Electronics plans to adopt a voice-based digital assistant for its upcoming Galaxy S8, scheduled for release next year. Last month, Samsung acquired  U.S.-based artificial-intelligence software company Viv Labs, which will outfit the Galaxy S8 with AI-enabled features “significantly differentiated” from those in the market, such as Apple’s Siri or Google.

While it didn’t invent China’s Singles Day sale, Alibaba made it a fixture of the retail calendar. Now the company plans to use the excitement around the event to launch itself beyond mainland China, catering to shoppers in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Last year, Alibaba sold over $14.3 billion on November 11, more than double the $5.8 billion in total U.S. e-commerce sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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