Morning in Arizona

Morning in Arizona
Rainbows over Canyonlands - Dave Stoker

The Headline Animator

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dead Cat Bounce

Financial Review

Dead Cat Bounce

DOW + 269 = 17,409
SPX + 35 = 2036
NAS + 97 = 4691
10 Y un = 1.46%
OIL + 1.78 = 48.11
GOLD – 12.60 = 1312.50

Stocks bounced back across the globe after a record $3 trillion in market cap was wiped off the board in just two trading days and sterling fell to its lowest level in over 30 years. Hopes of a more coordinated central bank response to support the financial markets and firmer oil prices are helping stocks claw back some of their losses following the Brexit battering.

And after two days of brutal selling, traders are taking a breath and trying to figure out the best strategy moving forward. Even with the gains today, the Dow is down year to date, but the Dow did not take out the lows for the year, set back in February.

Same story with the S&P 500, which found some support yesterday at the 2000 level, after breaching major support around 2040 and then clawing its way above 200-day moving average resistance at 2021. And if you want to get clever, consider the Russell 2000 index of small cap stocks is also down year to date, did not take out the February lows, but did find some support at the May lows.

Now, you can easily understand that big, multi-national companies are affected by what happens in Europe, but why did the small caps take a hit? Do you buy the dips or sell the rallies?

Heads of government of the EU’s member countries are gathered for a two-day meeting of the European Council in Brussels. No country has ever left the bloc, so they are in uncharted territory as they try to figure out how to make Britain’s separation proceed as smoothly as possible. Pressure is also expected to be applied on the U.K. to trigger Article 50, which would actually start a 2 year exit process. The UK might opt for a much faster exit, or they might drag things out. Several Euro leaders have expressed the idea that the UK needs to explain what they are going to do because the uncertainty is not good.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the U.K. to have no illusions about life outside the European Union. Merkel, in her toughest response yet to last week’s British vote, said that the U.K. can’t expect favored treatment once it leaves and that there will be no informal talks on a new relationship before the government in London files Article 50.

The Brits were hoping they could renegotiate trade treaties and just sort of cherry pick the best deal, while not paying into the EU or abiding by rules and regulations they don’t like. Yea, that’s not gonna happen. One of the leading campaigners for the exit side, Nigel Farage from the UK Independence Party, spoke before the European parliament; he was booed. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Farage a liar. This is not going to be an amicable divorce.

The British government has abandoned plans to sell down its shareholdings in RBS and Lloyds in light of the Brexit referendum, leaving a multi-billion-pound hole in its finances. The Treasury had planned to cut its exposure to the domestic banks, raising £9-billion-pounds through stock sales, but the date has now been pushed back until at least 2017 given market volatility.

Moody’s will revise the outlook of “a number of big U.K. lenders” to negative from stable due to fallout from last week’s EU referendum. The plan comes just hours after rival Standard & Poor’s stripped the U.K. of its coveted triple-A rating and Fitch downgraded the sovereign debt.

The first bank casualties might be in Italy. Italy is preparing a €40-billion-euro rescue of its financial system as bank shares collapse on the Milan bourse. Italian officials are studying a direct state recapitalization of the banks, to be funded by a special bond issue. Unlike the Eurozone debt crisis in 2011-2012, there is no serious trouble yet in the sovereign debt markets. The ECB is effectively capping yields under quantitative easing. The Euro STOXX index of bank stocks has collapsed by half since last July. And Italian banks are the Achilles Heel of the Eurozone financial system. Non-performing loans have ratcheted up to 18% of total balance sheets.

The stock market sell-off did shake thing up; of course some stocks were hit harder than others.  Apple still has the largest market capitalization among US stocks, but here are some of the leadership changes. Verizon is now bigger than Walmart. Proctor and Gamble is bigger than JPMorgan. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo beat Chevron and Intel, respectively. And Home Depot is now bigger than Disney.

U.S. economic growth slowed in the first quarter but not as sharply as previously estimated. Gross domestic product was revised higher to show a 1.1 percent annual rate, rather than the 0.8 percent pace reported last month. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told lawmakers last week that data pointed to “a noticeable step-up” in GDP growth in the second quarter. The Atlanta Federal Reserve is currently estimating second-quarter GDP rising at a 2.6 percent rate. But uncertainty stoked by the Brexit vote poses a risk to growth for the rest of year.

U.S. house prices rose 1.1% in April. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Index showed a stronger pace of growth in the three months ending in April. March’s reading was 0.9% higher. Compared to the same period a year ago, prices rose 5.4%, down from 5.5% in March. But there was a stark divide between cities, as usual. Super-hot metros like Portland, Seattle and Denver continue to see double-digit annual price gains, while home prices in older cities like New York and Washington rose only about 2% on an annual basis. Phoenix existing home prices rose 0.7% for April; up 5.5% for the past year.

U.S. consumer confidence moved higher in June. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose to 98 from 92.4 in May. The present situations index rose to 118.3 from 113.2, while the expectations index rose to 84.5 from 78.5. However, the cutoff date was June 16, a week before the British referendum that has roiled financial markets.

Oil prices bounced about 2% today. Still, regular unleaded gasoline fell to $2.30 Monday (the nationwide average price), the cheapest price for this time of year since 2005, according to data from AAA. Consumers are reaping the benefits to the tune of $20 billion. That’s how much AAA estimates drivers have saved at the pump so far this year compared to the same period in 2015; with $5 billion of those savings were in the one-month period since Memorial Day alone.

And we are spending the savings at the pump. Americans spent 12.8 percent more on hotels and motels in the first quarter of 2016 than in the same period in 2014, while food and drink spending rose 16 percent, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Consumers are also fueling their vices, including by spending more money on cigarettes. Not all of those gas savings are going up in smoke, however: Americans are also saving some of it for a rainy day. The average personal saving rate in the first four months of the year rose to 5.6 percent, up from 5.2 percent in the same period in 2015 and 5 percent in 2014.

Volkswagen’s price tag to settle lawsuits in the U.S. over its rigging of diesel emissions tests has jumped to more than $15 billion – $5 billion more than previously reported – with a settlement filed in a San Francisco court. VW’s deal includes $10 billion for buybacks of 475,000 polluting vehicles and nearly $5 billion for fines and funds to boost clean-emissions technology. If you own a VW affected by the emissions scandal you may be entitled to cash compensation plus a buyback of the vehicle, or you could wait for a modification to fix the problem. And if you leased an affected car you might also be entitled to cash compensation.

The U.S. Senate is set to launch a debate for establishing a federal oversight board that would be in charge of restructuring Puerto Rico’s debt where one out of every three dollars it earns in revenue is used to pay creditors. The measure is identical to the plan passed by the House earlier this month, as Congress tries to get something done by July 1, when $2 billion in debt payments come due.

A large “Four Points by Sheraton” sign has gone up outside the Havana hotel that this week becomes the first in Cuba to operate under an American brand since the 1959 revolution. The military-owned Gaviota 5th Avenue Hotel, close to the Caribbean seafront, is one of two hotels that Starwood Hotels & Resorts agreed to manage in a multi-million-dollar deal in March.

Airbnb sued San Francisco. The holiday-rental platform wants to block a law that would force it to remove listings from unregistered hosts or face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. It complained that the city is violating federal law by holding it accountable for unregistered apartments.

Biotech news roundup: Endo International has held discussions with Private Equity firms about potential asset sales to reduce its more than $8 billion debt pile. Pfizer is investing $350 million to build its first biotech center in China. Horizon Pharma has hired Bank of America to help it explore selling a significant equity stake that would bolster its balance sheet.

The EU is taking steps that could lead to a third antitrust complaint against Google, this time over its dominance in advertising.  Antitrust charges have been filed against Google for allegedly skewing its search results to favor its own shopping service, and more recently in April, over Google’s conduct with its Android mobile-operating system.

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