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Money Daily has been providing business and financial market news, views, and coverage on a nearly continuous basis since 2006. Complete archives are available at moneydaily.blogspot.com.

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November PCE Comes in Tame, Sending Futures Higher; Gold Heading for $2,100; SIlver Reaching for $25

Friday, December 22, 2023, 9:23 am ET

Even with Wednesday's pullback, the major indices are looking at another positive weekly finish. The Dow remains 99 points to the good as of Thursday's close, following the snap-back relief rally. The NASDAQ is up 150, the S&P up 27, and the NYSE Composite is 115 ahead on the week.

Economic data released Thursday was enough for investors to overlook both the ravages of Wednesday and the extremely overbought condition of the entire market. After exchanges closed for the day, Nike (NIKE) reported fiscal second quarter earnings that soundly beat estimates on the bottom line at $1.03 a share, up 21% from the year-earlier period trouncing the consensus forecast of an 85-cent profit.

However, the company disclosed some disturbing figures and projections, including North America revenue down 3.5% to $5.63 billion in the quarter and a plan to cut $2 billion in costs over the next three years. Investors were apoplectic, sending shares down by as much as 12% in pre-market trading while submerging Dow futures as the morning wore on towards the cash open.

With a p/e ratio approaching 40, Nike could not afford anything less than perfection. Shares had risen from 89 to 122 since the end of September. The stock, like many others in the retail clothing and sportswear space, was fundamentally overvalued and ready for a pullback, which apparently it is going to get.

At 8:30 am ET, the Commerce Department reported that consumer prices slid 0.1% last month from October and were up only 2.6% from a year ago November. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy inputs, rose 0.1% in November and 3.2% from a year earlier.

The rosy picture painted by Commerce's Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report suggests that the US economy is running at a steady pace, referred to as "goldilocks" by some in the analyst community, neither too hot nor too cold. Federal Reserve officials prefer the PCE over the CPI because it attempts to account for changes in shopping behaviors. Thus, with the dovish outlines of this report, the FOMC is likely not to raise rates at its first meeting of 2004, on January 30 and 31. If the federal funds rate remains at 5.25-5.50%, through to the March 19-20 meeting, it would mark seven months without a change and may presage a cut in the rate at the March meeting, which is the hope of the Wall Street crowd, seeking easier financial conditions than those that have prevailed since the Fed began hiking in March of 2022.

With the report making its rounds, stock futures got the customary boost, though Dow futures, dragged down by the Nike news, remained mired in red ink (-80). NASDAQ futures were up 32, S&P futures ahead by seven with 30 minutes to go before the opening bell.

Gold, which was already up substantially overnight, raced ahead, hitting $2,080 on the COMEX continuous contract while silver moved forward, quoted at $24.80.

Asian and European stocks were mixed. There was little reaction to the PCE release in Europe.

The Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P are all looking for an eighth straight weekly gain.

At the Close, Thursday, December 21, 2023:
Dow: 37,404.35, +322.35 (+0.87%)
NASDAQ: 14,963.87, +185.92 (+1.26%)
S&P 500: 4,746.75, +48.40 (+1.03%)
NYSE Composite: 16,724.92, +190.20 (+1.15%)


Stop Losses, Margin Calls, Liquidations As Dow Drops 475 Points; NASDAQ Sheds 225; Engulfing Session Has Implications

Thursday, December 21, 2023, 8:45 am ET

Right up until 2:30 Eastern everything seemed fine. It was then that the margin calls started going out to the long-short hedge funds that had been pummeled relentlessly since the end of October.

Nobody can sustain consistent losses while maintaining positions. Most of these supposedly hedged hedge funds that were mainly short the market got trapped by their own hubris. Having an excellent time the first 10 months of the year, they apparently thought they could continue winning when they should have just closed up shop, taken two months down in the Bahamas and come back in January with a fresh outlook.

Nope. They got greedy and Mr. Market handed them their behinds. All of a sudden it was panic on deck, as selling accelerated like a Rocky Mountain avalanche. The Dow, which closed at its high for the day on Tuesday, closed at the low of the day Wednesday. Chartists will appreciate the significance of the outside engulfing candle on the Dow, taking out the highs and lows of not just the previous session, but the last three, and nearly the last four as the rally got over-extended and gains became harder to find.

While not infallible, outside engulfing days are pretty reliable signal of sentiment change, either to the upside after a long slide, or, as the case may be presently, to the downside following a rapid, even rabid upside move of more than 5,000 points and 15% on the Dow in under two months. The history of these engulfing candles suggests that the reversals are not necessarily immediate. That would be too easy. But, they do generally play out in big ways, two to three weeks later.

The last time there was a triple-engulfing candle like this was October 6 (upside) and before that, August 24 (downside). In both instances, stocks moved against the signal before reversing.

On the August incident, stocks had already been falling for three weeks, then traded sideways to higher for the next three weeks before sliding lower again in mid-September through October.

The October 6 iteration saw the Dow rally immediately, then fall to fresh lows, culminating in the bottom on October 27. After that, it was off to the races.

Thus, the takeaway is that these engulfing signals have a lag to them, moving in the opposite direction first, then reversing into the signal in about three weeks. Noting that, should a Santa Claus rally present itself the final week of 2023, it may be useful to short it into 2024. If the signal is correct, Dow stocks (and probably the entire market) should start selling off the second week of January. This makes sense on a number of levels, not the least of which would be profit-taking in early 2024, booking those gains some 12-15 months before actually having to pay taxes on them.

Slick traders will take advantage of this condition. It would come as no surprise to see stocks flailing about into and possibly through February, maybe beyond. It's not like it hasn't happened before (see 2022).

There could be a simpler explanation. It could be that the richest people in the room - Vanguard, Blackrock, and State Street - decided they made enough money for now and decided to sell. And did so in size, attracting the attention of every two-bit junior trader, retail monkey, and fat slob pension manager.

And, so, they sold too, finishing off the streak of wins at nine for the Dow and NASDAQ, and eight of the past nine for the S&P.

Other possible explanations for the deep dive on Wednesday are the contrarian call by Morgan Stanley's Mike Wilson, the bearish analyst who finally capitulated on Monday and said the market should rally, or, the massive numbers of 0-DTE options and S&P put option buyers.

The 0-DTE (Zero Days to Expiration) complex was likely responsible for most of Wednesday's volatility, spiking the VIX as high as 13.93, the highest it has been since November 17. Overall, the VIX was up 6.78%, closing the session at 13.38.

Interestingly enough, bonds rallied, sending yields lower. The 10-year yield stopped out at 3.86% and the 30-year finally dipping below 4.00%, ending the day at 3.98%, both the lowest since July 26. Precious metals were not hard hit either. Gold held on at $2,042, while silver actually gained, up as high as $24.75 before capitulating a bit, back to $24.45.

As US markets are set to open in an hour, stock futures are forecasting a positive open, with Dow futures up 158 points, NASDAQ up 113, and S&P futures ahead by 24.75. Overnight, the NIKKEI was slammed, down 535 points after solid gains on the 19th and 20th. Chinese indices were essentially flat while India's Sensex powered to a 358-point gain (0.51%).

European stocks are down across the board. Gold is flat, silver is down slightly, and WTI crude oil is down nearly two percent, at $72.77.

Look for some volatility with a bias toward the upside in the last six trading days of 2023.

At the Close, Wednesday, December 20, 2023:
Dow: 37,082.00, -475.92 (-1.27%)
NASDAQ: 14,777.94, -225.28 (-1.50%)
S&P 500: 4,698.35, -70.02 (-1.47%)
NYSE Composite: 16,534.72, -263.68 (-1.57%)


Dow Up More Than 5,000 Points Since Late October; Oil Rises on Mid-East Troubles

Wednesday, December 20, 2023, 9:50 am ET

OK, this is getting a bit out of hand.

The Dow Industrials have finished to the upside nine straight sessions. Since October 27, when the Average stood at 32,417.59, it is up 5140.33 points (15.86%), closing Tuesday at 37,557.92, the fifth consecutive all-time closing high (36,799.65, January 4, 2022). NASDAQ and S&P 500 are also approaching record levels, all of this occurring after a severe bout of inflation - which hasn't quite dissipated - the highest federal funds target rate in 22 years, and all manner of geo-political intrigue.

Sure, it's the holidays, the Fed has signaled rate cuts for next year, gas prices are down, and there's more than enough liquidity to sustain even more gains. It would be easy to say that he market is overvalued, overpriced, irrational, and, while it is probably all those things, this recent explosive rise doesn't look like it's about to end any time soon.

One contrarian note came Tuesday, when fund managers polled by Bank of America showed to be the most bullish since the beginning of 2022, and everybody knows what happened after the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 made all-time highs in early January. A day earlier, Morgan Stanley's perma-bear, Michael Wilson, said this:

"This is a bullish outcome for stocks. With Powell not pushing back on the easing in financial conditions, equities appear to have the green light to ramp higher."

While Wilson is a bit late to the party (he's been a bear almost all year), his capitulation to the obvious easing of financial conditions everywhere is notable. Did he ring the bell for the top? Probably not, but, entering Wednesday's US trading session, futures are lower, oil is at two week highs over fears of supply lines being cut in the Red Sea by Yemen's Houti forces, and the DAX and CAC-40 are flat-lining.

This item was also a bit eye-catching: General Mills cuts sales view as price hikes hammer demand.

General Mills, maker of Cheerios and other iconic consumer staple brands, missed sales estimates and forecast growth in 2024 between zero and one percent. That's pretty sobering, considering most consumer companies in the supermarket space have been hiking prices for the last six to 18 months, fueling even more inflation and making life miserable for millions of hungry Americans.

The bottom line seems to be screaming more inflation in 2024, but most likely after a lag in time. The presidential and important congressional elections are less than a year away and financial conditions need to be smooth to ensure a repeat performance by Joe Bribem and the team of Democrats seeking to secure control of both houses of congress.

Well, markets are already open, we're running late again, and sure enough, all of the majors have opened to the downside. Anybody taking bets that stocks finish green again today?

At the Close, Tuesday, December 19, 2023:
Dow: 37,557.92, +251.90 (+0.68%)
NASDAQ: 15,003.22, +98.03 (+0.66%)
S&P 500: 4,768.37, +27.81 (+0.59%)
NYSE Composite: 16,798.40, +141.64 (+0.85%)


Stocks Continue Rally; Nippon Steel Buys US Steel for $14.9 Billion

Tuesday, December 19, 2023, 9:23 am ET

Stocks rallied again on Monday, as they almost always do (ditto, Tuesday, etc.), though the Dow faded down the stretch to eke out a slim gain of 0.86 points, setting yet another all-time closing high.

How long stocks can continue climbing is almost exclusively dependent on news flow, which, it being December and the holidays and all, should register positive to the algorithms. Data flow is light for the remainder of the year (8 trading sessions left).

Data from the real estate sector indicates housing starts rose 14.8% month-over-month in November. Building Permits fell slightly more than expected, down 2.5%.

Mortgage rates have been falling, in line with the decline in long-dated treasuries, which would account for the big gain in housing starts.

After Monday's lift-off to the week, stock futures are driving higher. At 9:00 am ET, Dow futures ar up 72 points, NASDAQ +15, S&P +10. Asian stocks were mixed overnight, with Japan's NIKKEI up 1.41% and the Hang Seng down 0.75%.

Germany's DAX is higher midday along with the IBEX in Spain. The FTSE and France's CAC-40 are flat.

Other than Nippon Steel's purchase of US Steel (X) in an all-cash deal worth $14.9 billion on Monday, there isn't much happening. The $55.00 per share price represented a 40% premium to the closing price of US Steel on December 15, sending shares up 26% on Monday's session, closing at $49.59.

The transaction is being characterized by the mainstream media as another sign of deterioration in America, with one of the most iconic companies being sold into foreign hands.

Bidenomics at work.

At the Close, Monday, December 18, 2023:
Dow: 37,306.02, +0.86 (+0.00%)
NASDAQ: 14,905.19, +91.27 (+0.62%)
S&P 500: 4,740.56, +21.37 (+0.45%)
NYSE Composite: 16,656.76, +46.92 (+0.28%)


WEEKEND WRAP: Fed Signals 2024 Rate Cuts, Markets Soar; In the Background, Gold Is Replacing Treasuries

Sunday, December 17, 2023, 11:21 am ET

Happy Holidays!

Since the end of October, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 have posted seven consecutive weekly gains. That's hard to do even in the best of times. Doing so in these somewhat turbulent times requires coordination, faith, and a special magic only the Federal Reserve can supply.

That markets are coordinated goes almost without saying. When one goes up, they all go up. While the Dow set new all-time highs this week, so did Germany's DAX, France's CAC-40, Spain's IBEX, among others. Still more are hovering near record levels. Despite warnings, commentary, and data that was not always encouraging, stocks were the belle cow over the past seven weeks and are likely to retain that status through years end. It's almost as if the ghost of Irving Fisher had been dredged up from 1929 to utter, "stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau," just as he did prior to the 1929 crash.

Call it whatever you please: Santa Claus rally, irrational exuberance, YOLO, FOMO, greater fool theory, whatever the stock markets are doing, they've been well-supported following three straight downturning months. To perfect the recipe for stock success, add in a dash of Fed magic like holding rates steady and then having Chairman Powell telegraph rate cuts in the first half (and probably second half) of 2024 and have the infamous dot-plots align with his suggestion just this past Wednesday.

Never mind that NY Fed President John Williams contradicted Powell just two days later, but then Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee came out and contradicted Williams. If the ongoing woke directive supposes to hate white guys in suits, Fed presidents and FOMC members are aiding the cause with their loose lips and slippery tongues, to say nothing of their mysterious policy directives.

Fundamental and technical analysis have been kicked to their respective curbs. They are no longer useful in winning the money games. Attitude, a high risk profile, good fortune, and CNBC on the TV in the background are all that's needed to make ordinary people millionaires and turn millionaires into billionaires at the Wall Street Casino.

Happy Holidays! (oh, we already said that)

Stocks

What's there to say? Stocks are here to stay. With just nine trading days remaining in 2023, the Dow, S&P, and NASDAQ are up, respectively, 12%, 23%, and 42%. It's been a very good year to own stocks, despite inflation, free-spending in Washington, high interest rates, open borders, crime, wars, threats of wars, and record homelessness. Never mind those people living in tents and boxes under the highway. Go out and shop, dammit!

With the last full week of trading (Christmas falls on a Monday, so the last week of 2023 will only have four trading days) on tap, stocks. Nothing else, just stocks. OK, maybe some 10-year T-notes.

The two weeks ahead will be light on data and likely even lighter in terms of trading volumes. Some tax avoiders might even sell some stocks. Markets could go sideways, but, probably, they'll just continue to go up.

Happy Holidays!


Treasury Yield Curve Rates

Date 1 Mo 2 Mo 3 Mo 4 Mo 6 Mo 1 Yr
11/10/2023 5.53 5.55 5.53 5.47 5.46 5.38
11/17/2023 5.52 5.54 5.50 5.42 5.39 5.24
11/24/2023 5.55 5.56 5.54 5.48 5.45 5.27
12/01/2023 5.55 5.53 5.43 5.45 5.33 5.05
12/08/2023 5.54 5.53 5.44 5.49 5.39 5.13
12/15/2023 5.54 5.54 5.44 5.47 5.33 4.95

Date 2 Yr 3 Yr 5 Yr 7 Yr 10 Yr 20 Yr 30 Yr
11/10/2023 5.04 4.80 4.65 4.68 4.61 4.93 4.73
11/17/2023 4.88 4.64 4.45 4.47 4.44 4.80 4.59
11/24/2023 4.92 4.67 4.49 4.51 4.47 4.79 4.60
12/01/2023 4.56 4.31 4.14 4.22 4.22 4.58 4.40
12/08/2023 4.71 4.45 4.24 4.28 4.23 4.49 4.31
12/15/2023 4.44 4.13 3.91 3.94 3.91 4.19 4.00

Long-dated treasuries continued on their descending yield path, with the 10-year note knocked down 32 basis points, from 4.23% to 3.91%, the lowest since July 25. 30-year bonds were yielding an even 4.00%, the first time they've been that low since July 26.

Spreads worsened considerably, meaning even more inverted as 2s-10s fell to -53, and full spectrum is off the charts at -154, with 4.00% on the 30-year and 5.54% on the 30-day, completely upside down.

This is the dangerous game the Fed plays with treasuries and the value of the US dollar. As a tier one reserve asset, gold is challenging treasuries in central bank holdings. The more the dollar declines, with lower interest rates on long bonds, the stronger the case for gold, real money backing the substitute currency with no counter-party risk.

The case being made by foreign competitors is a preference for gold over treasuries. Since the assault on Russia's reserves in February, 2021, at the start of their special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine, concern by central banks is not return ON capital, but return OF capital. Gold, as backing for everything, never leaves vaults. It is calculated on a ledger system with credits and debits. Unless a country's balance of payments is overly credited by exports, or extremely debited by excessive imports, a gold system preserves order.

The United States, with its long-standing negative balance of payments, importing far more than it exports, is in a very dangerous position on the global table, which is why it is the only country in the world interested in suppressing the price of gold (and silver, not a tier one asset, held by no central bank) to keep its dominant position as the world's reserve currency. When foreigners stop buying treasuries is when the wolf comes through the door. The wolf approaches with ill intent.

Spreads:

2s-10s
9/15/2023: -69
9/22/2023: -66
9/29/2023: -44
10/06/2023: -30
10/13/2023: -41
10/20/2023: -14
10/27/2023: -15
11/03/2023: -26
11/10/2023: -43
11/17/2023: -44
11/24/2023: -45
12/01/2023: -34
12/08/2023: -48
12/15/2023: -53

Full Spectrum (30-days - 30-years)
9/15/2023: -109
9/22/2023: -99
9/29/2023: -82
10/06/2023: -64
10/13/2023: -82
10/20/2023: -47
10/27/2023: -54
11/03/2023: -76
11/10/2023: -80
11/17/2023: -93
11/24/2023: -95
12/01/2023: -105
12/08/2023: -123
12/15/2023: -154


Oil/Gas

WTI crude finished at $72.10 per barrel Friday, a rare gain from $71.26 last week, but lower overall, from $74.38 the week prior and further, since the peak on September 27 of $93.68, down 23.04%, a bear market.

Oil prices slid as low as $68.25 on Wednesday but got a boost from the Fed, like everything else in the world.

According to gasbuddy.com, the national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gas at the pump dropped eight cents during the week, to $3.06.

Between the Northeast and the West coast is an enormous swath of states with prices below $3.00, the notable exception being Illinois, at $3.14. Texas ($2.48) and Oklahoma ($2.50) are the cheapest. Prices in Florida fell 16 cents, to $2.84. At $2.95, Georgia is the highest in the Southeast. Mississippi checks in at $2.57; Louisiana, $2.60.

Sub-$3 gas pushes through the midwest all the way up to Minnesota ($2.88), North Dakota ($2.87), and Montana ($2.97).

And then there were two, just two states over $4.00 a gallon, California ($4.60) and Washington ($4.16). Nevada is next at $3.93, followed by Oregon ($3.85), Idaho ($3.33), and Arizona ($3.17).

In the Northeast, Pennsylvania ($3.43) retains the top position, followed by New York ($3.39). The lowest prices in the region are in Delaware ($2.97) and West Virginia ($3.01).


Bitcoin

This week: $42,562.60
Last week: $43,932.70
2 weeks ago: $39,595.40
6 months ago: $26,506.50
One year ago: $16,439.70

Bitcoin ramped as high as $44,192.80 recently and has remained near that level. Probably a good bet (if you like gambling on things beyond your ability to gauge) as the dollar implodes.


Precious Metals

Gold:Silver Ratio: 84.15; last week: 86.77

Per COMEX continuous contracts:

Gold price 11/17: $1,983.50
Gold price 11/24: $2,023.60
Gold price 12/01: $2,091.70
Gold price 12/08: $2,020.80
Gold price 12/15: $2,033.80

Silver price 11/17: $23.77
Silver price 11/24: $24.73
Silver price 12/01: $25.90
Silver price 12/08: $23.29
Silver price 12/15: $24.17

Gold and silver continued to bounce back from the price-slashing that followed gold's ascent to record highs on December 1 and the December 3-4 Sunday night / Monday morning melee at the opening of Asian trading (6:00 pm ET Sunday) which saw the price of gold vault to a high point of $2,152, then subsequently get ratcheted down to as low as $1,988.

There are more than a few theories as to what really happened, both in the paper COMEX markets and actual physical trading. Sufficiently, $2,152 has now become the all-time target, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility that gold prices could challenge that level again, and soon.

In the video below., Andrew Maguire offers plausible explanations and opines on what the spike to new high prices means going forward.

Recent geo-political developments point to further alienation of the United States, the EU, and UK from the burgeoning BRICS+, soon to add Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to its bloc as of January 1, 2024. Argentina was invited to join as well, though that appears to have been declined, as newly-elected president Javier Millei, for now, has aligned with the United States, as the country attempts to right itself from decades of incompetence, defaults on foreign debt, and currency devaluations.

Russian president Vladimir Putin's recent visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE has cemented already-solid relationships between the Mid-East nations and Russia. With their entry into BRICS, the Saudis look to increase their influence as a major oil exporter while the UAE will bolster its reputation as a global financial hub, rivaling the Western centers of London, New York City, and Berlin.

The slow process of replacing US treasuries with gold as the main tier one asset of central banks should begin to accelerate somewhat in the coming new year. Mistakes made by the US and its allies in Ukraine, Taiwan, Iran, and through a legion of sanctions have made US hegemony irretrievable. The unipolar world is ending, ushering in a financial and monetary duopoly shared by the Western bloc and the BRICS+ led global South.

It's hard to see how gold (and silver) cannot be anything but elemental in the establishment of a rival system. It is no longer a matter of "if" gold will replace US treasuries as the major reserve asset, but "when."

Hallelujah!

Here are the most recent prices for common one ounce gold and silver items sold on eBay (numismatics excluded, free shipping included):

Item/Price Low High Average Median
1 oz silver coin: 30.00 45.00 38.23 38.46
1 oz silver bar: 32.72 44.99 36.96 34.97
1 oz gold coin: 2,099.74 2,274.35 2,168.81 2,145.65
1 oz gold bar: 2,095.65 2,162.23 2,120.12 2,111.79

The Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) rose over the course of the week to $37.16, an improvement of 99 cents from the December 10 price of $36.17 per troy ounce.


WEEKEND WRAP

Only eight days until Christmas. Happy Holidays!


At the Close, Friday, December 15, 2023:
Dow: 37,305.16, +56.81 (+0.15%)
NASDAQ: 14,813.92, +52.36 (+0.35%)
S&P 500: 4,719.19, -0.36 (-0.01%)
NYSE Composite: 16,609.84, -114.08 (-0.68%)

For the Week:
Dow: +1057.29 (+2.92%)
NASDAQ: +409.95 (+2.85%)
S&P 500: +114.82 (+2.49%)
NYSE Composite: +402.08 (+2.48%)
Dow Transports: +805.05 (+5.29%)


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