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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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Bank Earnings Struck with One-Time Charges by FDIC; PPI Softer than Expected

Friday, January 12, 2024, 9:27 am ET

Following Thursday's dump and pump on higher than expected December CPI results, stock enthusiasts were looking for some catalyst by which to send stocks higher to close out the week.

Perhaps JP Morgan's (JPM) record earnings for 2023 of $49 billion gave hope that problems in the banking sector that emerged in March of last year were being put to rest. However, what emerged from the company's fourth quarter told a different tale, one that would be repeated across the banks reporting Friday morning.

JPM's quarterly profits of $9.3 billion fell 15% from a year earlier largely because of one-time hit of roughly $3 billion to pay for a special assessment charged by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to cover costs related by the agency in the wind-downs of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

Other banks did not fare as well as Jamie Dimon's "fortress" financial institution for the year and fourth quarter results were marred by significant charges related to the crisis of this past March.

Citigroup (C) posted a loss of $1.8 billion.

The third-largest U.S. lender by assets posted a loss of $1.16 per share for the three months ended Dec. 31. The results were eroded by $3.8 billion in combined charges and reserves that Citigroup disclosed in a filing on Wednesday.

Bank of America (BAC) posted net income of $3.1 billion, or 35 cents a share, for the fourth quarter, compared to $7.1 billion, or 85 cents a share, a year earlier.

Wells Fargo (WFC) took similar charges [PDF] as the other banks, reporting fourth quarter 2023 net income of
$3.4 billion, or $0.86 per diluted share and full year 2023 net income of $19.1 billion, or $4.83 per diluted share.

Bank stocks were mixed in pre-market trading.

Buoying the market was the surprise softness in the Producer Price Index (PPI) which fell 0.1% in December, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday. Data for November was revised to show the PPI falling 0.1% instead of being unchanged as previously reported.

Economists had forecast the PPI rebounding 0.1%. In the 12 months through December, the PPI increased 1.0% after advancing 0.8% in November, welcome news to inflation fighters.

With the bank earnings and PPI data in hand, futures fell slightly heading into the Friday session. There is notable angst concerning inflation and the economy as the new year progresses.

Money Daily will have much more detail in Sunday's WEEKEND WRAP.

At the Close, Thursday, January 11, 2024:
Dow: 37,711.02, +15.29 (+0.04%)
NASDAQ: 14,970.18, +0.54 (+0.00%)
S&P 500: 4,780.24, -3.21 (-0.07%)
NYSE Composite: 16,781.12, -37.76 (-0.22%)


11 Bitcoin Spot ETFs Approved by SEC; December CPI Runs Hotter than Expected, up 3.4% Annually; Oil Tanker Seized by Iran

Thursday, January 11, 2024, 9:22 am ET

The big event Wednesday took place just after equity markets closed, as the SEC approved 11 Bitcoin Spot ETFs which begin trading today, Thursday, January 11.

The approval of so many has prompted what's being called a "fee war" as the newly-approved ETFs cut fees in an effort to attract the most money.

Now that the future of bitcoin has been put to rest, the next event on the economic calendar, December CPI, was released by the BLS at 8:30 am ET, showing the inflation rate increasing by 0.3% on a monthly basis and by 3.4% annually, a figure that isn't sitting well with the dwindling number of analysts who are predicting that the Fed will cut the federal funds rate in March, since the CPI "inflation rate" of 3.4% came in higher for December than it did in November (3.1%) and higher than consensus estimates of 3.2%.

Upon the release, stock futures cratered. S&P futures, which were up more than $10, fell immediately into negative territory, down as much as $17. With markets set to open within a half hour, this development bodes ill for stocks not just today, but probably into the second quarter, especially if inflation continues to run above estimates and the Fed cannot rationalize the need for a rate cut.

Elsewhere, it's being reported that armed Iranians have hijacked an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman. The situation is fluid, as the vessel in question was once known as the Suez Rajan and had been involved in a yearlong dispute that ultimately saw the U.S. Justice Department seize 1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil on it.

Renamed the St. Nikolas, was carrying crude oil bound for Aliaga, Turkey. The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker was headed towards Iran, according to latest reports. With tensions escalating in the Middle East, WTI crude oil gained just over a dollar, to $72.65.

For its part, gold mostly shrugged off all events and held onto overnight gains, trading around $2,033 per ounce.

Conditions for global finance and politics just got a little bit dicier.

At the Close, Wednesday, January 10, 2024:
Dow: 37,695.73, +170.57 (+0.45%)
NASDAQ: 14,969.65, +111.94 (+0.75%)
S&P 500: 4,783.45, +26.95 (+0.57%)
NYSE Composite: 16,818.88, +45.81 (+0.27%)


Bitcoin Spot ETF Approval (or not) Grabs Wall Street Attention; Futures Flat-lining; Markets Breathless

Wednesday, January 10, 2024, 9:30 am ET

At some point on Wednesday, the SEC is either going to approve or deny applications (there are as many as 12 of them) for a bitcoin spot ETF. January 10 has been the accepted deadline for the SEC's decision, though no exact time has been offered. Figure it to happen just as the stock markets open or as they're about to close. It is likely dependent upon how much money needs to be laundered, er, invested at a specific time.

The importance of a spot EFT for bitcoin cannot be underestimated. Companies like Blackrock, VanEck, Fidelity, Invesco, and others have submitted their proposals and have been somewhat impatiently waiting. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has opined repeatedly that such a product - or products - could become a vehicle for price manipulation of the peized vaporware that is bitcoin, as if there aren't enough stable coins, futures ETFs, and other derivatives to play with already.

Odds are good that a few will be approved while others await their turns. The SEC will probably give the go-ahead on provisional bases, and "see how it works out," or something to that effect.

As if the waiting game wasn't enough, Wall Street's continuing Clown World stepped up at the close of trading on Tuesday with a "hacked" tweet from the SEC's X account saying that the bitcoin spot ETF had been approved. The tweet was quickly denounced as fake by the SEC which issued a statement within minutes. Bitcoin's price spiked to $48,000 on the fake tweet, then quickly retreated back to around $46,000 upon the SEC "real" tweet. Since bitcoin is supposedly immutable, it's assumed some people made something and others lost something, in bitcoin terms.

All of the intrigue and anticipation surrounding the proposed bitcoin ETFs are widespread speculation that approval of a spot ETF will allow for as much as a 10-fold increase in price as more "investors" will be encouraged to trade with trusted issuers. It's a lot of sound and fury, but touts like the "Mooch", Anthony Scaramucci of Skybridge Capital, are pushing hard for approval, seeing it as another way to skin rubes of their cash in a completely "legal" manner.

Supposedly, Gensler will make the announcement today. One way or another, look for wild swings in the price of bitcoin. This is just more meaningless sideline volatility directed by the usual suspects.

Back in the quasi-real world, stocks were split on Tuesday, the NASDAQ alone in posting a positive number at day's end. The VIX was eased down below 13, standing at 12.79 at the close. The pre-market reading is 12.91, still extremely low considering that December CPI will be announced on Thursday and PPI on Friday, along with a slew of bank earnings from Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, and others.

Depending on the CPI numbers primarily, traders will be looking for indications of further inflation easing, which would play into the March rate cut narrative which has been losing credibility of late. With the FOMC meeting slated for the end of the month (January 30-31), unless the CPI number is well above or below expectations (2.8-3.0%), the Fed is unlikely to do much of anything before March and probably May. The employment situation in the US is such as to discourage rate cuts presently, though lowering the federal funds rate at some point is the next probable move by the Fed.

With the opening bell straight ahead, stock futures are flat, like just about everything else. Gold is up a few dollars, and oil is up less than a buck. Wednesday could turn out to be just about anything, but the bitcoin craziness has everybody drooling.

At the Close, Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Dow: 37,525.16, -157.85 (-0.42%)
NASDAQ: 14,857.71, +13.94 (+0.09%)
S&P 500: 4,756.50, -7.04 (-0.15%)
NYSE Composite: 16,773.07, -112.30 (-0.67%)


Stocks Bumped Higher, Oil Sent Lower on OPEC Price Cuts; Clown World Markets a Global Embarrassment

Tuesday, January 9, 2024, 9:25 am ET

There's an ancient stock market fable that goes something like, "as go stocks the first five days of January, so goes the year."

Well, if that's the case, the stock market is going to be relatively flat for 2024, because, after taking multiple hits to the chin and guts last week, the major averages bounced back on Monday, but failed to get the "first five days" up to punching weight, i.e., positive ground, except for the NYSE Composite, which edged into plus territory for the year, up +32.48 over the first five sessions.

So, those who want to believe in unicorns, fairy tales, and stock market legends can just follow the Composite index, since that's the one on the plus side.

Pundits and TV talking heads attributed Monday's left to right diagonal (there was no significant pullback all day, as is usually the case) chart to tech stocks, exactly what was pulling the market down last week. Did all those people playing the capital gains tax game who sold last week decide Monday to buy back in or was there something else happening?

What a load of horse hockey this entire contrived space called a "market" has become. Stocks, bonds, commodities and especially gold and silver are so manipulated to benefit big money interests and central bank desires it's almost comical, except that they're playing with everybody's money, IRAs, pensions funds, college savings, and so forth.

Gregory Mannarino (you may have heard of him) was complaining Monday about OPEC's sudden price cuts on oil, which sent the price of a barrel of WTI crude down as low as $70.31. The "Robin Hood of Wall Street" was calling OPEC a bunch of crooks, which is probably true, since they're in the same league as the rest of the Wall Street trading horde, however, lowering the price of crude oil is overall a good thing for most people, the result being lower prices for gas, heating, etc., and we could all use some lower prices.

So, here we stand on Tuesday, after a huge Monday rally (nothing at all unusual about that), with stock futures deeply declining, oil up, gold up, silver up, and the magic 10-year note resting comfortably at 4.03%. Has anybody mentioned the 30-year bond at 4.17%? Maybe somebody should because treasury rates are virtually guaranteed to go higher, just to push more pie into the faces of the pivot and six rate cuts in 2024 crowd.

Clown world is even better in 2024. Who knew?

Bear in mind that the actual "January Barometer", which is reliable about 80% of he time, looks at stock gains or losses for the entire month of January, not just the first five days, which is bunk, for an indication of how the rest of the year plays out.

The stupid thing about these indicators and guesstimates are that nobody really cares where stocks will be come December in the Spring or Summer. It goes up. It goes down, etc.

For the Week Ended Jan. 5:
Dow: -223.43 (-0.59%)
NASDAQ: -487.28 (-3.25%)
S&P 500: -72.59 (-1.52%)
NYSE Composite: -94.65 (-0.56%)

At the Close, Monday, January 8, 2024:
Dow: 37,683.01, +216.90 (+0.58%)
NASDAQ: 14,843.77, +319.70 (+2.20%)
S&P 500: 4,763.54, +66.30 (+1.41%)
NYSE Composite: 16,885.37, +127.13 (+0.76%)


WEEKEND WRAP: Ugly Start to 2024 for Stocks and Bonds; Earnings, Government Spending Ruckus to Shape Trading

Sunday, January 7, 2024, 12:32 pm ET

2024 didn't get off to a very good start. Stocks slid and interest rates rose. The first four trading days of the year weren't kind to holders of equites or fixed income instruments.

Stocks

Friday's trifling gains failed to prevent the major indices from posting their first red week in the past ten, as investors approached the new year with bucketsful of caution.

Whether the first week of 2024 selloff was mostly tax-incentivized or something deeper remains to be seen. Trading over the next two weeks will likely fill in some of the blanks and should give an indication of where markets are headed for the immediate future and possibly the rest of the year.

Most of the damage was done on the NASDAQ, which led the declines with a 3.25% loss for the week. The Dow and NYSE Composite suffered something along the lines of flesh wounds while the S&P 500 failed to break out to new all-time highs as the Dow did last month. More specifically, the so-called "Magnificent 7" tech stocks were sold right at the opening bell on Tuesday, indicative of tax-purposed profit-taking on some high flyers that were very obviously overbought.

There's a slight sense of foreboding, but nothing the markets can't shrug off in the coming week as fourth quarter and full year results begin to be reported, just as congress returns to work with just 11 days to avert a partial government shutdown. Trading might get a little more dicey and spicy with Washington politicians pointing and wagging fingers at each other over appropriations to a variety of departments.

It's not like markets aren't used to the flimsy drama. The frequency with which elected officials smack the budget beachball around is alarming to most other developed nations and even to those which are still developing. These semi-annual antics have resulted in the government's credit rating being taken down a notch (or two) by all the ratings agencies. Besides the imperfections of continuing resolutions and other spending measures that routinely get approved, agreed upon, and eventually signed into law, the US government's interest payments are about to exceed $1 trillion this year. The debt reached a not-so-cool $34 trillion right at the end of last year (Friday, December 29). With interest rates the highest in more than two decades, the government might consider trimming some fat, though such action is hardly probable given the overwhelming levels of irresponsibility and lack of representation congress has displayed for the last 40 years.

The government will pass through some more spending, which, of course, they have no ability nor intention of paying for or paying back on the vast amounts that will need to be borrowed (more than $1.5 trillion just this year).

Volatility was advanced from 12.45 at the end of 2023 to as high as 14.13 on Thursday before being tamped down to 13.35 as of Friday's closing bell. Banks begin reporting this Friday as Bank of America (BAC), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Citi (C), Wells Fargo (WFC), BNY Mellon (BK), BlackRock (BLK), Delta Airlines (DAL), and United Health (UNH) release prior to the open.

Things should get interesting as background issues like the border, Gaza, Ukraine, government funding, and election politics race to the forefront.


Treasury Yield Curve Rates

Date 1 Mo 2 Mo 3 Mo 4 Mo 6 Mo 1 Yr
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
12/22/2023 5.54 5.52 5.44 5.45 5.31 4.82
12/29/2023 5.60 5.59 5.40 5.41 5.26 4.79
01/05/2024 5.54 5.48 5.47 5.41 5.24 4.84

Date 2 Yr 3 Yr 5 Yr 7 Yr 10 Yr 20 Yr 30 Yr
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
12/22/2023 4.31 4.04 3.87 3.92 3.90 4.21 4.05
12/29/2023 4.23 4.01 3.84 3.88 3.88 4.20 4.03
01/05/2024 4.40 4.17 4.02 4.04 4.05 4.37 4.21

Interest rates on longer-dated maturities bounced higher after being summarily pushed lower over the past two months of 2023. The 10-year kept teasing at 4.00% and finally broke through on Friday, up 17 basis points from last week. The 30-year also got boosted, by some 18 basis points, tying it with five-year notes for the biggest moves of the week.

Nothing that happened this week bodes well for the pivot predictors, the group that's been saying the Fed would lower interest rates "soon" since 2022. They've been consistently wrong and indications from the labor market suggest they will continue to be incorrect as the BLS posted job gains of 216,000 for December, well ahead of even the rosiest estimates.

Nut-shelled, the US economy keeps cranking along. It's notable that the levels - without the inverted curve - would have been considered about normal 30 years ago. Today, money markets, CDs and other short-term vehicles paying upwards of four or five percent is considered a panic.

Spreads continued squeezing back this week, with 2s-10s holding steady from last week at -35 basis points while full spectrum (30 days - 30 years) added 24 basis points, up to -133 from -157.

If the Fed is actually planning on cutting rates in March, they'll have to see more stress in the economy, act like they see some, or make up some themselves. Any combination that allows for lowering the federal funds rate a smidge here and there before the election works to their cause towards normalization, which, in and of itself (dis-inverting the yield curve) might give them all the troublesome ammo they need.

They have just more than three weeks to the next FOMC meeting (January 30-31), at which they're likely to stand pat.

Just for reference, here are the tables shown last week, of treasury yields at the beginning and end of 2023.

Date 1 Mo 2 Mo 3 Mo 4 Mo 6 Mo 1 Yr
01/03/2023 4.17 4.42 4.53 4.70 4.77 4.72
12/29/2023 5.60 5.59 5.40 5.41 5.26 4.79

Date 2 Yr 3 Yr 5 Yr 7 Yr 10 Yr 20 Yr 30 Yr
01/03/2023 4.40 4.18 3.94 3.89 3.79 4.06 3.88
12/29/2023 4.23 4.01 3.84 3.88 3.88 4.20 4.03


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
12/22/2023: -41
12/29/2023: -35
1/5/2024: -35

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
12/22/2023: -149
12/29/2023: -157
1/5/2024: -133


Oil/Gas

WTI crude was up on the week, to $73.95, more than two bucks higher than last Friday ($71.33). Disruptions in the mideast flow of traffic through the Red Sea were the main cause of concern. However, warm weather in Europe and continental US continue to keep something of a lid on prices for now.

According to gasbuddy.com, the national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gas at the pump moved a little lower, down to $3.06, from $3.09 last Sunday (New Year's Eve).

The Northeast and the West coast continue to have the most expensive fuel, but in between is an enormous swath of states with prices below $3.00, 28 in all, the notable exception being Illinois at $3.02. By far, the cheapest gas is found in Oklahoma ($2.52), down a seven cents in the past week. Prices in Florida remain elevated, at $3.15, the highest in the Southeast, up eight cents. Arkansas is at $2.59, Mississippi, $2.63, Texas, $2.64.

Sub-$3 gas pushes through the Midwest all the way up to Wisconsin ($2.62), North Dakota ($2.79), Minnesota ($2.83) and Montana ($2.92).

California ($4.66) and Washington ($4.07) remain the only two states over $4.00 a gallon. Nevada is next at $3.87, followed by Oregon ($3.75), Arizona ($3.27), and Idaho ($3.08).

In the Northeast, Pennsylvania ($3.36) remains the most expensive, followed by New York ($3.29). The lowest prices in the region is Ohio ($2.63).


Bitcoin

This week: $44,167.90
Last week: $42,514.40
2 weeks ago: $43,688.10
6 months ago: $30,273.20
One year ago: $17,067.50

Bitcoin got sling-shotted above $45,000 during the week on renewed hopes that the SEC would approve a spot ETF so that more witless morons could throw their money into the Wall Street pits. With a decision due on January 10 (Wednesday), crypto markets are sure to go bat guano crazy in the week ahead.


Precious Metals

Gold:Silver Ratio: 87.76; last week: 86.25

Per COMEX continuous contracts:

Gold price 12/08: $2,020.80
Gold price 12/15: $2,033.80
Gold price 12/22: $2,064.50
Gold price 12/29: $2,071.80
Gold price 1/5: $2,052.60

Silver price 12/08: $23.29
Silver price 12/15: $24.17
Silver price 12/22: $24.47
Silver price 12/29: $24.02
Silver price 1/5: $23.39

Gold has remained above $2,000 an ounce for nearly a month. December 13 was the last time it dipped below that magical number, appearing to have found a new level just below record highs which does not seem to be at all permanent. Even as the US dollar rallied this week against other currencies, gold was unaffected.

That was not the case for silver, hated by central banks worldwide, its price pushed down to a low of $22.95 during the week. While gold suppression gets the bulk of the headlines, silver's price has been consistently degraded in the futures markets since the highs near $50/ounce back in 2011. It's obvious that bankers - from the BIS, to central banks, and even big commercial bullion banks - do not want regular citizens to have any real money. It's becoming absurd, with the Gold:Silver ratio headed toward 90 when the ratio for thousands of years prior to the crime of 1873 and the establishment of the Federal Reserve (1913) was between 12 and 20. Even cutting the ratio in half, to around 40, would price silver above $50/ounce.

The banks own gold and have been buying it hand over fist the past few years. They own no silver and want to keep poor those holding it.

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 49.00 36.96 35.57
1 oz silver bar: 28.05 40.74 35.53 35.63
1 oz gold coin: 2,135.72 2,273.26 2,172.15 2,160.05
1 oz gold bar: 2,122.00 2,162.86 2,136.93 2,135.29

The Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) rose slightly from the prior week, to $35.92, a gain of 16 cents from the December 31 price of $35.76 per troy ounce.


WEEKEND WRAP

Only 73 days until Spring!

At the Close, Friday, January 5, 2024:
Dow: 37,466.11, +25.77 (+0.07%)
NASDAQ: 14,524.07, +13.77 (+0.09%)
S&P 500: 4,697.24, +8.56 (+0.18%)
NYSE Composite: 16,758.24, +42.53 (+0.25%)

For the Week:
Dow: -223.43 (-0.59%)
NASDAQ: -487.28 (-3.25%)
S&P 500: -72.59 (-1.52%)
NYSE Composite: -94.65 (-0.56%)
Dow Transports: -390.18 (-2.45%)


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idleguy.com April/May 2024IdleGuy.com April/May 2024, Vol. 1 #4