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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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Thursday's Decline Tied to Middle East Conflict, Iran, U.S. Hegemony; March Employment Up 303,000

Friday, April 5, 2024, 9:15 am ET

The big losses on Thursday - the largest decline on the Dow in a year - were not the result of investor reaction to comments by various Fed speakers, as the mainstream media would like everybody to believe.

Every mainstream media outlet - from Morningstar to MarketWatch, to CNBC and Bloomberg, all the usual tools of state propaganda - cited the barrage of comments by Fed officials on interest rates as the primary cause for stock market losses on April 4, many of them referencing Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari's question of whether the central bank should cut rates at all if inflation remained sticky.

The response from the treasury market not as acute, though yields dropped, with the 10-year note falling from a yield of 4.35% to 4.31%, a relatively benign four basis points, a questionable directional move if the consensus interpretation was for higher or unchanged rates for longer, rather than imminent rate cuts.

No, the sharp drop on the stock market was directly tied to Israel and the Middle East. The timing of the decline occurred just as Israel was ordering the evacuation of its embassies worldwide as Iran issued bald threats of retaliation for Israel's recent strike on its embassy in Syria. The mainstream media wants to keep the general public as much in the dark as possible over Israel's militarism and genocidal tendencies in the region, like the targeted assassination of seven humanitarian aid workers in Gaza (that was no mistake) or the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas in Gaza which has resulted in more than 30,000 deaths of Palestinian citizens, most of them women and children.

Stocks don't make a radical U-turn on passing commentary by Fed officials. However, when the issue is of the potential for rocket attacks from Iran raining down on Israel, raising the onus of World War III, stocks will fall. For those not convinced, witness the aftermath in Japan, with the NIKKEI falling nearly two percent overnight, or the widespread losses on European bourses. The Dax, CAC-40, FTSE, IBEX, and Stocks 50 indices are all down between one and 1.5 percent prior to the U.S. opening bell.

Those declines have nothing to do with interest rates in the United States and more to do with global warfare, with Israel as the catalyst, lighting the fuse on a regional conflict which would necessarily involve all world military powers and could easily spread well beyond the Gulf of Oman and the Mediterranean Sea.

The bottom line is that the United States cannot control the actions of Israel and its blood-thirsty leadership, instead, it issues apologies for Israel's mistakes and remains committed to protecting it "essential ally." Israel would like nothing more than to provoke an attack by Iran, drawing the U.S. into the conflict. As long as Israel is allowed to commit war crimes in open view of the rest of the world, the opportunity for a wider conflict remains elevated. War-mongers in Washington and Tel-Aviv will not relent until they have the entire Western world under martial law.

Militarism doesn't just affect stock prices. Advancing armies have wide-reaching consequences, far beyond portfolio allocations, risk assessments, or economics. Supply chains get snapped. Inflation spikes. Shortages of goods pale before the lives that will be lost.

Those who cling to the false narratives of the mainstream media, politicians, and propagandists like Jake Sullivan, Antony Blinken, and John Kirby will suffer the consequences of their ignorance. Skeptics, which include goldbugs, silver stackers and central banks, see through the veneer of lies and have been taking proactive measures as has been so clearly demonstrated by the rapid rise in the prices of precious metals and the tonnage being acquired mostly by BRICS+ countries and others in the "Global South." Not only is widespread war threatening the well-being of citizens around the world, it also exacerbates the ongoing demise of fiat currencies and the hegemonic reserve status of the U.S. dollar.

Life as we know it is undergoing gut-wrenching change, all brought about by madmen in positions of power who use any excuse available to rain destruction down upon populations beyond their borders and also within. These mad dogs cannot be muzzled. Ultimately, their provocations will be met by forces greater than their own.

Believe what you like, stocks took a pretty hard blow on April 4 that may serve as a precursor for what's to come.

Of course, no first Friday of any month is complete without the nonfarm employment report from the BLS, which showed an increase of 303,000 jobs, most of them coming from health care (+72,000), government (+71,000), and construction (+39,000), each sector well above their 12-month averages.

January was revised up by 27,000, from +229,000 to +256,000, and the change for February was revised down by 5,000, from +275,000 to +270,000.

If one is to believe in fairy tales, unicorns, and other flights of fancy, these numbers suggest the U.S. economy is clicking on all cylinders, which, to Wall Street, is a big negative. In no way does strong economy need lower interest rates. The exact opposite would be the case. Upon the release of the BLS data, the dollar strengthened against the euro, pound, and yen. Stock futures, which had been rising earlier, became a movable feast, jerking upwards and down, like spasmodic reptiles.

The most notable move was in the 10-year note, which rose 8 basis points, to 4.39%, before easing lower.

There's no gain in trying to dissect what is little more than a noisy market annoyance. Day-to-day issues only serve to obscure the larger reality.

Good luck.

At the Close, Thursday, April 4, 2024:
Dow: 38,596.98, -530.16 (-1.35%)
NASDAQ: 16,049.08, -228.38 (-1.40%)
S&P 500: 5,147.21, -64.28 (-1.23%)
NYSE Composite: 17,982.49, -164.15 (-0.90%)


Investors Await Friday's Non-Farm Payrolls After ADP Reports Private Employment Up 184,000, Initial Claims, 221,000 Last Week

Thursday, April 4, 2024, 9:00 am ET

Wall Street and millions of equity investors are anxiously awaiting Friday's Non-Farm Payroll report from the BLS. On Wednesday, ADP allowed something of a "sneak peek" at what the number should look like, releasing their monthly employment report.

According to the March ADP National Employment Report, private employers added 184,000 jobs in the month. That's an increase of 0.14% over February, when national employment - according to ADP - stood at 151,301,000. Annualized, that would mean employment across the United States is increasing at a rate of 1.68%.

That's a reasonable enough estimate of job growth in the country. Now, when BLS compiles its data, public employment has to be added to the mix, including all new hires at the local, state, and federal levels. Considering that government in all its forms is easily the largest employer in America, this constitutes a huge number all by itself.

According to the BLS and Federal Reserve, government employment increased from 22,606,000 in March 2023 to 23,180,000 in February, 2024. That's an increase of 574,000 employees in the past year, or about 47,830 hires on average per month.

Add that to ADP's figure and the total increase in employment for March should come in at about 232,000, which is right around the average of the past 12 months (230,000), but down from February's gain of 275,000.

Notably, both ADP and BLS use various formulas and seasonal adjustments in the compilation of their data, so, the numbers are subject to revisions on monthly, quarterly, annual, and longer bases.

The question arises whether these broad estimations of national employment are accurate, how many of these numbers represent part-time jobs, people with two or three jobs (double or triple counting) and many other contributing factors, such as marginally-attached workers (work from home), phantom jobs created for tax purposes, contract workers, and how many people are working without wages being reported (off the books, under the table, gigs, etc.).

In the most general terms, these variations of employment types probably net each other out, leaving the big, raw numbers produced by ADP and BLS.

Are they to be believed?

That's a good question, and the answer is they're all we've got, so we have to live with them, right, wrong, and imperfect. How important the figures are depends on one's perspective. If every employer in America, including government, stopped hiring for a month would the consequences be disastrous or marginal? Probably, work would get done by the employees on hand, nobody would really notice, and life would go on without interruption, so, actually, the monthly estimates of employment in America are largely inconsequential in the long run.

That said, a continued downturn in employment would be considered very bad, but that hasn't happened since the pandemic of 2020-21, and that, as we now understand, was temporary, avoidable, and probably a self-inflicted wound resulting in the biggest give-away in American history. The money supply was increased so rapidly and so dramatically, that it resulted in the enormous inflation over the past four years that still is not fully contained.

Until there's a better way to measure employment, investors will follow ADP and BLS.

March Non-farm Payrolls are likely going to be nothing special, right around the average of 230,000.

Just to throw a spanner into the works, this morning's initial unemployment claims came out at 221,000, the highest since January, and just above the average for the past 12 months. If initial unemployment claims are running at a rate of about 800,000 a month, are those reflected in the jobs numbers?

The answer is probably not.

Meanwhile, gold and silver have made headway, but are slowing from the rapid gains of the past week to 10 days. Gold priced as high as $2,322, and silver $27.40 overnight on the respective COMEX continuous contracts.

Hedge accordingly.

At the Close, Wednesday, April 3, 2024:
Dow: 39,127.14, -43.06 (-0.11%)
NASDAQ: 16,277.46, +37.06 (+0.23%)
S&P 500: 5,211.49, +5.68 (+0.11%)
NYSE Composite: 18,146.64, +39.14 (+0.22%)


Signals Are Flashing Red For Stocks as Bond Yields Rise, Gold, Silver, Oil Gallop Ahead

Wednesday, April 3, 2024, 9:17 am ET

There's noise and then there's signal.

Much of what markets, governments, analysts, bloggers, and TV talking heads spew on a regular basis is simply noise. Tuesday's rising treasury yields and smoking hot gold and silver rallies were signals that don't often occur together. The unmistakable message from this duopoly is that risk is rising at an increased pace.

Yield on both the 10-year note and 30-year bond rose to their highest levels of the year, 4.36% and 4.51%, respectively. Normally, as yields rise, precious metals decline. The exact opposite was the case on Tuesday and prior to that.

Gold topped $2,300 per troy ounce late in the evening. Silver was the big winner on the day, gaining four percent, rising from $25.39 to $26.51 over the course of the day. Silver is up more than seven percent in just the last five trading days and has crossed the critical resistance threshold of $26.00. The next resistance area for silver is at $30/oz., so it is expected to continue to climb towards that level.

Gold and silver rising while the dollar is still strong - near 105 on the dollar index (DXY) - is yet another anomaly. A strong dollar usually keeps precious metals' prices subdued. This has not been the case.

According to Buffett Indicator, the stock market is significantly overvalued. Based on the historical ratio of total market cap over GDP (currently at 187.2%), stock market returns over the next year are expected to be less than one percent.

The current Shiller PE Ratio (CAPE) stands at 34.56, a level higher than the peak prior to the stock market crash of 1929 (31.48). Only twice since then has it been higher: prior to, during and after the dot-com bust in 2000, and and mid-to-late 2021. From December 31, 2021, through September 30, 2022, the S&P 500 index fell from 4,766.18 to 3,585.62, a decline of 24.77%.

Obviously, since that low in 2022, stocks are significantly higher and have raced ahead at a breakneck trajectory since October, 2023 through the end of March. The past two days of selling, at the start of a new month and new quarter, are ominous signs that all is not well in equities. Dividend returns are at historically-low levels, in aggregate returning less than two percent, a number that pales by comparison to short-dated treasuries (5% and higher) and now, even long dated notes, bonds and corporate issuance.

Current data, as maligned and constantly revised as it has been recently, shows the U.S. economy in a period of very slow growth and inflation moderating, but threatening to re-ignite. Labor markets are tight, adding to wage pressures, the final link to inflation. It is not necessary to have a recession for stocks to waver and correct, and one is not yet imminent, though stock market losses may actually trigger one, via the psychology of the wealth effect.

Without even taking into account the rising price of oil globally, gas prices at the pump, and the turbulent nature of current geo-politics, there are enough indicators sending strong signals that a stock market decline should occur within the short term.

Add to that the collapsing purchasing power of Federal Reserve Notes and de-dollarization efforts by BRICS+ countries and elsewhere, the argument for a significant decline on the major indices very soon - in the U.S., Europe, and Japan - is compelling.

At the Close, Tuesday, April 2, 2024:
Dow: 39,170.24, -396.61 (-1.00%)
NASDAQ: 16,240.45, -156.38 (-0.95%)
S&P 500: 5,205.81, -37.96 (-0.72%)
NYSE Composite: 18,107.53, -108.67 (-0.60%)


No Fooling: Sluggish Start to Second Quarter for Bubble-High Stocks; Gold Rush Underway; Fed Rate Cuts Unlikely

Tuesday, April 2, 2024, 9:28 am ET

After five straight months of blistering gains, stocks figured to cool off somewhat, so the first day of April and the second quarter brought out some sellers, especially on Dow stocks, which fell 240 points on the day.

Monday's stock slide may be only the beginning of a sharp correction over the next few days and weeks. By just about any measure, stocks are wickedly overvalued, and the rally which started in November on hopes that the Federal Reserve would cut interest rates is running on fumes, especially after U.S. Manufacturing data showed activity and prices increasing at a strong pace.

The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) increased to 50.3 in March, the first reading above 50 since September 2022, from 47.8 in February. The reading for prices paid rose to 55.8 from 52.5 in February while employment lagged.

A rebound in the manufacturing sector is about the last thing the market expected. Analysts thought the index would rise only slightly, to around 48.5, but the reading above 50, which indicates expansion, was widely unexpected and put some chill into the rate cut theory.

Bonds reacted violently, with the 10-year note bouncing from its close last Thursday at 4.20% to 4.33% and indicated higher Tuesday morning. The 30-year bond ramped 13 basis points to 4.47%, its highest level since February 21 (4.49%).

Meanwhile, the steady increase in the price of gold just kept coming, setting yet another record on Monday, hitting a high of $2,285.30 early Monday morning on the COMEX.

The worry today is not whether the Fed will cut interest rates prior to the election or, as expected, three times this year, but whether they may not have finished the job on inflation and will be forced to raise rates again after pausing their hikes in July of last year.

Futures are pointing to a very ugly open, with Dow futures down 325 points, NASDAQ futures lower by 182, and S&P futures off 39 points.

A correction is overdue and seems to be about to take sentiment lower.

Herd mentality will drive stocks lower while inflation drive gold higher. Silver is pushing up against resistance this morning, with the price per ounce on the COMEX continuous contract at $25.76. Breaking through and staying above $26 would signal an imminent breakout towards $30.

At the Close, Monday, April 1, 2024:
Dow: 39,566.85, -240.52 (-0.60%)
NASDAQ: 16,396.83, +17.37 (+0.11%)
S&P 500: 5,243.77, -10.58 (-0.20%)
NYSE Composite: 18,216.19, -96.48 (-0.53%)


WEEKEND WRAP: Happy Easter; Everything is More Expensive Now; Gold, Silver Break to New Levels; Oil at 5-Month High

Sunday, March 31, 2024, 11:57 am ET

The four-day, pre-holiday week was fairly quiet. Other than dithering over repairs to the Francis Scott Key bridge and ongoing Russian advances in Ukraine, there just wasn't much going on.

The under-riding theme the past few weeks has been slow, steady de-dollarization, and that goes for yen, francs, loonies, krona, euros, yen, rubles, yuan, any currency that is artificially priced. For the next few years, maybe as long as 10 years, fiat currencies will continue to lose purchasing power, manifested as inflation in goods and services. BRICS+ countries will flourish, especially when a new gold standard is implemented. It's only a matter of time now.


Stocks

OK, uh, yeah. Keep buying. They'll keep going up.

Next week, the treat comes on Friday, with the March non-farm payroll data, preceded by the independent ADP figures. Neither are big deals, so trading might be a little bit subdued and some profit-taking is likely. Needing little to no catalyst for higher prices, stocks will probably just drift, maybe higher, maybe lower. There isn't much in the way of directional bias presently.


Treasury Yield Curve Rates

Date 1 Mo 2 Mo 3 Mo 4 Mo 6 Mo 1 Yr
02/23/2024 5.49 5.51 5.46 5.46 5.32 5.00
03/01/2024 5.54 5.49 5.42 5.41 5.27 4.94
03/08/2024 5.51 5.48 5.46 5.40 5.34 4.92
03/15/2024 5.52 5.48 5.48 5.41 5.38 5.05
03/22/2024 5.51 5.47 5.46 5.40 5.34 4.98
03/28/2024 5.49 5.48 5.46 5.42 5.38 5.03

Date 2 Yr 3 Yr 5 Yr 7 Yr 10 Yr 20 Yr 30 Yr
02/23/2024 4.67 4.45 4.28 4.28 4.26 4.51 4.37
03/01/2024 4.54 4.32 4.17 4.20 4.19 4.46 4.33
03/08/2024 4.48 4.25 4.06 4.08 4.09 4.36 4.26
03/15/2024 4.72 4.51 4.33 4.33 4.31 4.55 4.43
03/22/2024 4.59 4.36 4.20 4.22 4.22 4.47 4.39
03/28/2024 4.59 4.40 4.21 4.20 4.20 4.45 4.34

Treasuries witnessed a small, unimportant rally over the shortened week. Any movement in bills, notes, or bonds was largely inconsequential. Spreads remained in a comfortable, relaxed condition. 2s-10s were -39; full spectrum, -115.

any talk of raising or lowering rates is just gum-flapping at this juncture. The May FOMC meeting appears to be a non-starter for lowering the federal funds target rate. If at the earliest, June produces a 0.25% cut, that would leave only July and September meetings prior to the elections as there are no meetings in August and October. The Fed and virtually everyone else in the world knows that easing rates now will re-ignite inflation, but that appears to be the plan. Americans and Europeans seem destined to a world of higher and higher prices for even basic survival.

The Fed may have to change its recent tagline from "higher for longer" to "easier forever." Economic history is knocking on the door of the Eccles Building, but nobody's answering.

The Fed seems to be completely at ease over the two-year yield curve inversion, the longest in history. No telling how this plays oout in the long run, but there are suspicions that it won't end well.

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
1/12/2024: -18
1/19/2024: -24
1/26/2024: -19
2/2/2024: -33
2/9: -31
2/16: -34
2/23: -41
3/1: -35
3/8: -39
3/15: -41
3/22: -37
3/28: -39

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
1/12/2024: -135
1/19/2024: -118
1/26/2024: -116
2/2/2024: -127
2/9: -117
2/16: -103
2/23: -112
3/1: -121
3/8: -125
3/15: -109
3/22: -112
3/28: -115


Oil/Gas

WTI crude oil ended the week at a five-month high, at $83.11, after ending last week at $80.82. Considering the numerous disruptions and threats to oil flows, it's somewhat amazing that the price hasn't shot even higher, thanks to policies from the brain-dead Brandon team, Gulf and Middle East militarism, and Ukraine shelling Russian refineries.

Even as summer approaches, the factors affecting the price of crude oil may soon change. Russia seems ever more intent on finishing the disruption in Ukraine and taking the country under control, completely out of the grasp of the manipulative EU, US, UK, and NATO forces. The Middle East is another story altogether, however, as the Houthis in Yemen have proven far too elusive and dangerous in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea areas. Much of what happens next in the Middle East depends upon the actions of Israeli President Netanyahu, who continues to promote mass elimination of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.

What's keeping everything under wraps presently is the U.S. congress, wherein the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Mike Johnson, has managed to delay any vote on further military assistance to either Ukraine or Israel since last fall. Johnson, though widely criticized for passing last week's "minibus" bill that will keep open the U.S. government through September, appears to be playing cat and mouse with war hawks in both the House and Senate. Funding for Ukraine, which is rapidly running low on weapons and ammo and losing ground daily to Russian forces, was projected to be at a level of $61 billion, but the six-month delay has left the situation leaning heavily towards capitulation by Ukraine. The EU has opted for very limited support of their "future NATO ally", leaving Ukraine to fend for itself. The situation appears dire. Russia could take the majority of the country, including Kiev and Odessa, by summer, end the needless conflict and restore some order to Eastern Europe and the world.

If Johnson and a small, committed group of Republicans in the House continue to use stalling tactics on funding, there may emerge a way out of this completely-avoidable mess Western nations have created for themselves.

Gasbuddy.com reports the national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gas at the pump at $3.52, steady over the course of the week, albeit at a six-month high.

The Northeast and the West remain the places the most expensive fueling spots, with California at $5.09 on Sunday. Pennsylvania, atop the Northeast, dropped a few pennies to $3.63. Prices eased a bit in Illinois, losing five cents, to $3.85 a gallon. Many locations in and around Chicago are at or above $4.00.

There have been no states with gas prices under $3.00 for three weeks. With the average at $3.03 in Mississippi, it has taken back the low price from Colorado ($3.04). The Southeast cluster from Oklahoma east to South Carolina are all hovering in a range between $3.10 and $3.15, other than Georgia ($3.29) and Florida ($3.59).

California, Washington ($4.50), Nevada ($4.39), and Oregon ($4.26) continue the only members of the $4+ club. Arizona ($3.79) is also elevated, along with Utah ($3.74).


Bitcoin

This week: $70,423.20
Last week: $64,938.60
2 weeks ago: $67,382.40
6 months ago: $26,250.20
One year ago: $27,466.10

Bitcoin keeps testing the upper part of its recent range above $65,000 and looks to break out. With fiat currencies in their current state of malaise and international disrespect, bitcoin at $100,000 or more could easily become reality.


Precious Metals

Gold:Silver Ratio: 89.83; last week: 88.09

Per COMEX continuous contracts:

Gold price 3/1: $2,091.60
Gold price 3/8: $2,186.20
Gold price 3/15: $2,159.40
Gold price 3/22: $2,188.20
Gold price 3/29: $2,254.80

Silver price 3/1: $23.34
Silver price 3/8: $24.52
Silver price 3/15: $25.51
Silver price 3/22: $24.84
Silver price 3/29: $25.10

While March proved to be another fine month for stocks, precious metals made them look silly.

Gold hit all-time highs day after day, putting on a gain of 9.74% for the month, closing at yet another record high on the COMEX continuous contract.

Silver, while still 50% lower than its record high from 2011, nearly matched gold's gains, chalking up a 9.65% rise in March. Friday's closeout prices for both were at the conclusion of a day-long rally.

Silver still isn't keeping pace, but there's far too much potential in gold's little sister to keep the price bottled up for much longer. Yes, that's been the story for 40 years, so it may not change. For those without enough stacked, silver under $30 is like, um, finding a gold mine.

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: 31.00 50.00 37.86 37.25
1 oz silver bar: 31.00 54.00 37.19 34.86
1 oz gold coin: 2,222.22 2,372.29 2,317.56 2,316.00
1 oz gold bar: 2,225.00 2,372.70 2,321.75 2,324.40

The Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) remained at a high level, despite falling to $36.79, a decline of 70 cents from the March 24 price of $37.49 per troy ounce.


WEEKEND WRAP

Happy Easter.


At the Close, Thursday, March 28, 2024:
Dow: 39,807.37, +47.29 (+0.12%)
NASDAQ: 16,379.46, -20.06 (-0.12%)
S&P 500: 5,254.35, +5.86 (+0.11%)
NYSE Composite: 18,312.67, +57.43 (+0.31%)

For the Week:
Dow: +331.47 (+0.84%)
NASDAQ: -49.36 (-0.30%)
S&P 500: +20.17 (+0.39%)
NYSE Composite: +200.63 (+1.11%)
Dow Transports: +200.64 (+1.25%)


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