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Stocks Pause, But Should Not Be At These Obscene Levels; Dividend Cuts Rampant
Friday, May 22, 2020, 7:47 am ET
For a day at least, reality set into equities, as early gains on the major indices were thwarted by waves of selling throughout the session.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was higher by more than 140 points, peaked before 10:30 am and ended the day 101 points lower. Stuck at a very stubborn resistance level in the 24,300-24,650 range, this current attempt to break out is the fourth since the market collapse of March. Repeated efforts to surge through to new recent highs has met with considerable pressure on the sell side of the equation for the past two months and it appears that the rally has either lost all of its momentum or the investment community has become skeptical of the move higher so early in the cycle.
While the real economy has not even bottomed out yet, stocks seem to be of a mind of their own, pricing in every positive development but failing to realize the overall negative consequences from lockdowns and a dramatically reduced global economy.
More to the point, first quarter earnings for the bulk of companies on the exchanges have been recorded and they were, for the most part, uninspiring, with more than a handful of companies issuing cautious forward guidance and a slew of firms cutting dividends or eliminating them altogether. The recent gains have been fueled only by excessive amounts of Fed currency seeking a temporary place to park. Thus, share prices are unlikely to remain elevated for much longer.
More than 100 companies cut their dividend payout in the week ending April 16, and that number is on top of hundreds of other companies that have slashed and burned shareholders with dividend reductions or eliminations.
The folks at TradingStockAlerts.com keeps track of these important developments on a weekly basis and the numbers are scary for anyone investing in stocks for steady income.
What happens when second quarter GDP numbers arrive in July and show the economy slowing by 40% or further? Along with companies cutting their dividends, there's the likelihood of declines in the value of their shares as well, as profitability is eroded as markets shrink.
With Wall Street giddy with Fed fun money, it's something to thank about going forward.
Funny thing is, stocks are right about where they were just after the moonshot open Monday morning. They've managed to hold onto most of the gains from that huge gap up open, but have not moved forward since. How long stocks can maintain the facade of robustness when 20-25% of the working population is out of a job or thousands of companies are cutting dividends is unknown. What is known, however, is that financial fakery has been rewarded, but the probable end game is something completely different, with many more losers than winners.
Like it or not, the economic crisis is real and just getting started.
At the Close, Thursday, May 21, 2020:
Thursday, May 21, 2020, 8:48 am ET
Dear President Trump and all Americans:
Have you had enough of the news and fear-mongering over coronavirus, or COVID-19, or Wuhan Flu, or whatever they're calling it today?
For months the media and government agencies have been cramming this infectious disease down our throats - not literally, mind you, but don't put that past them - closing public places (paid for with your tax dollars), issuing non-enforceable stay-at-home orders, telling everybody to stay six feet apart (as though standing within four feet or seven feet is going to make a difference), telling us to prepare for a "second wave" even as the first wave is winding down.
All along, the CDC has managed to put forward inconsistent and misleading information, including telling people that wearing masks was not an effective measure in controlling the spread of the virus. Extensive data from around the world - particularly in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, where mask-wearing is routine and acceptable behavior - proves the CDC wrong. The CDC also likes to remind everybody to wash their hands and not touch their faces, but never once have they advised taking vitamins C, D, and Zinc, or to take regular doses of elderberry syrup to improve one's immune system.
They've promoted drugs that haven't been proven effective against the virus, like remdesivir, while at the same time bad-mouthing treatments that have been used extensively around the world in preventing and reducing the severity of illness, such as hydroxychloroquine with zinc. Additionally, the CDC spokespeople, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, have suggested that a vaccine might be found when, as doctors and scientists, they surely know that the most likely outcome from billions of dollars spent on research will be wasted because no vaccine against coronaviruses has ever been developed. None. Zero.
COVID-19 (also known as SARS-CoV-2) is a strain of SARS-CoV, which is a coronavirus that spread rapidly from China in November, 2002 and was brought under control by 2003. 774 people died from SARS. SARS-CoV-2 is the seventh coronavirus known to infect humans. The CDC's original estimate was that it could kill up to two million Americans.
They told us it could be spread by touching objects with traces of the disease on them and also said that it could be spread by people couching or sneezing up to six feet away, when actual science has proven that droplets from people just talking normally could travel as far as 29 feet. They also never warned anybody about how easily the virus could spread in enclosed spaces, especially those with modern ventilation systems (central air).
High on the hit list of things the CDC was completely wrong about was the use of ventilators. As it turns out, ventilators, as a last resort, are not recommended against this virus. Over 80% of people who were put on ventilators eventually died.
Now they're telling us that after wiping down everything from your kitchen counter to packages from Amazon, that the virus is not very infectious from surfaces. Thanks for the heads up, losers.
"It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus,"
The CDC has been nothing but a headache and an annoyance throughout this viral episode. The agency, as most government agencies, is nothing more than a conduit for Big Pharma and multi-national drug companies.
Br. Deborah Birx is a lifelong public employee. She's never had a job outside of government, so, at age 64, she's probably socked enough money away to take a semi-early retirement. Good riddance to you and all your scarves, none of which have ever been pulled up over your mouth and nose, where they belong.
From 1983 to 1986, Birx completed two fellowships in clinical immunology in the areas of allergies and diagnostics, where she worked in Anthony Fauci's lab, so the two are well acquainted.
In January 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Birx to be the Ambassador at Large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator as part of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program. Fauci played a significant role in the early 2000s in creating the PEPFAR, an agency that has wasted billions of tax dollars on AIDS prevention in Africa, with mixed results.
For more on PEPFAR, see Is AIDS US $90B Taxpayer Dollars A Global Slush Fund?
Fauci, who will turn 80 on December 24 (we should all be so lucky to look as well as he does at that age, have to give him that), is also a lifetime government employee. In 1968, he joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a clinical associate in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation (LCI) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In 1974, he became Head of the Clinical Physiology Section, LCI, and in 1980 was appointed Chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation. In 1984, he became director of NIAID, a position he still holds today.
To see how deeply in bed with big drug companies the CDC is, one need only do some cursory research on the internet. It's all there. Here are a few (of many) examples:
Circleofdocs.com: Is the CDC Sleeping With Drug Companies? You Decide
Science Defies Politics: COVID-19 Panel Gilead Ties
Those are just for starters. There are hundreds, if not thousands of reports of the extensive, deep ties Drs. Fauci and Birx and the CDC have to Big Pharma, Bill Gates, and the discredited, corrupt World Health Organization (WHO).
Get rid of these people and their agency, please, before they inflict more pain and suffering on the American public. We've had enough.
Fearless Rick Gagliano
But wait, there's more!
Here's Gregory Mannarino, the Robin Hood of Wall Street, with his hair on fire on May 19 over the President's Executive Order that calls for "rescinding, modifying, waiving, or providing exemptions from regulations and other requirements that may inhibit economic recovery" and Congressional testimony from Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell.
President Trump's Executive Order is here. Anybody who operates a business or enterprise anywhere, doing anything, should make multiple copies of this order and distribute them widely throughout the business community and shove them in the face of any government regulator who wants information on anything related to any business.
You can be sure that the Wall Street hotshots will be using this order to get around any and all regulations that would, in even the slightest way, affect their profitability negatively. President Trump has effectively de-regulated the entirety of American business. Read it and think about it.
And, by the way, the Bank of England issued bonds with a negative yield for the first time on Wednesday and another 2.4 million people signed up for initial unemployment benefits last week.
Stocks were up again on Wednesday, but that's becoming a side show for rubes.
At the Close, Wednesday, May 19, 2020:
Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 8:50 am ET
Stocks took a pretty major blow in the final hour of trading Tuesday, when Stat News, which is focused on health-related material, reported that Moderna's phase one trial of a COVID-19 vaccine was thin on critical data according to experts, in contrast to the glow that permeated Wall Street Monday over the same trial.
When that story crossed the wires, it wiped out - in a matter of minutes just before 3:00 pm ET - all of the sparse gains on the day for the NASDAQ and S&P, and sent the Dow Industrials tumbling in a textbook case of how stock-trading algorithms distort and disrupt what used to be markets run by human beings.
Moderna (MRNA) dropped nearly 10.5% on the day, after gaining 20% on Monday, wiping out most of that one-day wonderfulness. Moderna closed Friday at 66.68, rose to close at 80.00 on Monday and finished up Tuesday at 71.67.
Easy come, easy go.
The Dow, which was in the red almost all day, dropped more than 200 points in 10 minutes. Gains on other exchanges were wiped out in one fell swoop. Such is the fickle nature of equity markets in the days of fake news and extreme momentum chasing and yield seeking.
Elsewhere, Home Depot (HD) took a $640 million after-tax hit due to its response to the pandemic, which included expanded paid time off for hourly employees, weekly bonuses, and extended dependent-care benefits. Earnings per share for the first quarter came in at $2.08, down from $2.27 in the prior-year period and $0.18 below analyst expectations. Home Depot was down 7.25, a loss of nearly three percent on the day.
Walmart blew everything away in its quarterly, reporting adjusted earnings per share of $1.18, up from $1.13 in the prior-year period. Total sales for the big box giant jumped 8.6% to $134.6 billion, handily beating analyst estimates by $3.7 billion. Comparable-store sales in the U.S. soared 10%, driven by strong demand for food, consumables, and health and wellness products.
Even those blockbuster numbers couldn't stop investors from unloading Walmart stock, which finished the day down 2.71 (-2.12%). The stock made a 52-week high less than a month ago.
Housing starts were down 30.2% in April. Building Permits down 20.8% for the most recent month.
Other than all that, there wasn't much excitement on Wall Street, which thrives on gains, no matter where they're sourced.
The major issue facing stocks and the overall economy is how well the Federal Reserve can keep up with the rolling knock-on effects from the coronavirus and government response to it. With the national lockdown winding into a roving re-opening phase, some areas are seeing business and communities getting back to some semblance of normalcy, which is now a moving target. Schools remain closed almost nationwide, while rural communities have fared much better in terms of case incidence and economic slowdown than urban areas.
Having just passed the midway point of the second quarter, there's little doubt anywhere that the blow to GDP will be tremendous. The latest estimates for second quarter GDP range from -42% to -20% and those guesses may be overly optimistic. Being that just about everything was shut down for the entire month of April and most cities - where economic activity is paramount - just beginning to open up to vehicle and foot traffic, there's a very real possibility that the current quarter could collapse by more than 50 percent. Much is dependent on the consumer mindset, which is currently a mixed one.
Having already received bailout currency from the federal government and generous additions to unemployment insurance, lawmakers in Washington are slow-footing the follow-up. House Democrats launched a $3 trillion second stimulus measure on Friday, but Republicans in the Senate are calling the bill dead on arrival, preferring to take time to assess the result from round one before committing to more fun money for small business and individuals.
One unmistakable aspect of the government's bailout efforts is the unexpected consequences from giving people who were laid off or furloughed in the early days of the lockdown movement an additional $600 a week in unemployment compensation. As it turns out, a very large percentage (up to 70% according to some estimates) of workers are making more now sitting at home collecting benefits than they were when they were gainfully employed and many of them are refusing to go back to their old jobs. Would anybody have suspected that hard-working Americans would rather stay home and cash checks from the government rather than grind out a 9-to-5 existence?
It shows, yet again, that government is always the problem and never the solution. Welcome to socialism 101 and a test run of Universal Basic Income (UBI). Alongside Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), now in live alpha testing by the Federal Reserve, the federal government and its central bank have slingshot the American public into a brave new world of radical economics, the long-term effects known by exactly nobody, though skeptics believe it will eventually result in either a worldwide depression, neo-feudalism (Max Keiser and others easily figured that one out), hyper-inflation, and a growing divide between haves and have-nots, already a chasm-sized gap.
Best bet is to be ready for all of the above by investing in hard assets, growing a garden, learning as much as possible about animal husbandry (at least chickens), and obtaining skills necessary to eek out a meager existence without the benefit of a central authority. Younger people will increasingly find such advice tiresome and boring, but the jobs and careers they were engaged in before the crisis occurred will almost certainly be greatly affected, with an emphasis on the negative.
Along those lines, unless local governments begin the process of trimming their robust budgets, cities and towns face imminent crises, the bigger ones looking at enormous needs that neither the federal government nor the Federal Reserve can fulfill.
Life will gradually return to a dystopian almost-normal in coming months. Thankfully, Summer is on the horizon, along with warmer weather and outdoor activities which should provide relief from the mask-wearing, social distancing, and fear mongering so prevalent in the current environment. On the other hand, things are heating up pretty quickly on all fronts. Expecting more disruption, displeasure, discontent, disparate government actions, fraud, fakery, and general dysfunction would be a solid frame of reference for anyone wishing to come out on the other side of this - circa 2022 - somewhat sane and intact.
At the Close, Tuesday, May 19, 2020:
Profiteering Politicians, Slick Money Managers Make Hay on Possible COVID-19 Vaccine Headlines
Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 7:24 am ET
Only one mattered. Moderna's positive spin over fairly insignificant early stage trials for a vaccine against COVID-19 sent stocks into orbit. Actually, sending stocks skyward was more the work of the Federal Reserve's relentless currency printing press, running full speed since late March. The Fed has created so much liquidity - for nothing, out of thin air - that there's a global glut, just like oil, and it has to find somewhere to go, and that place is usually in risk assets, like stocks, because, well, it's just extra money.
It's kind of like this: Suppose you went to the race track with some friends and hit a superfecta for $15,000. You'd probably splurge over a night on the town, treating your friends to dinner at a great restaurant and endless drinks at some club. In other words, you'd basically just blow some of it because it was an unexpectedly large sum of dough.
Getting back to the cover story from Moderna, never mind that the company has been working with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD), headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, since January, or that Moncef Slaoui resigned from Moderna's board of directors just last week when he was tapped by the Trump administration to head up Operation Warp Speed, the president's fast-track search for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Slaoui is reportedly going to divest all of his stock options for 156,000 shares of Moderna, which shot up nearly 20% (MRNA, 80.00, +13.31 (+19.96%) At close: May 18 4:00PM EDT) on the news.
Coincidence? Perhaps. Insider trading? Definitely, though nobody wants to talk about that.
Between the Fed's meddling and the White House's understanding of the situation (surely, anybody who is anybody in Washington, DC was aware that this news would break Monday morning), the whole COVID-19 racket is beginning to look like another major scandal to be piled atop all the other government scandals over the past 40 years. Nobody will be charged with anything. Nobody will go to jail. There probably won't even be an investigation, and, even if there is, it will reveal nothing. Business as usual for the rich and infamous in DC and on Wall Street.
Apparently, it wasn't enough to enrich politicians and send stocks to the moon. The Federal Meddlers made sure that the massive gains in gold and silver were squelched, quickly, and with undue force.
Gold was cruising along around $1762, up $20 just prior to the opening of the NYMEX (8:15 EDT). Over the course of the day, it reversed and fell, finally closing in New York at $1732, down $10 on the day.
Since it is so wickedly undervalued, it stood to reason that silver fared a little better, up nearly a dollar just before the NYMEX open, at $17.50. It was hammered back down to $16.97 at the close. Still a gain, but hardly of the magnitude that was building before the maligners became involved.
Money Daily has said this before, multiple times, in many ways: the elitist politicians and Wall Street insiders are among the most corrupt connivers in history. The levels of dishonesty, self-dealing, and bad faith practices are at extremes and they commit their financial and societal crimes in full view, without remorse. We're all just along for the show.
This show should have been cancelled long ago.
Let's not forget, unemployment, with more than 36 million out of work, is well over 20% and second quarter GDP is expected to post a 42 percent decline, numbers not seen since the Great Depression.
At the Close, Monday, May 18, 2020:
WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks Split, Dow Suffers; Gold, Silver May Be Headed For Record Prices
Sunday, May 17, 2020, 4:30 pm ET
The week just past was not a particularly enthralling one for stock investors, as the Dow and NYSE Composite took it on the chin while the S&P and NASDAQ put up fractional, unsubstantial gains.
As economic and COVID-19 developments were concerned, it was mostly politicking over substance, as President Trump backhanded Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the CDC, over predictions related to states' reopening their economies and the potential for a second wave of the virus in the coming fall or winter.
For the most part, stocks refrained from further insane advances, though the gains toward the back end of the week reeked of malingering by the Federal Reserve, moving stocks off their lows into green territory in both Thursday and Friday's sessions. With the Dow Jones Industrial Average forming a pretty obvious short-term head-and-shoulders pattern, the equity markets are set up for a breakout either higher or lower, though the least resistant path may be down another six to eight percent over the next week to two weeks. With the traditional third Friday of the month options expiry in the rear view mirror (May 15), the markets will need some kind of catalyst to move forward. Otherwise, expect the Dow and NYSE Composite to both head back below the bear market defined level of -20 percent.
If that were to happen, the NASDAQ, already ridiculously valued, and S&P should fall in sympathy with the Blue Chips.
The week was a very solid one for oil, though the June contract is set to expire on Tuesday (May 18). Producers do not want to see a repeat of the May futures expiration when the price went negative and buyers were being paid to haul oil off to the tune of $41 a barrel.
June futures closed last Friday (May 8) at $24.61 a barrel and this week at $29.43. Monday will likely give a signal as to whether another collapse is imminent, though with US states and most of Europe reopening their economies, it would appear that the massive glut has at least partially abated and demand is rising. There is still no open air for the futures to fly in, however, as the spread between the current month all the way out to the December 2021 contract is pretty slim. 35.78 is the last quoted price for December 2021.
Yields on treasuries continued lower through the week and are presumptuously headed below zero, into the brave new world of negative rates. With the two-year yielding 0.16% and the five-year at 0.31, it would seem only a matter of when, not if rates go underwater. With deflationary forces at work, the low yields on short-dates bills and notes may be attractive as a hedge against asset price declines. Yields cannot fall much more from these levels before going negative in real terms. Those seeing inflation ahead could easily be urged into paying to hold capital.
Gold and silver absolutely exploded this week on eBay, a market where true price discovery can be ascertained.
For the first time since Money Daily began tracking prices a month ago for one troy ounce gold and silver coins and bars, one ounce gold coins sold for more than the all-time record closing spot price ($1895.00, September 5 and 6, 2011) on an average and median basis. The average price for a one ounce gold coin on eBay was $1,917.41, and for a one ounce bar, $1,898.62. Buyers are looking at a premium of over $150 for either coins or bars. Notably, smaller denominations of gold coins and bars (1/10 ounce to 1/2 ounce) are routinely selling at prices that relate to over $225 per ounce.
These actual sale prices are in stark contrast to the easily-corrupted gold COMEX prices where gold closed with a bid of $1742.20 on Friday afternoon.
Silver also showed enormous gains over last week as the average price of a one ounce coin gained from $30.50 on May 10 to $33.71 this Sunday. Price appreciation for silver bars was even more dramatic, gaining from last week's average price of $26.77 to $34.57 this week. That is more than double the COMEX paper silver price bid of $16.61 as of Friday's close.
We employ the same methodology, looking at the most recently-closed sales on eBay, eliminating any coins or bars that may have numismatic or collectible value as best as possible to come up with a standard, reliable price tracking model.
Here are the most recent prices:
Item: Low / High / Average / Median
Parts of Saturday and Sunday mornings were spent viewing some very interesting and important videos.
Mike Maloney's narrative over charts from wtfhappenedin1971.com offers an historic perspective of the American condition.
Refinitiv shares a wide-ranging interview with Real Vision's CEO and co-founder, Raoul Pal, who provides distinct trading strategies and a serious view of what's ahead for the world's economies.
Gregory Mannarino supplies a look ahead for Stocks, Bitcoin, Gold and Silver.
Something to make note of as the world cascades through the covid crisis and beyond is that all of the important videos on youtube and various websites are being made by people who are generally shunned by mainstream media. goldsilver.com's Mike Maloney, Adam Taggert and Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity, Real Vision's Raoul Pal, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert of the Kaiser Report, and, to a lesser extent, various guests of Keith McCullough's Hedgeye can be seen only on the internet, while Fed officials, government bigwigs like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and old line investors like Warren Buffett are the staple of mainstream TV media.
It's quite a contrast when you view it from that perspective and realize that the stories being told and the predictions being made about the future of the crisis and of the world are radically different. There's a choice to be made. Just which narrative are you going to believe? Who's advice will you follow, and where will you end up, socially, politically, and financially.
At the Close, Friday, May 15, 2020:
For the Week: