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MORE IMPROVEMENT IN ROLLING CLAIMS

Joshua Steiner, our new Financials sector head, takes a look at today's release of US Jobless Claims:

 

The 452k print this morning marks a step forward from the unrevised 480k print last week, and gets things back in line with the 457k and 462k levels three and four weeks ago, respectively.

 

The rolling average claims improved this week to 465.5k from 468k last week - an improvement of 2.5k, roughly half the slope of 5.3k/week since March (8.5 months of data). We are keeping a close eye on this metric as rolling claims are the leading indicator for ongoing recovery in the economy and, by extension, the loan books for consumer lenders. It’s worth mentioning that claims do experience some seasonality, as people are, on the margin, less likely to file around the holidays, so it is normal to see rolling improvement through mid-January followed by an upswing thereafter. If claims fail to rise post the normal seasonal January improvement this will be a particularly strong sign that the jobless environment is continuing to improve. 

 

MORE IMPROVEMENT IN ROLLING CLAIMS - ClaimsJS

  

For those wondering how to interpret a possible inflection in rolling claims in coming weeks, should there be one, we would suggest using a positive slope of 7.2k/week as an outer risk band. This is the fastest weekly rate at which rolling claims increased over a two week period since the trend of improvement began in March. Alternatively, in the absolute, one can use 490-495k as a near-term rolling upper limit based on the downward channel that's been in place since March.


THE SLOT DATABASE

Slot units shipped to new casinos and expansions will be down significantly in Q4 2009 and 2010.  Here is the detail.

 

 

NORTH AMERICAN

 

The following chart details quarterly slot unit projections into new and expanded casinos. 

 

THE SLOT DATABASE - slot shipments

 

Coincidentally, we project Q4 and 2010 slot unit sales into new and expanded casinos to both decline 49%.  Analysts continue to project positive growth in overall slot sales in 2010.  Considering replacements comprised approximately 50% of total units in 2009, replacement sales will have to explode in 2010 to keep units flat.

 

THE SLOT DATABASE - slot schedule 12.23

 

INTERNATIONAL

 

We haven’t forgotten about the international market.  The following table lists the international casino openings and expansions.

 

THE SLOT DATABASE - international slot schedule


MORE IMPROVEMENT IN ROLLING CLAIMS

The 452k print this morning marks a step forward from the unrevised 480k print last week, and gets things back in line with the 457k and 462k levels three and four weeks ago, respectively.

 

The rolling average claims improved this week to 465.5k from 468k last week - an improvement of 2.5k, roughly half the slope of 5.3k/week since March (8.5 months of data). We are keeping a close eye on this metric as rolling claims are the leading indicator for ongoing recovery in the economy and, by extension, the loan books for consumer lenders. It’s worth mentioning that claims do experience some seasonality, as people are, on the margin, less likely to file around the holidays, so it is normal to see rolling improvement through mid-January followed by an upswing thereafter. If claims fail to rise post the normal seasonal January improvement this will be a particularly strong sign that the jobless environment is continuing to improve.

 

MORE IMPROVEMENT IN ROLLING CLAIMS - 1

 

For those wondering how to interpret a possible inflection in rolling claims in coming weeks, should there be one, we would suggest using a positive slope of 7.2k/week as an outer risk band. This is the fastest weekly rate at which rolling claims increased over a two week period since the trend of improvement began in March. Alternatively, in the absolute, one can use 490-495k as a near-term rolling upper limit based on the downward channel that's been in place since March.


Daily Trading Ranges

20 Proprietary Risk Ranges

Daily Trading Ranges is designed to help you understand where you’re buying and selling within the risk range and help you make better sales at the top end of the range and purchases at the low end.

R3: Black Monday, February 22, 2010?

R3: REQUIRED RETAIL READING

December 24, 2009

 

 

TODAY’S CALL OUT

 

Our Financial’s sector head, Josh Steiner, pointed out an interesting item to put on the calendar for early next year.  With substantial changes coming in the area of credit card regulation, there is sure to be a growing interest in how this may impact consumers and retailers alike.

 

On February 22, 2010 new credit card laws become effective. One of the provisions of the new law will require that consumers “opt-in” to be charged over-limit fees. You might ask why would anyone do that? The rationale is that if you don’t, you will be denied at the point of purchase (if that particular purchase is in danger of putting  you over-limit).

 

Considering this is a universal program, meaning every credit card in America will be affected, and close to zero people will have opted in (this requires reading the fine print!), there may be an abnormally high rate of point of purchase declines on Monday February 22, 2010 and the week thereafter. Now, maybe consumers will instead use cash or another card, but on the margin there will probably be a sizeable block of people who just walk away. The potential impact may not be enough to skew February sales, but it’s probably worth noting.  At the very least this may be a new “excuse” retailers will use to explain away weak sales.   

 

And of course, Happy Holidays from the Retail Team!  

 

LEVINE’S LOW DOWN 

 

  • In 2010, 40% of Finish Line’s store base will be up for renewal or renegotiation. With such a substantial percentage of the store base up for repositioning or potential lease concessions, the opportunity for SG&A reductions should continue for some time. Management also remains focused on downsizing opportunities in effort to shrink some larger format stores that are no longer meeting productivity hurdles.

 

  • First it was Gucci, now it’s Marc Jacobs and Balenciaga. The latter two brands have recently been spotted at DSW in Manhattan. While luxury will never be a key strategy for the off-price shoe retailer, the benefits of a weak economy to the value-based consumer continue to show.

 

  • After highlighting that the state of Minnesota had its first snow free November in 46 years, it appears that I may have jinxed The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Current weather forecasts for Minnesota are now calling for Christmas to be the snowiest in 30 years! How quickly sales of boots, shovels, and down coats can change…

 

 

MORNING NEWS 

 

As snow falls, online sales rise 13% over the last weekend before Christmas - Online retailers can easily spot the silver lining in the huge snowstorm that blanketed must of the eastern portion of the nation last weekend: sales shot up 13% compared to the final weekend before Christmas last year, reports web measurement firm comScore Inc. That helped boost online retail sales to a 6% gain for the week that ended Sunday, Dec. 20, and eclipsing the record for the biggest single week in e-retail history, a record set just two weeks ago, according to comScore. “The major snowstorms hitting the Eastern seaboard over the weekend appear to have given holiday e-commerce an additional boost, resulting in the heaviest online spending week on record at $4.8 billion,” says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “Consumers have clearly continued to spend online later into the season this year, with several very strong spending days in the most recent week including the heaviest online spending day in history—Tuesday, Dec. 15 with $913 million. Retailers have been very aggressive with late season promotions while informing consumers that they could still get their purchases shipped in time for Christmas, and these tactics seem to be paying off.” Sales for the week ended Dec. 20 totaled $4.803 billion, compared with $4.532 billion during the comparable week last year. Weekend sales came in at $767 million, up 13% from $677 million last year, comScore say. For the first 50 days of the holiday season—Nov. 1-Dec. 20—comScore says online sales total $25.524 billion, up 4% from $24.550 billion during the comparable period last year. <internetretailer.com>

 

Small web retailers expect better times ahead in 2010 - A year ago the worst recession in decades wreaked havoc on holiday sales for many small web retailers. This Christmas more merchants say business has improved, and they forecast better conditions in 2010. As the holiday shopping season winds down, the small web merchants that survived 2009 can likely anticipate better business conditions in 2010, says Paula Rosenbloom, managing partner at Retail Systems Research LLC. “Many small web retailers are happy just to have survived and to do that they had to provide excellent customer service and offer their customers extremely competitive pricing,” she says. “This year was a make or break year for a lot of small online retailers and if they made it to the holiday season, they’re probably in good shape for 2010. Congratulations to the survivors.” <internetretailer.com>

 

Import cargo volume at retail container ports expected to grow in early 2010 which will be the first growth in over 2 years - Import cargo volume at major U.S. retail container ports is expected to increase year-over-year for the first time in more than two years during the early months of 2010, according to a Port Tracker report released Tuesday. January volume will show a continued decline, but the downward trend is likely to break in February with three consecutive months of increases, said the National Retail Federation and IHS Global Insight, which coauthored the report. In October, U.S. ports surveyed by Port Tracker handled 1.2 million 20-foot equivalent units. October container traffic was 4% higher than September, but was still down 14% compared with a year earlier. Port Tracker surveyed ports, including Los Angeles-Long Beach, New York-New Jersey and Houston. <wwd.com>

 

U.S. retailers used extra promotions and extended hours to draw procrastinators and shoppers delayed by the East Coast snowstorm in the final stretch before Christmas - Target Corp. extended its hours to midnight Dec. 21 through yesterday. Borders Group Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys “R” Us Inc. also kept stores open longer. Best Buy Co. offered some DVDs for half off and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., a men’s clothing chain, deepened discounts to at least 50%. “We didn’t intend to do everything, and now we’re doing everything,” Jos. A. Bank Chief Executive Officer Neal Black said Dec. 22. “We’ll be slugging right down to the last minute.” Sales will be compressed into the final days before Christmas, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group Inc. The snowstorm disrupted the Saturday before Dec. 25. Last year, that was the second-biggest shopping day after Black Friday, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving. Shoppers already had procrastinated more than in recent seasons. The Washington-based National Retail Federation was holding to its forecast for a 1% drop in holiday sales. The International Council of Shopping Centers reiterated on Dec. 22 its forecast for a 2% increase in sales at stores open at least a year in December, after reporting that the storm slowed growth to 0.4% year over year in the week ended Dec. 19. Jos. A. Bank cut prices of all clothing Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, after store visits slowed, Black said. The chain had planned to offer some of that merchandise at 40% and 30% off.  <bloomberg.com>

 

Consumer survey from Market Force Information say Kohl's and Target are the consumer's No. 1 and No. 2 favorite fashion accessory retailers - The findings emerged from a survey Market Force conducted among it network of 300,000 independent mystery shoppers and merchandisers. The shoppers were shown a list of the country's top 55 retailers (top fashion retailers according to Hoovers) and asked to select their favorite. Wal-Mart received the highest number of votes, with consumers citing low prices as the primary reason. Initially, this put Wal-Mart at the top of the list with 16% of the votes, followed by Kohl's with 12%, and Target and J.C. Penney tied for third place with 8% of the vote. However, when the number of stores is factored in--Wal-Mart has 3,600 locations in North America, while Kohl's and Target have one-third that number--Kohl's came out on top with 13.2% of the vote, followed by Target with 8.8%. Target got a call out from consumers for having speed of service, overall atmosphere and green/sustainable growth policies. Target also tied for first with J.C. Penney for "ability to find what I need" and friendly service, while Kohl's, Wal-Mart ad Target virtually tied for first place in overall value. Macy's took the top spot for brand names carried, according to the survey.   <brandweek.com>

 

Frugality expected to reduce cosmetic purchases - American consumers will maintain and even intensify their focus on thrift in 2010, and their frugality is expected to reduce cosmetics purchases by women by nearly 9 percent. According to a survey of 600 Americans, age 25 and up, by AlixPartners’ consumer products group, women are expected to reduce spending on cosmetics by 8.7% next year, greater than the 7.5% decline expected for prepared food and prepackaged meals or the 3.4% drop foreseen for health and personal care items among all respondents. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said they expected to be more frugal when shopping for food in 2010 and 55 percent said they would reduce their spending on household-care products. “In personal care, consumers plan to spend less overall, but indicate they will remain loyal to brand names,” said David Garfield, a managing director of Alix and leader of its CPG practice. He noted that while consumers have been “value shoppers” in 2009, “they have evolved into ‘value-hunters, tracking down deals and perceived value.” The study showed the consumers in the South are less likely to scale back buying in 2010 than those in other U.S. regions. “At a time when the CPG industry is already facing lower sales and tighter margins, companies will need to adopt more strategically targeted marketing strategies and leaner cost structures to succeed,” said Rich Vitaro, a director at Alix.  <wwd.com>

 

The Senate renewed two trade preference programs Tuesday night that were set to expire at the end of the year -The unanimous voice vote paved the way for a one-year extension of both the Generalized System of Preferences, which provides duty free benefits to 131 designated countries covering about 4,800 products, and a program of duty free benefits for the Andean countries. The House previously passed one-year extensions for the programs, which will take effect after being signed by President Obama. “I applaud the U.S. Senate for taking action to keep these important programs from lapsing,” said Kevin Burke, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. Julia Hughes, senior vice president international trade for the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel, said, “This gives us 2010 as the year to seriously review all the trade preference programs and hopefully package an updated 21st-century preference program early.” Apparel importers and retailers are pushing for changes to overhaul the trade preference programs. They have proposed a simpler, unified rule of origin and an expansion of duty free benefits to include Bangladesh and Cambodia. U.S. textile groups have opposed expansion of the programs and support the GSP and Andean preferences in their current form. Tuesday’s vote provides “stability in the marketplace,” said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition. “We like the programs in their current form. We have concerns with folks who are proposing significant changes.” <wwd.com>

 

Rretailers who kept a lid on inventories to try to squeeze out profits are looking to holiday’s second season (the week between Christmas and New Year’s) - True to form, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans even deeper discounts and department store and fashion chains across the U.S. will elevate markdowns to more than 50% to make room for resort and spring goods. The world’s largest retailer said Wednesday that from Dec. 26 through New Year’s Day it will offer new deals such as a $50 gift card with an Xbox 360 purchase, an eMachine netbook for $228 and as much as 50% off clearance on hundreds of home holiday items such as candles, ribbons, bows and toys. Wal-Mart alsowill extend other holiday deals such as Blu-ray movies for less than $20. Wal-Mart sees gift cards figuring in big in the post-holiday week, particularly among mothers getting them as gifts. Two out of five Wal-Mart-shopping mothers plan to use their gift cards immediately after Christmas, believing they will find the best prices at that time, the retailer said. Season-long strategies to cut costs, keep inventories low and markdowns contained appear to be paying off — even as research indicated more consumers than ever were delaying purchases in the hope of discounts — with several retailers saying fourth-quarter margins are healthy and ahead of last year’s, which don’t take much to beat. Merchandise stocks were cut about 25% at soft goods stores and 10% in electronics stores, along with reductions in personnel and administrative expenses. The downsizings came amid reduced demand, double-digit unemployment, the soft housing market and overall economic turmoil. Some merchants acknowledged going too far with the inventory reductions in certain categories and missing potential sales in areas such as shoes, handbags and contemporary sportswear, though overall, they don’t regret the paradigm shift. <wwd.com>

 

Claire's Stores is working to make jewelry and accessories available to a wider age group - Claire’s Stores Inc.’s European president, Kenny Wilson, wants to make the jewelry and accessories retailer’s products as relevant to girls of 18 as they are to those of eight. Wilson said he is trying to infuse the products with more fashionable elements, expand Claire’s presence in Europe and revamp the label’s stores. “In the U.K. and France, we’re market leading with the three- to seven-year-olds and we’re market leading with the seven- to 12-year-olds,” said Wilson, an 18-year veteran of Levi Strauss & Co. “But by the time you get to the 13- to 18-year-olds, they don’t say Claire’s [is their favorite brand].…I think a big part of what that 13- to 18-year-old is into is not just the product itself, but the intangible values around the product. So that’s really where we’re putting that emphasis.” “The feedback we’re getting from customers is that this is far less cluttered for them,” Wilson said. “The three- to seven-year-old loves Claire’s and she knows she can find [her product], so she’ll seek it out. Therefore, we’re giving the prime space up front to the customer that we want to attract.” Wilson has recruited more designers and given Claire’s buying teams “the opportunity to be able to put a little bit more into the cost of goods, to be able to raise the quality of the item for the consumer. The goal is to be further ahead on the fashion curve.” For spring, themes for Claire’s collections will revolve around trend-led stories such as “rock chick” and “tribal.’’ Prices for the line have also risen slightly, with the average price now 5 pounds, or about $8, for a piece such as a hair accessory or jewelry item. Prices range from 1.50 pounds, or $2.40, for stud earrings, to 40 pounds, or $64, for a handbag. Next, Wilson plans to maximize the label’s footprint in Europe. The majority of the label’s European stores are in the U.K. and France, but Wilson believes Spain and Germany, where the company has 93 and 35 stores, respectively, are prime for expansion. <wwd.com>

 

Early Spring collections a cash generator for high end retailers with a focus on menswear - Resort, early spring, pre-collection — the description may vary, but one thing is clear: The season known most often in men’s wear as pre-spring is increasingly becoming a major cash generator for high-end retailers. When these items hit stores right before holiday, they provide needed pop on the selling floor and give merchants an opportunity to sell fresh goods at full price during a heightened promotional period. Whether bought as gifts or by men shopping for themselves, pre-spring goods often are scooped up by shoppers seeking something new and different that hasn’t yet been picked over. In a fast-fashion era of Zara and H&M, pre-spring appeals to the male consumers’ propensity to shop more often. The collections also address the need for lighter-weight goods at stores located in warm-weather regions. And they remain at full price all during the post-holiday clearance period. True “resort” merchandise — swimwear, T-shirts and shorts designed for vacationers — is a small business in men’s and pales in comparison with pre-spring goods. In fact, retailers said pre-spring has become so important that, depending on vendor and category, it can account for 30% to 60%of their budgets for the season. As a result, designer brands ranging from Gucci, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana to luxury labels such as Ermenegildo Zegna and Loro Piana have come to embrace pre-spring collections over the last several years for providing significant add-on business. Although it requires more work in the design studio, the payoff on the bottom line is significant enough to warrant the extra work. Pre-spring is “extremely important in men’s wear,” said Russ Patrick, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear for Neiman Marcus. Over the past 10 years, the Dallas-based retailer has worked hard to encourage designers it carries to offer an extra delivery that hits stores in November.  <wwd.com>

 

Best Buy Co., the largest electronics retailer, outpaced rivals in electronics sales this holiday shopping season by offering discounts on laptops and flat-panel televisions - Consumer spending at Best Buy rose faster than at competitors such as Newegg Inc., Fry’s Electronics Inc. and RadioShack Corp., according to Mint.com, a personal-finance Web site that was acquired by Intuit Inc. last month. The site has about 1.8 million users. Best Buy, based in Richfield, Minnesota, captured a larger share of the consumer-electronics market after Circuit City Stores Inc. ceased operations this year and CompUSA closed stores. The company also lowered prices on some products last quarter to compete with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. <bloomberg.com>

 

America Apparel's use of YouTube for its line of dog clothing - American Apparel has been targeting ads to over 100 videos of pets, including a clip of a skateboarding canine, to promote its line of dog clothing. The Los Angeles-based brand chose the videos based on suggestions from employees. "It would be hard to do an advertisement on the back page of LA Weekly or a fashion magazine for the dog T-shirt," noted Ryan Holiday, a Web marketing executive at American Apparel. YouTube hopes more advertisers will follow American Apparel's lead. The venue has little problem drumming up interest in its front-page and marquee placements, but it needs to entice advertisers deeper into the site to pair their brands with long-tail content. Knowing some companies are still uncomfortable with category-wide targeting -- YouTube has a pets and animals channel, for example -- the Google-owned property began offering specific video targeting earlier this month. The initiative lets advertisers build custom video lists from among the clips entered in YouTube's partner program. "There is a perfect ad for every video," said Shishir Mehrotra, director of product management, video monetization at Google. He believes the dogs-on-skateboards examples proves the point, since those types of videos have served as what he calls a "punching bag" for YouTube critics who contend the site will fail to attract advertisers to the vast majority of its content. <brandweek.com>

 

US: Landowners to take legal action against Prime Tanning - Lawsuits were filed on behalf of 24 plaintiffs against Prime Tanning Corporation of St Joseph, Missouri and three affiliated businesses over fertilizers they spread on farms in Northwest Missouri. This is the latest set-back for National Beef Leathers the current owners of the former Prime Tanning site which have so far successfully fought-off other legal challenges earlier this year. The lawsuits were filed at the Buchanan County Court House and represented 17 Buchanan County landowners, one Clinton County landowner (Stewartsville) and six DeKalb County Landowners (Amity and Clarksdale). <fashionnetasia.com>

 

H.H. Brown is banking on its 125-year heritage in the domestic shoemaking business to spark interest in its new Vintage Shoe Co. division - The line of men’s and women’s shoes are inspired by American styles that the Greenwich, Conn.-based company said has withstood the tests of time. Included in the men’s offering are engineer, harness, Western and jodhpur boots, in addition to classic chukkas, brogues and penny mocs. Playing up the nostalgic element, the leathers have a weathered and timeworn finish. The collection is produced in the company’s U.S. factory and is made with domestic leathers. Set to retail from $220 to $375, it will be aimed at high-end boutiques, department and specialty stores and is slated March and April delivery. <wwd.com>


Targeting Risk

“The best investors do not target returns; they focus first on risk.”

-Seth Klarman

 

Seth Klarman is the founder of Boston based Baupost Group. While I have never met the man, some of his risk management conclusions continue impress me from afar. He is one of the few large scale money managers who believes in tactically raising his cash position above 50%.

 

Yesterday, with the US stock market hitting my immediate term TRADE target of 1120, I raised more cash in the Asset Allocation Model. With a 68% position in US cash, I am at one of the highest cash positions that I have carried since the 2008 crash. I don’t call this being short the market. I simply call this Standing Still.

 

I’ll keep this holiday note short. This morning here is a list of some of the risk management levels that have prompted this low-risk decision:

 

1.       The US Dollar Index has put in an immediate term bottom and is starting to breakout from its intermediate term TREND line at $76.31

2.       The Yield Spread (10- 2-year yields) is trading at its widest margin EVER this morning (284 basis points) and forecasting an earlier than expected Fed hike

3.       The short end of the US Treasury curve (2-year yields) has broken out above its intermediate term TREND line of 0.89%

4.       The SP500 is immediate term overbought at 1024

5.       The Nasdaq is immediate term overbought at 2273

6.       The VIX (volatility index) is immediate term oversold at 19.13

7.       The US Financials Sector ETF (XLF) was down again yesterday and has broken it’s intermediate term TREND line of $14.69/share

8.       Most Asian stock markets have either broken their immediate term TRADE or intermediate term TREND lines in the last 3 weeks

9.       Oil, copper, and gold continue to make a series of lower-highs

 

Yesterday, I focused on Sovereign Debt defaults being a TAIL risk that is developing as opposed to abating. The Ukraine was denied an emergency loan this morning. The IMF apparently didn’t see the need to buck up into year-end.

 

For now, I’ll keep my suddenly reflating US Dollars in my pocket for the holiday season. I’m not targeting a return. I am targeting risk.

 

Enjoy the holiday break with your families and best of luck out there today,

KM

 

 

LONG ETFS

VXX - iPath S&P500 Volatility
For a TRADE we bought some protection at the market's YTD highs by buying volatility on 12/14.

EWZ - iShares Brazil As Greece and Dubai were blowing up, we took our Asset Allocation on International Equities to zero.  On 12/8 we started buying back exposure via our favorite country, Brazil, with the etf trading down on the day. We remain bullish on Brazil's commodity complex and believe the country's management of its interest rate policy has promoted stimulus.

GLD - SPDR Gold We bought back our long standing bullish position on gold on a down day on 9/14 with the threat of US centric stagflation heightening.   

CYB - WisdomTree Dreyfus Chinese Yuan The Yuan is a managed floating currency that trades inside a 0.5% band around the official PBOC mark versus a FX basket. Not quite pegged, not truly floating; the speculative interest in the Yuan/USD forward market has increased dramatically in recent years. We trade the ETN CYB to take exposure to this managed currency in a managed economy hoping to manage our risk as the stimulus led recovery in China dominates global trade.

TIP - iShares TIPS The iShares etf, TIP, which is 90% invested in the inflation protected sector of the US Treasury Market currently offers a compelling yield. We believe that future inflation expectations are currently mispriced and that TIPS are a efficient way to own yield on an inflation protected basis, especially in the context of our re-flation thesis.

 
SHORT ETFS
 
RSX – Market Vectors Russia
We shorted Russia on 12/18 after a terrible unemployment report and an intermediate term TREND view of oil’s price that’s bearish.  


EWJ - iShares JapanWhile a sweeping victory for the Democratic Party of Japan has ended over 50 years of rule by the LDP bringing some hope to voters; the new leadership  appears, if anything, to have a less developed recovery plan than their predecessors. We view Japan as something of a Ponzi Economy -with a population maintaining very high savings rate whose nest eggs allow the government to borrow at ultra low interest levels in order to execute stimulus programs designed to encourage people to save less. This cycle of internal public debt accumulation (now hovering at close to 200% of GDP) is anchored to a vicious demographic curve that leaves the Japanese economy in the long-term position of a man treading water with a bowling ball in his hands.

XLI - SPDR IndustrialsWe shorted Industrials again on 11/9 on the up move as the US market made a lower-high.  This is the best way for us to be short the hope of a V-shaped recovery.   

XLY - SPDR Consumer DiscretionaryWe shorted Howard Penney's view on Consumer Discretionary stocks on 10/30 and 12/2.

SHY - iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bonds If you pull up a three year chart of 2-Year Treasuries you'll see the massive macro Trend of interest rates starting to move in the opposite direction. We call this chart the "Queen Mary" and its new-found positive slope means that America's cost of capital will start to go up, implying that access to capital will tighten. Yields are going to continue to make higher-highs and higher lows until consensus gets realistic.


US STRATEGY – HOLIDAY MOMENTUM

The path of least resistance continues to be higher. 

 

Yesterday, the S&P 500 finished higher (+0.2%) for a fourth consecutive day.  The MACRO calendar provided some headwinds to the market, while technology earnings continue to surprise to the up side. 

 

November new home sales declined 11% from last month to an annualized 355,000.  This was well below the 438,000 consensus and was the lowest level seen since April.  As a result, inventory now stands at 7.9 months versus 7.2 last month.  Also on the MACRO calendar, the November income data showed that income increased less than expected last month while the final U. of Michigan consumer confidence survey came in at 72.5 versus the 73.8 consensus. 

 

Materials, Energy and Consumer Discretionary were the best performing sectors yesterday.  Continuing the trend from yesterday, small cap stocks outperformed, with the Russell 2000 improving 1.2%.  The VIX moved slightly higher on the day and the dollar index declined 0.45%. 

 

Within the Technology sector, RHT and TIBX both announced better than expected earnings yesterday.  Continuing with our theme that some sectors of the economy are doing better than others, revenues trends seem surprisingly strong for this pre announcement season. 

 

Underperforming the market were Consumer staples, Healthcare and Financials. 

 

From a risk management standpoint, the ranges for the S&P 500, the Dollar Index and the VIX are seen in the charts below.  The range for the S&P 500 is 15 points or 0.5% upside and 1.0% downside.  At the time of writing, the major market futures are slightly higher.

 

The CRB improved by 1.5% yesterday; grains, energy metal and industrials all traded higher on the day.

 

Crude oil is unchanged after a larger-than-expected decline in U.S. stockpiles.  The Research Edge Quant models have the following levels for OIL – buy Trade (75.52) and Sell Trade (77.16).

 

Gold improved by 1.3%to $1,101.98 an ounce in Singapore.  The Research Edge Quant models have the following levels for GOLD – buy Trade ($1,071) and Sell Trade ($1,151). 

 

Copper climbed to the highest price in almost three weeks in London as the dollar declined.  The Research Edge Quant models have the following levels for COPPER – buy Trade (3.16) and Sell Trade (3.26).

 

 

 

US STRATEGY – HOLIDAY MOMENTUM - spx

US STRATEGY – HOLIDAY MOMENTUM - dxy

US STRATEGY – HOLIDAY MOMENTUM - vix

US STRATEGY – HOLIDAY MOMENTUM - gold

US STRATEGY – HOLIDAY MOMENTUM - oil

US STRATEGY – HOLIDAY MOMENTUM - copper


Early Look

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