Stocks had a mixed close today, November 8. The Standard & Poor’s 500 was up just 0.03% and the NASDAQ Composite actually fell by 0.05%. The small-cap Russell 200 lost 1.17% as small company stocks continue to send a warning sign about the economy and bond yields. I think it would have been much worse without a strong action for 10-year Treasuries today A successful auction–lots of demand at lower yields–of $40 billion in 10-year notes took the yield on the 10-year Treasury down 6 basis points to 4.51%.
Credit card debt surged again during the third quarter and so did the number of people missing payments, according to data released today, November 7, by the Federal reserve Bank of New York. Credit card balances rose by $48 billion in the third quarter to a record high of $1.08 trillion The $154 billion year-over-year gain in debt was the largest such increase since of this beginning of this data in 1999.
The financial markets continue to swing from extreme to extreme in sentiment. The markets were wrong at the beginning of last week. It’s likely the markets are wrong again.
The U.S. economy added “only” 150,000 jobs in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced this morning, November 3. Economists had projected that the economy would add 180,000 jobs for the month. The unemployment rate climbed slightly to 3.9% from 3.8%, And the government statisticians revised September’s shocking 336,000 job increase the month down to 297,000 and revisions to the August and September totals took 101,000 jobs out of the totals for those to months. The Wall Street conclusion: The Fed has done its job and the economy has slowed.
So let’s see how the market takes this tomorrow.
Today stocks staged an impressive upside more. The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed up 1.89% and the NASDAQ Composite ended the day 1.78% higher. The small cap Russell 2000 was the day’s best performer with a win of 2.67% Tomorrow? Well, the October jobs report released at 8:30 will certainly help set the tone for the day with a weak report likely to reinforce the belief that the Federal Reserve is done aiding interest rates. But given how much of the recent bounce has been fueled by a return of optimism about technology stocks, it’s likely that Apple’s disappointing results, announced after the close of trading today, Thursday, November 2, will determine the direction of the trend.
Are you glad that the stock market correction is all over? So why am I buying more VIX Call Options?
Whew. Glad that’s done with. No more worries about rising interest rates or higher bond yields. No more fretting over lower earnings and revenue guidance for the fourth quarter and 2024. No more nightmares about a wider Middle East war. Or a government shutdown on November 17. Or…
Well, you get the idea.
I don’t think any of these things are behind us. The rally of the last day and a half–I’m writing this at 1 p.m. Nw work time on Thursday–is a product of a little bit of possible good news from the Fed and from the U.S. Treasury (on a small reduction in the size of the next Treasury auction) and a temporarily oversold market resulting from a lot of bad days in a row. I’m not saying this is just a dead cat bounce (you know the image–even dead cats bounce, but they don’t bounce far). Good news from Apple (AAPL) on earning and revenue after the close today. And tomorrow’s jobs report for October could be weak enough to keep the “Fed is done” narrative going without being so weak that it resurrects fears of an economic slowdown.
Certainly, it wasn’t any surprise that at today’s meeting the Federal Reserve decided to keep its policy rate steady at 5.25% to 5.50%. Going into the meeting the CME FedWatch tool put the odds of the Fed standing pat on rates at close to 100%. So why then the huge rally in the 10-year Treasury that pushed yields down 18 basis points on the day to 4.76%?
The Federal Reserve will announce its interest rate decision on Wednesday–the market currently expects no change to policy interest rates. But I’d argue that the bigger news on internet rates for the day will come when the Treasury announces how many notes and bonds it intends to sell in auctions from November through January. Right now, it looks to me like the bond market is driving interest rates rather than the Fed so the number of bonds Treasury needs to sell is likely to set interest rate trends for the next few weeks. Bloomberg’s survey of Wall Street primary bond dealers shows that the consensus projection for the quarterly refunding sales announcement—including 3-, 10- and 30-year Treasuries— is for a $114 billion total, up from the $103 billion total three months ago.
This morning I added Step #7 and Step #8 to my Special Report on how to protect your portfolio agains the coming global debt bomb. And I promised Step #9 on what to sell in the technology sector by the end of this week.
The Personal Consumption Expenditures index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, accelerated to a four-month high in September. The core Personal Consumption Expenditures index, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.3% in September from August, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. As with this week’s report of a surprisingly strong 4.9% annual GDP growth, the “culprit” in today’s surprise was strong consumer spending. Inflation-adjusted consumer spending jumped 0.4% last month. The numbers in this report for inflation and earlier this week for GDP growth argue that the Federal Reserve might consider another interest rate increase in the remainder of 2023. But Wall Street sentiment doesn’t agree with that view.
The U.S. economy grew by an annual rate of 4.9% in the third quarter, the strongest pace since 2021 and twice the pace of growth in th second quarter. Before the report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, economists surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting annual growth of 43%. Growth at that rapid a pace, they worried then, could lead the Federal Reserve to consider raising interest rates at its November 1 meeting. Obviously now, after growth at 4.9% far exceeded projections of 4.3% growth, those worries are a little more pronounced. But only a little.
I know the bond market is getting most of the headlines at the moment. And it should be. By some measures, volatility in the Treasury market, you know, the old safe haven Treasury market, exceeds volatility in equities. And then there’s the drama of watching the assault on 5% yield on the 10-year Treasury. The drama isn’t just theatrics either. Above 5% yield on the 10-year Treasury there’s an increasing likelihood that something in this over-stretched credit market will break. But…you can’t ignore the stock market. The technical picture is increasly scary. Here too something looks like it could break–and not in a good way.