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Key Events This Week: UMich, Inflation Expectations And All Ears On Powell Tomorrow

Key Events This Week: UMich, Inflation Expectations And All Ears On Powell Tomorrow

After a rollercoaster week which saw a nonstop torrent…



Key Events This Week: UMich, Inflation Expectations And All Ears On Powell Tomorrow

After a rollercoaster week which saw a nonstop torrent of news, central bank announcements, earnings and market gyrations, DB's Jim Reid reminds us that the week after payrolls is - thankfully - quiet for data. Which is good because as Reid sarcastically notes, "it'll take until next month's release to decipher Friday's report." For now, however, let's quickly outline the highlights of the week ahead.

Given the blockbuster payrolls print, Fed Chair Powell's speech at the Economic Club of Washington tomorrow could be the highlight. The release valve post the blackout period will mean we have a mini deluge of other Fed speakers too including Vice Chair of Supervision Barr (tomorrow), New York Fed President Williams, Fed Governor Cook, Minneapolis President Kashkari and Fed Governor Waller (all Wednesday). Their comments on the payroll report will be devoured and it'll be interesting if they, and especially Powell, decide to slightly firm up the hawkish spin and be more explicit on a terminal rate above 5%. We continue to think we'll get that, but the market has been increasingly pricing a pause after March and cuts by year-end. To be fair, Friday saw terminal edge back above 5% (climbing +12.5bps to 5.025% on the day) with December 2023 contracts up +23bps to 4.58%. This week's Fedspeak on financial conditions will also be interesting as the relaxed attitude of Powell to them at the FOMC presser encouraged a big dovish market reaction. Much of this was reversed on Friday but the sensitivities to such comments remain high. There's plenty of other central bank speak this week. See it in the day-by-day calendar at the end.

In terms of data, it's certainly a second-tier week ahead. The delayed German CPI report on Thursday might be one of the highlights. It was delayed due to technical issues around base year changes. Given the payrolls revisions, that does make one a little nervous (in either direction), but we will see. UK GDP numbers on Friday will be a highlight after the IMF last week suggested they would be one of the 2023 developed world growth laggards. In the US, the UoM consumer sentiment survey (Friday) and the usual inflation expectations will be a focus as usual.

Over in Asia, key macro indicators include China's CPI and PPI reports on Friday, with median Bloomberg estimates pointing to readings of 2.2% YoY (vs 1.8% in December) and -0.5% YoY (vs -0.7% in December), respectively.

Earnings season continues in the background. Just under half of S&P 500 firms have now reported with results from Disney, Uber (Wednesday) and PayPal (Thursday) among the key ones for the large cap index this week. Private capital managers will also be in the spotlight with KKR (Tuesday), Brookfield (Wednesday) and Apollo (Thursday) releasing results throughout the week. European Big Oil heavyweights also report including BP (tomorrow) and Total (Wednesday). Consumer-driven names including Chipotle, Royal Caribbean (tomorrow), PepsiCo and L'Oreal (Thursday) report with other notable earnings releases including Activision Blizzard (today), AstraZeneca and Siemens (Thursday).

Source: earnings whispers

Here is a day-by-day calendar of events

Monday February 6

  • Data: UK January construction PMI, new car registrations, Japan December labor cash earnings, household spending, Germany January construction PMI, December factory orders, Eurozone December retail sales
  • Central banks: BoE's Mann and Pill speak, ECB's Holzmann speaks
  • Earnings: Activision Blizzard, Take-Two Interactive, Pinterest

Tuesday February 7

  • Data: US December trade balance, consumer credit, China January foreign reserves, Japan January bank lending, December leading, coincident index, trade balance, Germany December industrial production, France December trade balance, Canada December international merchandise trade
  • Central banks: Fed's Powell and Barr speak, ECB's Schnabel and Villeroy speak, BoE's Ramsden, Cunliffe and Pill speak
  • Earnings: SoftBank, Nintendo, Linde, BP, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, BNP Paribas, Fiserv, KKR, Chipotle, Centene, DuPont de Nemours, Nordic Semiconductor, Enphase Energy, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Siemens Energy

Wednesday February 8

  • Data: US December wholesale trade sales, Japan January Economy Watchers survey, M2, M3, Italy December retail sales, France Q4 private sector payrolls Central banks: Fed's Williams, Cook, Barr, Kashkari and Waller speak, ECB's Knot speaks
  • Earnings: Equinor, AP Moller - Maersk, Disney, Vestas, TotalEnergies, CVS, Brookfield Asset Management, Uber, Emerson Electric, Dominion Energy, Teva, Neste Oyj, Deutsche Boerse, MGM Resorts, Affirm

Thursday February 9

  • Data: US initial jobless claims, UK January RICS house price balance, Japan January machine tool orders, PPI
  • Central banks: BoE's Bailey speaks, ECB's Guindos and de Cos speak
  • Earnings: Toyota, Nippon Steel, AbbVie, PepsiCo, L'Oreal, AstraZeneca, Siemens, S&P Global, Unilever, PayPal, Apollo, Hilton, ArcelorMittal, Expedia, Credit Suisse, Ralph Lauren, Bombardier, Lyft

Friday February 10

  • Data: US February University of Michigan consumer sentiment, January monthly budget statement, China January CPI, PPI, Q4 BoP current account balance, UK December monthly GDP, industrial and manufacturing production, index of services, construction output, trade balance, Q4 GDP, Italy December industrial production, Germany December current account, France Q4 wages, Canada January unemployment rate, participation rate, hourly wage rate permanent employees
  • Central banks: Fed's Waller and Harker speak, BoE's Pill speaks, ECB's de Cos speaks
  • Earnings: IQVIA, Global Payments

* * *

Finally, focusing on just the US, Goldman writes that key economic data release this week is the University of Michigan report on Friday. There are several speaking engagements from Fed officials this week, including Chair Powell; governors Waller, Cook, and Barr; and presidents Williams, Kashkari, and Harker.

Monday, February 6

  • There are no major economic data releases scheduled.

Tuesday, February 7

  • 8:30 AM Trade balance, December (GS -$68.0bn, consensus -$68.5bn, last -$61.5bn): We estimate that the trade deficit widened to $68.0bn in December.
  • 12:00 PM Fed Chair Powell speaks: Fed Chair Jerome Powell will participate in an interview with David Rubenstein hosted by the Economic Club of Washington. Speech text is not expected. Chair Powell last spoke after the February FOMC meeting, where the main message was that the disinflationary process is now underway, but there is more work to do. The Committee made it clear that it sees further hikes as fine-tuning, and we took the overall message as consistent with our forecast of two more 25bp hikes in March and May. We expect Chair Powell is likely to comment on the strong January employment report, which saw nonfarm payrolls exceed consensus expectations for the tenth straight month.
  • 02:00 PM Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Barr speaks: Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr will discuss financial inclusion at an event in Mississippi. Speech text and a moderated Q&A are expected.

Wednesday, February 8

  • 09:15 AM New York Fed President Williams (FOMC voter) speaks: New York Fed President John Williams will participate in a live interview with the Wall Street Journal in New York. On January 19, Williams said, “With inflation still high and indications of continued supply-demand imbalances, it is clear that monetary policy still has more work to do to bring inflation down to our 2 percent goal on a sustained basis…I think what’s important here is not what happens at each meeting but I think we’ve still got a ways to go…This is a period where we’re getting a lot of new information.” He added, “I expect real GDP growth to be modest this year at around 1 percent…With growth slowing, I anticipate the unemployment rate to increase from its current level of 3½ percent to around 4½ percent over the next year.”
  • 09:30 AM Fed Governor Cook speaks: Fed Governor Lisa Cook will participate in a moderated discussion hosted by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. A Q&A with audience is expected. On January 6, Cook said, “Crucially, we must be vigilant to ensure that pandemic-era cost pressures and disruptions do not have lasting effects on inflation. If cost shocks and supply disruptions keep inflation elevated for a long enough period, households’ and firms’ inflation expectations could move higher—a development that could put additional upward pressure on inflation.”
  • 10:00 AM Wholesale inventories, December final (consensus +0.1%, last +0.1%)
  • 10:00 AM Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Barr and Atlanta Fed President Bostic (FOMC non-voter) speak: Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic will speak at an event on economic mobility hosted by Tougaloo College. A Q&A with audience is expected. On January 13, Bostic said, “[The December CPI] report was really welcome news. It really suggests that inflation is moderating and it gives me some comfort that we might be able to move more slowly now that we are in restrictive territory.”
  • 12:30 PM Minneapolis Fed President Kashkari (FOMC voter) speaks: Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari will participate in a Q&A at an event hosted by the Boston Economic Club. On January 4, Kashkari said, “In my view…it will be appropriate to continue to raise rates at least at the next few meetings until we are confident inflation has peaked…I have us pausing at 5.4 percent, but wherever that end point is, we won’t immediately know if it is high enough to bring inflation back down to 2 percent in a reasonable period of time…To be clear, in this phase any sign of slow progress that keeps inflation elevated for longer will warrant, in my view, taking the policy rate potentially much higher...The third step, as I see it, is to consider cutting rates only once we are convinced inflation is well on its way back down to 2 percent. Given the experience of the 1970s, the mistake the FOMC must avoid is to cut rates prematurely and then have inflation flare back up again.”
  • 01:45 PM Fed Governor Waller speaks: Fed Governor Chris Waller will discuss the economic outlook at an event hosted by Arkansas State University. Speech text and a moderated Q&A are expected. On January 20, Waller said that beyond the February FOMC meeting “we still have a considerable way to go toward our 2% inflation goal, and I expect to support continued tightening of monetary policy…If the markets are right and inflation is coming down, and it looks like wages and everything are falling into line, that is great news, I’ve got no problem saying we should think about changing policy. [But] we have a different view.” He added, “back in 2021, we saw three consecutive months of relatively low readings of core inflation before it jumped back up. We do not want to be head-faked. I will be looking for the recent improvement in headline and core inflation to continue.”

Thursday, February 9

  • 08:30 AM Initial jobless claims, week ended February 4 (GS 175k, consensus 193k, last 183k); Continuing jobless claims, week ended January 28 (consensus 1,655k, last 1,655k): We estimate that initial jobless claims declined to 175k in the week ended February 4.

Friday, February 10

  • 10:00 AM University of Michigan consumer sentiment, February preliminary (GS 64.0, consensus 65.0, last 64.9); University of Michigan 5-10-year inflation expectations, February preliminary (GS 2.8%, consensus 2.9%, last 2.9%): We expect that the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index declined to 64.0 in the preliminary February report. We also estimate a one-tenth decline in the long-term inflation expectations measure to 2.8% in February, reflecting the net decline in gasoline prices and a possible drag from better-than-expected news on core inflation.
  • 12:30 PM Fed Governor Waller speaks: Fed Governor Chris Waller will speak at a conference on digital money and decentralized finance hosted by the Global Interdependence Center. Speech text and a moderated Q&A are expected.
  • 04:00 PM Philadelphia Fed President Harker (FOMC voter) speaks: Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker will also speak at the conference on digital money and decentralized finance. Speech text and a Q&A with audience are expected. On January 12, Harker said, “I expect that we will raise rates a few more times this year, though, to my mind, the days of us raising them 75 basis points at a time have surely passed. In my view, hikes of 25 basis points will be appropriate going forward.”

Source: DB, Goldman, BofA

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/06/2023 - 09:39

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‘The Official Truth’: The End Of Free Speech That Will End America

‘The Official Truth’: The End Of Free Speech That Will End America

Authored by J.B.Shurk via The Gatestone Institute,

If legacy news corporations…



'The Official Truth': The End Of Free Speech That Will End America

Authored by J.B.Shurk via The Gatestone Institute,

If legacy news corporations fail to report that large majorities of the American public now view their journalistic product as straight-up propaganda, does that make it any less true?

According to a survey by Rasmussen Reports, 59% of likely voters in the United States view the corporate news media as "truly the enemy of the people." This is a majority view, held regardless of race: "58% of whites, 51% of black voters, and 68% of other minorities" — all agree that the mainstream media has become their "enemy."

This scorching indictment of the Fourth Estate piggybacks similar polling from Harvard-Harris showing that Americans hold almost diametrically opposing viewpoints from those that news corporations predominantly broadcast as the official "truth."

Drawing attention to the divergence between the public's perceived reality and the news media's prevailing "narratives," independent journalist Glenn Greenwald dissected the Harvard-Harris poll to highlight just how differently some of the most important issues of the last few years have been understood. While corporate news fixated on purported Trump-Russia collusion since 2016, majorities of Americans now see this story "as a hoax and a fraud."

While the news media hid behind the Intelligence Community's claims that Hunter Biden's potentially incriminating laptop (allegedly containing evidence of his family's influence-peddling) was a product of "Russian disinformation" and consequently enforced an information blackout on the explosive story during the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election, strong majorities of Americans currently believe the laptop's contents are "real." In other words, Americans have correctly concluded that journalists and spies advanced a "fraud" on voters as part of an effort to censor a damaging story and "help Biden win." Nevertheless, The New York Times and The Washington Post have yet to return the Pulitzer Prizes they received for reporting totally discredited "fake news."

Similarly, majorities of Americans suspect that President Joe Biden has used the powers of his various offices to profit from influence-peddling schemes and that the FBI has intentionally refrained from investigating any possible Biden crimes. Huge majorities of Americans, in fact, seem not at all surprised to learn that the FBI has been caught abusing its own powers to influence elections, and are strongly convinced that "sweeping reform" is needed. Likewise, large majorities of Americans have "serious doubts about Biden's mental fitness to be president" and suspect that others behind the scenes are "puppeteers" running the nation.

Few, if any, of these poll results have been widely reported. In a seemingly-authoritarian disconnect with the American people, corporate news media continue to ignore the public's majority opinion and instead "relentlessly advocate" those viewpoints that Americans "reject." When journalists fail to investigate facts and deliberately distort stories so that they fit snugly within preconceived worldviews, reporters act as propagandists.

Constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley recently asked, "Do we have a de facto state media?" In answering his own question, he notes that the news blackout surrounding congressional investigations into Biden family members who have allegedly received more than ten million dollars in suspicious payments from foreign entities "fits the past standards used to denounce Russian propaganda patterns and practices." After Republican members of Congress traced funds to nine Biden family members "from corrupt figures in Romania, China, and other countries," Turley writes, "The New Republic quickly ran a story headlined 'Republicans Finally Admit They Have No Incriminating Evidence on Joe Biden.'"

Excoriating the news media's penchant for mindlessly embracing stories that hurt former President Donald Trump while simultaneously ignoring stories that might damage President Biden, Turley concludes:

"Under the current approach to journalism, it is the New York Times that receives a Pulitzer for a now debunked Russian collusion story rather than the New York Post for a now proven Hunter Biden laptop story."

Americans now evidently view the major sources for their news and information as part of a larger political machine pushing particular points of view, unconstrained by any ethical obligation to report facts objectively or dispassionately seek truth. That Americans now see the news media in their country as serving a similar role as Pravda did for the Soviet Union's Communist Party is a significant departure from the country's historic embrace of free speech and traditional fondness for a skeptical, adversarial press.

Rather than taking a step back to consider the implications such a shift in public perception will have for America's future stability, some officials appear even more committed to expanding government control over what can be said and debated online. After the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in the wake of public backlash over First Amendment concerns, halted its efforts to construct an official "disinformation governance board" last year, the question remained whether other government attempts to silence or shape online information would rear their head. The wait for that answer did not take long.

The government apparently took the public's censorship concerns so seriously that it quietly moved on from the collapse of its plans for a "disinformation governance board" within the DHS and proceeded within the space of a month to create a new "disinformation" office known as the Foreign Malign Influence Center, which now operates from within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Although ostensibly geared toward countering information warfare arising from "foreign" threats, one of its principal objectives is to monitor and control "public opinion and behaviors."

As independent journalist Matt Taibbi concludes of the government's resurrected Ministry of Truth:

"It's the basic rhetorical trick of the censorship age: raise a fuss about a foreign threat, using it as a battering ram to get everyone from Congress to the tech companies to submit to increased regulation and surveillance. Then, slowly, adjust your aim to domestic targets."

If it were not jarring enough to learn that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has picked up the government's speech police baton right where the DHS set it down, there is ample evidence to suggest that officials are eager to go much further in the near future. Democrat Senator Michael Bennet has already proposed a bill that would create a Federal Digital Platform Commission with "the authority to promulgate rules, impose civil penalties, hold hearings, conduct investigations, and support research."

Filled with "disinformation" specialists empowered to create "enforceable behavioral codes" for online communication — and generously paid for by the Biden Administration with taxpayers' money — the special commission would also "designate 'systemically important digital platforms' subject to extra oversight, reporting, and regulation" requirements. Effectively, a small number of unelected commissioners would have de facto power to monitor and police online communication.

Should any particular website or platform run afoul of the government's First Amendment Star Chamber, it would immediately place itself within the commission's crosshairs for greater oversight, regulation, and punishment.

Will this new creation become an American KGB, Stasi or CCP — empowered to target half the population for disagreeing with current government policies, promoting "wrongthink," or merely going to church? Will a small secretive body decide which Americans are actually "domestic terrorists" in the making? US Attorney General Merrick Garland has gone after traditional Catholics who attend Latin mass, but why would government suspicions end with the Latin language? When small commissions exist to decide which Americans are the "enemy," there is no telling who will be designated as a "threat" and punished next.

It is not difficult to see the dangers that lie ahead. Now that the government has fully inserted itself into the news and information industry, the criminalization of free speech is a very real threat. This has always been a chief complaint against international institutions such as the World Economic Forum that spend a great deal of time, power, and money promoting the thoughts and opinions of an insular cabal of global leaders, while showing negligible respect for the personal rights and liberties of the billions of ordinary citizens they claim to represent.

WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab has gone so far as to hire hundreds of thousands of "information warriors" whose mission is to "control the Internet" by "policing social media," eliminating dissent, disrupting the public square, and "covertly seed[ing] support" for the WEF's "Great Reset." If Schwab's online army were not execrable enough, advocates for free speech must also gird themselves for the repercussions of Elon Musk's appointment of Linda Yaccarino, reportedly a "neo-liberal wokeist" with strong WEF affiliations, as the new CEO of Twitter.

Throughout much of the West, unfortunately, free speech has been only weakly protected when those with power find its defense inconvenient or messages a nuisance. It is therefore of little surprise to learn that French authorities are now prosecuting government protesters for "flipping-off" President Emmanuel Macron. It does not seem particularly astonishing that a German man has been sentenced to three years in prison for engaging in "pro-Russian" political speech regarding the war in Ukraine. It also no longer appears shocking to read that UK Technology and Science Secretary Michelle Donelan reportedly seeks to imprison social media executives who fail to censor online speech that the government might subjectively adjudge "harmful." Sadly, as Ireland continues to find new ways to punish citizens for expressing certain points of view, its movement toward criminalizing not just speech but also "hateful" thoughts should have been predictable.

From an American's perspective, these overseas encroachments against free speech — especially within the borders of closely-allied lands — have seemed sinister yet entirely foreign. Now, however, what was once observed from some distance has made its way home; it feels as if a faraway communist enemy has finally stormed America's beaches and come ashore in force.

Not a day seems to go by without some new battlefront opening up in the war on free speech and free thought. The Richard Stengel of the Council on Foreign Relations has been increasingly vocal about the importance of journalists and think tanks to act as "primary provocateurs" and "propagandists" who "have to" manipulate the American population and shape the public's perception of world events. Senator Rand Paul has alleged that the DHS uses at least 12 separate programs to "track what Americans say online," as well as to engage in social media censorship.

As part of its efforts to silence dissenting arguments, the Biden administration is pursuing a policy that would make it unlawful to use data and datasets that reflect accurate information yet lead to "discriminatory outcomes" for "protected classes." In other words, if the data is perceived to be "racist," it must be expunged. At the same time, the Department of Justice has indicted four radical black leftists for having somehow "weaponized" their free speech rights in support of Russian "disinformation." So, objective datasets can be deemed "discriminatory" against minorities, while actual discrimination against minorities' free speech is excused when that speech contradicts official government policy.

Meanwhile, the DHS has been exposed for paying tens of millions of dollars to third-party "anti-terrorism" programs that have not so coincidentally equated Christians, Republicans, and philosophical conservatives to Germany's Nazi Party. Similarly, California Governor Gavin Newsom has set up a Soviet-style "snitch line" that encourages neighbors to report on each other's public or private displays of "hate."

Finally, ABC News proudly admits that it has censored parts of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s interviews because some of his answers include "false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines." Essentially, the corporate news media have deemed Kennedy's viewpoints unworthy of being transmitted and heard, even though the 2024 presidential candidate is running a strong second behind Joe Biden in the Democrat primary, with around 20% support from the electorate.

Taken all together, it is clear that not only has the war on free speech come to America, but also that it is clobbering Americans in a relentless campaign of "shock and awe." And why not? In a litigation battle presently being waged over the federal government's extensive censorship programs, the Biden administration has defended its inherent authority to control Americans' thoughts as an instrumental component of "government infrastructure." What Americans think and believe is openly referred to as part of the nation's "cognitive infrastructure" — as if the Matrix movies were simply reflecting real life.

Today, America's mainstream news corporations are already viewed as processing plants that manufacture political propaganda. That is an unbelievably searing indictment of a once-vibrant free press in the United States. It is also, unfortunately, only the first heavy shoe to drop in the war against free speech. Many Chinese-Americans who survived the Cultural Revolution look around the country today and see similarities everywhere. During that totalitarian "reign of terror," everything a person did was monitored, including what was said while asleep.

In an America now plagued with the stench of official "snitch lines," censorship of certain presidential candidates, widespread online surveillance, a resurrected "disinformation governance board," and increasingly frequent criminal prosecutions targeting Americans who exercise their free speech, the question is not whether what we inaudibly think or say in our sleep will someday be used against us, but rather how soon that day will come unless we stop it. After all, with smartphones, smart TVs, "smart" appliances, video-recording doorbells, and the rise of artificial intelligence, somebody, somewhere is always listening.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 23:00

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Never Short a Dull Market; AI is Sexy, But Everyone Hates Oil

There’s an old adage of Wall Street, which says: "never short a dull market." And while AI is getting all the press these days, the oil market is about…



There's an old adage of Wall Street, which says: "never short a dull market." And while AI is getting all the press these days, the oil market is about as dull as it gets. This, of course, brings the energy sector to the top of my contrarian alert list.

This is not to say that I'm buying oil-related assets with both hands. It just means that, at this point, it makes more sense to look at energy as a value asset, as it is oversold and ripe for a move up whenever the right set of variables required to deliver such a move line up just right.

In the current world, the variables could line up just right as early as today.

There are No Oil Bulls Left

Nobody loves oil.

The level of bearishness expressed by futures traders is at least equal to where it was during the pandemic, and after the Silicon Valley Bank (SIVB) collapse. The International Energy Agency (IEA), forecasts that, of the expected $2.8 trillion in energy investments for 2023, roughly $1.7 trillion will be allocated to low carbon energy sources, including nuclear, solar, and other potential sources. Only $1.1 trillion will be invested in fossil fuels.

And according to the Financial Times, auctioneers in Texas are trying to unload two brand new fracking rigs, which together cost $70 million, for a starting combined bid of just below $17 million.

Supply is the Primary Influence on Oil Prices

Meanwhile, oil companies are quietly merging with competitors, and exploration outside the United States is continuing aggressively, with new discoveries being frequently announced. 

Simultaneously, the U.S. active rig count is slowly falling, led by natural gas. The price of gasoline is steadily rising, as the market begins to price in future supply reductions. Just in my neck of the woods, regular unleaded is up some $0.32 in the last week alone.

That doesn't sound like an industry that's planning on fading away. It sounds like an industry that's hunkering down and waiting for better times and preparing to squeeze supply in order to boost prices.

Charting the Oil Sector

The price chart for West Texas Intermediate Crude, the U.S. benchmark (WTIC), shows the depressed price picture which has led investors to walk away. And, until proven otherwise, there are plenty of sellers at the $75-$80 price area, where a sizeable Volume by Price bar highlights the point of resistance.

At first glance, there little difference in the general price behavior for Brent Crude, the European benchmark. (BRENT) where there is a resistance band defined by VBP bars between $80 and $90. A closer look reveals an uptick in Accumulation Distribution (ADI) and the semblance of some nibbling in On Balance Volume (OBV). It's subtle, but it's there.

The oil stocks are far from a bull trend. The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) is trading below its 200-day moving average, facing resistance put from $78 to $90 (VBP bars).

So why bother? Simply stated, OPEC has an upcoming meeting on June 3-4. The cartel is not happy about the prices and the way things are evolving. The Saudi oil minister recently warned bearish speculators to "watch out." And my gut is doing flips when I think about oil, as I see gasoline prices creep up when I drive to work.

But mostly, it's because there are no oil bulls left. This is what we saw in the technology sector a few months ago before its current rally. In early 2023, the tech sector was pronounced dead. The stories were all about the technology sector shuddering as the economy slowed. How about this one, from March 2023, which breathlessly announced a 5.2% decrease in semiconductor sales on a month to month basis and an 18.5% year to year drop?

Yet, as validated by the recent AI-fueled rally, the bad news first marked a bottom, while preceding a significant move up in tech shares.

Never short a dull market.

I've recently recommended several energy sector picks. You can have a look at them with a free trial to my service. In addition, I've posted a Special Report on the oil market which you can gain access to here.

Bond and Mortgage Roller Coaster Reverses Course

Expect negative news about the effect of rising mortgage rates on the homebuilder industry. That's because, as the chart below illustrates, there is a tight and very close correlation between rising bond yields, mortgage rates, and the homebuilder stocks (SPHB).

Moreover, the rise above 3.75% on the U.S. Ten Year Note yield (TNX) has triggered headlines about mortgage rates climbing above 7%. What the news isn't reporting is that, once bond yields roll over, which they are likely to do at some point in the future when the economy shows more signs of slowing and the Fed finally admits that they must pause, is that mortgage rates will drop and demand for new homes will once again pick up. Thus, we will see the homebuilders pick up where they left off.

As things stood last week, SPHB seems to have made a short term bottom.

For now, expect a continuation of the backing and filling in the homebuilder stocks. But, if I'm right and bond yields reverse course, the homebuilders are likely to rally again.

For an in-depth comprehensive outlook on the homebuilder sector click here.

NYAD Holds Above 200-Day Moving Average. SPX Joins NDX in Breaking Out. Liquidity is Shrinking.

The New York Stock Exchange Advance Decline line (NYAD) tested its 200-day moving average on an intra-week basis but did not break below the key technical level. On the other hand, NYAD remained below its 50-day moving average, which is still an intermediate-term negative.

Moreover, with the major indexes (see below) breaking out to new highs, we remain in a technical divergence as the market's breadth is lagging the action in the indexes. This is of some concern, given the fade in the market's liquidity, as I point out below.

The Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX) extended its recent breakout, closing the week well above 14,200. The current move is unsustainable, so some sort of pullback and consolidation are likely over the next few days to weeks. Both ADI and OBV remain encouraging.

What's more bullish is that the S&P 500 (SPX) finally broke out above the 4100–4200 trading range on 5/24/23. On Balance Volume (OBV) is perking up while the Accumulation Distribution (ADI) indicator is very encouraging.

We may be seeing a shift from a short-covering rally to a fear-of-missing-out buyer's rally.

VIX Holds Steady

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) remained below 20, as it has since March 2023. This remains a positive for the markets, as it shows short sellers are staying away at the moment.

When the VIX rises, stocks tend to fall, as rising put volume is a sign that market makers are selling stock index futures to hedge their put sales to the public. A fall in VIX is bullish, as it means less put option buying, and it eventually leads to call buying, which causes market makers to hedge by buying stock index futures. This raises the odds of higher stock prices.

Liquidity is Getting Squeezed

The market's liquidity is now in a downtrend. The Eurodollar Index (XED) is now below 94.5, and looks weak. A move above 95 will be a bullish development. Usually, a stable or rising XED is very bullish for stocks.

To get the latest up-to-date information on options trading, check out Options Trading for Dummies, now in its 4th Edition—Get Your Copy Now! Now also available in Audible audiobook format!

#1 New Release on Options Trading!

Good news! I've made my NYAD-Complexity - Chaos chart (featured on my YD5 videos) and a few other favorites public. You can find them here.

Joe Duarte

In The Money Options

Joe Duarte is a former money manager, an active trader, and a widely recognized independent stock market analyst since 1987. He is author of eight investment books, including the best-selling Trading Options for Dummies, rated a TOP Options Book for 2018 by and now in its third edition, plus The Everything Investing in Your 20s and 30s Book and six other trading books.

The Everything Investing in Your 20s and 30s Book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It has also been recommended as a Washington Post Color of Money Book of the Month.

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Costco Tells Americans the Truth About Inflation and Price Increases

The warehouse club has seen some troubling trends but it’s also trumpeting something positive that most retailers wouldn’t share.



Costco has been a refuge for customers during both the pandemic and during the period when supply chain and inflation issues have driven prices higher. In the worst days of the covid pandemic, the membership-based warehouse club not only had the key household items people needed, it also kept selling them at fair prices.

With inflation -- no matter what the reason for it -- Costco  (COST) - Get Free Report worked aggressively to keep prices down. During that period (and really always) CFO Richard Galanti talked about how his company leaned on vendors to provide better prices while sometimes also eating some of the increase rather than passing it onto customers.

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That wasn't an altruistic move. Costco plays the long game, and it focuses on doing whatever is needed to keep its members happy in order to keep them renewing their memberships.

It's a model that has worked spectacularly well, according to Galanti.

"In terms of renewal rates, at third quarter end, our US and Canada renewal rate was 92.6%, and our worldwide rate came in at 90.5%. These figures are the same all-time high renewal rates that were achieved in the second quarter, just 12 weeks ago here," he said during the company's third-quarter earnings call.

Galanti, however, did report some news that suggests that significant problems remain in the economy.

Costco has done an incredibly good job at holding onto members.

Image source: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Costco Does See Some Economic Weakness

When people worry about the economy, they sometimes trade down when it comes to retailers. Walmart executives (WMT) - Get Free Report, for example, have talked about seeing more customers that earn six figures shopping in their stores.

Costco has always had a diverse customer base, but one weakness in its business may be a warning sign for its rivals like Target (TGT) - Get Free Report, Best Buy (BBY) - Get Free Report, and Amazon (AMZN) - Get Free Report. Galanti broke down some of the numbers during the call.

"Traffic or shopping frequency remains pretty good, increasing 4.8% worldwide and 3.5% in the U.S. during the quarter," he shared.

People shopped more, but they were also spending less, according to the CFO.

"Our average daily transaction or ticket was down 4.2% worldwide and down 3.5% in the U.S., impacted, in large part, from weakness in bigger-ticket nonfood discretionary items," he shared.

Now, not buying a new TV, jewelry, or other big-ticket items could just be a sign that consumers are being cautious. But, if they're not buying those items at Costco (generally the lowest-cost option) that does not bode well for other retailers.

Galanti laid out the numbers as well as how they broke down between digital and warehouse.

"You saw in the release that e-commerce was a minus 10% sales decline on a comp basis," he said. "As I discussed on our second quarter call and in our monthly sales recordings, in Q3, big-ticket discretionary departments, notably majors, home furnishings, small electrics, jewelry, and hardware, were down about 20% in e-com and made up 55% of e-com sales. These same departments were down about 17% in warehouse, but they only make up 8% in warehouse sales."

Costco's CFO Also Had Good News For Shoppers

Galanti has been very open about sharing information about the prices Costco has seen from vendors. He has shared in the past, for example, that the chain does not pass on gas price increases as fast as they happen nor does it lower prices as quick as they sometimes fall.

In the most recent call, he shared some very good news on inflation (that also puts pressure on Target, Walmart, and Amazon to lower prices).

"A few comments on inflation. Inflation continues to abate somewhat. If you go back a year ago to the fourth quarter of '22 last summer, we had estimated that year-over-year inflation at the time was up 8%. And by Q1 and Q2, it was down to 6% and 7% and then 5% and 6%," he shared. "In this quarter, we're estimating the year-over-year inflation in the 3% to 4% range."

The CFO also explained that he sees prices dropping on some very key consumer staples.

"We continue to see improvements in many items, notably food items like nuts, eggs and meat, as well as items that include, as part of their components, commodities like steel and resins on the nonfood side," he added.


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