Friday, January 29, 2016

Why Now Is the Best Time to Buy Gold in a While

By Justin Spittler

Bank stocks are slumping. Wells Fargo (WFC), the largest U.S. bank, has fallen 11% this year. JPMorgan Chase (JPM), the second largest, has fallen 14%. Bank of America (BAC), the third largest, has plunged 21%. And those are just the household names.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index, which tracks 87 large U.S. financial stocks, has dropped 12% this year. For comparison, the S&P 500 has dropped 8%. On Monday, Bloomberg Business reported that financial stocks are off to their worst start in years.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index has tumbled 11 percent in 2016, putting it on track for its worst month in more than four years. More than $360 billion of market value has been wiped out of financial companies in January, more than all but one month since data began in 1990.

The performance of banks says a lot about the health of an economy..…

Banks make money by loaning money to businesses and real estate buyers. The more good loans a bank makes, the more interest paid to the bank. But when an economy is doing badly, demand for loans falls. Also, when an economy is doing badly, some borrowers don’t pay loans back in full. This increases the cost of bad loans…which is one of a bank’s biggest expenses. This eats away profits from the bottom line.

When the economy slows, people cut back on extra expenses like vacations. People shop less. There are fewer dollars around at the end of each month, so less money ends up in the bank…giving the bank less money to loan out. Since banks “touch” almost every aspect of the economy, bad performance by banks is often an early sign that the economy is turning down.

While bank stocks are down big, bank profits are still solid..…

JPMorgan Chase’s profits jumped 10% from the prior year...Bank of America’s rose 9%...and Wells Fargo’s were flat. You’d expect to see much worse results in an industry where stocks are breaking down. This likely means investors are expecting bank profits to shrink soon. Markets tend to “price-in” things before they happen.

Bloomberg Business reports:
Commercial and industrial loans have flat lined in recent weeks after steadily climbing throughout 2015…Growth in such loans offers investors an idea of potential interest income, as C&I loans typically produce more revenue for banks than parking funds in cash or Treasuries.
Bloomberg Business also explained that banks are bracing for losses on oil loans.
Bigger picture uncertainties are weighing on the group, not least of which is how wounds at energy companies will bleed into this sector. Bank of America, Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan and Wells Fargo have set aside more than $2.5 billion to cover souring energy loans and will add to that if oil prices remain low.

If you’ve been reading the Dispatch, you know the oil industry is in crisis mode..

The price of oil has plunged 70% since June 2014. Yesterday, oil closed at $32. Energy consulting company Wood Mackenzie estimates $1.5 trillion worth of oil projects in North America can’t make money even at $50 oil. With oil at $32 today, the value of money-losing projects has likely climbed above $2 trillion.

Many oil companies are struggling to pay back loans. Credit rating agency Fitch expects 11% of U.S. energy bonds to default this year. That would be the highest default rate for the energy sector since 1999. This is bad news for banks that have loaned money to oil companies.

Moving along, if you’ve been reading Crisis Investing, you know the “opening up” of Cuba is a huge investment opportunity..…

Nick Giambruno, editor of Crisis Investing, expects to make a lot of money investing in Cuba. Nick specializes in buying high-quality assets made cheap by crisis. According to Nick, a crisis is the only time you can be sure to get assets at bargain prices.

Cuba has been in a slow-motion crisis for decades. In short, its Communist government has wrecked the economy. And the United States’ ban on trade with Cuba killed any chance at economic growth. However, after decades of isolating Cuba, the U.S. government recently changed its policy. It reopened an embassy in Cuba in August. And last week, the U.S. took another promising step toward Cuba.

Here’s the New York Times:
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it was removing major impediments to contact between the United States and Cuba by lifting restrictions on American financing of exports to the island nation and relaxing limits on the shipping of an array of products, from tractors to art supplies.

The revised rules that will take effect on Wednesday will allow United States banks to provide direct financing for the export of any product other than agricultural commodities, still walled off under the trade embargo.

Nick notes that American companies are pushing to do business in Cuba. He says the “cat’s out of the bag,” and Cuba will soon open up.
Cuba has over 2,000 miles of pristine coastline and the potential to be a top tourist destination. When the embargo ends, the U.S. government estimates 12 million Americans will visit Cuba within the first year.
There’s no denying it. If Cuba ever opens up, there’s potential to make a fortune. Doug Casey has long been interested in the investment potential of Cuba, and I couldn’t agree more that there is huge opportunity there.

You can learn how Nick is playing the “opening up” of Cuba by taking a risk-free trial of Crisis Investing. It’s an investment Americans can easily buy with a standard brokerage account…and it yields 9.3%.

Our friend Tom Dyson just came back from a trip to Cuba..…

If you don’t know Tom, he's founder of Palm Beach Research Group, a publishing company dedicated to helping readers get a little bit richer every day. Since he launched The Palm Beach Letter in 2011, it has built a reputation as one of the world’s most respected investment advisories. You can check it out here.

Tom was in Cuba looking for investment opportunities. Here’s his take…
There are billions of dollars just waiting to flood into Cuba the moment their economy opens. There’s a whole industry poised to invest in Cuba: Cuban people living in Florida and other parts of America...the big hotel chains...the big real estate companies.
Tom says it’s not easy for Americans to invest in Cuba yet…but the potential is huge.
It’s a beautiful island with amazing beaches. Cuba could also be a huge cruise ship destination. It could end up looking like Cancun.

Chart of the Day

Gold has climbed to a three month high. Yesterday, the price of gold closed at $1,125 an ounce, its highest level since November. Gold is also up 6.1% since the start of the year. U.S. stocks are down 8% in the same period.
Today’s chart shows that gold is “carving out a bottom”.  On Monday, we explained why “carved out bottoms” are important. An asset carves out a bottom when it stops falling…forms a bottom for a period of time…then starts climbing higher. A stock that’s carving out a bottom should hold above a certain price for a period of time. This is a key signal that buyers are stepping in at this price, giving it a floor.

Buying an asset that has carved out a bottom is much less risky than buying an asset that’s trending down. As you likely know, gold has been in a downtrend since 2011. However, since November, gold has stopped going down. It has held above $1,050. This is a clue that gold prices are heading higher.

Casey readers know we own gold because it preserves wealth over the long term. We try not to get caught up in its daily price movements. However, gold is at a potential “turning point” today. If you’ve been meaning to buy gold, now’s a good time.



The article Why Now Is the Best Time to Buy Gold in a While was originally published at caseyresearch.com.


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Stock & ETF Trading Signals

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Technical Evidence Indicates Major Price Movement Just Getting Started!

Stocks around the globe were pummeled again last week. This is no surprise to our subscribers as our predictive trend analytics model gave us clear technical evidence that important multi year highs had completed back in the middle of 2015. I continue to remain steadfastly bearish in my outlook for stocks.

Last Friday, January 15, 2016, the SPX broke below its Aug. 24, 2015 low, which is equivalent to a major sell signal if price closes the month below that level.

Last week, The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 511 points, or 3.1%, to 15,866, while the S&P 500 slid 64 points, or 3.4%, to 1,856.34, led by the financials, technology and energy sectors. The Nasdaq Composite tumbled 190 points, or 4.1%, to 4,424.35. Subscribers and I managed to catch a 33% quick intra-week bounce trading the SSO ETF and then got out of harm’s way as volatility took hold once again.

European stocks were unable to escape the downward trend from other markets, and the Stoxx Europe 600 index lost 2.8%. The dollar fell to a one-year low vs. the yen. Gold rose $22.40, or 2.1%, to $1,096.20 an ounce.

The SPX is currently testing major support. This is consistent with a “cycle low” that arrived over the weekend. Even though we are in a bear market, we should expect a “Bear Market Rally” sucking every last investor into long positions, before dropping much lower through previous support areas. This will be a very “short term bottom” this week.

We are in a long term downtrend now; it is not a “hiccup” as we experienced back in 2012.

If the stock market is going to stage a rally from here, this is a good time to start, right when everyone is jumping off the ship and the sentiment is so extremely negative. Just to give you a feel for the level of panic selling on Friday, my panic selling indicator which tells us when short term bottoms are likely to happen as everyone is running for the door, this contrarian indicator spiked to 50. Now any reading over 3 is panic in the market, and a reading of 9-18 is typically a multi week low. So you can see how 50 is VERY extreme.

Because we are entering a bear market and institutions will be unloading shares area record pace going forward, I feel this extreme level of panic selling (50) is only going to trigger a bounce lasting a week or so, then more distribution selling will take hold.

trap2
trap1


A slew of disappointing U.S. data shows that manufacturing and consumer spending are in trouble. Empire State factory index declined sharply this month to its lowest level since the recession. Retail sales declined by 0.1% in December 2015 and a report on industrial production compiled showed that activity declined for the third straight month.

The New Year is not off to good start. In fact, it may be the worst start ever of a New Year in many world stock indices. Instead off irrational exuberance that had previously been so evident, investors of world equity markets are clearly starting to panic. We all know things are not right. We know it hasn’t been okay since the 2008 financial crisis. The effort by the central banks to get over the hump has fueled an “Asset Bubble” in the stock markets.

This in turn should start to fuel safe haven buying in gold. Gold’s day in the sun is soon approaching. I believe this new year will prove to be a pivotal year for gold, silver and miners.

The “talking heads” tell us that the stock market is falling because energy prices are falling. We need higher energy (gasoline) prices. Really? They claim that energy companies are going out of business and that tens of thousands of people will lose jobs and unemployment will rise. Really? Didn’t the jobs numbers show hundreds of thousands of people getting new jobs – in fields outside of energy? Who are you going to believe?

Later this week I will be posting an exciting video show you how to make a fortune during this pending bear market and exactly how I did this in 2008 – 2012 to become financially free before I turned 30 years of age. Stay tuned and be sure to opt into my free email list if you want to see this exciting, inspiring and educational video!

Visit Here > www.Gold & Oil Guy.com 
Chris Vermeulen

Stock & ETF Trading Signals

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Stunning Move by the World’s Largest Oil Company

By Justin Spittler

Oil still can’t find a bottom. As Dispatch readers know, the oil market is in crisis. Since June 2014, oil has plunged 69%. It dropped 31% in 2015 alone. So far, 2016 has been even worse. The price of oil has fallen every day this year. On Friday, it closed at $32.88 a barrel, its lowest price since February 2004. Oil is already down 11% this year.

In October, Doug Casey predicted lower oil prices at the Casey Research Summit in Tucson, Arizona. I don't know how long [oil prices] will stay low. But they're going lower for the time being. Production is stable to up, but consumption is headed down with a slowing economy.…I'm still short oil at the moment.

The world has too much oil…..
As you likely know, new technologies like “fracking” have unlocked billions of barrels of oil that were impossible to extract before. U.S. oil production has nearly doubled since 2008. In June, U.S. oil production hit its highest level since the 1970s. Global oil output hit an all time high in 2014.

Falling oil prices have slammed the world’s largest oil companies…..
The world’s five largest publicly traded oil companies – Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A), BP (BP), and Total S.A. (TOT) – lost $205 billion in value last year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Shell, the worst performer of the five, dropped 24% in 2015. Total, the best performer, dropped 3%.

Oil services companies, which sell “picks and shovels” to the oil industry, have also tanked. The Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH), which holds 26 oil service companies, has plunged 59% over the past 18 months. Schlumberger (SLB) and Halliburton (HAL), the two largest oil services companies, are down 39% and 44% in the same period.

Eventually, this cycle will end with absurdly low prices for oil stocks. We’ll get an amazing opportunity to buy oil stocks at fire sale prices. But, for now, we recommend staying away until the world works through some of its oversupply of oil.

Saudi Arabia is in crisis…..
Saudi Arabia depends more on oil revenues than any other country. Oil makes up 83% of its exports. And about 80% of the country’s government revenue come from oil sales. Last year, the Saudi government spent $98 billion more than it took in…its first budget deficit since 2009.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Saudi government to post a budget deficit as high as -19% of GDP in 2016. For comparison, the U.S. government has not posted a deficit higher than -9.8% since World War II. The IMF says Saudi Arabia could burn through its $650 billion cash reserve by 2020 if oil prices stay low. Since oil crashed in the summer of 2014, the country has already withdrawn at least $70 billion from its cash reserve.

To raise cash, the Saudi government may sell its crown jewel…..
Saudi Aramco is Saudi Arabia’s government owned oil company. As the world’s largest oil company, it owns the biggest oil fields in the world, and produces 13% of the world’s oil. The Saudi government has controlled the country’s oil industry since the 1970s. Last week, Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia is considering an initial public offering (IPO) for Aramco. An IPO is when a company sells shares to the public.

According to Financial Times, an IPO would likely value the company “in the trillions of dollars.” To put that in perspective, Apple (AAPL), the world’s largest publicly traded company, is worth just $538 billion. Some estimates put the value of Saudi Aramco at more than 10 times that of Exxon Mobil – the world’s largest publicly traded oil company.

Switching gears, the U.S. automobile industry is setting record highs..…
U.S. automakers sold an all time record 17.5 million vehicles in 2015. The industry sold 5.7% more vehicles last year than it did 2014. Auto sales have now grown six years in a row. Despite record sales, U.S. automaker stocks are struggling. Ford (F) was down 9.1% in 2015, and has only gained 17% since the beginning of 2012.

General Motors (GM) was down 2.6% in 2015, and has gained 46% since the beginning of 2012. Both stocks have performed worse than the S&P 500, which has gained 53% since the beginning of 2012. Companies that sell parts and services in the auto industry have done much better. Tire maker Goodyear (GT) has climbed 99% over the past four years. Repair and parts shop AutoZone (AZO) is up 119%.

Cheap credit has fueled the boom in the auto industry…..
Forbes reported last month: During the third quarter of 2015, Experian determined the average amount financed for a new vehicle was $28,936, which is up $1,137 from the same period in 2014. What’s more, 44 % of buyers are now taking out loans for between 61 and 72 months, with 27.5% extending their new-vehicle indebtedness to between 73 and 84 months, with the latter representing an increase of 17.1 percent over the past year.

As Casey readers know, the Federal Reserve has made it incredibly cheap to borrow money. In 2008, the Fed cut its key interest rate to effectively zero to fight the financial crisis. It has held its key rate at extremely low levels ever since. Today, its key rate is just 0.25%...far below the historical average of 5%. The average interest rate on a car loan is just 4.3% today. In 2007, the average car loan rate was 7.7%.

E.B. Tucker, editor of The Casey Report, isn’t surprised by the auto industry’s record year..…
Here’s E.B.: Of course the auto industry had a record year…how could it not? I've seen auto rates as low as 0% for 84 months. When money is free, people buy now and think later. The U.S. auto loan market has grown 18 quarters in a row. Last year, it topped $1 trillion for the first time ever. There is now 47% more auto debt outstanding than credit card debt in the U.S.

E.B. says this will end badly. The auto leasing market is also booming because of easy money. Leasing made up 27% of car sales during the first quarter of 2015. Those leases will expire 40 months from now. And someone has to buy those vehicles. This year, over 3 million leased cars will hit the market. Even more will hit the market next year and the year after. All these used cars will create a huge glut. If the free money dries up at the same time, things will get ugly fast. That’s how booms built on easy money come to an end.

Chart of the Day

Oil has plunged to its lowest level in 12 years. Today’s chart shows the price of oil going back to 2004. As you can see, oil has sunk to its lowest level since February 2004. It’s now down 77% from the all time high it set in 2008. As we’ve explained, the world simply has too much oil. Oil is now cheaper than it was during the worst of the global financial crisis in 2008-9.




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Stock & ETF Trading Signals

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Steve Swanson Shows Us How to Trade This Volatile Market


Steve Swanson's 4D technology [which you'll read about in a minute] predicted everything about January's sell off and subsequent rally way back in December. If you want to know the future too, just click on the video link below. An up to date chart of the S&P 500 Price/Time Continuum is posted below the video. See for yourself the precise day the next big rally will begin then use the profit magnifier detailed in this free eBook to earn 3 times more profits.

A revolutionary profit magnifier quietly introduced in November 2008 had the power to essentially change the fate of millions of beleaguered investors. Yet, to this day hardly anybody knows about it.  Do you? In his highly acclaimed new book, Steve Swanson [the brilliant trader and inventor who predicted every intermediate market top and bottom for more than two decades] reveals a safe and easy way for you to utilize the powerful Thanksgiving gift of 2008 to earn 3 times more money on every trade.  


This is something you really deserve to know about. And you can download his tell all new ebook this week for free. Just for starters, see how you can take that profit and triple it! See how this one simple change can earn you 3 times more money I was shocked. And I think you will be too when you see how ridiculously simple it is to make one minor change. Easy for anybody. And turn a boring 25% a year strategy into an exciting moneymaker that averages 108% a year with no compounding!

And that’s not all. When you download your FREE eBook, you’ll also gain instant access to Steve’s paradigm shifting video 

Steve Swanson actually invented a program that plots every intermediate market high and low. Past, present, and future on what’s called the “Price Time Continuum”. That’s how he’s been able to predict and profit from every market turning point for more than 2 decades. Some are calling Swanson’s 4th Dimension breakthrough the “Discovery of the Century”.  

So you might want to at least take a peek.  Click Here Now.

See you in the markets,
Ray C. Parrish
aka the Crude Oil Trader

P.S. As with most free things, Steve Swanson’s generous offer is limited.  So, even if you don’t have time to delve into anything new right now, I’d encourage you to grab your free ebook while you can.  That way you’ll have it to look through whenever you like. Click Here Now.

Monday, January 4, 2016

How Saudi Arabia and OPEC are Manipulating Oil Prices

About eighteen months ago the international price of WTI Crude Oil, at the close of June 2014, was $105.93 per barrel. Flash forward to today; the price of WTI Crude Oil was just holding above $38.00 per barrel, a drastic fall of more than 65% since June 2014. I will point out several reasons behind this sharp, sudden, and what now seems to be prolonged slump.
Chart 1

The Big Push

Despite a combination of factors triggering the fall in prices, the biggest push came from the U.S. Shale producers. From 2010 to 2014, oil production in the U.S. increased from 5,482,000 bpd to 8,663,000 (a 58% increase), making the U.S. the third largest oil-producing country in the world. The next big push came from Iraq whose production increased from 2,358,000 bpd in 2010 to 3,111,000 bpd in 2014 (a 32% increase), mostly resulting from the revival of its post war oil industry.
The country-wide financial crunch, and the need for the government to increasingly export more to pay foreign companies for their production contracts and continue the fight against militants in the country took production levels to the full of its current capacity. In addition; global demand remained flat, growing at just 1.1% and even declining for some regions during 2014. Demand for oil in the U.S. grew just 0.6% against production growth of 16% during 2014.
Europe registered extremely slow growth in demand, and Asia was plagued by a slowdown in China which registered the lowest growth in its demand for oil in the last five years. Consequently, a global surplus was created courtesy of excess supply and lack of demand, with the U.S. and Iraq contributing to it the most.

The Response

In response to the falling prices, OPEC members met in the November of 2014, in Vienna, to discuss the strategy forward. Advocated by Saudi Arabia, the most influential member of the cartel, along with support from other GCC countries in the OPEC, the cartel reluctantly agreed to maintain its current production levels. This sent WTI Crude Oil and Brent Oil prices below $70, much to the annoyance of Russia (non-OPEC), Nigeria and Venezuela, who desperately needed oil close to $90 to meet their then economic goals.
For Saudi Arabia, the strategy was to leverage their low cost of production advantage in the market and send prices falling beyond such levels so that high cost competitors (U.S. Shale producers are the highest cost producers in the market) are driven out and the market defines a higher equilibrium price from the resulting correction. The GCC region, with a combined $2.5 trillion in exchange reserves, braced itself for lower prices, even to the levels of $20per barrel.

The Knockout Punch

By the end of September 2014, according to data from Baker Hughes, U.S. Shale rigs registered their highest number in as many years at 1,931. However, they also registered their very first decline to 1,917 at the end of November 2014, following OPEC’s first meeting after price falls and its decision to maintain production levels. By June 2015, in time for the next OPEC meeting, U.S. Shale rigs had already declined to just 875 by the end of May; a 54% decline.
usshale
The Saudi Arabia strategy was spot on; a classic real-life example of predatory price tactics being used by a market leader, showing its dominant power in the form of deep foreign-exchange pockets and the low costs of production. Furthermore, on the week ending on the date of the most recent OPEC meeting held on December 4th, 2015, the U.S. rig count was down even more to only 737; a 62% decline. Despite increased pressure from the likes of Venezuela, the GCC lobby was able to ensure that production levels were maintained for the foreseeable future.

Now What?

Moving forward; the U.S. production will decline by 600,000 bpd, according to a forecast by the International Energy Agency. Furthermore, news from Iraq is that its production will also decline in 2016 as the battle with militants gets more expensive and foreign companies like British Petroleum have already cut operational budgets for next year, hinting production slowdowns. A few companies in the Kurdish region have even shut down all production, owing to outstanding dues on their contracts with the government.
Hence, for the coming year, global oil supply is very much likely to be curtailed. However, Iran’s recent disclosure of ambitions to double its output once sanctions are lifted next year, and call for $30 billion in investment in its oil and gas industry, is very much likely to spoil any case for a significant price rebound.
The same also led Saudi Arabia and its GCC partners to turn down any requests from other less-economically strong members of OPEC to cut production, in their December 2015, meeting. Under the current scenarios members like Venezuela, Algeria and Nigeria, given their dependence on oil revenues to run their economies, cannot afford to cut their own production but, as members of the cartel, can plea to cut its production share to make room for price improvements, which they can benefit from i.e. forego its market share.

It’s Not Over Until I’ve Won

With news coming from Iran, and the successful delivery of a knockout punch to a six-year shale boom in the U.S., Saudi Arabia feared it would lose share to Iran if it cut its own production. Oil prices will be influenced increasingly by the political scuffles between Saudi Arabia and its allies and Iran. The deadlock and increased uncertainty over Saudi Arabia and Iran’s ties have sent prices plunging further. The Global Hedge Fund industry is increasing its short position for the short-term, which stood at 154 million barrels on November 17th, 2015, when prices hit $40 per barrel; all of this indicating a prolonged bear market for oil.
One important factor that needs to be discussed is the $1+ trillions of junk bonds holding up the shale and other marginal producers. As you know, that has been teetering and looked like a crash not long ago. The pressure is still there. As the shale becomes more impaired, the probability of a high yield market crash looks very high. If that market crashes, what happens to oil?  Wouldn’t there be feedback effects between the oil and the crashing junk market, with a final sudden shutdown of marginal production? Could this be the catalyst for a quick reversal of oil price?
The strategic interests, primarily of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia; the Saudis have strategically decided to go all in to maintain their market share by maximizing oil production, even though the effect on prices is to drive them down even further. In the near term, they have substantial reserves to cover any budget shortfalls due to low prices. More importantly, in the intermediate term, they want to force marginal producers out of business and damage Iran’s hopes of reaping a windfall due to the lifting of sanctions. This is something they have in common with the strategic interests of the U.S. which also include damaging the capabilities of Russia and ISIS. It’s certainly complicated sorting out the projected knock-on effects, but no doubt they are there and very important.    

I’ll Show You How Great I Am

Moreover, despite a more than 50% decline in its oil revenues, the International Monetary Fund has maintained Saudi Arabia’s economy to grow at 3.5% for 2015, buoyed by increasing government spending and oil production. According to data by Deutsche Bank and IMF; in order to balance its fiscal books, Saudi Arabia needs an oil price of$105. But the petroleum sector only accounts for 45% of its GDP, and as of June 2015, according to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, the country had combined foreign reserves of $650 billion. The only challenge for Saudi Arabia is to introduce slight taxes to balance its fiscal books. As for the balance of payments deficit; the country has asserted its will to depend on its reserves for the foreseeable future.

Conclusion

The above are some of the advantages which only Saudi Arabia and a couple of other GCC members in the OPEC enjoy, which will help them sustain their strategy even beyond 2016 if required. But I believe it won’t take that long. International pressure from other OPEC members, and even the global oil corporations’ lobby will push leaders on both sides to negotiate a deal to streamline prices.
With the U.S. players more or less out by the end of 2016, the OPEC will be in more control of price fluctuations and, therefore, in light of any deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia (both OPEC members) and even Russia (non-OPEC), will alter global supply for prices to rebound, thus controlling prices again.
What we see now in oil price manipulation is just the mid-way point. Lots of opportunity in oil and oil related companies will slowly start to present themselves over the next year which I will share my trades and long term investment pays with subscribers of my newsletter at The Gold & Oil Guy.com
Chris Vermeulen





Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Half Dozen 2016 Stock Market Poisons

By Tony Sagami

Most of the “adults” on Wall Street are on vacation this week, and trading volume shrivels up to a trickle. That low volume is exactly the environment that the momentum crowd uses to paint the tape green. I call it the financial version of Reindeer Games.

However, once the “adults” return, the stock market will need to pay attention to the actual economic fundamentals and deal with facts—like, 2015 being the first year since 2009 when S&P 500 profits declined for the year.


I expect that 2016 is going to be a very difficult year for the stock market. Why do I say that? For any number of reasons, such as:

Poison #1: The Strong US Dollar

The greenback has been red hot. The US dollar index is up 9% in 2015 after gaining 13% in 2014.
A strong dollar can have a dramatic (negative) impact on the earnings of companies that do a significant amount of business outside of the US—for example, Johnson & Johnson, Ford, Yum Brands, Tiffany’s, Procter & Gamble, and hundreds more.


Poison #2: Depressed Energy Prices

I don’t have to tell you that oil prices have fallen like a rock. That’s a blessing when you stop at a gas station, but the impact on the finances of petro dependent economies, including certain US states, has been devastating. Plunging energy prices are going to clobber everything from emerging markets to energy stocks, to states like North Dakota and Texas.


Poison #3: Junk Bond Implosion

You may not have noticed because the decline has been orderly, but the junk bond market is on the verge of a total meltdown.


Third Avenue Management unexpectedly halted redemption of its high-yield (junk) Focused Credit Fund. Investors who want their money… tough luck. The investors who placed $789 million in this junk bond fund are now “beneficiaries of the liquidating trust” without any idea of how much they will get back and or even when that money will be returned. Third Avenue admitted that it may take “up to a year” for investors to get their money back. Ouch!

The problem is that the bids of the junkiest part of the junk bond market have collapsed. For example, the bonds of iHeartCommunications and Claire’s Stores have dropped 54% and 55%, respectively, since June!
What the junk bond market is experiencing is a liquidity crunch, the financial equivalent of everybody trying to stampede through a fire exit at the same time. In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that blocking redemptions could lead to an increase in redemption requests at similar funds.


Poison #4: Rising Interest Rates

As expected, the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates at its last meeting. The reaction (so far) hasn’t been too negative; however, we may have several more interest rate hikes coming our way.


Every single one of the 17 Federal Reserve members expects the fed funds rate to increase by at least 50 bps before the end of 2016, and 10 of the 17 expect rates to rise at least 100 bps higher in the next 12 months. I doubt our already struggling economy could handle those increases.


Poison #5: Government Interference

Sure, 2016 is an election year, which brings uncertainty and possibly turmoil. But the Obama administration could shove several changes down America’s throat via executive action—such as higher minimum wage, limits on drug pricing, gun control, trade sanctions including tariffs, immigration, climate change, and increased business regulation.


I don’t give the Republican led Congress a free pass either, as I have no faith that it will put the best interests of the US ahead of its desire to fight Obama.


Poison #6: China Contagion

We do indeed live in a small, interconnected world, and it’s quite possible that something outside of the US could send our stock market tumbling. Middle East challenges notwithstanding, the one external shock I worry the most about is one coming from China. The sudden devaluation of the yuan and the significant easing of monetary policy by the People’s Bank of China are signs that trouble is brewing.


However, I think the biggest danger is an explosion of non-performing loans in China. Debt levels in China, both public and private, have exploded, and I continue to hear anecdotal evidence that default and non-performing loans are on the rise.


Conclusion

To be truthful, I have no idea which of the above or maybe even something completely out of left field will poison the stock market in 2016, but I am convinced that trouble is coming. Call me a pessimist, a bear, or an idiot… but my personal portfolio and that of my Rational Bear subscribers are prepared to profit from falling stock prices.
Tony Sagami
Tony Sagami
30 year market expert Tony Sagami leads the Yield Shark and Rational Bear advisories at Mauldin Economics. To learn more about Yield Shark and how it helps you maximize dividend income, click here.

To learn more about Rational Bear and how you can use it to benefit from falling stocks and sectors, click here.



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