"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Euro Continues Closing in on Key Chart Support

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while should be familiar with my view that the currency world has been rather erratic of late. Many of the majors are in trading range market without any clearly defined trend.

The Euro is no exception. It has been contained in a range bounded by 1.370 on the top and 1.350 on the bottom for the last 6 weeks. It has begun moving lower towards the bottom of the range this week however and is setting up therefore for an important test.

I have felt that the European Monetary Authorities are not comfortable with the Euro near the 1.40 level in relation to the Dollar. That was made abundantly clear by Draghi's talking down of the currency in early May when he first broached the topic of lowering interest rates and potential forms of monetary stimulus that might be employed by the ECB to get the Eurozone economy moving.

Traders took their cue from him and responded by selling the unit. However, the bears have as of yet been unable to take it down below 1.35 for some time now. This level is once again proving to be a key chart level that should be monitored.

Neither of the indicators noted are near their respective oversold zones so IF (and this is unknown ) the Euro can break below that zone, it has the room to run down another full point initially and perhaps as low as 1.330. If it does, it will confirm a trending move as it will have broken out of its range trade.

Time will make it clear.

Downed Malaysia Airline Boeing 777 drops US Equities

How very tragic that so many innocent lives were taken in a moment. An otherwise routine flight turned into a horrible scene of death and devastation.

Equity markets reacted strongly lower with many investors fearing this incident could result in a flaring of tensions and an escalation of conflict on a larger scale. The jury is still out on that but it certainly introduces another new unknown and if it is one thing that markets hate, it is unknowns.

The old trading adage, "Sell first and ask questions later" was on display in full force in today's session.

Safe havens were in vogue as the Yen moved sharply higher and US bonds put on more than a full point with the Ten Year yield sinking to 2.475%. That is the lowest it has been at in six weeks.

I must say I am a bit disappointed in the gold price as the metal could not even stay above the $1320 level. With the backdrop of an Israeli ground operation against Hamas, and with this commercial airliner incident, one would think it would have garnered some more upside. Tomorrow is going to be an important day for the metal therefore. At least the HUI was very strong, a positive sign.

Take a look at the Russell 2000, again, a very good barometer of risk appetite among investors/traders.

The index closed below its 50 day moving average for the first time since early June.

The two particular indicators I have chosen to display are both in bearish modes as well confirming the move lower.

In looking at the chart I get the sense of a market trading in a broad range. It lacks the necessary momentum to get through the double top ( TOP of the RANGE) near 1220 but so far it has had enough buying to hold its support at the bottom of the range near 1080. Based on the chart pattern, and especially if events globally continue to unnerve investors for the short term, odds would seem to favor a move back down towards that support level once again.

The Russell could chop around in a range for some time. It does not have to necessarily either fall out of bed and collapse lower nor does it have to go rip roaring higher. Trading range markets can trip up a lot of traders as they tend to get bearish as price moves to the bottom of the range and bullish as it moves to the top. However, unless we get a clear breakout from either side of the range, odds favor a continuation of the consolidation pattern.

US Treasury Releases International Capital Flows Data for May 2014

This data, which is released once a month from the US Treasury Department, gives a fairly good sense of the appetite for Dollar denominated assets among Foreign investors and Foreign Central Banks.

It is dated however and one must remember that. Today's data is for the month of May so you can see it is not especially timely. However, it still has value in my opinion.

I am still eagerly waiting for the June data during which Treasury usually makes the adjustment from the country in which the Treasury transaction was completed to the country of origin.

In looking over the Major Foreign Holders of Treasuries data ( broken down by country), a couple of things stand out. First, China and Japan, the two largest holders of our debt, both INCREASED their holdings during the month of May.

China bought $7.7 billion worth while Japan bought $10.4 billion. Chinese holdings are down $26.4 billion from the same month last year. Japanese holdings on the other hand are up a staggering $116.4 billion from May 2013.

Belgium, the center of the so-called "conspiracy" ( among the gold perma bulls ) for surreptitious buying of US Treasuries unloaded $4 billion of the things. I guess someone forgot to tell them this month that they are supposed to be buying the Treasuries that the US Federal Reserve has stopped buying for its QE program. Remember, the theory is that the tapering has not actually stopped even though the Fed has announced that it has begun tapering and is slowing its purchases of US Treasuries. You see, the Treasury buying is really still going on. It is just being done through back channels using Belgium as the epicenter.

Sigh! It never does end does it with some of those folks.

Overall, there was a pretty healthy increase among all of the buyers for May. They increased their holdings of Treasuries to $5.976 trillion, up from $5.960 trillion in April. That is a $15.1 billion increase.

Compared to the same period last year ( May 2013), Treasury holdings are up $318 billion ( $5.976 to $5.658).  So much for the demise of the US Dollar.

Keep in mind that this particular data set is the "Holdings" data.

As far as the NET PURCHASES DATA goes, Total NET Foreign Purchases for May increased by $25 billion. That is a big improvement from the previous month ( April) when the number was a negative $13.589 billion. A negative number means foreign investors, official institutions, etc. were selling ( there was a net OUTFLOW of capital instead of a NET INFLOW).

NET PURCHASES of US equities showed another increase for May ( $10.78 billion). That comes on the heels of a net increase for April of nearly the same amount ( $10.19 billion). Foreign appetite for US stocks remains strong.

NET PURCHASES of US government agency debt jumped to $4.169 billion after falling the previous month by $2.082 billion.

The loser this month, among foreign investors, was US corporate debt. There were NET OUTFLOWS of $5.385 billion for May. That follows net outflows of $8.509 billion in April. This category is especially volatile however.

All in all, demand for US dollar denominated assets among foreign investors/institutions/official sector was strong in May.

One last thing for this set of comments - gold is moving higher today on news that the US has introduced a new set of sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine situation. Russia is not happy about it. Also, the escalation in tensions and the conflict over in Israel and the Gaza region with Hamas has fueled nervousness in stock markets and is bringing selling into equities, buying into bonds, and buying into gold. Gold is being driven of late by headlines.

It looks as if it might want to run up into the former resistance zone ( $1330- $1340). Geopolitical tensions have put a "13" handle in front of it and is offering psychological support.

You can look at the ADX and see the muddled mess on the chart. There is no clearly defined trend at the moment.

As I have been writing this, news has come out that a passenger plane has been downed over the Ukraine. That is really fueling the safe haven bids...We'll have to get the details on this as they come out.