The NASDAQ may have passed 5,000, but investors shouldn’t get caught up in the excitement. A market correction may just be on the horizon, especially when you consider factors affecting the global economy.
NASDAQ, Stock Markets Near Highs, but Bull Market Slowing
After the NASDAQ’s recent breach of the psychological 5,000 level, there was talk about a move to another record at above 5,104, last encountered 15 years ago. At that time, in 2000, for the stock market, it was both a period of excessive greed and jubilation.
After the recent records by the DOW and S&P 500, I fully expect some pausing in the stock market. We are beginning to see that. Following a strong February, the major stock market indices are negative in March and are coming off their respective highs.
Now, I’m not saying the bull market is drawing to a close; rather, I’m saying that the gains we witnessed in February are not sustainable at the same rate. Prior to the stock market open on Monday, the DOW was up a mere 0.18% this year and the S&P 500 was up 0.59%.
The reality is that the bull market is now six years old after trading at a bottom in March 2009. I doubt the bull is dead yet, but I feel the beast may be slowing. I still believe the stock market will close up higher by year-end in just over nine months’ time, but the advance will be met with hurdles. We witnessed this in 2014, and it looks like we’re following a similar pattern this year…. Read More
Global Economic Factors Suggesting Coming Stock Market
Oil may be holding above $40.00 per barrel, but investors shouldn’t get too comfortable. The chart foreshadows oil prices could falter and maybe even drop below $40.00.
It’s true that speculation has influenced the direction of oil to some degree, but much of the negative sentiment has to do with a declining global economy that shows some despair. And while gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the U.S. is pretty decent, what we are witnessing in the global economy cannot be saved by what is happening domestically. That suggests weaker oil prices ahead—along with weaker commodity prices overall.
How Stalling in Global Economy, China Will Affect Commodities
The World Bank just cut its outlook for the global economy and the eurozone for this year. The reality is it could get much worse.
What investors have to understand is that the stalling in the global economy will impact not only oil demand and prices, but also other commodities that move in conjunction with the direction of the global economy.
Copper is declining to dangerous support levels not seen since the global economy was pulling out of its recession in 2009. Copper is dependent on GDP growth, which is at a crossroads.
Yet all eyes will be focused on China as the country gets set to deliver its fourth-quarter GDP. Based on what we are seeing in the country, the number could be ugly.
Of course, what we will likely see is a somewhat massaged version of the true GDP reading from Beijing. The government controls the flow of information it wants the world to see, so a steady decline is preferred … Read More
Heck, it doesn’t look like Santa will be coming to the stock market this year. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 185 points on Tuesday, prior to rallying to cut its loss—but this was followed by a 170-point intraday decline on Wednesday. Yesterday, the DOW did rally 63 points, but the index was up more than 200 points earlier in the session, so clearly, the apprehension continues to grip the market.
The volatility and stock market apprehension is even more amazing given that the DOW came within nine points of testing 18,000 just a few days back. The mainstream financial media was quickly talking about the DOW at 20,000 and how amazing the stock market bull run was. On CNBC, I heard a stock market pundit talk about how we were at the start of a colossal 15-year bull market.
Now, I’m not saying it can’t happen, as we have already seen decade-long stock market bull runs over the last few decades, so it could materialize. The real test, however, will be when bond yields and interest rates begin to ratchet higher, which will likely be sometime by mid-2015.
Economic Mess Forming in Global Economy
The key now will be the global economy and whether it can avert a sustained slowdown. It doesn’t help that Russian President Putin is causing unnecessary political strife that will likely drive his country’s economy into another recession next year—a move that will also impact Europe’s economies.
Meanwhile, Germany is struggling to regain its footing after spending so much money and effort trying to save the eurozone from a financial abyss. Without Germany … Read More
If you are an energy trader, tomorrow will be a big day for you. While it’s also a big day for the rest of the country, which will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day, for many in the oil patch looking for direction on oil prices, it’s also the day the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), aka the “oil cartel,” will decide whether to cut production.
A major cut of at least one million barrels per day could send oil prices for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent crude gushing higher—or, at the very least, preventing them from falling further towards the threatening $70.00 level. On the other hand, a non-move by OPEC could see oil prices plummet toward $70.00.
Some pundits are even suggesting oil prices could fall to $60.00 per barrel if the status quo is allowed to continue, given the current supply/demand imbalance. The reality is that the massive outputs of oil from the shale formations in North Dakota and Montana have not been met with stronger domestic demand from users. This has led to excess supply and subsequent downward pressure on oil prices.
We also have the massive production ready to flow from the Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas and Louisiana. The Keystone pipeline has yet to be approved, however, despite the Republicans recently assuming control of both the House and Senate.
The reality is that the low oil prices may be a boost to companies and consumers, but it’s a financial drain on the oil producers at current prices.
The Situation Among Oil Producers
The feeling is that many OPEC and … Read More
The annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit started on Monday in Beijing, and I bet there will be a lot of discussion on the state of China and Asia in the global economy.
My readers all know the impact of China on the global economy, as I’ve written on its relevance before. If China fails, so will the global economy, including the United States and the fragile eurozone. Russia is already looking to extend its economic ties beyond the Great Wall.
Yet it’s clear the country that gave us spectacular double-digit gross domestic product (GDP) growth for years is now struggling. The Chinese economy has already seen its growth slow, coming in at 7.3% in the third quarter, the slowest pace since 2008. And it isnow threatening to fall short of the 7.5% target set by the government. At this point, it doesn’t look like the target will be met. In fact, there are whispers that the target could be cut to seven percent in 2015 if the global economy doesn’t experience a stronger recovery.
Pundits and China bears have been calling for the great collapse of China, specifically in the real estate and financial spaces. Yes, there is softness here, but we have yet to see a bigger crack form. You can bet the Chinese government will do whatever is necessary to reinforce its economy’s weak points. And China can definitely do this, given the fact that the country has about $3.0 trillion in reserves.
President Xi Jinping, who is in his second year of his 10-year term, knows the country needs to spread its wings globally. That is … Read More
Oil prices are struggling to hold above $80.00 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude. Even the more widely traded Brent oil prices are hovering around the $80.00 level.
Excess supply—especially from the fracking for oil in the United States and the gush of oil that will come from the tar sands in Canada—is helping to drive oil prices lower. Then add in the slowing in Europe and China, and you have concerns on the demand side.
In Economics 101, when demand declines and supply rises, a downward pressure on prices surfaces and that is exactly what is happening to oil prices.
The oil cartel, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), from the Middle East has said it will not cut its oil production given the decline in oil prices. You have to wonder how valid this is, though, especially when oil prices fall to below $80.00 a barrel.
The reality is that oil prices will need to be artificially pushed higher by cutting production, as many countries in the Middle East and elsewhere require higher oil prices to break even. So it’s likely OPEC won’t have much of a choice.
Moreover, an escalation of the conflict in Syria and Iraq could also offer oil prices some support.
And oil will move higher on evidence of a recovery in the global economy.
If you believe this premise, then it’s time to look at some of the many downtrodden oil plays that have been sold off on the declining oil prices.
On the small-cap driller side, take a look at battered-down Parker Drilling Company (NYSE/PKD) out of Houston, … Read More
For investors in small-cap stocks, this year has been quite a different experience from 2013, when the sector was raging and sizzling on the price charts.
Small-cap stocks are the laggards this year, with the benchmark Russell 2000 down nearly 14% from its peak and established in a bear market. The selling may be somewhat extreme at first glance but consider that the Russell 2000 surged an excessive 33% in 2013.
The reality is that gains like what we witnessed in 2013 were unwarranted; they were driven solely by the easy monetary policy put forth by the Federal Reserve and excessive froth in the stock market. We are now paying for the euphoria small-cap stocks encountered in 2013.
Now, while I continue to feel small-cap stocks are excellent longer-term plays, the short-term looks weary, given the technical breakdown on the chart of the Russell 2000.
Dumping higher-risk small-cap stocks is clearly the line of attack this year. But if the economic renewal holds into 2015 and the global economy doesn’t tank, we could see small-cap stocks rally next year. Keep this thought in mind, but know that at this time, it’s safer to shift your money to the large-cap or blue-chip stocks that have been battered this year.
Buying mature, consistent large-cap stocks on weakness makes sense as these companies have proven themselves to be steady players over time.
Think about it this way: Small companies will tend to struggle if the economy declines. Compared to the larger companies that can deal with several quarters or even years of underperformance, small-cap stocks would have a much more difficult time.
For … Read More
In 2013, when it was announced that the eurozone had emerged from its double-dip recession, the European stock market was optimistic and drove stocks higher.
Yet there was a sense the route to higher gross domestic product (GDP) growth was not clear due to the massive debt still on the books of many of the eurozone’s weakest members, widely known as the PIIGS nations (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain). Yes, the countries have shown some recovery, but they continue to be plagued by massive debt and abnormally high unemployment.
Unemployment across the region continues to run in the low double-digits, around 12%. For the youth under the age of 25, it’s much worse, with the unemployment rate around 40% in some of the PIIGS countries.
The problem is that a weak jobs market in the eurozone doesn’t reflect positively for the economies.
We are now seeing growth issues with the two pillars of the Eurozone, Germany and France, which are widely credited with helping to save the eurozone from a financial Armageddon.
The effects of the economic sanctions placed on Russia for its involvement in the Ukraine crisis appear to finally be filtering their way through to the eurozone and Europe, specifically Germany. One of Russia’s biggest trading partners, Germany saw a 5.8% decline in its exports in September alone.
The reality is that a weaker Germany doesn’t bode well for the eurozone.
In addition, with more than 800 million inhabitants in Europe, the market is significant. Slowing in this market will surely have an impact on growth in China and the United States, as well as the global … Read More
The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth and jobs creation has been edging higher and providing some optimism for the stock market as we head into the third-quarter earnings season that begins officially with Alcoa Inc. (NYSE/AA) today.
A strong earnings season could likely be enough to drive stocks upward towards new highs. But as long as the outlooks from companies look good, the stock market will be heading northward.
The results from Alcoa will be closely watched, as the company is considered a barometer of the global economy due to the use of aluminum in many applications and across many sectors.
I want to see some leadership from the financials and technology sectors in the earnings season to help drive the broader market.
Over the past several earnings season quarters, the revenue side has been muted and earnings have been driven by cost-cutting rather than strong revenue growth. Based on the current estimates for the third-quarter earnings season, it looks like much of the same this time around as revenue growth is predicted at 3.7% for the S&P 500 companies versus 3.5% as of June 30, according to research from FactSet. (Source: “Earnings Insight,” FactSet web site, September 26, 2014.) The growth in this earnings season, while not earth-shattering, does show some promise, as it’s slowly rising, which is what we want to see.
Earnings are estimated to advance 4.7% in the third-quarter earnings season, which is well below the 8.9% estimate provided as of June 30. Again, this isn’t great, but it would be higher on a sequential basis.
The reduction in earnings isn’t impacting any of the … Read More
While it’s well known that technology has led the broader stock market higher, there is a safer and more conservative play for investors at this time, according to my stock analysis. Where? Investors may want to take a glance at the banking sector.
Banks have dug themselves out of the financial crater that was imposed on the group by the sub-prime debt crisis back in 2007, which sent the global economy and banks into a massive tailspin, as is well represented in my stock analysis.
But that was then. As my stock analysis indicates, the banking sector has been rallying over the past seven years, beefing up their balance sheets, cutting risk, and creating a much stronger overall structure.
The chart of the Philadelphia Bank Index below shows the upward move of bank stocks from their 2009 and 2011 bottoms. Bank stocks staged a nice rally, but retrenched from March to May 2012 on the European bank concerns and Moody’s downgrade of the sector. However, the group has since staged a rally back to above the index’s 50- and 200-day moving averages (MAs), as my technical stock analysis indicates.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
What has helped to drive the banks upward on the charts, based on my stock analysis, has been the recovering global economy and the rules set in place to help prevent excessive risk among bank stocks. At the core of the changes was the establishment of the “Volcker Rule,” which was economist and ex-Fed chairman Paul Volcker’s move to cap the speculative trades and risk banks are allowed to assume. Since these changes were put in place, … Read More
It began with the battle for Crimea, followed by the shooting down of Malaysian flight ML17 in eastern Ukraine, but for Russia, which was blamed for both, there has been a battle over the strength of its economy, triggered by a multitude of economic sanctions by Europe and the United States.
Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, has been in strong denial to all the blame it has received; but clearly, the world sees a different story, which is the reason for the economic sanctions. Now, these economic sanctions have begun to wreak havoc in the region, based on my economic analysis.
The reality is that Russia, based on my economic analysis, is not strong enough economically to survive on its own domestic consumption and ignore the global economy. Yes, Russia has its alliances with China, but it’s not enough, especially since the Chinese economy is also struggling to avoid a hard crash, as my economic analysis indicates.
Putin has had time to rethink his strategy and I’m sure he has had many phone calls from Russia’s business elite regarding the sanctions and their impact on their wallets. Heck, even Putin, who has major economic interests in Russia, is hurting at the bank.
Now there’s hope with a meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko scheduled to take place in Belarus this week. Russian stocks have closed higher in 10 straight sessions as optimism rises and an end to the conflict could emerge following the meeting.
While the benchmark MICEX Index, which comprises the 50 most liquid Russian stocks that represent the Russian economy, is down 2.59% year-to-date as of … Read More
This past week, as many of my readers may recall, I discussed the slowing that’s occurring in the global economy as demonstrated by consumer spending at both McDonalds Corporation (NYSE/MCD) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE/WMT).
Now, my concerns have just picked up following Wednesday’s retail sales reading. The core reading excluding automotive and food sales grew a mere 0.1% in July, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which was below the 0.3% estimate and the weakest reading since way back in January, when Old Man Winter was blamed for everything.
But with the winter excuses over, it still appears consumers are hesitant on wanting to spend. Not only is consumer spending on everyday items drying up, but spending on durable goods, such as furniture, appliances, and electronics, is curtailing.
Department store operator Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE/M) reported a mere 3.3% year-over-year increase in its second-quarter sales. The company’s key comparable store sales managed to rise 3.4% in the second quarter, but things are looking somewhat soft for the whole of 2014, with Macy’s estimating growth in comparable store sales of only 1.5%–2.0%, versus its previous 2.5%–3.0% estimate.
These numbers, along with those from the discounters and big-box stores, show some darker clouds on the horizon for the retail sector, as retailers across the board try to keep afloat.
I don’t expect a sell-off in retail, but the upside looks to be limited for the foreseeable future, as the economy and jobs look to sort things out.
Take a look at the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEArca/XRT), which reflects the current sideways moves in the retail sector, with this exchange-traded fund … Read More
Simply put, if Russia is held accountable, the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight ML17 in eastern Ukraine could destabilize the situation in the region and filter into the eurozone and Europe. That’s bad news.
When the conflict first surfaced regarding the possible annexation of the Crimea region and the influence of Russia, there were concerns after economic sanctions were levied on Russia. The following vote in Crimea that indicated a desire to leave Ukraine has further raised the geopolitical stakes in the volatile area and intensified the fighting between the pro-Russian rebels and Ukraine.
It’s a mess, and the shooting down of ML17 made the situation much worse. We are seeing increased economic sanctions on Russia, and this will likely impact the eurozone and Eastern Europe. There is also news of a Russian steel company selling some properties in the United States.
Of course, we are also hearing that the rich Russians who count on business in Russia and the global economy are also feeling the economic pinch and are not happy. The problem is that they won’t say anything towards the situation, assumedly due to their fear of President Putin and the Kremlin.
And while Europe is intensifying the pressure on Russia to do something, there’s also a need for the flow of oil and natural gas to continue into the eurozone and Europe, which gets about 40% of its energy needs from Russia.
While the impact on the Russian embargo has yet to be fully felt by the eurozone and Europe, it could worsen if the Ukraine conflict intensifies. In the first quarter, gross domestic product (GDP) growth … Read More
It’s amazing how analysts try to spin numbers that are horrible. For instance, retail sales edged up 0.3% in May, which is not something to get excited about; however, analysts have been spinning this news, saying that the poor May reading is simply a result of the upward revision in the April reading to 0.5%.
Now, I’m not sure what your thinking is, but my view is that both numbers stink and they foreshadow an economy in which consumer spending is scarce.
My excitement lies 10,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean in China, where the country’s government, under President Xi Jinping, is aggressively trying to encourage consumers to spend. This is contrary to what has happened in past decades, when the massive Chinese economic engine was fueled by manufacturing and foreign investment. Both are still prevalent, but the government also understands that it must drive up domestic consumer spending in order to lessen the impact of slower growth around the world, which has a direct impact on China.
In other words, China wants its consumers to spend the country out of the current stalling, which, at around 7.5% gross domestic product (GDP) growth, is still way ahead of the U.S. and other Western countries. The reality is that with a population of 1.3 billion people and a middle class of approximately 300 million, the potential is significant. Plus, the middle class in China has money to spend, unlike here in America, where people are struggling, just making ends meet.
In May, China’s retail sales surged 12.5% year-over-year to $349 billion, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This followed growth … Read More
The airline sector is flying higher, as the global economy strengthens and income levels in the emerging markets steadily improve, based on my stock analysis.
Yet unlike what you or your parents might have done when booking a vacation decades ago, we are now seeing a massive migration of travellers looking to the online space to book their next flight.
While there are numerous operators in the Internet travel space, the “Best of Breed” and the company that started it all is The Priceline Group Inc. (NASDAQ/PCLN). I distinctly recall reviewing this company in late 1999 and recommending it at under $20.00. Since then, the stock has been one of my top performers, as it currently trades at more than $1,200 per share and has a market cap of roughly $67.0 billion.
The price of the stock puts it out of the reach of many investors, but the company deserves its place at the top of the online travel segment, based on my stock analysis. Priceline has superior growth metrics and a comparative valuation to its peer group, which makes it the market leader and a top investment opportunity.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Now, if you cannot afford the high stock price of Priceline, then there are several companies that I view as the next best opportunities in this market space.
The second leading online travel company, based on my stock analysis, is Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ/EXPE). This stock is still large, but it has a market cap that’s approximately seven-times smaller than Priceline. The valuation of Expedia is also more attractive at 16.47 times (X) its 2015 earnings per share … Read More
These days, we have been hearing a significant amount of news out of Ukraine. “Pro-Russian troops” are now in control of the security and administrative systems in the Crimea region, which is the mainly Russian-speaking area of the country. World leaders are saying that this is nothing but an act of aggression by Russia, saying that at the very least, the situation is worsening each day and it’s very unpredictable what could happen next.
As a result of the uncertainty, key stock indices here in the U.S. are sliding lower—mind you, the Ukraine is neither a major trading partner with the U.S. nor is it a country in which a lot of American-based companies operate. Considering this, one must wonder why key stock indices are seeing selling then at all.
Here’s what investors really need to know…
It all comes down to this: the Ukraine/Russia issue is a problem for the global economy, with which the key stock indices are highly correlated. If the global economy as a whole faces an issue, then the key stock indices slide lower. This is something investors have to keep in mind.
Ukraine is just one of the issues for the global economy that we see in the news; there are others, which investors need to know about, that may have even more gruesome consequences on the key stock indices than now.
For example, the Chinese economy isn’t getting much attention these days, but we see manufacturing activity in the country is continuously declining. This shows that the demand is slowing down and it will impact the bottom-line of companies on the key stock … Read More
While the U.S. economy is hardly on solid footing, the fact remains that as the world’s biggest and most influential economy, the U.S. doesn’t have to be running optimally to keep the global economy chugging along. Though, it would be nice if the U.S. economy would gain sustainable traction. Until then, we will have to be content with its glacial pace of recovery.
And it is slow. In 2012, gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 2.8% and in 2013, it slowed to just 1.9%. Things are expected to get better over the next two years. U.S. GDP growth is forecast to hit 2.8% in 2014 and an even three percent in 2015.
The rest of the world will be playing catch-up. Well, save for the Chinese economy, which has a 2014 growth forecast of 7.5%. GDP growth in the eurozone picked up 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2013—the third quarter of growth since the end of an 18-month recession. (Source: “Eurozone GDP growth gathers speed,” BBC News web site, February 14, 2014.)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that India’s GDP growth will hit 4.6% this year and climb to 5.4% in 2015. Brazil recently revised its 2014 GDP growth rate from 3.8% to 2.5%—which is still higher than analysts’ GDP growth forecasts of 1.79%. (Sources: Mishra, A.R., “IMF says India needs more rate hikes to bring inflation down,” Livemint.com, The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2014; “Brazil cuts 2014 budget, GDP estimate,” Buenos Aires Herald web site, February 21, 2014.)
For investors who have been waiting for a broadly based global recovery, these are encouraging signs. It also … Read More
We see there’s a significant amount of economic news mounting against the argument that key stock indices will go higher this year. We see major companies on the key stock indices reporting corporate earnings that are dismal to say the very least. We see indicators of prosperity suggesting the opposite is likely going to be true for the U.S. economy. Lastly, we also see troubles developing very quickly in the global economy.
First on the line are the corporate earnings of companies on the key stock indices—which is hands down one of the main factors that drive these indices higher. We see companies showing signs of stress. Consider General Motors Company (NYSE/GM), for example; the company’s corporate earnings declined 22% in 2013 from the previous year. (Source: “GM reports lower-than-expected 4Q earnings,” Yahoo! Finance, February 6, 2014.)
Some might call this a story of the past; we need to look at what the future looks like instead. Sadly, going forward, companies on the key stock indices and analysts look worried as well. Consider this: so far, 57 S&P 500 companies have issued negative corporate earnings guidance, while only 14 have issued positive guidance. At the same time, analysts’ expectations are coming down as well. On December 31, the consensus estimate expected S&P 500 earnings to grow by 4.3%; now, these expectations have come down to 1.5%. (Source: “S&P 500 Earnings Insight,” FactSet, February 7, 2014.)
Looking at the broader U.S. economy, it’s not moving in favor of the key stock indices, either—the economic data isn’t looking very promising.
Industrial production in the U.S. economy declined in January from the previous … Read More
Since the beginning of the year, key stock indices have fallen, and this is making investors nervous. They are asking what will happen next. The first month of the year is usually good for the stock market, but that wasn’t the case this year. The S&P 500 fell more than three percent and other key stock indices showed the same, if not worse, returns.
Will there be a sell-off in February as well?
Looking at historical returns, February is usually calmer on the stock market than January. For example, observing monthly returns from 1970 to 2013, the average return on the S&P 500 in January has been 1.23%; the average return on the S&P 500 in February in the same period has been 0.19%.
Will the S&P 500 rise in February after declining in January?
Between 1970 and 2013, the S&P 500 has declined in January 17 times. Eleven of those 17 times, the returns on the S&P 500 in February were also negative. The average return in those periods—when the S&P 500 declined in February after a decline in January—was 3.26%. If we take out the outlier—February of 2009 when the S&P 500 declined by more than 10%—this average becomes -2.52%. A simple probability calculation would show there’s almost a 65% chance the S&P 500 can go down in February. (Source: “$SPX Past Data,” StockCharts.com, last accessed February 5, 2014.)
Dear reader, remember that this information is from the past; market returns today can be completely different. You shouldn’t rely on historical facts alone when creating an investment strategy. You have to keep in mind that the stock market … Read More
When troubles first started in the eurozone years ago, they stemmed from the credit market. The amount of bad loans increased and as a result, banks needed to be bailed out. Greece and Ireland were the first in the eurozone to come under scrutiny, followed by Spain and Portugal; concerns later grew over whether Italy needed a bailout, as well. In 2012 and 2013, we saw a little calm in the eurozone. One of the main factors behind this was the European Central Bank (ECB). It said it will do whatever it takes to save the eurozone. This sent a wave of optimism through the global economy.
Now, we are starting to hear the problems—bad loans—remain in the common currency region…and they’re increasing.
The Bank of Spain’s data showed that bad loans in the country grew to a record-high in November. They stood at 13.08% then, compared to 12.99% just a month earlier. Month-over-month, bad loans in the fourth-biggest eurozone economy grew by 1.5 billion euros. (Source: “CORRECTED-Spain’s bad loans ratio reaches new record high at 13.08 pct in Nov,” Reuters, January 17, 2014.)
This isn’t all for Spain. Recently, after posting a loss in its fourth quarter, the Banco Popular S.A.—the biggest bank in Spain—said that at the end of 2013, 6.8% of all loans at the bank were 90 days overdue. In 2012, this rate was 5.1%. (Source: Neumann, J., “Spanish Banks Still Battling Bad Loans,” Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2014.)
Banks in Italy—the third-biggest economy in the eurozone—are going through something similar. Standard & Poor’s expects bad loans at the Italian banks to increase to 310 … Read More
Troubles in the global economy look to be strengthening, suggesting an economic slowdown may be following. Not only are the major economic hubs of the global economy showing signs of stress—something I have mentioned in these pages many times before—but we see demand slowing down as well.
The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) gives us a general idea about how the demand in the global economy looks. At the very core, this index tracks the shipping price of raw materials. If the shipping prices increase, it suggests there’s increased demand in the global economy. If they decline, it’s not really a good sign. Please look at the chart of the BDI below.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
The BDI is outright collapsing. Since the beginning of the year, the BDI has declined more than 42%. This shouldn’t be taken lightly because it suggests demand in the global economy is slowing down very quickly. Looking at the average change in the BDI in January since 2003, this decline in 2014 is the second-biggest on record—in 2012, the BDI collapsed 58% in January.
Another indicator of demand in the global economy I look at is the Chinese economy. It has been known as the manufacturing hub of the world, and the country exports a significant amount of its goods to the world. If we see manufacturing activity in that country slow down, it gives us a hint that a global economic slowdown may be following.
Consider this: In January, the HSBC Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)—an indicator of manufacturing activity in China—plunged to a six-month low. It was registered at 49.6 in … Read More
It seems the global economy is taking a wrong turn. If it continues on the path it’s on now, it will not be a surprise to see a pullback in its growth. As a result of this, U.S.-based global companies may see their revenues and profits fall, which eventually leads to lower stock prices. You have to keep in mind that the U.S. economy is highly correlated with the global economy.
First, it seems that the demand in the global economy is slowing down as we enter into 2014. One of the indicators of demand in the global economy I look at is the Baltic Dry Index (BDI). The BDI is an index that tracks the shipping price of raw materials. If the index declines, it means demand in the global economy is slowing. If the BDI increases, it suggests the global economy may see an influx in demand. Below is the chart of the BDI. Note that since the beginning of this year, the index has collapsed more than 32% (as indicated by the circled area in the chart below).
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
But that isn’t all. We continue to see dismal economic data out of the major economic hubs of the global economy, too.
China, the second-biggest economic hub in the global economy, is showing signs of slowing down. The Chinese economy in the fourth quarter of 2013 grew at an annual pace of 7.7%. In the third quarter, this growth rate was 7.8%. (Source: “China’s Expansion Loses Momentum in Fourth Quarter,” Bloomberg, January 20, 2014.) Although this growth rate may sound very impressive when compared to … Read More
It seems major economic hubs in the global economy are facing hardships, and they are moving towards an economic slowdown. But during discussions about where the next trading opportunity will be, some countries never get mentioned. For example, there is significant talk about an economic slowdown in the Chinese economy and the Japanese economy and how investors can profit. However, the Australian economy goes unnoticed even though it’s facing an economic slowdown as well, and it looks like conditions in the country are getting worse.
Unemployment in the Australian economy is increasing. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that in December, the country’s unemployment rate increased to 5.8%—0.1% higher from the previous month. The number of those employed full-time declined by 31,600. Part-time workers increased in the month, and the unemployed increased by 8,000 in December, reaching 722,000. (Source: “Australia’s unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.8 per cent in December 2013,” Australian Bureau of Statistics web site, January 16, 2014.)
The demand for work in the Australian economy is also very slow—a classic situation during an economic slowdown. Job advertisements in the country declined 0.7% in December after declining 0.8% in November. For the year, job advertisements in Australia have declined by nine percent. (Source: Kwek, G., “Job ads: signs of stabilisation,” Sydney Morning Herald, January 13, 2014.)
Another indicator of an economic slowdown, manufacturing activity is not so great in the Australian economy either. The Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI)—an indicator of manufacturing in the Australian economy—contracted for the second consecutive month. The index sat at 47.6 in December. (Source: “Manufacturing Remains in Contraction,” Markit … Read More
Our neighbor to the north is facing some headwinds. In Canada, there are troubles developing that may drive the country toward an economic slowdown. In 2008, the ripple effects from the U.S. economy into the global economy caused an economic slowdown in many countries. The Canadian economy was one of the few nations that didn’t suffer a major hit; it was able to stand strong.
Now, Canada may not be able to stay on such strong footing, as it faces a possibly severe economic slowdown due to a few phenomena that are starting to line up to create a perfect storm.
First of all, the housing market in the Canadian economy is becoming much overvalued. According to Deutsche Bank, the Canadian housing market is the most overvalued housing market in the global economy. Looking at the value of the Canadian housing market as a ratio of home prices and rent, this market is overvalued by 88%. (Source: Babad, M., “Canada’s housing market most overvalued in the world, Deutsche Bank says,” The Globe and Mail, December 11, 2013.)
As we move through the beginning of 2014, the Canadian housing market is showing signs of a slowdown. Building permits, one of the early indicators of which direction the housing market is headed, saw a 6.7% decline month-over-month in November. (Source: “Building permits, November 2013,” Statistics Canada web site, last accessed January 9, 2014.) If the housing market soon faces troubles and prices decline, a major economic slowdown could follow.
Secondly, the employment situation in Canada, another indicator of an economic slowdown, is becoming dismal. In December, Canada’s unemployment rate increased by 0.3% … Read More
The central bank of Japan has taken center stage when it comes to using extraordinary measures to revive growth in an economy. In an effort to boost the Japanese economy, the central bank has resorted to quantitative easing. And unlike the U.S. Federal Reserve, Japan is also involved in buying exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs), not just government bonds and mortgage securities.
Unfortunately, the central bank is outright failing. One of the main goals of the Bank of Japan is to inject inflation into the Japanese economy through money printing, aiming for an inflation rate of two percent. Sadly, this isn’t happening; inflation in the Japanese economy is running far below the targeted level, and there may not even be light at the end of the tunnel.
“A 1 percent inflation rate may be possible, but that’s different to the Bank of Japan target,” said Takahiro Mitani, manager of the Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan (GPIF), the world’s largest pension fund. “We haven’t seen real demand to pull prices up yet. Whether inflation will be stable is questionable.” (Source: Winkler, M., “World’s Biggest Pension Fund Sees Japan Fail on 2% Inflation,” Bloomberg web site, December 4, 2013.)
Consumption is one of the factors that can help bring inflation into an economy. Sadly, the Japanese economy is seeing hardships here as well, as consumer confidence, one of the best indicators of where consumer spending will go, is declining. Between September and November, consumer confidence in the Japanese economy declined more than eight percent. The index tracking consumer confidence stood at 45.7 in September and 41.9 in … Read More
The global economy looks to be in trouble, as there may be an economic contraction on the horizon. If all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, companies on key stock indices might face issues in delivering corporate earnings.
Major economic hubs in the global economy are witnessing an economic slowdown. Those economies aren’t marching ahead, and their growth rates seem to be stagnant. If this continues, then it wouldn’t be a surprise to eventually see the global economy cave in, resulting in a global economic slowdown.
The eurozone, one of the biggest economic hubs in the global economy, remains under severe scrutiny. In the third quarter, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for the common currency region declined to 0.1%, while in the second quarter, the GDP growth rate was 0.3%. (Source: “Second estimate for the third quarter of 2013,” Eurostat web site, December 4, 2013.)
The troubled countries in the eurozone, including Greece, Spain, and Portugal, are stuck in depression-like conditions, but major countries in the region also face economic pressures. For example, Germany’s third-quarter GDP growth rate came in at 0.3% compared to the second quarter, which saw 0.7% GDP growth from the previous quarter. (Source: Ibid.)
Australia, another major economic hub in the global economy, is facing headwinds as well. In the third quarter, the Australian economy grew by only 0.6% from the previous quarter. The annual GDP growth rate of Australia registered at 2.3%. In the second quarter, the Australian economy grew 0.7% and the annual growth rate was 2.4%. (Source: Kewk, G., “Australia’s economic growth falling short,” The Sydney Morning Herald web … Read More
Major economic hubs in the global economy are in outright trouble, and each passing day there’s more economic data suggesting the slowdown is holding its own. Investors need to be wary about what’s happening, because it can affect their portfolio significantly.
The eurozone crisis, which sent ripple effects into the global economy, is rising again. In the early days of the eurozone crisis, we heard how the economies of such nations like Greece, Spain, and Portugal were suffering. Now, the bigger nations in the euro region are showing signs of stress. Consider France, the second-biggest economy in the eurozone, for example. This major economic hub in the global economy witnessed contraction in the third quarter. On top of this, France’s unemployment rate continues to increase.
Germany, the biggest economy in the eurozone and the fourth-biggest economic hub in the global economy, slowed in the third quarter. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the country increased just 0.3% in the third quarter. In the second quarter, Germany’s GDP increased by 0.7%. (Source: “Gross domestic product up 0.3% in 3rd quarter of 2013,” Destatis, November 14, 2013.)
Similarly, Japan, the third-biggest nation in the global economy, continues to struggle, despite the extraordinary measures the central bank and Japanese government have taken to boost the economy. In the third quarter, the growth rate of the Japanese economy slowed down. The GDP grew 0.5% from the previous quarter. The annual GDP growth rate of the Japanese economy was 1.9% in the third quarter. (Source: “Gross Domestic Product: Third Quarter 2013,” Cabinet Office, Government of Japan web site, November 14, 2013.)
Adding more to the … Read More
Maybe I’m reading into the economy too much, but the current state of the U.S. economy and Wall Street isn’t adding up. The vast majority of people don’t think we’re in a bubble, including Federal Reserve chair nominee Janet Yellen. Granted, you can only really point to a bubble in retrospect, but still, it certainly looks and feels like we are in one.
Talking before the Senate Banking Committee during her first public appearance as Federal Reserve chair nominee, Janet Yellen said she plans to keep printing $85.0 billion a month and set no timetable for when the Fed will begin to taper.
Truth be told, the Federal Reserve has been, for the most part, pretty straightforward about when it will taper its quantitative easing policy: when the U.S. economy improves. For most, that means an unemployment rate of 6.5% and inflation at 2.5%.
At the same time, other scenarios have been floated about, including no tapering until the unemployment rate hits 5.5%, or better yet, the Federal Reserve begins to taper in early 2014, but continues to keep interest rates artificially low until, by some estimates, 2020. Really, what’s the rush?
And why should they? Since early 2009, the S&P 500 has climbed more than 160% and is up more than 25% year-to-date. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, on the other hand, is up 132% since early 2009 and is up 21.5% year-to-date. And it looks like the good times are going to continue to roll, because, in the words of Janet Yellen, “It could be costly to fail to provide accommodation [to the market].”
Take a few steps … Read More
Half of the U.S. workforce is partying like its 1998—and not in a good way. According to the Social Security Administration, the median wage in the U.S. in 2012 was $27,519.10, marginally better than 2011’s median wage of $26,965.43.
That said, the median wage remains virtually unchanged since 1998, when the median wage was $27,519.55 when adjusted for inflation. So actually, you made $0.40 less in 2012 than you did in 1998. But I digress.
The report shows that more than half of Americans earned less than $30,000 in 2012. Incredibly, 15% of working Americans took home less than $5,000, with an average amount of just $2,024.79. During 2012, the S&P 500 climbed 13%, illustrating that the majority of Americans are not benefiting from the so-called recovery we call the U.S. economy.
Fear not, for there is hope. Stagnant wages are not hindering everyone: the number of Americans pulling in more than $5.0 million a year in 2012 increased by 26.8% year-over-year to 8,982. In 2011, just 7,082 Americans earned more than $5.0 million.
These stratospheric numbers only take net earnings into consideration; they do not account for capital gains made on the stock market, dividend growth, etc. Whereas America’s wealthiest citizens turn to the stock market to pad their retirement savings, the majority of Americans rely on increasing property values, income vehicles, and pension funds to pave their way to retirement.
Thanks to a record run on the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average, America’s wealthiest have been seeing their holdings increase significantly since the Great Recession ended in 2007. On the other hand, thanks to the artificially … Read More
The Japanese economy has been in trouble for some time. The central bank of the country and the government of Japan have tried many different tactics to revive the economy. They have been struggling, with the interest rates in the Japanese economy being kept low to induce growth. Japan’s central bank has tried many different rounds of quantitative easing and failed, deflation became a problem, and growth isn’t there.
Not too long ago, a very aggressive quantitative easing policy was introduced into the Japanese economy. The goal was very simple: to increase both exports and inflation in the country. Exports would give a boost to the Japanese economy, and inflation would take the country from the deflationary rut it has been in for many years.
Now one must ask: what did Japan’s central bank and government anticipate actually happening in the Japanese economy? Is there inflation, and are they exporting to the global economy?
Well, it turns out they are failing at both.
Their goal of exporting more to the global economy isn’t panning out as they expected. According to the Japanese Ministry of Finance’s customs data, the trade deficit (more imports than exports) of the Japanese economy in September was 33% higher than the previous month, standing at 1.09 trillion yen, compared to 820 billion yen in August. (Source: “Seasonally adjusted Values for September 2013 [Provisional],” Ministry of Finance Japan web site, last accessed October 21, 2013.)
So what’s happening on the inflation front?
Not too long ago, the central bank of Japan stated that it wants inflation to be around two percent in the Japanese economy. In August, … Read More
As Congress has come to a decision about the debt ceiling and kicked the can a few months down the road, I hear a significant amount of noise about the U.S. dollar losing its reserve currency status.
With this, I ask: could this really happen anytime soon?
Before coming to any conclusions, let’s dive into the basics. A reserve currency is the currency that is commonly used in the global economy; central banks keep it in their foreign exchange reserves and businesses do international transactions with it. One of the other characteristics of the reserve currency is that it is thought to be able to remain strong and stable over time. Currently, the U.S. dollar holds reserve currency status.
So what’s next?
You see, over the past few years, and especially since the financial crisis, the fundamentals of the U.S. dollar have gone downhill. The U.S. dollar is losing its stability and strength; for example, look at the long-term chart below of the U.S. dollar compared to other currencies in the global economy. You will see there’s a clear downtrend.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
But this is just the picture of what has happened in the past. Going forward, the fundamentals are deteriorating further, and the speed at which it’s happening is picking up the pace as well.
To begin with, we have increasing national debt. It’s not very commonly said in the mainstream, but the U.S. government has the most debt, in nominal terms, than any other country in the global economy. And after Congress came to a consensus, it pretty much promised it would increase further—we will probably … Read More
If you listen to mainstream media, the power struggle in Washington is over. The left and right came together valiantly, raising the debt ceiling and ending the U.S. government shutdown. At least, they temporarily did; they basically just put a glow-in-the-dark “SpongeBob SquarePants” band-aid on a compound fracture.
Washington voted to temporarily fund the government through January 15, 2014, and extend the $16.7-trillion debt ceiling through February 7. Then it starts all over again—and if it’s a repeat of the last three weeks, it isn’t going to be pretty.
The self-inflicted U.S. government shutdown, according to one estimate, took at least $24.0 billion out of the U.S. economy; this is after the Federal Reserve reported modest growth in September. (Source: Johnson, L., “Government Shutdown Cost $24 Billion, Standard & Poor’s Says,” Huffington Post web site, October 16, 2013.)
How the January/February deadlines will impact the U.S. and global economy is anyone’s guess in 2014. Or rather, it depends on who you ask; according to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), the global economy is expected to turn a corner in 2014, thanks to economic improvements in the U.S. and Europe. World growth could accelerate more than four percent in 2014, while U.S. growth will climb to 3.2% in 2014 from 1.5% this year. (Source: Quinn, G., “Global economy set to ‘turn a corner’ in 2014, CIBC’s Shenfeld says,” Financial Post web site, October 17, 2013.)
This, of course, is in sharp contrast to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which said that, as a result of the U.S. government shutdown and slow international expansion, the global economy will grow at … Read More
The global economy looks to be in trouble, with the problems brewing quickly. Major economic hubs in the global economy are struggling for growth, but are failing—a fact that is largely ignored by the mainstream.
Long-term investors need to know that an economic slowdown in the global economy can deeply affect the key stock indices here in the U.S. economy. The reason for this is very simple: American-based companies operate throughout the global economy. As a matter of fact, in 2012, for the S&P 500 companies that provide data about sales in the global economy, 46.6% of all sales came from outside of the U.S. (Source: “S&P 500 2012: Global Sales – Year In Review,” S&P Dow Jones Indices web site, August 2013.)
Clearly, if there is an economic slowdown, the demand will decrease and the U.S.-based companies will sell less and earn less profit. As a result, their stock prices will decline.
So what is really happening?
In the beginning of the year, there was a significant amount of noise about how the global economy will experience growth. This did not happen.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the global economy to grow by 2.9% this year after seeing growth of 3.9% in 2011 and 3.2% in 2012. In 2014, the IMF expects the global economy to increase by 3.6%. (Source: Duttagupta, R. and Helbling, T., “Global Growth Patterns Shifting, Says IMF WEO,” International Monetary Fund web site, October 8, 2013.) Mind you, these estimates were much higher in July, but they have since been revised lower.
We all know how anemic the rate of growth of the U.S. … Read More