Daily Gains Letter

global economy


Investor Beware: NASDAQ Passes 5,000, but Market Correction Looms

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 11, 2015

Investor BewareThe 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


Declining Commodity Prices Ahead with Weak Global Economy

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 21, 2015

Profit from Weak Commodity PricesOil 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


Global Economy: Why It’s a Year-End “Mess”

By for Daily Gains Letter | Dec 12, 2014

Global EconomyHeck, 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


How OPEC’s Production Decision Tomorrow Could Affect Oil Prices

By for Daily Gains Letter | Nov 26, 2014

OPEC Decision Could See Big Move in Oil PricesIf 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


Investors Beware: U.S. Not Immune to Stalling in Global Economy

By for Daily Gains Letter | Nov 19, 2014

U.S. Not Immune to Stalling in Global EconomyThe U.S. economy has been showing some positive growth that has helped to propel the stock market higher, but be careful: there appears to be some cracks forming in the global economy to which the U.S. economy will not be immune.

Japan reported that its economy fell back into a recession after contracting an annualized 1.6% in the third quarter, representing the second straight quarter of contraction. Part of the blame will squarely lie with Prime Minister Abe and his controversial decision to raise the country’s sales tax from five percent to eight percent in April.

I consider the decision to raise the sales tax wrong, as it largely impacts the middle class and lower income brackets in Japan. The rich don’t care. (Sound familiar?) Worst of all, Abe cut taxes on big business instead. Currently, the sales tax is planned to rise to 10% in October 2015, but there’s speculation Abe will put a hold on this move.

The softness in Japan and the global economy makes it even more critical that Abe work toward a better relationship with Japan’s historical and current rival China. Japan already calls China a major trading partner in the global economy, but the numbers have been declining over the past few years, due to tensions between the two Asian powerhouses.

The problem is that China is also facing its own internal growth issues with the stalling in the global economy, along with concerns in the real estate and debt markets that could impact the country.

The reality is that slowing in China and Japan also impacts the rest of Asia and the global … Read More


What China-Japan APEC Talks Could Mean for Investors

By for Daily Gains Letter | Nov 12, 2014

China-Japan APEC Talks Could Mean for InvestorsThe 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


Gold Prices: Where They’re Headed and How to Profit

By for Daily Gains Letter | Nov 5, 2014

Gold PricesAs far as investment and trading opportunities go, gold is currently the stock market’s poor cousin. No one really craves the yellow ore at this time. The reality is that unless you are looking for jewelry, there’s really no reason to buy the metal right now.

Back in September, when I last discussed the prospects for this precious metal, I wrote that “in the absence of further turmoil in Ukraine, gold prices could deteriorate to below $1,200, possibly even $1,180.”

The precious metal did bounce to the $1,225 level recently on concerns surrounding ISIS and the economic situations in both Europe and China. Since then, it has also collapsed to below $1,200 to $1,170 for the December contract.

Following the Federal Reserve’s recent elimination of its third round of quantitative easing (QE3) and its hinting at higher interest rates coming sometime in 2015, the metal is now at its lowest level since April 2010. The strong advance reading of the third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 4.5% and the strong earnings growth in S&P 500 companies are also making us lean towards higher rates. With this, the greenback has been moving higher, which is hurting the demand for gold due to its denomination in U.S. dollars.

In addition, inflation, a supporter of gold, continues to look benign both at this time and as we move forward. The metal is used as a hedge against inflation and risk, so in the absence of these two key variables, I’m not surprised to see prices move lower on the charts. And it could worsen.

Moreover, the so-called positive impact of buying from … Read More


Three Plays to Benefit When OPEC Cuts Oil Production

By for Daily Gains Letter | Oct 27, 2014

How to Profit from Low, Low Oil PricesOil 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


Why You Need to Stick with the Big Guys Right Now

By for Daily Gains Letter | Oct 17, 2014

Proven Companies the Place to Be at This TimeFor 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


How to Play the Coming Eurozone Depression

By for Daily Gains Letter | Oct 13, 2014

Russia Sending Eurozone Back into a Depression How to ProfitIn 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 Stocks to Watch This Earnings Season

By for Daily Gains Letter | Oct 8, 2014

Earnings SeasonThe 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


Banks a Better Play Than Market-Leading Tech Picks?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Sep 26, 2014

Bank Stocks Are Now Looking Good for InvestorsWhile 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.

Bank Index Chart

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


How to Hedge Against a Stalling Global Economy

By for Daily Gains Letter | Sep 17, 2014

Stalling Global EconomyThe stock market charts are showing some hesitation once again following the recent technical breaks to new record-highs for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average.

On the charts, the blue chip DOW is back below 17,000. Its continued failure to hold after breaking above 17,000 for the fifth time is a red flag that suggests more weakness and vulnerability could be in the works for the stock market on the horizon.

Small-cap stocks are also subject to some selling again with the Russell 2000 declining to below both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages on Monday morning. The breach of the moving average is worrisome. The index will need to find support at current levels or risk a fall to the 1,140 level.

Here are the issues I see for the stock market at this time. While I still see potential higher gains ahead for the stock market, there are also some indications of a possible stock market correction around the corner.

You may be seeing targets for the S&P 500 rise, but I feel there could likely be some pausing and weakness ahead of this.

The surfacing of soft economic news for the global economy is a concern for economies worldwide, including the U.S. economy, and overall economic growth.

The European Central Bank (ECB) recently launched fresh stimulus for the eurozone. Clearly, this is needed. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) just cut its outlook for the eurozone’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth, revising it to a paltry 0.8% this year and 1.1% for 2015. Folks, this is weak and in my view, it indicates … Read More


Why It’s Not Too Late to Get in on Burger King’s Game-Changing Deal

By for Daily Gains Letter | Aug 29, 2014

Why I Believe Tim Hortons Is a Game-Changer for Burger KingThe move by Burger King Worldwide, Inc. (BKW) to acquire Canada-based Tim Hortons Inc. (NYSE/THI) was a genius move and buying opportunity that surprised many in the stock market. Just look at the reaction of the traders after the news surfaced that Burger King was indeed buying Tim Hortons; Burger King stock surged on the news, which I also believe was a very strategic move by the company and a possible buying opportunity for investors.

The initial speculation was valid as an $11.0-billion deal was announced. Tim Hortons stock closed up more than 31% after the announcement and the initial buying opportunity. For the acquisition, Warren Buffett will provide $3.0 billion in financing, so we know the move makes sense if Buffett is supporting it.

Burger King worldwide Inc Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Here’s my thinking: Burger King, like many companies in the fast-food sector, is struggling to find growth around the world. Perennial fast-food leader McDonalds Corporation (NYSE/MCD) is no exception, as the seller of the “Big Mac” faces muted growth in the global economy.

Burger King, with its global exposure encompassing more than 12,000 franchise restaurants in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Asia Pacific, also needed a spark to drive its revenue and earnings growth.

The addition of Tim Hortons makes sense due to the cross-marketing opportunities and the ability to cut overlaying expenses, which makes Burger King a possible buying opportunity for investors. There are approximately 4,500 Tim Hortons stores with about 860 outlets in the United States.

While the two companies will be separate, the buying opportunity potential I see is the … Read More


How Good News from Belarus Could Mean Gains for U.S. Investors

By for Daily Gains Letter | Aug 25, 2014

Profit from a Russia-Ukraine ResolutionIt 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


Darker Clouds Ahead for Retail Space…But Not for Retail Investors

By for Daily Gains Letter | Aug 15, 2014

Muted Retail SectorThis 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


Trouble in the Global Economy? (McDonald’s, Wal-Mart Say So)

By for Daily Gains Letter | Aug 13, 2014

Trouble in the Global EconomyThink all is well—or at least OK—with the global economy? Don’t relax too much, as that doesn’t seem to be the case. As we all know, spending drives economic growth, whether it’s from consumers, businesses, investments, or governments. Without one part or another, there would be added pressure on other areas.

The United States recently saw a strong advance second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth reading that pointed to relatively strong economic growth. But there are other signs that suggest otherwise.

Where I like to look is to the major multinationals and the spending on their goods in the global economy.

A pretty decent barometer on the global economy is consumer spending in restaurants, especially with fast foods.

Fast-food heavyweight McDonalds Corporation (NYSE/MCD), for instance, is struggling to find growth in the global economy, and that’s because spending from the other 99% is stalling.

The maker of the Big Mac announced that its comparable sales for its stores in the global economy fell 2.5% in July. The decline was highlighted by a 3.2% drop in the U.S., along with a massive 7.3% plummet in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (APMEA) regions. Only Europe edged slightly higher.

In its second quarter (ended June 30, 2014), McDonald’s reported a 1.5% contraction in its comparable sales in the U.S.

The reality is that the numbers clearly suggest a continued struggle to lure customers into stores. This is significant, as McDonald’s is a big buyer of products, such as beef, milk, chicken, and vegetables, so a decline in sales in the global economy means less demand for these products. This would translate into … Read More


The Next Best Move for Investors

By for Daily Gains Letter | Aug 8, 2014

What Investors Need to Do NextIt’s time for some more handholding as we watch the stock market come under some selling pressure. But we’re not surprised, are we? The reality is that the advance of the stock market into its fifth year looks somewhat weary, given that interest rates will be rising in 2015.

Higher interest rates translate into higher bond yields, and that’s not conducive to a higher stock market. The current 10-year bond yield is a mere 2.45%, so it’s not an immediate concern. Yet looking ahead, interest rates will be heading higher, and this could come as soon as the first quarter of 2015, rather than the previous estimate of mid-2015.

The strength of the advance reading of the second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth at an annualized four percent was clearly enough to send some investors to the exits. The fear is that if the upcoming readings are strong, it could signal higher interest rates sooner. Of course, we still have to wait for the third and fourth quarters of 2014 before making a snap judgment on when rates will head higher.

The Federal Reserve has already reduced its monthly bond buying to $25.0 billion, and it’s likely to be eliminated altogether by the Fed’s October meeting. This is a given. Higher interest rates are the issue for the stock market.

In addition, there’s some nervousness towards China and Europe. The reporting of a weaker-than-expected HSBC Services China PMI of 50.0 in July is scaring the stock market. A weaker China is not good for the global economy.

In addition, we also have a potential recession in Russia, which could have … Read More


How to Profit from Russia’s Eventual Demise

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jul 23, 2014

The "Good" News Coming Out of Russia for InvestorsSimply 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


What the World Cup and the Stock Market Have in Common This Year

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jul 14, 2014

How to Make Some Premium Income This SummerLast Wednesday, I had fun watching the World Cup game between Argentina and the Netherlands. As strange as it may sound, I actually found that the tension and apprehension throughout the match reminded me of the stock market.

Despite the Dow Jones Industrial Average recently trading above 17,000 and the S&P 500 at another record-high, I still sense the stock market is vulnerable to selling. I think this will be especially true if the second-quarter earnings season pans out as expected, devoid of any major growth in earnings or revenues.

Alcoa Inc. (NYSE/AA) offered up a nice report, but I’m not sure how much it counts, as the company really is not a major bellwether as to the health of the global economy.

The reality is that consumer spending drives the economy and the stock market. I would rather look at what’s happening at bellwether global retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE/WMT) than Alcoa. The “Death Star” of the retail sector is struggling for growth around the world—and that cannot be good news. Even discount stores, which tend to be more immune to slowing, are showing signs of weakness.

In other words, while the stock market has edged higher, I still wouldn’t get too comfortable at this time. I think we could see another minor stock market correction should earnings tank. Of course, this would provide us with an investment opportunity to buy shares on weakness in the stock market.

Now there’s some optimism following the Federal Reserve’s dovish remarks from its June meeting, as there’s a sense that interest rates will not ratchet higher until after mid-2015, depending on the … Read More


So Long, U.S. Consumer: Why I’m Looking to China for Profits

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jun 20, 2014

How You Can Still Profit from Consumer SpendingIt’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


Why I Believe This Market Is Heading Higher—For Now

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jun 11, 2014

Why Stocks Are Heading HigherThis is a stock market that continues to want to move higher despite the lack of any major catalyst.

Sure, the economy is “recovering,” but there are still issues with consumer spending, especially on non-essential durable goods. The headline durable orders reading came in at 0.8% growth in April, above the consensus 1.3% decline but below the revised 3.6% growth in March. For the economy to really confirm the stock market, we need to see growth here. This will also help to drive buying in small-cap stocks that trade with the economy.

The jobs scene is finally beginning to look better since the Great Recession in 2008. Jobs creation came in above 200,000 for the fourth straight month. The unemployment rate held at 6.3%. With the latest batch of jobs numbers, the economy has now recovered all of the 8.7 million jobs lost during the recession. The Federal Reserve will likely refrain from raising interest rates until sometime in mid-2015, but continue to cut its bond buying to zero by year-end.

The fact there’s really a lack of investment alternatives to the stock market is helping. With the yield on the 10-year bond at around 2.5%, I doubt investors or institutions are rushing to buy. Why would you when you can buy higher-yielding dividend paying stocks with capital upside?

The renewal in the global economy is also helping. China hasn’t sunk into the economic abyss as some pundits have been predicting. Its neighbor Japan is finally showing signs of economic growth following decades of doing little. Like the United States, Japan is spending its way to recovery. The country’s first-quarter … Read More


Three Alternatives to One of My Best Stock Picks Since 1999

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jun 5, 2014

Saving on Cost Isn't a Good Thing in This SectorThe 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.

Priceline.com Chart

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


Conservative Investor? Why Now Is Your Time

By for Daily Gains Letter | May 19, 2014

Conservative InvestorThe best way to make money in the stock market at this time is to avoid growth and technology stocks while you take some profits off the table.

The reality is that, despite the failure of the Dow Jones and S&P 500 to hold after establishing new record-highs last Tuesday, the stock market wants more reasons to bid stocks higher. The first-quarter earnings season saw about 70% of the S&P 500 companies beat earnings-per-share (EPS) estimates, but the results were largely based on lowered estimates by Wall Street.

Investors took the opportunity to take some profits following the rally last week. This indicates to me that there’s definitely still some vulnerability in the stock market.

Bellwether retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE/WMT) reported soft results that suggest the global economy is still hesitant to spend after the company fell short on revenues and EPS. And to make matters worse, the company also revised its second-quarter estimates to below consensus. Clearly, the retail sector is struggling, and this will impact gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

On the charts, technology and growth stocks are risky. The Russell 2000 fell back below its 200-day moving average (MA) after failing to hold for the second time in just over a week.

We are seeing some selling capitulation in the small-cap area of the stock market and it could grow deeper.

Companies in the technology sector, specifically the high-momentum stocks, also remain under pressure, helping to drag the broader stock market lower. I don’t expect this to change anytime soon, so this is an area that you need to avoid, liquidate, or protect with put options…. Read More


Why a Soft First Quarter Offers Hope

By for Daily Gains Letter | Apr 3, 2014

Silver LiningThe first quarter, by all accounts, was a dud, especially if you were invested in blue chip stocks as the Dow Jones Industrial Average retracted 0.74% in the quarter.

Yet March also saw some shifting of capital from higher-risk assets into blue chips and large-cap stocks, as the NASDAQ and Russell 2000 underperformed with declines of 2.53% and 0.83%, respectively.

But the muted gains in the first quarter do offer some hope heading forward, especially if the stock market can attract some leadership and if the economic outlook and jobs numbers can improve. For instance, the S&P 500 led the way in the first quarter with a 1.32% advance (or a 5.28% advance on an annualized basis). By comparison, in 2013, the index had already surpassed this level of advance by March.

Given the muted results to date, we could see much better gains in the quarters ahead, but much will depend on several variables that currently cast a cloud over the stock market.

First, the Fed is continuing to cut its quantitative easing and the consensus is that the bond purchases will dwindle to zero by year-end. While this is discounted by the stock market, traders are more concerned about when the Federal Reserve will begin to increase interest rates. The early thoughts are for rates to rise sometime in the first half of 2015.

Yet Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen gave the stock market a lift on Monday after suggesting the central bank would do whatever is necessary to make sure the economic renewal and jobs growth continue unabated. Now, this could imply that the bond buying could continue … Read More


Three Silver Plays That Can Weather a Short-Term Downturn

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 27, 2014

Three Silver PlaysTechnically, the Federal Reserve’s job is to oversee the monetary policy (short-term interest rates) of the world’s biggest economy. Obviously, it does, but it’s also important to remember that its opinion and carefully chosen words also have a major impact on the global markets and world economies.

If the Federal Reserve says the U.S. economy is doing well, investors flood the markets. If, on the other hand, the Federal Reserve says the U.S. economy is having difficulty gaining traction, investors turn their attention to precious metals to hedge against a weak U.S. and global economy and inflation.

It’s worked like clockwork since the Federal Reserve stepped in to help kick-start the U.S. economy with its generous monetary policy after the markets crashed. During the first round of quantitative easing (November 25, 2008 to March 31, 2010), silver climbed 65%.

Sensing the economy was still unstable, the Federal Reserve initiated its second round of quantitative easing (November 3, 2010 to June 30, 2011), during which time silver climbed an additional 39%. In September 2012, the Federal Reserve commenced its third, open-ended round of quantitative easing. If history is any indicator, the third round of quantitative easing should have been a boon for silver—but it wasn’t.

Silver prices edged steadily lower over the ensuing months. In April 2013, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. famously trimmed its outlook for gold to $1,450 an ounce by the end of 2013 and $1,270 at the end of 2014. The company noted that the banking crisis in Cyprus didn’t have the expected positive effect on the price of gold.

Silver and gold prices fell lower in … Read More


Depressed Copper Prices Presenting Perfect Buy-Low, Sell-High Opportunity?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 26, 2014

Copper Prices PresentingBy now, you have probably noticed one phenomenon: the speculations regarding China’s growth are increasing each day. Turning on the TV or flipping through the pages of the newspaper, you’ll likely hear and read all about how the second-biggest economic hub in the global economy will tumble.

No doubt, the arguments backing this argument are very credible. The Chinese economy is seeing an economic slowdown and troubles in that country continue to gain strength. For example, the Chinese manufacturing sector is stalling. In March, the HSBC Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Mangers’ Index (PMI) declined to its lowest level in eight months. The output index declined to an 18-month low. (Source: “HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index Press Release; Output contract at quickest pace in 18 months during March,” Markit, March 24, 2014.)

We have seen a few companies in the Chinese economy default on their bonds, and there are fears that more will soon fall. The widespread speculation is that the government might not come to the aid of those companies that are in trouble.

With this, investors are panicking. One of the hardest-hit asset classes due to this panic is copper. Please take a look at the chart of copper prices below.

Copper - Spot Price Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Since the beginning of the year, copper prices are down more than 13% and investors believe demand for the red metal will continue to decrease due to the decline in manufacturing. During the past decade, China was building massive infrastructure and a significant amount of copper was needed as a result. This is not the case anymore.

Copper prices have broken below a key level—$3.00—and … Read More


Two Underlying Factors You Need to Consider Before Buying Stocks

By Sasha Cekerevac for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 21, 2014

Don't Invest in McDonald'sWhen many investors think of blue chip stocks, a common name that pops up is McDonalds Corporation (NYSE/MCD).

A blue chip stock is traditionally a well-established company generating stable corporate earnings and usually paying out an attractive dividend yield. McDonald’s certainly hits the bull’s-eye on these blue chip metrics, which is especially attractive in today’s low-interest-rates world with its forward dividend yield of approximately 3.3%.

The real question to ask is what is McDonald’s potential for corporate earnings growth over the next few years?

There are two underlying factors that I would like to bring to your attention for consideration: 1) the financial health of the company’s primary customers, and 2) the cost of inputs.

While McDonald’s may keep its blue chip status, the growth of corporate earnings remains in doubt. As we all know, both the U.S. and global economy are becoming increasingly split between higher income and lower income people. As we know, neither the U.S. nor the global economy is firing on all cylinders, as seen by the still significantly high unemployment levels.

Wages remain stagnant, and while companies can increase corporate earnings through share buybacks, at some point, revenues must accelerate.

The problem for McDonald’s that could really impact corporate earnings growth is that the costs of inputs, specifically for beef, are rising substantially. The price of beef in February had the largest monthly increase since November of 2003. (Source: “CPI – Item Beef,” United States Department of Labor web site, last accessed March 19, 2014.)

McDonald’s is already struggling with its one-dollar menu. The company has begun shifting its marketing strategy away from the “McDouble” … Read More


Three Reasons to Buy Gold Now

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 12, 2014

Buy Gold NowWhen it comes to gold bullion prices, despite their mere 10% climb since the beginning of 2012, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see gold bullion prices increase even further. With this, companies producing or looking for the precious metal are still presenting a great buying opportunity.

Let me explain…

We see demand for gold bullion continues to increase, and at the same time, supply constraints are slowly starting to show. This is something I have been talking about for some time now and at the very core, it is the perfect recipe for higher gold bullion prices ahead.

In 2013, we learned that the Indian government and the central banks have been working together to curb the demand for gold bullion in that country. This was a concern to many because India was the biggest consumer of the precious metal at that time. As a result of this, emotions took over, and we saw massive selling. A little-known fact that never made the mainstream: though the official demand for gold bullion declined, smuggling the precious metal into the country became the next big thing.

According to the World Gold Council (WGC), smuggled gold bullion in the country amounted to 150–200 tonnes in 2013. The WGC also predicts that if the restrictions imposed by India’s government remain in place, then it wouldn’t be a surprise to see an increase in the amount of gold bullion smuggled into the country. (Source: “UPDATE 1-Gold smuggling in India likely to rise if curbs stay-WGC,” Reuters, February 18, 2014.)

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

We see uncertainty in the … Read More


How Global Debt of More Than $100 Trillion Is Threatening Your Portfolio

By Sasha Cekerevac for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 12, 2014

Global DebtThere is a recent statistic that is quite shocking: the total amount of debt globally is now over $100 trillion, a jump of 40% over the last six years.

According to the Bank for International Settlements, which is run by 60 central banks, since the financial crisis, the majority of the $100 trillion in debt has been issued by governments and nonfinancial corporations. (Source: “March 2014 quarterly review,” Bank for International Settlements web site, March 9, 2014.)

You would think that with such a huge amount being issued, it would drive interest rates higher amid a debt crisis. But as we all know, the exact opposite has occurred with interest rates still near historic lows.

What’s really shocking is that governments and corporations have borrowed and pumped out a massive amount of money, yet the global economy is barely moving. We know why corporations have issued the debt; with interest rates low, it does make sense to take advantage of the environment, borrow money, and fund share buybacks and dividends.

Of course, it makes one ask the question—if high levels of debt fueled the previous debt crisis, can we fundamentally solve this problem with even more debt? Not likely.

The real question for investors who are allocating capital to these markets is: are they suitable for long-term investors, or should we consider if a debt crisis is possible?

With the situation in Ukraine deteriorating along with other parts of the world, such as Venezuela, this is creating a flight to the perceived quality of the bond market in the developed world. However, long-term, I’m not so sure.

With the U.S. … Read More


Can This Precious Metal Save Your Portfolio from the Rising Tensions in Crimea?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Mar 5, 2014

key stock indicesThese 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


Why Canadian Oil Plays Are More Attractive Than Their U.S. Counterparts Right Now

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 25, 2014

Canadian Oil StocksWhile 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


As Investors Grow More Skeptical Toward Stocks, Time to Move to Safe Haven ETFs?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 19, 2014

Safe Haven ETFsWe 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


February to Be a Repeat of January’s Market Losses?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 7, 2014

Stock Market 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


How to Profit as Eurozone Repeats 2009 Financial Crisis

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 4, 2014

Profit as Eurozone Repeats 2009When 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


Could Gold Surprise Investors in 2014?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 31, 2014

Could Gold Surprise Investors in 2014?The demand for gold bullion is increasing. Each day there’s more evidence that suggests this phenomenon will continue. We see consumers buying gold bullion across the global economy. As a result, mints are working in overdrive mode to meet this demand and gold storage facilities are looking to add more vaults.

The Brinks Company (NYSE/BCO), UBS AG (NYSE/UBS), and Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft (NYSE/DB) are opening new vaults in Asia. What’s their reasoning for taking this step? The demand for gold, especially from China, has increased.

Regarding vaults, the general manager of Brink’s in Singapore, Baskaran Narayanan, said, “We need additional capacity, so we have to take further space.” He added, “There’s a surge in demand for precious metals in Asia, and one can see the focus and movement from the west to the east.” (Source: Larkin, N., et al., “Gold Flows East as Bars Recast for Chinese Defying Slump,” Bloomberg, January 28, 2014.)

Mints cannot meet the demand. The Austrian Mint, for example, was forced to hire more employees and add more time to the daily shifts worked. This wasn’t enough. Even while operating 24 hours a day to meet the gold bullion demand, the mint is failing. (Source: Roy, D., “Gold Mint Runs Overtime in Race to Meet World Coin Demand,” Bloomberg, January 27, 2014.)

But there’s something else happening that could cause a further increase in the demand for gold bullion, and that’s a currency crisis in the emerging markets. Currencies in countries like Turkey, Russia, South Africa, and Argentina have seen massive declines. The central banks look worried. The central banks of Turkey and South Africa have … Read More


Top Investor Safe Havens for Protection Against Collapsing Economic Growth

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 29, 2014

Economic GrowthTroubles 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.

Baltic Dry Index Chart

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


Why Global Economic Growth Is Falling Apart Again

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 22, 2014

Global Economic GrowthIt 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).

Baltic Dry Index Chart

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


The Economic Slowdown No One’s Talking About

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 21, 2014

The Economic Slowdown No One’s Talking AboutIt 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


How American Investors Can Profit from the Canadian Economy’s Demise

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 16, 2014

American InvestorsOur 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


A New Year’s Resolution in Gold Bullion?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 7, 2014

Gold BullionDid gold make a New Year’s resolution? If it happened to set its sights on 2014 being better than 2013, then that might not be too hard to accomplish. For gold bugs, 2013 was abysmal. Gold bullion prices ended the year down about 28%—the biggest annual drop in more than 30 years.

Gold bullion prices experienced an unprecedented run-up after the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and soared higher in 2008 as the global economy teetered on the brink of a recession. Investors’ justifiable fears of economic turmoil and inflation sent them running to gold bullion and gold mining stocks to hedge against this economic uncertainty. Between September 2001 and September 2011, gold prices soared more than 560%.

But since then, gold prices have lost their lustre. And in June of this year, the precious metal hit a three-year low of $1,179 an ounce after the Federal Reserve hinted it would begin to taper its generous $85.0-billion-per-month quantitative easing policy. Investors took this as a sign that the U.S. economy was on solid footing.

Gold bullion prices remained weak near the end of the year after the Federal Reserve announced on December 18 that it would begin to reduce its monthly bond buying program to $75.0 billion a month starting in January. Gold bullion ended the year at $1,202.

2013 will be remembered as the year when (misguided) economic optimism helped lift the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 26%, the S&P 500 by almost 30%, and the NASDAQ by 34%. In 2013, that same optimism also shaved off half of the value of gold mining stocks.

But it could … Read More


Japan the Next Big Trade for U.S. Investors?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Dec 12, 2013

U.S. InvestorsThe 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


Why I Won’t Be Surprised If the Global Economy Caves

By for Daily Gains Letter | Dec 9, 2013

Global Economy CavesThe 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


How Investors Are Profiting as the Eurozone Crisis Makes a Comeback

By for Daily Gains Letter | Nov 21, 2013

Investors Are Profiting as the Eurozone CrisisMajor 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


If It Looks Like a Bubble and Acts Like a Bubble…

By for Daily Gains Letter | Nov 19, 2013

Looks Like a BubbleMaybe 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


Four Ways to Profit from America’s Wealthiest Citizens

By for Daily Gains Letter | Nov 7, 2013

Wealthiest CitizensHalf 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


How Japan’s Failure Can Be a Boon for Smart Investors

By for Daily Gains Letter | Oct 25, 2013

Smart InvestorsThe 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


How Long Until the U.S. Dollar Loses Its Reserve Currency Status?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Oct 22, 2013

U.S. Dollar LosesAs 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.

US Dollar Index Chart

 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


How to Profit When Washington Inevitably Starts Bickering Again

By for Daily Gains Letter | Oct 21, 2013

Washington InevitablyIf 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


A Global Issue That Could Damage American Stocks

By for Daily Gains Letter | Oct 11, 2013

Damage American StocksThe 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