I am on vacation. See you on Wednesday, August 27.
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The S&P 500 is down one percent for the week after being up four weeks in a row. So far, the declines we have seen this year have been on the order of three percent.» Read More
It's hard to say whether Wall Street's fear of itself or rising oil prices will be more of an impediment for stocks this week. Both of those trends were apparent Tuesday and could continue to hang over the market Wednesday.
The financial sector, shaken Monday by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac , was under pressure again Tuesday as Lehman Brothers stock melted down on fears of bigger writedowns and losses.
The S&P financial sector fell 3 percent, and then late in the day, Goldman Sachs gave the group another kick. Goldman analysts slashed estimates for the major brokers as well as J.P. Morgan and Citigroup to below consensus for the third quarter.
Like a bad brew, the dollar weakened and commodities strengthened, further weighing on stocks Tuesday. Oil gained traction on the Russian action in Georgia and also on concern that tropical storm Fay could still reach the Gulf of Mexico. The Dow fell 130 or 1.1 percent to 11,348, and the S&P 500 fell 11.91 or 0.93 percent to 1266.69. Oil prices rose with a broad move up in commodities, finishing at $114.53 per barrel, up $1.66 or 1.47 percent. Weekly oil inventory data is released at 10:35 a.m. Wednesday.
The dollar slipped 0.57 against the yen, to 1.4786 per euro. Treasurys continue to show evidence of a flutter to quality. The 10-year though fell 7/32 points to 101-9/32 raising its yield to 3.844 percent, but the two-year gained, as its yield slid to 2.321 percent.
Stocks to Watch
Enough gloom. Check out Hewlett-Packard's after the bell earnings . H-P provided more proof that tech hasn't been doing all that badly. The company's stock rose after it reported earnings of $2.03 billion for the quarter, up from $1.78 billion a year ago. Revenue grew 10 percent to $28.03 billion. PC revenue rose 15 percent to $10.24 billion.
Inflation and housing data and retailers' earnings could contribute to Wall Street's early direction Tuesday. But the stock market will continue to fret over the financial sector and worry through every move in the oil markets.
The July Producer Price Index is expected to show an increase of 0.5 percent when it's reported at 8:30 a.m. Housing starts and building permits are also expected at 8:30 a.m.
Negativity about the stock market is rampant, and to BlackRock Vice Chairman Bob Doll, that is a healthy sign.
Doll is BlackRock's chief investment officer for global equities, and he visits plenty of financial advisers. "The mood is very thick," he said. "To the contrarian, it feels good."
Doll has been expecting the S&P 500 to trade in a range between 1250 and 1450. He said it is a time to be more constructive when the market is at the lower end of that range. On Friday, the S&P 500 finished at 1298.20 . For the time being, he says, there is money to be made trading around your core positions.
The strengthening dollar should be a good thing for stocks -- but it does not mean it is time to shy away from the big multinationals that reaped huge growth from the weak dollar.
"It'll take quite a dollar run to impact their fundamentals. The dollar was down a ton. It will take quite a rally to take away our competitive advantage. Make sure it's not the only thing in your portfolio. Don't shy away from our dollar advantage," he said.
Doll says he is still underweight financials but he sees some opportunities there.
"In the teeth of the July decline, we were adding to financials, and in the last couple of weeks we trimmed some back," he said. "...We still think it's premature, but on big dips like we had, adding to an underweight position in financials is the right thing to do. If they run up, like they did, you've got to let them go."
I asked Doll how far along he thinks we are in the credit crisis, since we continue to see its nasty effects bite into financial stocks and the stock market in general. "The line is six or seventh inning, past half-way, but there's still some serious stuff to go."
The risks that remain for stocks are further slowing of the U.S. economy or a deeper global recession than anticipated. "As long as real estate is a problem, the financial system and consumers will be deleveraging," he said.
The decline in oil prices has been a plus for stocks and the economy, and Doll thinks crude has seen its high for the year.
"I think we've set the highs for the year, and I'd be shocked if it went under $100. I think it's going to consolidate at a high level and be volatile around it...It's not going to crater."
Doll has been long energy stocks, and he says their performance has been a bit irritating. Oil shot up, but energy stocks did not keep pace, and they got beaten down as it declined. "I guess the stubbornness in me would say..Why don't I get the upside and I have to pay the penalty on the downside," he said. He says he was adding to that position last week.
As for the presidential elections, Doll said the market should find some traction once the election is over. He said there should be a period of improved sentiment. "That may be helpful. The problem is, it may not last," he said.
In terms of the presidential candidate, it doesn't really matter who wins from a market point of view: "I think the market is saying the Democrats are going to increase their lead in the House and the Senate, and it doesn't much matter who wins the presidency," he said.
One other worry: the geopolitical situation. Like many in the markets, he is warily watching the events in Russia and Georgia.
Our Readers are Bearish
By the way, I shared our Market Insider poll from earlier this week with Doll. He said it was encouraging that more than half of the 500-odd readers who took the survey were bearish. That's the contrarian view.
We noted that Wall Street strategists expect the S&P 500 to be 16 percent higher by year end. (Doll was not included in that group.)
Only 11 percent of our readers think the S&P will be up 15 percent or more by year end. Another 11 percent see it 10 to 15 percent higher, and 26 percent expect it to be flat to 10 percent higher.
But 59 percent see stocks lower by the end of the year. Of those 23 percent expect it to be flat to 10 percent lower, and 29 percent are very bearish and expect a decline of 10 percent or more.
Questions? Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org
Strategas analysts sized up potential stock market winners and losers depending on which candidate wins the White House in November, and the results may not be as different as you might think. The analysts also came up with two most "out of consensus calls" if the Democrats sweep Congress on election day.
It's hard to see Friday's markets as anything but volatile after this past week's wild swings.
But if there are no out of the ordinary events, traders say the stock market just might quiet down late in the session as investors head off for one of the final weekends of the summer. Options expirations kept the market rocking this week, along with worry about the financials and plenty of outside influences from oil and the commodities markets.
Economic data for Friday includes:
Stocks will be on inflation watch Thursday. Volatile trading in oil and commodities promises to spill into the stock market again. On Wednesday, energy and other commodities rose, reversing a selling trend and worrying investors, who have been hoping for a reprieve from inflation.
Some hard data on inflation is also expected when the consumer price index is reported at 8:30 a.m. July CPI is expected to rise 0.4 percent.
Other important pre-opening reports include weekly jobless claims, expected to come in at 435,000, and Wal-mart's earnings. Investors will be watching Wal-mart's outlook and comments about the important back-to-school shopping season.
Wednesday's stock market was again skittish about the financial sector. The trigger was, in part, a Merrill Lynch downgrade of several firms. Stocks also took a hit as oil prices began bubbling up after weekly inventory showed declines in the supply of crude, gasoline and distillates in the last week. The oil market is also becoming more sensitive to news of Russia's military action in Georgia.
"This is not a trading tape. This is a Rorschach test. Anybody who looks at it can see whatever they want to see," said UBS' Art Cashin of Wednesday's stock market action.
The Dow fell 109.51 points, or 0.9 percent to 11,532, and the S&P 500 tumbled 3.76 points, or 0.3 percent to 1285.83.
Cashin, director of floor operations, said the "cocktail napkin" technicians thought the area where oil would find support was $110 to $113 per barrel. If it had broken down through that level, it could dip to $80. Or if not, it could bounce. Bounce it did, rising $2.99 per barrel Wednesday, or 2.7 percent to $116.
"The big deal is if it holds and closed over $115.60, it might have set the chart up for a real short squeeze. If it gets to $117, it will trap those shorts," he said. Energy stocks were Wednesday's winners, gaining 3.4 percent.
Also critical Thursday will be what happens in the financial sector, which was down nearly 3 percent Wednesday after a more than 5 percent decline Tuesday. Merrill Lynch downgraded Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Lehman to underperform Wednesday. Merrill's chief investment strategist Richard Bernstein also said the credit crises is broad and deep and not likely to end soon, a comment that also sent a chill through the sector
Birinyi Associates points out today that Wall Street's strategists are even more bullish this month than they were at the start of the year.
In fact, they are forecasting a 16 percent gain in the S&P 500 between now and the end of the year, compared to a 12 percent gain at the start of the year.
Jeff Rubin of Birinyi makes this point in a note today, and he also says that "strategists have been less than prescient these past ten years." Their August forecasts have only been rosier twice in that period, he says, and both of those times they were way wrong.
In 2001, the August forecast was for a 19 percent gain, and it was instead an 18 percent decline. The next year they were wrong again. They forecast a 17 percent gain, and the market landed a 21 percent decline.
Because of the market's decline, the average targets are now 184 points below where they started the year. Their average target has gone from 1642 at year end to a current forecast of 1458. (The S&P 500 right now is battling to hold a level of 1285.)
I called Rubin to find out more about his report. He compiled the forecasts of strategists at 11 sell side firms, including the Wall Street majors. "One other interesting thing is they always are bulilsh. I feel like in every Augsut in the last 10 years, it's always green," he said. "Their job is to sell stocks."
I looked at a chart Rubin included in his note for the years they got it right. 2003 was one. They forecast an increase of just over 5 percent and got it. But since then the forecasts and actual results have not lined up.
CNBC.com readers, in my view, are pretty prescient in their own view of the market. We would love to hear what you think.
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The U.S. is back, and fund managers around the world say it's time to buy America.
Today, Merrill Lynch's monthly global fund manager survey confirms this market idea we've been hearing about as the dollar has been moving higher. This "group think" on American assets, as one trader put it to me last week, is driving buyers into the dollar and stocks. (this is in general, certainly not today)
Of 117 participating fund managers, Merrill says 63 percent expect the U.S. dollar to appreciate the most on a trade weighted basis in the next 12 months, and 48 percent say the U.S. is the region they most want to overweight in that period. Those numbers were 54 percent and 45 percent, respectively in July.
On the other hand, 68 percent expect the euro to depreciate more than the dollar or yen, and 33 percent would underweight the Eurozone and 24 percent would underweight global emerging markets.
Merrill strategists say on a net basis more managers want to overweight the U.S. than at any time in the last six years. A net 58 percent thought the dollar was undervalued while 71 percent believe the euro is overvalued. They also see the U.S. as having a more favorable corporate profit outlook than Europe, and the quality of earnings is seen to be improving while Europe deteriorates.
We've been seeing, hearing and watching signs of this for days now. Perhaps the most pronounced showing was the big jump last Friday in the dollar, its biggest one day move in six years, and a parallel triple digit gain in the Dow.
But beware. Traders keep reminding us though that this move of capital is not an endorsement of the U.S., but an acknowledgement instead that the rest of the world is now joining the U.S. in a slowdown and the U.S. has the chance to emerge earlier.
Along with this move in the dollar has been a major meltdown in commodities of all types - particularly oil. The managers also changed their views on inflation and interest rates, and the survey shows the weakest inflation expectations reading in more than six years.
Surprisingly, despite the big drop in oil prices, the fund managers mostly stick to a trade that prefers energy shares over banks. The survey shows that they had been favoring the long energy and underweight financials for months now.
But in August, they reduced their overweight in energy and were more overweight pharmaceuticals, though emphasis on that group was reduced as well. They also say the financials are the most undervalued, but they view materials, utilities, staples and discretionary stocks as more overvalued than energy.
The dynamics of the credit crunch may also be starting to change, Merrill says. They say the changes in investment preference in sector rotation and the currency markets is a sign of this and suggests the credit crunch is morphing from a financial crises into an economic event as fear grows about the global economy. One in four of the managers now believe the global economy is in recession and half the respondents expect the world to be in recession in the coming 12 months.
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Stocks should continue to take most of their cues from oil and the dollar Wednesday, but July retail sales data could also be key.
Investors will be watching July's retail sales, released at 8:30 a.m. as a measure of the consumer's health. Economists are forecasting a weak number, and last week's monthly chain store sales reports also flashed warnings of a slowdown in spending. The consensus is for a 0.1 percent decline.
Weekly oil inventory data is reported at 10:35 a.m. Import prices are due at 8:30 a.m. and business inventories are released at 10 a.m.
The financials were at the epicenter of Tuesday's market sell off, just as some investors are hoping the group was finally finding a bottom. To make matters worse, it was not all of the usual suspects causing the sell off.
Two of the street's favorites in the sector were at the heart of the selling. First, J.P. Morgan had announced late Monday that it had losses of $1.5 billion so far this quarter on mortgage related assets. Then, Goldman Sachs saw estimates slashed by three separate analysts in less than 24 hours.
As expected, UBS reported a loss of $300 million. It also said it would split its investment banking unit from its wealth management business. Wachovia too added another $500 milliion in reserves for a regulatory settlement.
"I think it's more people looking for a reason to sell and short this space again," said Patrick Boyle of LaBranche Financial Services. The S&P financial sector was down 5.2 percent.
"I do think there's a floor underneath this sell off," he said. "..I think we needed a little dip in these financials because there's still a little lag in news in the space, waiting to come out. People are waiting for the other shoe to drop."
As has happened in recent sessions, the move in financials was the mirror opposite for some commodities-related names. The S&P materials sector edged up 0.49 percent. Buyers moved into stocks like Potash, Monsanto and Freeport-McMoran.
Dollar Takes a Breather
The dollar moved lower, after five days of gains to finish the New York session with a 0.12 percent loss against the euro. It stood at $1.4922 per euro in afternoon trading. The dollar lost 0.74 per cent against the yen.
The Dow lost 139.99 points, or 1.2 percent to 11,642.47, and the S&P 500 fell 15.73 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1289.59. Treasurys meanwhile gained, with the yield on the 10-year slipping to 3.920 percent, the lowest level since July 15.
"I would expect a rocky opening tomorrow (Wednesday)," said Kevin Ferry of Cronus Futures Management. "This is a growth slowdown story, so the first few unwinds you saw were an "up with America" trade. The dollar was better, oil was trading down and the stock market was doing better ... On a day like today, it hits home," he said after the close Tuesday. "In the interest rate forward market, those rates are coming down hard."
Oil Gets Drilled
Oil fell $1.44 per barrel, or 1.3 percent to settle at $113.01. Heating oil fell 4.14 cents to $3.0781, a 1.3 percent decline and its lowest level since April 4. Gasoline futures fell 2.34 cents, or 0.8 percent to $2.8432 per gallon.
Tom Kloza, chief analyst at Oil Price Information Service, says he thinks the crude will stay under pressure for the time being. "I think you'll continue to see those huge swings. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't swing down below 100 in the purge cycle. I also get the sense we're going to get a few hurricane scares," he said.
Kloza, in a phone interview, said he thinks oil will range from $80 per barrel to $130 in the next nine months, and of course, could overshoot in either direction. He noted the similarity between the market's current behavior to a period in August, 2006 when the market ignored news that normally would be "bullish." In this case, it is ignoring the news in Georgia, even after BP said it was shutting down a pipeline there.
"If that happened a few months ago, it would have justified a move of anywhere from $5 to $20 for crude. There has been a major sentiment shift for oil," he said. But "I'm not in the group that says the commodities boom is over."
In a note earlier today, he explained that investor psyche can be more damaged when a market fails to rally on "bullish news" than it might be by the arrival of bearish news. "...Things get overheated and this indicated, my goodness, we overheated." he said.
Oil and gasoline inventory data is expected at 10:35 a.m. Platts expects crude inventories to show a build of 500,000 barrels with the Energy Information Administration and American Petroleum Institute release weekly data. Platts survey also expects a decline of 2.2 million barrels in gasoline stocks due to poor refining margins and lower run rates, and a build in distillate stocks of 1.9 million barrels.
Stocks To Watch
On the earnings front, Macy's and Deere report earnings before the bell.
Applied Materials shares rose in after hours trading. The chip equipment maker reported sharply lower profits in line with expectations, but saw its stock move after the ceo said he expects conditions to improve. CVS Caremark late Tuesday said it would buy rival Longs Drugs for $2.9 billion.
Patti Domm is CNBC Executive Editor, News, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy.
Greenberg is senior stocks commentator for CNBC appearing throughout business day programming and on CNBC.com.
A CNBC reporter since 1990, Pisani reports on Wall Street and the stock market from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Follow him on Twitter @BobPisani.
Epperson covers the global energy, metals and commodities markets from the NY Mercantile Exchange for CNBC and CNBC.com.
Santelli joined CNBC Business News as an on-air editor in 1999, reporting live from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.
Senior Editor at CNBC, commodity trader in a former life.
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