The latest employment figures show the economy added 203,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low.» Read More
The Oracle of Omaha shared his latest thoughts this morning on Squawk Box. Looking at Berskshire Hathaway's performance for over 40 years demonstrates why Warren Buffett is the most storied investor of our time.
For the week ending Friday, March 07, 2008 the US Markets all ended the week down close to 3% or greater. The Dow closed below 12,000, the NASDAQ breached its 52-week low, and the S&P 500 closed below 1300 for the first time since September 11, 2006. In contrast commodities continue to hit new record highs, and the US dollar fell to record lows on a weak economy. Bernanke hinted at further rate cuts, the ECB held rates steady, and jobs unexpectedly fell, heightening fears that the US economy has hit a recession. Many economists are no longer questioning a recession, but how long it will last.
Next week, the markets will watch for Retail Sales on Thursday and earnings from some of the smaller retailers, while inflation watchers await the CPI report on Friday, seen rising again in February. If consumer prices rise beyond comfort levels, the spectre of stagflation, price inflation amidst weak economic growth, will again rear its head.
- The Fed announced emergency measures to improve liquidity by increasing the size of its auctions which should "address heightened liquidity pressures in term funding markets."
- Nonfarm Payrolls reported a loss of 63,000 jobs in February compared to a revised loss of 22,000 jobs a month ago, the steepest decline in 5 years, since March 2003, suggesting that the housing and credit crunch is spreading.
- ISM Manufacturing Index depicted a contracting factory sector with a reading of 48.3 for February from 50.7 in January, the lowest level since April 2003.
The Housing Crisis and Mortgages: For the first time since World War II, Americans have less than 50% equity in their homes due to plunging real estate prices and rising mortgages.
- Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) announced that foreclosures rose to record highs in the 4th quarter of 2007 spurred by failing subprime loans.
- Thornburg Mortgage disclosed that it had "substantial doubt" about its survival, and failed to meet creditors' demands for a margin call of about $610 million. Thornburg shares lost more than 80% this week.
- The bond insurer Ambac Financial raised almost $1.5 billion in capital, in majority by selling stock, in order to maintain its debt ‘AAA’ ratings with credit rating agencies Moody’s and S&P.
- The Commerce Department’s nonresidential construction spending report showed a monthly decline of 1.7% in January, the steepest drop in 14 years.
Sectors & Indexes: Only the S&P Utilities Sector managed a slightly positive gain for the week, led by Exelon up 4.2% on the week, and only 6 Dow components were positive for the week (see detail below)
- Crude Oil for April delivery continued to hit record highs with a record close of $105.47 per barrel on Thursday and a new intraday high of $106.54 hit on Friday.
*Oil surpassed the inflation adjusted value of $103.76 per barrel from 1980 when oil was $38 a barrel. OPEC decided to maintain production levels, lower weekly inventories and conflicts between oil producers in Venezuela and Colombia all contributed to oil's rise.
*The Department of Energy EIA data shows the national average for a gallon of gas at $3.162 as of 3/3, and AAA and Oil Price Information Services sites the national average at $3.189 per gallon.
- Natural Gas for April delivery hit a new record high of $10 rising 4.30% for the week and settling at $9.769
- Gold for April delivery continued its record setting pace, though falling short of the $1000 mark hitting an intraday high of $995.2 as investors look to gold as a defensive play against a weakening economy.
- Silver for May delivery jumped above $20 an ounce for the first time, reaching an all-time high of $21.32 an ounce on Thursday.
Dollar Woes: The dollar sank to new lows against the euro, pound, yen, and Swiss franc, though it rallied off its lows by Friday afternoon
- The euro rose to an all-time high against the dollar on Friday with the cost of one euro hitting $1.5462
- The Japanese yen strengthened to new highs against the dollar breaking below the 102-yen level for the first time since January 21 2005, with the dollar only purchasing 101.45 yen at its low on Friday.
- The dollar tumbled to a new all-time low against the Swiss Franc with the US dollar only purchasing 1.0137 Swiss Franc at its lowest point.
**The CurrencyShares Swiss Franc ETF was up 1.39% this week, and almost 11% in 2008.
- The British Pound rose to $2.0215 per pound on Friday, after breaching the $2.00 level for the first time this year on Thursday.
**Though gaining against the dollar, the pound has also suffered against he euro losing 3.59% this year on continued fears of the UK economy entering recession.
Market Stats:The Dow ended down -372.70 or -3.04% for the week, and negative on Friday
-The Dow is Negative YTD down -10.34%
-The Dow is off by -2,270.84 or -16.03% from the market peak on October 9th of 14,164.53
The NASDAQ ended down -58.99 or -2.60% for the week and negative on Friday
-The NASDAQ is Negative YTD down -16.58%
-The NASDAQ is off by -646.63 or -22.62% from the market peak on October 31 of 2,859.12
The S&P 500 ended down -37.26 or -2.80% for the week, and negative on Friday
-Friday the S&P 500 closed at 1,293.37 down -10.97 or -0.84%
-The S&P is Negative YTD down -11.92%
-The S&P is off by -271.78 or -17.36% from the market peak on October 9th of 1,565.15
S&P Sector Performance for the week ending Friday, March 7, 2008:
S&P 500 Utilities Sector (.GSPU) Up 0.12 or 0.06%
S&P 500 Consumer Staples Sector (.GSPS) Down -1.43 or -0.51%
S&P 500 Telecomm Services Sector (.GSPTS) Down -1.54 or -1.12%
S&P 500 Information Technology Sector (.GSPT) Down -4.17 or -1.21%
S&P 500 Industrials Sector (.GSPI) Down -7.47 or -2.28%
S&P 500 Health Care Sector (.GSPHC) Down -12.11 or -3.19%
S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary Sector (.GSPD) Down -7.86 or -3.20%
S&P 500 Materials Sector (.GSPM) Down -8.20 or -3.23%
S&P 500 Energy Sector (.GSPE) Down -19.13 or -3.34%
S&P 500 Financials Sector (.GSPF) Down -20.54 or -5.95%
S&P Top 10 Performers for the week ending Friday, March 7, 2008:
Big Lots Inc (BIG) Up 3.91 or 23.20%
National Semiconductor Corp (NSM) Up 1.78 or 10.81%
Dillards Inc (DDS) Up 1.58 or 10.68%
Tyson Foods Inc (TSN) Up 1.40 or 9.72%
Ciena Corp (CIEN) Up 1.97 or 7.63%
SUPERVALU Inc (SVU) Up 1.80 or 6.86%
Clear Channel Communications Inc (CCU) Up 2.14 or 6.69%
Kroger Co (KR) Up 1.41 or 5.81%
BMC Software Inc (BMC) Up 1.55 or 4.80%
Applied Materials Inc (AMAT) Up 0.92 or 4.80%
S&P 10 Worst Performers for the week ending Friday, March 7, 2008:
Washington Mutual Inc (WM) Down -4.09 or -27.64%
CIT Group Inc (CIT) Down -5.30 or -23.85%
Freddie Mac (FRE) Down -5.53 or -21.96%
Countrywide Financial Corp (CFC) Down -1.24 or -19.65%
Fannie Mae (FNM) Down -4.88 or -17.65%
Novell Inc (NOVL) Down -1.26 or -16.91%
King Pharmaceuticals Inc (KG) Down -1.70 or -16.04%
Lennar Corp (LEN) Down -2.90 or -15.58%
Ambac Financial Group Inc (ABK) Down -1.64 or -14.72%
Circuit City Stores Inc (CC) Down -0.58 or -13.12%
Dow Top Performers for the week ending Friday, March 7, 2008:
Microsoft Corp (MSFT) Up 0.67 or 2.46%
Coca-Cola Co (KO) Up 0.39 or 0.67%
Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT) Up 0.31 or 0.63%
AT&T Inc (T) Up 0.18 or 0.52%
Intel Corp (INTC) Up 0.10 or 0.50%
International Business Machines Corp (IBM) Up 0.08 or 0.07%
Procter & Gamble Co (PG) Down -0.38 or -0.57%
Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) Down -0.45 or -0.73%
Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ) Down -0.46 or -0.96%
ALCOA Inc (AA) Down -0.54 or -1.45%
Dow Worst Performers for the week ending Friday, March 7, 2008:
Citigroup Inc (C) Down -2.80 or -11.81%
American International Group Inc (AIG) Down -3.98 or -8.49%
JPMorgan Chase and Co (JPM) Down -3.09 or -7.60%
Bank of America (BAC) Down -3.00 or -7.55%
The Boeing Co (BA) Down -6.19 or -7.48%
Merck & Co Inc (MRK) Down -2.55 or -5.76%
General Motors Corp (GM) Down -1.32 or -5.67%
Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM) Down -4.52 or -5.19%
The Walt Disney Co (DIS) Down -1.65 or -5.09%
United Technologies Corp (UTX) Down -3.02 or -4.28%
Pfizer Inc (PFE) Down -0.93 or -4.17%
Key Earnings next week:
Monday: Dillard(DDS), Six Flags (SIX)
Tuesday: Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS), Liz Claiborne (LIZ), Take-Two Interactive (TTWO)
Wednesday: Flotek Energy (FTK), Gymboree Corp. (GYMB), Men’s Wearhouse (MW)
Thursday: Noven Pharmaceuticals (NOVN), Aeropostale (ARO)
Economic Data next week:
Monday: Wholesale Inventories
Tuesday: Trade Balance
Wednesday: Crude Inventories, Treasury Budget
Thursday: Retail Sales, Jobless Claims (Initial), Business Inventories
Friday: CPI, Core CPI
Market performance for the leap year month of February, 2008 was negative for the Dow, S&P, and NASDAQ, in stark contrast to the white hot commodities. In February alone, Palladium is up almost 45%, Platinum is up almost 26%, and soy oil is up close to 27%.
US indexes had a rough session on Friday, all down greater than 2.5%. The Dow lost over 300 points, for the 24th time since the Dow's inception in 1896. The last time the Dow lost greater than 300 points was on February 5, 2008.
Since the start of the Dow in 1896, there have only been 19 Leap Years with February 29 falling on a weekday including today. The last occurrence was eight years ago in 2000. Leap Day has been a down day more than up; only the Nasdaq has had more up Leap Days than down. Today's futures are pointing to an open that would follow this pattern.
February 29 and the Markets
The US Dollar continues to lose ground against major currencies with the Dollar index at multi-year lows, and the Euro hitting new highs against the dollar. Are there ways to profit from the weak dollar? CurrencyShares ETFs might provide a few options.
The Euro is currently trading at over $1.51 per euro, at all-time highs.
The US Dollar Index which measures the performance of the dollar against a basket of six currencies, the euro, yen, British pound, Canadian dollar, Swiss franc and the Swedish Krona, is trading at multiple year lows.
As we move towards the critical Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4th, public opinion polls are showing that Clinton is losing ground against Obama in Ohio and Texas, and Obama is on a roll with 11 straight primary victories.
Clinton went on the attack last night, early and often in the debate at Cleveland State University in Ohio. Did her aggressive behavior help her with the Intrade prediction markets\(www.intrade.com\)?
-The Intrade markets are showing little to no change from yesterday after the debate, with the contract for Hillary Clinton to receive the Democratic nomination at a probability of 16.50% and unchanged from yesterday. However, it is worth noting that this contract has fallen almost 75% in the last 30 days.
-Intrade's Obama contract for the Democratic nomination is also showing little impact after last night's debate, maintaining more than an 83% probability that Obama will receive the nod. Obama's contract is up almost 160% over the last 30 days.
What had started in US history as the means to link the east with the west, the Railroad Industry has become a critical aspect of the United States’ economy, and is one of its global competitive advantages. That trend continues as more investment is pouring into the railroad infrastructure. A recent Wall Street Journal report pointed out that railroads have spent $10 billion in upgrading and extending tracks since 2002, and will continue to invest another $12 billion.
Oil closes at a new record of $100.88 per barrel, and is climbing higher in the electronic session, hitting levels of $101.28 and higher. How does that impact your prices at the pump?
The Department of Energy EIA Weekly Retail Gas National Average is now $3.13 per gallon as of February 25th, up almost $0.09 from last week.
The Lundberg Survey of about 7,000 gas stations across the country computed a national average of $3.1011 per gallon as of February 22nd, up 15.88 cents from two weeks earlier.
Do the grim economic reports point the U.S. economy towards stagflation? The markets seem to be shaking them off...
Today the producer price index \(PPI\) monthly report showed that producer price inflation surging in January to 1.0%, and that the core rate, also firmed at 0.4%.
The year-over-year PPI is at 7.7%, up from 6.5% in December, and is at the highest rate since September 1981.
-However, the Core CPI and PPI which exclude volatile food and energy costs, are still relatively tame in comparison to the highs seen in the late 70s and early 80s
Are airline stocks losing altitude as crude oil futures take off again, moving into the $100 a barrel territory? The AMEX Airline Index , an airline sector tracker has dropped more than 24% in the past six months, weighed by a surge in oil but is actually up 3% YTD.