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With all eyes on Wednesday's Fed statement, gold traders continue to play the range. The choppy trading in bullion has continued, marked by $10 to $15 swings. December gold futures reached a new low for this week at $1,338.30 on Tuesday night, but on Wednesday morning, the market has rallied back sharply, approaching $1,360.
The Fed is not expected to announce any adjustment in bond purchases in its Wednesday statement. But we will still get some insight about the health of the economy, and the Fed's plan.
JPMorgan's Tom Lee has long been a bull on stocks, and even as the S&P 500 has risen impressively to meet his 1,775 year-end target, he has not lost his enthusiasm for the market's potential. In fact, the unrelenting bearishness among so many on Wall Street is precisely the reason he foresees stocks sailing higher still.
"No one's really embraced this as a sustainable bull market, and I think when we start to see the market that way, multiples could expand a lot—especially for sectors like technology," Lee said on Tuesday's "Futures Now."
Lee, who is JPMorgan's chief U.S. equity strategist, draws on personal experience to make the case that investors "aren't really that bullish": "I still continue to find that both in my meetings with professional managers and with individual investors that they're viewing this rally purely as a Fed-induced sugar high."
Because they take such a dim view of the market, investors are still positioned relatively bearishly, according to Lee.
Gold has held against the major $1,352 level in early Monday trading and has been unable to surpass Friday's high of $1,356.40. This makes sense, as traders can expect gold to stay in a range ahead of Monday's November options expiration.
Another reason gold is likely to remain range-bound as we head into this week: All eyes are on the two-day Fed Open Market Committee meeting, which begins Tuesday. It's unlikely that the Fed will announce a taper of bond purchases, but investors will still be scrutinizing the Fed statement that will be released on Wednesday. They're looking for clues to when tapering may begin.
(Read more: Hilsenrath to Wall Street: You don't know Fed)
Gas futures are trading around a 52-week low, which is not too unexpected—gasoline demand is always weakest in the fourth quarter. But with the recent selloff in crude, and more downside predicted, gas will trade even lower.
If you look at the charts going back 10 years, you will see that in just about every one of them, gas sells off around this time of year. That's because of the declining seasonal demand for gasoline. After all, the market focuses on fundamentals, and the fundamental story right now is that there is plenty of supply, and demand has not gotten over 9 million barrels per day, the usual pivot point for prices.
Brent Johnson, the CEO of Santiago Capital, believes that economic problems in the United States will lead to a $200 rally in gold over the next two months.
"It wouldn't surprise me to be back at $1,500 or $1,550 by the end of the year," the portfolio manager said on Thursday's "Futures Now."
Gold, which settled on Thursday at $1,350 per troy ounce, hasn't touched $1,500 since early April, when it shed more than $200 in two harrowing sessions.
Johnson does note that sentiment around gold is "really low." The latest example of that came on Oct. 8, when the head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs, Jeffrey Currie, said that gold would become a "slam dunk sell" after the government shutdown ended and the debt ceiling debate was settled.
"A number of different firms around the world are saying 'Sell gold,' that it's a 'slam dunk sell,' so there's still a lot of negative sentiment out there," Johnson said. "And there are a lot of shorts out there."
To Johnson, this is actually good news.
"You can get a bit of a pop, and all of the sudden those shorts start to cover, people start to realize that QE is here to stay and not going anywhere, and things can change very quickly," he said. "I mean, gold can go up just as quickly as it came down."
In early Wednesday trading, crude has dropped below $96.50, and has blown through most major support levels below $100 just this week. The next major level of support comes in at $94.75.
Ralph Acampora is not looking forward to next year. While Altaira's director of technical analysis is bullish into the end of 2013, he fears that a year-end rally could set stocks up for a painful 2014.
"2014 is a year that we should have some sort of a decline," Acampora said on Tuesday's "Futures Now."
Acampora, often known as the godfather of technical analysis, then went on to enumerate the three reasons that next year makes him so nervous.
Reason one: The market will be overextended
Acampora believes that stocks will have a sweet end to 2013, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing out the year "somewhere between 16,500 and 17,000"—or 7 to 10 percent higher than where the index is trading today.
But once the market gets to that level, buyers might suddenly make themselves scare.
"Assuming I'm right, and we get a little bit of a correction here and then we go higher and it's across the board—all-time highs in the Russell averages and the S&P, and the Dow catches up and everybody's euphoric—if that happens and we go into the new year, 2014, then we're going to be facing extended price charts," Acampora said. "The market will be very overbought."
(Read more: Cashin: Tech valuations remind me of dot-com bubble)
Rightly or wrongly, a bevy of companies are likely to blame weak fourth quarter earnings on the government shutdown and the debt ceiling debate.
In third quarter earnings commentary and guidance, several companies in a wide swath of industries have outright warned that the D.C. situation would impact fourth quarter earnings, or at least remarked that it added a measure of uncertainty. And some, such as Stanley Black & Decker and Linear Technology, have lowered their fourth quarter guidance, partially as a result of what happened in Washington.
Companies are "setting the table," said FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters. Bringing up the government's potential impact now allows management to say "Look, we pointed this out as a potential concern early in the quarter, and now it's happening."
Only a few companies have blamed third quarter weakness on Washington, and with good reason—the shutdown started on Oct. 1, just after the quarter ended.
But after Citigroup missed earnings expectations, CEO Mike Corbat included the D.C. situation on a laundry list of problems, saying on the earnings call that "our results reflect a challenging operating environment, including the slowdown in client activity based on uncertainty regarding Fed tapering, concerns about the effect of a U.S. government shutdown, and forecasts for slowing economic growth, particularly in the emerging markets."
The way people are treating technology companies, it's starting to feel a bit too much like 1999 and 2000, Art Cashin said on Thursday's "Futures Now."
"I do worry a little bit that we're beginning to hear things that are reminiscent of the 1999-2000 period—the number of hits, the number of eyeballs," said Cashin, the director of floor operations for UBS Financial Services.
In the heat of the tech bubble, investors infamously valued site viewers—or "eyeballs"—more highly than revenue. In one of the most dramatic examples of this, Yahoo purchased Web hosting site GeoCities for some $3.6 billion in January 1999—despite the fact that GeoCities' expenses at the time were trumping the minuscule amount of revenue the company was taking in.
Yahoo overlooked the financials in favor of the fact that it was the third-most-visited site on the Internet. But as those visitors steadily disappeared, Yahoo's decision looked the opposite of prescient.
When Cashin surveys the tech landscape today, he similarly hears rhetoric that values users over profits.
"I think if we hold to the old tried-and-true—how many dollars are coming in—then we might be better served," Cashin said. "But people are extrapolating, in some way, in a manner similar to the way they did in 1999-2000."
Many thought that a catastrophic outcome that involved the U.S. hitting the debt ceiling was gold's best hope for a sustained move higher—which left some traders surprised by gold's positive reaction to the deal announcement.
But George Gero, precious metals strategist at RBC Capital Markets, reports that gold open interest fell on the deal even as gold futures rose, meaning that traders were closing their short positions.
(Read more: Wall Street not listening to Washington anymore)
Gero said that people made debt ceiling bets by trading gold and stocks together. "One could have been a hedge against the other."
But now, with the Senate agreeing on a deal and voting about to start, "If you've been using [gold] as a trading vehicle, you want to get out, because there's no more reason to be on the short side of gold," Gero said.
In other words, if you were making a bet on gold and stocks amid the D.C. uncertainty, "You basically want to just square your book now." And for those who were shorting gold on the hunch that it would drop off of a coming deal, squaring their book means closing their short positions.
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