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Market Insider with Patti Domm Trader Talk with Bob Pisani


  Monday, 7 Jul 2008 | 4:02 PM ET

Markets "Resolve" Nothing

Posted By: Bob Pisani

How stressful was it today? Try this: the Dow was up nicely at the open on lower commodities, at 11,400 right near the open, then plunged 280 points as the dollar dropped, oil rallied, and Freddie Macand Fannie Maedropped notably, all in a half hour period! Then it rallies another 180 points, then moves down into the close.

Is it any wonder that traders are stressed?

We've made a lot of the market's complacency, that even though bearishness is high, fear is not. Today the VIX (CBOE Volatility Index, a fear indicator), moved to the highest levels since mid-March; the S&P moved to its lowest levels in two years.

In financials, light volume and stocks in the green early on turned midday into a route, as prices moved down and volume increased notably.

Energy stocks were strong early on, then sold off as oil fell apart , then rallied modestly but still ended the day down.

Bottom line: this day resolved nothing.

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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  Monday, 7 Jul 2008 | 2:27 PM ET

Market's Troubles: Commodites, Freddie And Fannie

Posted By: Bob Pisani

This is a day with a lot of vicious cross-currents, and like many days in the last six months these cross-currents are making it very difficult to trade. There are two major problems:

1) financials, which were flirting with bottoms last week, and which opened strong, sold right off late morning. Sell Into Any Financial Rally is the main mantra of the market, but in this case notable weakness in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae has caused considerable confusion.

Some pointed to a Lehman analyst reported, noting that if a pending FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board, which develops generally accepted accounting principles for U.S. firms) rule came into effect, it could require Fannie to add $46B of capital and Freddie to add $29B.

The problem with this argument is: 1) it came out at 1 am this morning, and 2) the FASB rule change has been floated for a long time, 3) there's a good chance the rule will not come into effect.

So what's going on? There have been concerns about Fannie and Freddie for several months. Simply put: Freddie is undercapitalized and they need to raise money, and it's tough to shore up a $500 billion balance sheet with a $10 billion market cap (now below $8 billion), and money raising is getting more expensive...and balance sheets are deteriorating. And they are grossly exposed to mortgages when they are taking on additional risks.

That concern makes some sense, but it is not new. Most likely explanation: fast money guys are again taking the tape down to the lows again on very light volume, using this "report" and other vague worries as an excuse to raise questions. Sound familiar?

2) the other problem is a vicious reversal in commodities, which started weaker on a stronger dollar (helping stocks initially), then reversed as the dollar got weaker midday. Energy stocks started strong, then sold off, and have not yet recovered.

These kind of vicious reversals is why traders find it so difficult to make money, even on an intra-day basis.

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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  Monday, 7 Jul 2008 | 9:08 AM ET

Alcoa Will Likely Set The Tone For Quarter

Posted By: Bob Pisani

Commodities are a bit weaker here as the dollar is stronger, stock futures are flat.

Europe and Asia are mostly higher, the Shanghai Composite, however, is up 4.6 percent today, best day in a month on strong earnings forecast from a couple of their banks.

South Korea the latest country to say they will defend their currency. The won has declined in value on inflation concerns.


1) Brewer InBev, frustrated by the refusal of Anheuser-Busch'sboard to negotiate, is now announcing that they will attempt to remove the company's entire board . They want the company's shareholders to vote on the board's future and will argue the board is not acting in the company's best interests.

2) GM is again considering cutting thousands of white-collar jobs and is even considering selling some brands, according to the WSJ. June sales were down, but not as much as expected.

3) The stock market in June began pricing in lower expectations for earnings in the second half of the year, but there could still be a few surprises. Much of the tone for quarter will be set by Alcoa, reporting after the bell tomorrow. Alcoa, of course, depends on aggressive commodity forecasts, which will give us insights into the global economy. There is concern over cost escalation due to higher natural gas and other costs. Finally, M&A is still very much a background issue.

4) Disneycut to underweight at Lehman; Merck downgraded at UBS on concerns over Gardasil, its vaccine for human papillomavirus.

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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  Thursday, 3 Jul 2008 | 1:46 PM ET

The Bull And Bear Arguments

Posted By: Bob Pisani

Materials this week:

Weatherford down 8.9%
AK Steel down 23%
Freeport McMoran down 7.0%
Alcoa down 7.7%
Monsanto down 6.7%

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  Thursday, 3 Jul 2008 | 9:37 AM ET

The Big Issue For Stocks: Selloff In Materials

Posted By: Bob Pisani

June payrolls came in in line with expectations , though there were revisions downward in prior months.

No surprise, the ECB raised rates a quarter point to 4.25 percent ; Sweden also raised rates. The dollar rose. What's up in Japan? The Nikkei has fallen 11 days in a row, the longest losing streak since 1953.

In equities, the big issue is what is driving the selloff in materials; yesterday energy stocks were hit for the first time. Remember, energy and to a lesser extent materials were the last bulwarks of the market.

Tech stocks down in sympathy with Nvidia, the graphics chip maker, down 29 percent, as they cut their second quarter sales and profit outlook . Global weakness cited, but some traders are telling me the company mishandled the inventory.

Alcoa, which reported earnings on February 8th, was upgraded at Soleil, due to "the drop in the stock price of more than 9 points (or almost 23%) during the past five weeks, versus a drop of 9.3% in the S&P500 over the same time period;" they also noted that aluminum prices have been increasing recently.

Aetna downgraded to sell at Goldman, saying "the company cannot remain immune from the margin pressure impacting other carriers in the price-sensitive commercial risk business." Down 4 percent.

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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  Wednesday, 2 Jul 2008 | 4:24 PM ET

Why Stocks Were Lower

Posted By: Bob Pisani

Stocks moved lower midday as oil and heating oil moved up. The dollar was also weaker, as the ECBis set to raise rates tomorrow.

The key event today was the weakness in leadership groups. Today coal and energy stocks were notably weaker on no real news. There is two schools of thought here: 1) macro types argue that energy stocks should weaken as global demand slackens, and 2) bears argue that in an ongoing bear market the market leadership eventually gets taken out along with everyone else. Then we can start talking about a bottom.

They are not the only leadership group that has weakened; steel stocks were down for a second day in a row.

The primary risk for traders in the next day is headline risk: fear that some event, usually around oil, might happen over the long weekend.

But this will all be gone soon enough, and next week earnings season will begin with Alcoa July 8th. The shares have gone from $40 to $32 on worries that global demand for aluminum would be slowing down. But I am told aluminum prices are holding up, and while North American demand may have weakened, Asian demand remains strong. Alcoa's comments on global demand will be one of the key events next week.

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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  Wednesday, 2 Jul 2008 | 1:59 PM ET

Sell Into Rallies Still Rules Street

Posted By: Bob Pisani

We are getting just the kind of trading that would be expected: modest rally on shreds of good news, met with selling (or just buyers stepping away) midday.

Remember the basic facts of the market: 1) stocks are oversold, 2) traders are extremely bearish, and 3) "sell into rallies" remains the dominant trading motif.

With that said, there is some hope that the tape is in a consolidation mode. What's that mean? In plain English, they're hoping we are at yet another bottom. Yes, another bottom--if we stop here we have a Triple Bottom (cue the creepy music), with January, March, and now the end of June.

But a bottom on oversold sentiment is not enough, not by a long shot. We will need a string of positive comments to really move things. Deutsche Bank and UBS saying they don't need to raise more capital, and GM saying June sales not as bad as expected are a good start. Tomorrow, nonfarm payrolls, if better than expected, should create a modest rally, but even there, expect selling into rallies if it moves too far.

Particularly troubling are materials. I have noted for days that this former leadership group is showing signs of topping. Again today steel stocks are under attack. I am told by traders that the fundamentals are still intact, that foreign countries are keeping up production giving support to the domestic producers.

Today, for the first time, coal stocks have come under attack.

If you are bearish, this fits in well with the main thesis: that in a bear market, it's not over until the leadership groups get sold off.

If you believe this thesis, the bears say, then energy is next.

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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  Wednesday, 2 Jul 2008 | 9:22 AM ET

Markets Oversold, Traders Bearish

Posted By: Bob Pisani

The market remains oversold and traders remain extremely bearish. Example: the Investors Intelligence survey of financial newsletter writers continues to drop, with Bulls down to 31.9 percent (vs. 33.7 last week) and the Bears at 44.7 bears (vs. 39.3 percent last week), the lowest readings since the market bottom in March.

The most important news this morning comes from Europe: Deutsche Bankis up 5 percent pre-open after staring they would make a profit in the second quarter and would not require more capital. Yesterday UBS also said it would not require more capital.

Also overseas, please note that the Nikkei is down 10 days in a row.


1) UnitedHealth Groupagain cut its earnings forecast, but they are up 5 percent as the stocks have already reflected the prior forecast cuts from them and other HMOs. The problem: the amounts they are charging are not in line with the costs they are incurring (margin squeeze).

2) Blockbusterhas withdrawn its bid for Circuit City, citing market conditions. Circuit City said its "announced exploration of strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value is an active and ongoing process."

3) I mentioned yesterday that the hot IPO of the week was over at the NASDAQ--Energy Recovery (ERII) makes energy recovery devices for water desalination plants. It priced 14 m shares at $8.50 a share, toward the high end of the $7 to $9 estimated range.


--Meredith Whitney at Oppenheimer reduced estimates for Merrill Lynch (from a gain of $0.20 to a loss of $4.21!), saying they will likely do some form of capital raising in conjunction with the second quarter earnings release.

--Bernstein upgraded ExxonMobilto Outperform, saying that earnings revisions were coming.

--Finally, in the gee-thanks-for-that category: Merrill Lynch downgrades GM, reduces the price target for $7 from $28 (read that again: to $7 from $28) and adds we believe there is potential downside in the stock below $7 and "bankruptcy is not impossible if the market continues to deteriorate and significant incremental capital is not raised." GM down 4 percent.

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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  Tuesday, 1 Jul 2008 | 4:09 PM ET

How Today's Market Took Step In Right Direction

Posted By: Bob Pisani

Don't let the flat final numbers fool you: there was lots of market drama today.

This morning, in discussions with my colleague Dylan Ratigan, I stuck my neck out and said that the market should trade up modestly today for several reasons: 1) ISM was better than expected, 2) first day of the third quarter is historically an up day, and 3) the market is as oversold and bearish as I have seen it in many years.

But there was little interest in buying through a good part of the day--indeed market leaders like tech and energy stocks were being sold through the early afternoon. More hand-wringing.

Stocks began coming off their lows just after 1 pm ET, but there was still no catalyst to move things notably higher.

Then, just before 2 pm ET, GMannounced auto sales for June were just down a little over 8 percent, much better than the decline of nearly 20 percent expected. GM rallied, but so did all the other stocks in the auto sector (even Ford, which didn't report better than expected numbers), and then the short-covering began as the market turned around.

How oversold is the market? Take a look at the S&P Oscillator. An oscillator is just a fancy word for a program that looks at how oversold or overbought the market is. Without going into details, it triggers a Sell signal when it is +4 or above, and a Buy signal when it is -4 or below. An extreme oversold is -8 or below.

Last night it was -9.4, the most oversold reading since July 2002. The market, you'll recall, bottomed in October 2002. THAT is what I mean when I say the market is oversold.

As any market wag will tell you, the market can remain oversold for a long time. So can bearishness, although the levels I am seeing now are rather extreme.

Bottom line: this was a battle between bulls and bears, and the market revealed itself to be very oversold, but not strong enough to rally significantly. It’s a step in the right direction.

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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  Tuesday, 1 Jul 2008 | 12:33 PM ET

Why Buying Remains "Muted"

Posted By: Bob Pisani

There are several reasons we ought to get modest buying interest today: 1) ISM was stronger than expected, 2) start of the quarter is traditionally more of an up than down day, as traders put new money to work, and many nibble on beaten-up groups, and 3) we had a 90% downside day June 26th, which coming on dramatically oversold conditions should attract some buyers.

And yet, buying interest remains muted, a fact that is preoccupying technical analysts this morning. For example, Lowry's noted that "the failure to rally is occurring in the face of persistent short term oversold readings suggests substantial underlying weakness in the market."

There's no doubt we are in unconventional times. The big issues aren't going away: capital raising/writeoff worries for the financials, tapped out consumers, no clear bottom in housing, and global inflation.

Still, the question remains: how long will the "go long commodities/short financials" trade go on? Forget energy stocks--materials like steel and metals are already looking toppy, with many in a downtrend for the past two weeks:

--Freeport-McMoran topped out in May;

--Nucor at the lowest levels since April;

--Alcoaat the lowest levels since February

--International Paper at a 17 year low.

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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About Trader Talk with Bob Pisani

  • Direct from the floor of the NYSE, Trader Talk with Bob Pisani provides a dynamic look at the reasons for the day’s actions on Wall Street. If you want to go beyond the latest numbers— Bob will tell you why the market does what it does and what it means for the next day’s trading.


  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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