Gold & Silver: Technical vs. Fundamental

By Keith Weiner of Monetary Metals

Every week we talk about the supply and demand fundamentals. We were surprised to see an article about us this week. The writer thought that our technical analysis cannot see what’s going on in the market. We don’t want to fight with people, we prefer to focus on ideas. So let’s compare and contrast ordinary technical analysis with what Monetary Metals does.

Technical analysis, in all of its forms, uses the past price movements to predict the future price movements. In some cases (e.g. momentum analysis) it calculates an intermediate signal from the price signal (momentum is the first derivative of price). But no matter the style, one analyzes price history to guess the next price move.

This is necessarily probabilistic. There is no way to know that a particular price move will follow the chart pattern you see on the screen. There is no certainty. And when it does work, it is often because of self-fulfilling expectations. Since all traders have access to the same charts, and the same chart-reading theories, they can buy or sell en masse when the chart signals them to do so.

We are not here to argue for or against technical analysis. We simply want to say that it’s not what we are doing. Not at all.

Our analysis is based on different ideas. The key idea is that there is a connection between the spot and futures market. That connection is arbitrage. Think of each market as a platform that moves up and down on its own vertical track. The two tracks are close together. And the platforms are connected to each other by a spring. Suppose platform A is a bit above platform B. If you push up on A, then the spring stretches a bit more and will pull B up, though perhaps not as much. The same happens if you push down on B.

Conversely, if you push down on A, then it will compress the spring and platform B will tend to go down, though not as much.

A and B are the futures and spot markets for gold (the same analogy applies to silver). Arbitrage works just like a spring. If the price in the futures market is greater than the price in the spot market, then there is a profit to carry gold—to buy metal in the spot market and sell a futures contract. If the price of spot is higher, then the profit is to be made by decarrying—to sell metal and buy a future.

There are two keys to understanding this. One, when leveraged speculators push up the price of gold futures contracts, then that increases the basis spread. A greater basis is a greater incentive to the arbitrageur to take the trade. Two, when the arbitrageur buys spot and sells a future, the very act of putting on this trade compresses the spread.

If someone were to come along and sell enough futures contracts to push down the price of gold by $50 or $150 or whatever amount is alleged, then this selling would be on futures only. It would push the price of futures below the price of spot, a condition called backwardation.

Backwardation just has not happened at the times when the stories of the big “smash downs” have claimed. Monetary Metals has published intraday basis charts during these events many times.

The above does not describe technical analysis. It describes physics—how the market functions at a mechanical level.

There are other ways to check this. If there was a large naked short position in a contract that was headed into expiry, how would the basis behave? The arbitrage theory predicts the opposite basis move. We will leave the answer out as an exercise for the interested reader, as thinking this through is really good work to understand the dynamics of the gold and silver markets (and you can Google our past articles, where we discuss it).

This check can be observed every month, as either gold or silver has a contract expiring (right now it’s gold, as the April contract is close to First Notice Day).

This week, the prices of the metals both rose. The price of gold is almost back to where it was the prior week, but that of silver is not.

Below, we will show the only true picture of the gold and silver supply and demand. But first, the price and ratio charts.

The Prices of Gold and Silver

Continue reading Gold & Silver: Technical vs. Fundamental

Another Missed Opportunity

By Doug Noland

Credit Bubble Bulletin: Another Missed Opportunity

March 16 – Financial Times (Robin Wigglesworth, Joe Rennison and Nicole Bullock): “When Romeo impatiently hankered after Juliet, the sage friar Lawrence dispensed some valuable advice: ‘Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.’ It is a dictum the Federal Reserve clearly intends to live by, despite the improving economic outlook. There have been rising murmurs in financial markets that after years of the Fed being too optimistic on the economy, inflation and interest rates, it is now behind the curve. But on Wednesday the US central bank sent a clear message to markets that it is not in a hurry to tighten monetary policy.”

Yes, markets had begun fretting a bit that a sense of urgency might be taking hold within the Federal Reserve. But the FOMC’s two-day meeting came and went, and chair Yellen conveyed business as usual. Policy would remain accommodative for “some time.” The focus remains resolutely on a gradualist approach, with Yellen stating that three hikes a year would be consistent with gradualism. And three baby-step hikes a year would place short rates at 3.0% in early 2020 (the Fed’s “dot plot” sees 3% likely in 2019). It’s not obvious 3% short rates three years from now will provide much restraint on anything. As such, the Fed is off to a rocky start in its attempt to administer rate normalization and a resulting tightening of financial conditions.

Yellen also suggested that the committee would not be bothered by inflation overshooting the Fed’s 2.0% target: “…The Fed is not inclined to overreact to the possibility that inflation could drift slightly — and in the Fed’s view temporarily — above 2% in the coming months.” There would also be no reassessment of economic prospects based on President Trump’s agenda of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation. “We have plenty of time to see what happens.” Moreover, the Yellen Fed did not signal that it is any closer to articulating a strategy for reducing its enormous balance sheet.

Bloomberg had the most apt headlines: “Yellen Calms Fears Fed’s Policy Trigger Finger Is Getting Itchy;” “Yellen Faces New Conundrum as Conditions Defy Hike;” “The Market Is Acting Like the Fed Cut Rates.”

Ten-year Treasury yields dropped 11 bps on FOMC Wednesday to 2.49%, the “largest one-day drop since June.” Even two-year yields declined a meaningful eight bps to 1.30%. The dollar index fell 1.0%, with gold surging almost $22. The GSCI commodities index rose more than 1%. EM advanced, with emerging equities (EEM) jumping 2.6% to the high since July, 2015.

I think back to the last successful Fed tightening cycle. Well, I actually don’t recall one. Instead it’s been serial loose financial conditions and resulting recurring booms and busts. And, once again, the Fed seeks to gradually raise rates without upsetting the markets. Yellen: “I think if you compare it with any previous tightening cycle, I remember when rates were raised at every meeting, starting in mid-2004. And I think people thought that was a gradual pace, measured pace. And we’re certainly not envisioning something like that.” Heaven forbid…

In her press conference, Yellen again addressed the “neutral rate” – “The neutral level of the federal funds rate, namely the level of the federal funds rate, that we keep the economy operating on an even keel. That is a rate where we neither are pressing on the brake nor pushing down on the accelerator. That level of interest rates is quite low.”

Yellen may not believe the Fed is “pushing down on the accelerator,” yet the truck is racing down the mountain.

March 14 – Bloomberg (Claire Boston): “Companies are issuing bonds in the U.S. at the fastest pace ever… Investment-grade firms are on track to complete the busiest first quarter for debt sales since at least 1999. Firms… have pushed new issues to more than $360 billion so far in 2017, closing in on the previous record of $381 billion from 2009… That puts bond sales 14% ahead of last year’s record pace… High-yield bond offerings have also roared back after a plunge in commodity prices muted new issues last year. Junk-rated firms have sold more than $72 billion in 2017 through Monday, compared with $41.7 billion in the first quarter of 2016.”

March 16 – Bloomberg (Sid Verma and Julie Verhage): “Financial markets are telling Janet Yellen there’s more work to be done — or else. While the Federal Reserve chair raised interest rates by 25 bps as expected Wednesday, the outlook was less hawkish than market participants foresaw, with projections for the medium-term tightening cycle largely unchanged… ‘Our financial conditions index eased by an estimated 14 bps on the day — about 2.3 standard deviations and the equivalent of almost one full cut in the funds rate — and is now considerably easier than in early December, despite two funds rate hikes in the meantime,’ Goldman Chief Economist Jan Hatzius and team wrote…”

Continue reading Another Missed Opportunity

DJI Oscillator Positive Index

By Tom McClellan

DJI Oscillator Positive Index

DJI Oscillator Positive Index
March 17, 2017

The DJIA itself might be hanging around all-time highs, but its components are telling a different story.  When a higher index high is made on declining participation, that’s a problem.

The indicator in this week’s chart is one I thought up about 20 years ago, one of a set of indicators that look at the 30 Dow stocks to see what they are doing.  This is a type of “diffusion index”, which describes an indicator that looks at the behaviors of each member of a group in order to generalize about the group.  All market breadth indicators are diffusion indices, for example.

In this case, the indicator is looking at the Price Oscillator for each of the 30 Dow stocks to see if they are above or below zero.  When we refer to our Price Oscillators, what we mean is an indicator calculated as the difference between the 10% Trend and 5% Trend (19-day and 39-day exponential moving averages, as some people call them) of closing prices.  This is the same math as we use for the McClellan A-D Oscillator, which uses the daily A-D difference as its raw data.  The Price Oscillator uses closing prices.  This is similar to the math involved in Gerald Appel’s MACD, which typically uses 12-day and 26-day EMAs.  Interestingly, Appel came up with that idea in 1969, the same year that my parents developed the math for the McClellan Oscillator (and independently from Appel).

Here is a Price Oscillator for General Electric, for example:

GE Price Oscillator

The DJI Oscillator Positive Index seems to follow the underlying trend of the market quite well.  That’s a nice property, especially since it is less noisy than the DJIA itself.  It is all the more valuable when it shows a change in that trend by crossing its own 15-day moving average.

That is the condition we have right now, with a slight down move for this indicator taking it below the 15MA.  It says the presumptive trend for the market right now is downward.

For the bigger picture, this indicator can also give useful messages about high and low extremes.  Here is a longer term chart:

DJI Oscillator Positive Index

When it gets to a true extreme, and especially when it shows a nice divergence relative to the DJIA, that can be a powerful message.  We do not have that sort of message now, just a more ordinary type of downturn that begs for a minor pullback, but not a major bear market.

Subscribe to Tom McClellan’s free weekly Chart In Focus email.

Related Charts

Feb 02, 2017

A-D Line New High
Jul 13, 2016

Gobs of Breadth: The Haurlan Index
Oct 16, 2015

McClellan Oscillator Interpretation

Chart In Focus Archive

“Pump” & Dump?

By Heisenberg

If there’s anything I’ve been consistent on over the past several months, it’s been the idea that Wall Street and investors probably shouldn’t throw good money after bad when it comes to US shale.

US operators have demonstrated an unwavering propensity to outspend, forcing them to rely on capital markets to plug funding gaps. Fortunately (for them), the central bank-inspired hunt for yield has meant that both debt and equity markets are relatively forgiving. And so, otherwise insolvent production weathered the two year downturn in prices and lived to pump another day.

When the OPEC (non) cuts drove prices up some four months ago, these operators came out of hibernation and it’s been off to the races in terms of US production and ramped up capex plans ever since. As a reminder, here’s a bit of color out last month from Wells Fargo:

Street Missing The History Lesson. With the activity ramp fully underway and the attention now on volumes growth, we wanted to revisit the topic of E&P outspend. We Model Outspend Much Greater Than Consensus. Operators seem to have short memories when it comes to capital discipline which is why it’s no surprise to us that we’re already starting to see signs of a meaningful ramp in spending emerge.

Poor capital discipline has consequences as enterprise values are expanded through either net debt or equity increases. In all cases, existing common stockholders’ share of total EV is diluted, all else equal. Therefore, production and cash flow forecasts are less impactful than headline figures suggest after making an adjustment for associated dilution.

Right. “In all cases, existing common stockholders’ share of total EV is diluted,” but don’t tell that to all the gullible folks who contributed to a blockbuster January in terms of equity raises by US producers. Via Bloomberg:

Wall Street is throwing the most money at U.S. energy companies since at least 2000 amid growing confidence that the industry is emerging from the worst downturn in a generation.

Energy firms raised $6.64 billion in 13 equity offerings in January, drawn in by a rich combination of oil prices consistently above $50 a barrel and a rush to drill that’s doubled the rigs in use in the U.S. and Canada since May. The biggest change from last year: oilfield servicers that provide the rigs, fracking equipment and sand used by drillers.

bloomberg

Included in that $6.64 billion was the $508.4 million raised on January 20 by Keane Group, a Houston-based provider of fracking services, in what was the first IPO of the year in the US. Here’s what I said back in early February about that:

Continue reading “Pump” & Dump?

Trader Education Week, Free!

By Elliott Wave International (sponsored post)

Announcing Trader Education Week — A FREE trading event that will teach you how to spot trading opportunities in your charts. Spend March 20-24 getting free trading lessons that you can apply to your trading immediately — from one of the world’s foremost market technicians, Jeffrey Kennedy. Register now for your FREE week of trading lessons and get immediate access to 2 introductory resources.


Dear Trader,

You have an opportunity to spend the next week learning how you can spot high-confidence trade setups in the charts you follow every day.

Elliott Wave International (EWI) is hosting a free Trader Education Week, March 20-24. Register now and get instant access to free trading resources — and you’ll receive more lessons as they’re unlocked each day of the event. You’ll learn about Elliott waves, Fibonacci analysis, indicators and oscillators, Japanese candlesticks and more!

Jeffrey Kennedy, EWI Senior Instructor and a Chartered Market Technician, has taught thousands how to improve their trading through his courses, subscription services and as an adjunct professor of technical analysis at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Now you have the opportunity to be a student in his online classroom, as he takes complex technical methods and tools and breaks them down so that you can apply them to your trading immediately.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to spot trading opportunities in the markets you follow.

Register today and get your first 2 free trading resources immediately, plus we’ll alert you to valuable new resources unlocked every day beginning March 20.

Register for Trader Education Week — It’s FREE!

Trader: “Much more to come” for Treasury Rally, Dollar Slump

By Heisenberg

Former FX trader Mark Cudmore was right.

And so were we.

Just hours before the Fed’s “dovish”, “just right” hike sent yields plunging across the curve, Cudmore said the following:

Fed rate increases should send Treasury yields up, right? It looks more likely the opposite is going to happen following the expected central bank rate rise Wednesday

We added this:

And my, oh my – if that happens and all of the shorts in the belly of the curve have to cover, it would be quite the spectacle. 

Belly

Indeed, Wednesday was basically a replay of the previous two hikes in terms of the reaction in yields:

YieldsHIkes

Of course the dollar plunged as well on the dovish message:

ChartFed

On Thursday, Cudmore is out with what amounts to a victory lap – and a prediction that there’s a lot more room to run in the UST rally and a lot more downside ahead for the dollar.

Via Bloomberg

The initial reaction to the Fed was big. But there’s much more to come still as the message was about as dovish as could have been envisioned, given it was accompanying a rate rise.

  • This column had argued that long-end yields would fall after the Fed hike. An 11 basis-point drop in 10-year Treasury yields on Wednesday might seem significant, but it’s not in the context of what happened at the meeting
  • Apart from lower commodity prices, solid but not exceptional economic growth, and a lack of runaway inflation, much of my anticipation of a dovish market reaction was based on the fact that the market was very much positioned the other way
  • But Yellen didn’t just disappoint the extremely hawkish hopes — she genuinely wasn’t hawkish at all. Of course, she couldn’t be outright negative on the economy and inflation given the Fed was tightening policy — but she went as far as she could in that direction
  • Notably, near-term risks to the economic outlook still “appear roughly balanced,” rather than skewed to the upside as some had anticipated. The Fed emphasized it’s targeting a “sustained” return to 2 percent inflation, rather than just reaching that target
  • Yellen also reiterated that the benchmark rate will persist for some time below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run, with “gradual” hikes still the plan
  • Not only did the median dot plot not rise above 3 hikes in 2017, but the average barely rose. Only five dots showed more than three hikes this year — the exact same as there were in December. Four hikes weren’t even a near miss — it wasn’t even on the radar of the majority
  • And there was no discussion of the central bank balance sheet either. That was only a tail risk but it’s yet another point lacking for the hawks
  • Everything about this meeting that could surprise dovishly, managed to do so. U.S. yields and the dollar have much further to fall as a result

Global Asset Allocation Update

By Joseph Calhoun of Alhambra

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation between risk assets and bonds is unchanged at 50/50.

The Fed spent the last month forward guiding the market to the rate hike they implemented today. Interest rates, real and nominal, moved up in anticipation of a more aggressive Fed rate hiking cycle. Post meeting, a lot of the rise came out of the market. Nominal and real 10 year Treasury rates dropped by an identical 11 basis points on the day. Rates fell at the short end too as the yield curve shifted lower but didn’t flatten significantly. The market was looking for a big change in the Fed’s growth and inflation expectations and the dots basically didn’t move. Long term growth expectations are still 1.8-2.0% and inflation expectations were unchanged at 2.0% on the PCE deflator.

Just as or maybe more important was the emphasis in the statement on its “symmetric” inflation target. Rather than say, as they did in the last statement, that inflation was expected to “rise to 2% over the medium term”, the Fed now says “inflation will stabilize around 2%”. I know it seems like a minor change but what it means is that the Fed isn’t going to get too excited if the inflation rate goes above 2% for a period of time. They further emphasized the point by saying:

The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting some further strengthening in labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation.

What all the language changes mean is the Fed isn’t really shifting to a more hawkish stance and that rate hikes will not be coming fast and furious this year. The dot plot indicates the Fed still expects two more hikes this year. The market was starting to price in four (today’s plus two more) and that had to come out of the market after the meeting. This was the most dovish rate hike in the history of rate hikes. Greenspan’s old conundrum was that long term rates weren’t rising as the Fed hiked. The conundrum today is that even short term rates aren’t rising as the Fed hikes. Two year note yields are right back to where they were after the December rate hike.

The post-FOMC moves today were very beneficial for our allocation. Obviously, the move in bonds was beneficial as we are overweight bonds in our moderate risk portfolio. We also have more duration in our bond allocation than most firms; we are much more wary of credit risk than duration risk. The indirect consequence of today’s meeting was felt in currency and commodity markets which was also beneficial. The dollar index fell hard after the announcement as the difference in growth expectations between the US and Europe continue to narrow. That pushed gold and other commodities higher along with commodity sector stocks, all of which are represented in our portfolio.

Overall, our indicators haven’t changed enough to warrant any changes to the allocation. The yield curve sits in the middle of its historic range, providing us with little guidance. Credit spreads narrowed, then started widening again and finished up a bit wider than the last update. But it wasn’t enough to trigger any action. Earnings were up in Q4 and may even be able to get a third consecutive quarter of improvement in Q1 but stock prices have once again outpaced actual earnings growth. In other words, valuations in the US are still sky high. As I’ve stated many times over the last couple of years, ex-US stocks are much cheaper and that is still true. Momentum isn’t telling us a lot either, certainly nothing that warrants a change in allocation.

Continue reading Global Asset Allocation Update

Inflation, But Only Where it Hurts

By Jeffrey Snider of Alhambra

The Consumer Price Index increased 2.74% in February 2017 over February 2016. That was the highest inflation rate registered in this format since February 2012. As has been the case for the past three months, the acceleration of headline inflation is due almost exclusively to the sharp increase in oil prices as compared to the lowest levels last year (base effects). It is the only part of the CPI report which captures anything like it.

The energy price index was up 15.6% year-over-year, compared to an 11.1% increase in January. The gamma of energy and therefore the CPI is already fading, with oil prices having been stuck at $52-$54 during the months of January and February. If WTI remains about where it is now, around $48, the current month (March) will be the last to feature any significant acceleration from oil.

The other parts of the CPI are as they have been consistently throughout. The “core” index, CPI less food and energy, was up 2.2% in February. It was the fifteenth straight month where the core increase was one of 2.1%, 2.2%, or 2.3%. In what is probably the best indication of inflation stripped of energy, the last time the core rate accelerated even slightly was during the second half of 2015.

Continue reading Inflation, But Only Where it Hurts

World Out of Whack: What’s Next for Global Real Estate?

By Capitalist Exploits

Market dislocations occur when financial markets, operating under stressful conditions, experience large widespread asset mispricing.

Welcome to this week’s edition of “World Out Of Whack” where every Wednesday we take time out of our day to laugh, poke fun at and present to you absurdity in global financial markets in all its glorious insanity.

While we enjoy a good laugh, the truth is that the first step to protecting ourselves from losses is to protect ourselves from ignorance. Think of the “World Out Of Whack” as your double thick armour plated side impact protection system in a financial world littered with drunk drivers.

Selfishly we also know that the biggest (and often the fastest) returns come from asymmetric market moves. But, in order to identify these moves we must first identify where they live.

Occasionally we find opportunities where we can buy (or sell) assets for mere cents on the dollar – because, after all, we are capitalists.

In this week’s edition of the WOW: global real estate

Ever since anyone can remember, global real estate prices have been going up. Pretty much doesn’t matter which country you’re from (unless, of course, it’s Syria, or Iraq… or Fuhggedistan): if you bought something in the last 2 to 3 decades, it’s like the ceilings were insulated with helium. Even when the 2008 crisis hit and we had Captain Clever ensuring the world that things were just peachy:

“At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.” – Ben Bernanke, March 28, 2007

Even with that setback real estate has marched upward. The US, of course, took a decent breather and is only today back to where it was pre the GFC.

But the US isn’t the world, so let’s look at what everyone else has been up to.

Take a look at this:

In the British empire and all its former colonies the inmates pretty much trucked on after a short “uh-oh” moment:

Continue reading at TalkMarkets →

The Corporate Bond Market: The Start of the Matter

By Danielle DiMartino Booth

Of all virtues to which we must ultimately aspire, forgiveness demands the most of our souls. In our naivety, we may fancy ourselves man or woman enough to absolve those who have wronged us. But far too often, we find our pool of grace has run dry. So deeply burdened are we by our emotions that grace to us is lost. How many of us have the strength of resolve to let bygones be gone for good? Those of the cloth recognize the damage self-inflicted scars sear into our souls as they seek to guide us through life’s most difficult journeys. They pray for our deliverance from a painful inner turmoil and with it the peace only forgiveness can convey.

None who have ever heard Don Henley’s The Heart of the Matter could be blamed for thinking divine inspiration itself came down from the heavens to spawn those longing lyrics. But it isn’t just the words that scorch their way into your memory, it’s Henley’s tone, the raw pain that pierces every time you’re caught off guard by the mournful ballad released in 1989. Henley sings of our feeble struggle as no other, grasping for our collective release in humility. “The more I know, the less I understand. All the things I thought I’d figured out, I have to learn again.” In the end, Henley hands down the cruelest of convictions: If you truly want to vanquish your demons, you must find the strength within to forgive.

Astute policymakers might be saying a few prayers of their own on fixed income investors’ behalves. The explosion in corporate bond issuance since credit markets unfroze in the aftermath of the financial crisis is nothing short of epic. Some issuers have been emboldened by the cheap cost of credit associated with their sturdy credit ratings. Those with less than stellar credit have been prodded by equally emboldened investors gasping for yield as they would an oasis in a desert. Forgiveness, it would seem, will be required of bond holders, possibly sooner than most of us imagine.

For whatever reason, we remain in a world acutely focused on credit ratings. It’s as if the mortgage market never ballooned to massive proportions and imploded under its own weight. In eerie echoes of the subprime mania, investors indulge on the comfort food of pristine credit ratings despite what’s staring them in the face – a credit market that’s become so obese as to threaten its own cardiac moment. It may take you by surprise, but the U.S. corporate bond market has more than doubled in the space of eight years. Consider that at year end 2008, high yield and investment grade bonds plus leveraged loans equaled $3.5 trillion. Today we’re staring down the barrel of an $8.1 trillion market.

The age-old question is, and remains:  Does size matter?

Continue reading The Corporate Bond Market: The Start of the Matter