This could have been a summer Friday. Other than the jobs report nothing happened and the market reflected that lack of headlines.
You would have thought it was Halloween Friday and everyone took off early to go trick or treating. Trading was lackluster and the results reflected the lack of interest. There was a small burst of buy orders at the close that offset a few market on close sell orders so the indexes closed about where they started the day.
We needed a week to decompress from the October rebound and that is what we got. The Dow Industrials and the Dow Transports were the only real gainers with the Nasdaq, S&P and Russell 2000 averaging about a .6% gain. That is nothing to write home about but considering the potential for a decent bout of profit taking I think everyone is glad to score any gain for the week.
The Nonfarm Payroll report was applauded and cussed depending on your viewpoint. The headline number was a gain of +214,000 jobs compared to the consensus estimates of +235,000. However, there were some huge whisper numbers with some as high as +300,000 so there were a lot of disappointed analysts. The indexes dropped sharply at the open on the headline miss.
However, the September number was revised up from +248,000 to +256,000 and the August number was revised up from +180,000 to +203,000. Remember, the August number came in at +142,000 when it was first released and caused all kinds of panic about the assumed end of decent job gains. Now it has been revised back over 200,000 and that means the last nine months have now seen gains over 200,000 and that has not happened since 1995. This was also the 49th consecutive month of gains and that has not happened since the 1930s.
It did break the trend from the prior six months for average gains over +250,000 and that was part of the disappointment factor. Look for future revisions to potentially remedy that.
The job gains may have been a little lighter than some hoped but it was one more Goldilocks number that is likely to be revised higher over the next two months. June was the last month that had a lower revision so the trend is definitely higher. June started out at +288K and ended up at +267K so we really can't complain.
This may have been the best report ever for October. Say what? If you back out the seasonal adjustments there were 1.064 million net jobs created according to the BLS. This is a record. The prior high for October was 980,000 in 2004. The seasonal adjustments for October were unexpectedly high and no reason was given for the rise. If they had used the same adjustment numbers as last October the headline number would have shown a gain of +373,000 jobs. The BLS is under investigation by multiple committees for falsifying data. Expect that to heat up when the newly elected take their seats in January.
The unemployment rate fell one point from 5.9% to 5.8% and for the right reasons. More than 416,000 people joined the workforce instead of the trend towards people dropping out in frustration. The labor force participation rate actually rose a point from a 30+ year low at 62.7% to 62.8%. Also, in the separate Household Survey there was a gain of +683,000 jobs. That is huge but it is overlooked by the crowd doing the sound bites on TV. The civilian labor force hit 156.3 million and a post crisis high.
The broader U6 unemployment rate fell from 11.8% to 11.5% and a post recession low.
Unfortunately the job gains were strongly tilted to low dollar jobs and part time employment. Restaurants added 42,000 jobs, retail trade +37,000, healthcare +25,000, hospitality services +52,000 and part time +15,000. Manufacturing added +15,000 after being flat for the prior two months and construction added +12,000.
The average workweek rose from 34.5 to 34.6 hours, the first gain in eight months and a post crisis high. Hourly earnings rose only +0.1% and the same lethargic pace of the last year.
One thing the Republican win will change is the 30 hour workweek as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. One of the first things they will change is to raise that to 40 hours so everyone can go back to working full time instead of part time. That will result in some workers being terminated and the ones that go back to full time will probably give up their second jobs. Nobody knows how that fix will come about but it is on the do list for 2015. Many employers cut hours to less than 30 in order to avoid having to give employees health insurance under the law. How that insurance rule will be modified is the key.
I believe the job market is strengthening. However, we have to get past the end of the year and see if the strength holds in 2015. Much of what we are seeing now could be related to temporary workers hired for the holiday season and people taking second jobs to raise some holiday cash.
The calendar for next week is truly bland. There are no market moving reports and very few reports in total. With the Q3 earnings cycle drawing to a close there may be a shortage of headlines to feed the market. When left to its own devices the market sometimes does unexpected things.
No new split announcements this week.
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In stock news there were some serious declines in the biotech sector. Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) declined -30% or -$74 after missing on earnings. For Q3 the company lost -$1.69 compared to estimates for a loss of -1.10. Revenue of $445,000 matched estimates. Shares of ICPT have more than quadrupled over the last 12 months. They also noted a trial of OCA in the medical journal Lancet, which called for long-term follow-up studies before approval from the FDA. Nobody likes to hear the terms "long-term follow-up studies" when they are trying to bring a drug to market.
Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP) fell -34% after reporting earnings of $1.53 compared to estimates for $1.56. The real problem was the resignation of the CFO and a guidance warning. They cut full year estimates from $6.16 to $5.20 and revenue is expected to fall from $1.6 billion to $1.4 billion. The CFO, Adam Derbyshire, resigned suddenly and there were concerns he had been carrying some inventory on the books improperly. The CFO quit suddenly during an audit by the board of inventory levels and values. The implication was the potential for dishonest numbers. The company has repeatedly told analysts there was 10-12 weeks of the drug Xifaxan in inventory. With this report they restated that to 9 months of inventory on hand. They would not answer questions on the change.
Sears Holdings (SHLD) spiked +31% on news the retailer said it was considering the sale and leaseback of 200-300 stores. The plan has the retailer creating a real estate investment trust (REIT) that would hold the stores. Sears would still operate the stores and pay rent. Sears said it would get "substantial proceeds" from the arrangement and shareholders would have the opportunity to buy shares in the REIT. Shareholders have wanted Sears to do something with its vast real estate holdings for nearly a decade now. At the same time they said same store sales declined -0.1% in Q3. Sears stores were expected to decline -0.7% and offsetting a gain of +0.5% in Kmart stores.
First Solar (FSLR) shares fell -11% after reporting earnings of 61 cents compared to estimates for 63 cents. Revenue was $889 million and well below estimates for $1.05 billion. The company said it had decided not to spin off some of its power plants and assets into subsidiaries known as "yieldcos," and that weighed on the stock. Yieldcos are similar to REITs with high yields. By spinning off their completed projects they can drive down the costs by about 20%. Apparently First Solar has decided to pass at the present time.
Monster Beverage (MNST) reported earnings of 70 cents compared to estimates of 68 cents. That was a +31.7% rise in profits. Revenue rose +7.7% to $626 million but still missed estimates of $642 million. The problem is increasing competition by Ultra and Muscle Monster products. Sales outside the U.S. rose +14.3% with a +7% rise in Europe and the Middle East. Wells Fargo said the current quarter should be strong and next year the company should see a major boost from the partnership with Coke.
Medication (MDVN) rallied 7% after reporting earnings of 96 cents and beating estimates by 13 cents according to Reuters. Revenue soared +234% to $200.5 million. The earnings reversed a loss of -18 cents in the year ago quarter. The company said full year revenue should come in at or above the high end of prior estimates thanks to strong sales of its prostate cancer drug.
After the bell Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) reported operating earnings of $2,876 per share and well above the $2,593 Capital IQ estimates. That was a gain from the $2,228 in the year ago quarter. Operating earnings ignore one-time items. Revenue rose +10% from $46.5 billion to $51.2 billion. Earnings were hurt by a write down of -$678 million in British retailer Tesco. Buffet is reducing his stake in Tesco. Berkshire had $62.4 billion in cash, up from $42 billion. The BNSF railroad investment added $1.035 billion in net income for the quarter despite serious operational challenges as a result of the congested rails. Shares of BRK.B declined 25 cents in afterhours.
The Q3 earnings cycle is about over. The big names for next week are Walmart, Cisco, JC Penny, Macy's and Applied Materials. Cisco and Walmart are Dow components but I would not expect either one of them to provide positive boost.
This week is filled with late reporting no-names for the most part but the following week earnings will drop off to a trickle. So far 446 S&P companies have reported. About 77% have beaten on earnings and 60% have beaten on revenue. That is the highest percentage of companies beating on earnings since Q2-2010 at 79%. The earnings growth rate for this cycle to date is now 7.6% with 54 companies left to report. At the end of Q3 the expectations for earnings growth was 4.5%.
So far 55 S&P companies have issued negative EPS guidance and 18 have issued positive guidance according to Factset. In Q3 earnings 37% companies have mentioned oil prices as a positive factor unless it was an oil company mentioning it.
The current forward PE for the S&P is 15.8 based on expectations for $128.37 in forward S&P earnings. This suggests the S&P is not over valued even at the record highs.
The 5-year average PE is 13.5 and the 10-year 14.1. However, both of those timeframes included the results of the financial crisis so they will be low. Earnings projections for the next four quarters are over $30 per quarter compared to the current $29.98 estimate for Q3. Earnings are expected to grow +8.5% over the next four quarters.
Crude oil imploded on Tuesday to touch nearly a four-year low at $75.84. The break of support at $80 was traumatic but the majority of energy stocks did not react as violently. There were declines but relatively speaking they were mild.
Some traders are still predicting a further decline to $70 or even $65 but that may be wishful thinking. Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, one of the biggest shale developers, called a bottom in crude last week saying prices would return to $85-$90 in the coming weeks. To prove his conviction he closed all his hedges for crude for 2015-2016. Continental made a one-time gain of $443 million from closing the hedges at the lower prices. A hedge is when a producer sells a futures contract at a set price for delivery of oil in that time frame. For instance, when oil was $105 back in June a producer could have sold the January futures contract to deliver oil for $105 regardless of what the price declined to by January. For someone like Continental with tens of thousands of barrels of production every day they can sell thousands of futures contracts for future delivery at a set price when the price rises. When it comes time to deliver they can either deliver the oil or buy back the futures contract for a profit. In that example they could buy back that contract today for $80 and pocket a $25 profit.
In the first visible sign of the impact of low oil prices Continental slashed its 2015 capex budget from $5.2 billion to $4.6 billion. Hamm said he was not going to increases the number of rigs in the field until prices returned to normal. They currently have 22 active rigs in the Bakken. Shares declined on the news on Thursday but rebounded with oil on Friday. Hamm owns 68% of Continental and he is going through a hotly contested divorce, which may prove to be the most expensive ever. This is also weighing on the stock despite his claims that any settlement will not impact his holdings in Continental.
What two words can strike fear into homeowners and elicit joy from energy traders? Polar Vortex. That term came back into the headlines last week and lifted gas prices from a 52-week low of $3.54 to a 5-month high at $4.49 in only nine days.
About a month ago weather forecasters began predicting another Polar Vortex winter based on readings from Siberia. Yes, Siberia. The snowpack in Siberia covered 21,000 square kilometers (SqKM) in October 2013. It was the 8th largest since records were started in 1949. This year that has risen to 22,786 SqKM and the third largest on record. According to Rutgers University Global Snow Lab there is already more than ten inches of snow covering the tundra north of Moscow. That is the first time since 2002 that this much snow was on the ground at the end of October. Roughly 900,000 square miles are covered in snow already compared to the 50-year average of 573,000 square miles. Nine of the 10 coldest winters on record have resulted from high levels of snow coverage in Siberia and what is called an arctic oscillation.
However, the cold slated for next weekend is the result of super typhoon Nuri. This giant storm in the Western Pacific is the largest since Jimmy Carter was president and it is headed for Alaska. As it moves north it is disrupting the jet stream and that will push the super cold air in the Arctic down into the U.S. and Canada. Temperatures in some U.S. areas are expected to be in the single digits and 20-40 degrees colder than normal for early November.
When the term Polar Vortex returned to the headlines the rush was on to buy stocks that profit from higher gas prices. It is worse this year because we are starting the winter with about 350 Bcf of gas less than we had in storage at this time last year. If you were not paying attention we almost ran out of gas last year with supplies falling from nearly 4 Tcf to around 800 Bcf before winter finally broke. You better fill those propane tanks right away because prices are going to rise.
Where do we go from here? The age old battle between technicians and fundamentalists is heating up as each day passes. The technicians are getting all worked up about the overbought conditions and the lack of a second dip since the October V bottom. The fundamentalists agree that another dip would not hurt and would welcome it as a buying opportunity because of the strong fundamentals underpinning the market.
I was having a debate with an analyst on Friday that felt the lack of forward motion last week meant the rally was about to fail. While that is possible we could always look at the glass as half full instead of half empty. I view the lack of a decline in the Nasdaq as evidence of dip buyers frantically hoping for the least little pullback to add to positions.
Everyone reading this knows I expected the Nasdaq to decline last week. I showed the isolated bearish candle last weekend and suggested we could see several days of weakness while those October gains were digested. We did get weakness in the Nasdaq but every dip was bought. The index only added +1.79 points for the entire week. While that was the final score there were other things to be learned.
The Nasdaq dropped -60 points from Monday's high at 4,654 to Tuesday's low at 4,594. The rebound was not vigorous but casual and lackluster. Tuesday's close at 4,623 was only -8 points below where we closed on Friday at 4,631.
There are multiple ways to take profits. The normal way is to have a 2-3 day highly visible decline where everyone knows when to get in when the index starts to rebound. The other way is to consolidate in place. That means traders rotate out of positions but not in enough velocity to overpower the buyers that are waiting just under the bid. It is an orderly transition and everyone accomplishes a portfolio restructuring without any bloodshed. That is what we had last week. After the Tuesday dip the buyers and sellers were evenly matched and nobody was in any rush to buy or sell.
In theory that suggests once the rotation is over the market would move higher. In practice that may not happen. You see a consolidation in place is nearly equivalent to a distribution event. That occurs at market tops and it is where current holders believe the rally is done and they attempt to sell to the retail buyers that still believe the rally has legs. The only difference is volume. In a distribution event the volume normally rises. Last week there was no change in volume. We had about 6.8 billion shares traded every single day. There was almost no difference at all. This suggests consolidation rather than distribution.
While the Nasdaq only gained 1.79 points for the week if you look at the intraday swings there was some decent volatility. It was not calm waters. The longer period chart suggests it was calm but the short term chart shows otherwise.
I looked at several hundred charts of Nasdaq stocks. Quite a few were showing an upside drift by the end of the week. When you think about all the big losses on some of the high profile Nasdaq stocks it was amazing we did not close a lot lower. That is a testament to how many of the smaller stocks were being bought.
I believe we could see the Nasdaq begin to move higher next week assuming there are no unexpected headlines. I think it has digested the October gains and fund managers are going to be looking for beta for one last push into the end of December.
Friday's low of 4,606.81 was 2 points above Thursday's low of 4,604.76. Wednesday's low was 4,607.73. Are you seeing a pattern here? After the dip to 4,595 on Tuesday the support has been very consistent at just over 4,605. That is the key level to watch on Monday. As long as any dips respect that level we have the potential for a move higher.
Don't get me wrong. Those clustered candles from last week are still bearish but apparently I am the only person that is worried about it.
The Dow dipped slightly on Tuesday but the rebound was immediate and it moves steadily higher the rest of the week to close at a new high on Friday. There is no weakness here despite the grossly overbought conditions. That is the beauty of a thin 30 stock index. Any 2 or 3 stocks can power it higher on any given day.
Support has firmed at 17,500 and resistance is now 17,750.
The S&P gained +14 points for the week to come to rest right at resistance at 2,033. I do like the stutter step at 2,015 where it dipped below on Tuesday but then quickly rebounded to close just below that level. On Wednesday it gapped higher to 2,023 and then came back to successfully test that 2,015 support level on both Wednesday and Thursday before sprinting higher. The upward progression from Tuesday to Friday was steady and measured. Buyers were in control but in no hurry.
On Friday the 2,033 level became resistance at the open and held all day. Given the lack of headlines and the mediocre volume I am not surprised traders were not in a hurry to be long at the close. There is plenty of time on Monday after the weekend event risk has passed.
Support 2,015, resistance 2,033.
The Russell 2000 traded dead flat for the week with a loss of -0.12 points. That was a lot of volume to go nowhere. However, Friday's close was a four-day high. The pattern could be deciphered as a rising wedge about to breakout or a bearish flag about to break down. However, these patterns normally resolve themselves in the direction of the larger trend and in this case the last three weeks have been positive.
It appears to me that the Russell has consolidated its gains and could try to break higher next week. A strong move over 1,175 could ignite the rest of the markets.
There is a night and day difference between the Nasdaq A/D line and the S&P-500. Clearly the Nasdaq stocks are having a much harder time recovering from the October slump.
Nearly 80% of the S&P stocks are trading above their 50-day average. Only 58% of the Nasdaq stocks are that high. This suggests the Nasdaq has room to run.
We had a good week despite the underperformance by some indexes. The market is at record highs and the outlook is good. Other than being overbought there is nothing on the schedule for next week that should impact the market. However, it is always the unexpected events that do the most damage.
We should remain in buy the dip mode until proven wrong. We should worry about volume. With volume flat at an average of 6.7 billion shares every day last week there was no emotion in the trading. The markets are at new highs. Volume should be rising. Investors should be excited. The next market key will be the next day that volume spikes. The direction on that day is likely to be our next trend.
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President Obama authorizes another 1,500 troops for Iraq bringing the total to about 3,000 but he said there will probably be additional troops sent since the conflict will be open ended. Troops will be used as advisors to train the Iraqi military to fight ISIS. The administration reiterated that they will not be in a combat role. Analysts believe this is only temporary and they will eventually be imbedded with the Iraqi and Kurdish military to provide targeting and coordination for military aircraft.
Putin recently signed a new agreement between members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The SCO consists of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India, Pakistan and Iran have applied for membership.
We should worry because the SCO was formed to be a counter to NATO. They claim it is an economic cooperation organization formed to combat extremism and enhance border security but the real intent is clear because of their announcements and support for member nations. The participants in the SCO signed a document "Model Memorandum on the Obligations of Applicant States for Obtaining SCO Membership." It should not be surprising that military support was mentioned. The organization backed the Russian position on the Ukraine and praised Putin's achievement of a peace initiative. Clearly they are drinking the Russian brand of political Kool-Aid.
Once they figure out how to integrate current enemies India and Pakistan into the organization there will be four nuclear powers able to counter NATO in just about situation in that part of the world. Eventually Putin's ally Iran will also be included and they will be nuclear capable in the near future. The combined countries will represent more than 3 billion citizens and nearly half of the world's population.
The biggest problem is not the nuclear deterrent. Another goal of the organization is to create a new financial structure that competes directly with the IMF and World Bank. The "New Development Bank" created last summer is the first step in that direction. If Russia and China can dethrone the U.S. dollar as the world's official reserve currency the U.S. would be in serious trouble. Our entire way of life in the U.S. is really built on the fact that our currency is THE reserve currency in which all commodities are traded. Oil, gold, wheat, etc. That keeps the dollar as the strongest currency on the planet because everyone has to buy dollars to use to purchase goods from around the world. China and Russia have wanted to change this for decades and now they are building an organization that could eventually make it happen. We should be very afraid.
The Russian ruble is collapsing with a -10% decline last week in less than 48 hours. With the country rapidly falling into a deep recession and oil prices -$25 below June levels the Russian government is in trouble. In 1998 the country defaulted, consumer savings were wiped out and the global markets went into a tailspin. We could be nearing another inflection point for Russia in 2015 if current conditions continue. The decline last week came after the central bank said it would no longer support the ruble. They had been spending billions every week trying to prop it up and they were burning up all their currency reserves in that effort. Now the ruble is unsupported and could decline significantly from here. This is another geopolitical problem because when countries become financially unstable one way to distract citizens from the problems is to go to war with somebody else. Critical times create significant geopolitical instability.
Meanwhile Russia has reinvaded the Ukraine with a column of 32 tanks, 16 artillery systems and dozens of trucks carrying ammunition, supplies and Russian soldiers. This occurred on Friday despite talks of a ceasefire after as many as 200 rebels were killed at the airport by government troops. Apparently the tide of the rebellion turned against the rebels without Russian troops to fight alongside of them.
Reasons the Rally Should Continue
Interest rates near record lows.
Mortgage rates near record lows.
Inflation slowing as a result of commodity deflation.
Oil prices at 4-year lows. Gasoline $2.94.
Fuel savings represents $260 million in weekly consumer stimulus.
Jobs continuing to grow at best pace in 9 months.
Canada added +43,000 jobs equivalent to +430,000 U.S. jobs.
S&P on track for record earnings.
Earnings growth up 10% in Q2, 8% in Q3.
About 77% of the S&P beat on earnings and the highest number since Q2-2010.
Fund inflows last week the most in 2014.
Election results means less regulation on business.
Economy is growing steadily at 3.1% pace.
Global central bank stimulus is on steroids.
QE3 stabilization still in effect for 6 months or longer. Fed is purchasing replacement treasuries for those that mature. Stealth QE.
Japan is going to dump up to $300 billion into the foreign equity markets.
Draghi said he was going to add 1 trillion euros to ECB balance sheet. Purchase of asset backed securities to start next month.
Dow Industrials, Dow Transports and Dow Utilities all at new highs to confirm Dow Theory rally.
Rest of the world sinking towards recession/deflation. Their money is fleeing to our markets.
Fund managers chasing beta into year end to make up for poor performance.
Next 3 months up +8% on average in midterm years, 6 months +15%.
Reasons Rally May Fail
The market does not need a reason to correct.
Market is short term overbought.
Bullish sentiment is at extreme levels. Very few bears. The last time it was this high was December 26th.
The Fed Remembers the Great Depression
The Fed is constantly reminded of the biggest central bank failure in U.S. history. In 1937, the year following the recovery from the Great Depression, the Fed prematurely tightened monetary policy and accidentally plunged the economy back into recession that lasted a very long time. Fast forward to 2014 and the Fed does not want to tighten too quickly on a fragile recovery and knock the economy back into recession and be forced to slash rates and possibly launch another QE program.
This worry was highlighted in a Fed survey of 22 primary dealers that trade treasuries directly with the Fed. The dealers see a 20% chance the Fed will raise rates in 2015 and then be forced to cut them back to zero within two years. The fact that the Fed even asked that question is evidence they are very afraid of raising rates too fast. They are desperately looking for affirmation of their likely plans.
Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said "The U.S. experience during the Great Depression -- in particular, in 1937 -- is a classic example for monetary historians." After a return to growth and inflation led the Fed to raise bank reserve requirements, and the government to reduce deficit spending, "the economy dropped back into recession and deflation."
New York Fed President William Dudley said the premature tightening of the 1930s "turned out to be a horrible mistake. It is actually characterized as the mistake of 1937."
One dangerous parallel is the surge in excess supply of tradable goods and a commodity surplus. In 1937 we had the same excess that we have now. Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities, said, "We have created a world where we have produced an enormous amount of growth in the emerging markets with one model: export to growth. And the problem is, who are you exporting to?" There is no growth. Back in 1937 there was some inflation. Today inflation is only 1.4% and slowing.
Investors get all caught up in worrying about when the Fed will hike rates. In the current environment given what we know about the Fed's worry about acting too soon I don't think we are going to see any rates hikes of any substance for a long time.
This is even more likely because of the mounting stimulus in Europe and Japan. The Fed can't hike rates while the next two largest economies are printing money by the truckload. The dollar imbalance would become unsustainable.
Oil prices will go back up. The law of supply and demand plus ever rising prices of finding and producing a barrel of oil will force prices higher. We may have a temporary glut today but it is only temporary. By 2040 the number of cars on the road will increase from the 2 billion today to more than 3 billion thanks to rising auto acceptance in China and India and population growth to more than 9 billion. More than $1 trillion a year is spent exploring and developing new sources of oil. If prices stayed low that spending would grind to a halt and within 5 years we would be in the worst oil shortage ever. Global oil supplies decline by more than 4 million barrels per day every year. Without constant exploration and development to add up to 5 mbpd of new production the price of oil and gasoline would explode within months. Oil prices are going to rise. That is a fact of life just as immutable as gravity.
Faster than a speeding bullet? No, faster than a Z06 Stingray Corvette. GM just announced a $78,995 Z06 Corvette that will do 0-60 in 2.95 seconds. Yes, you read that right. I would love to be young again but then I would not have had $79,000 and definitely could not afford the insurance. Z06 Stingray
Apple's virus proof iOS may have met its match. A new malware program called "WireLurker" is "under active development" according to security research firm Palo Alto Networks. WireLurker can steal user information and continually requests software updates from zombie servers as it resides on your device. Apple said it had blocked infected apps including Sims 3 and Angry Birds, which had been distributed by an unauthorized app store in China. Apparently that did not stop the spread according to Palo Alto Networks.
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"The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night."
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