Thursday is always a full day, even when it's slow. Today however was not a slow Thursday. Although it did not come with a big bang market forces combined to drive the indexes to new all-time highs. This morning the early markets were reeling from yesterday's surprise after-hours earnings releases. Two factors were in play; earnings season and economic data. The data was not that great but it wasn't bad either. Jobless claims were mixed, Leading Indicators were weaker than expected but Philly Fed numbers blew away expectations. The earnings reports are mixed as well. Some companies are beating expectations and others are not. The good news is that more companies are beating than missing estimates for earnings.
Ben Bernanke continued to testify on Capital Hill and his stance has not changed. He pledges â€œhighly accomodative policyâ€ for the foreseeable future. He also says that the recovery and end of QE is not on autopilot. Based on his statements and the data at hand tapering, and higher interest rates, may not be as close as some think. The economic thresh hold has not yet been reached and I'm not so sure it will be any time soon. However the ever changing conditions could easily force the FOMC into acting. In any event, even if tapering were to begin tomorrow low interest rates are likely to continue for some time to come.
The S&P futures were able to trade into positive territory in the early market. The positive spin carried through into the open at which time the S&P quickly moved up into new all-time-high territory. The index, accompanied by the Dow, Nasdaq and other major indexes continued to move higher into the morning, reaching an early peak around 10:30. During Beranke's testimony the markets retreated by a small amount but appeared to find support at the previous all-time-high level. After that trading was mellow, the indexes fluctuated by only a small margin during the afternoon hours before finally closing near the upper end of today's trading range.
Breaking It All Down- The Data
Today's list of events begins with the release of initial jobless claims. The initial claims made a surprising drop from a downward revision to last week's figures for a net decline of -26,000. The figure reported today of 334,000 is close to the long-term low. This brings the figure firmly back below the 350K level but it still appears as if initial claims is holding steady. The four week moving average also fell from a downward revision and is now back below 350K as well. I would like to see more of a decline in this figure but there is a chance it is being affected by the increase in the participation rate. For now I will be satisfied with holding steady but will keep a close eye on other factors.
The continuing claims made a surprise peak which may just be the result of last weeks spike in initial claims. This is the second week of increases in continuing claims and a five month high. Looking at the state by state break down there were numerous lay-offs in Michigan and New York centered around manufacturing and transportation. Other states, including MI and NY also reported lay-off's in education and services. The previous weeks continuing claims were also revised higher. Total claims fell by a meager 1,903 to just above the 5 year low.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Manufacturing Index set a new high and soundly beating the expectations. The consensus was 3.0-5.5, the actual was 19.8, a 26 month high. This is also more than 6 points higher than last months reading of 12.5. Within the report the employment sector posted a 7.7. the first positive reading in 4 months. The final bit of data today was the Leading Indicators, which came in a little weaker than expected with a 0% change over last month. This reading shows that growth is expected to have continued on at the same pace as last month. Over the last 12 months the LDI have been choppy but mostly positive. There is no data on my calendar tomorrow, next week brings us housing data during the first half and some more manufacturing data during the second half.
Earnings- Banking Sector
Bank earnings keep rolling in. Today marks the end of the big banks but there are still dozens of regional financials yet to report. This morning Morgan Stanley and BB&T held to trend and reported better than expected numbers on the top and bottom line. The entire sector performed above expectations last quarter and they all reportedly expect this performance to continue. The Banking Index made another big move up today and set another new high. At this time the daily charts is overbought but bullish momentum is on the rise. Longer term conditions are the same, however, caution is required due to the extended nature of the price action.
Morgan Stanley reported better than expected earnings and a $5 million dollar stock buy back. Expectations of EPS in the range of $0.40 were beaten by a nickel on $8.5 billion in revenue. Revenue increased by $1.6 billion over last year at this time. Revenues from trading and equity sales increased by more than 38% in the same period. The stock jumped in early trading, gaining about 5% intra-day. The move opens a gap and brings the stock above long term resistance with bullish technicals long and short term.
BB&T also reported better than expected earnings. The NC based bank beat by 2 cents and set a company record for shareholder earnings. The bank reports that gains were made based on their diversification strategy, credit quality improvements and interest income. This stock actually dropped in early trading, opening lower than yesterday's closing prices. The stock dipped down near to the short term moving average where it found support and managed to recover the day's losses. The charts are bullish long and short term but suggest that the current rally may be cresting. First support is around the $34 level and the 30 day EMA.
Regional banker FifthThird also reported today. The bank beat the expectations of $0.44 with EPS of $0.66. The reported EPS was affected by pre-tax benefits from the sales of a position in Vantiv and warrants associated with the same. The bank also reported favorable credit trends and increases in deposits, loan growth and interest income. The stock also opened below yesterday's close. FITB reached and breached the support of the 30 day moving average before catching a bid and moving higher. This chart is presenting similar to BB&T, bullish in the long and short term but with declining indicators suggestive of a consolidation or short term top.
Yesterday Intel reported weak revenue and weak earnings and cut its full year outlook. Today AMD reported after the bell. The actual results were a loss, but better than expected. The stock traded higher in the after market. Indicators on the daily chart are bullish and point to a break. The expectation for good results was very high. Over the past few days the stock has traded up against resistance in a tightening range forming a potentially bullish signal. Failure to break above $4.50 will likely keep this stock in a trading range.
The Semiconductor Index fell in today's trading but remains above the long term trend and the nearest long term support level. The long term trend remains up and indicators on the weekly and daily charts are still bullish if weakening. This index may also be cresting a short term peak at this time. Closest support at this time is around 480 with next closest just below that at 475 and the 30 day moving average.
Other techies reporting today include IBM (yesterday after the bell) and Microsoft today. IBM beat expectations and was able to raise its full year outlook. Microsoft was not. During the day the stock traded to the downside but remained above the $35 support level. Following Microsoft's earnings release prices fell below to the $34 level and the longer term up trend. MACD and stochastic are both bullish following MSFT's recent break out to 5+year highs but are currently in decline
Google was also on the after hours earnings list for today. The search giant was expected to report earnings in the range of $9.00-$10.78, depending on where you look. The actual $9.56 was either better or worse than expected but revenue was on the light side regardless. Costs per click declined more than expected which counts for most of the revenue decline. The stock had been trending up over the past year but tht may have ended today. After hours trading saw prices drop by about $40 following the report.
The Technology Sector Spyder is approaching the top of a possible trading range with bullish indicators. Strong momentum and overbought conditions are both in decline on the daily charts with the weekly charts indicating a stochastic buy signal. The long term trend is up for this ETF but there is sign of a possible top here as well, a break above resistance would have a longer term bullish outlook. Failure to reach new highs would put the ETF in danger of topping out. the sharp after hours sell off in MSFT and GOOG will weigh heavily on this ETF in the morning.
The Yen Trade
The yen weakened ahead of impending elections in Japan. The election are expected to bolster the ranks of the Japanese government with Shinzo Abe supporters. This will pave the way for more of Abe's long term plans for stimulating the Japanese economy. The USD/JPY has found support along the 30 day moving average ahead of the elections and is now extending a bounce that began yesterday. Today's move has brought the pair back over the 100 level for the second time since correcting in May/June. Indicators on the long term and near term charts are declining but as yet support has been holding.
The S&P 500
The S&P 500 is showing an early long term stochastic buy signal. The caveat as always is that today is only Thursday so the analysis of weekly candles is only temporary until this week's candle is completed. However, at this time, bullish activity is taking the index to new all time highs. The May/June correction made a very small bearish peak in MACD that is already on the verge of crossing back over to bullish. Declining stochastic is also rolling over, creating a higher trough and sign of support. Stochastic is also presenting a crossover signal, although I think it may be the early signal. The real danger now is how much fall out spills over into the broader markets at tomorrow's open. The sharp after hours sell off in GOOG and MSFT will have a big effect on index prices tomorrow.
Today's break above the previous all-time intra-day highs is a good sign but not overly convincing. The bulls tip toed over the line like they were afraid to get their feet wet. The indicators on the daily charts are declining which is another reason to doubt today's move as a definitive break above resistance. It is possible that the market could trade up against resistance for a few days or retest the support of the previous all-time closing high before moving higher. If all of my if's line up with the stars and moon. The longer term analysis of daily MACD and Stochastic both indicate strong support at the current levels between 1575-1650 and that prices are likely to move higher. Tomorrow could be a volatile one as the markets digest the after hours reports of Microsoft and Google.
Until then, remember the trend!