Asian and European indices finished their trading day in the green. Optimism of a U.S. debt deal helped lift these sectors as global markets await the outcome. Tomorrow they may not be so optimistic. There was little other news of interest from around the world. In China new data suggests that inflation is rising faster than anticipated. Consumer inflation rose to 3.1%,the highest level in 7 months. This caused some speculation that the Chinese central bank will have to curb some of its stimulus policies but for now economist do not see it as a threat to the Chinese economy. In Europe headlines were dominated by local issues including the new budgets from ailing countries Italy, Portugal and Ireland. The upcoming release of the new Italian budget is expected to cause some trouble for the nation.
The early morning hours saw futures trading to the upside, if only by a point or two. Hope of a debt deal solution were high and carried into the morning although a new House proposal was met with disdain by the Senate. Today was also rather full of business news and even a little economic data. Earnings season is now in full swing. There were not an excessive number of reports today but there were a few high profile names on the list. This week is dominated by the banking sector but that does not mean other sectors are not reporting as well. The combination of hope and news had the U.S. indices hugging the flat line going into the open of today's session.
Today's political wrangling resulted in a market moving on every twist in the story. At the open the S&P 500 fell about 8 points before hitting an early morning low. After that renewed hopes had the markets moving back up before a mid-morning scare sent them back down. Just before lunch time the S&P poked its head into positive territory and then quickly fell back to trade around -4 for the early part of the afternoon. Early support for the S&P 500 kicked in just above 1,700 and then again around 1,702. Afternoon trading saw the index hover just above 1,705 before even more political BS hit the media. The Senate ceased all their debate while the House was working out it's plan. The Senate made this announcement only a short while after Senator Reid told us the House plan would be rejected. This development caused the markets to sink to new lows. The S&P sank as low as -14, the Dow -140, before bouncing back higher again and then falling back down toward the daily lows just before the close. After the bell Fitch put a down grade on U.S. credit watch to negative, maintaining the AAA rating for now. The futures trade dropped close to a full percent on the news indicating tomorrow's open lower at this time.
SPX one day
Data released today included the Empire State index of business conditions. The index was expected to fall slightly from last month's 6.29 but not as much as the actual figure. This month's reading of 1.52 is still expansionary but reveals that conditions are only slightly changed from last month. Within the report business optimism levels are still strong. This month's rise is the smallest gain in NY regional business activity in the last 5 months. Tomorrow's calendar includes the Fed's Beige Book, mortgage index, CPI, TIC flows and a housing index. From what I can tell the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site is being updated and I think the rest of the data is coming from the Fed itself or the private sector there should be no effect from the shut down. Regardless, the data we have been getting has not received much attention in light of the budget battle.
Gold Trades Lower
Gold prices traded much lower this morning on the early optimism. Prices moved as low as -20, touching the $1250 level. Later the renewed lack of progress saw prices move up to just above yesterday's closing price. Gold prices are trading at 3 month lows and very close to touching the long term low below $1200. The Gold Index actually trade to the upside today. The index is still trending below the lower boundary of the pennant formation but not strongly. The index is currently making a couple of spinning tops with indicators supporting the indecision. The MACD is bearish but divergent from the two month down trend. The divergence is a potential sign of an impending rally but that does not make one a guarantee. The stochastic is also extremely oversold and currently displaying a bullish crossover. The two indicators together suggest that the Gold Index is ready and/or about to make a move up. However, with the low low prices of gold it is hard to see a reason for this. The indicators could actually be showing a complete lack of interest in gold stocks. Without a catalyst to spark a rally I can easily see the Gold Index move lower simply because there are no buyers. Longer term the index is still in a downtrend and breaking out of a triangle/pennant formation to the downside after a near five month consolidation, during which time the price of the underlying commodity has not improved.
The Gold Index
The gold companies like Barrick report towards the end of the month. Barrick on October 31st, spooky. Barrick is expected to report earnings of $0.49 per share, more than 25% lower than last quarter. Earnings will obviously be affected by gold prices but will also be impacted by divestiture of mines in Australia and other moves made during the quarter. ABX stock has been trading in much the same way as the Gold Index. It is trading out a longer term consolidation, although it has not broken out yet. Indicators are currently bearish and beginning to gain momentum, stochastic is now crossing below the lower signal line indicating weakness in the stock.
Domino's Pizza reported a strong quarter of growth but failed to meet expectations for earnings. The company was expected to report adjusted earnings of $0.52 per share but missed that target by one cent. The company reported strong comp store growth, revenue growth, earnings growth and new store growth but the stock still lost over 4% in today's trading. Shares of DPZ have been trending up strongly all year and are now about 5% off the all time highs. It looks like $65 could be emerging as support, longer term MACD analysis suggests a retest of the all-time highs is likely. More stores and strong comp sales could equal continued revenue for this company into the next few quarters.
Citigroup reported an earnings miss today as well. The banking giant lost more than 1.5% in early pre market trading but managed to regain that loss before the open. The bank reported earnings that were 2 cents shy of estimates on revenue that also fell short of expectations. At the open shares popped up slightly to the bottom of the window opened last week before falling back into negative territory before the close. Today's action also brought the stock down below the 30 day moving average. Support exists at $47.50, current resistance is at $50. Indicators remain bullish at this time but are very weak.
Johnson and Johnson was an early market leader. The consumer products company reported adjusted earnings of $1.36, just above estimates. Revenue increased by about a half billion over the same quarter last year and was able to increase guidance to the upper end of the previously stated range. The stock surged higher at the open by around 3%, crossing above resistance around the $90 level. After the initial surge sellers drove prices back below resistance, forming a possible shooting star doji. Indicators are currently bullish but could be overbought in the near term. The $90 to $91 level will be important to watch moving forward for signs of strength or weakness.
Johnson & Johnson
Coca Cola reported an earnings that also beat expectations, if only by a penny. The company reported eps of $0.54 per share, up on a comparable basis from last year. The company reported growth in the range of 2% in most it's global segments including the emerging markets although the report cited volatility in that sector. Shares of KO gapped open today but quickly fell to selling pressure. The stock has been in a down trend since late May and today's move is in line with that trend. Divergences in MACD suggest that a bottom is approaching but there is no other sign of one yet. The 12 month low is just under $36, about $2 lower than the current prices.
After the bell today Intel and Yahoo both reported better than expected earnings. Shares of both companies traded higher in the aftermarket hours. Yahoo shares failed to hold the gains after investors had the time to dig into the guidance.
It will be impossible to tell which way the market will move until the debt ceiling political break down gets resolved. Today's action makes it clear that the market is hanging on every development and is ready to go whichever way the political wind will blow. We have less than 2 days left before the debt ceiling is reached so hopefully that resolution will come tomorrow. Until then, or we default, whichever comes first, lets take a look at the longer term analysis of the the major indices, starting with the SPX charts of weekly prices. The SPX is still trending higher but is well above the primary, super long term, trend line. The primary trend line is about 300 points (17.6%) lower than the current level of the market and a potential target for a full market correction. Both MACD and stochastic are presenting long term divergences from price action that could be heralding such a correction. The index is also currently above the secondary, long term, trend line and long term support as well. It is possible the divergences mentioned before are predicting a test of this support and the index will keep moving up. Last weeks candle is suggestive of a test, the long lower wick shows that prices fell into the support zone and were propelled upward from it. While the index is able to maintain support and the long term trend I will remain bullish on the index. However, caution is warranted, especially now while who know's what is going on up on Capitol Hill. Plus the Fithch credit watch downgrade adds a whole new spin to tomorrow's outlook.
The Dow looks a little different. It too has been trending up over the long term and is above the primary trend. However, it has done so in more a sideways fashion when compared with the S&P. Over the last few months the index has been in a consolidation that has relieved long term over bought conditions brought on by the rally earlier this year. The indicators suggest that support exists at the current levels which are consistent with the 6 month trading range and the 150 day moving average. A break below this level could bring on a full correction with a target 13,000. This index has broken the secondary up trend line and could remain trapped in the current range. Support exists around 14,800, resistance around 15,600.
The Russell 2000 is trending higher and just made a new all time high. It is also displaying some glaring divergences between prices and the indicators. MACD has made a series of four lower bullish peaks with the most recent one barely above 0. Stochastic is overbought in the short and long term AND is moving lower about to cross under the upper signal line. The index is still above the secondary up trend line as well but could be in danger of breaking it. However, the divergences here could be signaling the testing of support of start of an upcoming trading range similar to what I have described for the S&P and the Dow.
Russell 2000 Weekly
If there is no end to the debt ceiling issue before tomorrow I expect to see the markets move lower. The Fitch announcement after the bell pretty much cinches that. Of course, there could be no solution and then a solution which could mean lower markets early in the day and then higher markets later on. Regardless of direction the extremes of these moves will be capped by the long term trends and the current future expectations. The markets want to move higher, long term support is evident in all three major indices even if the bull market is running out of steam. Look for some form of measure, plan, stop gap or band aid to be put on the government debt issue, then look to earnings guidance and economic data for market direction. The Fitch watch downgrade is only a blip, as soon as the debt ceiling extension gets passed the watch will likely go away.
Until then, remember the trend!