Gold rallies but so does the Dollar

A long-term (monthly) chart shows Crude Oil (WTI Light Crude) has broken below its trend channel and is testing support at $45/barrel.

Crude Oil

Weak crude tends to coincide with a strong Dollar. Breakout of the Dollar index above 97 is likely. Rising Trend index troughs indicate buying pressure.

Dollar Index

Gold is headed for another test of resistance at $1350/ounce but a strong Dollar is likely to undermine a primary advance.

Spot Gold in USD

The All Ordinaries Gold Index broke resistance at 5400/5500, signaling a primary advance with a target of 7000. That will depend on further weakness in the Aussie Dollar and/or a stronger gold price.

All Ordinaries Gold Index

Conclusion: We are witnessing a rally in Gold due to global uncertainty but the LT outlook, with declining crude and a stronger Dollar, is still bearish.

Retail sales fall while trade talks stall

Retail sales

Retail sales growth (USA advance retail sales excluding autos and parts) fell sharply in December, indicating that consumer confidence is fading despite strong employment figures.

Advance Retail Sales

The decline in consumer confidence also shows in lower January 2019 light vehicle sales.

Light Vehicle Sales

Trade talks make little progress

Trivium provide a useful update on US-China trade negotiations:

The latest round of trade talks with the US are finishing up as we go to press. There hasn’t been much progress (Bloomberg): “As of Friday afternoon, there had been no visible progress on efforts to narrow the gap around structural reforms to China’s economy that the U.S. has requested, according to three U.S. and Chinese officials who asked not to be identified because the talks were private……Chinese officials are angry about what they see as US efforts to undermine their state-led economy.”

These are issues that will take generations to resolve. The chance of a quick fix is highly unlikely.

Stocks

The stock market continues to rally on the back of a solid earnings season.

Of the 216 issues (505 in the S&P 500 index) with full operating comparative data 154 (71.3%) beat, 51 (23.6%) missed, and 11 met their estimates; 135 of 215 (62.8%) beat on sales. (S&P Dow Jones Indices)

Index volatility remains high, however, and a 21-day Volatility trough above 1.0% would warn of a bear market. S&P 500 retreat below 2600 would reinforce the signal.

S&P 500

Crude prices continue to warn of a fall in global demand.

Light Crude

As do commodity prices.

DJ-UBS Commodities Index

10-Year Treasury yields are testing support at 2.50% and a Trend Index peak below zero warns of buying pressure from investors seeking safety (yields fall as prices rise).

10-Year Treasury Yield

The Nasdaq 100 shows rising Money Flow but I believe this is secondary in nature. The next correction is likely to provide a clearer picture.

Nasdaq 100

My conclusion is the same as last week. This is a bear market. Recovery hinges on an unlikely resolution of the US-China ‘trade dispute’.

Concessions to adversaries only end in self reproach, and the more strictly they are avoided the greater will be the chance of security.

~ Thucydides (460 – 400 B.C.)

More signs of risk avoidance

Bloomberg: “U.S. stocks slid as investors grew anxious that the Trump administration won’t reach a trade deal with China before a March deadline for escalating the war. Treasuries surged.

The post-Christmas rally that added 16 percent to the S&P 500 came under increasing pressure amid reports the two trading partners remained far apart on a deal and that the nations’ presidents won’t meet before higher tariffs are slated to take effect on Chinese goods next month.”

S&P 500 volatility remains high. If the rally runs out of steam, a large Twiggs Volatility (21-day) trough above 1.0% would signal a bear market. Retreat below 2600 would reinforce the signal.

S&P 500

Crude prices retreated below resistance at $54/$55 per barrel, on fears of falling global (mainly Chinese) demand. Another test of primary support at $42/barrel is likely.

Light Crude

10-Year Treasury yields retreated to 2.65%. A Trend Index peak below zero warns of buying pressure from investors (yields fall when prices rise) who are looking for safety.

10-Year Treasury Yield

My conclusion is the same as last week. This is a bear market. Recovery hinges on an unlikely resolution of the US-China ‘trade dispute’.

The secret of happiness is freedom and the secret of freedom is courage.

~ Thucydides (460 – 400 B.C.)

Gold and the Dollar direction

Crude Oil (WTI Light Crude) respected support at $45/barrel, with turmoil in Venezuela raising concerns over supply. Breakout above $55 would signal another rally but declining peaks on the Trend Index warn of selling pressure. Expect another test of $45. Breach of support would signal a decline to test the 2016 low at $26/barrel.

Crude Oil

The Dollar index is weakening. If China continues to support the Yuan, we may see a correction to test support at 92. A lot will depend on trade talks in the next two weeks but I expect continued Dollar strength and Yuan weakness.

Dollar Index

The PBOC increased support for the Yuan over the last month, leading up to the US-China trade talks, causing the Dollar to weaken.

Chinese Yuan/USD

Gold has ranged below resistance at $1350/ounce for the past five years. Expect another test of $1350 if the Dollar weakens. Breakout would signal a primary up-trend but LT Dollar strength is likely ….and a correction to test support at $1200.

Spot Gold in USD

A weakening Australian Dollar has helped Aussie gold stocks. The All Ordinaries Gold Index broke resistance at 5400, signaling a primary advance with a target of 7000. But that depends on further weakness in the Aussie Dollar (< 70 US cents?) and/or a stronger gold price (> $1350?)

All Ordinaries Gold Index

Conclusion: We are witnessing a rally in Gold due to global uncertainty but the LT outlook, with declining crude and a stronger Dollar, is bearish.

Gold: Bull or bear?

Gold is testing resistance at $1300/ounce and is likely to follow-through to the long-term (LT) ceiling at $1350. Trend Index  on the LT  monthly chart displays a large triangular consolidation, indicating uncertainty. Upward breakout would signal a primary up-trend but this is unlikely, for three reasons. First, this is a bear market. A decline is more likely for that reason alone. Target for a decline is the 2015 low at $1050/ounce.

Spot Gold in USD

Second, a strengthening Dollar is likely to weaken Gold. I have inverted the LT chart of the Dollar Index (and Trend Index) below so that it is easier to relate to gold. As the Dollar strengthened, denoted by a LT fall on the inverted chart, Gold has weakened. The Dollar index shows a broadening consolidation since 2015, with bull and bear traps, again indicating uncertainty. At present, the Dollar is testing resistance at 97 but is likely to follow through to test LT resistance at 100. Rising Trend Index troughs above zero (remember the scale is inverted) signal buying pressure.

Dollar Index inverted

Third, falling Crude Oil prices are bearish for Gold. The LT chart below compares spot crude  to  spot gold, both adjusted for inflation to bring earlier peaks into proper perspective. The LT relationship is clear: gold and crude tend to rise and fall together. Crude prices have recently tumbled, exerting downward pressure on Gold.

Gold and Crude Oil, adjusted by CPI

Conclusion: We are witnessing a rally in Gold because of global uncertainty but the LT outlook is bearish.

Significant divergence

Market commentators are sifting through the data, looking for reasons to explain the sharp sell-off in stocks over the last two months. But everything they examine is likely to be shaded by their bear-tinted spectacles after the S&P 500 broke primary support at 2550.

S&P 500

The Nasdaq 100 also broke primary support, confirming the bear market.

Nasdaq 100

Of the big five tech stocks, Apple and Google are both testing primary support, threatening to follow Facebook into a primary down-trend. If the two break primary support, that would further strengthen the bear signal.

Big Five tech stocks

Volatility (21-day) is now close to 2% but the key is how volatility behaves on the next multi-week rally. If volatility forms a trough above 1% that would confirm the elevated risk.

S&P 500

Divergence? What Divergence?

Why do I say there is a significant divergence? Look at the fundamentals.

Fedex has just released stats for its most recent quarter, ended November 30. Package volumes are rising, not falling.

Fedex Stats

Supported by a very bullish Freight Transportation Index.

Freight Transportation Index

Consumption is strong, with Services and Non-durable goods rebounding. No sign of a recession here.

Consumption

Light vehicle sales are at a robust annual rate of 17.5 million.

Light Vehicle Sales

Retail sales growth (ex motor vehicles and parts) weakened in the last month but is still in an up-trend.

Retail

Housing starts and authorizations are still climbing.

Housing

Real construction spending (adjusted by CPI) is strong.

Construction

Manufacturers new orders (ex defense and aircraft) have rebounded after a weak 2015 – 2016.

Manufacturers New Orders

Corporate investment is growing at a faster rate than the economy, with rising new capital formation over GDP.

New Capital Formation

The Fed is shrinking its balance sheet which is expected to impact on liquidity. But commercial banks are running down excess reserves on deposit at the Fed at a faster rate, so that Fed assets net of excess reserves (green line) is actually rising. Hardly a drain on liquidity.

Fed Balance Sheet

Market pundits are watching the yield curve with bated breath, waiting for the 10-year to cross below the 2-year yield.

Yield Differential 10-Year minus 2-Year

In the past this has served as a reliable early warning, normally 12 to 24 months ahead of a recession. But the St Louis Fed Financial Stress Index is well below zero, signaling an accommodative financial environment.

Financial Stress Index

Why the mismatch? Fed actions — QE, Operation Twist, and even steps to shrink its balance sheet — have all suppressed long-term interest rates. We need to be wary of taking signals from a distorted yield curve.

Why have stocks reacted?

This is not a Pollyanna outlook. Never argue with the tape — we are clearly in a bear market. So why are stocks diverging from the economy?

The answer is China.

The impact of a trade war with the US would most likely cause a recession in China. Oil prices are already plunging in anticipation of falling demand.

Nymex Light Crude and Brent Crude

Commodities are likely to follow.

DJ UBS Commodities Index

The impact of a Chinese recession would be felt around the globe. Europe has its own problems and could easily follow.

DJ Europe Financial Index

The US is likely to emerge relatively unscathed but Wall Street is going to be exceedingly cautious until some semblance of normality is restored.

I do not suggest selling all your stocks but make sure that there is enough cash in the portfolio to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

Gold rallies despite strong Dollar

Falling crude prices show a dead cat bounce at $50/barrel, warning of further selling pressure. OPEC production cuts have not helped much as the market anticipates slowing demand from China.

Nymex WTI Light Crude

The Dollar Index is strengthening, with Trend Index troughs above zero signaling buying pressure. Follow-through above 97.50 would signal an advance to 100 in the medium-term (next quarter).

Dollar Index

Gold rallied to test resistance at $1250/ounce but this is still a bear rally and another test of support at $1180 is likely. Breach would warn of a decline to the 2015 low at $1050/ounce.

Spot Gold in USD

The All Ordinaries Gold Index ran into strong resistance at 5100. Declining Trend Index peaks warn of selling pressure. Breach of 4900 would warn of another test of 4550.

Gold in Australian Dollars

Strong Dollar warns of Gold weakness

Falling crude prices have helped to strengthen the Dollar. Nymex Light Crude found support at $50/barrel, helped by an OPEC production cut, but the organization does not have the sway it once had. A test of $45/barrel is likely.

Nymex WTI Light Crude

The Dollar Index closed above 97, signaling an advance to 100 in the medium-term (next quarter). Penetration of the descending trendline on the Trend Index would strengthen the signal.

Dollar Index

Gold is likely to test support at $1180/ounce. Breach would warn of a decline to $1050/ounce (the 2015 low).

Spot Gold in USD

Silver is testing long-term support at $14/ounce. Breach would offer a target of $10 but would also warn of similar weakness for Gold.

Spot Silver in USD

The All Ordinaries Gold Index is consolidating between 4500 and 5500, buoyed by a weaker Australian Dollar. But Gold is more volatile than the Aussie Dollar and further weakness is expected. Bearish divergence on the Trend Index warns of selling pressure. Breach of 4500 would signal a primary decline.

Gold in Australian Dollars

Falling Crude, stronger Dollar warn of Gold weakness

Nymex Light Crude is falling steeply. Breakout below the trend channel warns of reversal to a primary down-trend. Breach of support at $55/barrel would indicate a test of $45/barrel.

Nymex WTI Light Crude

Falling crude prices are likely to strengthen the Dollar. Dollar Index breakout above 100 would signal another primary advance. Penetration of the descending trendline on the Trend Index would also suggest another long-term advance.

Dollar Index

Falling crude prices and a strengthening Dollar are likely to weaken demand for Gold. Reversal below $1150 would signal a decline to $1050/ounce (the 2015 low).

Spot Gold in USD

Silver is testing primary support at $14/ounce. Breach would offer a target of $10 but would also warn of a primary down-trend for Gold.

Spot Silver in USD

A weakening Australian Dollar has so far offset the decline in the Dollar price of Gold. The chart below, however, shows strong resistance at $A 1750 to $A 1800. Declining peaks on the Trend Index warn of selling pressure and penetration of the rising trendline on the price chart would threaten another test of LT support at $A 1350. Local gold miners would be likely to follow.

Gold in Australian Dollars

Gold & Crude weaken as the Dollar lifts

Nymex Light Crude is testing support at $60/barrel on the long-term rising trendline. Breach would confirm a primary down-trend with a long-term target of $45/barrel.

Nymex WTI Light Crude

Crude and gold tend to rise and fall together. The long-term chart below compares gold and crude prices adjusted for inflation (CPI).

The bear rally in Gold met resistance below $1250. Reversal below support at $1180 would offer a long-term target of $1050/ounce (the 2015 low).

Spot Gold in USD

Low crude prices tend to strengthen the Dollar (scale inverted on the chart below).

The Dollar Index is testing resistance at 97. Breakout is likely and would further weaken demand for Gold.

Dollar Index