S&P 500 rallies while inflation subdued

Average hourly earnings growth came in at 2.7% (All Employees) for the 12 months ended July 2018. Growth in average hourly earnings is an excellent gauge of underlying inflationary pressures in the economy, which remain subdued.

Average Hourly Wages Growth

Consumer price index (CPI) growth is slightly higher, at 2.8% for June 2018, but lower core CPI (2.2%) suggests that food and energy prices are partly to blame.

Consumer Price Index and Core CPI

The S&P 500 respected support at 2800, signaling an advance to 3000. Declining 21-day Volatility suggests that market risk is declining and the market is returning to business as usual.

S&P 500

The Nasdaq 100 shook off recent Facebook (FB) and Netflix (NFLX) tremors and is testing resistance at 7400. Breakout is likely and would offer a target of 7800.

Nasdaq 100

CPI rises but US stocks rally

June consumer price index (CPI) jumped to 2.8% but forward estimates of inflation, represented by the 5-Year breakeven rate (5-year Treasury yield minus TIPS) remain subdued at 2.06%.

CPI and 5-Year Breakeven

Core CPI (excluding food and energy) is at 2.2% while average hourly earnings (total private: production and non-supervisory employees) annual growth, representing underlying inflationary pressure, is higher at 2.7%.

Core CPI and Average Hourly Earnings: Production and Nonsupervisory

Credit and broad money supply (MZM plus time deposits) growth remain steady, tracking nominal GDP growth at around 5.0%. A spike in credit growth often precedes a similar spike in broad money supply by several quarters.

Credit and Broad Money Supply Growth

And a surge in broad money supply growth, ahead of nominal GDP, flagged rising inflationary pressures ahead of the last two recessions, prompting the Fed to step on the brakes.

Nominal GDP and Broad Money Supply Growth

Overall, the inflation outlook appears subdued, with little urgency to hike interest rates at present.

The market is also getting more comfortable with the idea of trade tariffs. The S&P 500 is testing resistance at 2800. Breakout is likely and would suggest a primary advance to 3000.

S&P 500

The Nasdaq 100 followed through above 7300, confirming the primary advance, with a target of 7700.

Nasdaq 100

This is the final stage of a bull market but there is no sign of it ending. I am wary of the impact of a trade war on individual stocks and have reduced exposure to multinationals that make a sizable percentage of their sales in China.

Financial markets are supposed to swing like a pendulum: They may fluctuate wildly in response to exogenous shocks, but eventually they are supposed to come to rest at an equilibrium point…. Instead, as I told Congress, financial markets behaved more like a wrecking ball, swinging from country to country and knocking over the weaker ones. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the international financial system itself constituted the main ingredient in the meltdown process.

~ George Soros on the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the need for greater regulation of global financial markets

Gold finds support at $1250

The Dollar Index continues to test support at 96.50. The primary trend is down and breach of support is likely, signaling a decline to test the 2016 low at 92/93.

Dollar Index

Spot Gold found support at $1250. A weaker Dollar and rising political uncertainty both favor an up-trend but rising interest rates are expected to weaken demand. Respect of support at $1250 would confirm the up-trend, while breach of $1200 would warn of another decline.

Spot Gold

Crude tests support at $45/barrel

Nymex Light Crude is testing support at $45/barrel. Breach would offer an immediate target of $40. Follow-through below $40 would signal another test of the 2008/2016 lows at $30.

Nymex Light Crude

The chart below plots long-term crude prices adjusted for inflation. Recent falls show real crude prices returning to their previous trading range (0.1 to 0.2) before the 2004 to 2015 “China boom”.

Nymex Light Crude/CPI

The 2004 to 2015 surge in crude prices is very likely a major cause of low global growth over the last decade. Return to the previous trading range would be a bullish sign for the global economy.

Rising inflation, Dollar weakens

The consumer price index (CPI) ticked up 1.14% (year-on-year) for April 2016, on the back of higher oil prices. Core CPI (excluding energy and food) eased slightly to 2.15%.

CPI and Core CPI

Inflation is muted, but a sharp rise in hourly manufacturing (production and nonsupervisory employees) earnings growth (2.98% for 12 months to April 2016) points to further increases.

Manufacturing Hourly Earnings Growth

Despite this, long-term interest rates remain weak, with 10-year Treasury yields testing support at 1.65 percent. Breach would signal another test of the record low at 1.50% in 2012. The dovish Fed is a contributing factor, but so could safe-haven demand from investors wary of stocks….

10-year Treasury Yields

The Dollar

The US Dollar Index rallied off long-term support at 93 but this looks more a pause in the primary down-trend (signaled by decline of 13-week Momentum below zero) than a reversal.

US Dollar Index

Explanation for the Dollar rally is evident on the chart of China’s foreign reserves: a pause in the sharp decline of the last 2 years. China has embarked on another massive stimulus program in an attempt to shock their economy out of its present slump.

China: Foreign Reserves

But this hair of the dog remedy is unlikely to solve their problems, merely postpone the inevitable reckoning. The Yuan is once again weakening against the Dollar. Decline in China’s reserves — and the US Dollar as a consequence — is likely to continue.

USD: Chinese Yuan

Low inflation and a stronger dollar indicate weak gold

Growth in hourly manufacturing earnings has climbed above the Fed target of 2.0 percent, while core CPI continues to track near the target. But the 5-year breakeven rate (5-year Treasury minus TIPS yield) is close to 1.0 percent. The market expects inflation to fall over the next few years.

5-Year Breakeven Rate, Core CPI and Growth in Hourly Manufacturing Earnings

The reasoning is straight-forward: the end of the infrastructure boom in China and slowing economic growth means low energy and commodity prices for the foreseeable future. Slow credit growth in the West will also act as a brake on aggregate demand, maintaining downward pressure on CPI.

CPI:US and EU

Long-term interest rates are low, with 10-year Treasury yields testing support at 2.0 percent. Declining 13-week Twiggs Momentum, below zero, suggests further weakness.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar Index rallied off support at 93. A higher trough indicates buying pressure. Breakout above 98 would suggest another advance.

Dollar Index

Gold

A strong dollar and low inflation would weaken demand for gold. Spot gold is testing medium-term support at $1150/ounce. Breach would warn of a test of the primary level at $1100. 13-Week Twiggs Momentum is rising, but a peak below zero would signal continuation of the primary down-trend.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1200 – ( 1400 – 1200 ) = 1000

Low inflation and a stronger dollar indicate weak gold

Growth in hourly manufacturing earnings has climbed above the Fed target of 2.0 percent, while core CPI continues to track near the target. But the 5-year breakeven rate (5-year Treasury minus TIPS yield) is close to 1.0 percent. The market expects inflation to fall over the next few years.

5-Year Breakeven Rate, Core CPI and Growth in Hourly Manufacturing Earnings

The reasoning is straight-forward: the end of the infrastructure boom in China and slowing economic growth means low energy and commodity prices for the foreseeable future. Slow credit growth in the West will also act as a brake on aggregate demand, maintaining downward pressure on CPI.

CPI:US and EU

Long-term interest rates are low, with 10-year Treasury yields testing support at 2.0 percent. Declining 13-week Twiggs Momentum, below zero, suggests further weakness.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar Index rallied off support at 93. A higher trough indicates buying pressure. Breakout above 98 would suggest another advance.

Dollar Index

Gold

A strong dollar and low inflation would weaken demand for gold. Spot gold is testing medium-term support at $1150/ounce. Breach would warn of a test of the primary level at $1100. 13-Week Twiggs Momentum is rising, but a peak below zero would signal continuation of the primary down-trend.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1200 – ( 1400 – 1200 ) = 1000

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.

~ George Santayana

Dollar strengthens on low inflation

Core CPI continues to hover below the Fed’s 2.0% target, while plunging oil prices keep the broad index close to zero. Core CPI is likely to weaken as the beneficial effect of lower energy costs flows through to all sectors of the economy.

CPI and Core CPI

We often read of the threat of impending deflation — which may well occur. But one needs to differentiate between deflation caused by a surge in aggregate supply, as in the present situation, and a fall in aggregate demand as in 2008. The former may well act as a stimulus to the global economy, while the latter threatens a negative feedback loop between income and consumption which can lead to substantial falls in output.

Low inflation takes pressure off the Fed to raise interest rates but we can expect the first increment later this year. 10-Year Treasury yields respected the rising trendline and support at 2.10%, suggesting another test of 2.50%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The higher trough on the Dollar Index indicates buying pressure and breakout above 98 would signal another test of 100. In the longer term, breakout above 100 would signal resumption of the primary up-trend but is likely to meet push-back from the Fed as a higher dollar would hurt both exporters and domestic producers competing against imports.

Dollar Index

Gold headed for $600 or $700?

Gold broke long-term support at $1140/ounce, offering a medium-term target of $1000*. Peaks at zero on 13-week Twiggs Momentum indicate a strong primary down-trend.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1200 – ( 1400 – 1200 ) = 1000

What is the long-term target?

Gold fell from a long-term high around $1800 before encountering strong support at $1200. Breakout below this lengthy, mid-point consolidation suggests that the precious metal is likely to experience another decline of similar magnitude to the first. These patterns are normally symmetrical, which would present an end target of $600 per ounce. That is $1200 – ($1800 – $1200) = $600.

$600 may seem outlandish, given the strength of recent support, but not when one adjusts the gold price by the consumer price index (CPI). Then it appears that yellow metal still has some way to fall.

Gold over CPI

Nothing is certain in this world (except death and taxes) and there are many fundamentals (like central banks) that may intervene. Also, there is a strong support level at the 2008 low of $700 per ounce.

Spot Gold

I would attach a 50% probability to gold reaching $700 in the next few years and a bit less, say 30%, to gold reaching $600.

Gold breaks $1180 support

Core CPI continues to track close to the Fed target of 2.0 percent (CPI All Items is distorted by falling oil prices).

CPI and Core CPI

Long-term interest rates are in a primary up-trend, with 10-year Treasury note yields breakout above resistance at 2.25% offering a target of 3.0 percent. Rising 13-week Twiggs Momentum above zero strengthens the signal.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar Index continues to test support at 95. Breach would warn of a test of the primary level (and rising trendline) at 93. A sharp decline on 13-Week Twiggs Momentum indicates this is likely.

Dollar Index

Gold

A weakening dollar would boost demand for gold, but rising interest rates counter this. Spot gold broke medium-term support at $1180/ounce, warning of a test of the primary level at $1140. 13-Week Twiggs Momentum peaks below zero suggest continuation of the primary down-trend. Failure of $1140 would offer a long-term target of $1000*.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1200 – ( 1400 – 1200 ) = 1000