David's Feed
Jun 12, 2014
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MORNING BID – The first step is a Lulu

It will be interesting to see if the spiral that yogawear retailer Lululemon Athletica has found itself in over the last year is one that can be arrested. Companies rise and fall often in this world, but the U.S. stock market’s history is littered with retailers that went into a tailspin after series of missteps that turn once-interesting investments into a veritable death trap for investors, and result in the kind of drop that benefits mostly short-sellers, late-night comedians and eventually restructuring lawyers.

It’s particularly rough for companies that inspire cult-like followings, be they as a stock or as a retail purchase, as markets eventually become saturated, competitors jump into the fray, and investors go forth and look for the next big thing to occupy their time. And a stock like Lululemon, which quintupled between late 2010 and early 2012, is kind of the definition of a cult stock. That’s well and good when earnings keep going, which kept the stock price in a range (albeit elevated) through December 2013, but those days are over.

Jun 11, 2014

Cantor exit raises Wall Street fears of renewed debt fight

NEW YORK (Reuters) – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shocking defeat isn’t likely to have much effect on U.S. financial markets — unless his departure emboldens Tea Party Republicans to again threaten a government shut-down over the debt ceiling next year, investment strategists said.

Even though most of the items on Wall Street’s legislative wish list, particularly corporate tax reform, were already viewed as non-starters over the next two years, Cantor’s departure may roil the relative calm that’s prevailed since the bipartisan budget deal of December 2013.

Jun 11, 2014

Analysis – Cantor exit raises Wall Street fears of renewed debt fight

NEW YORK (Reuters) – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shocking defeat isn’t likely to have much effect on U.S. financial markets — unless his departure emboldens Tea Party Republicans to again threaten a government shut-down over the debt ceiling next year, investment strategists said.

Even though most of the items on Wall Street’s legislative wish list, particularly corporate tax reform, were already viewed as non-starters over the next two years, Cantor’s departure may roil the relative calm that’s prevailed since the bipartisan budget deal of December 2013.

Jun 10, 2014
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MORNING BID – The Beautiful Game, and Less Beautiful Markets

In two days the World Cup will open in Brazil, with the home country generally believed to be the favorite once again. There are others better placed to look at the odds for every country, though at least this year will avoid the spectacle of seeing thousands of Brazilians hang around after their team has been vanquished (the Brazilians tend to book hotels through the end, assuming they’ll be there in the final – hence lots of them out all night in Berlin in 2006 when it was Italy and France going for the cup). For the short-term investing crowd, there’s some reason to bet on the winner too – Goldman Sachs, in a report so detailed it makes us wonder about their obsessiveness with the game – points out that the winners tend to outperform in the stock market after the final.

“On average, the victor outperforms the global market by 3.5% in the first month – a meaningful amount, although the outperformance fades significantly after three months,” they wrote in a 67-page bit on the World Cup and economics. “But sentiment can only take you so far, in markets at least – the winning nation doesn’t tend to hold on to its gains and, on average, sees its stock market underperform by around 4% on average over the year following the final.” Host nations also tend to see outperformance too – about 2.7 percent for the month following, though, again, the glow of hosting a whole load of 1-0 matches tends to fade over time, leaving investors with other things on their minds, like fundamentals, and maybe all the debt the host took on to build a truckload of stadiums.

Jun 9, 2014
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MORNING BID – Popping in 3-D

One of the stocks in one of the recent go-go sectors, 3D Systems Inc, holds its analyst day on Tuesday, and it’s one of those names that’s been beaten down so much of late that it’s bound to have some kind of positive reaction to news. But like many other companies, implied volatility in the stock is pretty low right now – it’s hard to see much of anything happening during such a tranquil period when the S&P 500 adds a point or two here and there every day or so. It’s doubly difficult because stocks like this have had their big correction – in this case, falling nearly 50 percent from its all-time high reached early this year.

Right now the expected move on the stock post-analyst day is about 2.3 percent, which is low compared to the last three analyst days, which have seen the shares move at least 3.3 percent, and Goldman Sachs believes there could be a bigger swing. They believe the company could raise its guidance for the fiscal year, depending on what it says about research and development and new products.

Jun 6, 2014
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MORNING BID – Be not afraid of more bond-market rallies

After the world’s most boring jobs report in history (seriously, misses consensus by 1,000, unemployment and wage growth in-line with expectations, and revisions over the last two months amount to a total decline of 6,000 jobs, which is a pittance), the bond market is catching a bit of a bid again. That shouldn’t be a surprise given the way this market is still taking its cues from the European bond market, which is soaring on what would otherwise be a quiet Friday. (Those of you who read Richard Leong’s story yesterday noting the likely rally in bonds post-jobs would have been all over this – just sayin’.)

It’s not going to be long before Spain’s 10-year yield falls through the U.S. 10-year yield – the spread has narrowed to about 6-7 basis points and at one point was around 3 basis points before the jobs figures. Even though the in-line figures could argue for higher rates, the report doesn’t change the consensus on the economy all that much and allows fixed income to concentrate on supply and relative valuation issues – and those point to yields remaining under pressure. Mark Grant of Southwest Securities lays it out well on a lot of issues in a comment this morning, but very specifically, he points out that “money from Asia and the Middle East is going to come pouring into the American market because of the yields here versus all of Europe. When the French 5 year yield is 304% less than the American one something is going to give and the ECB will not permit that answer to be a higher French yield.”

Jun 5, 2014
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MORNING BID – Bonds, as jobs approach

Determining the bond market’s next move is the ultimate in tea reading right now – long-dated fixed income Treasuries, after spending some time in the mid-2.40 percent range area, could tick back to the upper end of the yield range following whatever transpires with Friday’s jobs figures as investors focus on the fundamentals in the economy driving yields. Europe still has a part to play, too – and as Gertrude Chavez and Mike Connor pointed out in a late Wednesday story, investors believe there are a number of factors that complicate the assessment of where bonds are and what they’re saying about the economy given external factors like Europe.

That said, stronger-than-expected jobs data, especially after ADP disappointed investors with its 179K increase, would go some way toward pushing yields into the upper range of late – somewhere between 2.75 percent and 2.80 percent.

Jun 4, 2014
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MORNING BID – Spending concerns and car sales

Coming data on same-store sales will help illuminate whether the modest upward tick in prices is something that is being replicated throughout the economy and signalling a stronger overall economy or perhaps one that remains more weighted to the most wealthy in the United States. According to Thomson Reuters data, Costco is poised to post the strongest same-store sales figures among the retail chains, though its 4.6 percent estimated increase would fall short of the 5 percent rise a year ago. The figures have a bit less utility than in the past given the likes of Wal-Mart stopped supplying this data years ago, but you work with what you have. Either way, it’s notable that the discounters have been weak this year – a sign of lackluster spending outlooks for lower income Americans.

The lower-income sector has seen its share of economic growth diminish over recent years, a trend that has been accelerated in part by the weakness in housing prices in most parts of the economy, poor overall demand and lack of spending among all but the upper tier of consumers, and no real growth in wages — though this morning’s data on productivity and labor costs does show finally some wage growth.

Jun 3, 2014
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MORNING BID – Forming lasting bonds

Discerning where the bond market is headed next has been the primary occupation of investors in the last several days. The selloff seen in the Treasury market after the Institute for Supply Management fixed, re-fixed and then officially re-fixed its manufacturing survey shows that perhaps long-dated yields have come about as far as they’re going to go for some time here – moving back above the 2.55 percent level after dipping down to around 2.44 percent on Friday. We’ve been over this before, but it’s instructive to look at just what’s forced yields this low and take a measure of the various factors involved, and what it might tell us about where we’re going from here.

A number of strategists notably believe the expectations for a lot of monetary helicopters over Europe has something to do with it – noting that the sharp dive in Euro-zone yields has contributed both to a shift in institutional funds to the comparatively high yielding U.S. debt market, as they see the German bund 10-year dropping to about 1.40 percent while Italy sits at 2.96 percent and Spain is at about 2.84 percent at this time.

May 30, 2014
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MORNING BID – The “Everything Is Awesome” Rally

Sometimes the biggest pain trade is not being in the market at all, and that’s certainly the case in 2014. We’re in something of a Goldilocks environment when it comes to major markets: Bank of America-Merrill Lynch laid this out pretty well in a note yesterday, noting that global equities, US stocks, emerging markets, government bonds, gold, high yield bonds and investment grade corporate are all up between 3.9 and 5.2 percent so far this year.

One way or another now, there are a lot of people waiting for something to go wrong in the market and as a result it’s more or less caused people to freeze in place. Recent investor surveys in the stock market have more people neutral than has been seen in a long time, because while they don’t see equities falling dramatically any time soon, they also are confounded as to how the equity market can keep rallying.

    • About David

      "David Gaffen oversees the stocks team, having joined Reuters in May 2009. He spent four years at the Wall Street Journal, where he was the original writer of the web site's MarketBeat blog. He has appeared on Fox Business, CNN International, NPR, and assorted other media and is the author of the forthcoming book "Never Buy Another Stock Again.""
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