As the tension in the Middle East grows, the oil price grows too and so the price of gasoline at the pump. We really don’t need that when the economy is still in slow mode recovery. The morning started with some not-so-good news like the rise in oil prices, the fact that the Ministers of Finance in Europe postponed their meeting to approve the Greek measures, and the news that the economy in the Eurozone contracted 0.3% in the last trimester of 2012. Despite that, the markets in Asia and Europe are up and so are the futures in the US. During an interview in the morning, the Governor of the Bank of England said that the Europeans have to act fast to avoid chaos, and that nobody is prepared for a Greek default. England’s economy contracted 0.2% in the last trimester of 2011.
Back to the United States the good news is the possibility that the congress approve the extension on payroll tax cut , which would leave more money in the hands of about 160 millions of Americans.
By Zelia Cardoso de Melo
New York, June 16, 2011. I read the Journal because I have to but I avoid reading the opinion page at all cost. They are extremely conservative and it irritates me. Not that I am not willing to hear a different opinion, because I am. It is just that, as somebody has said, the problem with Republicans is not “that they have their own opinions, is that they have their own facts”. Well, today there is a very well balanced article in regards to the debt ceiling question.
As we know, every government has succeeded approving the increase of the debt ceiling: when there was a Republican President the democrats would vote against and vice versa. But at the end it was always increased. Now, the Republicans are blackmailing the White House and trying to link the increase on the ceiling to cuts on expenses. It seems like ((President Obama, again, is willing to accept the blackmail as it has been his norm)). The issue and the article put that in a very good way, is that now is not the time for that kind of game. Grow up guys.
by Zelia Cardoso de Mello
May 28, 2011 - New York, NY. Obama has been a disappointment for a lot of Americans, me included. He gives up very quickly, like he has no principles and surprisingly he has been a horrible communicator, incapable of explaining of what is going on, what is at stake, who is responsible for the deficit and so on. Not to mention that Wall Street still controls Washington. But really the worse is to be black mailed all the time. Had he said no in the lame duck season, maybe we won’t be where we are, begging the radical Republicans to raise the debt ceiling.
His popularity decreased and only recovered after killing Bin Laden. But that would not be enough to guarantee reelection. On the other side, however, things are not going well. There are too many pre candidates in the Republican side and they are all very weak. Moreover, ((their proposal for the fiscal situation is very unfair to most Americans)): leave the cut taxes for the rich untouchable and cut the benefits for seniors and low income. As a consequence, the candidates are in bad spot: if they want to win the convention and be the Republican nominated they have to defend those ideas. But, with those ideas and proposals they can’t win the election. That is why democrats are laughing out loud, for now.
by Zelia Cardoso de Mello.
May 28, 2011 - New York. That is what Jim Chanos said about China, explaining why he is short in China, and maybe not even bearish enough. The respected investor is negative on China since last October and it looks like more and more analysts are agreeing with him.
As the China economic growth is based on infrastructure projects and government investments, it looks like there are mounting signs of overcapacity. Bloombers is starting a series called “the ghost cities” and here is the link for the first episode.
(Reuters) - The world looks a lot more dangerous than it did only a few months ago and signs are that U.S. stock investors are starting to demand more for the added risk.
With important manufacturing and jobs data due next week, it could start to get even riskier.
That means nervous investors are likely to keep a lid on equity prices this year as they grapple with slowing global growth and a host of geopolitical risks from the Arab Spring to debt defaults in the euro zone.
The actions of some big Wall Street banks best show the shift in the risk-reward nexus. Over the last two weeks, UBS, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs have effectively lowered their view of what investors will be willing to pay for a dollar of corporate earnings this year.
Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. equity strategist at UBS in New York, made the decision to keep his S&P 500 Index target on hold, even though he increased his expectations of what S&P 500 companies would likely earn this year and next.
"Earnings are going to continue to surprise to the upside, but investors will continue to be reluctant to believe in the sustainability of earnings and, therefore, not give full credit to that," Golub said.
Golub raised his average S&P 500 earnings estimate to $101 from $96 for this year, but he left his year-end S&P 500target at 1,425. By doing that, Golub has effectively lowered his price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio -- the amount investors are willing to pay for a dollar of earnings -- to 14.1 from 14.8.
That amounts to an increase in the expected equity yield -- a measure of the return investors want -- to 7.1 percent from 6.8 percent.
That is significant because the expected price-to-earnings ratio was already below what investors have historically been willing to pay for S&P 500 earnings. The average trailing P/E ratio is 15.6 over the last five years and 19.2 since 1988, according to Standard & Poor's.
Golub argues that a batch of weak economic data pointing to slowing manufacturing, a weak housing market and stubbornly high unemployment is weighing on investor sentiment. Weakness in commodity markets and rotation into defensive sectors of the stock market testify to that shift.
SOFT JOBS DATA MAY HIT S&P
With next week's ISM national manufacturing survey for May expected to show more weakness and payroll data tipped to show under 200,000 jobs added during the month, risk aversion -- driven by fear about the economy -- could get worse before it gets better.
Goldman Sachs economist Zach Pandl said his firm is predicting 150,000 jobs were added in May, compared with a Reuters consensus of 185,000.
An ISM reading below 60 next Wednesday would show "the strongest period of growth has passed and investors may need to adjust their expectations going forward," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial in Westport, Connecticut.
Economists in a Reuters poll expect the ISM reading to fall to 58 in May from 60.4 in April.
Goldman Sachs has also been tweaking its stocks outlook. It cut its year-end S&P 500 target, one of the highest on the Street, to 1,450 from 1,500, and lowered its 2012 earnings outlook to $104 to $106, citing lower global growth, higher commodity prices and slightly higher inflation.
Goldman analyst David Kostin, who is responsible for the S&P 500 target, was unavailable for an interview.
However Goldman's analysts wrote: "As we transition into the late expansion phase of the cycle later this year, the risk-reward balance for the S&P 500 is likely to become slightly less attractive."
Citigroup also slightly increased its earnings estimates for S&P 500 companies, lifting its 2011 forecast to $98 from $96.50. Although admittedly only a small increase, it chose to leave its S&P 500 target at 1,400.
Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup's chief U.S. equity strategist, could not be reached for comment.
The targets for all three banks are still at the upper end of analysts' estimates and are 5 percent to 8 percent above current levels.
Even if the index does get up to those levels later this year, those gains are slight compared to the near 80 percent run the S&P 500 has experienced since hitting a bear market low in March 2009.
For people like Bill Strazzullo, partner and chief investment strategist at Bell Curve Trading in Boston, that means the risks are firmly on the downside.
"The good news is there's some upside. The bad news is that you've probably made about 80 (percent) to 90 percent of this rally," Strazullo said. "From a 'bigger picture' standpoint, the risk-reward really doesn't make sense."
Strazullo believes the S&P 500 will revert toward fair value, which he places at 1,100, based on where most of the money in the S&P 500 is invested. He is looking at some longer-term bearish options trades to capitalize on the end of the March 2009 rally.
"I'm not saying we'll go all the way back there, but the point is, you could drop a lot further than most people anticipate."