CRM Crushes and TSLA Underwhelms

The large-cap indices opened the day flat and then whipsawed their way sideways, having made no real progress by 12:45 pm.  However, the QQQ opened flat and then whipsawed its way South, reaching the lows of the day by 11:45 am before swinging back to reclaim most of the lost ground by 12:15 pm.  All three of the major indices then got into lock-step at 12:45 pm and sold off until 3 pm only to bob along not far up off the lows the rest of the day.  This action gave us Spinning Top type candles in the SPY, DIA, and QQQ, with the QQQ having the largest (black) body candle.  The SPY and QQQ had above-average volume while the DIA had a lower-than-average number of shares traded.

On the day, six of the 10 sectors were in the red with Utilities (-1.34%) leading the way lower and Energy (+1.63%) holding up better than the other sectors.  At the same time, the SPY was down 0.37%, the DIA was up 0.13%, and QQQ was down 0.80%.  The VXX rose almost 1% to 11.65 and T2122 climbed slightly to just outside the edge of the oversold territory to 20.78.  10-year bond yields spiked to 3.996% and Oil (WTI) was up 0.82% to $77.68 per barrel.  So, overall, Wednesday was an indecisive day filled with whipsaws.

In economic news, February Manufacturing PMI came in a bit below expectation at 47.3 (compared to a forecast of 47.8 but better than the January value of 46.9).  Just a few minutes later, the Feb. ISM Manufacturing PMI also came in below expectation at 47.7 (versus a forecast of 48.0 but slightly better than the January reading of 47.4).  At the same time, Feb. ISM Mfg. Prices came in significantly hotter than expected at 51.3 (compared to a forecast of 45.1 and a January value of 44.5).  Although these were not earth-moving indicators, they did show a modest slowdown in the economy while the inflation indication is not good.  Then the EIA Weekly Crude Oil Inventories came in with a larger build than forecast to +1.165 million barrels (versus a forecast of +0.457 million barrels but far, far better than the prior week’s build of 7.648 million barrels and even much better than Tuesday night’s API report of +6.203 million barrels).  This build in inventories offset record oil exports of 5.629 million barrels for the week.  Finally, the Fed speak was mixed on Wednesday.  Minneapolis Fed President Kashkari (voter) said he is leaning toward increasing his policy path (adding more rate hikes) but also that he had not made a final decision prior to the March meeting.  However, Atlanta Fed President Bostic released an essay later in the day that said he still feels the 5%-5.25% range would be adequate despite the recent high inflation readings.  The news from Bostic was that he now feels the Fed Funds Rate will need to be kept at that level into 2024.

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In stock news, Reuters reported Wednesday afternoon that US electric vehicle makers are seeing a drop in demand across the board.  The company cited sources at TSLA, RIVN, NKLA, FSR, and LCID as well as noting very public price cuts by TSLA.  It was quite interesting that the article did not mention the big auto brands GM, F, and STLA although the implication was that the slowdown was industry-wide.  In unrelated EV auto news, TSLA CEO Musk announced part 3 of his “TSLA Master Plan.”  He said the plan is to eventually cut the cost of vehicle production in half.  However, the focus of the plan was on “sustainable energy” and working with Musk’s other companies to replace the existing power grid with renewables and TSLA batteries.  Elsewhere, GOOGL’s Waymo self-driving unit laid off 137 employees in its second round of job cuts for 2023.  Meanwhile, LLY announced it will cut list prices for its most commonly prescribed insulin products by 70% and will begin offering $25/mo. insulin as of Q4 this year.  (They currently sell at around $275.)   In labor news, DAL pilots have ratified a new contract offering them a cumulative 34% pay increase.  AAL and UAL pilots have been conducting “informational pickets” amidst claims the companies are dragging out negotiations after publicly promising “industry-leading contracts” at the same time they have offered less than the DAL deal.  This is all part of a war for talent as the major airlines plan to hire over 8,000 new pilots in 2023 alone.

In stock legal and regulatory news, UBS lost its bid to have a lawsuit thrown out of court in London.  The suit will now proceed and claims UBS is liable for $500 million lost by two exiled Chinese businessmen when UBS forced them to sell Hong Kong shares at the height of a market rout in 2015.  Elsewhere, for the second time in two days, the FDA Advisory Board recommended that the FDA approve a respiratory virus vaccine.  This time the recommendation was for GSK’s competitor to the PFE vaccine recommended Tuesday and this time by a stronger 10-2 vote.  In other health-related news, BMY won a dismissal of a $6.4 billion lawsuit that had claimed the company had defrauded investors by delaying the submission of information to the FDA (and which delay allowed BMY to avoid paying shareholders in CELG the $6.4 billion as part of a contingency clause in the company purchase).  Meanwhile, OSHA announced it has opened an investigation into a death that occurred Tuesday at the MPC refinery in Texas City, TX. Elsewhere, a Delaware judge has thrown out a shareholder lawsuit against the MCD board claiming it was wrong to let former CEO Easterbrook keep $125 million in severance when he was fired for having a relationship with one of his employees.

After the close, CRM, SPLK, VEEV, SNOW, ADV, AEO, and OKTA all reported beats to both the revenue and earnings lines.  Meanwhile, PSTG and AAN both missed on revenue while beating on earnings.  On the other side, AIMC, AGL, CANO, LNW, and ERIE all beat on revenue while missing on earnings.  Unfortunately, GEF, JAZZ, and CODI missed on both the top and bottom lines.  It is worth noting that CRM, AGL, and OKTA raised their forward guidance. However, SPLK, PSTG, VEEV, and AAN lowered their forward guidance. (CRM is also notable for its big beats despite the fact they laid off more than 8,000 employees early this year, claiming they were unprofitable and fearing the economic climate.)

Overnight, Asian markets were mixed but leaned to the red side on mostly modest moves. Hong Kong (-0.92%), India (-0.74%), and Singapore (-0.62%) paced the losses while South Korea (+0.62%) and Malaysia (+0.36%) were the only appreciable gainers.  In Europe, we see a similar picture taking shape at midday.  The FTSE (-0.15%), DAX (-0.47%), and CAC (-0.04%) are typical of the region with 4-5 smaller exchanges in just into the green in early afternoon trade.  As of 7:30 am, US Futures are pointing toward a mixed start to the day. The DIA implies a +0.18% open, the SPY is implying a -0.39% open, and the QQQ implies a -0.57% open at this hour.  At the same time, 10-year bond yields have crossed above the key 4% level to 4.038% and Oil (WTI) is up 0.37% to $77.99/barrel in early trading.

The major economic news events scheduled for Thursday include Q4 Unit Labor Cost,  Q4 Nonfarm Productivity, and Weekly Initial Jobless Claims (all at 8:30 am).  We also hear from Fed members Waller (4 pm) and Kashkari (6 pm).  Major earnings reports scheduled for the day include AER, AMRX, BUD, BBY, BIG, BILI, BURL, CPG, GMS, HRL, KR, M, PDCO, SFM, STGW, and TD before the opening bell.  Then after the close, AVGO, COO, COST, DELL, HPE, MRVL, JWN, VVX, and VSCO report. 

In economic news later this week, on Friday, Services PMI, S&P Global Composite PMI, and ISM Non-Mfg. PMI are reported.  In terms of earnings later in the week, on Friday, HIBB reports.

So far this morning, BBY, M, BURL, TD, PDYPY, SQM, CNQ, AER, and AMRX have reported beats on both the revenue and earnings lines.  Meanwhile, BUD, BIG, PDCO, and BILI missed on revenue while also beating on earnings.  On the other side, GMS and CPG beat on revenue while missing on earnings.  Unfortunately, HRL and STGW missed on both the top and bottom lines.  It is worth noting that BBY, HRL, BILI, and AMRX have all lowered their forward guidance.

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In late-breaking news, TSLA took a beating overnight after Elon Musk’s “Master Plan Part 3” was long on platitudes, vagueries, and promises while being short on details, timing, and concrete steps. For example, he did not mention the long-promised (more than 2 years) $25k TSLA model. However, he did say the company has agreed to build a new plant in Mexico to build “the next generation of TSLA vehicles” (which implies the CA and TX plants have less of a role in the company’s future).

With that background, it looks like the bears want to keep pushing in the leading SPY and QQQ indices while the lagging DIA is looking to consolidate. The trend remains bearish and extension is not a problem yet in terms of T-line (8ema) or the T2122 indicator. As I see it, the SPY and especially QQQ have a little way to fall into their next support, but the DIA has minor support just below the premarket price. Respect the trend (the trend is the trend until it ends) and be aware of the potential for intraday whipsaw like we saw yesterday. Also remember the data dump at 8:30am if you are playing in the premarket.

As always, be deliberate and disciplined…but don’t be stubborn. If you have a loss, admit you were wrong and take that loss before it gets out of hand. And when the price does move in your direction, always move your stops in your favor and take a little profit off the table. You have to keep the “Legend of the man in the green bathrobe” in mind. In a winning situation, it is NOT HOUSE MONEY you’re betting, it’s YOUR MONEY! There is absolutely no reason to keep raising your bet (risk) size just because you’ve had a win. Finally, remember that trading is not a hobby. It’s a job. The money is real and so is the risk. So, treat it that way. Do the work and follow the process. Stick to your trading rules, trade with the trend, and take those profits when you have them. Do the work!

See you in the trading room.


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