Russia Cuts Oil Output, Sentiment On Deck

Markets gapped higher on Thursday (up 0.93% in the SPY, up 0.68% in the SIA, and up 1.51% in the QQQ).  However, this was a bull trap as the bear immediately stepped in and sold off the market steadily all day long.  Price had completely faded the gap in all three major indices by 12:30 pm and then continued its way South.  Only a little bit of profit-taking by the bears during the last 25 minutes prevented us from going out on the lows.  This action gave us black-bodied candles that engulfed Wednesday’s candle body. (However, these are not Bearish Engulfing signals because Wednesday’s candle bodies were also black.)  All three major indices crossed back below their T-line.  

On the day, all 10 sectors are in the red as Communications Services (-1.34%) led the way lower and Consumer Defensive (-0.41%) held up better than other sectors.  At the same time, the SPY was down 0.87%, the DIA was down 0.69%, and QQQ was down 0.88%.  At the same time, the VXX gained 3.00% to 12.01 and T2122 fell again to the bottom end of the midrange at 26.78.  10-year bond yields jumped up again to 3.667% and Oil (WTI) is down by 1.06% to $77.64 per barrel.  So, on the day, we saw a bull trap where the overnight gap was met with an all-day selloff.  Still, the bears did not break out of the decisive move.  So, the bullish trend remains unbroken.  All of this happened on less than average volume. 

In economic news, the Weekly Initial Jobless Claims came in just above expectations at 196k (compared to a forecast of 190k but still an increase from the previous week’s reading of 183k).  Meanwhile, the Continuing Jobless Claims were also higher than was forecasted at 1,688k (versus a forecast of 1,658k and well up from last week’s value of 1.650k).  In Fed speak, Richmond Fed President Barkin said Thursday that tight monetary policy is “unequivocally slowing the US economy” which will allow the Fed to be “more deliberate” in any further interest rate increases.  Barkin went further than most Fed speakers by saying that, “We all know what people care about.  They care about food, gas, and shelter.”  He went on to say that he is watching those three things as his indicator of when inflation is under control.  Until they are, he said the FOMC has more work to do (implying more quarter-point hikes ahead).

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In stock news, GM and GFS announced a long-term deal to secure US-made chips for GM vehicles.  The deal will enable the carmaker to avoid the chip shortages that have plagued the auto industry since the start of the pandemic.  In layoff news, GTLB has announced it will reduce its workforce by 7% due to the current economic environment. Meanwhile, pot company CGC announced it will cut 36% of employees and sell assets in Canada in an effort to reduce costs.  The company cited black market competition as a significant hurdle.  Elsewhere, after the close, BKI announced it will put its loan software business up for sale.  The move is part of BKIs attempt to stem antitrust concerns after ICE’s proposed acquisition of BKI.  Meanwhile, XOM announced it will be merging some business units as part of a cost-cutting plan (despite blowout record profits in its most recent report).  The Wall Street Journal reported that the move was aimed at reducing a layer of management and concentrating the smaller units buying power and decision-making related to raw materials procurement.

In miscellaneous news, Thursday evening the Fed announced its 2023 bank stress test scenarios.  This year’s test will include a new “extra market shock” in addition to various recession scenarios.  The tests must be passed by the eight largest US banks, namely JPM, BAC, C, WFC, USB, PNC, MS, and GS.  Elsewhere, Labor Sec Walsh and President Biden’s Top Economic Advisor Deese have both called executives of CSX, UNP, NSC, and BRKA’s BNSF railroads.  The Administration officials pushed the companies to offer paid sick leave to rail workers represented by the 10 unions whose members are currently not offered any.  Finally, after the close, technology industry research firm Mercury Research released a report on the state of the processor market.  Overall, 2022 saw the worst downturn in the PC chip market since the 1980s.  INTC got crushed, losing market share to competitor AMD (which now has nearly one-third of the processor market).  AAPL and QCOM (both using chips from ARM) lost market share over the year as well.

In energy news, the front-month March contract for Natural Gas closed down again Thursday, settling at $2.43/mmBtu.  This was up off the day’s low of $2.351 after a larger than expected inventory draw was reported by the EIA.  A down US Dollar also helped all commodities on the day.  Elsewhere, Russia announced plans to cut its oil production by 500,000 barrels per day as of March to Western price caps.  This cut amounts to 5% of Russia’s daily oil output.  This news has both oil prices spiking 2% and European stock markets lower this morning.

After the close, MSI, G, MTD, VTR, TEX, CBT, LGF.A, and DXCM all reported beats on both the revenue and earnings lines. Meanwhile, PYPL, MHK, NGL, BHF, FLO, and EQR all missed on revenue while beating on earnings.  On the other side, CC, LYFT, USX, MODG, and OSCR all beat on revenue while missing on earnings. Unfortunately, NWSA, EXPE, YELL, and CNXN all missed on both the opt and bottom lines.  It is worth noting that PYPL, MSI, MTD, and MODG all raised their forward guidance. However, MHK, CC, VTR, and LYFT lowered their forward guidance.

Overnight, Asian markets leaned to the red side.  Hong Kong (-2.01%) was an outlier while Australia (-0.76%), Shenzhen (-0.59%), and South Korea (-0.48%) led the losses.  Meanwhile, Malaysia (+0.68%), New Zealand (+0.50%), and Japan (+0.31%) paced the gains.  In Europe, again with the sole exception of Norway (+0.19%), we see red across the board at midday.  The FTSE (-0.71%), DAX (-1.49%), and CAC (-1.28%) are leading the continent lower in early afternoon trade.  As of 7:30 am, US Futures are pointing toward a gap lower to start the day.  The DIA implies a -0.47% open, the SPY is implying a -0.73% open, and the QQQ implies a -1.23% open at this hour.  At the same time, 10-year bond yields are climbing again to 3.711% and Oil (WTI) is up 2% to $79.64/barrel in early trading.

The major economic news events scheduled for Friday are limited to the Michigan Consumer Sentiment (10 am) and January Federal Budget Balance (2 pm) reports. We also hear from Fed members Waller (12:30 pm) and Harker (4 pm).  Major earnings reports scheduled for the day include ENB, FTS, GPN, HMC, IQV, MGA, NWL, SPB, and SLVM before the opening bell.  There are no major reports scheduled for after the close. 

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So far this morning, NWL, GPN, TIGO, and FTS have reported beats on the revenue and earnings lines.  Meanwhile, ENB and MGA both reported beats on the revenue line while missing on the earnings line.  On the other side, IQV and HMC missed on the revenue line while beating on the earnings line.  Unfortunately, SLVM and SPB missed on both the top and bottom lines.  It is worth noting that MGA raised guidance while IQV and NWL both lowered forward guidance.

With that background, it looks like the bears have the momentum coming off yesterday’s candle and with an overnight assist from the Russians. As markets prepare for the weekend, all three major indices are showing a bearish trend overnight that has flattened out after 6:15 am. This will give us that gap lower at the open unless something changes dramatically in the next two hours. This will break the uptrend line in the QQQ and move us close to retesting that uptrend line in the SPY. DIA is back inside its wedge but still has more ground to cover before retesting its own uptrend line. (When I say uptrend lines, I’m talking about those dating back to the start of the year.) Earnings were generally good last night but are more mixed this morning. So, it may be up to Consumer SEntiment and Fed Speak to turn things around if you’re a bull.

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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