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Was 'Bloody Wednesday' Just Green-Lighted by the Jobs Number?

Friday, August 7, 2015
Money and Markets
YOUR BEST SOURCE FOR THE UNBIASED MARKET COMMENTARY YOU WON’T GET FROM WALL STREET
You can also access this issue on our website.
Was "Bloody Wednesday" Just Green-Lighted By the Jobs Number? If So, Buckle Up
Market Roundup
Dow -46.37 to 17,373.38
S&P -5.99 to 2,077.57
NASDAQ -12.90 to 5,043.54
10-YR Yield -0.059 to 2.175%
Gold +$1.50 to $1,091.60
Oil -$0.82 to $43.84

By Mike Larson

Was “Bloody Wednesday” just green lighted? That’s what many on Wall Street are concluding in the wake of today’s jobs figures.

The Labor Department reported that the economy created 215,000 jobs in July. That was right in line with estimates, as was the 0.2% gain in average hourly earnings. The last two monthly reports were also revised higher by a combined 14,000 employees.

The unemployment rate also held steady at a seven-year low of 5.3%. Plus, job growth was also fairly widespread by industry. Retail added 36,000, health care added 28,000, finance added 17,000, and even manufacturing gained 15,000 positions.

The fly in the ointment was mining (which includes energy-related activities). That sector shed 5,000 jobs last month, bringing total losses to 78,000 since December. Labor force participation also remained dismal at 62.6%.

But if you add it all up, nothing here was negative enough to dissuade the Fed from pulling the trigger. Policymakers have been hinting more and more loudly that they want to go. Now, they have additional political and economic cover to do so.

The U.S. economy created 215,000 jobs in July – is that enough to get the Fed moving on rates?

So what does it mean for you as an investor? Expect more dislocations! The markets have grown fat, dumb, complacent and happy since 2009, courtesy of massive doses of monetary morphine.

But QE went the way of the dodo here several quarters ago, something I warned about well in advance. And now it looks like we may be on the threshold of the withdrawal of even more easy money rocket fuel. Since investors haven’t had to deal with an interest rate hike in more than nine years (June 29, 2006, to be exact), they could get severe indigestion from the first increase and any that follow it.

My advice: Raise more cash, take some profits, cut some losers, and buckle up. The next year or two could look much, much different from the last six.

In my Safe Money Report, Martin and I have navigated 40-plus years of interest rate-related turmoil between the two of us. I’ve spent my entire professional career focused like a laser on the rate markets. I plan to do my dead level best to help you navigate the coming volatility successfully.

But enough about me. I want to hear what YOU think about the latest jobs news. Has the chance of a Fed hike in September gone up? Down? What market impact do you expect from a rate increase, and how will you re-position your portfolio in response (if at all)? Here’s the link where you can share your thoughts. I hope to see your comments soon.

Our Readers Speak

The past 24 hours have been interesting over at the website.

Reader Jim weighed in on “cult stocks,” and how he has generally avoiding them in favor of safer stocks with high yields. Unfortunately, given the broad market weakness, even that strategy isn’t paying dividends lately. His thoughts:

“I have always avoided such stocks. I have smugly sat back for years enjoying great capital gains and generous dividends with the ‘boring’ pipeline companies like PAA, KMP, and NGLS. Now all of sudden they are beginning to look a lot like the worst cult stocks. In a word, I’m getting killed.”

Reader Frebon signaled his dissatisfaction with the Iran nuclear deal, saying: “Shame on any representative or senator that votes to let our children and grandchildren deal with a nuclear Iran. We should start accumulating money in a fund that will have the wherewithal to
publicize these miscreants and to ensure they don’t get re-elected, which is all they care about anyway. I think we can go grass roots and fund this in a way that will make these officials understand that they work for the people and not the other way around.”

Reader Will R. said the latest SEC push to publicize CEO-to-worker pay ratios will get a lot of people’s blood boiling. His take:

“If the public or employees knew just how much some of the top level executives really make, plus generous stock options, they might revolt. Trust me, I personally know a few! Some start at $10 million to $20 million. That’s about all I dare to say. This WILL be something to see.”

Finally, on the topic of the Federal Reserve and interest rate hikes, Reader Donnie S. said: “Will they or won’t they? Of course they will … institute negative interest to take one last advantage of everyone that has any money left in the bank.

“The Fed is all about banking and keeping the government spending money. ‘They’ have little to no consideration about the general populace.”

That’s a smorgasbord of comments on a bunch of topics, and I appreciate you all sharing them. I still happen to like pipeline operators, especially after this pullback. But we’ll need to see energy markets stabilize for those names to start rallying again.

As for the Iran deal, it’s in Congress’ hands now – and the news item on Senator Chuck Schumer below goes into a bit more detail. And finally, the Fed is definitely up against a wall here. It has signaled it wants to finally move, but even hints of that are wreaking havoc on the markets – the kind of “Bloody Wednesday” turmoil I’ve been warning about for several months now.

Anything else you want to add? Then here’s the link where you can do so.

Other Developments of the Day

BulletThe first of many Republican debates was a relatively raucous affair, with moderators going after Donald Trump (who didn’t back down), while neurosurgeon Ben Carson and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got in a few zingers and funny comments and others tried to stand out in a crowded field. Marco Rubio probably came off as the most “presidential,” though Jeb Bush tried to do so as well. Your thoughts? Share them at the website.

BulletPresident Obama lost the support of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer for his Iranian nuclear deal, a noteworthy setback. Obama needs enough support in Congress to override a veto vote on the legislation, and can’t afford to lose too many Democrats as many Republicans have already announced their opposition. We’ll have to keep a close eye on this as any successful vote to derail the deal would likely help drive oil prices higher.

BulletLegendary financier and activist investor Carl Icahn has built up a $1 billion position, or roughly 8.2% of the shares outstanding, in natural gas exporting firm Cheniere Energy (LNG). The company is almost finished building a nat gas exporting plan in Louisiana, putting it at the forefront of a new sub-industry aiming to “unlock” U.S. gas and get it out to world markets.

BulletCapital One Financial (COF) could bid more than $11 billion for a key piece of General Electric Co.’s (GE) health-care finance operations. GE has been selling off tens of billions of dollars worth of financial businesses to re-focus on its core industrial divisions.

Any thoughts on issues outside of the latest debate? Will Schumer’s opposition sink the Iranian deal? What about Icahn’s latest move – is it a “bottom” signal for beaten-down energy shares? Let me know over at the website.

Until next time,

Mike Larson

Mike Larson
Mike Larson graduated from Boston University with a B.S. degree in Journalism and a B.A. degree in English in 1998, and went to work for Bankrate.com. There, he learned the mortgage and interest rates markets inside and out. Mike then joined Weiss Research in 2001. He is the editor of Safe Money Report. He is often quoted by the Washington Post, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswires, Orlando Sentinel, Palm Beach Post and Sun-Sentinel, and he has appeared on CNN, Bloomberg Television and CNBC.
The investment strategy and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of any other editor at Weiss Research or the company as a whole.

For more information and archived issues, visit www.moneyandmarkets.com.

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