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30Apr2015 Market Close: Markets Close Down, DOW Off Triple Digits, WTI Oil Posts New Highs

Written by Gary

Generally the markets trended down all day for a variety of reasons most of which were mixed economic data fueled the selloff in technology and small-company shares that until recently had been strong performers.

U.S. stocks sold off in late trading today, with the Nasdaq on track for a fourth straight day of losses, as Apple shares declined and economic data reignited concerns about the outlook for interest rates.

By 4 pm oil prices rose to a new 2015 high, capping their best-performing month in years, as traders bet that U.S. crude-oil supplies are near a peak.

Todays S&P 500 Chart

The Market in Perspective

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Stocks end lower after recouping some of an afternoon swoon; Yelp and Harman sink

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing lower after recouping some of an afternoon swoon. Several companies fell Thursday after releasing weak results. Harman International, Varian Medical Systems and Yelp all sank. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 195 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,840. It was down as much as 260. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 21 points, or 1 percent, to 2,085. The Nasdaq fell 82 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,941. Technology and health care companies fell the most.

No More Greater Fools: Retail Traders Are "Pretty Fully Invested" In Stocks, TD CEO Says

"Margin loans at high levels, client cash at low levels and account holders at the firm logging in frequently."

If you didn't know any better, you might think the above is yet another example of someone describing one of the dynamics driving China's self-feeding equity mania. After all, the country's "world-beating" rally has everyone from housewives to banana vendors opening stock trading accounts by the millions while piling on margin debt and trading so often that the computers tracking volume literally give up and shut themselves down.

Alas, the quote featured above is actually from TD Ameritrade CEO Fred Tomczyk and he's describing America's own legion of day-trading BTFDers who are apparently all-in at just the wrong time:

A broad look at the 6.5 million customer accounts at TD Ameritrade indicates that retail investors are "pretty fully invested" in stocks, the online brokerage's CEO said Thursday.

Fred Tomczyk cited several signs of this: margin loans at high levels, client cash at low levels and account holders at the firm logging in frequently. "It's usually a good indication that people are very engaged in the markets and watching their investments closely," he said on CNBC's " Squawk Box ." ...

Retail investors haven't been this clueless about outlook for stocks in 26 years

The retail investor crowd are apparently as clueless about the stock market as they have been in over 12 years. The American Association of Individual Investors latest survey, for the week ended April 29, showed that the percentage of retail investors who were neutral on stocks for the next six months increased 1.9 percentage points to 47.2%, the highest since the week ended Feb. 6, 2003. It also marked the fourth-straight week with a neutral reading of at least 45% since the week four-week stretch ending Jan. 6, 1989. The S&P 500 SPX, -1.01% struggled over the next several weeks following the high neutral reading in February 2003, but was up 11% three months later. A month after the January 1989 streak, the S&P 500 was 5.5% higher, and was 5.2% three months later.

Berkshire Prepares for Life Without Buffett

For years, Warren Buffett has elicited both admiration and envy for the deals he has pulled off, but a related question has long weighed on Berkshire investors' minds: What happens when he is gone?

Oil Prices Post Biggest Monthly Gain Since 2009

Oil prices rose to a new 2015 high, capping their best-performing month in years, as traders bet that U.S. crude-oil supplies are near a peak.

Greece signals concessions in crunch talks with lenders

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's government signaled the biggest concessions so far as talks with lenders on a cash-for-reforms package started in earnest on Thursday, but tried to assure leftist supporters it had not abandoned its anti-austerity principles.

Exxon Mobil and Shell Earnings Reflect Oil Prices' Plunge

Both companies reported huge drops in profit: a 46 percent decline at Exxon and a 56 percent drop at Shell.

U.S. data suggest economy picking up steam after weak first quarter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits tumbled to a 15-year low last week and consumer spending rose in March, signs the economy was regaining momentum after stumbling badly in the first quarter.

Wall St. drops with tech shares; Nasdaq down for fourth day

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks sold off in late trading on Thursday, with the Nasdaq on track for a fourth straight day of losses, as Apple shares declined and economic data reignited concerns about the outlook for interest rates.

Inching Toward Conflict: US Navy To Escort Cargo Ships In Persian Gulf; Iran Refuses To Back Down

Stocks took a nasty fall on Tuesday when Al Arabiya erroneously reported that Iran had captured a cargo ship with a crew of Americans on board. It also sent oil surging. Things promptly normalized when it was revealed that the "confiscated" ship was merely one with a Marshall Island flag, at which point its fate was quickly forgotten (it may still be held by Iran, or not). But one thing is certain: both Iran and the US are itching for a provocation, whether a direct one or the far more traditional false flag type.

Earlier today, Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said that presence of the 34th fleet of the Iranian Navy in the Gulf of Aden is in accordance with international law to protect Iranian trade vessels against pirates.

Quoted by Iran's IRNA news agency, Sayyari, who was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the National Teacher's Day, said that the Iranian Navy has maintained a continuous presence in the Gulf of Aden, Bab el-Mandeb Strait and western India since 2008 Sayyari

He added that claims that Iranian warships have been warned and that they have left this region are not correct.

The Navy commander reiterated that the Iranian fleet does not enter territorial waters of other countries and is only present in international waters to ensure security for Iranian trade vessels.

Sayyari said that the 34th fleet of the Iranian Navy has also helped other countries in protecting their ships against pirates.

A laughable excuse of course, but no less laughable than the one provided by the US navy offered ten days ago when we learned that a US Navi aircraft carrier and a warship are being dispatched to intercept Iranian weap ...

Regulator Tightens Credit-Union Rules

New rules on membership in U.S. credit unions pave the way for a crackdown on use of associations to take in those who would otherwise lack the â€'common bond' required to gain access to the tax-advantaged institutions.

Guess Who Predicted The Failure Of QE

Janet Yellen:

"As Japan found during its quantitative easing program, increasing the size of the monetary base above levels needed to provide ample liquidity to the banking system had no discernible economic effects aside from those associated with communicating the Bank of Japan's commitment to the zero interest rate policy.

I think my views on this mirror those that you expressed in your opening comments, Mr. Chairman."

- FOMC Minutes from Dec 2008

How did that work out?

We assume principles go out the window when the orders come down from the banker-owners on high...

* * *

However, today we get more total hypocrisy from the newly found bond guru and hedge fund adviser via his blog...

Responding to The Wall Street Journal's questioning the efficacy of monetary policy (specifically ZIRP and QE), Bernanke scoffs:

Where [monetary pol ...

Warren Buffett losing some mojo on his economic 'moats'

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Warren Buffett has carved out a core stock-picking strategy of investing in companies with strong economic "moats," businesses that have built, fortified and generated success from well-known brands that make it difficult for them to succumb to competitive forces.

Dow Tumbles Back Into The Red For 2015


Dow joins Trannies in the red year-to-date...

Triggered by Iran headlines...

Wall St. Is Sharply Lower, With Weak Earnings as an Anchor

Nokia, Harman International and Yelp all reported results that disappointed investors.

Markets & The FOMC: the Game Of Chicken Continues

Submitted by Pater Tenebrarum via,

The Most Non-Surprising FOMC Statement Ever

Kremlinologists were probably a bit baffled by the brevity and complete lack of surprises in yesterday's press release by the preeminent US central economic planning agency. What else was supposed to happen though?

Readers can compare the statement with the previous one with the help of the WSJ's trusty statement tracker. Try not to fall asleep while reading it. However, the Fed has taken steps to enable the broadcasting of timely information by testing a new internal teleconference system with reporters. You know, just in case something more interesting happens, like a rate hike. Or an emergency intra-meeting meeting (possibly shortly after the rate hike). Why would there be an emergency you ask? Isn't everything just hunky-dory? Well...before we get to that, here are the handful of sentences from the statement that are worth knowing:

16 trillion woman

What, $16 trillion? Is it? My, we seem to have lost count ...

"To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate. In ...

U.S, Jobless Claims Hit 15-Year Low; Consumer Spending Rises

Claims for state unemployment benefits fell 34,000 to a seasonally adjusted 262,000 for the week ended April 25, the lowest reading since April 2000, the Labor Department said.

China Stocks Rally Parts Ways With Fundamentals

Investors are questioning whether a rally in Hong Kong-listed Chinese companies is getting ahead of itself as profits fail to keep pace with gains in share prices.

Microsoft (Yes, Microsoft) Has a Far-Out Vision

The reshaped Microsoft that Satya Nadella, the new chief executive, envisions has fewer internal fiefs and is more willing to favor big bets on new technologies over protecting legacy cash cows.

Renault vote puts ball in Ghosn's court, exposing rival visions

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government's move to tighten its hold on Renault , crowned by a rare public defeat for CEO Carlos Ghosn on Thursday, has exposed competing visions for the carmaker and its alliance with Nissan .

The "Scariest Spreadsheet In Fed Possession" Just Revealed A Very Scary Number For Q2 GDP

Earlier today, Goldman initiated its Q2 GDP tracking at 3.0%.

A few hours later, the Atlanta Fed, whose "preposterous" below-consensus forecast we first flagged in early March, and which nailed the Q1 GDP to within 0.1% of the final print, came out with its own first Q2 GDP tracking estimate. The number: a recession-worthy 0.9%.

And cue panic as the entire Wall Street sell side scrambles to converge with the forecasting superstar Atlanta Fed, which unless sees a dramatic pick up in its own estimate, means that the US is looking at a 0.5% GDP for the first half, and anything less than 4% average GDP growth in the second half will lead to the weakest US growth in 2015 since 2011!

So for all those weathermen "economists" who scramble to do actual math in their GDP calculation instead of merely goalseeking meaningless numbers, we would like to remind you that we showed precisely how to recreate the Atlanta Fed number almost two months ago in "The Scariest Spreadsheet In Fed Possession Revealed."

Most ignored it, and most were massively wrong.

Something tells us this time everyone will be poring for hours over the Atlanta Fed GDPNow model.

This is how the Fed bank presents its GDP

Americans' Spending Warms Up After Hard Winter

Signs that spending and the job market are thawing back out suggest the economic weakness in the first quarter was only temporary.

VW, Piech clash on board appointments ahead of AGM

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen and newly departed chairman Ferdinand Piech clashed again on Thursday over supervisory board appointments, causing new strains at the carmaker ahead of what is likely to become a tense shareholder meeting next Tuesday.

71% Of Wall Street Bankers Admit They Are Too Big To Fail (And Underpaid)

Wall Streeters are not happy. According to the latest Bloomberg poll, 48% believe they are paid less (or much less) than they had hoped for.

With the biggest banks cutting costs as new regulations force derisking and deleveraging (in theory), pay is taking a hit (although not so much for the CEOs). As one headhunter noted, "they're still making decent money, but it's nothing like 2007," but ironically, a massive 71% of Wall Street bankers admit that their banks are still Too Big To Fail.

If banks are still too big to fail, don't just blame the regulators. Thomas Hoenig, vice chairman of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insur­ance Corp., says the fault may lie with the institutions themselves. "They're just too big and complex to manage," he says. "Ev­ery time they turn around, they break a rule, violate some sanction. That's why there is continuing pressure to break them up. The market will force the biggest banks to shrink, divest, or even break up."

Exxon profit slips but beats forecasts on refining, output

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp's first-quarter profit dropped less than expected in results posted on Thursday as margins at the refining unit of the world's largest publicly traded oil company surged on tumbling crude prices.

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