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26Jan2017 Market Close: Markets Mixed, Dollar Marginally Up Whilst Gold Is Down

Written by Gary

The markets ended the day mixed - no big movement in any direction. The markets seemed to be watching President Trump not playing nice with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Todays S&P 500 Chart

March crude oil futures rose $0.99 to $53.75/barrel. The dollar index was up +0.4%, whilst gold fell to a two week low.

The Market in Perspective

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Microsoft's quarterly profit rises 3.6 percent

(Reuters) - Microsoft Corp reported a 3.6 percent rise in quarterly profit on Thursday, powered by a surge in demand for the company's flagship cloud platform Azure.

U.S. new home sales fall; weekly jobless claims rise

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New U.S. single-family home sales fell to a 10-month low in December after three straight months of solid gains, but the housing market recovery remains intact as a tightening labor market boosts wage growth.

Alphabet quarterly revenue rises 22.2 percent

(Reuters) - Google parent Alphabet Inc reported a 22.2 percent increase in quarterly revenue on Thursday as advertisers spent more to reach an expanding user base that spends ever more time on smartphones and on YouTube.

Wall Street ends little changed after two-day rally

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 ended little changed on Thursday as investors paused following a two-day rally that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average above the 20,000 mark.

Intel reports 9.8 percent rise in quarterly revenue

(Reuters) - Intel Corp reported a 9.8 percent rise in quarterly revenue on Thursday, boosted by a stabilizing PC market and a rise in demand for its data center services.

Volkswagen set to plead guilty in U.S. diesel emissions case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG is set to plead guilty on Feb. 24 in Detroit to three felony counts as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to resolve an excess diesel emissions investigation, a court filing shows.

Johnson & Johnson refills drug cabinet with $30 billion Actelion deal

ALLSCHWIL, Switzerland (Reuters) - U.S. healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson will buy Swiss biotech company Actelion in a $30 billion all-cash deal that includes spinning off Actelion's research and development pipeline, the companies said on Thursday.

Speculation builds on a Verizon-Charter tie-up, no offer made

(Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc is interested in exploring a combination with U.S. cable company Charter Communication Inc as part of a long list of acquisition targets but no proposal has been made for a tie-up between the two companies, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Caterpillar sees '17 profit below expectations as restructuring continues

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Caterpillar Inc , the world's largest construction and equipment maker, forecast 2017 profit sharply below analysts' estimates, hurt by sluggish demand in the construction and energy industries.

Bannon Blasts Mainstream Media: "You're The Opposition Party, Not The Democratic Party"

Not one to mince words, Steve Bannon, Trump's Chief White House strategist, eviscerated the mainstream media during an interview last night. Commenting on their coverage of the Trump campaign, Bannon lambasted the disconnect of the media from everyday Americans saying, "They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States." Per Axios:

"The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile," Mr. Bannon said during a telephone call. "I want you to quote this," Mr. Bannon added. "The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States."

"The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong," Mr. Bannon said of the election, calling it "a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there."

Bannon

But that attacks didn't end there as Bannon went on describe the media as "the opposition party."

"The mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone associated with following our campaign," Mr. Bannon said. "Look at the Twitter feeds of those people: they were outright activ ...

Sean Spicer Reveals How Mexico Will Pay For "The Wall"

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that as part of its plans to make Mexico "pay for the wall", the Trump administration is considering a 20% border tax on Mexican imports.

In a brief gaggle on the way back from Philadelphia, Spicer said that POTUS has decided how to pay for the border wall: "by imposing a 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico."

He did not give any details about that tax, how it would work, and he described it as a beginning of a process that would be part of overall tax reform. But he did describe this as a decision that POTUS has made.

"When you look at the plan that's taking shape now, using comprehensive tax reform as a means to tax imports from countries that we have a trade deficit from, like Mexico. If you tax that $50 billion at 20 percent of imports — which is by the way a practice that 160 other countries do — right now our country's policy is to tax exports and let imports flow freely in, which is ridiculous. By doing it that we can do $10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone. That's really going to provide the funding."

The proposal, as explained by Spicer, appears to be similar to the Border-Adjustment Tax provision floated previously, that would tax U.S. businesses' imports included in a House Republican tax plan. The so-called border adjustment provision is part of a broader plan to bring the corporate tax rate down from 35 percent and 20 percent. Trump previously dismissed the plan in an interview with The Wall Street Journal as being "too complicated." While benefiting exporters, such as U.S.-based aerospace companies, it could hurt retailers and other American companies that manufacture goods overseas to sell in the U.S. That would result in higher prices for American consumer goods.

"This is something that we've been in close contact with both houses in mov ...

"Doomsday Clock" Advances To Two And A Half Minutes To Midnight, Trump Blamed

For the first time in 64 years, atomic scientists reset their symbolic "Doomsday Clock" to its closest time to midnight on Thursday, saying the world was closer to catastrophe due to threats such as nuclear weapons, climate change and Donald Trump's election as U.S. president. The timepiece, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and displayed on its website, is widely viewed as an indicator of the world's vulnerability to disaster.

The "clock's" hands were moved to two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight, from three minutes.

"The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than it's ever been in the lifetime of almost everyone in this room," Lawrence Krauss, the bulletin's chair and a theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University, told a news conference in Washington. The last time the "clock" was set this close to midnight was 1953, marking the start of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. While the clock was unchanged last January, the Clock was changed in 2015 from five to three minutes to midnight, the closest it had been since the arms race of the 1980s.

In its statement about the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin's Science and Security Board noted:

"Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity's most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change ... This already-threatening world situation was the backdrop for a rise in strident nationalism worldwide ...

Does A Record Low VIX Have Any Predictive Power

With the VIX index crashing to levels last seen some 938 days ago in 2014, and prior to that 3624 days ago in 2007 just prior to the financial crisis...

... many traders have asked does the VIX plunging to near record lows below 11 - a place they have been only 1.6% of the time since 1990 - have any predictive value for stocks.

According to Citi' Brent Donnelly, the answer is mixed.

Note that the VIX is now on a 10 handle which is a fairly rare occurrence. Out of 6,813 trading days since 1990, only 110 have been below 11 in VIX (1.6%). I looked to see if there is any forecasting value (i.e., does low VIX forecast future performance?) and the answer seems to be no. Sometimes, like 2006, VIX stays low for ages and stocks keep rocketing. Other times, like 2005, the low VIX precedes a stock market correction.

Unfortunately, since we now live in a world with $14 trillion in central bank liquidity, which means the current market is neither comparable to 2005 or 2007, the market will do whatever central banks decide it will do, regardless of where the VIX trades.

Donald Trump's 4% Growth Target Is Easier Said Than Done

Friday's GDP report will highlight just how difficult—if not impossible—it will be for U.S. economic growth to rebound to President Trump's target.

Verizon Needs to Bet Big But Shouldn't Overpay for Charter

A deal with Charter Communications could help Verizon offset its struggling wireless business, but it would only make sense at the right price.

Bristol-Myers Squibb: Make Lemonade From Lemons

Shareholders shouldn't give up on Bristol-Myers Squibb just yet.

December 2016 Leading Economic Index Improves

Written by Steven Hansen

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S was moderately improved this month - and the authors state "the economy will continue growing at a moderate pace, perhaps even accelerating slightly in the early months of this year".

January 2017 Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index Unchanged

Of the four regional manufacturing surveys released for January, all are in expansion..

'The Mary Tyler Moore' show tackled workplace sexual harassment and the gender wage gap

It's difficult to recognize in 2017 just how revolutionary the Mary Richards role was.

The Ratings Game: Chili's menu may not be as well-suited to takeout as Olive Garden's, analysts say

Chili's says its takeout business in growing, but analysts are concerned about just how much momentum that part of the business has.

Here's how to talk to your boss when you're afraid of getting fired

Amazon's "Pivot" program reportedly aims to deal with underperforming employees

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To contact me with questions, comments or constructive criticism is always encouraged and appreciated:

gary@econintersect.com

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