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22Nov2017 Market Close: Stocks Generally Lower In Pre-Holiday Trade

Written by Gary

This post includes a summary of news at the time of market close. Have a great Thanksgiving - and remember the markets are closed tomorrow followed by a shortened session on Friday.

Todays S&P 500 Chart

The Market in Perspective

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Fed policymakers say rate increase likely warranted soon: minutes

WASHINGTON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Many Federal Reserve policymakers expect that interest rates will have to be raised in the "near term," according to the minutes of the U.S. central bank's last policy meeting released on Wednesday.

Uber breach, cover-up trigger government probes around the globe

TORONTO (Reuters) - Governments around the globe launched investigations into Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] after the company disclosed it had covered up a breach that exposed data on millions of customers and drivers, the latest scandal to rock the ride-hailing firm.

Broadcom considering sweetened Qualcomm bid: sources

(Reuters) - Chipmaker Broadcom Ltd is considering raising its offer to buy rival Qualcomm Inc by offering more of its own stock, following consultation with several of Qualcomm's top shareholders, according to people familiar with the matter.

HPE CEO Whitman's surprise exit stumps Wall Street

(Reuters) - Shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co fell 6 percent on Wednesday after Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman's decision to step down from the role took Wall Street by surprise.

Wall St. ends little changed ahead of holiday break

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks closed little changed on Wednesday with telecom services shares among the biggest gainers, while the energy sector rose, tracking gains in crude oil futures.

Apple says illegal student labor discovered at iPhone X plant

BEIJING (Reuters) - Smartphone maker Apple Inc and its biggest manufacturing partner on Wednesday said that a small number of students were discovered working overtime in its Chinese factory, violating local labor laws.

Peter Thiel sells most of remaining Facebook stake

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc's first major investor Peter Thiel has sold three-quarters of his remaining stake in the social network as part of a previously established trading plan, a regulatory filing showed.

P&G continues to review vote tally as Peltz awaits board seat

(Reuters) - Procter & Gamble Co is still reviewing a tally of shareholder votes cast at its annual meeting more than a month ago, after a fierce proxy contest narrowly handed activist investor Nelson Peltz a board seat.

Rockwell Automation rebuffs Emerson's latest $29 billion bid

(Reuters) - Rockwell Automation Inc rejected Emerson Electric Co's sweetened $29 billion takeover offer on Wednesday, in its strongest rebuttal to date of the proposed combination of two of the world's largest factory equipment makers.

Bikini-Bearing Baristas Battle Bureaucrats Who Claim They're "Turning Men Into Harvey Weinsteins"

Welcome to 'Grab'n'Go' Bikini Hut - a coffee shop in Washington State that offers coffees, teas(e), and other hot liquids made by bikini-clad baristas.

The city of Everett, about 30 miles north of Seattle, is home to numerous bikini barista espresso stands, where servers dressed in everything from tasteful two-piece swimsuits to pasties and G-strings serve up lattes and Americanos at a drive-thru window.

But these successful entrepreneurs - having found an angle that differentiates them from your ubiquitous Starbucks numbness - face being shut down by local officials who are set to tighten the city's regulations on what constitutes lewd behavior and push to institute a dress code that bans employees from wearing bikinis or showing too much bare skin.

JPMorgan: Every Investor Class Is Now All-In Stocks

A funny thing happened as the so-called experts were looking for signs of retail euphoria (and repeatedly were unable to find it): everyone got all-in equities... and not just retail investors and US households, but mutual funds, hedge funds, pensions, systematic, and sovereign wealth funds.

As JPMorgan calculated when looking at the equity positioning of the main types of investors, "allocations are near historical highs, not leaving much room for further increases." How historic?

Starting with retail investors one can notice that margin debt (measured as percentage of market capitalization) is at its highest point ever, which includes the 2000 tech bubble episode. The percentage of US household wealth in equities is in its 94th percentile and above its 2007 peak, but slightly below 2000 levels. Sovereign wealth funds and US mutual funds are also near record levels. Pension Fund allocations appear to be in the 88% percentile, although there is some uncertainty around this number in adjusting for private asset and HF holdings. Global Hedge Funds' allocation (as measured by equity beta) are also near record highs, and Equity Hedge funds' allocation in their 93rd percentile (since 2005).

Why does this matte? Because with everyone already long stocks, there is no marginal buyer left, or as JPM puts it, "there is only so much the market can rally if equity investors are already near maximal allocations."

Roy Moore's Communications Director Resigns

Amid an ongoing barrage of sexual assault allegations, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has just confirmed to the Washingtonian that his communications director, John Rogers, has resigned.

John Rogers has resigned as communications director from Roy Moore's Senate campaign, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Rogers confirmed his resignation. He declined to comment further.

The move comes as allegations of sexual misconduct against the Alabama Republican continue to roil his campaign. Moore has denied those allegations, but several prominent Republicans, including Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, have withdrawn their endorsements. The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have also dropped their support.

Moore

Kolanovic Asks "How Close Are We To The Market Top" And Answers

"How close are we to the market top?"

While that is and always has been the question on every trader and investor's lips, it is also what an increasingly greater number of more and more nervous JPMorgan clients wants to know, especially those who, according to JPM head quant Marko Kolanovic - want to protect strong YTD gains or chase year end performance. What sucks is being designated the person responsible with answering this question. In this case, that's person is the quant guru himself, who explains that "to assess this question we analyze equity positioning, possible signs of irrational exuberance, and again draw attention to another form of excess which we call 'quantitative exuberance'.

Meg Whitman's Latest Turn Signal

Hewlett Packard shareholders should be used to the fact by now that Meg Whitman sometimes changes her mind. That doesn't always work out too badly.

Good as It Gets for Deere Stock

More strong results for agricultural giant, but stock rally is aging.

Who Needs a Tax Cut? Companies Are Spending Anyway

Tax cut or no tax cut, companies could be spending a lot more money in the year ahead.

01 November 2017 FOMC Meeting Minutes: Again Much Talk About Inflation

Fed-sealSMALL-- this post authored by Steven Hansen

The 01 November 2017 meeting statement presented the actions taken. This post covers the economic discussion during this FOMC meeting between the members (minutes were released today). There was considerable discussion on inflation, and an interesting quote:

... several participants expressed concern that the persistently weak inflation data could lead to a decline in longer-term inflation expectations or may have done so already; they pointed to low market-based measures of inflation compensation, declines in some survey measures of inflation expectations, or evidence from statistical models suggesting that the underlying trend in inflation had fallen in recent years ...

October 2017 Philly Fed Coincident Index Year-over-Year Rate of Growth Improves

The year-over-year rate of growth relative to the previous month of the US Coincident Index improved. A comparison of this US Coincident Index to other coincident indices follows.

MarketWatch First Take: Meg Whitman leaves behind a fractured Hewlett-Packard with no guarantees

Meg Whitman took over one of Silicon Valley's most storied tech companies after a disastrous tenure by the previous chief executive, promising a turnaround within five years. She will leave a little more than six years later, having torn the Hewlett-Packard puzzle into several pieces but accomplished little else beyond paying off investors and laying off employees.

Market Extra: How Goldman Sachs says you should play retail stocks ahead of Black Friday

One of the biggest shopping days of the year is coming up, and that means retail companies will be seeing a lot of action—both by consumers getting ready for Christmas, and from Wall Street traders playing the action.

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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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