The U of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was cherry-picked by bulls as the indicator upon which to rally stocks Friday. But, frankly is it really a valid measure of current consumer attitudes? I don't think so given it's weighted heavily by stock prices and curiously by gasoline prices. With the latter, a one week ten cent drop in prices hardly makes a trend.
Some had the nerve to say consumers were now getting accustomed to higher gas prices. How about you?
's opinion and conclusion is as follows:
"The levitation effect provided by the Federal fiscal stimulus packages will begin to wilt soon, as will Mr. Bernanke's monetary magic when QE-2 lapses in June. At some point in time the GDP will revert to tracking the 70% of the economy provided by consumer spending. When that happens, the glaring gap in the above graph will close, and most likely with the upper line converging towards the lower, rather than the other way around.
We have said before that our consumers seem to know that the headline recovery in the S&P 500 has not yet been fully shared with the them, their neighbors or their local merchants. Until unemployment materially decreases and the residential housing market returns to at least pre-2005 levels of activity, the "Great Recession" isn't over, despite what the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) would have us believe."
Other data this week was just awful. And, Pending Home Sales on Friday dropped by 11% which was much worse than expected. If higher stock prices buoy consumer sentiment, what about poor housing data? The disconnect is extraordinary.
Most major equity index related ETF were able to claw out of most negative readings to close the week either unchanged or plus/minus a small amount. Most of this was accomplished on very weak volume but with a heavy assist of QE2 ($30 billion over the last 5-7 trading days). This is the magic dust for bulls.
The tape's action is reality but the action behind the curtain is hollow and comprised of free money from on high. Nevertheless, most indexes may close the month down with only one day left to trade. Our DeMark monthly sequential 9 counts may have already made their impact as QE2 has another month to run and will compete with it.
Volume Friday was light as you'd expect on the day prior to a holiday. Breadth per the WSJ was positive leaving markets squarely in neutral technically.
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The NYMO is a market breadth indicator that is based on the difference between the number of advancing and declining issues on the NYSE. When readings are +60/-60 markets are extended short-term.
The McClellan Summation Index is a long-term version of the McClellan Oscillator. It is a market breadth indicator, and interpretation is similar to that of the McClellan Oscillator, except that it is more suited to major trends. I believe readings of +1000/-1000 reveal markets as much extended.
The VIX is a widely used measure of market risk and is often referred to as the "investor fear gauge". Our own interpretation is highlighted in the chart above. The VIX measures the level of put option activity over a 30-day period. Greater buying of put options (protection) causes the index to rise.
Continue to Concluding Remarks
Most indexes closed on the flat side for the week but lower on the month. Beyond the obvious stimulant from POMO, the other bullish driver seems a weak dollar and higher commodities. The dollar has been the sacrificial lamb for current policies by the Treasury and Fed despite their mouthing to the contrary.
The latter was clearly on display Thursday and Friday as plenty of POMO proceeds were laying around for investment while commodities and the dollar did their thing.
Next week we begin June and we'll be watching closely Tuesday's Consumer Confidence data, the ISM data on Wednesday and Non-Farm Payrolls on Friday. These should really tell the tale.
Let's see what happens.
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