Yes, I've used this image before but it befits the past two months of frenetic two-way trading. Thursday markets moved sharply higher early on news of better Jobless Claims and GDP data plus the positive vote from the German parliament regarding funding their portion of the euro zone's EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility).
Algos jumped on the headlines which is what they're programmed to do. They don't look under the hood for details since given their momentary focus, "facts don't matter"--not at least right away.
A closer look inside Jobless Claims data is the consistent revisions for higher previous claims. This makes current reports generally seem better by comparison. Further, the BLS states with this report the significant impact of "seasonal factors" skewing the report. The figures used to adjust the data typically look for a drop in un-adjusted claims heading into the end of a quarter. For last week however, the seasonal adjustment factors predicted unadjusted claims would rise 0.4 percent per the Labor Department. Instead, unadjusted applications followed the typical patterns at the end of quarters and plunged 8.2 percent, leading to the even bigger drop in the adjusted data.
Below is an analysis of the GDP report directly from the always reliable and probative
The Bureau of Economic Analysis's (BEA) third estimate of second quarter 2011 U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was reported to be 1.34%, an upward adjustment from their previous data. The new growth number was .36% higher than the number reported last month for the same quarter. It is important to remember that this new monthly report covered the same time periods as the previous reports -- meaning that this monthly set of changes in the numbers was caused by late arriving data at the BEA and not actual month to month improvements in the economy.
Among the items notable in the report:
-- Aggregate consumer expenditures for goods was still reported to be contracting during the second quarter, dragging the overall growth rate of the economy down by a -0.38% rate. This is actually marginally weaker than the numbers in the earlier reports.
-- Consumer expenditures for services grew slightly during the quarter, at an improved (although still very sluggish) 0.87% annualized growth rate. But the adjustment in this single line item represented the bulk of the improvement in the headline number.
-- The growth rate of private fixed investments was only slightly higher, at a weak annualized 1.07% rate.
-- Inventories are still reported to have been drawn down during the quarter, indicating that production has slowed faster than demand. The revised estimate of inventory levels caused the overall growth rate to be reduced by a -0.28% annualized rate.
-- Total expenditures by governments at all levels was still reported to be shrinking, reducing overall economic activity at a -0.18% annualized rate.
-- Exports strengthened slightly relative to the earlier report, raising the contribution that they made to the overall GDP growth rate to 0.48%.
-- Imports decreased somewhat when compared to the earlier report, and are now reported to be removing -0.24% from the growth rate of the overall economy. The combination of the revisions in the import and export numbers contributed about half of the upward changes in the published headline number.
-- The growth rate of "real final sales of domestic product" was revised upward to an annualized 1.62%, as the result of the now higher consumer services figures, slightly improved foreign trade and the increased draw-down of inventories.
-- Working backwards from the data tables, the effective "deflater" used by the BEA to offset the impact of inflation was 2.58% -- still substantially below the rates reported by their sister agencies. Substituting the line-item appropriate (CPI or PPI) current inflation rate published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) causes the "real" GDP to be contracting at a -0.73% annualized rate.
-- And using the same alternate BLS "deflaters" the real per-capita GDP can be shown to be contracting at a -1.45% annualized rate. Similarly, per-capita disposable income was contracting at a -0.92% annualized rate. These per-capita numbers are what impacts individual Americans and it is the real source of the frustration within the populace.
Not featured by the financial media beyond Bloomberg is Thursday's report and graph on their Consumer Comfort Survey which shows this index as back to 2008-09 levels. This is hardly encouraging.
Fed Governor Lockhart finds current jobless conditions "perplexing and vexing" according to this
story. So if I have my synonyms and meanings right he's "embarrassed and pissed-off" which kind of disqualifies him from such a position.
Meanwhile back at Wall & Broad stocks as measured by the DJIA raced higher early by 260 points only to fall later by 45 points and then rally in "stick save" fashion to close 143 points higher. This really is the "Greatest Show on Earth"! The NASDAQ was lower by .43% led by semiconductor sectors (SMH) especially after a poor outlook from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), down nearly 14%. Also there is still some lingering confusion over iPads from Apple (AAPL) versus Fire from Amazon (AMZN). Financials were higher which helped much of the bigger names rally although the rationale was difficult to determine.
Commodities, including precious and base metals, oil and grains were higher overall. The dollar was down slightly and bonds were stronger.
Volume was modest most of the day until the large "stick save" was put in place to end the session. Breadth per the WSJ was positive once again as quarter-end window dressing is in full swing.
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The craziness continues for the clown act doing business as the Greatest Show on Earth. It's no wonder so many individual investors have fled markets. Between phony data and window dressing it's hard to stick with the long-term program. Three bear markets in 11 years would be enough to turn anyone off. Now we're not in a bear market yet but we're frightfully close.
Friday brings the not so reliable U of Michigan Consumer Sentiment, Personal Income and Spending and the important Chicago PMI. Friday also will allow for more end-of-quarter window dressing.
Let's see what happens.
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