Things got ugly.
First the scoreboard:
Dow: 13,927, -108.1 pts, -0.7 percent
S&P 500: 1,511, -18.9 pts, -1.2 percent
NASDAQ: 3,164. -49.1 pts, -1.5 percent
And now the top stories:
- There was a hodge-podge of news today, and for the most part it was negative.
- Housing starts dropped 8.5 percent to 890k from last month’s reading of 973k. This was much worse than the 920k level economists were looking for. Housing has been a rare bright spot for the global economy. So far this week, we’ve gotten two disappointing housing reports.
- Caterpillar, the global supplier of construction machinery, reported a set of ugly dealer sales statistics. In the three months ending in January, the global sales decline accelerated to 4 percent. The North America and Asia/Pacific regions both saw double-digit declines.
Commodity fund blow-up?
It took the algos a good hour of digesting the Fed’s PR before slowly and surely, as we observed when noting the stealthy action in the VIX, the crowd shifted suddenly from the right side of the boat to the left. In the process, it pushed the TICK indicator well below 1000. But it is probably more notable that a modest 1% drop in the S&P is enough to bring up rumors of a “Markets in Crisis” special, and force all those who were buying on the low-volume levitation into a coordinated sell-off. New York Fed’s Kevin Henry better show up soon or the last hour of trading will get messy without an invisible hand propping it up.
and volume explodes…
Federal Reserve policymakers remain divided on the future of the central bank’s bond buying program, according to minutes of the January meetingof the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee released Wednesday. Some believe that the program may need to end prior to the achievement of the Fed’s announced goal of improvement in employment.
Fed officials announced on January 30th that they would continue to buy mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month and longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month, a policy popularly known as quantitative easing. The Fed hasn’t said when these asset purchases will end. Instead, it has said that the purchases will continue if “the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially.”
As expected here at SD, the latest Fed minutes are pure propaganda claiming the Fed will end QE soon as the economy is recovering more quickly than expected.
Que the smash in gold and silver.
and….Gold & silver dropping vertically on que. Unbelievable.
Full Fed Minutes release is below:
Raoul Paul sent shock-waves throughout the financial markets in June in what Tyler Durden called the scariest presentation ever, when Paul predicted a complete systemic collapse of the financial system was merely 6-9 months away. Is the Big Reset still imminent?
‘The world has no engine of growth with most of the G20 countries approaching stall speed at the same time. The western world is about to enter its second recession in an ongoing depression…
For the first time since the 1930?s we are entering a recession- before industrial production, durable goods orders, employment, and private sector GDP have made back their previous highs. ‘
“I think the whole global financial system will have to be reset and it won’t be reset by central bankers but by imploding markets — either the currency [markets, debt market or stock markets,” he said. “It will happen — it will happen one day and then we’ll be lucky if we still have 50 percent of the asset values that we have today.”
#2 The average price of a gallon of gasoline has risen by more than 50 cents over the past two months. This is making things tougher on our economy, because nearly every form of economic activity involves moving people or goods around.
#3 Reader’s Digest, once one of the most popular magazines in the world, has filed for bankruptcy.
#4 Atlantic City’s newest casino, Revel, has just filed for bankruptcy. It had been hoped that Revel would help lead a turnaround for Atlantic City.
#5 A state-appointed review board has determined that there is “no satisfactory plan” to solve Detroit’s financial emergency, and many believe that bankruptcy is imminent. If Detroit does declare bankruptcy, it will be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
#6 David Gallagher, the CEO of Town Sports International, recently said that his company is struggling right now because consumers simply do not have as much disposable income anymore…
“As we moved into January membership trends were tracking to expectations in the first half of the month, but fell off track and did not meet our expectations in the second half of the month. We believe the driver of this was the rapid decline in consumer sentiment that has been reported and is connected to the reduction in net pay consumers earn given the changes in tax rates that went into effect in January.“
#7 According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence in the U.S. has hit its lowest level in more than a year.
#8 Sales of the Apple iPhone have been slower than projected, and as a result Chinese manufacturing giant FoxConn has instituted a hiring freeze. The following is from a CNET report that was posted on Wednesday…
The Financial Times noted that it was the first time since a 2009 downturn that the company opted to halt hiring in all of its facilities across the country. The publication talked to multiple recruiters.
The actions taken by Foxconn fuel the concern over the perceived weakened demand for the iPhone 5 and slumping sentiment around Apple in general, with production activity a leading indicator of interest in the product.
#9 In 2012, global cell phone sales posted their first decline since the end of the last recession.
#10 We appear to be in the midst of a “retail apocalypse“. It is being projected that Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack will also close hundreds of stores by the end of 2013.
#11 An internal memo authored by a Wal-Mart executive that was recently leaked to the press said that February sales were a “total disaster” and that the beginning of February was the “worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”
#12 If Congress does not do anything and “sequestration” goes into effect on March 1st, the Pentagon says that approximately 800,000 civilian employees will be facing mandatory furloughs.