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Gary Smith’s Market Take

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Here’s my take on the markets today, August 20, 2012. If you’d like to read more of my articles, click here.

Credit gauges are improving today. The 2Y Swap Spread is falling -2.4% to 20.73 bps. The TED Spread is down -5.8% to 34.7 bps. The European Investment Grade CDS Index is down -1.9% to 141.77 bps. The European Financial Sector CDS Index is -2.6% to 235.66 bps. The Germany sovereign cds is down -.9% to 55.62 bps. The France sovereign cds is down -1.6% to 127.0 bps. The Spain sovereign cds is down -1.2% to 470.50 bps. The Italy sovereign cds is down -.98% to 417.5 bps. The Spain 10Y Yld is falling -2.3% to 6.3%. Overall, credit gauges continue to improve, but remain at stressed levels.

Major Asian indices were mostly lower overnight, led down by a -.4% decline in China. The Shanghai Property Stock Index fell another -1.3% and is down -14.2% in less than 6 weeks. A Financial News commentary over the weekend suggested the PBOC has no intention of cutting reserve ratios in the short-term. As I have been saying for sometime, I continue to believe investor expectations for an imminent major new Chinese stimulus are misplaced. Major European indices are lower today, led down by a -1.2% decline in Spain. The Bloomberg European Bank/Financial Services Index is -1.5% lower on the day.

The euro currency is bouncing off morning lows, but continues to trade poorly. Oil is falling -.3%, but continues to trade pretty well. Lumber(-.7%)/copper(-1.3%) continue to trade poorly. The China benchmark Iron/Ore Spot Index is falling another -.8% today and is down -39.6% since 9/7/11. The UBS/Bloomberg Ag Spot Index is rising +1.4% and is +25.6% higher since 6/1. This index is consolidating recent gains well and looks poised to test its 8/31/11 record high that sparked global social unrest. The 10Y T-Note has stabilized after recent mild losses.

Investors are continuing to mostly ignore all negatives as market-leader Apple(AAPL) once again leads the major averages aggressively higher after opening weakness. Long AAPL. Given Apple’s sharp gains, tech sector underperformance today is noteworthy. As well, Homebuilders, a recent market leader, are weak. Investor complacency remains fairly high given the macro backdrop. Developing economic dislocations in several key emerging markets are much more worrisome for the global economy than currently perceived, in my opinion. There were reports over the weekend that the ECB is considering putting rate caps on sovereign bonds. While this would definitely be another can-kicker, it would eventually ensure an even greater disaster over the longer-run, in my opinion. I remain skeptical that Germany will destroy its own balance sheet or allow the ECB to monetize debt to “save” the euro project. I added to my index trading hedges this morning and I am positioned 25% net long.

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Gary D. Smith

Gary D. Smith

Gary Douglas Smith actively trades his portfolio as well as the portfolios of family members. In addition, Mr. Smith maintains Between the Hedges, an investment-oriented blog. Previously, he was founder and managing member of Olympus Capital Management, an alternative investment firm. Olympus consisted of a long/short diversified hedge fund and a long/short technology sector hedge fund. Prior to the formation of Olympus, he spent five years as Vice-President of Research and Portfolio Manager for an independent money management firm. Mr. Smith has been engaged for the past 23 years in the analysis and selection of equity and other investments. His expertise is in long/short U.S. equity investing across all market sectors with an emphasis on technology stocks. He uses a top-down investment approach, investing in securities at a reasonable price relative to their growth prospects. As well, technical analysis plays a role in the timing of his investment decisions. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee and subsequently received an MBA, with a concentration in finance, from Vanderbilt University’s Owen School.
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