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Gary Smith’s Market Take

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Here’s my take on the markets today, January 30th, 2012. If you’d like to read more of my articles, click here.

Credit gauges are mostly deteriorating again today. The 2Y Swap Spread is rising +2.3% to 16.4 bps(+10.0% in 5 days). The North America Investment Grade CDS Index is rising +1.9% to 87.81 bps. The European Financial Sector CDS Index is rising +2.0% to 142.94 bps. The Germany sovereign cds is up +1.4% to 41.4 bps. The Spain sovereign cds is gaining +1.2% to 262.66 bps. The Italian/German 10Y Yld Spread is +5.0% to 260.64 bps. The Hungary sovereign cds is rising +4.3% to 294.8 bps. The Asia-Pacific Sovereign CDS Index is gaining +2.5% to 88.3 bps. The Japan sovereign cds is jumping +5.56% to 75.7 bps. The China sovereign cds is gaining +4.9% to 68.0 bps. The Emerging Markets CDS Index is gaining +2.9% to 223.5 bps. The Brazil sovereign cds is gaining +4.1% to 113.62 bps. The Russia sovereign cds is gaining +3.2% to 141.7 bps. The Israel sovereign cds is gaining +2.5% to 126.6 bps. There is a noteworthy divergence between credit and equities over the last week.

Major Asian indices were higher overnight, led by a +2.3% surge in Japan(+6.0% in 5 days). Major European indices are lower, led down by a -3.4% plunge in Italy. The Bloomberg European Bank/Financial Services Index is falling -.5%. Brazil continues to trade terribly, falling another -1.8%(-3.8% in 5 days).

The euro(+.58%) continues to trade well, breaking to the highest since Nov. 2011. Oil is rising +.5% today and copper is gaining +1.5%, but is still trapped in the middle of the same range it has been in for some time. The benchmark China Iron-Ore Spot Index is gaining +.67%. Gold is jumping +1.0% and is back above its 200-day, but still trades poorly. Lumber is falling -2.0% and also still trades very poorly, falling -12.4% since 12/27. The UBS-Bloomberg Ag Spot Index is gaining +.9%, and is back near its 200-day. The 10Y T-Note Yld is flat at 2.0%.

Once again investors are mostly ignoring negative news as stocks fluctuate around the flatline near their recent multi-year highs. The Citi US Economic Surprise Index has plunged to -90.5 points since 11/9/12 to -30.8 points. Even if you discount the negative effects from hurricane Sandy and the fiscal cliff debate, the fact remains that we have a very sluggish economy even with a soaring national debt and a historically accommodative Fed almost four years into an economic “recovery”. I continue to believe that global central banks’ and goverments’ reckless behavior is building up massive overcapacity that will result in dire longer-term consequences for growth.  Debt angst in Europe is beginning to percolate again and the Mideast continues to come unraveled at an alarming rate even as OPEC cuts production the most since 2008 and oil nears $100/bbl. Emerging market equities continue to lag badly, which is also a red flag given investor perceptions of improving global growth. Short (EEM).

Internet and Gaming stocks are relatively strong today, while transport, coal, oil tanker, networking and steel shares are very weak. I added to my index trading hedges this morning and I am now 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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