Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Morning Note: "What Is Taking Place"

Fed chair J. Powell has the pleasure of appearing before congress today for his reconfirmation hearing. While the gent is notorious for sparking equity market rallies when he has the spotlight, he's no doubt feeling the intensity of its emitting heat as today's topic will be all about inflation.

Oof! The "tools" that the Fed would utilize to quell inflation are, well... let's just say they're not what stock market bulls want to hear about -- right about now.

Not to suggest that he won't pull off another short-term save for stocks this morning, it's just that, amid an inflation backdrop that is looking less "transitory" (his previous go-to excuse) as the days go by, well... if he really aims once again to bolster equities, we're now talking strained credulity...

Speaking of inflation, here's from this morning's release of the December NFIB Small Business Survey:

“Small businesses unfortunately saw a disappointing December jobs report, with staffing issues continuing to impact their ability to be fully productive,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Inflation is at the highest level since the 1980’s and is having an overwhelming impact on owners’ ability to manage their businesses.”

And while indeed quality of labor and inflation were respondents' top two concerns,

overall optimism, hiring and capital expenditure plans nevertheless denote improving business conditions:


Hiring Plans:

Capex Plans:

Asian equities were mixed overnight, with 8 of the 16 markets we track closing lower.

Europe's mostly lower so far this morning, with 14 of the 19 bourses we follow in the red as I type.

US major averages are off as well: Dow down 212 points (0.59%), SP500 down 0.50%, SP500 Equal Weight down 0.47%, Nasdaq 100 down 0.43%, Nasdaq Comp down 0.39%, Russell 2000 down 0.86%.

The VIX sits at 20.60, up 6.19%.

Oil futures are up 1.83%, gold's up 0.32%, silver's up 0.39%, copper futures are up 0.95% and the ag complex is up 0.41%.

The 10-year treasury is up (yield down) and the dollar is down 0.13%.

Led by ALB (lithium miner), base metals futures, Latin American equities, AMD (chip maker) and oil services stocks -- but dragged by metals miners, consumer staples stocks, Viacom/CBS, Nokia and water stocks -- our core allocation is up 0.08% to start the session.

If indeed inflation, in a structural sense, is "what is taking place," it's "true nature" will likely be very problematic for the stuff (high-flying growth stocks) that's been working till now:
"... built into the speculative episode is the euphoria, the mass escape from reality, that excludes any serious contemplation of the true nature of what is taking place."

--John Kenneth Galbraith 

Have a great day!

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