August 05—09, 2019  
ANOTHER EARNINGS SLAM & REACTION TO MORE POTENIAL TARIFFS    While it may feel like all the important companies have reported earnings, so the season should be winding down, that isn’t the case, at all. There’s another Earnings slam this week, with hospitality & media companies, in particular, dominating the names that stand out. Of course, fresh off this weekend’s big Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, retailers will have to weigh sell through against reorders, with additional tariffs coming Sept 1st, on those $300B in Chinese items that escaped tariffs until now. That means it will hurt retailers and toy, apparel & shoe manufacturers, just as their deliveries of Holiday goods are due to hit US ports. Granted, the Tariffs of the past weren’t assess on goods in transit, so there’s a chance most of what was ordered for Holiday will arrive unscathed but even that is little comfort. Strong sales require fresh orders to fill the racks & shelves cleaned out, so tariffs will catch up sooner or later, unless they’re withdrawn before they’re assessed. It’s not impossible—Trump threatened fresh tariffs as of July 1st, if Xi didn’t agree to meet with him at the G20 in Japan. They met, and those tariffs never appeared. But as long as Trump is under the mistaken impression that it’s the Chinese paying the tariffs, he’ll boast about being Tariff Man and follow through with the new tariffs. An analyst, or two, last week, posited that a company like Walmart could force its suppliers to eat the new tariffs but I wouldn’t count on that indefinitely. While manufacturers may be forced to uphold prices for contracts already signed, sooner or later new contracts will reflect the higher costs, and WMT shoppers will pay the price, just like the customers of other retailers will be forced to do, as well.

And one other thing: I thought Powell was totally unconvincing trying to claim the mid-cycle adjustment in rates was due to continuing low inflation and global trade tensions. I think he needed to ‘it’ give to Trump as directly as Trump has been heckling him, and say: As long as the President intends to damage business confidence and investment by threatening additional or higher tariffs, the FOMC board will re-examine its policies and decide if more accommodation is necessary. Did Trump toss out the Sept 1st tariffs because the FOMC cut only 25bps? Possibly but he could have waited to say so, or more quietly entered his plan into the Federal Register, instead of criticizing the too small rate cut and tweeting about new tariffs moments later.

If retailers weren’t facing enough stress with the newly threatened tariffs, we take this opportunity to point out RayJay’s CECL Conference, on the 6th, which we believe refers to Current Expected Credit Losses, on which the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) has released new guidelines for banks & finance companies, weighing in with ASU No.2018-19, codification topic 326. It’s a new way of valuing potential future credit losses directed at banks, savings associations, credit unions and financial holding companies, regardless of size, that file regulatory reports that conform to US GAAP. And it applies to all debt instruments whether held to maturity or for investment, and to all trade receivables, like the receivables apparel or shoe manufacturers might hold against goods shipped from their suppliers or to their retail customers. It is likely to limit the amount of credit extended to shakier retailers, whether JCP & Sears, or the latest rumored troubled retailer, Forever 21.

We stand corrected: Florida, for the first time, this year, is allowing computers (not smartphones) that cost up to $1K tax free as part of its Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday. New Gov. DeSantis also raised the limit on sneakers to $60 from $50 but left all other supplies at $15. (A friend with 4 kids has them line up to buy their own, for $15 each, then has the ones finished scurry to the back of the line to pay again, for more stuff. Her school lists for each kid was over $200.)

The Economic Calendar promises some interesting Chinese data, including Caixin’s July Services & Composite PMI, overnight Sunday, then overnight Thursday into US Friday morning, China’s PPI & CPI, along with New Yuan Loans & Aggregate Financing, plus the BoP Q2 Current Account. The UK’s Data dump will, also, be Thursday night, into our wee hours on Friday morning. Canada’s Jul Unemployment Rate/Change/Participation etc is out early Friday morning.

AS for US Data, it’s a bit of a slow week. Monday, it’s the Markit July US Services & Composite PMI, plus the ISM non-Manufacturing Index, too. Tuesday, June JOLTS—Job Openings & Turnover, kind of moldy data which hasn’t changed significantly in 2 months. Regional Fed’Chiefs Harker & Bullard are speaking at separate events Tuesday, also. Wednesday its Fed’s Evans on the US Economy at his own Fed Bank so perhaps expounding on the economy. More interesting that day could be the Federal Trade Commission hearings on video game loot boxes and they way they’re "hooking kids on spending their allowance." Just the portion in quotes tells you everything you need to know about what the FTC thinks about loot boxes. Though Activision Blizzard & Take-Two Interactive report this week, it would be wise to bear in mind the hearings.

Also Wednesday, the New York Federal Reserve Releases its Regional Household Debt & Credit Snapshots (credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, student loans, delinquencies for NYC & other state metro areas, Fairfield CT & Northern New Jersey). The problem with the Fed’s latest rate cut is how many borrowers were able to refinance their mortgages or other loans at low, low rates over the past 5 years. Mortgage rates may have fallen recently but that’s only put them back where they were in 2016 and later. That’s why a 25bps rate cut, or even 50bps, won’t make that big a difference. I’m probably the only one who never refinanced a, relatively, high cost loan when 30 year mortgages were down near 3.78% but, then, I did one better—I paid off a 30 year mortgage in 14 years, eliminating a slug of interest I’d have to have paid, otherwise. On the other hand, NY real estate has been week since the 2017 Tax & Jobs Act capped the amount of real estate taxes that can be deducted on Federal Tax Returns to $10K, which may put some homeowners in a bind even paying their taxes. That’s often encouraged homeowners to turn to the home equity ATM to pay bills beyond their means, though as housing values slip, that could make it hard for people to manage additional loans.

Thursday, in addition to weekly Jobless claims, we’ll get June Wholesale Trade—Inventory & Sales, s well as July Chain Store Sales, from the 9 who still report that and from some who report that information only quarterly, though most of those wait until the week after to weigh in. Friday, the IEA will issue its Monthly Report on Energy, before US PPI is released at 8:30am, and the Rig Count at 1pm in the afternoon.

The Earnings Calendar is duly emboldened to highlight the number of hospitality & media companies reporting, this week, along with the occasional biotech, healthcare supplier, insurer, and semiconductor name. And by hospitality we don’t mean just hotels, though are those, and casinos but, also, restaurants, especially some of the smaller chains. And by Media, we don’t just mean TV networks but, also, radio & newspapers, and some internet companies, though it’s Viacom & CBS most are waiting to hear from (Thursday), since many an analysts has posited that they will announce their merger, Thursday, since both are reporting that day.

Which brings us to the Events Calendar, which isn’t busy with too many I-banks, given summer holidays but a few are creeping back in. Sunday, is one of the biggest Meat events of the year, in Orlando. Two other notable events continuing over the weekend, State Insurance Commissioners meeting at NAIC Summer, and GBTA the Global Business Travel Professional event, that runs through Wednesday. Odd as it seems Stephens Building Materials Plane Trip is starting Sunday. Speaking of Restaurants, The National Food Service Loss Prevention & Security Association gets underway in Nashville, along with the FAME, MODA & MRKT Fashion shows in NY, just as many buyers and manufacturers will be packing to make their way to Las Vegas, in a week, for MAGIC.

Monday, Flash Memory & American Solar are the headline events, though for some, Immuno-Oncology & Stem Cell World Congress, in Boston, will be the headliners. On Tuesday, UBS is hosting Financial Services, in Chicago, and Oppenheimer its 22nd Annual Technology, Internet & Communications Conference, even as Jefferies hosts Global Industrials, and UBS Genomics in Park City UT. The Annual Space & Missile Defense Conference will be in Huntsville AL.

Wednesday, SVB Leerink Spotlight Series is on Rare & Genetic Disease, in Boston, while CanaccordGenuity is there, also, for its 38th Annual Growth Conference. Also on the 7th, NAM CMA is the National Association of Manufactures Council of Manufacturing Associations Conference, Strategies for the Future. Unfortunately, it didn’t name what it claimed were "world-class speakers," but we’re quite sure the latest threatened tariffs will be a prime topic of conversation. Some within the Council have already been hit with Steel & Aluminum tariffs.

Thursday, Jefferies is hosting its Financials Investor Relations 1x1 Summit in NY, which sounds like UBS’ Tuesday event, which is in Chicago but they’re separate. Thursday, Citi is hosting Insurance 1:1 Forum, while Anadarko shareholders will vote on Occidental Petroleum’s takeover offer. The second cardiology event of the week is really about the radiologists who scan hearts for tracking disease, more than the cardiologists, themselves. Friday, the Am Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting starts in Chicago, while Gynecological Surgical Fellows meet for a boot camp in Austin TX.

Saturday, what used to be called the New York International Gift Show is opening, somewhat newly named New York NOW, which is totally unsatisfying to me. Many of the manufacturers who used to exhibitors at New York Now, disappeared in the 90’s or 2001. Out in Vegas, the first of the shows connected to MAGIC opens, Off-Price Apparel, an event that has become more an eBay and Amazon seller event, rather than a Burlington, TJMaxx or Ross Stores event, because theybig off-price retailers don’t need to make deals in Vegas with any apparel suppliers. Rather, suppliers come to them, or see their New York buyers. BURL, TJX & ROST go to Vegas to shmooze and see new, small and upcoming manufacturers that they ought to know about, if not keep an eye on. And it doesn’t hurt to get a feel for the colors and styles that seem most prevalent in Vegas where lots of California, Hawaiian and Asian manufacturers may make a rare appearance. With new Tariffs now looming, it’s Vietnam, Laos, and other smaller Asian countries benefiting.

There was nothing in the weekend charts to suggest the selling is done, yet. And there has to be a good reason to buy—which TINA isn’t until prices become more attractive, still.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, below, focused on US. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed re the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

July 29—August 02, 2019  
  FOMC TO CUT OR NOT TO CUT? BACKED INTO A WALL    For some, it’s a question of a quarter point cut or a half point cut. For others, it’s why cut at all? As a reminder, I am NEVER write about the FOMC but feel Powell has backed into himself into a wall, the only way out, this week, a quarter point cut, at least. He’s justified it by saying he’s interested in assuring the expansion lasts more years, given weaker global data and signs of some slowing in the US too. So, despite at least 3 members lined up against a rate cut, the FOMC is likely to deliver one, this week, which leaves the biggest mystery the post-meeting comments. I’d like to think Powell has the nerve to return to data dependence, at the very least, if not say flat out the committee will be patient, again from here.

Forget the second busiest week of Earnings releases by volume. Forget all the data to come, including Friday’s July Unemployment Report. After all, it’ll arrive after the FOMC has already released its rate decision and post-meeting comments, so data can only confirm the FOMC was correct if it cut—of make people question whether it was Trump’s taunts, after all, that caused the FOMC to cut. But either way, Friday will be after the FOMC decision, so nearly immaterial to the markets, this week. We’ll note the BoJ is also meeting this week, with its decision in the week hours of New York’s Tuesday. The BoE is meeting, too, it’s decision following the FOMC’s decision, with BoE Gov. Carney’s post-meeting press conference in the early hours before the US 0pens Thursday.

I know I said Forget Earnings, just a paragraph ago but, of course, that’s hard to do with Apple reporting Tuesday. But that just scratches the surface with Illumina, NXP Semiconductor Sanmina, Voradano Realty Trust, Armstrong World, & Beyond Meat reporting Monday. Tuesday, in addition to Apple, AMD, Akamai, Allstate, Altria, ConocoPhillips, Cummins, Danaher, Eaton, Ecolab, HCA, MasterCard, Merck, Penske automotive, Pfizer, Waters Corp, Wellcare Group, and Yum China, just a few other Tuesday reports. Wednesday, American Tower, Apache, Automatic Data Processing, Avalon Bay, Cheesecake Factory, CME, Churchill Downs, DdinEquity, Enterprise Products, Equinix, Ethan Allen, General Electric, Humana, Hyatt, Lam Research, MetLife, MolsenCoors, Prudential Financial, Qualcomm, Scotts-Miracle-Gro, Taloy Morrison Homes, Twillo, Western Digital, some of Wednesday’s standouts.

Thursday, reports are expected from AmerisourceBergen Brunswick, ADM, Beazer Homes, Cigna, Clorox, Corteva (the ag business spun-out from DowDuPont), DaVita, General Motors, Hanes Brands, the Hartford Insurance, Holly Frontier, Ingredion, Intercontental Exchange NYSE, Kellogg’s, Mettler-Toledo, MSCI, Pinterest, Post Holdings, Remax (facting a Realogy/Amazon partnership), S&P Global Intelligence, US Steel, Verizon, Wayfair, William Lyons Homes, XPO Logistics, and YUM Brands. Which brings us to Friday, when the most important earnings will come from ExxonMobil & Chevron but, also, Cinemark Holdings, a movie theater owner, Seagate Technology, and Berkshire Hathaway.

As for Events, I-banks are mostly on holiday for the summer, with a few exceptions we’ll note as they arise. This week, on Tuesday, Wells Fargo is hosting Biotech Corporate Access in Boston, and then, on Thursday, repeating it in San Francisco. KBW Tuesday is hosting a Community Bank Investor Conference, and Sprott a Natural Resource Symposium, it’s affinity for gold, apparently, paying off this year. Credit Suisse is hosting its 13th Annual Midsummer LatAm Equities Conference, in New York, starting Wednesday.

This past weekend was Camp visiting weekend, and next weekend, most of the states offering Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays will be offering them Friday through Sunday. Tuesday, so it’s said, Cheesecake Factory hosts is annual half price Cheesecake day, when you can order any slice of cheesecake for half price with an entrée. I cannot get anyone to go with me so I can order Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake because I’m the only one in my circle who doesn’t watch her waist. Or hips. And speaking of camps, Cumberland Advisors’ Camp Kotok, named for David Kotok, we believe, will be hosting its annual fishing and economics invitational, next weekend, in Leeds, Maine. And somewhat ironically, in a season when Beyond Meat has been the hottest IPO of the season, reporting this week, too, The Int’l Congress of Meat Science & Technology + Reciprocal Meat meets starting Friday, too. And by ‘meat science,’ they don’t mean meat made from green peas and other vegetables but, rather, derived from cows, steer, and other meat. Though I did notice, this weekend, 2 other vegetable based faux meat products are, suddenly, being advertised on TV, Pinnacle Foods’ Gardein one of the brands advertised, ConAgra having bought Pinnacle Foods in a nearly $11B deal that closed last fall. Tyson Foods, which sold off its stake in Beyond Meat, promised analysts, on its recent conference call, that it was prepared to start marketing its protein alternatives, too. I don’t eat meat and can’t understand why someone who doesn’t eat meat would be so desperate to eat a burger that they’d eat a vegetable one that tastes like meat and bleeds like it too. The bleeding is one of the reasons I gave up meat.

So, despite all the items on Earnings and an Unemployment Report pending, this week, it’s really the FOMC meeting decision and statement that will drive stocks. Typically, stocks sell off after the FOMC meets, even when the committee delivers exactly what the Street has been hoping for. Bear that in mind if you’re tempted to buy a post-meeting or earlier dip.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

July 22—26, 2019   ANOTHER WEEK of CONSOLIDATION AS EARNINGS DELUGE HITS    While Sec’y of State Pompeo will meet with his Mexican counterpart in Mexico City, starting Sunday, I don’t suppose Pres. Trump will be very pleased when Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov meets with Cuba’s Pres. Canel, in Havana, starting Tuesday.

Meanwhile, closer to home, there’ll be a bit of housing data out, starting Tuesday, with FHFA’s May House Price Index, and June Existing Home Sales. Wednesday, June New Home Sale, while the former Special Counsel, Robert Mueller III will endure back to back sessions at the US House with Judiciary & Intelligence. I imagine he will read from the text of his report, rather than contribute anything new, even as Cmte Chair Nadler wants him to read from his text, those items that make Trump sound like the scoundrel the Dems believe him to be.

The ECB will meet on rates, on the 25th, Draghi’s press conference to be heard very early Thursday morning, prior to the market opening. Many believe Draghi will either lower rates or add more stimulus—but somehow set up Europe to be more energetic, economically, than it’s been in the past half year. And if the US is going to cut at the end of the month, perhaps it makes sense to the leader soon leaving to goose the EU, a bit, rather than allow the US to pull even farther ahead.

We’re also going to get the first guesstimate of Q2 GDP, which will be far weaker tan the 3.1% annualized growth reported for Q1. Even Q1 sounds like a stretch, at 3.1%, given how weak Q1s have been for the past 6 years. Note, also, APEC is meeting starting Tuesday, and ASEAN starting next Saturday. Those are organizations that by their very regional nature exclude the US. Time was the US might have been invited to observe but not under Pres. Trump.

Which brings us to Earnings, which are the be all and end all for the week. We won’t detail the reports coming, here, since we’ve taken pains to emboldened those names you shouldn’t miss but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a few. I.e. AutoNation Tuesday, along with Chipotle Mexican Grill, Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson, Hasbro, JetBlue, KeyCorp, Lockheed Martin, Paccar, Pulte Homes Quest Diagnostics, Sherwin-Williams, Snap Inc, Stanley Works, Travelers, UBS, United Technologies, and Visa, all Tuesday. Thursday, at the least, we should point out 3M, Alphabet (GOOGL), Amazon, ABInBev, Anheuers-Busich, Boston Beer, Comcast, Hershey, Intel, Invesco, Mattel, Mohawk Flooring, Newmont Mining, Nokia, Raythheon, Republic Services, Sleep Number Beds, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Stryker, Taubman Centers, Temper Pedic, Valero, Verisign, Visteon, Waste Management, and Wyndham Hotels. And that’s just the briefest of highlights for the week. Before we eeven tough on Friday, when Charter Communications, Colgate Palmolive, Goodyear Tire, ITW, Lear, McDonald’s, Twitter, Yandex & Zimmer Biomet all report, plus more.

The big earnings list explains the light Events Calendar. I’ll note VOICE on the 22nd, Amazon’s Alexa the Diamond Sponsor because the event is about Voice as the computer-human interface.—the next frontier, if you will. Only Elon Musk is working on brain waves as the interface, for now, perhaps because it requires a chip installed in the brain. For the rest of us, Voice as a substitute for a keyboard is advance, enough.

New York will be home to Men’s Fashion week, while the NRF’s Deep Dive NXT in Las Vegas is more about technology that supports retailers, rather than retail, itself. There’s a Cannabis Summit in San Jose, which is the epi-center of tech but not usually weed. Tuesday’s Casino Marketing & Technology Summit will see some scrambling of players, as Caesar’s is being bought by the smaller Eldorado Resorts. The big event is the American Society of Retina Specialists Annual, which doesn’t start until next Friday. Likewise, the International Congress on Lung Cancer doesn’t start until Thursday. Also Thursday, The American Academy of Dermatology Summer Meeting. Those are the biggest events, while I-banks are mostly silent, given the heavy Earnings Calendar, which will distract most portfolio managers, whether in real time, or when the replays are dialed into later in the day.

That makes Earnings what should be given full attention. And no matter how they roll, it’s another week of consolidation that should be seen, not just this week but a week afterwards, as well. Ready for millions of shares to trade and go nowhere? Especially with the Fed meeting still another week out.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© 2019 Sandi Lynne Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

July 15—19, 2019  
NOT JUST BANK EARNINGS   While the media will be trying to fan a debate between those who believe the Fed will cut by half a point in 2 weeks, and those who believe it will be only a quarter of a point, I’d maintain there is no debate. The FOMC is going to go with a quarter point, partially persuaded by the outlooks from banks reporting, this week, which will take into account lower net interest margin—NIM to the trade—because the FOMC is widely expected to cut by a quarter point. Think about it: an interest rate cut hurts savers and banks, especially, and not something usually done when unemployment is at 3.6%, and stocks are making new all time highs. Furthermore, if Powell is hoping a quarter point cut will silence the President, he’s going to be rudely awakened to the foolishness of that thought.

Powell, it turns out, is speaking in France, Tuesday, at Bretton Woods 75 Years Later: Thinking About the Next 75, in Paris. His topic is, "Aspects of Monetary Policy in the Post-Crisis Era." The conference is a joint undertaking of the ECB and Banque de France. Powell won’t be alone, with BoE Gov.Carney and World Bank’s freshly minted President, David Malpass, speaking there, too, as well as the IMF Managing Director, David Lipton, Carmen Reinhart, Jean-Claude Trichet, and the French Minister for Economy & Finance. Most of them are all on their way to the G7 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors meeting, also in France, the 17th & 18th. ECB’s Draghi & Coeure are also attending.

But there’ll be plenty of Fed speakers at home, too. Monday, the NY Fed Pres/CEO Williams keynotes SIFMA’s "LIBOR: Transition Briefing: The Transition to Alternative Reference Rates," a half day workshop. Fed’s Evans will speak at CNBC’s @Work Series, in Chicago, late in the day, while Fed’s Bostic kicks off Tuesday, at another Fed Listens Event, in Augusta GA. Between those Tuesday speakers, Facebook will appear at the Senate, which is holding hearings on its proposed Libra cryptocurrency. At the US Judiciary’s Antitrust Subcommittee, representatives from Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, Amazon & Apple will defend themselves against charges that their dominance impacts not just online platforms but stifles innovation & entrepreneurship, besides. Congress will quite the attraction this week: former Special Counsel, Robert Mueller III is scheduled to testify, Wednesday, even after his press conference was intended to be the last word from him on his investigation.

And that’s not all, for the Economic Calendar. Overnight, Sunday, China’s Statistics Bureau will dump a ton of June data, including New Home Sales, Fixed Asset Investment, Industrial Production, Retail Sales, Jobless Rate, and both Q2 and YTD GDP. The BIG slowdown Trump keeps insisting his tariffs are causing are sure to be nowhere in sight. The Chinese would never give him the satisfaction, and surely don’t want the populace to worry that anything’s wrong. US data includes surveys, like the Empire State Manufacturing one, Monday, and the Philly Fed’s version on Thursday. We’ll also get US June Retail Sales, Business Inventories—for wholesalers, retailers, and manufacturers, NAHB’s July Housing market Index, June Housing Starts & Building Permits, the Fed’s Beige Book Wednesday, Also Thursday, NY Fed Pres/CEO Williams is back to keynote CEBRA—the Central Bank Research Association Annual Meeting in NY, co-sponsored by Columbia University, and the NY Fed. Fed dove Bullard is speaking Friday, as are Fed’s Rosengren and the BoJ’s Kuroda on Friday.

Other items of note on the Economic Calendar include the Apollo 50th Anniversary Gala, on Tuesday night, with Cisco’s Webex connecting the host NASA center in Florida, Mission Control in Houston, and the satellite Tracking Agency in Australia, without whom the many Apollo missions could not have succeeded. Also that night, a data dump from the UK, which will make clear how the drawn out Brexit negotiations are impacting the country’s economy. Today, as Roger Federer & Novac Djokovic battled it out for Wimbledon Champion, not only were Kate & William there but so, too, was Prime Minister May, sitting in the royal box. I believe anyone who saw the first walk on the moon will never forget where they were when they saw it. Also on the Economic Calendar, Tankan Surveys for Japan, and ZEW’s for the Eurozone & Germany.

If all of this sounds exhausting, get a load of the Earnings Calendar. Unlike when Q4 was reported, and the first week of Earnings came from 16 banks an just about no one else, this week, even those companies like Goldman Sachs & Microsoft, which usually report the 2nd big week are, instead, reporting this week. Citi is first out of the gate, on Monday but, even Wells Fargo, usually a Friday reporter is, instead, reporting Tuesday this week, along with JPMorgan, CSX, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, and United Airlines. With a competing and larger oil refinery deciding to shut down, after a major fire, UAL is looking prettier all the time. Normally, other Tuesday reporters like Canadian Pacific Railroad, and Cintas would be no match for the banks reporting that day but CTAS is a good read on factory activity.

Wednesday, we’ll hear from Bk of America, Bank of NY Mellon, Kinder Morgan, Netflix, Omnicom, PNC Financial, & US Bank but of exceptional interest is IBM’s first report since closing on Red Hat last week, which will inform its outlook. Thursday, reports are coming from Alliance
Data Systems, .Ally Financial, BB&T (soon to be renamed the unfortunate Truist, when its merger with SunTrust closes), Blackstone, Capital One Financial, newly public Chewy.com, Danaher, E Trade Financial, Honeywell, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, homebuilder NVR, Philip Morris International, Pook Corp, paint company PPG, SAP, Skechers, Snap-On, SunTrust, Union Pacific, and United Health. Friday, American Express, Autoliv, BlackRock, Charles Schwab, Citizens Financial, Cleveland Cliffs, Gentex, Kansas City Southern, Manpower, Regions Financial, Schlumberger, Sensient, State Street, and Synchrony Financial.

My heart be still but if no one else were reporting for the rest of the month, we’d have a pretty broad view of the market, overall. Again, It’s financials that may disappoint the most. Not only might trading be weaker than usual but bank outlooks can’t be strong, given they have lower rates to look forward to, just as they’re finishing the first six months of better rates than they’ve enjoyed for 10 years. So, not only might Q2 reports disappoint but Q3 & 2H outlooks are sure to be weaker than they were last year. But heck! Who cares?

So it’s said, and with all due respect to the guys who risked their lives going into space, NASA is pulling out all the stops for the Apollo 50th Anniversary Gala, on the 16th, at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In addition to 500 guests at the space center, there will be astronauts Mike Collins (Apollo 11), Charles Duke (Apollo 16), Rusty Scweickart (Apollo 9), Gerry Griffin (Apollo flight director at Mission Control for 3 lunar missions), and hooked up by Cisco Webex (teleconference) will be the USS hornet & the Satellite Trackers in Canberra Australia, 3 members of their crew, who kept Apollo communications connected to Florida and the Houston Space Center. The USS Hornet crew is who rescued the Apollo 11 astronauts after they splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, on 7/24, 1969. Included in that crew is Sgt Joe Holt who provided security to Pres. Richard Nixon, as he watched splashdown aboard the Hornet, before helicoptering off. We’ve also be told, on the QT, that Webex will connect the Int’l Space Station to the festivities, as well.

CEBRA, Columbia U SIPA (School of Int’l & Public Affairs), & NY Fed Reserve co-sponsor the Annual meeting. NY Fed’s John Williams keynotes on Monetary Policy. Also speaking: Greg IP (WSJ), IBM, profs from Harvard, Brookings institution, Stanford U, Columbia Um Fed Banks of St. Louis, Cleveland, & San Francisco, SNB, ECB, Bundesbank, IMF, Norges Bank, BoJ’s Kuroda, Bk of Israel and many more. Larry Summers & Ben Bernanke will participate on panels organized by the IMF on Monetary Policy in the New Normal, Fri, starting at 9am. About half the governors of the Central Bk of Ireland will participate in panels on Understanding Market Based Finance & Non-Bank Financial Institutions, one topic of which is Empirical Network Contagion for US Financial Institutions. Economists Carmen Reinhart & Ken Rogoff participate in the Evolution of Monetary Policy Frameworks: Past, Present & Future, Exchange Arrangements entering the 21st Century: Which anchor will hold? When you navigate to the link provided for the CEBRA meeting, click on the program link, then be sure to get to subsequent pages. Initially, it looked like there was only a partial page and nothing else. Paging down several times took us to the subsequent pages. CEBRA may have a more impressive group of participants than G7’s FinMins & Central Bankers in France—especially given anyone can link to the streams from CEBRA, which they can’t do for G7.

The Allen & Co conference wraps Sunday, so be looking out for the next deal. Some think the buy is what remains of Fox, while I keep looking at LionsGate and think it’s just too cheap for words, given its library, and the number of companies hungry for content to feed their planned streaming services. I’m scratching my head over ALPA—Airline Pilots Ass’n Air Safety Forum in D.C., starting M,onday, while the APSCON—Airborne Public Safety Ass’n meetings in Omaha, and that’s before I even contemplate anyone other than Berkshire Hathaway meeting in Omaha, in the summer, or any other time of year. For that matter, why would the Sports Medicine division of the Orthopaedic Ass’n meet in Boston, while APMA—Podiatrists—meet in Salt Lake city? Well, OK, that one I can more easily understand—doctors don’t consider Podiatrists as well educated, anymore than they think chiropractors are doctors.

But forget all that, and all the other Events, for that matter. National Dental Ass’n meeting start Wednesday, in D.C., while they Academy of General Dentistry meets starting the next day, in Uncasville, CT (Mohegan Sun). The 15th & 16th are Amazon Prime Days, so the 14—17th are Walmart Deal Days, the 15th eBay Deal Day, and Target’s competing Deal Days on the 15th & 16th, but really all week, if you want to pre-book a deal with a Target Red Card. So forget all the other events, and maybe forget all the Earnings, too. Likewise, Nordstrom starts its Anniversary Sale on the 19th, which runs though August 4th—just long enough to capture Sales Tax Holidays in 11 states on 08/02—08/04, alone. To hear CNBC tell it, there’s likely to be nothing but Amazon to watch all week, wager whether its servers can handle the surge of customers, and whether any of the competing deals, in the end, were competition, at all. I can’t wait for the estimates of how many billions AMZN booked in sales. Last year, in a single day—11/11, Singles Day--Alibaba booked $11B in sales, while AMZN will never say how much it booked. It doesn’t even like providing quarterly sales and wouldn’t if the SEC didn’t force it to.

Meanwhile, another Monday, another Healthcare deal, This time, Gilead Sciences is expanding its stake in Galapagos NV (GLPG), with an agreement that includes a $3.95B upfront payment & and additional $1.1B investment into GLPG. It gives GILD "access to all current & future compounds in Galapagos’ rich pipeline while Galapagos is able to expand its research activities and build commercial infrastructure," GILD CEO Daniel O’Day said in a statement. GILD’s latest investment, at 140.59 euros ($158.43) p/share boosts GILD’s stake in GLPG to 22% from 12.3%; at a 10% premium to Friday’s close. The original deal, in 2015, gave GILD access to filgotinib, an experimental compound getting good buzz in rheumatoid arthritis & inflammatory bowel disease, whose submittal to the FDA for approval is expected before year end. Simultaneously, future development costs for filgotinib will be shared equally, replacing the 80/20 split provided by the earlier deal.

How long can the bulls keep pushing stocks to new highs? Well, the summer rally usually peaks the first or 2nd week of August, which is just in time to capture one more flurry to the upside, after the FOMC cuts rates at their meeting, at the end of the month. It’s financials that may be the odd men out, this earnings period, which is why I’d take profits on any additional gains they can manage. About the only group whose results have utter despair written all over them are retailers, and that still doesn’t make them a buy. I find the market exceptionally expensive. How ‘bout you?

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)
© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

July 08—12, 2019 
JEROME POWELL, STAR OF THE WEEK      Fed Chief Powell opens the Federal Reserve Board’s Conference on Stress Testing: A Discussion & Review, Tuesday. Then Wednesday & Thursday, he’s offering his semiannual testimony in Congress, Wed. to the House Financial Services Committee, and Thursday at the Senate Banking Committee. To those expecting him to all but promise a rate cut in July, he’ll be disappointing. He’ll acknowledge last Friday’s stronger than expected employment report when 224K workers were added, in payback for May’s weak 72K, but offer that as proof that the data has been conflicting—too conflicting to conclude his monetary policy committee must commit to a rate cut at the end of the month. Surely, at least one Republican will ask whether the December 2018 hike was one too many. Just as surely, a Democrat will ask whether he feels pressured by the President who’s broken form on the FOMC, like he has on so much else, in an attempt to pressure the FOMC to cut rates. By now, Powell should be well prepared for both questions.

While Powell will be the most prominent of Fed speakers, he won’t be alone. Vice Chairman for Supervision, Randall Quarles is, also, speaking at the Fed Board Stress Testing Conference, Tuesday, while lone dissenter, St Louis Fed’s Bullard, speaks both Tuesday & Wednesday at the OMFIF Foundation Forum on Monetary Policy, Bostic is speaking at OMFIF Tuesday, also. Then Thursday, Barkin, Bostic, Williams, Quarles, again, and Kashkari all speak after assorted events around the country, as detailed in the Economic Calendar below. They are, respectively, from the Richmond Fed, the Atlanta Fed. NY Fed, and Minneapolis Fed, skipping Quarlies already detailed. That’s a lot of Fed speaks in a week, let alone a day, since many of them are speaking Thursday, mostly. And there is some data of interest to Fedheads, this week, especially June CPI on Thursday, and PPI on Friday.

Other Economic items of interest pale in comparison to Powell & Co., and the inflation data named. Having said that, doesn’t dismiss data expected from other countries. I.e. China’s June CPI & PPI, expected overnight, Tuesday, a Bank of Canada rate setting meeting that will end on Wednesday, hours before the FOMC releases Minutes of its June 18th—19th Meeting. Overnight, Wednesday, the Bk of England will release its Semiannual Financial Stability Report, followed by the Minutes of its MPC Meeting of June 5th—6th. For the US, there could be more on how close the FOMC was to lowering rates, when it last met, while the BoE is barely hanging on, awaiting the terms of Brexit to be finalized. While there’s consensus, across the pond, that a non-deal Brexit would be very bad for the Brits, it doesn’t appear that all the MP’s agree with that opinion. Rather, some believe a "hard" Brexit poses no great risk and might even free the Brits from having to make a "divorce" payment to the EU.

The Earnings Calendar won’t shake anyone up, but surely there’ll be most interest in LEVI (Levi Strauss), so soon after its IPO, PepsiCo, and even LNN—Lindsay, since its sprinkler heads are a fixture of lawns around new homes, and restorations of lawns ripped up by snow plows and weather damage. Delta, reporting Thursday, has already released its Quarter’s vital stats in the form of monthly data. Owning a refiner when the largest one on the East Coast is closing puts it in a uniquely advantageous position. Fastenal could be impacted by Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX jets though production has been reduced, rather than halted, altogether. Yarenai is one of the cheapest Chinese companies which won’t, necessarily, make it that much more attractive after earnings.

SEMICON could be the most well covered semi-equipment event in a long time, as Trump lifted the Huawei ban, though no one knows for how long. Citi and others are offering hosted meetings at Semicon, which is typical for the event. Also expected, this week, is the Allen & Company Annual invitation-only Sun Valley Conference. While tech & media execs are the most prominent invites, word is Warren Buffett is a guest, this year, too, while the head of Viacom—possibly the head of a combined Viacom & CBS, Bob Bakish, was "snubbed," as Variety & BuzzFeed put it. Shari Redstone, on the other hand, who controls both firms and wants them to merger won an invite. We estimate it will take place from the 10th through the weekend but are willing to be wrong. It’s not like we’re invited, or anything. We’ve seen discussion of the event on Variety, BuzzFeed, Bloomberg, and the NYTimes but no one provided the exact dates. Given that CNBC and Bloomberg both employ writers/anchors who were invited, and both set up interview chairs in front of the host hotel, even when not invited, there’ll be coverage of the event and attendees, whether Allen & Co intends for that to happen or not. We’d guess they’d be disappointed if no one cared.

If that’s not enough to distract, there’s Miami Swim Week, this week, AHS—the American Headache Society meeting, starting Thursday, with 3 new migraine drugs winning FDA marketing rights this year. Wednesday, New York is hosting a ticker-tape parade to honor the US National Soccer team, which just won the FIFA World Cup, on Sunday, then Friday, Formula E-Prix starts in Brooklyn. Sounds like a crazy week to be in NY.

Since stocks made new highs despite widespread awareness that the Q2 Earnings Season will disappoint, and is already counting on a rate cut, at the end of the month, what’s left for stocks to rise on? I ask because I genuinely don’t know—and just don’t feel the love traders are showing stocks, which Barron’s claims is the Street already building in a 2020 Trump win of a 2nd term. Ya think? I’m open to better theories. And I would watch CPI since it seems that everything in the supermarket costs a heck of a lot more than it used to. And wouldn’t that be the greatest irony of all—if inflation finally showed up just when the Street was counting on rates being cut! I realize the FOMC prefers to look at PCE rather than plain vanilla CPI but still, wouldn’t that be a hoot, if inflation finally took a stand?

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)      

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

July 01—05, 2019  
HOLIDAY WEEK SHOULDN’T AMOUNT TO MUCH     Pres. Trump delivered even more than the Street was expecting from the rapid fire speed dating with world leaders he conducted at the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan. Not only did he and China’s Xi agree to continue talks but, unexpectedly, Trump agree to lift the ban on sales to Huawei. That should have semiconductor stocks celebrating—short lived though that celebration may be. In shortened weeks, everyone wants to get out of town, so even a sell off Tuesday, before Wednesday’s shortened session that’s recovered Friday wouldn’t surprise. Thursday, as no one need remind anyone, is July 4th, a US holiday across the board. Apple also may see a brief celebration of Trump’s dialing down the rhetoric on Huawei & China but, the damage is already done. How fast do you think QCOM is going to ship 5G chips out the door before Trump flip-flops, again? And flip-flop he will, getting impatient for decisions to be made as fast as he did as CEO of a construction company who’s, evidently, forgotten how long the permitting process can take, especially in city’s, like NY, where he built so many of his buildings (no, that wasn’t the word I was going to use but what did come to mind didn’t fit perfectly, either.)

So, enjoy the week, and whatever rise the bulls can manage. Just remember, it’s all going away as soon as Trump gets impatient with progress in the Chinese talks—or if Powell & Co fail to lower rates when they meet at the end of July, given the easing in trade tensions. Any worries about Friday's June Unemployment Report?  We'll know soon enough

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.    

June 24—28, 2019   CCAR, RUSSELL INDICES REBALANCED & RECONSTITUTED   Oh My!    Last Friday, after the close, Fed Stress Tests for the MegaBanks were released. Never has such a costly (to the banks) test received such a shrug of shoulders. And perhaps that was the very idea behind releasing the results on Friday, after the close, instead of Thursday, into the S&P & Russell Indices Rebalance-Reconstitution, as it will be this week, after Thursday’s close. The CCAR tests—Comprehensive tests of Capital Adequacy is the test which determines how much dividends and buybacks can be adjusted. The Fed discusses with the banks the CCAR results prior to their release, allowing the banks to jump the gun—announcing new or raised buybacks and/or dividend increase plans before the CCARs were even out.. We’ll soon learn if that will be the case, again, or whether the Fed, somehow, embargoes discussion of the results—orders the banks to keep their plans secret until after the CCAR release, at 4:30pm et.

So, in addition to the CCAR, Dow Jones S&P Indices & Russell Indices to be Rebalanced & Reconstituted, respectively, it means it’s not just Month’s End, and Quarter’s End but, also, Half Year’s End, which is when Portfolio Managers tinker with their holdings—even lighten up on equities, altogether, because most know, June through mid-October is often a terrible time to stay invested in stocks-— possible rate cut in the period notwithstanding. One thing we can say with near certainty is that volume will be the one aspect that won’t be lacking, this week. Plus, Reuters says Eldorado Resorts may have closed a deal to buy Caesar’s for $18B cash. There’s nothing like another takeover to get the bulls’ juices running. And to top it off, the week is flush with housing data, Case/Shiller’s 20-city April Home Price Index, FHFA April House Price Data, and May New Home Sales all out on Tuesday. Fast Forward to Thursday, and the Nat’l Ass’n of Realtors will release May Pending Home Sales. Also Thursday, the final look at Q1 GDP, along with Business Investment and Consumer PCE—the data the Fed watches most closely. Plus, we have a number of Fedheads speaking this week, including NY Fed’s Williams Tuesday, hours before FOMC Chief Powell will be speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations, specifically, on Challenges Facing the US Economic Outlook & Monetary Policy Review. Hours later, the lone dissenter, tee Fed’s Bullard, will offer brief opening remarks in introducing Carmen Reinhart who’s delivering the Homer Jones Memorial Lecture, with Q&A, at the St Louis Fed, which he heads up.

If you haven’t heard, there are 24 declared Democratic 2020 presidential candidates vying for attention and funding. The first Dem debate is on the 26th, with 10 of the 20 who "qualified" by either raising enough money from enough people, or placing high enough in polls to enter the debates NBC is broadcasting from Miami Florida. On the 27th, the 0ther 10 "qualifying" hopefuls will debate, in Miami, for broadcast, both days, beyond NBC TV, also on Telemundo, MSNBC, YouTube & Facebook. Given how the press follows Trump’s every breath & tweet, let us hope the candidates actually get more press than the tweets Trump will spew, in all likelihood, minute by minute during the debates.

The Earnings Calendar is extremely compact but not without interest. Tuesday, I’d posit, every company reporting has much to tell us. Start with Aerovironment which makes parts of Boeing, and drones, FactSet, a read on Wall Street, FedEx, Lennar, Micron Technology, and Synnex, the last one of the major PC & Mobile device suppliers to enterprises—a VAR, or Value-Added-Reseller, that bought and closed CompUSA, among other failed tech distributors. What’s most notable about Wednesday, to me, is not General Mills, IHS Markit, K B Homes, Paychex, Rite Aid or Schnitzer Steel but Pier 1, whose stock price might look shocking to some who aren’t away that it recently executed a reverse split, which generally means the stock is in a death spiral from which it won’t be able to pull itself. Thursday, reports are expected from Accenture, ConAgra, Herman Miller, McCormick (spices), Nike, and Walgreens Boots Alliance. For most, Nike’s comments on tariffs will be the highlight of the week. Friday Constellation Brands is expected to report results, although not yet from CBD infused products.

Then, there are the Events, which are winding down into summer holidays in July & August—July just one week away. One event to take not of, UBA—the Utah Bankers Association, might seem insignificant but isn’t. Started Sunday, UBA includes Industrial Banks, Utah home to the most credit card & industrial bank headquarters. Just as Delaware is the corporate capital of the US, Utah is the Industrial bank headquarters of the country, and will fight fiercely to make sure cryptocurrencies won’t usurp its position in the payment processing world. Also starting Sunday, NASFT for Fancy Foods, for years more about flavored waters & alcoholic beverages than much else but, surely, starting as soon as this year, CBD infused food and plant derived products.

Paris, where the Air Show was finishing up, this past weekend, by welcoming the public, is hosting Men’s Couture Fashion Week, which will be prominent in newspapers this week. Women’s immediately follow Men’s, so the sex will change but not the fashionable names. Speaking of Europe, the Consumer Technology Ass’n (CTA) CEOs are gathering for their annual summer retreat in Prague, in the Czech Republic.

Citi is hosting Asia Internet Corporate Days in NY. It will be interesting to see how chilly the reception is, given those who claim nationalistic pride has caused Chinese consumers to turn inward for their devices, away from the US which they see as starting the tariff war. If you were going to host a Cloud Computing Expo, Santa Clara would surely be at the top of the list of cities in which to host it. So it is, Monday. But, as Monday makes clear, most of the I-bank action is moved to Asia, where school ending and camp beginning, or July 4th is of no concern to anyone. ICANN, for those who think it sounds familiar but can’t remember why is the Internet Corporation for Assigning Names which governs the backbone of the internet—all the named domains, and dot.whathaveyou’s which seem to be sprouting like weeds all over the place.

RetailX is an umbrella for a series of retail-related conferences that covers online commerce (IRCE Internet Retailer), GlobalShop, which was often more store environment than ‘shopping,’ per se, now claims it’s the largest RFID & E-Commerce trade show, though its attendees, if they’re online stores, do not need the accoutrements of a store. But, among its keynote speakers are Walmart’s Sr VP of Digital Consumer Brands, and a strategic advisor to Airbnb. Oppenheimer is so enamored with life sciences/biotech, that it’s hosting a traveling conference, this week, which starts in Stanford Tuesday, moves to Montauk Wednesday, and wraps up there Thursday. Wednesday will host a flurry of I-bank conferences, beyond OpCo, including 2 from JPMorgan, one from Stephens, one from Wells Fargo, and another from SunTrust. SunTrust RH—toying with using, simply, STRH—is hosting Clinical Day, which literally takes clients into the Clinic to hear from doctors at various medical schools heading up studies at those locations or their hospitals, mostly in hematology. Wells Fargo’s Bricks to Clicks Digital Conference "starts" on the 26th but that’s only a reception & registration. The event really takes place on the 27th, with private companies like Rent the Runway & Warby Parker, plus public ones: Carbana (CVNA), FarFetch (FTCH), Stitch Fix (SFX), and Zalando (ZAL.DE). Still, none of the I-bank conferences are likely to override either the CCAR results, or the Index rebalances/ reconstitutions in the noise department.

You’ll note there’s not a bank delivering earnings, this week, yet banks will be in focus before Friday, especially if they jump the gun on CCAR result releases by announcing changes to their dividends and/or buybacks. And while there’s plenty of historical data to support enthusiasm for stocks at rate cuts first get underway, I think the bulls who have pushed stocks to new all time highs are smoking something they should distribute more widely to the masses. Somehow, I’m not feeling it, and wonder how stocks at new all time highs will look when tepid earnings are delivered with tepid outlooks—the threat of still more tariffs still hanging over the economy. And, as someone once said, "It’s the Economy, stupip!"

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)  

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

June 17—21, 2019   FED FAR FROM READY TO CUT   Despite a coming FOMC Meeting, it’s really the ECB that’s busier than the FOMC, hosting an annual Forum on Central Banking—20 years of European Economic & Monetary Union, in Sintra, Portugal. Attending are the Central Bank heads from Ireland, the BoE, and even Janet Yellen & Larry Summers—the latter on the rate cut bandwagon, suddenly. The Bk of England is meeting on rates but we know there's going to be nothing done there, because of still unsettled Brexit, not ot mention the lack of a Prime Minister.

I am never right about the FOMC but here goes—Wednesday, I expect the FOMC to say what everyone expects—that it is watching and evaluating the incoming data closely, and if its necessary, it will cut rates if the need should arise. But I don’t expect a promise of a rate cut, because the data isn’t, yet, negative enough to require the cut. The last Unemployment Report, with job adds falling over 100K shy of expectations, wasn’t the first time to disappoint. In fact, the more than 75K jobs added were a heck of a lot better than the 33K added one month in recent history. Aside from employment—which many would argue already reached the commonly believed "full employment" level, anyway, the data hasn’t just been weak enough to justify a rate cut—Pres. Trump’s insistence, aside. In fact, the Service side of the economy—the largest portion of economic output, has strengthened, rather than weakened, in recent months.

And given that mortgage rates have been easing down, it’s quite possible even the housing data out this week will be improved, as well. Monday, the NAHB sentiment data is out—the June Housing Market Index. Tuesday, May Housing Starts/Building Permits, and Friday, May Existing Home Sales. And, if you really want to know the most important data out this week, it might well be the Stress Test Results of the eleven largest banks, Friday, after the close—just before the FTSE Russell Company releases the Final Adds & Deletes for Russell Indices that will be reconstituted after the close on the 28th—the same day the Fed Reserve will release the CCAR results, which determine the amount of dividends & buybacks the megabanks can conduct over the next year. Of course, it pays to remember that under Powell, the FOMC has become a kinder, gentler regulatory, who not only has let a number of banks off the Stress Test/CCAR test hook but also seeks less to trip up the banks than assure they’re prepared to weather the next economic storm.

Other than all the above, and despite Fed Gov Brainard and Fed Pres. Mester talking 2x, it should be a very quiet week. The Earnings Calendar is nearly dried up. A couple of big tech companies are scheduled to report, including Adobe, Jabil Circuit, and Oracle, along with Korn Ferry, which would be one of the first companies to see a drop off in hiring, if there’s one on the horizon. To round out the reports, Darden Restaurants, and Kroger, with CarMax wrapping up the week on Friday. Its worth mentioning that former parent, AutoNation declared its intent to expand into used cars, encroaching on KMX’s business but, so far, KMX seems to have nothing to worry about, other than the collapse in sales of sedans, which has long been the bread and butter for KMX.

As for events, the week’s biggest curiosity is supposed to be Facebook introducing its cryptocurrency this week. Backers, who each invested a meager $10m to support the effort (cause FB needs the money, right?), include Visa, Uber, MasterCard, PayPal & Stripe, according to the WSJ. Some will act as "nodes," it’s reported, that verify and document transactions using the currency, marketed as a "stablecoin," whose value is tied to a basket of government currencies, to escape the wild swings Bitcoin’s pricing sees. Some supporters, it’s said, worry Libra could be used to launder money or finance terrorism, a problem seen in other cryptocurrencies. FB is expected to publish a white paper on Libra, this week, to detail the concept more completely.

The Event Calendar otherwise slows, as summer, which officially arrives on the 21st, sends traders & portfolio managers on vacation. Sunday AAAE Aviation Conference kicks off in Boston, while Monday, Marine Money Week gets underway in NY, Jefferies a co-host with Capital Link. Speaking of AN & KMX, Independent & Minority Auto Dealers meet, NIADA, in Vegas, for one of the bigger conventions of the week, who must be thrilled that rates are backing off again. Not that they will, necessarily, offer lower rates to their customers but because it makes it easier for them to round up the financing they need to be able to offer to customers, and to stock their showrooms. Speaking of airports, the Paris Air Show kicks off Monday, too. So does ICSC—Shopping Centers Strategic Leadership Summit, in D.C.

JPMorgan is hosting its Annual Energy Conference, starting Tuesday. Jefferies hosts Consumer IR the same day, while Oppenheimer host Consumer Growth & E-Commerce, in Nantucket MA & Boston, respectively. That’s a lot of Consumer companies reporting, many retailers who are struggling to figure out the new retail, for many, closing stores. Credit Suisse’s 4th Annual US West Coast Yankee Bank Conference + IR Day, is the most misleading conference name in history because the banks appearing are about as far from Yankee as could be—they’re European banks. JEFF & OpCo aren’t the only nearly duplicate conferences. Raymond James, starting Tuesday, is hosting Life Sciences & MedTech, while Wednesday, JMP Securities is hosting Life Sciences. Meanwhile, Stephens’ Cloud Communications Bus Tour may be one of the more tradable events, because it’s so finite: FIVN, TWLO, VG & ZM on the agenda. Speaking of misleading Conference names, there’s Pioer Jaffray’s Heartland Summit. At one time, it featured companies based in the heartland, Minneapolis, to be exact but, this year, the only companies we could confirm were biotechs, none of them based in Minneapolis or anywhere else in the Heartland. Speaking of biotechs, Merck & Co is hosting an Investor Day Thursday, but it’s Tyson’s Investor Day, Thursday, worth keeping an eye on—especially if you own the recent IPO, BYND (Beyond Meat) because TSN is sure to detail its roll-out of meat substitute chicken nuggets and other products. I’m personally curious about who Beyond Meat and other non-meat similars are aimed out. I haven’t eaten beef or lamb in over 50 years and have no interest in tasting a fake burger, which I haven’t missed, at all. So just curious.

So let’s generously call last week a consolidation week—an outcome that would be a gift this week since that rarely happens when the FOMC doesn’t deliver exactly what the market wants—a promise of a rate cut at the July FOMC meeting. And while I’m NEVER right about the FOMC, I just don’t see anything in the data that would justify a cut, or a concrete promise of one in July. And the one thing we know about the FOMC it’s that it reacts with a lag, even as its rate moves cause the economy to react with a lag. That means the economy is likely to be far softer before the FOMC institutes a rate cut.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

Storms have been wreaking havoc on our communications and work schedule: this was updated late 06/09, and early 06/10. Also check the free calendar for items posted there that didn't make it here, due to power and/or internet connections failing in storms.
June 10—14, 2019  
Boy! DID WE EVER BLOW IT LAST WEEK!!!!   You’ll note, Fed speakers are MIA, this week, in a quiet period before the FOMC Meeting starting on the 18th. Chairman Powell’s press conference will be on the 19th, at 2:30pm. I’ve read that he and Treas. Sec’y Mnuchin are attending the G20 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors’ Meeting, in Fukuoka Japan—not that the FOMC Calendar says so. On the contrary, the FOMC Board of Governors claim no speeches or meetings this week but the NYTimes.com featured a picture of the 2 Americans in Japan with other leaders. ECB’s Draghi & Coeure + BoE’s Carney are also attending the G20 FinMins & Central Bankers Mtg, featured on their respective central bank calendars. In addition, the US & Japan are scheduled for trade talks, Monday & Tuesday, though I was shocked to learn there’s a dispute there, at all. Aren’t Japan’s Abe & Trump golf buddies?

And that’s not all: US May PPI and CPI are due on Tuesday & Wednesday, respectively, along with May Retail Sales Friday, in addition to Industrial Production & Capacity Industrialization. In addition to the US data, we’ll get the UK’s A1 GDP, Trade Balance and other significant data, in addition to similar data from China, that includes May Foreign Direct Investment, Vehicle Sales, CPI & PPI Monday & Tuesday, respectively. The Swiss National Bank monetary policy committee will announced its interest & deposit rate decision, in the wee hours of Thursday morning, east coast time. While ECB Pres Draghi, and co-officers on their MPC will be busy with CESEE, encountered on the Eco Calendar, on Wednesday, which refers to central, eastern & south-eastern European countries, the subject of an ECB organized conference, at the ECB headquarters, in Frankfurt, Germany. When all is said and done, though, it’s the IEA monthly energy report that may move markets more.

And, alas, there are lots of big events on this week week’s calendar, beyond those events. First of those is EEI—Edison Electric Institute--Feel the Power. Keynotes include the former House leader, Paul Ryan, the founder/CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujan on closing the Gender Gap, US Sec’y of Energy Rick Perry, IHS Cambridge Energy founder Daniel Yergin, Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good, Exelon CEO Crhis Crane, Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fawke, Chef and humanitarian Jose Andres, Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, former Journey lead singer, Steve Augeri, Berlin lead singer, Terri Nunn, and Kool and the Gang veteran Skip Martin, plus AEP CEO/Pres/Chairman Nick Akins on drums with West Quave and the Live 61 Band. There are tracks in Clean Energy, Customer Experience, Smarter Infrastructure, & What’s Next, but who’ll notice given the line up of keynotes and special guests? The American Gas Association, AGA, hosts a Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting at the event, which is a mass power producers’ event.

Some will say Stifel’s Cross-Sector Insights Conference is a leading event but it’s hard to pin a tail on that donkey—Cross-Sector is an excuse to pull in corporates from every sector, at will, without regard to market cap, region, or any other criteria that other conferences may rely upon. In NY, starting the same day (Monday)? HSBC GEMS—Global Emerging Markets Investor Forum in NY doesn’t include an abundance of US-traded tickers, and even when it does, HSBC offers the home-country ticker instead. Emerging Markets Banks stand out as a large group, but then, there’s AB InBev, ASML, CEMEX, both China Telecom & China Unicom, plus Despergar.com (DESP), Globant S.A. (GLOB), Interactive Asia Group Ltd (ICLK), Jianpu Technology Inc (NYSE ADR: JT), Make My Trip (MMYT). PPDAI Group Inc (ADR: PPDF), Quotoutiao Inc (ADR: QTT), and troubled miner VALE.

Morgan Stanley is hosting Financials, for the 11th time, and Barclays MediaComm Visionary, another NY summit, Visionary" a term that should severely limit the number of speakers but, evidently, doesn’t much. The biggest event in terms of suit and tie attendees is, undoubtedly, Goldman Sach’s 40th Global Healthcare Conference, in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. Wells Fargo is out west, too, for West Coast Energy but THE event of the west coast is, undoubtedly for some, E3—the Electronic Entertainment Expo, an event that, in my mind, should some day merge with Licensing, which recently wrapped. At E3, eSports is a hot topic, as it is at Variety’s TV Summit (L.A. Wednesday, and then in the UK, right afterwards). It is, also, at East Coast Gaming Congress & NexGen Gaming (aka eSports), starting Wednesday. So it’s said, The E-League "Gears of War 5" Documentary, due to debut on TBS network, on the 14th, is a collaboration between AT&T’s Turner division and Microsoft’s Xbox Studios, producing a 6-part series that IMG helped put together by getting WarnerMedia (Turner a subdivision) together with ELeague, which is an IMG brainchild. The 1st Gears 5 eSports tournament isn’t until July

Overseas, it’s JPMorgan that will rule, with what it’s calling Industrials Week in the UK. In truth, that’s an umbrella for a few subconferences taking place, this week, in the UK, that includes, on the 11th, European Automotive; on the 12th, European Materials, both in London, and on the 13th—14th, European Capital Goods CEO, instead of in London, in Surrey, UK, to wrap up the week. Also in London, the NASDAQ 40th Investor Conference, which highlights some leading American companies to UK/European Investors.

As for Earnings, more consumer facing names, the most significant of which are Lululemon & Oxford Industrials, both reporting Wednesday. Non-consumer names include HD Supply, the former wholesale division of Home Depot, and Broadcom, (AVGO), which took the ticker of one of its large merger partners.

With Trump suspending, indefinitely, the threatened tariffs on Mexico, which were slated to go into effect on Monday, the 10th, there’s reason for stocks to celebrate, which futures suggest they’re apt to at the outset, Monday. That’s when traders will have their first chance to react to the FTSE Russell preliminary additions & deletions from the Russell Indices. But after the week of fireworks stocks shot off last week, the upside would seem the more difficult direction. But then, I expected Trump to back off Mexican tariffs at the last minute, therefore anticipating stocks probing lower levels until the end of last week. Instead, Wall Street threw a party the likes of which isn’t often seen. Expecting a repeat this week could well be asking too much, though a celebration, in light of the merger of Raytheon, with United Technologies' aerospace division, seems required by those who see renewed M&A activity.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

June 03—07, 2019   
FRESH APPLE NEWS FOR CNBC TO BORE US WITH     Maybe it’s just me but it seems like CNBC has a very limited conversational stream. There’s Apple, Uber, and Lyft. Even when Trump is riling China and, more recently, Mexico, CNBC is the Apple Uber, & Lyft channel the way Fox News is the Trump Channel. Granted, Apple has often been the largest market cap company in the US so influential to how the S&P 500 moves but, still, I’ll be grateful for Apple’s WWDC, this week, and fresh news, rather than rehashed opinions from their "Fast Money" traders. WWDC19 starts Monday, a day when many of the players @ASCO have, also, scheduled cance3r pipeline Analyst Meetings that will be webcast. One other analyst meeting is worthy of mention; that’s Prudential Financial’s. Wednesday. The insurers have not suffered a setback the money center banks did while rates have been falling. That’s curious. Likewise, both Capri Holdings & CVS Health are meeting with Analysts Tuesday. Capri, until the end of last year, was known (better known) as Kors—Michael Kors but changed as it closed on the acquisitions of Jimmy Choo & Versace. Also that day, Goldman Sachs is opening its headquarters to clients of Wolfe Research. Outsiders get all starry eyed at GS Headquarters, while Analysts are lining up behind CVS.

Now to the Economic Calendar, because Fed speakers are frequent, again, this week, after the Memorial Week off, last week. Simultaneously, Trump is headed for the UK and France, for state visits and to honor the anniversary of D-Day. Unfortunately, that won’t stop Trump’s tweeting, which means any number of Democrats will be hanging on with baited breath, waiting for embarrassing moments. Fed Chief Powell speaks Tuesday, to open the Chicago Federal Reserve Conference on the Fed Framework for Monetary Policy, Strategies & Communications—a bid topic for the Fed Board, at the moment. In addition to Powell, Fed Gov Brainard is a panelists and Kaplan a dinner speaker at the Fed Conference in Chicago. Fed Vice Chair Clarida opens Day 2 of the Fed Conference on Monetary Policy. Likewise, the transition away from using Libor to set consumer rates is a to9pic of interest on both sides of the Atlantic. Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision, Quarles has the stateside duties. Fed Gov. Bowman testifies at the Senate Banking Cmte but I don’t expect any wild fireworks. Ditto BoJ Chief Kuroda’s & BoE’s Chief Carney appearances at the Institute of Int’l Finance (IFF) Spring Membership meeting, taking place in Tokyo.

It’s also a new month which means a data deluge in both the US & Canada. Both countries release May Unemployment data on Friday. ADP will release its private sector Employment Report for both countries, before those reports. Analysts will be watching for a sudden spike in applications., Fed’s Bostic speaks about affordability at an Atlanta Regional Housing forum, just in time for mortgage rates to print sub-4.0%, raising affordability. Wednesday is the 30th anniversary of the Tianmen Square uprising. It’s a day many of us expected to change China but, instead, has been erased from Chinese history. Also expected, both PMI’s & ISM’s, along April Int’l Trade Deficit, and US Q1 Productivity & Costs. G7 Meets later in the week, as well as the G20 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors, though there’s no confirmation that Powell plans on attending. Unemployment Friday is the biggy, along with FTSE Russell’s preliminary changes to its indices, which will be announced after the close Friday, based on May 10th closing prices. Analysts have already been handicapping the additions & deletions.

Earnings are a mix of retailers, and others, including Ambarella, Navistar & Salesforce.com, Tuesday, Brown Forman Wednesday, along with Unifi, Wednesday, the Ciena, Hovnavian, and Vail Resorts, Thursday. The biggest names in retail reporting include Calares, formelry Brown Show, which must be losing some business with the closing of Payless Shoes. Tiffany is a near obsession for some, reporting Tuesday, which downscale competitor, Signet reporting Thursday.

Which brings us to Events. How serious has the African Swine Fever become, even though it’s mainly in China? The World Pork Expo, originally scheduled for June 5th in Des Moines, Iowa, has been canceled out of the utmost caution, for the first time in over 4 decades, due to the international nature of attendees & contestants. While we celebrate the protections taken to preserve the US pork supply chain, it’s a lost opportunity for TSN, HRL, SAFM, BOBE, PPC, ZTS, and others normally involved.

NYU’s 41st Int’l Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, Jun 2nd to 4th, is huge. In addition to every hotel company, and half the REIT Index, I-bankers and analysts from Deutsche Bank. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan & Credit Suisse are speakers, along with the Governor of Puerto Rico, and actor/restauranteur Robert De Niro Jr (Nobu) and his partners, including Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Another feature we believe is new, are concurrent workshops, which easily explains the enlarged list of speakers. And expect it to be widely covered by CNBC, since both Kelly Evans & Andrew Ross Sorkin are moderators of panels. While we’d expect to see Smith Travel, now using STR, only, Apollo’s co-chair of Hotels/Leisure is not typical, and neither is Google Travel, side by side with Expedia (EXPE). Overlapping this event, is Goldman Sachs’ Lodging, Gaming, Restaurant, & Leisure Conference, also in NY, who’ll draw on many of the NYU attendees as well as Sysco, Hertz, Six Flags and other hospitality companies not expected at NYU. On the other hand, PegaWORLD, from PegaSystems, a widely used hotel reservation & restaurant software, is hosting its annual DevCon in Las Vegas, on overlapping days. Probably booked long before it knew many customer CEOs would be attending the NYU & GS shindigs.

SaaStock EastCoast in NY is for SaaS founders, top execs and investors, though details were lacking when we tried to update. HubSpot & Zendesk are the sum total of public participants.

Tuesday is again the day that proves how many I-banks are striving to get in all the face time they can with clients and prospective ones. Almost all of them are hosting meetings @NAREIT’s REITweek, also starting Monday, in NY, with its Investment Symposium, a pre-NAREIT event for analysts. Bk of America Merrill Lynch is the next biggest Conference of the week, though in California, which will put some of the presentations after Wall Street closes. Sandler O’Neill Global Exchange & Brokerage Conference is a well attended annual event. Still, I’m just touching the surface. Almost 90% of Tuesday’s events are I-bank events, which is unusual on the face of it. Licensing Expo, Tuesday, is now bigger than E3 and other one-time highly anticipated events. For Mattel & Hasbro, it’s become raison d’etre, though most of their deals are done back at their NY Showrooms, and Licensing moved from NY to Las Vegas, a couple of years ago.

Of course, we can all wonder whether CNBC will be able to pull its anchors & reporters away from Apple’s WWDC 19 (Worldwide Developer Conference), long enough to acknowledge these other events. Many weeks, it seems, CNBC has a one- or few-track mind, and that’s focused on Apple, Facebook. & Uber, topics that make my eyes glaze over, at this point. WWDC has always been about software, not hardware but the integration of the two has become essential to AAPL’s results, so it would be foolhardy to expect it to focus exclusively on software. In fact, many are expecting updates on Apple TV—something we’ve heard about for over a decade without much coming to fruition.

The Trend appears to have changed. Bulls are cowering in hiding. Bears are flexing their muscles and won’t see anything in the charts to dissuade them from continuing their full court press. Some will say that stocks are getting near attractive levels. Really??? I don’t think so, and won’t until they successfully test the December lows. We’re not near there yet. And there’s no reason to be a hero.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, below, only. Full International Economic Calendar here)     

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence. 

May 27—31, 2019  
UNWISE to EXPECT MUCH of a RECOVERY    Central Bankers are quieter this week than they’ve been in a few, despite the Bank of Canada meeting and announcing a rate decision on Wednesday, likely in the morning. BoJ’s Kuroda spoke Sunday and will, again, overnight Tuesday, Fed Vice Chairman Clarida speaks Thursday, as does NY Fed’s Williams Friday but, otherwise, none of the recent deluge. Of course, with both the Case-Shiller 20-City March Home Price Index Tuesday, and FHFA’s HPI version the same day, and Thursday’s NAR Pending Home Sales for April, attention will be paid to house prices and sales. Then, Thursday, another look at Q1 GDP, followed by Friday’s April Personal Income & Outlays, both of which have a PCE component—the FOMC’s preference for PCE diffusion index over CPI made clear. I’m not particularly fond of either the Conference Board’s Consumer Sentiment reading (Tues.) or U of Michigan’s (Fri.) but consumers too often say what they think the inquirer wants to hear rather than what they really feel. Other times, consumers do what their mood suggests they won’t—like when they shopped ‘til they dropped after 9/11, when everyone thought they’d hole up in their homes and never step out—and that was before consumers shopped until they dropped online, without ever stepping out of their houses. That last makes it harder than ever to match sentiment with activity.

The Earnings Calendar is remarkable, this week, for the number of retailers reporting, and within that group, 3 whose name and/or ticker has changed in the past year, if not the past few months or weeks. For instance, the former DSW Shoe Warehouse operator, is now Designer Brands (DBI), reporting Thursday, who’s name change arose from its purchase of Vince Camuto and other brands, that’s driven it more deeply into the design and manufacture of shoes. The former New York & Company ticker, (NWY), is now (RTW), Wednesday, which stands for Ready to Wear, for those who don’t follow apparel manufacturers, which is the origination. Last, Capri Holdings Ltd, was formerly Michael Kors, with ticker (KORS), reporting the same day, but now (CPRI). KORS made the change after buying Versace & Jimmy Choo. It’s getting to the point where we’ll need either footnotes or a legend to decipher the Earnings Calendar, which to casual observers, is now Greek. And honestly, we can’t say the change in names and/or tickers has, necessarily, improved results for all the reporters. Before Kors morphed into Capri, competitor Coach became Tapestry, to recognize its added brands—Stuart Weitzman & Kate Spade New York. Many of us didn’t love Tapestry, at the time the change was announced but it strikes me as more appealing, now, than Capri Holdings, even though I do have fond memories of the Casino & risotte on the Isle of Capri. Kors said the island "…has been recognized as an iconic, glamorous and luxury destination. The island’s spectacular 3-rock formation, formed over 200 million years ago, is symbolic of the timeless heritage and strong foundation that is at the core of each of the three founder-led brands." That, of course, refers to Kors, Choo & Versace.

In addition to the many retailers reporting, Dell Technologies, Marvell Technologies, Tech Data, and VMware will, also, report (all Thursday), along with SaaS company Workday (Tues.), and China’s electric car maker Nio, also Tuesday. Note, too, a couple of Canadian banks weighing, Bk of Nova Scotia Tuesday, and BMO on Wednesday. The highest hopes lie with CostCo Warehouse Stores, with less high hopes but still optimism for Canada Goose (Wed.) and Burlington Stores and Ulta Salon & Beauty (both Thurs.) Of course, the higher the hopes, the bigger the fall if they disappoint, the quarter GOOS is reporting one in which all its fall/winter shipments are paid but not much new is ordered.

The Events Calendar shows some respect for traders’ tendency to extend long weekends beyond the agreed number of days, often turning them into an entire week out of town. Still, Deutsche Bank’s Global Financial Services, starting Tuesday, along with KeyBanc’s Industrial & Basic Materials Conferences should be noted. Likewise, Bernstein’s Strategic Decisions CEO Conference, in NY, which features a diverse group of companies like Albermarle and Las Vegas Sands, from Walmart, and Medtronic to Williams Co, to General Dynamics & Lockheed Martin, to Estee Lauder & Citigoup’s CEO Michael Corbat, plus Home Depot and Boeing’s Dennis Mullenberg, which I think it’s fair to say, will be one of the highlights. Cowen & Co’s 47th Annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, also in NY, and like Bernstein, starting Wednesday, gets the nod because it’s survived 47 years, which ain’t chopped liver! And talk about an eclectic group of presenters that doesn’t even have location to justify their presentations, the 16th Annual Craig-Hallum Institutional Investor Conference first the bill. It promises First internet Bancorp, Famous Dave’s of America, Upland Software, Misonix, QuinStreet, NeoGenomics, Akoustis Technologies, Everi Holdings, Leaf Group, DiaMedica Therapeutics, Spartan Motors, Skykline Champion, SMTC Corp, ACM Research, nLIGHT Inc, BioScrip, PDF Solutions, Ultra Clean, LivePErson, 8x8, TrueCar, eHealth, Zix Corp, Mark Capital One, Boingo Wireless, Plug Power, Silicon Motion, and about 100 more companies confirmed. Some, like Extreme Networks, will be dual presenters, EXTR at both Craig-Hallum & Dowen.

Unlike prior weeks, when Tuesday was a flood of I-bank conferences, this week, because of the Monday holiday, it’s Wednesday before the I-banks crank it up full steam. Jefferies is hosting Japanese It, Internet & Services companies in NY, while UBS is doing the same for the Best of Europe, in a 1-on-1 format. Note, too, that Book Expo America is in NY, starting Wednesday, which means so is BlogWorld & the New Media Expo. Usually, I obtain a long list of author’s hosting talks and book signings but the BEA website was so overwhelming, this year, I could hardly get it to load, let alone reveal details. Observe, too, that it wasn’t a holiday in France, where the French Open got underway, Sunday (to squeeze out an extra day of ticket sales, instead of starting Monday), and where SocGen is hosting its annual Nice Conference, which starts Tuesday. And so it’s said, ASCO—the American Society of Clinical Oncology—Annual Meeting gets underway, in Chicago, starting Friday, so expect analysts to line up behind their favorite biotech and/or pharmaceutical.

MoffettNathanson is hosting Payments, Processors & IT Services (Wed.) on the heels of Global Payments (GPN) speaking up for Total System Services. (TSS) You might recall I mentioned PayPal, Square, and other processors being bait for larger players—especially ones like Capital One, who like to control every aspect of a transaction. I got the group right but the principals wrong, for now. I still think neither Square nor PayPal remain independent, because owning the network is so lucrative, as the multiples on Visa & MasterCard prove.

Stocks were whacked fairly hard, last week but there’s little reason to expect too much of a rebound this week. He carries a big stick one day, and a carrot the next, as he did first banning Huawei, then giving it some time to transition, and finally saying it can be part of a China trade agreement, proving nothing if not unpredictable. We’ve all heard how markets hate uncertainty, and the chief of chaos sits in the White House now, and tweets out whatever comes to mind, without a thought to consequences. I don’t doubt that a trade deal with China will, ultimately, be reached but what markets will be battered with in the meantime remains unknown but unlikely to be smooth. Should markets bounce, I’d expect those who still held out hope for a continuation of the bull market to lighten up on stocks. It’s a bad time of year to own stocks, made worse by the uncertainty Trump creates.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)                           
© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence. 

May 20—24, 2019  
USE CAUTION IN FRONT of a POSSIBLE 3-DAY WEEKEND TWEET STORM  Central bankers are everywhere, this week. Atlanta Fed’s 24th Financial Markets Conference is presented by its Center for Financial Innovation & Stability and subtitled, "Mapping the Financial Frontier. What does the Next Decade Hold?" Atlanta Fed Pres. Raphael Bostic is a speaker, as one would expect but so is Jerome Powell, on the 20th, at 7pm et. Others speaking range from Simon Johnson of MIT, to speakers from Chicago Booth School, Stanford U, US Census Bureau, Freddie Mac, Moody’s Analytics, BofAML’s Ethan Harris, and Kevin Warsh, currently from the Hoover Institution. @Stanford. NY Chicago Fed Pres. Evans will wrap that conference the next day.

Fed Bank Pres. Williams and Fed Vice Chairman Clarida participate at a "FedListens," rooundtable on monetary policy strategy, tools and communications practices"—the latter a heavily discussed internal debate at the Fed Board. Boston Fed Pres. Rosengren is speaking at a luncheon at the Economic Club of NY, Tuesday, his topic undisclosed, but probably not groundbreaking. St. Louis Fed Pres. Bullard will speak in Hong Kong, 1am et, on Wednesday (or overnight Tuesday, as I prefer), on the US Economic Outlook & Monetary Policy, with Q&A. Hours after he speaks, ECB Chief Draghi will speak at the ECB Collquium: "Monetary Policy in an incomplete Monetary Union," a topic the ECB seems to be getting more serious about. But with 750 members of the EU Parliament to be voted on from the 23rd, through the 26th—including in the UK, because of delayed Brexit—whether pro-Euro members will hold sway remains the burning question. More and more, it seems, nationalism is seeping into the conversation, and pro-Euro countries are a little harder to find. At the same ECB Colloquium (@the ECB, in Frankfurt), which is to honor ECB chief economist, Peter Praet, Praet will speak, too, on "Challenges to the single monetary policy and ways forward."

Wednesday, Fed Presidents Bostic & Kaplan speak at the Joint Atlanta & Dallas Feds’ "Technology-Enabled Disruption: Implications for Business, Labor Markets & Monetary Policy," being held in Dallas, through the 23rd. At 2pm, that day, the FOMC Minutes of the meeting that ended May 1st will be released, though will less mystery surrounding the conversations, given every voting member has endorsed "patience," on rates. Half a day later, the ECB will release both its Financial Stability Review, and the Account of Monetary Policy of the April 9th—10th Meeting. Almost simultaneously, Draghi speaks again, at the 81st Plenary Meeting of the Group of 20, in Madrid Spain. His V.P., de Guindos, is speaking at AFME (Ass’n for Financial Markets in Europe) on Opportunities for European Banking & Capital Markets. Then, Thursday, S.F. Fed Pres. Daly & Richmond Fed Pres. Barkin, join Bostic & Kaplan for a panel at the Atlanta/Dallas Fed Banks Joint Conference on Technology-Enabled Disruption (noon, Dallas). That’s a lot of central bank speakers on the slide into a the long Memorial Day weekend, which officially kicks off summer and the great escape from offices everywhere. Only the bond markets close early Friday, at 2pm et. Equities are scheduled to trade regular hours, until 4pm et, though it should be like watching paint dry, if you’re looking at your quote systems after the treasury market closes.

Outside central bankers, and central bank meeting minutes, what stands out on the Economic Calendar is a light week for Treasury issuance, and Existing Home Sales, Tuesday, and New Home Sales Thursday. Friday morning, the week will wrap with April Durable Goods Orders & Shipments, which includes Capital Goods Orders & Shipments.

The Earnings Calendar is a crush of consumer names—retailers, especially, as is easily gleaned from a quick scan of the emboldened tickers below. While many might assume it was a strong quarter for Home Depot & Lowe’s, it’s quite possible that floods in the middle of the country, and late snow storms seriously delayed the spring planting season. Furthermore, a relative had to buy a new fridge, and it seems to me prices haven’t changed in the 8 years since I bought my French door one (which cut my electric bill by $40 a month, inspiring me to replace all my appliances, over the following 8 months.. None of the successive purchases made as big a difference to my power consumption except the water heater, which in combo with the new dishwasher, cut another $80 a month off my monthly electric bill.) Yes, today, you can buy much more upgraded models that cost more than 3 times as much as my early French door fridge—including models with inner and outer doors, so someone who wants to choose a soda can or water bottle doesn’t have to open a fridge at all—only the outer door. But. From the bottom to about half way up the ladder, prices have been in the same place for 10 years, despite tariffs on some metals for a year. Home Depot & Lowe’s sell appliances too, along with Best buy, also reporting this week, and probably benefited from the closure of so many Sears stores, in the past year but spring planting season didn’t get underway for the home improvement retailers, until the current quarter, and for people like me, painting the house in the next month (depending on rain days), there’ll be no planting until much later in the season. I’d imagine all the floods seen this past spring delayed a lot of exterior painting projects too.

Then, there are the department stores, including JCPenney, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, from whom I don’t’ expect rousing results. In fact, I think JCP needs to prove it can survive. Period. Some hope Kohl’s relationship with Amazon, has boosted its sales. After all, the two just announced expansion of the pick up and drop off Amazon packages relationship to the rest of the KSS stores that weren’t involved in the test. But at least some analysts claim the relationship hasn’t benefited KSS as much as some hope, while others say the same relationship with AMZN’s owned Whole Foods has meant nothing to Whole Foods because people picking up or sending back packages there don’t spend more than 5 minutes in the store. If that’s true at KSS, one can wonder how the relationship is benefiting KSS, unless cash is changing hands. On selected other retailers I do have an opinion.

Urban Outfitters’s reports Earnings on Tuesday, which probably won’t account for the tremendous amount of goods its Anthropologie division is shipping to Nordstrom’s home department. I don’t’ know during which quarter the shipments fell, or were paid for but I couldn’t help but notice what a large percentage Anthro home goods can be seen at JWN—even acknowledging how small a portion of Nordstrom’s overall floor space its home department occupies—space that’s grown since Anthro goods were added to the mix, even though an Anthropologie store, here (Boca Raton FL, at Town Center [SPG] mall), is a mere 100 yards away. Not many seem to notice because the Anthropologie store, here, has been a mistake from the beginning, available to be entered, only, by walking outside the mall, even though there’s a large window in the mall that could have easily included a doorway. Last Tuesday, the high temperature was 104 degrees, already, so imagine how many customers are motivated to walk outside the mall. And even though I don’t know when the shipments & payments took place, they either fell during the quarter being reported, or will inform the outlook, so URBN could have significant upside that analysts aren’t yet talking about.

I’m not equally stoked about JWN’s earnings. The full-price Nordstrom store never seems to have enough merchandise to blow the cover off the ball, unless the Rack division and online sales are going to get the job done. On the other hand, I have more confidence in Nordstrom’s margins than I do, say Macy*s, because there’s no department store in the world that uses more restraint in markdowns than Nordstrom—and that includes European retailers who are only allowed to offer ‘disconti’ when the gov’t says so. On the reverse side of that coin, is the editing skills of JWN’s buyers, for its full-price store. Planning on buying my mom dark chocolate dipped fresh strawberries for Mother’s Day, I was on the way to the ladies room via Nordstrom’s dress dept, and couldn’t resist a little capelet with 5" crocheted sleeve "hems" for $49. As illustration, the same garment at, say Bloomingdale’s, would be marked at $98, then discounted by 40%, if not more. At Nordstrom, it looks like a steal for the legitimate, retail price, so even a cynic like me could forget dipped strawberries in a flash of impulse.

The retailer that may more important than the others, this week, is Target, Wednesday, whose last report pleased in good part because so little was expected. Now that Walmart topped the Street handily, there might be higher expectations building on TGT, which can be dangerous. I never saw evidence, in Q4, to bear out the please report it delivered, and have yet to see anyone park in the "pick-up" section to retrieve goods pre-ordered. Furthermore, the one time I attempted to order and pick-up, I was told 12-packs of soda aren’t available for that service, which may be 75% of what I buy at TGT, when it’s on sale, only. Beyond TGT, keep an eye out for TJMaxx, Tuesday, and both Best Buy & Ross Stores, Thursday, which have done so much to install confidence, in recent quarters, though I can’t imagine what anyone needs to go to Best Buy for, and worry that the mass closures of Office Depot/Office Max stores, with the clearance sales that accompany stores closing, hurt BBY’s sales in any office equipment. On the other hand, like LOW & HD, BBY may have benefited from Sears closures. If not, it will in the future.

Other Earnings Reports are coming from Int’l Game Technology, Monday, Toll Brothers on Tuesday, Analog Devices, Ctrip, NetApp, and Synopsis Wednesday, followed by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, HP Corp, Intuit, Lenovo, and Medtronic, on Thursday. I’m bullish on VF Corp, after a frigid, snowy winter, and worry more that The North Face couldn’t fulfill all the reorders retailers may have submitted. I still believe FootLocker is a destination store both in the mall and online, and don’t think Nike will put it out of business selling directly to consumers. On the contrary, if a service person or their family want sneakers, it’s FL that has long advertised a standing discount for them. Plus, FL can increase purchases with adidas, Reebok, Puma, and other brands, if NKE is stepping on its toes, too much. In fact, I remember a time NKE couldn’t sell me its sneakers for my stores, because I was renting additional storage to stock all the Reebok high tops my customers demanded, in 9 colors.

Which brings us to the Event Calendar, which is a gold mine. Start with the EPG (Electrical Products Group) Annual Spring Meeting which started Sunday, as I wrote. It’s a mass analyst meeting for companies connected to the group, from 3M to W.W. Grainger, with even more companies participating than those listed on the main schedule. Likewise, ICSC RECon is a mass meeting for Retail Real Estate—the very group that rents to all the retailers reporting results, this week. That started Sunday, too. Then Tuesday, the AGA (American Gas Ass’n) Financial Forum starts, a mass analyst meeting for Utilities that use natural gas, and the gas producers that supply them. All 3 of these events have analysts hosting companies and their clients. If it was just those 3 events, this week would be huge but there’s even more, including the National Restaurant Association annual spring meeting. And the AAPG (American Petroleum Geologists) Annual Meeting, also.

And, because I-bank analysts not involved in those events need to get a last face-to-face with clients, before the summer exodus, the number of I-bank Conferences remains large, as it’s been for the past 3 weeks. Notable among them—beyond those set at the aforementioned events, include UBS’ Global Healthcare and UBS’ Global Oil & Gas Conferences, in New York & Austin TX, respectively. Barclays is hosting Emerging Payments in NY, starting Tuesday, where many of the participants aren’t public. Starting the same day, SunTrust is hosting its 20th Annual Financial Services Conference, and RBC Capital its own Global Healthcare Conference, both in New York. Macquarie is hosting TMT Corporate Day, also in NY, the same day, while Wells Faro is hosting an IT Boot Camp, whatever that is. Wednesday, Wells Fargo hosts Financial Services, while B.RileyFBR starts its 284 company Annual Investor Conference, most of the presenters very small—smaller than we usually discuss. Capital Link is hosting its 18th Annual Closed End Funds & ETFs Forum in NY, Wednesday, while Morgan Stanley is hosting ChemTech, that day in London, and Citi’s hosting Chemicals in the same city, the same day. Goldman Sachs knows a Hamptons weekend approaching when it sees one, so is off in Hong Kong for its 5th Annual TechNet AsiaPacific, that day. Barrington Research, perhaps known, of late, more for activism than traditional I-banking is hosting its 13th Spring Investment Conference, starting Thursday. Barrington presenters are even smaller than the previously mentioned small caps.

JPMorgan, which hosted a big TMC meeting in the states, last week, is in London for European Technology, Media ^ Telecoms CEOs. Most of the rest of the I-banks, are decamping for Asia, the rest of the week, with Citi planting itself in Hong Kong, Korea, and China, starting Tuesday.

WSJ’s Future of Everything Festival is notable for the number of speakers named for a single day event, which by my count, provides about 7 minutes for each. They range from Disney Media’s James Pitaro, to Olivia Wilde, Waze, Iconix, Ted Banna (Father of 401[k]), former CVS/AET CEO, Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal, Eileen Fisher, Jennifer Fleiss (RentTheRunway), Match Grp’s Mandy Ginsberg, IEX Grp’s Brad Katsuyama, Ted Leonsis, Steve Ross (Related Cos), and that’s just a taste which, surely, illustrates my point.

For many, a Loyalty Expo brings to mind casinos, Caesar’s the one-time near inventory of Loyalty programs but the one that starts Monday has more hotels, retailers & restaurants—in fact, not a casino among them. Likewise, "Collision Technology" starting on that day has nothing to do with car crashes but, rather, technology, with speakers as diverse as Canadian P.M. Justin Trudeau and Re/code’s Kara Swisher, along with comedian Seth Rogen, Union Square Ventures, Oculus VR, US Dept of Health, GE, Microsoft Exec VP Peggy Johnson, and many more.

Parks Associates Connections offers as many homebuilders as communications companies, as well as alarm companies, KB Home the keynote. If it were up to me, and I had not family obligations locally, I’d be jetting over to Nice for a weekend at the beach, cause it’s a week when all the action will be in Monte Carlo, at the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monte Carlo, currently owned by Liberty Media, and publicly traded (FWONA). The race helps clear out Nice’ beaches, many named after some of the most famous beaches in the US, like Jones Beach & West 1.

I doubt bulls are going to be brave enough to boost stocks significantly, before a 3-day weekend during which no one knows what kind of tweet storm Trump can conjure. As it is, I’m seriously worried that he’s backing the Chinese into a wall from which he leaves them no way to save face, as I’ve said previously. One chart that did catch my eye, this weekend, though, was Hartford Financial (HIG), because it’s breaking from the rest of financials, rising even when the banks are falling, and outperforming competitors. If something’s up with HIG, I’d sure like to know—if you know. Meanwhile, I keep looking at MasterCard, Visa, Discovery Financial Services, PayPal, and Square, and can’t help feeling that a deal is coming within that group, Capital One, perhaps, a buyer. The thing about Capital One, is that it keeps its defaults minuscule, because a large proportion of its cardholders are still at the $500 credit limit they start at. Yes, I know people with $50K credit limits but COF has been tighter with credit limits than any other bank I’ve ever researched. COF, though, remains a distant follower to JPMorgan, Citi, Bank of America, and other competitors, a position it’s not comfortable maintaining. Therefore, I think it’s most likely to make a move, unless PYPL goes for SQ. A deal is more likely than the stocks seem to suggest, perhaps because nothing is imminent. Still, it’s a group I’d watch very carefully, for hints in volume or options of a deal coming down.

Happy , healthy holiday, to all.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar, here)    

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence. 

May 13—17, 2019 
 AVOIDING A SELLING PANIC WILL BE GIFT     How do you know Earnings season is all but over, for most traders? The Events Calendar kicks into a higher gear, as it did last week. And how do you know that, in addition to Earnings season being about over, a long summer break is fast approaching? Other than gasoline/crude prices rising, it’s a schedule like this week’s, where Tuesday is the best demonstration of how insanely packed the I-bank conference schedule has become! And ironically, after last week’s volatility, and last minute saves before the markets closed, especially on Friday, even those content to listen into webcast presentations from the comfort of their own desks, really don’t want to be pulled away from their quote and chart screens, to examine the charts accompanying presentations from even the most august events, like JPMorgan’s 47th Annual TMC Conference.

JPMorgan’s 47th Annual TMC Conference includes these confirmed presenters, and probably more: CDW, CAMP, MDC, CTL, ST, IBM, FFIV, MSFT, WEX, ADTN, QRVO, PROS, (BNFT), VIA.B, IPG, CRTO, LAMR, ALTR, MDSO, SBAC, UNIT, EVER, W, TRUE, I, EVOP, TWLO, AEIS, OUT, WK, EGHT, CREE, AVLR, DLB, AMCX, NEWR, LOGM, Tenable, WWE (Gargano fireside chat), AAXN, GDDY, SWCH, GDDY, BR, DISCK, (CEO David Zaslav keynote), FTNT, CONE, BKNG, TTMI, FIVN, BAND, JBL, KN, CHTR, CCOI, PAYC, MXL, GDOT, SEDG, LRCX, FLT, PS, FTCH, NYT, GLW, MDSO, CY, VZ, WIFI, T. American Tower’s (AMT) IR website would NOT load presentations or press releases. AMD doesn’t show this event on its IR site, as of 05/12, perhaps because it just held an analyst conference, on May 1st, to celebrate 50 years in business. The odd thing about the presenters, is how many of them waited until after the market close on the 10th, to confirm their appearance at JPM, and in one case, not until Sunday, 05/12. Meanwhile, others announced participation so many months ago, their press release hit too many months ago to pop up in a current search. We checked a few companies, individually, like Alphabet (GOOG) but did not find an announcement regarding participation in this, or any other, I-bank conference since Morgan Stanley’s Feb conference. Then, again, many of JPM’s Media presenters will pull double duty at the MoffettNathanson Media Conference,

The (now) Annual Center for Inflation
Conference ---Inflation Drivers & Dynamics--starts at the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank, on the 15th, and runs through 17th. As recently as Wednesday, there was no agenda to be found, and even the e-mail addresses offered on the Cleveland Fed’s Center for Inflation Research website offered non-existent mailboxes. That stinks, and it’s the only Fed Bank Conference at which we’ve encountered that problem researching. Usually, we can pull up the entire agenda and sort by speakers. Cleveland does it differently—ineptly and offensively, as if it doesn’t realize our tax dollars are paying for that bank and its conference.
May 15—17, 2019.

Fed bank speakers will be heard, even if not from the Cleveland Fed. Sunday, San Francisco Fed Pres Daly delivered the Syracuse University commencement address. Monday, it’s a twofer, with Rosengren & Vice Chairman for supervision, Clarida speaking at a New England FedListens event. Much later, in the wee hours of Tuesday, NY Fed Pres. Williams is a panelist on Past-Lessons Learned from an Evolving International Monetary System," at a joint Swiss National Bank and IMF High-Level Conference @Past, Present & Future of the International Monetary System, in Zurich, a quarter after 3am, eastern time. Tuesday, Fed Pres George speaks at the Economic Club of Minnesota. Wednesday, Fed Pres Barkin takes part in a discussion at the New York Association for Business Economics, even as Vice Chair Clarida testifies at the Senate Banking Cmte, at 9:30am et. He’s in charge of bank supervision, so square that with the committee he’s before, and you get the gist. Thursday, Fed Gov Brainard talks about the economic outlook and monetary policy outlook at the National Tax Association 49th Symposium in D.C. Friday, NY Fed Pres Williams is speaking again, at the Community League of the Heights, even as Clarida speaks again, at another FedListens, this time on Education, Employment & Monetary Policy in the 3rd District, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Then Williams speaks, again, at Equitable Growth Meeting in Chinatown, at 2pm. Even Saturday offers up a Fed speaker, Dallas Fed’s Kaplan who’s delivering the keynote at SABEW, a society for Business Editors & Writers, holding their annual meeting.

Of course, as interesting as all that may be, it’s probable data from China will be more influential, if the FedHeads haven’t changed their tunes. Tuesday, especially, Fixed Asset Investment, Industrial Production, Retail Sales & Property Investment will provide clues to how badly US tariffs are hurting China’s economy. Of course, we could say the same for US data, including Aoril Retail Sales, and Industrial Production & Capacity Utilization, along with EIA Crude data. NAHB’s May Housing Market Index is out Wednesday. Though weather has wreaked havoc on some big states, like Texas, lower mortgage rates should have continued to boost buyer traffic at builders’ new communities. April Housing Starts & Building Permits will be backward looking, Thursday, compared to the builders’ own sentiment, Wednesday.

The Earnings Calendar has some potential blow-ups in store. Ralph Lauren Polo reports Tuesday, along with Agilent, Amdocs, Tencent Holdings, and pot company Tilray. Wednesday, reports are expected from Alibaba, The Children’s Place, Cisco Systems, FarFetch, Flowers Industries, Jack in the Box, Macy’s, and NetEase. Thursday promises Applied Materials, Baidu, Nice Syste3ms, nVidia, Pnterest (its first report as a public company), and Walmart. Friday, there’s Deere. Of them all, I fear most the report from Macy*s which had better be ringing the register online since it’s not doing so in stores. In fact, I’ve never seen fewer Macy*s shopping bags in the mall than I have the last 5 times I’ve paid a visit. Walmart is still as filthy as ever, around here, which makes me wonder where the analysts have been that has so impressed them with improvements. And worse, it’s so busy pushing its own "house" versions of brand name products, it barely has any brand name products on its shelves.

Which brings us to the Events Calendar, where Monday and Tuesday are insanely packed with I-bank events. JPMorgan’s TMC will be the headliner starting Tuesday, but MoffettNathanson’s Media & Communications Conference will double down on many of JPM’s presenters. There should be strong interest in JPM’s Homebulding & Building Products Conference, also starting Tuesday, with Wells Fargo’s Tuesday Gaming, Hospitality & Leisure Conference bolstering the comments made at Instinet’s nearly identical conference, which starts Monday. Normally, China Conferences are prevalent during the US Memorial Day week but, this week, Credit Suisse hosts its Annual China Conference in Shenzhen, starting Wednesday, which is when Macquarie opens Greater China, also in Shenzhen, even as HSBC starts its 6th Annual China Conference, also in Shenzhen. Does that strike anyone else a bit odd?

If you want to know what’s really going on this week, you can consult either the Events Calendar, or isolate the Earnings Calendar to the two handfuls of tickers emboldened there. Unless all the Fed speakers are going to sing a new tune, there won’t be much to hear from them, this week. But the handful of earnings reporters we’ve highlighted, and the far too busy Events Calendar hold the key, beyond the trade war—which it’s time to call the tiff with China. And so it’s said, there’s little reason to jump in and buy shares, here, unless you’re convinced the US-China Trade Agreement is going to be hammered out, right away. I don’t think that’s about to happen. Rather, it’s more likely the Chinese will answer Trump’s raised tariffs with punitive measures of their own. Trump, who’s culturally ignorant, doesn’t realize that pushing China against the wall will get him the opposite of what he seeks. And Trump will push because he enjoys bullying people—women especially but men, too.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just factor in more complete due diligence.

May 06—10, 2019  ANOTHER WEEK OF CONSOLIDATION WEEK WOULD BE A GIFT    It’s another week of too many Earnings Reports, albeit of lower impact, peppered with Fed speakers, especially starting Thursday, and rush of I-bank conferences, Tuesday a prime example. I’d like to expound endlessly on the coming week but torrential rains, perhaps, waterlogged my energy, leaving me shy of the task.

Federal Reserve Board Workshop on Monetary & Financial History, which starts on the 6th, has no brand name Fed speakers. Most are university professors, with a couple from the FDIC. The Keynote, at 5pm on the 7th, is William Goetzmann of Yale Univ, his subject "Money Changes Everything." Even those speakers from the Fed Reserve are background people not commonly known, even in the financial industry. Similarly, the ECB’s An innovative Single Market for the Euro mostly lacks high profile speakers, though ECB Executive Board Member Sabine Lautenschlager is a speaker. Otherwise, speakers hail from European banks, SWIFT, the Payment Council, and even IKEA.

Satellite 2019 (D.C. thru 9th) bills itself for Government, Broadcast, Broadband, Innovation & Mobility. Jefferies holding meetings there, just as Raymond James will wet up at Waste Expo.

IndEx Industrial Exchange (Miami Beach thru 8th) subtitled "value Creation Reimagined," and aims to connect industrials execs, Private Equity Investors & Technolgoy. Oddly, both Wells Fargo & Oppenheimer are hosting Industrials at home, JPMorgan in China.

On the 7th, former White House Communications Director, for 8 days, Anthony Scaramucci, hosts another SALT—Skybridge Alts Conference, in Las Vegas. Among the speakers, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Steve Case, Gen John Kelly, HUD Sec’y Dr. Ben Carson, Re/Code’s Kara Swisher, Mark Cuban, Carlyle founder David Rubenstein, Valerie Jarrett (Obama Sec’y), Mark Cuban, Dr. Nouriel Roubini, Sam Zell, Marc Loasry, Dr. Peter Diamandis (X-Prize), Gen. David Patraeus, and too many more to name them all. CNBC is usually a partner, so expect widespread coverage of the event. The Sohn Conference is also this week, Once again, Value Investors the stars, many of which who have redeemed themselves in the past half year.

I think the markets will get lucky to eke out another consolidation week, after Trump's surprise threat to raise tariffs on Chinese goods, again, if a deal is not reached by this Friday, 05/10. So far, we've see no signs that traders are eager to sell, but Trump could be the inducement. And, it’s the downside that few are  prepared to see, and that makes it the trade to keep an eye out for.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.  

April 29—May 03, 2019 
EARNINGS + FOMC MEETING   This is, unquestionably, the busiest week for earnings, of the quarter, in terms of the sheer number of reports scheduled. The importance of the reports may be inverse to the number of reporters, but there remains some significant companies to report, with potential to influence the equity markets.

Ordinarily, the FOMC meeting, mid-week, would be the pivotal event of the week but we doubt that’s the case, this week. Granted, Friday’s 3.2% print for GDP was a big surprise, and belies the flip-flop FOMC Chief Powell took in January. Then, again, few were impressed with the details of the report, and the headline number left me doubting the bean counters can count. March would have been one heck of a month for Q1 GDP to have played out as advertised, especially since the government was closed until January 22nd. For more on personal views from FOMC members, other than Jerome Powell’s, a surprising percentage of FOMC members will be speaking Friday, most at the Stanford University’s Hoover Institution conference on Monetary Policy. In fact, on Friday, Bullard, Daly, Kaplan, & Mester will be panelists, together, on "Monetary Strategies in Practice."

Speaking of that shutdown, on Monday, the government will report Feb final and March preliminary Personal Income & Outlays, a report that has individuals’ savings rates & PCE embedded. Two months aren’t usually reported together but delayed data gathering after the shutdown results in two reports being delivered at the same time. ECI on Tuesday is one to watch, given wages on the low end rising towards $15 per hour, and benefits being lathered on to keep employees in place, at a time when labor markets are tight. Tuesday, also, promises Case-Shiller’s 20-city House Price Data and Realtor’s March Pending Home Sales. There was some fairly horrendous weather across much of the country, in March, yet the data that’s been released, so far, proves that mortgage rates slipping back down was a magic elixir to housing activity.

Mid-week, PMI & ISM data is on tap, hours before the FOMC statement & Powell’s press conference. April Motor Vehicle sales data, Thursday & Friday will be mostly foreign makers, service GM & Ford no longer report monthly. After Ford reported a surprise upside, last week, anticipation may be building towards a set-up for GM disappointing, this week. Not saying it will happen, just pointing out it could. Then Friday, the April Unemployment Report will be released, with most economists expecting the rate of Unemployment to fall to 3.6% from 3.8%.

Of the Earnings reports scheduled, none loom larger than Alphabet’s Google, on Monday, and Apple on Tuesday. Yes, there are others on the schedule but given their influence on the NDX & Compq, those two are the wall the Street must walk through. After them, check out any and all the emboldened tickers we highlighted, because there’s no doubt that AMD, Akamai, Amgen, BP, Charter Communications, Chubb, Cummins, Eaton, GE, GM, HCA, Lab Corp, MasterCard, McDonald’s, Merck Mondelez, Oshkosh, Paccar, Pfizer, Ryder, Seagate Tech, Simon Property, Taubman Centers, Twillo, WellCare Group & Welltower are all significant reports, and that’s just some of the tickers highlighted, for Tuesday, alone. Be my guest and peruse the rest of the Earnings Calendar for many more influential reports.

The Events Calendar is less impressive, as might be expected during a week when so many earnings reports are scheduled for release. Not only that but Japan is celebrating Golden Week, for the week, and will watch one emperor abdicate, as his son is elevated, giving Asian countries plenty to watch besides US Equity markets. Meantime, May Day is celebrated in most Western countries plus Russia, and in a lot of South & Latin American countries, too. Like Mexico, which makes up 98% of Banco Santander’s Cinco de Mayo Conference, on the 2nd, in NY. As for corporate events of note, outside earnings, note Facebook’s developers’ conference, F8, Tuesday, and Berfkshie Hathaways Woodstock for Capitalists, starting Friday. Saturday is the day Buffett & Munger will subject themselves to 6—9 hours of questioning from shareholders, holding court at the Omaha Convention Center.

Which brings us back to markets that remained remarkably compartmentalized, last week. While 3M, most notably, soured the DJIA, it did not stop the S&P & Nasdaq Comp from making new highs. Even with Intel’s blown outlook, Semi’s were surprisingly resilient. That was most telling to me, about last week, and reason to give the nod to the bulls, even if there’s more consolidation, over the next 2 weeks, before markets celebrate making it through another earnings season, with the bull market intact, as they typically do. Still, there’s a reason "sell in May" is so well regarded as the prudent thing to do. Markets perform so much better from November through April, than they do in May through October. Statistically, that’s numerical fact. So whaddya going to do about it?

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full international Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

April 22—26, 2019  
ALL ABOUT EARNINGS   There’s some Housing Data due this week, including March Existing Home Sales from the Nat’l Ass’n of Realtors, Monday, FHFA Feb House Price Index & March New Home Sales, both Tuesday. There’s a good possibility that the Mortgage Applications data oout Wednesday will be impacted by last week’s holidays. Friday, especially, people preparing for Passover or Easter were unlikely to have been out bidding on houses, and likely had much more on their minds than applying to refinance their mortgage. Bear in mind, most of the Western World, ex-the US, will be closed Monday for Easter Monday.

Pres. Trump, fresh off reacting to the full Mueller report with weekend tweet storms will be out Wednesday, with the 1st Lady, addressing the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, and then Thursday, Trump will address the NRA, one group recent Democratic Presidents weren’t wont to do. There’s never been a President so closely followed by the press, which lies in wait for the next faux pas to come out of him, or those close to him, like Giuliani, Sunday, stating there’s nothing wrong with taking stolen information from the Russians, a position from which he immediately backtracked, saying it’s not something he, as a lawyer would recommend or do, or advise his client to do. Ah huh!

Also this week, the Bank of Canada, & Bk of Japan will weigh in with rate decisions, the BoJ possibly adding more QE, to get its economy really moving. Sweden’s Riskbank, also, holds a Monetary Policy Meeting. Even more important, will be Thursday’s March Durable Goods Orders & Shipments, which includes Capital Goods Orders & Shipments, Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX, perhaps, already impacting shipments. Then, Friday, US Q1 GDP will be released, estimates ranging from 1.7% to 2.2%, anything in that range stronger than it was looking in March.

As befits a post-holiday week and one of the heaviest Earnings Calendars of the quarter, I-bank conferences are nearly non-existent. Those that will take place will be mostly in Asia. On Tuesday, the 23rd, VentureBeat hosts its GamesBeat Summit (Los Angeles CA thru 24th), with every game designer & publisher scheduled to speak, along with Wedbush’s Michael Pachter. Notably, both Microsoft and Sony discussed their new consoles, last week. Microsoft’s Xbox One S is set to debut on 05/07, for $249.99, without a slot to accept discs. For $50 more, one can buy it with a slot for discs, though MSFT has announced its future releases will all be streamed for download. Sony’s next console, on the other hand, will accept discs, including legacy discs from PS4, though the console will not debut until 2020. Either way, the used game disc business that for so long provided the bulk of GameStop’s profits is quickly reaching the end of the road. Even gamers have become comfortable having their games stored on hard drives, the Xbox One S to debut with a 1tb drive.

Other than GamesBeat, the biggest event of the coming week is likely the debut of "Avengers" Endgame," from Disney’s Marvel, said to be the final film in the series. Anyone else doubt that resolution is going to last for more than a few years? And the other burning question is whether Sarah Huckabee Sanders shows at next Saturday’s White House Correspondents dinner, which was a disaster last year, both for the WH Correspondents, many of whom did not find the main entertainment funny, and for Sanders, who was roasted, personally, which was widely criticized.

Which brings us back to the week’s main Calendar—Earnings. Monday starts off slowly, which allowed us to highlight some stocks that might not, otherwise, be highlighted. Tuesday, the schedule picks up steam with an array of industries, including rails (CP), beverages (KO), consumer discretionary (HOG & HAS), metals (KALU, & NUE), defense (LMT & UTX), homebuilding (MTH & PHM), utilities (NEE), consumer non-durables (PG), employment (RHI), building supply (SHW), social media (SNAP & TWTR), custody banking (STT), medical devices (SYK), brokerage (AMTD), semiconductors (TXN), materials (VMI), communications (VZ), and water (WAT).

We could go through each day of the week highlighting the selection of industries featured the rest of the week, and it would be more of the same, as our emboldened tickers make clear. But there are a few that require special attention, like Wednesday’s Boeing, Caterpillar, Chipotle Mexican Grill, General Dynamics, Lam Research, Microsoft, Nasdaq Exchange, Norfolk Southern Railroad, Northrop Grumman, PayPal, SAP SE, ServiceNow, Spirit Airlines, Stanley Works, Tesla, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Visa, & Xilinx.

Thursday, we couldn’t help but notice 3M, healthcare companies lkike Abbvie, Alexion, Baxter, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and healthcare infotech Cerner, Amazon.com, Borg Warner, Capital One Financial, Colombia Sportsware, Comcast, D.R.Horton, Discover Financial Services, Ford Motors, Freeport McMoRan, ITW, Illumina, Intel, LogMeIn (mentioned in Barron’s, as a takeover, because it blew last Qtr’s earnings), March & McLennan, Mattel, Mohawk Industries, Newmont Mining, Penske Automotive Group, Raytheon, Reliance Steel, Starbucks, Silicon Valley Banc-shares (which recently closed on Leerink Ptnrs), UBS, United Parcel Services, Valero, Verisign, Visteon, Waste Management, and Yandex.

Friday, Chevron, ExxonMobil & Total would be enough but add in American Airlines, Archer Daniel Midland, Autoliv, AutoNation, Colgate-Palmolive, Deutsche Bank, Helen of Troy (which I always expected Jarden to make a run at before Newell fell on its face biting off more than it could chew), Lear, LyondellBasell, and Zimmer Biomet.

All in, if the markets can survive this week of Earnings, it will hold up to almost anything. That doesn’t preclude a drawdown of any kind, as traders look to juggle their holdings to move with sectors rising and lighten up on those falling. But the market may well pull back a little or continue consolidating as it holds its breath for the next 3 weeks of Earnings season, before deciding whether to get fully invested, again, or not. It sure feels like time for a little caution.

ECONOMIC: (Highlgihts, only, below. Complete International Economic Calendar here)

(c) Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

April 15—19, 2019 
A CRUSH OF EARNINGS IN A SHORT WEEK     There are a few Fed speakers in the first half of the week but it’s really the Earnings Calendar that will dominate the week. First, the Fed speakers, led off by Charles Evans, of the Chicago Fed, who’ll spend around an hour on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Monday. He speaks, again, later in the day, at the New York Association for Business Economic, with more Q&A. Also Monday, Boston Fed Chief Rosengren delivers the 33rd Cornelson Distinguished Lecture @ Davidson College, in Nortth Carolina. For the record, US Federal Tax Returns are due at Midnight, Monday. So, on the one hand you have people writing their final check to the IRS for last year’s taxes but on the other hand, you have people making their last minute deposits into retirement accounts, that qualify for write-off on the 2018 taxes due at midnight, Monday.

Tuesday, Dallas Fed’s Robert Kaplan is participating in a Q&A @Dallas Community forum, in El Paso Texas. Wednesday, St. Louis Fed’s James Bullard delivers the 28th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Lecture @ The Levy Economics Institute (@Bard College) Annual Conference, subtitled: Financial Stability, Economic Policy & Economic Nationalism. The other speaker that caught my eye at the Bard College event is Lakshman Achuthan, co-founder of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, which calls the beginnings & ends of recessions, albeit, all too often, with a lag of many months. Philadelphia Fed Pres. Patrick Harker also speaks Wednesday, on the economic outlook with Q&A, at the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce (Vineland, NJ). And if the aforementioned were not enough, the Fed’s Beige Book is due out Wednesday, also, at 2pm. Thursday, "A Conversation with Fed. Pres. Bostic," (Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank) is the star at an Economic Roundtable & Tour of the Atlanta Fed brand in Jacksonville, Florida. A full slate, for a 4-day week, with markets closed on Good Friday, the 19th, which is also when the 8-day Jewish Holiday of Passover begins, at sundown. And it’s a full slate of doves, even before the Chairman flipped his switch to ultra dove.

Not for nothing, some of the other notable Economic data includes US-Japan talks in D.C., starting Monday, which I hope does NOT mean another opportunity for Trump to offend an ally. Also out this week, March Industrial Production/Capacity Utilization, NAHB’s April Housing Market Index, both Tuesday. Wed., the March International Trade Deficit, Feb Wholesale Trade (we believe it’s Feb.). Thursday, March Retail Sales and the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, plus Feb (we believe) Business Inventories.

As for Events, continuing Sunday, is AREAA Global & Luxury Summit, which stands for the Asian American Real Estate Ass’n of America, meeting in Beverly Hills, CA, natch. SIRS, on Schizophrenia, is just one of the pscyhopharmcology drugs advertised on TV nearly as often as insulin. Quarks & Cosmos, with Physicists (APS), is a bit above our head, though both ECCMID for Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases and EASL, the International :Liver Disease Conference both seem timely, with Hepatitis A cropping up in Florida, and expanding exponentially, now that people know which symptoms should drive them straight to the doctor. Both, however, are across the pond, in Amsterdam & Vienna, respectively.

Both the Car Rental Show in Las Vegas & World Vaccine Congress in D.C. started Sunday, as I write. For a reported one billion people, globally, though, Sunday is all about the 8th & final season of HBO’s "Game of Thrones," launches. Monday, Tax Day, the Commercial Card & Payment Industry meets in Miami, while ASA, Aging in America Conference, starts in New Orleans. IMN’s Residential Mortgage Serving Rights will meet in NY, GE, belatedly, just settling its mortgage wrong doing last Friday, for over $1B. Meanwhile, the New York International Auto Show meets in New York, extending into Easter weekend, with J.D. Power hosting a forum at the show. IHS Markit hosts its Automotive Industry Briefing at the show, Thursday. A couple of I-Banks will also host clients in affiliation with the NY Auto Show, at one time, a New Year’s weekend show.

Somewhat ironically, GMP Securities hosts a Cannabis Conference in Toronto, Tuesday, while Jefferies does the same, in NY, on Wednesday, when 2018 Federal Taxes are due in Massachusetts & Maine. Honestly, I thought 2018 taxes weren’t due until Tuesday, because D.C. will celebrate Founder’s Day on Monday but a recent re-check of the IRS 2018 tax site proved me wrong about that. While Founder’s Day (Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts) did postpone the due date for taxes a couple of times in the past, this year, it appears, that’s only being observed, tax-wise, in Maine & Massachusetts, the latter hosting its annual Marathon that day.

Which brings us to the star of our week: Earnings. With Citi & Goldman Sachs Monday, Bank of America, and Black Rock Tuesday, there are still some very high profile financials to report, including Bank of NY Mellon, Morgan Stanley, and US Bank, along with property insurers RLI and Torchmark, on Wednesday. But, then, we’ll also hear from CSX, IBM, JNJ, Netflix, Omnicom, United Airlines, United Health, and many more. Please consult the daily listings, below, to understand how many sectors reports will arrive from, in the, basically, 4 days reports are jammed into. And even after we highlighted a few financial names on Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday, there’s more on Thursday, including Ally Financial, American Express, Blackstone, BB&T, KeyBanc, Regions Financial, Synchrony Financial, and another insurer, Travelers.

In sum, if you thought last week wrapped up the financials, think again. They’ll be heavily represented, this week, along with a broad brush of other sectors, that will tell the markets most of what it needs to know about the rest of the earnings season. Generally, gains posted during the first week of the reporting season are given back this week and next but with expectations as low as they are, perhaps there’s room for pleasant surprises, this week, before the Street becomes more demanding in the weeks ahead. We’ve seen periods when analysts fell on each other tweaking numbers up after the first two weeks of beats. That sets up an inevitable disappointment by week three. One thing markets have going for them, into this week’s much broader reporting calendar is the fact that good news celebrated was, largely, isolated, without broad impact on other sectors. So while JPMorgan and other banks kicked up their heels, last week (Looking at you, BAC!), for the most part, the rest of the market carried on as if nothing was going on—except for Disney. But there, again, what was great news for Disney was either taken as bad news for competitors (NFLX, looking at you), or merely ignored by the rest of the market That means there’s still a little room for more good news to be baked into stocks, and equal room for some of last week’s celebrants to ease up a smidge. Nothing is a given in this market, but it’s a pretty good bet that most stocks won’t celebrate as huge as JPM & Disney did, last week, If anything, there’s room for BAC, GS, & MS, to look disappointing by comparison. That would be a shame, with bulls appearing to rule all around. At least financials had badly lagged the market, JPMorgan in particular. It’s hard to say that about the competitors that got swooped up in Jamie Dimon’s enthusiasm. As always: Be careful out there!

ECONOMIC:  (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)  

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor on more complete due diligence.

April 08—12, 2019 
STOCK PRICES AHEAD of THEMSELVES AS EARNINGS SEASON OPENS    For some the highlights of the week will be the World Bank Group & IMF Spring Meetings, held separately early in the week, before their Joint Spring Meetings start on the 12th, and run through the 14th. Their separate meetings start on the 8th and run through the 11th, then hold their Joint Spring Meeting 12th—14th. But ignore their claims to separate meetings—there’s no avoiding the overlap, or the number of concurrently scheduled meetings by I-banks and, often, organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations. The Clinton Initiative used to meet concurrently but Bill was forced to wrap it up after Hillary declared her candidacy for president, back in 2015.

For others, the focus of the week will be the ECB Meeting, that concludes on the 10th, with Mario Draghi’s post-meeting Press Conference, before markets open on Wednesday. The only question is whether Draghi & Company will do more to stimulate EU economies or just jawbones stimulation. Sometime between Wednesday and the 12th, we won’t hear from FOMC Chief Powell on the economy but he will be speaking, behind closed doors, @ House of Representatives Democratic Caucus Retreat. Because it’s not an official speech, or open to the public, Powell’s speech isn’t even on the Fed Reserve Board Calendar. The Retreat in Leesburg Va, ends on 04/12. Other high profile speakers include John Legend, his wife, Chrissy Teigen, Re/code's Kara Swisher, Union Chiefs (from SEIU, ASFSME, CWA), Fernando Garcia of Border Network for Human Rights, the subtitle of the Retreat: "100 Days In: Fighting for the People." Now throw in the FOMC Minutes from the March 19—20 Meeting, at which the Fed flipped its position, switching to a very cautious stance and more than patience before rates change. Powell’s speech at the meeting is not unusual; Ben Bernanke did the same during his term as chief.

For an equity investor—especially one invested in financials, the focus of the week will be on Friday’s Earnings, when JPMorgan, PNC Financial, and Wells Fargo report their Q1 results. Wells, of course, will be pressured by the not, yet, finished clean up of the consumer fraud scandals that, finally, resulted in Tim Sloan being tossed out of the top spot. I know many fell he was unfairly blamed but there’s no avoiding the fact that he was a top executive during all the scandalous years, and therefore, bore some responsibility. In fact, now that Sloan is gone maybe CNBC can hire him as an advisor, too, as they did to his predecessor, continuing their unbroken record of aligning with scoundrels who should have been shamed out of finance, rather than turned to as wise guardians of advice. Ironically, the top 7 finance companies by assets are expected to send executives to the US Congress, on Wednesday, to testify before the House Financial Services Committee. Tim Sloan was expected back (he testified about Wells Fargo’s issues on 03/12), but he’s no longer available to speak for WFC. Perhaps the bank’s counsel, serving as Interim President will show up in his place. Surely, the head lawyer will know as much about the scandals as anyone still working at the bank.

But the gigantic banks testifying, March CPI, the ECB, and the World Bank introducing its Interim President, Kristiana Georgieva making her debut Wednesday, is a lot to look forward to, for a single day. Throw in the EIA weekly Petroleum Stats, and the Fed’s V. Chair Quarle’s speech at a Roundtable on reforming Interest Rate Benchmarks (rather than LIBOR), the FOMC Minutes, and Medicare Advantage Rate Sheets for Federal FY2020 being released, possibly the same day, and one would be forgiven for overlooking Thursday’s March PPI, Chain Store Sales from the 9 chains that still report monthly—inlcuing CostCo, speeches from Fed V. Chair Clarida, NY Fed Pres/CEO’s Williams, Fed’s Bullard & Fed Governor Bowman all expected Thursday. Then Thursday night, China should release its March Trade Data, including Imports & Exports, important information if one wants to know how badly flagging global economic growth is hurting the world’s factory, and whether it’s government’s efforts to stimulate are working, or not.

As far as Events go, we’re marching towards the Easter/Passover break, Good Friday a market holiday, on the 19th. That’s going to rearrange a number of scheduled earnings releases, since it’s been years since Easter & Passover were together, and so late in April. In fact, Passover started on March 26th & 27th, a number of years, and it’s the first time in years that a friend of mine born April 4th can actually eat birthday cake on his birthday. If you’ve tasted Passover cakes you understand why that’s such a big deal.

It’s a big week for events to benefit those serving consumers, including the continuing NAB Show, for broadcasters, CLIA Cruise360, for cruise liners, and High Point, the Home Furniture Show held twice a year in High Point because that’s where almost all American furniture used to be made, before much of it moved offshore to China. Today, though, the furniture showrooms to the trade remain in High Point, the semi-annual ritual of buyers arriving to write orders continuing. The 9th Annual American Banker Retail Banking Conference meets starting Tuesday. While Colorado Springs is a bit off the beaten track, it’s the one A B Conference that usual makes waves—sending ripples far beyond its doors. SAE High Efficiency IC Engine +Connect2Car describes 2 different conferences @ WCX Symposium --World Congress (Consumer) Experience, Tuesday. Keynotes include Fox & Friends’ Charles Payne, Samsung, Delphi, Harman, Ford, Toyota Motors, IBM, Cox Automotive, Bosch, Mobileye, and much more. The presence of Payne as a keynote suggests he’s going to make the case for investing in autonomous cars—as if such a case still needed to be made. I can see how freeing a self-driving car might be to someone like my 92 year old mother but I can’t imagine giving up the joy of driving, anytime soon. But should I ever get even close to my Mom’s age, I’d probably prefer the independence of a self-driving car rather than waiting for a taxi or Uber, assuming they even exist by then. I’ll skip CS Week the Customer Service Week because most would be hard pressed to find a consumer who was satisfied by the "Customer Service" they received calling one of those 800 numbers, Verizon excepted. I have never had anything but positive experiences with Verizon’s customer service dept, live or by phone. Perhaps that’s because I’ve always gotten what I’ve wanted, promptly, without having to repeat my "story" to 5 people before I’m promised someone will get back to me—which never happens. That, alone, is worth the few dollars extra I pay Verizon every month.

Topping the list of other notable events, must be EEI, the Edison Electric Institute National Key Acocunts Workshop, in Seattle, which started Sunday. Tiburon Advisors’ CEO Summit, in NY, starting the 9th includes a host of both CEOs & CIOs of Asset Managers & Managed Assets funds. Seatrade Cruise Global is about the suppliers to the cruiselines, from fresh food to fuel, to furniture, and more. The National Space Symposium is the first with Trump’s new "Space Force" officers speaking. It’s quite a milestone for something that didn’t exist one year ago. You’d be surprised how many commanders already exist, most drawn from the Air Force, rather than the former astronaut force, though half a dozen of them will be speaking, too.

Keystone Symposia’s Antibodies as Drugs starting Sunday, and HealthTechs PEGS & Drug Discovery, both starting Monday, in Boston and Sand Diego, respectively, suggests there’s be a large amount of drug news, especially since each of those conferences includes at least 4 sub-conferences, PEGS more like 8. And, then, there’s BioCentury’s 26th Future Leaders in the Biotech Industry, on Friday. It should come as no surprise that Needham & Co picked this week for its 18th Annual Healthcare Conference, starting Tuesday. It’s a group that’s lagged a bit this year, so perhaps there’ll be some perking up, this week. Time was May & November were drug discovery conference months but, it seems, that’s every month of the year, now, even as the head of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb quietly left office Friday.

JPMorgan hosts a Retail Roundup, Thursday, that remains a bit of a mystery, since retailers who have confirmed involvement are nearly non-existent. But this year, it maybe nothing more than a walk through the 6—7 new floors of retail shops at Hudson Yards, where some retailers are posting the kinds of record sales numbers they never dared dream were possible. (I’m not at liberty to divulge who in this forum.) OMFIF is the Official Monetary & Financial Institutions Forum. There’s a Roundtable on the 12th, in D.C., on "The Costs & Implications of Adopting Central Bank Digital Currencies." On the 15th, in NY, there’s a seminar called simply, Central Bank Digital Currencies, also in NY. Just whose Central Bank are they referring to? To the best of my knowledge, it’s not a done deal, yet, at any Central Bank. And given the creeping disappoint-ment of Blockchain, to some in the banking industry, the topic seems a bit like the cart before the horse. I feel certain buyers will appear in advance of Walt Disney’s Investor Meeting, Thursday. Analysts are so sure it will succeed in streaming, ESPN where it’s starting, at least 6 months before it gets to Disney Entertainment. Well, Disney has certainly proven it can charge almost anything and get away with it. Last year, it raised entry prices at its Florida park 3x, once calling it surge pricing. Ask those people who paid top dollar and managed to get into only 3 rides in 10 hours, whether the price of admission was worth it.

It’s quite stunning, to me, that the market still responds to Trump’s every tweet on Chinese trade negotiations. Anyone who follows him knows he’s forever boasted about everything he touches being the "greatest," and that’s what he’ll call the Chinese trade deal—no matter what it looks like in the end. Honestly, I often agree with what he’s trying to do, just cringe at the way he goes about it. He’s offended every ally the US has ever had, except Israel. The Street is expecting lackluster earnings yet stocks are acting like companies are going to crush estimates. The bond market is signaling trouble, the stock market nirvana. Sooner or later the two will converge. That probably means stocks have to cool, and bonds have to heat up a bit. What it doesn’t justify is the relentless upside gains stocks have been managing. Not to be a party pooper but, lacking whatever it is Wall Street is smoking, time for caution as Earnings Season gets underway seems the prudent choice.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Calendar, here

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor on more complete due diligence.

April 01—05, 2019 
NEXT UP EARNINGS WARNINGS   Fed speakers are out in force, this week, none more tellingly than Fed’s Kaplan, Tuesday, who’ll discuss the Economic Outlook & Monetary Policy in light of the sharp downgrade of FOMC forecasts for rates this year and next. Yeah, that oughtta be interesting, donchya think? He’s speaking, of call places, in Toronto.

I say of all places because the ABA—American Bankers Association—meets this week. The event is called a Legislative update, and among the speakers, Representative Maxine Waters, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Kevin Hassett who’s either Trump’s Chief of Staff or Chairman of the White Economic Advisors, as well as Senator Mike Crapo, chair of the Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Cmte, also Tuesday. Fed’s Barkin Bostic & George will be panelisfs at the ABA Summit but, still, my vote goes to Kaplan on the FOMC forecast downshift. For posturing, you can always watch the PBM’’s testifying on high prescription prices, at Congress Wednesday.

Of course, the week’s highlight is supposed to be the March Unemployment Report, out Friday, after February’s meager 20K adds—if that isn’t revised away, Friday. Also Friday, the biggest banks have to submit their CCAR, or Capital Plans to the Federal Reserve by Friday. Also Friday, Consumer Credit—which is really debt—a number that either suggests how confident consumers are, or how extended their finances are—depending on which economists is viewing the data. Credit tends to spike in September, as payments for school-related expenses are booked, and again in December, around the holidays and vacations. Many consumers plan to pay off their credit card debt with tax refunds but, with refunds running smaller than in years past, under the December 2017 Jobs & Tax Law changes, many are seeing smaller refunds, even as the IRS took a while to gear up, after the Government partial shutdown that ended in January.

The Earnings Calendar is shrinking fast. There are just a few notable reports expected including Lamb Weston & Walgreens, Tuesday, Signet & Canada’s Hudson’s Bay, Wednesday, and Thursday, Constellation Brands, International Speedway, and Schnitzer Steel—one of the companies Trump intended to benefit with steel tariffs.

Hudson’s Bay, owner of Saks 5th Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Gilt (being divested), among other US retail divisions announced on 02/21, it would close its Home Outfitters business in Canada and, after performing a fleet review of its Saks OFF 5th Ave’s 133 stores, close up to 20 locations in the US. Well, that’s exactly what it did with its Boca Raton FL OFF 5th store, which wasn’t even open for 5 years. The store was open March 28th, and suddenly closed on Saturday, the 30th. Regarding Home Outfitters, Hudson’s Bay said the "vast majority of markets" are served by nearby Hudson’s Bay stores. HBC, traded in Toronto, reports earnings, Wednesday.

As for Events, the AACR got a lot less attention prior to the meeting than usual. In addition to the ABA Summit already mentioned, CBA Live is for Community Bankers. The Chemical Society meets just as Dow-DuPont is about to separate the Dow portion. It will begin trading as ticker DOW, starting Tuesday, after Monday’s spin-off. Hamburg Germany hosts Aircraft Week which includes Interiors and Passenger Future Expectations, along with World Travel & Catering. Stateside, CLIA Cruise360 meets, starting the 2nd, with pre-conferences for two days prior. Cowen and Co’s 5th Future of the Consumer includes some big names, including Ulta Beauty, Nordstrom & Walmart. Citi is hosting a 1x1 Forum in conjunction with the CapitalLink Int’l Shipping Forum, a one-day forum yet, on the 4th Deutsche Bank is, also, hosting a Shipping summit, perhaps taking advantage of all the shipping execs from Greece scheduled to speak at Capital Link and/or Citi, Monday.

I’m not used to seeing AASA—the Automotive After Market Suppliers meet at a time when SEMA is not meeting but that’s the case, starting Tuesday. Also Tuesday, Jefferies hosts a Healthcare REIT Summit, in NY. It’s a group small enough to be impacted by comments made at the summit. Obesity is meeting Wednesday, along with Spine Week & Pain Society—many can draw a straight line from Obesity to the latter two but, honestly, I weigh in at less than 90 pounds, and my Pain Management doctor is the one I see most often, my Spine surgeon, only when my lumbar is so bad I have to have epidurals. I.e. Pain is not just an obesity issue. Of not to some will be BMO Capital’s Cannabis Conference, in Toronto, a subject many US I-banks won’t touch, because it remains illegal on the Federal level. That’s why Congress is trying to pass a bill that will open up banking to cannabis businesses in states where it’s legal. The NAB Show, for broadcasters is scheduled to open next Saturday.

I am without charts, due to the failure to deliver by a long-standing data supplier. Seems every quarter, either at the start or in the last week before the quarter ends, the data supplier fails to deliver any data—alleging ‘network problems’ each time. Disgusted, I’ll be in the process of switching this week, so will deliver an Outlook next weekend, only if I’m not too wrapped up in tweaking the new charts. For now, my sense watching tick trade closely is, at the least, stocks are consolidating. It’s hard to imagine them resuming upside until banks report in a couple of weeks, unless all the end of quarter news is good news. The odds of that happening are slim to none.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

March 25—29. 2019  MORE DOWNSIDE LIKELY, EVEN IF THEY BOUNCE FIRST    Talk about an about face, and there are few who make such a big turn around as Powell et al just did, last week. His attempt to fortify the opinion that the economy is "in a good place" fell flat on its face. Stocks spent the better part of the week pricing in a recession—at least for the financial sector. A group that was finally ticking towards the September highs gave it all back by Friday, and then some. An over reaction? Only if the markets’ fears of a recession prove unwarranted. And if they do, it may mean the FOMC stopped hiking rates just in time. Market pundits, though, seem to think the FOMC needs to take back the Dec. 2018 rate hike, for that to happen.

How are global central banks feeling? We’ll find out this week. Central bankers from around the globe are speaking publicly, and those that aren’t, are hosting monetary policy meetings, as the schedule below makes clear. Heck! Even a Fed Governor rarely heard from—Bowman—is speaking Thursday, along with 2 Fed Board Vice Chairs and 3 other Fed Presidents. As for how portfolio managers are feeling, that will likely be disclosed this week, as well. The Quinnipiac G.A.M.E. stands for Global Asset Management Education, so no surprise, PM’s are all headliners. Quinnipiac, many will recall, is better known for opinion polls during election years. About the only thing unclear is whether the UK can get its act together and pass an orderly Brexit agreement or be forced into a so-called "hard," or "cliff" Brexit. The whole Hard or Cliff Brexit threat reminds of Y2K and Ed Yardeni, especially, who warned that planes would fall from the sky and power plants would shut down if year 2000 upgrades weren’t programmed into every computer in the world. Well, of course, none of that happened, and no one can convince me it’s because every single computer in the world had been reprogrammed in time. I don’t believe that ever happened, nor did I believe Yardeni’s worst fears, either.

Don’t look know but Uh Oh! Both the month and quarter end this Friday, which should make for volume and volatility. And should markets unravel the quarter’s gains by Friday, that would be the 2nd quarter in a row that markets finished to the downside. Given how few retail investors have come to trust the markets, a 2nd down quarter would be a death knell for markets—no matter how many new ways ETF’s slice and dice investing.

What we do get this week, is some housing data including Fed Housing Starts/Building Permits, Tuesday, along with Core Logic S&P/Case Shiller’s Jan 20-city Home Price Index & FHFA’s version for Jan, too. That all 3 data points are scheduled for release on Tuesday is just coincidence, as is another fairly, comparatively rare speaker, San Francisco Fed Bank Pres Daly. If Wed.’s MBA weekly Mortgage & Refinance Application numbers haven’t picked up significantly, they will; Mortgage Rates are the lowest they’ve been in a year, or more. Cone Thursday, the Nat’l Ass’n of Realtors will release Pending Home Sales for Feb. plus the release of Commerce Dept numbers for Feb New Home Sales. And if that weren’t enough about home sales, for one week, KB Homes reports Tuesday, and Lennar on Wednesday, which is as up to date as data can get.

Otherwise, the Earnings Calendar is most notable for being slight. RedHat (Mon.), Synnex (Wed.), and Accenture (Thurs.) will provide the most contemporaneous information we can get about enterprise spending but RedHat isn’t likely to say much, given it’s being acquired by IBM, while ACN has few contemporaries, while SNX’s best comp is Dell or Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, without their software divisions, since SNX is mainly hardware. All in, McCormick is seen as providing the pulse of restaurants, though every home cook knows the brand well. Oxford Industries & PVH are both apparel manufacturers, OXM’s Tommy Bahama, these days, as promotional as any store in the mall, which it never used to be. Lululemon is a special case—like Ulta Beauty, it’s a name the Street has been waiting to see fail. They’ve forgotten, already, the see-through yoga pants that almost destroyed its name and credibility, which wasn’t so long ago. The fact that it bounced back so strongly is testament to the strength of the trend—a trend that has, by the way, opened doors to imitators like Gap’s Athleta & Kate Hudson’s Fabletics. If they ring a bell at the top of a trend, some would say Levi’s public debut, last Thursday, was probably that bell but don’t bet on it. Unlike their parents and other generations before them, millennials either got fat as kids, or aren’t about to now. They’re the generation that made yogawear as streetwear popular, and drag boomers and other older generations into the trend. If it’s already peaked, then I wouldn’t see so many overweight women in yoga pants & crops. Those calling the end of athleisure are premature, though clearly, LULU didn’t maintain the same momentum in the just completed quarter that it did earlier in the year. People are simply less inclined to buy skin-tight stretch pants when the 3rd polar votex busts through town. Weather in most of the country has been more conducive to Uggs than LULU’s, except here in the deep south, where February was the warmest on record—temps in the high 80’s not at all unusual, this year.

Which brings us to the Event’s Calendar, where Aircraft Electronics jumps out, given the issues Boeing has been having with 737 MAX electronics systems. It starts Monday, in Palm Springs California. Ironically, SAE’s AeroTech Americas starts Tuesday, but in Charleston SC. The 2nd big theme that pops off the schedule is Energy, with Scotiabank’s Howard Weil hosting its 46th Annual Energy Conference starting Sunday. Unrelated to Weil, though it shouldn’t be, is the Int’l Petrochemical Conference, starting the same day but in San Antonio (TX). Overlap? You bet! So why don’t they meet concurrently? The latter is famous for its National Oil Company chiefs who attend.

APhA is the pharmaceutical discovery & development industry—the work that goes on in labs, already underway Sunday, though Tuesday. The lab work I’m rooting hardest for is on Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s Diseases, For size & Fun, you can’t beat the Nightclub & Bar/Beverage Retailer Conference & Expo, in Las Vegas, starting Monday. It once included a restaurant portion but that’s not the case anymore—restaurants meet separately. The Border Security Expo is just that—an Expo. There doesn’t appear to be any conference attached to it, so it wouldn’t appear to be an opportunity for Pres. Trump to show up and bash Democrats over his wall. Another time. There is a Conference at the Precision Strike Annual Review, (both Tuesday) but military personnel are the only ones named as speakers.

Wednesday, CIBC hosts its 22nd Retail Consumer Conference, in Toronto, while Credit Suisse hosts Consumer/Retail Conference in London, where Retail Week Live Conference will also take place. That will be complemented by Fairchild Media/WWD’s Men’s Wear Summit, Thursday, which may be another excuse for Goldman Sach’s changed dress policy to be mentioned. Friday, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will induct new members, at the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, though the ceremony won’t be broadcast until April 27th. Ya know, they need enough time to edit out the expletives. Friday is also opening day for the MLB’s season. In reality, last year’s World Series combatants played in Tokyo, last week on the 20th & 21st, which the MLB claims was the real opening to the season but the opening on US soil will be Friday, when 15 cities host 30 teams. That’s in the heat of March Madness (NCAA Championship play offs) even as the Miami
Open Tennis Championship will be winding up with the last 4 of each sex playing for a spot in the weekend finals.

All of which makes for a busy schedule, and no reason, what so ever, for the downside momentum to reverse itself, especially if earnings warnings start spewing forth. It’s not impossible to imagine the weight of so many central bank speakers all leaning towards the US being an island of good health having a positive impact on influence on shares to at least limit the downside. But a switch to the upside? Stranger things have happened but I wouldn’t count on it.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, here. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.  

March 18—22, 2019  FOMC MAY NOT BE A Non-EVENT     The Street presumes the FOMC meeting, ending at 2pm, Wednesday, will be a non-event but that’s not guaranteed. True, rates aren’t going to be raised, at this meeting but there’s plenty still to come. For one, what members’ forecast for rates on the SEP, otherwise referred to as dotplots. Second, members & Chairman Powell have mentioned discussions about winding down the balance sheet unwind. Even former hawks like Mester & George were both quoted as saying a decision about ending the unwind could be decided as soon as this meeting—not that they’ll halt unwinding, necessarily but, rather, that they could announce a target balance, and end sales of their securities when that balance is reached. The Street largely assumes the forecast will be for one rate hike this year, at best, and some foresee a rate cut by the end of the year but what if that widely assumed consensus is not what the SEP reveal? What if most of the conversation is about expectations for the economy to pick second quarter, just as it has over the last several years, even when the first quarter was a disaster? Surely, there have been sufficient polar votex to expect better, more consistent activity once spring arrives—which it officially does, Wed, by the calendar, even if the weather up north isn’t spring-like regularly, for the rest of the month. (They can have some of Florida’s winter weather—it’s been in the mid-to high 80’s more days than it’s been in the 70’s, since January ended.)

We’re almost into April and data coming from the government has only just crept into Jan. That makes much of it too old for me to care about. You? Whatever rolls your sox up and down. In addition to the FOMC decision, there’s be Monetary Policy Decisions from Norges (Norway) Bank, SNB (Swiss), and the BoE which we all can safely assume won’t be raising rates until after Brexit, at the earliest, and that’s just been postponed—assuming the EU agrees to the postponement the UK House of Commons just voted for. And there’s little reason to expect anything else—even though postponement entails an EU election that the UK will have to participate in, if it postpones. I expect added interest in the NAHB March Housing Market Index, since home sales have been a particular weak spot in the economy, lately but with rates as low as they’ve been in a year, pent up demand should start adding to activity, as the spring selling season gets underway, in earnest, if it ever will. Realtors (NAR) Feb Existing Home Sales are of less interest, Friday. Not only did February see some of the most severe weather in history but it’s the shortest month of the year. Other than closings that might have been postponed from January, because of the partial government shutdown which deferred FHA approval for mortgages, for most of January. Also Friday, so it’s said, Atlanta Fed’s Bostic is supposed to be speaking at a Fed Reserve Bank of San Francisco Macroeconomic & Monetary Policy Conference, according to Reuters’ Diary but I show that even in May, and couldn’t confirm Bostic’s speech or any event at the FRBSF, this week. So it’s said.

Hudson Yards, a new complex in NY, on the extreme West Side of Manhattan, now boasts offices, residential units, and 1m sq ft of retail space that opened on Friday, March 15th. The retail tenants runs the gamut from Uniqlo, H&M, Zara, Madewell, Sephora, Lululemon, Tumi, and Athleta to luxury shops Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Tiffany. The property is anchored by Dallas-based department store chain Neiman Marcus, it’s first Manhattan location, ever, at a time when it’s more in the news for fights with bond holders. ‘The Yards,’ as my niece who helped set up a new Madewell (URBN) for Friday’s opening, even has an area devoted to brands like men’s athleisure company Rhone, tech hub b8ta, shoemaker M.Gemi and men’s underwear retailer Mack Weldon, that were all born on the internet. The plaza at the property spills out onto the High Line, an elevated walkway on the West Side of Manhattan and a popular tourist attraction that runs all the way downtown through Chelsea, with more food places on that walkway. Equinox will be opening its first hotel ever, at Hudson Yards, this summer, that will include the biggest Equinox gym in the world. If you aren’t a New Yorker and need an excuse to visit the city, this is sure to be a destination, until the first retailers start closing—as they, inevitably, will.

Speaking of retailers, if you don’t know the ticker RTW, on the 21st, that’s Retailwinds, formerly New York & Company, ticker NWY. Eva Mendes & Gabrielle Union are spokespersons, joining long-standing face of the company, Kate Hudson. So many women’s apparel retailers have petite "shops," barely anyone pays attention but NY & Co goes a step farther with a "Tall Shop." I don’t know of another women’s apparel retailer that offers "tall" choices. Even if men’s specialty shops it’s rare, one of this week’s reporting companies, DXLG, that standard bearer.

While we’re discussing retail, I was in Macy*s earlier Sunday, 03/17, and expected big crowds because it’s Friends & Family sale included 15% off cosmetics & fragrances. There were no crowds, despite weather that was conducive to indoor activities—high 80’s with humidity at 91%--very oppressive air. There was only a single counter crowded, with more women waiting than the sales staff could accommodate—Estee Lauder (EL). I had no problem parking on lower level (thank goodness for covered parking on days like this, that are very sunny in addition to heat & humidity), 4 spaces from the East entrance to Macy*s. That says more than I could about the lack of crowds lining up for F&F—even when cosmetics are included—which is very rare. I’d actually bought my Shiseido needs last weekend—pre-sale, as all the stores refer to it, and then they couldn’t find my paid purchase—even with my ticket. Meanwhile, this whole Last Act bargain basement within the store makes Macy*s look like John’s Bargain Basement—which most of my readers are probably too young to remember. It is so low end I have no reason to walk in there ever again, except to secure 15% off expensive cosmetics, rarely on sale.

While Retailers dominate the Earnings Calendar, in volume, there are more important reporters expected, this week, including FedEx on Tuesday, General Mills & Micron Technology, on Wednesday, ConAgra, Darden, and Worthingon Industries on Thursday, and of all the retailers, Nike and Tiffany could be the most important, this week. TME is Tencent Music, Tuesday, it’s first report as a public company. WAGE, on the other hand, is WageWorks which is seriously delinquent with quarterly and an annual SEC Filing, but has promised to report by the 19th.

Which brings us to Events, during a week in which many school districts have scheduled spring break—despite a later than lately Easter holiday, which won’t arrive until April 21st, after several years of late March and first week of April dates. That’s why, you may notice, there were many more I-bank conferences last week than are scheduled for this week. Portfolio managers really don’t want to dial into a heavy week of conferences when they’re on vacation with their families. Additionally, after so many YTD conferences, there’s hardly a subject that hasn’t been covered extensively, even as events like Cardiologists, at ACC (ongoing through Monday), or the entire Cable Industry at ACA (Tuesday), or drugmaking at AphA (Friday) sufficient to deter I-banks, as well. It remains puzzling, to me, however, to see Jefferies hosting Animal Health & the Pet Industry in NY, Wednesday, when Global Pet is taking place in Orlando, starting the same day. Then again, PM’s will be tuned in, especially, to IR Magazine’s Global Investor Relations US Awards, that day, as well. In NY.

Having said that, there are a couple of non-I-bank & overseas events that might attract US PM attention. That includes the Consumer Healthcare Products Ass’n Executive Conference, starting Sunday, as I write, and GDC, starting Monday, in San Francisco, for Game Developers, whether traditional, social or mobile, and VR/AR. nVdia’s GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) Technology Conference (started Sunday) is probably more important to PM’s than it’s analyst day at the event, Tuesday, at the GPU Conference. The International Vision Expo in NY and Hinman Dental Meeting in Atlanta (both starting Thursday), are industry events that will attract analysts & PM’s. Then, there are two overseas I-bank conferences that will attract US PM’s. The first is Bk of America Merrill Lynch’s Global Industrials & EU Autos Conference may be in London but it is truly Global, so includes many US companies. Morgan Stanley’s European Financials (London), on the other hand, will not offer US companies but European financials do have branches in the US. Both start Wednesday, as do Timberland Investment World Summit (in Amelia Island), and Hunter Hotel Investment Conference (Atlanta). Making that one very busy day.

The S&P 500 did take out 2800, last week but I’m not sure that will mean much this week. The week after a Quadruple Witch (Expiration of Equities & Index options & futures) is often biased to the downside. That doesn’t have to mean stocks fall apart but it does call for more caution than might be expected after an index breaks out to the upside. Then, again, there are those question marks hanging over the FOMC meeting and updated financial forecasts, not to mention the time of the quarter when earnings warnings start sneaking out, after hours. .

ECONOMIC: (Higlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar is here

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

March 11—15, 2019 
QUARTER FAST COMING TO A CLOSE      Fed Chief Powell sat for an interview with CBS’ "60 Minutes," Sunday. That’s not unusual; both Bernanke & Yellen did before him but the timing seems odd to me, with Trump supposed to deliver his 2020 budget on Monday. Say this for Trump—the Federal Reserve Board has been filled more completely under his watch, then in any other time in recent years. Powell declared the Fed is independent, and doesn’t believe the president has the authority to fire him. Many though he’d say the Fed Reserve Board is determined to do more to help the average American but he never quite worked it in. Then, again, perhaps unlike his predecessors, he chooses not to stoop to what people want to hear, unless it’s something he can deliver.

China has removed a planned trip to President Trump's Mar-a-Lago Florida property, originally on Xi’s schedule for late March, around the 27th. It was removed from Xi Jinping's calendar, Fox Business reported, without attribution, to save embarrassment if it had to be removed closer to the date because a deal still hadn’t been reached. The report said Xi may still come in April but it was safer to wait until the deal was struck.

Aside from another near certain defeat for Prime Minister May’s Brexit deal with the EU, the only suspense in the UK will be whether Parliament than votes to postpone Brexit from its current March 29th exit date. Some have called for a vote on canceling Brexit altogether but that’s not about to happen, IMO. The UK will also reveal its Jan GDP, Trade Balance Industrial & Manufacturing Production and other data, this week.

Closer to home, Trump is scheduled to unveil his 2020 budget, Monday, with rumors that he’ll ask for close to $9B for his wall, in that document. If he couldn’t get an all Republican Congress to vote for $5.7B, and couldn’t get such a vote from a split Congress, either, what makes him think he’ll get $9B from that same split Congress? But Trump has trouble with reality—confusing a so-called "reality" program with the real thing, so why would a little thing like the facts of life deter him?

The data this week includes Jan Retail Sales (Mon.), Feb. CPI, (Tues.), Durable Goods Orders & Shipments, & PPI (Wed.), while Thursday promised Jan New Home Sales. Some of this data was delayed by the partial government shutdown, so a bit stale on delivery. Friday promises Feb Industrial Production/Capacity Utilization, the Empire State (NY Fed) Manufacturing Index, and Jan JOLTS.

Of course the most influential item on the Economic Calendar is Quadruple Witch, Friday. S&P Dow Jones Indices announced Dec 20, 2017 that it was considering rebalancing its indices not on close with the Quad Witch Expiration but, instead, rebalancing on the last business day of the rebalancing month. Alas, that was never changed. Despite all the fanfare with which news of the proposed changed date, S&P Dow Jones Indices released the 2019 Rebalancing calendar without any changes. When Quarterly Index Futures Expire, the indexes, themselves, will be adjusted on close. That’s what makes the Quadruple Expiration such a big deal.

Please note all the bigwigs speaking on Tuesday: CFTC Chairman Giancarlo, SEC Chief Clayton, FDIC Chair McWilliams, and Comptroller of the Currency Otting among the speakers at the Institute of International Bankers, Tuesday, even as Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan will be testifying at the US House Financial Services Committee, at about the many scandals the bank has been ensnared in, plus the International Futures Industry will meet here in Florida, even as the UK Parliament votes on Brexit and a delay. Were it not for the Quadruple Expiration Friday, Tuesday would be the biggest day of the week.

Earnings a skewed heavily towards retailers but none of the giant companies that have reported previously. There are a number of radio firms reporting, mostly Tuesday, and a couple of large tech companies—Broadcom, Jabil Circuits, & Oracle most specifically, all three on Thursday, along with Adobe. I noticed, Sunday, for the first time, that ELF Beauty popped up in Target stores. The struggling make-up company announced with its earnings, last week, that it will be closing all its retail stores. Makes sense, if you’ve landed Target, Forever 21, and Ulta Beauty, the latter reporting Thursday. I’ve long waited for Ulta to stumble but it hasn’t, really, yet. Sooner of later it will.

South by Southwest continues this week, the final weekend next week. Meanwhile the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball championship—aka March Madness—kicks off with the first round starting Friday. You wouldn’t think anything could distract from a medical meeting as big as AAC (Cardiology) Scientific Sessions, starting next Saturday but March Madness can manage it. Meanwhile, Energy traders will want to tune in to CERA Week, which starts Monday. Also Monday, Deutsche Bank’s 27th Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, and Cowen’s 39th Annual Boston Health Care Conference—the preferred spelling at Cowen, who’ll be competing with Barclays Global Healthcare Conference in Miami Beach.

Sunday, the Mortgage Bankers Association opened its Mid-Winter Housing Finance Conference, in Colorado, while Bank Innovation IGNITE19 starts Monday, in Seattle. Conversational Interaction Conference, also starting Monday, is about Connecting Humans & Machines, with Alexa the clear front runner, to day. Meanwhile, Healthtech’s Molecular Medicine Tri-conference kicked off Sunday, in San Francisco, one of the biggest healthcare conferences of the year because of the several sub-conferences, including Microbiome-based Precision Medicine, and Cell-Based Cancer Immunotherapy, which reminded me that the real headliner on "60 Minutes" Sunday was not Powell but the doctors who explained how they used altered HIV viruses to insert a missing gene in patients suffering from sickle cell anemia. WOW!!!

Other Events of note include Bk of America Merrill Lynch’s Consumer & Retail Technology Conference, Tuesday, RBC Capital’s Financial Institution’s Conference, the same day, and Susquehanna’s SEMI & Technology Conference, also the same day and like RBC’s, in New York. CanaccordGenuity’s Musculoskeletal Conference, in Las Vegas, starting Tuesday, capitalizes on AAOS—Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting there, starting the same day. Usually, half a dozen orthopaedic device companies host analyst meetings at ortho conferences but not this year—for whatever reason. I checked about 8 device companies and not one scheduled an analyst meeting during the conference. Can’t tell you why.

Thursday is the next big meeting day, with JPMorgan hosting Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Management Access Forum, also in Las Vegas, while Piper Jaffray will host a Security Symposium the same day, in Chicago, and Berenberg Design Software, in NY, even as Jefferies is hosting "Brands Still Matter (BSM)" in NY, JPMorgan its 7th Large Bank 1-on-1, even as Stephens hikes to the San Francisco, the same day, for its 11th West Coast 1-on-1, with 20 companies that range from EGHT, to ANDE, CSGP, to DPZ, FNF, FIVN, GLUU, HOMB, TREE, LMNR, LAD, NEWR, PKG, WTTR, SUM, SVMC, the coast the only thread that ties them together. Goldman Sachs, on the other hand, will be in London for European Chemicals. And if GE hasn't done enough to discourage investors, year-to-date, it’s hosting an Outlook call, with its leadership team, Thursday morning.

The Bk of Japan holds a Monetary Policy Meeting, that will end in the wee hours of Friday, east coast time. I consider it such a hopeless case, I simply don’t see what the BoJ could possibly say or do that will pull that country of its long-standing funk, especially when Europe is on pins & needles about Brexit and the US & China are struggling towards a lasting trade truce, with China’s economy clearly weakening. What was stunning, however, last week, was the big pop in the US dollar, and the way the financials finagled their way out of losses, Friday, to close with a smidgen of gains. Of course, with Boeing sure to be under pressure, to start the week, after another 737 plane crash, any follow through by the financials may not be enough to force the indices into positive territory. Then, with a Quadruple Expiration at the end of the week, much of what happens to stocks, this week, may have little to do with actual corporate activity. But it might pay to bear in mind that the number of companies appearing at conferences, with the quarter fast coming to a close means, suggests that earnings warnings & upside statements could arrive in a flood. So, unless you’re absolutely certain about the earnings about to arrive, lightening up may be the best course of action, for now.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security, The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence. 

March 04—08, 2019    EXPECT MORE CONSOLIDATION to START MARCH    Trump’s North Korean tet-a-tet failed to meet any goal; Trump canceled plans to raise tariffs on Chinese goods, even though there’s not only no agreement with the Chinese but Trump, now, wants to throw out his negotiator’s M.O.U.’s; and even the Senate will put together a majority to vote for the Democrats’ bill seeking to block Trump’s attempted money grab from other allocations to fund his border wall, which is nothing more than a campaign promise by a neophyte politician who still doesn’t ‘get’ the idea of checks and balances, and Congress holding the purse strings. On top of all this, Trump has, now, demanded that China immediately remove all tariffs on US Agricultural products.

For me, it all adds up to expectations for stocks to continue to consolidate the year-to-date gains, albeit with an upside bias—at least until the FOMC meeting ends on the 20th. (Whether updated member projections—the dot plots—still show 2 rates hikes in 2019 will determine what stocks do afterwards.) The calendar will play a large role in another aspect of equity market action—retailers’ likely inability to push spring merchandise with Easter not until a month after the FOMC meeting (April 21st)—about as late as it gets, after years of very early Easters. And, if that wasn’t enough to deter spring shoppers, the reported lower Federal tax refunds will retard spending enthusiasm in March, too. For me, that all seems a prelude to a less celebratory market.

On the other hand, we may now have entered one of those perverse periods when bad news is good news for stocks. High Jan. Retail Inventories, Monday? Stocks celebrate. Weak Durable Goods Orders & Shipments? More celebrations! Though I don’t think the market will be pleased if seasonally adjusted Dec New Home Sales are weak, Tuesday, or Jan. Factory Orders, on Wednesday. But whatever you do, don’t hope for really weak numbers out of Friday’s February Unemployment Report, though, clearly, a 28 day month that saw a polar vortex freeze and snow that blanketed a large part of the country won’t offer up anything near the boffo job numbers reported in January—304K jobs added. But, for the most part, to a some extent, bad news will be good news, because it keeps the Fed on pause. IF the FOMC is going to change its tune, the first to reveal such changes might be either Esther George or Loretta Mester, since they were staunch hawks until the last minute.

FOMC Chief Powell will speak, Friday, prior to the SIEPR Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research Economic Summit and dinner, March 8th, sponsored by Dodge & Cox and Heidrick & Struggles (HSII) but I don’t think he’ll flip flop that soon. The last thing he probably wants is to be accused of flip flopping, when data dependency requires not letting any single data point change his mind. Note, also, the ECB meeting, the Draghi post-Meeting press conference running into the early pre-market hours in the US Thursday. The RBA (Aussie) will weigh in on rates in the wee hours of our Tuesday morning, while the Bk of Canada rate meeting will end fairly early Wednesday afternoon. When FOMC members start talking about last December’s market dip having little impact on the data (which is arriving late, because of the partial government shutdown), and appearing to be a minor glitch, rather than a sustainable problem to be addressed, that’s when the pivot to a more hawkish stance will start making itself known.

The Earnings Calendar promises more retailers, the biggest of which are Target, Tuesday, followed by CostCo Warehouse Thursday, but it’s not without some tech charms like.drone chip maker Ambarella, fiber optic manufacturer Ciena, China’s Sina & Weibo all Tuesday’s highlights. Also Thursday, reports range from Burlington Stores, to still shrinking Barnes & Noble, to tax preparer H&R Block, to casino supplier Int’l Game Technology, homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises, chip designer Stratasys Ltd, and computer and server distributor Tech Data. Still, I don’t see any real threats from the reports scheduled for release.

Which brings us to the Events Calendar, where the biggest event in terms of presenters and attendees is likely to be Raymond James’ 40th Institutional Investor Conference. However, in terms of coverage of a sector, the award goes to Citi’s Global Property CEO Conference in Hollywood. Citi didn’t say whether that’s West Coast or East Coast Hollywood but we’re pretty sure it’s Florida. Both RayJay & Citi started Sunday night. Next up, JPMorgan’s Aviation, Transportation, & Industrials Conference, in New York, not starting until Tuesday, which may be just what NYC needs to recover from the snow storm aiming at it as I write. (NYC Schools scheduled to be closed, Monday, according to Florida news reports, Sunday late afternoon.) Also Tuesday, Evercore ISI’s Annual Industrial Conference (NY), Wells Fargo’s Homebuilding & Building Products Forum (NY), S&P Global Intelligence 32nd Annual Power & Gas M&A Symposium (NY), and several I-banks hosting meetings at OFC (Optical Fiber Communications) in San Diego.

Wednesday, UBS hosts Global Consumer & Retail Conference (Boston), and Evercore ISI Energy & Power Summit (Houston). Over in London, Credit Suisse will host Global Healthcare starting Tuesday, and Morgan Stanley, Wednesday, European MedTech & Services Conference, even as Jefferies hosts Paper & Packaging, also in London, also starting Wednesday.

But I want to circle back to Citi’s Global Property CEO Conference because of the recent announcements about the slug of stores being closed. Mall REITs have, basically, ignored store closures, of late, instead rising because the Fed is on hold, which makes their yields more attractive, their cost of funds low. Gymboree is closing 800 stores. JCP is closing more stores, and Gap 230, over 2 years. Payless ShoeSource is the hammer of closures, with about 2.1K US & Puerto Rican stores closing shortly, by the end of March, its bankruptcy a liquidation. Granted, many of its stores are not in enclosed malls but, instead, in strip centers but, even then, there comes a time when the number of closures in a strip center reaches critical mass. If a Payless, Toys ‘R US & Babies ‘R Us all close in a Target strip center, it has to, ultimately, impact TGT.

Around here, some TOY stores were snapped up by Dicks Sporting Goods and Fresh Markets, the new retailers opening fairly quickly, the concessions offered to get them there unknown. But the large number of doors closing, so far this year, will unquestionably impact the mall REITs sooner of later. Where Sears left Town Center in Boca Raton FL. Simon Property was able to shut off the mall at its Sears’ former entrance, and minimize the impact but that’s a monster sized space to fill, and now Tesla is leaving a leasehold that’s seen 5 different occupants in the past 12 years. Where Nordstrom is closing its fairly new store in the Wellington Mall, in Florida, it’s hard to imagine a replacement coming quickly. There’s already a Dillard’s & JCPenney, the latter probably not done with store closures, yet. There’s already an Ashley Furniture store there, and maybe it’s high time auto dealers started taking a hint from Tesla and set up new car dealer showrooms in malls, as they do at Town Center about 4 times a year, offering a selection of cars to test drive in the parking lot. Heck! Sears had a Service & Tire Center in its mall store, while luxury dealers do put show cars in the hallways, to attract attention. Town Center, anyway, still draws a large contingent of tourists from the US, Canada and, especially, from South America and Europe. Nuts as it sounds, Children’s Place bought the Gymboree & Crazy 8’s names, IP, and related property (websites), while Gap bought Janie & Jack. I suspect PLCE bought the portion it did for $76m is a purely defensive move. GPS, on the other hand, might well like to mull its intent with Janie & Jack as it works towards separating Old Navy in 2020. Both Baby & Kids Gap are successful division of GPS, though their results are not broken out—mostly to keep the Street & Investors from learning just how poorly the GAP adult division is really doing.

All that said, at least until Friday’s Employment Report, I expect stocks to continue consolidating year-to-date gains, with a slight upside bias. Of course, if you’re smart, you should consider replacing stock with options, and socking away a lot of cash for a better opportunity. Next whiff of business slowing could well trigger a December swoon repeat.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing Contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

February 25th—March 1st, 2019  FOMC CHIEF POWELL STARS   FOMC Chief Powell’s Semi-Annual Testimony before the US Senate & House (Tues/Wed) should not be dismissed without a 2nd thought. In fact, much as Powell is probably relieved that the equity markets have recovered so much of December 2018’s losses, it’s not hard to imagine him worrying that things are getting a little out of hand, again, and reminding the Street that rates could resume rising, if incoming Economic data warrant it. For now, I don’t see that happening because Federal agencies are just starting to crawl back from their shutdown, so data arriving, even this week, are a little moldier than normal. I don’t think Powell will want to freak out investors since, as FOMC member Bullard said on CNBC, Friday, US Rates are quite high compared to the rest of the developed world But, likewise, Fed Vice Chairman Clarida said, last week, he’s not sure if the US Economy is slowing down or not, given that data hasn’t been released. So, while I believe no one is a big rush to resume raising rates again in the short term, I do think Powell will remind the Street that rates are a two-way street, and could rise as easily as fall, depending on how the data unfold.

Powell won’t be the only FedHead speaking this week. The NABE (National Association of Business Economists) hosts its 35th Economic Policy Conference (EPC) this week, featuring many Fed speakers as detailed below. Even past FOMC members William Dudley & Alan Greenspan are speakers, in addition to Clarida, and Bostic. But outside NABE, Fed speakers inclkude Harker, Kaplan, and Mester. And note, Housing Data Tuesday, from S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller and the FHFA, in addition to Housing Starts/Building Permits, all for December, on Tuesday, plus Wednesday, NAR Pending Jan Home Sales. With mortgage rates backing off from 5.2% to 4.41%, according to some sources, there’s reason to feel more optimistic about the spring selling season than there was a few months ago. Other big data this week includes 18Q4 GDP (which includes PCE), again data old enough it’s barely helpful in gauging the economy’s status, especially since it’s reasonable to assume that non-essential government workers who knew they were marching towards a partial shutdown, and a lack of paychecks, probably started to pull back even before so-called ‘non-essential’ workers were told to stay home, on December 22nd.. Likewise, Friday, the government is supposed to deliver Jan. Personal Income & Dec. Spending, both sure to be influenced by the partial government shutdown. We’ve already been told that Dec Retail Sales declined (-1.2)%, to the Street’s shock, so unless this fresh data is diametrically opposed, there may not be great news in that data, either; Most of January lacked paychecks to Coast Guard, and 800K other government workers, in what was one of Trump’s worst calculations, having boasted of his pride in shutting down the government until Republican Congressional members started freaking out, and furloughed Federal workers started showing up at soup kitchens, told to go to their banks to get a loan by Wilbur Ross, another tone deaf member of the administration. Of all the data to be released, the ISM Manufacturing Index might offer the most contemporary and insightful information of all I’d also bet that Michael Cohen’s testimony, this week, will be draw dropping—it’s what he’s set out to do. And who can blame him? Trump dumped him like a hot cake—none of the "good man" talk he reserved for Flynn & Manafort, or any of his other felonious cronies.

And not for nothing, Friday is the day the debt ceiling suspension ends, and Saturday the day Trump threatened to raise the tariffs on $200B of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%. I doubt tariffs are rising, since Trump has made clear he feels good progress is being made by negotiators, and even said, last week, March 1st isn’t a magical date, in contrast to what he was saying in December. The Debt Ceiling, however, is another issue, altogether, for a President who, on the campaign trail, claimed he could wipe out the deficit in 4 years but instead increased it by another $1 trillion.

Which brings us to the Earnings Calendar. What are the odds that 3 fairly newly listed companies involved with "new" ways to sell cars would be reporting at the same time, on Thursday? They are: CarGurus (CARG), Cars.com (CARS)—the oldest of them all, and Carvana (CVNA). Welcome to the new world, just as new car sales, in general, are slipping, which may help used car markets—though that wasn’t evident in AutoNation’s report last week. Likewise, competitors, of a sort, Nielsen & comScore both report Thursday. It seems logical for NLSN to buy SCOR, for its own survival, since SCOR is the internet specialist, and networks were never satisfied with NLSN TV-viewing data, let alone its attempts to cull online data.

But the focus shifts to retailers, this week, includes, on Monday, Carter’s and Etsy. Tuesday, Autozone, Big Five Sporting Goods, Home Depot, Macy*s, Office Depot/Office Max, and possibly, Dillard’s, which still counts so many family members as owners and managers, it doesn’t feel compelled to alert the Street long before its report is released. Also Tuesday, Carcker Barrel Old Country Stores, Papa John’s, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, and for that matter, Realogy, TiVO, and Toll Brothers. On Wednesday, reports are expected from Best Buy, L Brands & Lowe’s, along with Booking.com, Carol’s Restaurants, Churchill Downs, Monster Beverages, Qurate Retail and Steve Madden. Others will focus on Hewlett-Packard and Square. Thursday, retailers reporting include Gap Stores, JC Penney, JD.com, Nordstrom, and notably, Sea World & Sotheby’s. Then, again, so will Marriott and Marriott Vacations Worldwide, Starwood Properties Trust, Hostess Bakery Products (personally addicted to the all chocolate Hostess Cupcakes), and Wingstop. Thursday will also be notable for the first returned to public markets Dell Technologies Report, along with VMware & WorkDay.Also prominent on this week’s calendar, lodging companies, especially trusts, along with smaller restaurant chains. Also, lots of smaller Hoteliers, reporting this week, a couple of larger tech companies, including newly public Dell Technologies, the two largest global beer companies, and TV Station owners. Friday, look for FootLocker & TJMaxx, though FootLocker took away some of the suspense with a slug of announcements last week. Champs is a cash machine here, more so than the FootLocker brand while the House of Hoops is just a waste of space, so good that Nike is paying half the freight.

Which brings us to the Events Calendar, the star of which is likely Morgan Stanley’s TMT, starting Monday, out in San Francisco. Even larger, in number of attendees and presenters, are the connected JPMorgan events in Miami Beach—High Yield & Leveraged Finance Conference, and Global Emerging Markets Corporate Conference. Other notable events include BMO Capital’s 27th Global Metals & Mining, and the coincidental Personal Care Products Council Annual Meeting in Palm Beach FL (so soon after CAGNY, nearby), and the Global Beauty and Wellness Exchange in Blufton SC. Back to Monday, BAML hosts Animal Health, JMP Securities’ 6th Technology Research Conference. The Aerospace & Defense Industries are mounting a Manufacturing Summit, in Las Vegas, the Mortgage Banking Association National Mortgage Servicing ,IQPC Autonomous Cars, and AMWA Convenience Retailing University.

The Fashion Industry will be taking over New York City, starting Monday, with FAME & Sole Commerce 2 of the related events. That usually makes city dwellers a little sour. Meantime, Mobile World Congress will be held in Barcelona Spain, a few I-banks hosting clients over there, even as Pret-a-Porter takes over Versailles, France.

Tuesday, it’s more of the same, with BAML hosting Global Agriculture & Materials, in Ft Lauderdale, Berenberg a one-day NASH event, in NY, where Intercept should be the star, causing Gilead more pain. Also Tuesday, Piper Jaffray’s Annual Energy Conference in Las Vegas, even as IP—International Petroleum Week is in London, and the Semi-Annual EnerCom Conference is in Dallas TX, starting Wednesday. Keybanc hosts Emerging Technology Conference in San Francisco, the 12th Annual Medicaid Managed Care Summit in D.C, along with the 3rd Opioid Management Summit.

Wednesday, Leerink is hosting its 8th Annual Global Healthcare Conference, in NY. Now owned by Silicon Valley Bank, Leerink is still one of the most respected Healthcare research houses. Citi hosts Asset Management, Broker Dealers & Exchanges Conference, also in NY. Wells Fargo hosts its 22nd Real Estate Securities Conference, also in NY, BTIG Medical Technology, Life Science & Diagnostic Conference, in Snowbird UT. The Entertainment Finance Forum in L.A. is a fish out of water, this week, as is ICSC’s OAD—Open Air Center Summit, in Austin. Of course, Wednesday, you can tune into Powell, or Michael Cohen, a former fixer for Trump, also testifying at Congress. Likewise, as referenced earlier, NABE’s 35th Economic Policy Conference starts Wednesday, while yet another Triumph of Ag Expo opens in Omaha NE, who leading light, Warren Buffett & Berkshire Hathaway took a sucker punch to the belly on its investment in Kraft Heinz, which wrote down its brands and lost a good chunk of its value, last week.

Thursday, I’ll be curious to hear how busy Credit Suisse’s Asia Frontier Markets Conference will be in NY. I have no doubts, however, about KBW’s Cards, Payments & Financial Technology Symposium, also in NY, or Commodity Classic—Grow Beyond, in Orlando. While it doesn’t get much attention in most corners of Wall Street, Society of Consumer Psychology should, also Thursday, in Savannah GA. ACTRIMS, a consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers meets starting Thursday, in Dallas, while Clinical Immuno-Oncology will be held in San Francisco. The International Congress on Hematologic Malignancies: Focus on Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma will attract a lot of interest in Miami Beach, even as the Tokyo Auto Show opens to the

All in, the small gains eked out last week suggest a market consolidating, which seems long overdue. I’m not that optimistic about the coming Retailer earnings, because I found the post-Christmas mall traffic down significantly, y/o/y, and February has been a lot worse. And that’s down here, in Southern Florida, where the weather has been no barrier to access, as the Polar Vortex has been in other parts of the country, storms again this weekend. Having said that, it’s becoming harder to judge retailers by their mall traffic alone, as more of their sales move online. Still, post-Christmas sales & returns, as well as usage of gift cards generally boost traffic and that wasn’t really a big factor, this year. That’s quite troubling, especially with mall REITs so strong of late, as interest rates have backed down, and the Fed has paused. It’s time for some caution or, at least, a little less enthusiasm.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the authors, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

February 18—22, 2019    FOMC MINUTES & WALMART HIGHLIGHT the WEEK    The highlight of the week may be the FOMC Minutes due Wednesday—at least until the week after this, when Jerome Powell testifies before the Senate & House on 26the and 27th. The Minutes should be filled with discussion of re-examining more rate hikes this year, as well as the "automatic" run-off of the balance sheet in the background. Even Cleveland Fed president, Loretta Mester, last Tuesday, 02/12, stated the FOMC, at coming meetings, will be "finalizing our plans for ending the balance-sheet runoff and completing balance-sheet normalization." The next meeting isn’t until March 19th—20th.

A long-time hawk, Mester’s casual confirmation of rate hikes stopping and, at coming meetings, ‘ending the balance sheet run-off,’ is uncharacteristic. Maybe Mester’s switch in posture will be explained at an event starting Thursday--the USDA 95th Agricultural Outlook Forum The Roots of Prosperity (Arlington VA thru 22nd). It’s part of the USDA (US Dept of Agriculture) Office of the Chief Economist (OCE), and subtitled "Growing Locally, Selling Globally," with speakers including the USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson, Sec’y of Agriculture Sonny Purdue, & Dpty Sec’y Steven Censky, plus a Plenary panel that includes the Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts, NASDA (Nat’l Ass’n of State Departments of Agriculture) CEO Dr. Barbara Glenn, and others most wouldn’t know outside agriculture. The heart of the conference is outlooks for the many ag subdivisions, like Oilseeds, China’s Market, Sugar, Grains, Livestock, Sweeteners, Food Retailing, Dairy—even Indian Merchant’s Chamber of Commerce (Native Americans, not the country in Southeast Asia). There are sessions on organic agriculture, led by the Organic Farming Research Foundation, as well as USDA subdivisions that includes the Forest Service, Grain Inspection, Ag Research, & both Animal & Plant Health Inspectors. So perhaps there’s something in farm country that changed Mester’s mind. And if not in Ag, perhaps something in auto land, as Cleveland is in the heart, also, of automaker country. More Fed bosses will be speaking this week, a number of them on "The Future of the Federal Reserve Balance Sheet" at the Univ. of Chicago’s Booth School of Business 2019 Monetary Policy Forum, taking place in NY—which means a lot of opportunity for CNBC, Bloomberg & Fox business networks to interview out of town Fedheads.

The NAHB Feb. Housing Market Index, out Tuesday, will be torn between a polar vortex that kept people inside, and falling mortgage rates that beckon house hunters. Meantime, the OPEC and 10 non-OPEC oil producing countries are meeting in Vienna, at OPEC headquarters, to discuss quotas and, in all likelihood, extending them, if not strong arming more cuts, which only Russia, outside OPEC, is in position to do given its high production rate. Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco already shut down its largest field, last week, for an indeterminate time. The Saudi’s have cut the most production, overall, since the first quotas were instituted. Given Pres. Trump’s support despite Congress finding the crown prince responsible for Koshoggi’s murder, the House of Saud, and therefore Saudi Aramco, walks on eggshells. Should the price of oil rise considerably, and draw comment from Trump, the Saudi’s would be forced to do whatever it is he wants, putting them at odds with their intent to boost prices.

Speaking of Trump, he’ll be speaking on Venezuela, in Miami, Monday evening, on his way home from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Trump was first to leap into the fray, for reasons that remain a mystery to us. We can find no reason other than his constant desire to be in the limelight and stir up the pot.

You might recall how bad reported Dec. Retail Sales were, when they were finally released. In fact, despite strong ecommerce gains reported by Amazon, Etsy, Target, and Walmart, the Retail Sales report claimed they rose only 3.9%??  No, Dec. Retail Sales claimed eCommerce sales FELL (-3.9)%. That should make Wednesday’s 18Q4 eCommerce Sales, from the Commerce Dept. especially interesting. Lower oil prices have certainly helped consumers—especially those who heat with oil, rather than natural gas, after a polar vortex interrupted a warm winter. The polar votex has helped even those of us in Florida. My bill for January was the lowest in the history of owning this house, for 26 years, at just $70.66, despite running A/C on many afternoons when the sun heated up my office, along with running my dish washer, clothes washer & dryer, and oven. While we’re having ridiculously hot days since the chill dissipated, with temps unseasonably warm—in the mid-80’s—that polar vortex chilled us enough for my usage to drop by 132 kw, this year. It also helped that this year’s "month" was only 29 days against 32 last year but still, that drop in usage put the bill $14+ below any bill FPL has ever sent before. So the Sauds & other producers want higher oil prices while Trump and consumers like the lower prices just fine—a 10 year run of new car leases & purchases putting millions of consumers in more energy efficient vehicles, just as Europeans were learning that the promised savings of their diesel power vehicles were all a mirage, cooked up by software engineers to fool regulators.

Speaking of cars, and industrials, the headline events of the week include Citi’s Global Industrials Conference, starting Tuesday, in Miami Beach, as well as Barclays Industrial Select Conference starting Wednesday, also in Miami, Florida. That’s a big odd because NAHB—the National Association of Home Builders is hosting its annual show in Las Vegas, starting Tuesday, with the Kitchen & Bath Industry, plus Pools & Spas meeting concurrently. Also not to be overlooked, is CAGNY—Consumer Analysts of New York, meeting in Boca Raton FL, starting Monday, a big event for the household products industry, along with packaged food and beverages. The Citi, Barclays, and CAGNY analysts could have arrived early to catch the Miami International Boat & Sail show, or still have time to see it Monday, a holiday. While we’re in Florida, Outsourcing World meets in Orlando, starting Sunday, though ITSM (IT Service Management) meets in Las Vegas, also starting Sunday;. I suspect there’ll be heightened interest in CanaccordGenuity’s eSports 1x1 Thursday, though it’s in Toronto. Then Friday, AAAAI starts—American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, in San Francisco, one of the biggest pharmaceutical industry events of the year. Also Friday, Gabelli, then GameCo, now G, Research, is hosting its 28th Annual Pump, Valve & Water Systems Conference, in NY. Sounds like GameCo is working hard to figure out how to survive Mario Gabelli’s someday retirement. Heck! Even Bill Gross is retiring, so Mario will someday, too, unless he can pull off a John Bogle (founder of Vanguard), never really retiring but going out still speaking out on index investing and low fees for investors.

As for Earnings, there are a couple of Tech laggards, including Himax Tuesday, Analog Devices and Synopsis Wednesday, Infineon, Intuit, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Thursday.I supposed we could include NetEase (Wed.), Baidu, and Zillow (both Thurs) could be considered tech companies, too but all three are consumer internet companies, and that’s where we see the Earnings Calendar shifting towards--consumer names, Walmart on Tuesday, the biggest of them all in revenue terms. Restaurants step to the place, starting with Texas Roadhouse Grill Tuesday, Cheesecake Factory and Jack-in-the-Box (Wed.), and Thursday, BJ Restaurants, DinEquity, Domino’s Pizza,. Take a look at the tickers emboldened on the Earnings Calendar. Other than a couple of chemical companies whose strong earnings expectations caught my eye, a few auto parts suppliers, and medical suppliers Medtronic (Tues.) & Henry Schein (Wed.), the rest are mostly consumer related, as the calendar creeps into the weeks when retailers will dominate, Walmart setting the tone. It remains the filthiest store I ever enter, my visits strictly to see what the heck analyst fans are talking about. Thursday, I found an elderly woman on the floor right in front of the pharmacy counter, and no one working there, or walking past her seemed to notice. The good news about that was that no one stole her Prada handbag sitting in the child seat of her shopping cart but not one person paused to ask if she needed help, until I did. When I asked pharmacy to call for help I was told they’re separate, "tell them at the front of the store." Well, I certainly wasn’t leaving her there, so stopped a woman who was nice enough to pitch in, and run to the front to snag an Ass’t manager. He didn’t know what to do other than to call 911, so I suggested he bring over a chair from the pharmacy dept, and help get her into the chair. I knew she didn’t have any broken bones because I saw her attempt to rise, herself, moving her legs, feet & arms. The next analyst who says anything nice about WMT needs to have their eyes opened. It’s an awful operation that doesn’t train even assistant managers in protocol in case of an emergency, let alone any other worker—one of whom told me she couldn’t stop moving the stuffed animals to the front of the store because Valentine’s Day was only for a few more hours, and they needed to be sold before the day ended.

In sum, with the Fed out of the way, the Minutes Wednesday, should do nothing but confirm it. Then, the street will be examining somewhat moldy data, finally coming out of the reopened Federal government, and looking ahead to Powell’s Congressional testimony the 26th and 27th. In between, well get Walmart’s earnings, which I don’t expect to excite. The rally, at 8 weeks old, is getting long in the tooth so, perhaps, time to seek out winners to exit, rather than worry about cash not being deployed.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the authors, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence. 

February 11—15, 2019   
BULL MARKET ACTION on CLOSE NOT IN CHARTS  There should be a giant question mark floating above this week’s Economic Calendar, given all the agencies working to compile data since the Federal Gov’t partial shutdown. And the data being released, is sometimes November data, when December of January would normally be on tap. Frustrating enough for data to be a bit moldy when it arrives on time, it’s all but worthless when it’s delayed by a month or two. And maybe it’s just me but it isn’t hard to imagine some workers at these Federal agencies, urged to break their backs to getting delayed data ready, sitting around wondering ‘why bother?,’ when Trump might only shut them down again, this Friday, the 15th.

Nonetheless, if things proceed on plan, Wednesday should bring the US Jan. Consumer Price Index, Thursday Jan. Producer Prices and Final Demand, while both Jan Retail Sales & Nov Business Inventories are under the shadow of that enormous question mark, though Retail Sales is supposed to arrive, Inventories questionable. Note, also, how little Treasury issuance is expected, at the same time there’s an abundance of Fed speakers. Fed’s George, a former hawk, is sounding more hawkish again. Her position may seem more reasonable when the Fed’s JOLTS release arrives Tuesday, many hours prior to her Kansas City speech, just as the January Unemployment Report at 304K jobs added in January must have made Jerome Powell’s cheeks turn crimson, right after he pivoted to dove from hawk. Fed’s Mester speaks Tuesday, also, even later in the evening than George, and again on Wednesday. Likewise, Fed’s Bostic & Harker speak, separately, on Wednesday, also, Bostic in Ireland. In addition to his economic outlook speech on Wednesday, Harker speaks again on Thursday, though the topic of ‘Leadership’ doesn’t sound conducive, at first glance, to opinions on rate hikes. But if Harker’s view on ‘leadership’ includes the strength of leadership to hike rates in the face of the President and markets urging you to back off, then, he could turn the topic into a treatise on rate hikes. Conversely, San Francisco Fed Pres. Daly, Friday, could well include her views on rate hikes in her speech at the Economic Forecast Conference, since any view that includes faster growth, labor shortages that push up wages, or tariffs forcing companies to pass along higher prices could all feed into a hawkish view on interest rates. While the FOMC doesn’t meet this month, at all, this week, alone, the central banks of New Zealand, Sweden, and Norway all are scheduled for monetary policy meetings. Granted, none are as influential as the Bk of England’s meeting last week but, then, Parliament’s debate on P.M. May’s Brexit deal, Friday, is key, just as the possible partial US government shutdown, that day, is too.

Which brings us to the Earnings Calendar, voluminous, if nothing else. And there are a few key technology companies expected to report, including Activision Blizzard, Akamai, Groupon, Twilio, NetApp, Applied Materials, Arris Networks, Cisco Systems, Equinix, CME, LogMeIn, Nice Systems, nVidia, Zebra Technologies, and Yandex. Don’t agree that CME is a technology company? I’ll be happy to debate the point, anytime.

In addition, the Earnings Calendar is spotted with homebuilders, healthcare providers, a few large REITs, hoteliers, 2 large mattress companies, along with the first earnings report as a public company of Yeti, if my memory serves me. Berkshire Hathaway hasn’t reported, yet but, like all public companies gets extra time to prepare its annual report. Last year, that report was delivered on Feb. 24th. This year? There’s nothing on Berkshire’s website to suggest what day it will arrive but I’d use the year ago date as a guide, and expect it on the 22nd, after the market closes, rather than this Friday. It is always, though, surprising to me that a man who advocates for simplicity, manages to produce a 148 page annual report. Then, again, Buffett loves dividends, except when it comes to Berkshire Hathaway paying out any.

Which brings us to the Event Calendar, with investment banks creeping back into the schedule. Credit Suisse happens to wear the I-bank crown this week, for its Energy Conference, which started Sunday evening, in Vail Colorado, and its Financial Services Forum, which starts Monday, in Miami Beach—a good winter for southern meetings, given the frigid arctic vortex which has swept the country—not to mention day-time temps near mid-70’s to low-80’s predicted for this entire week, in Southern Florida. Stifel is hosting a Biopharma Ski Summit in Park City Utah, starting Monday, when the annual BIO CEO & Investor Conference starts in NY. Not great timing. Barclays is hosting Industrial Select, also in Miami Beach, starting Tuesday, while Goldman Sachs hosts Technology & Internet, in San Francisco. Morgan Stanley is hosting Chemicals & Agriculture Corporate Access Day, Thursday, when KBW is hosting Financial Services in Boca Raton FL, even as BMO Capital hosts Auto Financial Forum, in toronto.

It’s the season for agricultural expos, two big ones starting Tuesday in Tulare California & Des Moines Iowa, even as Poultry, Feed, and even Pet Food takeover the Atlanta convention center. Note John Deere’s earnings report scheduled for Friday. Other big industry events include New York Women’s Fashion Week, which will tie up traffic all week. The Mortgage Bankers’ Ass’n hosts a CREF (Commercial Real Estate Finance) Multifamily Housing Convention, so big UBS is hosting the convention reception. The IAB—Internet Ad Bureau hosts is Annual Leadership Meeting, HIMSS is the Annual Healthcare IT Conference, at which Citi hosts meetings. The NBAA Business Aircraft Leadership Conference used to be more Textron & General Dynamics than Boeing but with Boeing’s partnership with Embraer, it’s now a bigger player in the business airplane market than it used to be. Also of note, Womens Wear Daily’s Beauty Forum (after Estee Lauder and Coty were post-earnings stars, last week), NASS, the spine organization Summit, AFCEA West, starting Wednesday, and the American Academy the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual meeting, starting Thursday, and the New York International Toy Fair, in NY, none as big as BIO, as mentioned earlier, for attracting analysts and investors.

Markets that open down but finish up, as they did last week, is said to be classic bull market activity. However, after 7 weeks rallying, the charts don’t look as bullish as they should. In fact, there aren’t many bullish charts, at all, which is quite troubling. Some that look the most positive, like retail REITs, haven’t noticed that the bull market in retailers ended with Macy*s’ warning back in early January. Then, there’s the action is Amazon, itself, arguably the fastest growing large retailer in the world. After hitting an all time high above $2k p/share, and momentarily ranking as the largest market cap stock in the world, it’s trading more 22.0% below that all time high, looking anything but bullish. But, at a still very healthy 25.0% above its 52-week low, there are probably many computers programmed to light up—perhaps to rush into activity--when its decline equals exactly 50.0% of the gain--the 50.0% mark a standard retracement in technical analysis. Then, again, if you’re looking for a bullish leaning chart, gold might qualify, even without the inflation that usually triggers the metal’s gain. So much for the gold replacement bitcoin was supposed to be. Gold, instead, is looking shinier. Please don’t ignore the less than bullish charts that suggest the post-Christmas rally, for now, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, yet not exactly hinting at imminent selling, either. Such indecision suggests caution, rather than throwing caution to the wind--at least not until the 200 day moving average is exceeded on a closing basis, and confirmed 2--5 days later.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the authors, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence. 

February 04—08, 2019  
ECONOMIC CALENDAR UNCERTAIN   We’ll start with the Economic Calendar, because it’s contents are uncertain. During the partial government shutdown, many agencies didn’t compile the data they release, which means the penultimate data that relies on components prepared by other agencies can’t be produced. The top example would be GDP (Gross Domestic Product), due Wednesday but most likely to be rescheduled. There are components that weren’t compiled during the shutdown, so GDP can’t be produced until those items are updated. When the data chain will be complete remains an open question, making some items on the schedule either best guesses, or dates were know won’t be met. Then, add to that China closed for the week—Golden Week—which incorporates the Lunar New Year which falls, this year, on the 5th. About the only things that will be running in China over the next 6 days are railroads and airplanes. Factories, shippers, etc? Nope! And we should say "Greater China," because Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and even Singapore will celebrate at least part of the week, if not the entire week. (The Najarian brother who recommended purchasing an option on FXI--the China large cap index--made a rookie booboo. How do you bet on an index that won’t fully trade this week? Well, you don’t, if you’re more aware of your surroundings, rather than just the volume on an option.) But for what it’s worth, the purchase of a call option just before Golden Week ends to capture activity when everything reopens usually pays off. FXI has a tendency to rise when the first trades after the holiday ends are booked.

What we do know for sure about the Economic Calendar is that the US Treasury has a heavy week of issuance planned, after one of the lightest weeks of the year. And it’s possible demand may be strong, ex-the missing Asian governments—not just because so little was issued last week but because Powell’s press conference comments were taken to mean the FOMC is on hold until June, at least, which makes current US Government rates rather appealing. If the FOMC were expected to raise rates at its next meeting, in March, then current rates would be less attractive. That’s not the case now—and probably not for the next 5 months. So Wednesday’s 10-year auction, and Thursday’s 30-year, though small, aren’t a worry at all. US rates, especially compared to those in the UK and Europe, are the tastiest yields on "safe" debt.

Other items on the Economic Calendar include Pres. Trump’s rescheduled SOTU address, Tuesday, Speaker Pelosi making good on her promise to schedule it after the government was fully reopened. As with most Trump speeches, he’ll speak to his base, which will be enraptured by every word, while the Dems will hear every word as stupidity, or worse. He is the most polarizing president in history, who so lacks social graces even people who agree with some of his positions can’t support him because of the way he goes about expressing his position. Then, Thursday, the President’s former personal attorney/fixer testifying behind closed doors at the US House—Democratic-controlled House. The shame is that it’s been changed to a closed door session from open, broadcast hearing, after Cohen claimed the President and his current attorney, Rudy Giuliana threatened him and his family.

Other items of interest include expected central bank actions from Australia, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico, and the Bank of England—the latter creeping ever closer to a no deal Brexit. If you’re up early, Thursday morning, you’ll probably be able to catch BoE Gov. Carney’s post-meeting press conference on Bloomberg, or at least online. CNBC doesn’t bother with more than snippets. So, the ASEAN world is closed for New Year celebrations while the Western world is heavily influenced by a slug of central bank monetary policy meetings.

Which brings us to Earnings, headlined by Alphabet’s Google, on Monday. Beyond that, please peruse the Earnings Calendar, and those tickers emboldened because they tell the story for anyone who needs to know more than Google’s report. If you’re a CNBC fan, you won’t hear much, if anything, about the other companies in bold, since CNBC is all about Apple. Facebook and Google, with an occasional side of Netflix. Speaking of FB, its "Communities Summit" takes place in Menlo Park, California, starting Thursday. Then, Thursday after hours, Twitter reports, another CNBC favorite obsession. The financial television network of record will, most likely, not note Mattel reporting Thursday, and Hasbro Friday, both geared up for analyst meetings, this week, at their NY showrooms, in advance of the opening of the New York International Toy Fair, at the Jacob Javits Center. CNBC has only 4—5 stocks on its mind, and HAS & MAT aren’t them. If play time weren’t enough, the TV Critics Winter Press Tour continues this week, with FX & FOX TV the lead-off presenters. Then, again, MAGIC, the semi-annual apparel show starts Tuesday, in Las Vegas, while in NY, Men’s Fashion Week will occupy the week, bleeding into Women’s Fashion Week, starting Friday—both involving runway shows for high-end designer lines, as opposed to the ready-to-wear lines presented at MAGIC. Speaking of the financial news network of record, CNBC, its parent, Comcast, is comping against the South Korea Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang started in February, 2018. That’s going to make year on year comparisons of viewship and ad sales impossible to match. As well as Comcast just reported for Q4, for Q1 it will have an Olympic obstacle, that will make comparisons look weak. There’s nothing that can be done to overcome that.

A couple of other items stand out, this week. That includes Raymond James’ Chemicals Forum, in Toronto, Tuesday, and Cowen Group’s Annual Aerospace/Defense & Industrial Conference, in NY, Wednesday through Thursday. Another big event is MD&M, concurrent with Electronics West/Advanced Manufacturing Expo & Conference, in Anaheim. MD&M concentrates on Medical Devices, in addition to every other kind of manufacturing represented at Electronics West. And here’s one we don’t encounter often; Both Swedish Match & Altria’s smokeless tobacco products are before the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, Wednesday & Thursday, respectively. While fears of FDA rejection have concentrated on flavors in tobacco—menthol especially—there’s been very little discussion of smokeless products, though mouth, throat, & tongue cancer are directly related to smokeless—chewing tobacco.

I expect equities to meander, this week, looking for direction. There just isn’t any reason to expect the companies reporting this week to trigger either a severe decline or another leg up in the post-Christmas rally. Sector changes are a different story, as homebuilders (i.e. BZH, MHO), health-care providers (i.e. CNC, HUM), insurers (i.e. ALL. CB, MET, PRU), auto-related (i.e. GPI, ABG, GM, FCAU, PAG), exchanges (ICE, CBOE), energy (i.e. APC, MPC, TOT), entertainment companies (i.e. EA, SFLY, VIA.B, DIS, LGF.A, NWS.A, TTWO), apparel & accessory manufacturers (i.e. RL, COLM, TPR, CPRI), need I go on? Clearly, any sector could be dragged down or boosted by the reports scheduled for this week but none are likely to trigger market-wide reactions. And truth be known, the one report I’m most curious about is NXP Semiconductor (NXPI). Qualcomm walked away from its bid to buy NXPI, when it couldn’t obtain all the regulatory approvals it needed for the deal. Not weeks later, in its first concession after Trump tariffs were imposed, China said it could probably approve the deal. Yet, Qualcomm didn’t come back, and no one else stepped in, either. That’s a name I am watching, and contemplating a call option on, in expectation that someone makes an offer. When better to do that then when chips are out of favor, on a dip in smartphone sales?

And the, last but not least I’ll keep reminding myself that ASEA celebrates the Lunar New Year most of the week, China all week, with markets & factories closed. That’s the kind of week that encourages meandering, at least until late in the week, when the holiday being over is anticipated. Throw in the fact that data provided by Federal agencies will remain MIA, until it arrives, and there’s little reason to get too bullish or negative. Meander should be the pace of the week.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights only below. Full International Economic Calendar here) *****Data from Federal Agencies will be rescheduled as available—some in need of more time before they’re ready ****

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

January 28—February 1st, 2019   REOPENED GOVERNMENT MAY NOT DELIVER ALL DATA    The Government was funded for three weeks, making it possible for government agencies, closed for 35 days, to reopen starting Tuesday. (Some museums were able to open as soon as Saturday, the day after the short-term funding deal was announced.) Given that computers were turned on for over a month, and cyber security encryption wasn’t updated for over a month, there’s little reason to believe that any data expected this week will arrive, and if it does, that it will be more than preliminary. Note, however, the slug of Treasury issuance that was planned, anyway, which may weigh on stocks if the erratic funding of the US Federal Government weighs on investors. Not that they have a lot of choices: US debt is still seen as quality, unlike Turkey’s, or Argentina’s, the latter suffering from dueling leaders. That means, the highlight of the week may be the FOMC meeting, rather than any data that may or may not arrive. I’ve left the notations next to questionable data, in case only the most preliminary numbers are announced, or data is postponed.

WSJ claims "Federal Reserve officials are close to deciding they will maintain a larger portfolio of Treasury securities than they’d expected when they began shrinking those holdings two years ago, putting an end to the central bank’s portfolio wind-down closer. Officials are still resolving "details of their strategy, and how to communicate it to the public, according to their recent public comments and interviews." But is that Wednesday’s news, or merely a discussion that won’t be unveiled until the minutes are out in 3 weeks, or perhaps during the press conference? This news was enough to boost stocks Friday morning, so how much more legs equities get out of the concept remains to be seen..

All the Economic Data arriving from non-government agencies takes on more importance as data usually delivered by various government agencies has been lacking, while the partial shutdown continued. Also, last week the Treasury Auctioned virtually no debt and this week there’s a surfeit. That might test the market, if buyers disappear--gov’t restored or not, since the deal is only for 3 weeks, until February 15th, and Trump’s insistence on funding for a border wall probably doesn’t disappear. The border is something like 2.3K miles and Trump is demanding $5.7B, just enough for 240 miles. Does that make sense to anyone, or does it seem more reasonable to fund a more permanent solution for the entire border, rather than 240 miles?

With the government reopening, mostly Tuesday, some year on year comparisons, might make sense, for the record. In 2018, the IRS didn’t open tax filing season until Jan 29th. This year it’s opening on Jan 28th. In 2018, the Pres.’s State of the Union Address was delivered on the 30th. This year it was scheduled for the 29th, & probably gets rescheduled. Do you think Trump has had time to prepare a speech while railing against democrats, campaigning in farm country, and firing 12 illegal immigrants at his Westchester NY golf club that’s employed those illegals for 12 years? In 2018, the gov’t also shutdown, and reopened on Jan 29th. so, if you are experiencing a sense of déjà vu, you haven’t imagined it. This year is a bit of Ground Hog day, most Federal agencies expected to reopen Tuesday, the 29th. Markets will be lucky to get the January Unemployment Report on Friday—confused as it might be with government workers who applied for benefits when furloughed, and contract workers who stood no chance of receiving back pay when government reopens, this week.. January Motor Vehicle Sales could be a nail biter, as consumer and business confidence waned as the 2 parties fought over border wall funding.

Which brings us to Earnings, where financials’ importance will diminish, as some techs will rise to prominence along with pharma & biotech companies. On Monday, earnings crank up slowly, with Caterpillar, Celanese, Ethan Allen, Sanmina, and Whirlpool. On Tuesday, note 3M, AMD, Allergan, Amgen, Biiogen Idec, Boeing, Danaher, Ebay, HCA, KLA, Lockheed Martin, Paccar, Pfizer, Pulte Homes, Renaissance Re, Robert Half, SAP, Verizon, and drum roll please, Apple Inc. Some analysts believe the bad news is already embedded in Apple’s price but I’m not as confident—not after Intel’s report.

Wednesday, watch Alibaba, Ally Financial, Anthem, Boeing, Caci, Checkpoint Software, FaceBook, Fair Isaac (FICO), General Dynamics, Ingersoll Rand, Invesco, McDonald’s, Meritage Homes, Microsoft, Mondelez, Murphy Oil, Nasdaq, PayPal, Qualcomm, Royal Caribbean, ServiceNow, Sirius XM, Thermo Fisher, US Steel, Visa & Wynn Casinos & Resorts. By now, it should be clear that earnings cut across every sector, this week, with the exception of Utilities.

Thursday, Amazon, AmerisourceBergen Brunswick, Aptiv, Blackstone, Celgene, Charter Communications, ConocoPhillips, Deckers Outdoor, DowDupont, Eaton Corp, Ferrari, GE, Hershey, Lancaster Colony, ManPower, MasterCard, Northrup Grumman, Parker Hannifan, Raytheon, Royal Dutch Shell, Sherwin-Williams, Sprint, UPS, Valero, Yum China. Which leaves Friday, when reports are expected from Chevron, Cigna, ExxonMobil, Honeywell, ITW, LyondaleBasell, Madison Square Garden, Merck, Simon Property, Virtus Investments, Weyerhaueser, and Zimmer Biomet. Again, if you wanted to know how the US economy is faring, you could do worse than concentrate are this week’s reports which lack nothing but utilities. And I wouldn’t worry about them, given all the snow, this winter season, with cold even gripping the deep south of Florida.

Which brings us to Industry and I-bank Events, and there aren’t many of the latter, as Earnings usurp interest in events. One of the highlights of the week will be Tour d’Alis, a hotel/lodging investment event, whose keynote will be none other than Goldman Sachs’ CEO, David Solomon, Monday. Citi is hosting meetings with clients, there. The program reads like a mass analyst meeting for the industry, the government shut-down one detriment the group faced the past few weeks as travel was canceled right and left. I must say I’m attracted to a conference that started Sunday for Bank diretors—"Acquire or be Acquired" in Phoenix. NobleCon15 is Noble Financial’s annual small & microcap event, while Stephens’ Regional Banks Investor Conference is just what it says it is. (We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention more bank earnings expected this week than our Earnings Calendar belies—we cover only major money-center banks & the largest regionals, plus selected foreign banks. That leaves a lot in between.)

Health Benefits, ITXpo, Multifamily Housing, DesignCon (for chips & circuit boards), FIG Partners 23rd Bank CEO Forum, Credit Suisse’s Latin American Conference in Brazil, Jefferies’ Winter Consumer Summit (in Vail, CO), Laboratory Automation Science (SLAS), SPIE Photonics, and the early, pre-MAGIC events, like Off-Price, get underway before the week is over. So, despite a heavy Earnings Calendar, and a lack of I-bank events, there are still a few, along with some significant industry events that will add color to the earnings already reported. Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany may be the biggest event overseas.

All in, whether the post-Christmas rally can continue will depend on the quality of earnings. Yes, it will be nice to see government data return, but with an FOMC meeting, and the heavy Earnings Calendar, the government is more of the side show, as it’s been while it was partially shut down, and data was MIA.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

January 21—25, 2019   ALL ABOUT EARNINGS for NEXT TWO WEEKS   The Economic Calendar has some holes, because the US government partial shutdown has shutdown some of the data normally released. This week, Durable Goods Shipments & Orders, plus New Home Sales that aren’t arriving on the 25th, Friday, if the government isn’t fully reopened. And that doesn’t look likely, since Trump offered the Dems a 3-year extension of their residency for Dreamers/DACA but no path to citizenship, and no amnesty. Needless to say that was a non-starter.

Meanwhile, in deference to Earnings season, the I-bank calendar of events is mostly overseas, while the World Economic Forum, too, would have limited the number of I-bank events on the schedule. Trump has not only canceled plans to attend WEF but also canceled the US delegation that was going to be lead by Treasury Sec’y Mnuchin. Likewise, yellow vest protesters in France have caused that country’s leader, Macron, to cancel his plans to attend. That leads the door wide open to Xi Xinping of China to be the star leader in attendance. (If he’s not going, it’s nothing I’ve heard or read about.)

Speaking of China, it’s big day of data arrives Sunday night, our time, Monday in China, when the National Bureau of Statistics will release a slug of data, including preliminary Q4 GDP. Weekend financial press was all about the "weakness" in China’s economy, which is a little hard to swallow. Are they talking about growth in GDP of 6.0% instead of 6.7%? Do we even trust the statistics China releases? I hardly trust half the data the US releases, until the 2nd revisions, which are really the 3rd time data is offered. In fact, we might all be better off if the partial government shutdown spares us the first 2 attempted guesstimates and goes right to the final version, after the shutdown ends. For the record, the UK will dump a lot of data overnight Monday, Tuesday morning UK time.

Note the especially light US Treasury issuance, this week. Nothing longer than 6-months, something that happens, I guess, if you force people to work without paying them. Given the strength in the job market, at the moment, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the more run of the mill government job holders simply find something else. I don’t mean air traffic controllers, since those are highly trained and fairly highly paid critical jobs but one more bureaucrat at the IRS, who hasn’t already been deemed essential? You bet I’d work away, if I was in that position and could find a new job. Former government workers are often in high demand in industry, law, accounting, and other professions. In fact, show me an accountant and I’ll show you someone who brags about former IRS examiners now working for them.

We might be off Monday for MLK Jr day but the rest of the world will be busier. Prime Minster May is going to resubmit her Brexit deal to Parlament, though not a word has changed. The BoJ Monetary Policy Committee will meet, it’s decision out on Wednesday, Japanese time, which means in the wee hours of our Wednesday. Likewise, the ECB MPC is meeting, Draghi’s post-meeting conference starting early our Thursday morning—times, I might add, so the US can tune in to watch and/or listen.

Earnings take a day off Monday but ramp Tuesday through Thursday. More Financials, including Capital One, Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade, & Discover Financial Services, along with Travelers, UBS, and Synchrony Financial. Away from Financials, there’s IBM, JNJ, Abbot Labs, ASML, Comcast, F5, Ford Motor, Lam Research, Las Vegas Sands, Texas Instruments, Varian, Xilinx, and we’re not even at Thursday yet. Be my guest: examine those featured below but understand, because we cover only the major money-center banks and largest regionals, like Zion Bank, Tuesday, there are several dozen more small banks reporting that are not listed on our calendar, at all.

Which brings us to the Event Calendar. NAVC: North American Veterinary Conference (Orlando FL thru 21st) will feature Brooke Shields and Rob Lowe—everyone but Ellen Degeneres & Betty White who were prior keynotes. Americans adore their pets. Speaking of Betty White, she is one of the honorees at NATPE—the Nat’l Ass’n of Television Programming Executives (22nd), along with Byron Allen (his new distribution company is turning up almost weekly, when we prepare the films opening list), Robert Greenblatt, Rita Moreno, and Henry Winkler. The best way to get big stars to show up is to offer to bestow upon them a special honor. Works for the Grammys, Oscars, and other less known events, including NAVC & NATPE.

France will finish up Men;s Haute Couture week, before the Women’s version launches, on the 21st. Retina 2019, continues Sunday but runs all week. CIBC breaks with I-banks avoiding interference with earnings season, to host its Whistler Institutional Investor Conference starting Wednesday. Also starting Wednesday, the PGA Merchandise Show, which CNBC is likely to cover in one fashion or another. NBCUniversal, after all, is home to the Golf Channel. Also notable, the World Stem Cell Summit (22nd), and Argus’ Crude Summit (21st). Thursday, the Sundance Film Festival starts Thursday—talk about star power and honoring those who want to show up; Robert Redford and his Sundance Festival manage that in spades. While we’re talking stars, the 2018 Oscar Nominees will be announced on ABC TV, Tuesday morning.

And here’s one we didn’t expect to see. The Australian Open, a two-week tennis tournament—one of the 4 majors—is hosting a "Fortnite" day, on Saturday, Jan 26th. There’s a championship that offers a $100K top prize, and another $150K in cash prizes for runners up. Also, there’ll be a pro-am "Duos" tournament, where the top prize is $50K, a few tennis players eliminated earlier in the Open expected to compete for a spot. Saturday is Ladies Final Day, Men’s on Sunday. Meanwhile, across the Pacific, in Hawaii, there’s a major Dermatology Conference, even as Rheumatology is meeting in Snowmass Village CO. Why do dermatologists always meet where they’d recommend that patients lather up with sunblock, repeat every two hours?

At any rate, it’s Earnings that will either release or hold stocks hostage. It was a lot easier, going into last week, when equity valuations were significantly lower. This week, earnings will have to impress, or stocks will likely stall, if not give back some of the last near month’s gains. I wouldn’t count on stocks being able to add to their post-Christmas gains immediately, unless earnings are a lot stronger than I expect, and a gov’t partially shut down doesn’t impact the outlooks. If that can happen, then perhaps the government doesn’t need the 380K furloughed and not asked to come in and work without pay. Trump didn’t clean up the swamp, perhaps he could drain some of the fat, instead.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Calendar here)

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security,. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

January 14—18, 2019    A PIVOT IF NOT A PUT    Well, the markets finally got from Powell what it wanted—a more data dependent Fed that’s more receptive to exercising patience before its next moves. I’m sure Powell feels he was data dependent all along, and doesn’t really intend to take the reduction of its balance sheet off autopilot, which it was Janet Yellen who set out. But he said the obvious—if the economy & data demonstrate something other than the strong economy we’re in and foresee, the Fed can afford to be patient before the next rate hike, given inflation remains barely at the Fed’s target, and, of course, can slow the reduction of its balance sheet if liquidity suggests money is getting too tight to support a growing economy. So, probably not a real about face or change in his stance but certainly a pivot in his expression of the FOMC’s intentions. (Jeff Gundlach disagrees. He said Powell established his "put" last week, and that’s that.) And if that weren’t enough, one of the more "hawkish" Fed President’s, Evans, last week, said the Fed could afford to be patient before the next rate hike, even though he forecast 3 hikes this year. The market, wearing its rose-colored glasses, heard patience not 3 rates hikes this year. Fed’s Bullard, long recognized as one of the more dovish Fed members, in an WSJ interview warned the Fed could push the economy into recession, if it keeps raising rates. Furthermore, he said the Fed will cut sometime in the future, and recognized the FOMC coming to his view on this. The good thing about Bullard is he’ll be a voter starting in February. (I’ll thank Alfred Afstad for suggesting "pivot," for Powell’s switcheroo, without whom I may have used pirouette.) One thing is for sure, Powell’s comments were sufficient for the markets to stage a grand jete to the upside, even though Powell stated the Fed’s balance sheet is ‘far from’ where it needs to go—"far from" the exact words he used, Dec 4th, to describe where the Fed Fund’s rate was in relationship to neutral. And watch Fed’s George, Tuesday, because she’s been a staunch hawk who in her last appearance sounded a little less strident than she did up until then.

Monday’s main stage event at the NRF (Nat’l Retail Federation) BIG SHOW starts at 8:30am, with former FOMC chief Janet Yellen, re/code’s Kara Swisher, & CNBC’s Steve Liesman discussing "Impact at Scale: Leading in prosperous yet uncertain economic times." Ironically, the entire mood surrounding retail reversed, this past week, as Macy*s, in particular, blew the quarter, as a prior Outlooks pointed out was likely. I had never seen so few Macy*s shopping bags around the mall—even after Christmas, when its Last Act was offering up to 80% off, a division carved into regular stores that makes the place look like an embarrassing mess. The same was true this past weekend—so few Macy*s bags I couldn’t wait to walk by and see if it was even open. The BIG SHOW is about check-out systems, software, inventory management, and other machinations & apparatus used in retail but not about the retailers, at all. For that, you have to check out the ICR Conference, where public & private retailers & restaurant chains will present—the private ones not until the 16th. Note how many investment banks are hosting clients at ICR. In addition to the commentary from presenters, there will be buys and sells from portfolio managers, ICR a can’t miss annual event though I’d posit that retailer have had their days in the sun, and it’s time to move. That may be the upshot of the holiday sales updates from Signet Jewelers & Tiffany, both of which weigh in, on Thursday & Friday, respectively . For the record, the Mid-America Restaurant Expo, which started Sunday, was formerly the North American Pizza Expo, and is still heavily represented by pizza.

AFB—the 100th American Farm Bureau Convention likes slogans. This year, "when Mother Nature is your business partner, expect a few curveballs," a favorite. Not sure if the Director for Sustainable Development, Office of the Chief Economist of the USDA can show up, personally, for her appearance at the American Farm Bureau Foundation Convention, given partial government shutdown, or if she’ll attempt a video conference, as FDA commissioner attempted at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference, in San Francisco last week, to audio that no one could hear. Likewise, I don’t know if Sonny Perdue, the US Sec’y of Agriculture, scheduled for Monday, will attend or be kept away by the budget fracas impacts but he can always ask for a ride on Air Force One. On 01/10, the Farm Bureau announced it will welcome back Pres. Trump to address the Centennial Convention, Monday, at 11:15 a.m. cst (subject to change), for a 30 minutes slot but he’s usually late, and often rambles on, well past his allotted time, as prior presidents have before him. Others the French Embassy, and two EU Commissioners, several members of Congress, including the Chair of the Senate Ag Cmte, Pat Roberts (R-KS).

We’ve tried our best to keep up with which Federal Agencies are probably unable to deliver the Economic data the market thrives on. We made appropriate notes, below, where it’s probable data won’t be arriving. And we’ll note, again, the number of FedHeads speaking this week, especially Tuesday, when even the ECB Chief Mario Draghi will be addressing the EU parliament sometime during our early hours.

The NAIAS—North American International Auto Show is a mass analyst meeting for automakers and their suppliers. If that wasn’t true about the first 2 days of the meeting, itself, for trade only, it would be true, anyway, about the Deutsche Bank conference held coincident, which will be held starting Tuesday. Also that day, the IHS Markit Annual NAIAS Briefing, and the Automotive News World Congress @ NAIAS both also Tuesday. Other notable events include Peters & Co’s Energy Conference, in Canada, augmented by TD Securities’ Energy one in London, along with UBS Midstream, MLP, & Utilities 1-1 Conference. Needham’s Growth Conference.

The highlight of the week, no doubt, will be all the Financials reporting earnings, this week, along with 2 airlines and 2 railroads. Often, Citi, JPMorgan, Bk of America, and Wells Fargo report one week, and both Goldman Sachs & Morgan Stanley the following the week. Not this time: We’re getting themn all, including Bk of NY Mellon, BlackRock, Charles Schwab, US Bank, and State Street, along with BBT, M&T Bank, KeyBanc, Citizens Financial Group, PNC Financial, Regions Financial, & SunTrust Bank, large regionals. Then to spike it up, United Airlines, UnitedHealth Group, CSX, Kinder Morgan, NetFlix, PPG, Taiwan Semiconductor, Kansas City Southern, Schlumberger, and VC Corps. I’m not hot on retailers, right now but believe VF Corps’ North Face division could have delivered a super quarter, as snow arrived earlier than usual and hasn’t quit since.

While a Fed that’s hiked rates 4 times in the past year is seen as positive for banks, the group has been acting terrible, and all of CNBC’s technical gurus are predicting the worst yet to come. It doesn’t make a lot of sense after a year in which the first 9 months of the year encouraged hanging in with the stocks you were already in, the final quarter of the year—and the last month, especially, encouraged wholesale dumping of equities, and a switch into bonds. That’s the kind of equity that should have favored the banks with large equity divisions—JPMorgan, Bk of America, and Morgan Stanley, as examples. We’ll see if that was borne out, and whether franchises like Goldman Sachs were able to maintain their winning trading ways. GS’ stock is suggesting, absolutely, not.

Also Monday, the Australian Open starts, with Andy Murray announcing, 01/10, it is very likely to be his last appearance as a tennis player—his ‘swan song,’ he announced, due to hip problems that surgery hasn’t resolved. For the UK, losing Murray is a big loss, since he was their best player in years. But, of course, Brexit without a separation deal with the EU, will hurt even worse. Parliament is supposed to vote on Prime Minister May’s exit deal worked out with the EU Tuesday. Oddsmakers are betting Brexit will be postponed. Are you feeling lucky? If you are, then you won’t be long stocks until the 4th week of Earnings season, or afterwards.

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)

© 2019 Sandi Lynne Nothing contained this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in more complete due diligence.

January 07—11, 2019  FEDHEADS GALORE, I-BANK EVENTS & WARNING SEASON    We thought the Joint AEA/ASSA reached a new high with all the Federal Reserve Bank Presidents speaking but this week will take the cake, especially Wednesday, where I’ve added some asterisks, and noted the speakers will be augmented, besides, by the FOMC Dec 18—19th Meeting Minutes, to be released that day. Thursday is another day of Fed-packed speakers, while Friday promises George, one of the few who didn’t speak at AEA. Meantime, a US Delegation is in Beijing for high-level trade talks that, we hope, don’t end like Trump’s bipartisan talks on the border wall, which even he admitted haven’t made progress. There’s also some confusion about which government data will be released and which will be deferred because of the partial federal government shut-down.

US Nov Consumer Credit (3pm et), out Tuesday, will upset the applecart if growth in revolving debt didn’t grow as much as the Street expects. If consumers waited to charge up a storm until Dec, then some will worry about the bare number, without context—especially since Thanksgiving week and Black Friday are such big days for consumers to spend. Others will worry that banks are trimming the sails of credit card debt, causing shrinkage. Let’s remember the surveys that claimed retail sales rose +5.1% in Dec, so that’s when the most credit (debt) was probably added.
I’d like to get excited about Thursday’s US Dec. Chain Store Sales but few retailers still report those, and a few, like Tiffany, have said they’ll report Holiday Sales, but not this week. Also notable, those FOMC Minutes of the Dec. meeting, out Wednesday because we’ll get more insight into just when the Fed started changing its tune about this year’s interest rate hikes. I suspect 2 more weeks of stiff equity selling into year’s end was what flipped the switch for Powell & Co. US Dec. CPI, out Friday, is likely to dissuade anyone who fears inflation—especially since crude followed equities down, into year end.

CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and NAIAS (North American Int’l Auto Show) are the top Industry events of the week, both likely to be crawling with analysts and execs, both promising 2 days of press conferences before the events, "officially," open. Both include a day for "industryonly." We don’t know why RayJay’s calendar states it is hosting meetings at ICR Conference on Jan. 7th & 8th, since the public company conference doesn’t start until the 13th, and the private company section until the 16th. Was it a place holder based on year ago information? We have no idea but there it is, on RayJay’s 2019 calendar, starting the 7th. Maybe we’re wrong and Raymond James has set up meetings with corporates presenting, for the week prior to the conference opening. It’s just not the way it usually occurs, and plenty of other I-banks are sponsors, all of them hosting meetings during the ICR Conference, mostly the 14th—16th, rather than a week prior. On the corporate side, the big Kahuna of I-bank events is JPMorgan’s Annual Healthcare Conference, in San Francisco. There are at least a half dozen Healthcare events scheduled to coincide, the most coveted by Leerink Partners. JPM can also boast of it’s Tech Forum, @ CES, and Citi of its TMT @ CES, while Goldman Sach’s Energy Conference is a headliner, too, especially for its Miami location, just as another deep freeze is supposed to sweep from the West Coast to the East.

If the National Banks of Eastern European Countries are an interest, then UniCredit has the Emerging Europe Winter Conference designed for you. In Kitzbuhel Austria, it’s hosting officials from the National Banks of Hungary, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic, Russia, and Turkey, plus the FinMins from those countries and more.

On the other side of the globe, Citi is hosting a 7-day Nationwide (China) Luxury & NEV {sic} Dealership Channel check that starts in Shanghai on the 11th, moves to Nanjing/Suzhou/Wuxi on the 12th, then Beijing on the 18th, Tianjin on the 19th, Shenzhen on the 26th, and Shenyang from 02/01—02, in Mandarin, only. Deep dive into this week? On the 11th Citi will be visiting dealers of BMW, Benz (Citi’s terminology, now ours), Audi, GWM (Wey), Geely (Lynk&Co), BYD, Hyundai. I’d protest that the hi-level "ministerial-level" trade talks will be much more significant for sentiment, at a time Trump really needs a win, and China needs to boost its economy, suffering from US Companies limiting the orders placed there. For China, the biggest risk is apparel & shoe companies finding alternate manufacturing in Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, Latin America, and elsewhere, and permanently moving some of their production away from China. The longer the trade stalemate endures, the more companies will diversify their production away from China—never to return.

I’d also tune into the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention and IDEAg Trade Show, starting Friday, because those were some of Trump’s biggest supporters, his big idea to spend $12B on grants to farmers, to keep their support, as China cut back on orders of soybeans and other farm products. I’d be surprised if Farmers could be bought for so little, and question why no opponents are questioning the legality of the White House farmer bail-out, whe3n other industries aren’t getting the same soothing.

Earnings from KB Home & Lennar will be watched carefully, though Constellation Brands (STZ) is reporting a quarter that ends before the bulk of holiday alcohol & wine sales kick into high gear but, still, with beer often a working man’s drink and employment at some of the highest levels in decades, we can’t say there’s nothing to be learned from STZ’s report. Likewise, Synnex (SNX) is an Enterprise supplier of technology and integration services, so one to watch, especially since last quarter it reported its first disappointment in years.

I’d also keep a sharp eye on England and the EU, since the Brexit deal Prime Minister May negotiated seems less likely to squeak through Parliament. In fact, there’s more talk, of late, of the current status being extended for a period of time while negotiations continue. Many in the EU are dead set against such a result, and I sure don’t want that to happen because I’m eager to buy British stocks, selectively, into the March 29th Brexit date. For instance, Tata Motors is almost 1/3 of its 52 week high, while oil is so soft, the foreign E&P stocks are suffering more than, say, Chevron, while Royal Dutch Shell "B" shares are design, specifically, for US investors, who won’t have UK taxes taken out of B share dividends, never to be reclaimed again, without great expense.

How this week turns out could well depend on Earnings Warnings—how many as well as how big the miss. None may be as damaging as Apple’s but enough of them would certainly do more widespread damage. Stay safe out there—I’m not at all certain that the selling is over—and can’t readily say the opposite with any confidence, either. The charting program I’ve long used suddenly won’t accept any dates past December 31, 2018. 2019 data comes in but isn’t being integrated into my charts. That means I need to start fresh, with a new program, this week, and pray it won’t be as painful as some new programs were to use. I still have nightmares of my dad upstairs, on hold for tech support, back when "small" business computers took up an entire room that required their own punch cards and air conditioners. Now that’s a nightmare!

ECONOMIC: (Highlights, only, below. Full International Economic Calendar here)    

© Sandi Lynne 2019 Nothing contained in this commentary should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. The opinions expressed are the author’s, alone, and should be just one factor in complete due diligence. 

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