May 18—22, 2020   
POWELL REITERATED HIS MESSAGE FROM PIIE on '60 MINUTES'      How to piss off the President in 2 easy lessons—even if you’re not former Pres. Barrack Obama? Be Fed Chairman Powell and reiterate your message from last Wednesday’s Peterson Institute for International Economics, emphasizing the long, hard slog the country has in front of it, getting back to where it was just 2 months ago—and repeat, effective, support for the additional $3 Trillion HEROES Act the US House passed late Friday—which the Republicans are dead set against—claiming it’s a liberal wish list. He’ll be testifying Tuesday at the Senate Banking Committee, this week, likely encouraging the Senators against the Heroes Act to work on forming a bill they can live with—just shovel more money out to the citizens who, eventually, will be responsible for repaying all the borrowing the US will have to do to fund recent and the latest proposed spending.

Like last week, this week was supposed to be a banner week for Investment Bank Conferences, topped by 2 mass analyst meetings—the AGA Financial Forum, and EPG Annual Spring Financial Forum. The American Gas Association will be held Virtually, with several concurrent I-bank 1x1 virtual meetings to run concurrently. EPG, the Electrical Products Group decided to skip it this year—canceling the many associated I-bank Conferences usually held alongside it. The AGA, originally, said it canceled this year’s event, in an earlier page than the one that confirms it’s a being held, this year, as a Virtual Financial Forum .

Most Fed conferences have been canceled but the Cleveland Fed’s Center for Inflation & ECB’s Joint Conference on "Inflation: Drivers & Dynamics" will be held Virtually, this year, which the Cleveland Fed’s CEO, Mester, will open As for the Agenda? That seems the tightest secret in the world.—even our considerable research skills failed us. The ECB confirms that their member, Lane, will be speaking the 2nd day but, otherwise, the ECB listing points to the Cleveland Fed, which offers nothing but the original announcement. Though, despite social distancing and self-isolation efforts, Fed speakers will be more commonplace this week, including Rosengren speaking Tuesday, NY Fed’s Williams on Thursday, plus Fed Board Vice Chairman Clarida at a NABE hosted webinar Thursday, followed a little over an hour later by Powell, kicking off a Fed Listens program on how COVID-19 is Impacting Communities. The ADB—Asian Development Bank is hosting a one-day spring meeting—a virtual one, for most attendees, I’d presume, despite the event being listed in the Philippines.

Otherwise, the Economic Calendar is filled with Treasury Auctions out the whazoo, including the first 20-year Bond Auction, Wednesday, shortly before the FOMC Minutes of the April 28th—29th Meeting are released. Otherwise, the Economic Calendar will be notable for housing tidbits, including NAHB—the Homebuilders’ Sentiment Index Monday, and the Nat’l Association of Realtors April Existing Home Sales, on Thursday.

The Earnings Calendar switches to large retailers, though some large ones like TJMaxx & Ross Dress for Less (both Thursday) will be reporting small numbers since neither does much of an online sales, and stores were largely closed for part of the Quarter which started in February, and ended with April. Tuesday, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Urban Outfitters & Walmart lead the earnings parade though it’s Advance Auto Parts that might surprise most to the downside, since people who don’t drive to work don’t need to repair their vehicles. I’ve been in my local store to pick up oil and windshield wipers and never saw the store and parking lot so empty.

Wednesday, Earnings headliners are L Brands, whose deal to dispose of part of Victoria’s Secret fell apart, Lowe’s, and more financial dribbles from Macy*s which really isn’t reporting and filing its 10-Q until June but is offering more tidbits before sitting down for a "fireside chat" with JPMorgan’s well-respected analyst, Matt Boss. Also on the Schedule for Wednesday, Take-Two & Target. Most of the traffic and demand in Walmart & Target have been for food and household essentials which means the higher margin apparel TGT has developed so well hasn’t been a hot ticket. That’s doubly bad for the current quarter since, last year, TGT’s special collaboration was with Vineyard Vines, which sold out quicker than you can read likedy split. Furthermore, it seems both CostCo Warehouse Stores & Walmart had near exclusives on toilet paper & paper towels for the entire quarter, once shelter-in-place orders and closed schools triggered hoarding. Wednesday, Analog Devices & Synopsys report, two big tech names that will set the tone for coming reports, Thursday, from Agilent, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Intuit, and nVidia. Medtrtonic, usually a reliable performer probably suffered from the cessation of elective surgeries, starting sometime in March—though perhaps for only 2 weeks of that month. Other notable Thursday reports will come from Best Buy (benefited from working and schooling at home), Deckers Outdoors (Ugg boots probably bought before schools shut down but reorders were unlikely), and the aforementioned ROST & TJX. Friday, Alibaba Group, Jone Deere, FootLocker and Tribune report. FL, I’m afraid, hurt by the reliance on mall-based stores and direct competition from its suppliers—especially Nike, adidas, and New Balance.

Which brings us to the Events Calendar, with most of the I-bank conferences planned surviving as Virtual events that will be streamed out. As the Earnings Calendar tails off into Retailers, there will be plenty of portfolio managers eager for more information on how the current quarter is progressing—information not provided at the time Q1 reports were delivered, due to COVID-19 uncertainty. With Memorial Day weekend dead ahead—Friday a short day for bond markets—2/3rds of the quarter is n the bag, even if that bag is one-fifth the size of the one usually used for the 2nd quarter of the year. From the top, GS’ Global Staples will be one of the few happy talk events of the week, since most are spending more time at home and using more cleaning supplies than they ever have before. After that, not so happy for JPM’s Homebuilding & Building Products, though Macquarie Asia Consumer is one that could preview what’s to come in the US, as 49 states, now, reopen at least partially. CUE—a Virtual Computer-Using Educators BOLD Symposium now deals with the norm, rather than the exception. Daiwa Virtual China A-Share & Macquarie China Virtual Semiconductor Day both important links in the recovery puzzle, since China went into lockdown first and came out first.

Tuesday, Citi’s Car of the Future pre-empts GM’s unveil of its EV Hummer, Wednesday. (Anyone else imagine the Hummer will look like Elon Musk’s pick-up truck? Me neither. Transformers, perhaps but not the Tesla truck.) UBS Oil & Gas might throw more kindling on the fire burning out the energy renaissance in the US. SunTrust RH Financial Services has some big names appearing, as will RBC’s Housing & Mortgage Conference, though more are scheduled the following day, at Wells Fargo’s FinServices Investor Forum. RBC’s Global Healthcare is a topic too well covered, by now, giving the edge to JPMorgan’s European Technology, Media, & Telecoms CEO Conference, or even, JPM’s Annual Shareholder meeting. Like FOMC Chairman Powell, JPM’s Jamie Dimon likes to tell it like it is, which isn’t always easy to swallow. And while we’re at it, Virtual shareholder meetings are also scheduled from Chipotle Mexican Grill, Amgen, McDonald’s, Morgan Stanley, and Southwest Airlines though, some of the shareholder meetings cited by Barron’s aren’t that at all. Many of the companies they name will be speaking at Wolfe Research’s Virtual Global Transportation & Industrials Conference, streamed to shareholders who choose to tune in but not, literally, Annual Meetings. Ironically, recently bankrupt J.C. Penney is holding a virtual shareholder meeting, Friday afternoon, at which it plans to lay out the split off of its real estate assets into a separate, listed company—sounding more and more like Sears by the month.

Last week, the bulls finally surrendered some ground, after a 6 week impressive run. With a 3-day weekend ahead, the bulls will be able to declare victory if they merely resist giving up much more ground. Powell has been doing his best to call ‘em like he seems ‘em, as Jamie Dimon will, as well. That hasn’t stopped the bulls until now, and little reason to expect them to surrender, now, no matter how little sense that makes to the realists, like David Tepper. Or me, for that matter.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 11—15, 2020 
 IT’S the BIGGEST I-BANK CONFERENCE WEEK OF THE YEAR  If Only Virtually, this Time      There are2 BIG items on the Economic Calendar, one of which could be canceled. The first is Jerome Powell’s Wednesday video appearance at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, on the 13th, pundits sure it was hurriedly scheduled to counteract the brief dip into negative territory yields took into next year. The other item was supposed to precede Powell—NIAID Chief Dr. Anthony Fauci’s testimony to Congress, Tuesday—an appearance meant to examine the White House response to coronavirus. Let’s, first, acknowledge. Dr. Fauci is one of the most diplomatic member of any team connected to the White House, often disagreeing with the President’s statements without appearing to make Trump look foolish, stupid, or worse. In fact, many times, he seems to expand on the party line, merely adding some new, crucial information that doesn’t sound like it disagrees with the President, even when it clearly does.

So, to start, Trump tried to block Fauci’s testimony. Now, it appears, Fauci has the perfect out if he chooses to take it; given that the Vice President’s press secretary tested positive for COVID-19, and Fauci has been physically close to her, many times, when the coronavirus task force met and held press conferences, he could easily beg out. He could, of course, choose to testify via video conference, as is the common schedule, these days but if Fauci wants to duck out, he easily could. We therefore, leave his testimony as a question mark, for Tuesday, even as we know Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision, Quarles, plans on testifying before the Senate banking committee, also Tuesday. Fed’s Harker is also on the schedule for Tuesday but a videoconference with the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, on local issues. Likewise, Chicago Fed’s Evans is speaking Monday, to the Lansing Regional Chamber, another local event, he and Harker not expected to trigger any earthquakes.

If you want earthquakes, that will be the US Federal Government’s Monthly Budget Statement, out Tuesday, late in the day. Then, come Thursday, when the weekly US Jobless Claims are released, per-market, we’ll learn how many out of job workers were rehired when their states reopened—many more reopening this week, including all but Miami-Dade & Broward Counties. From the looks of the food lines on TV, last week, more people are hurting then ever—rehires scarcer than the hungry. April CPI Tuesday, PPI Wednesday, and Retail Sales Friday will be dismissed out of hand—oil prices were collapsing, meat shortages weren’t, yet, a thing—though obvious to anyone who looked into a meat and poultry counter, hoping to be enticed. Likewise JOLTS may show a significant drop in job openings, and a lack of quits but who’ll really be taking either number to heart?

Which brings us to the Earnings Calendar, where both of the major debt insurers are scheduled to report, along with a surfeit of hoteliers, more mall REITs, Infineron, Cisco, Applied Materials, and Stratsys, representing tech, along with Under Armour, The Container Store, JD.com, and VF Corp.

Which brings us to what was scheduled to be the biggest Investment Bank Conference week of the first half of the year—or at least the very biggest since early January. Just about all of them remain a go, albeit via videoconference, rather than as large assemblies in fancy hotels, with the drinks and other amenities that accompany with wining and dining future clients. How many Portfolio Managers will actually tune in? Hard to say, though many could, certainly, stop in after the event is over, using the format for on-demand listening and viewing, rather than tuning in during real-time delivery. In fact, if you spend a few minutes examining the schedule, about the only events not canceled or postponed are all of those I-bank conferences—experiments in social distancing that could change the face of I-bank conferences, forever. Thursday, you might note, Strategas is hosting Ivy Zelman on Housing & Homebuilders. I can’t help feeling Barron’s stole some of Strategas’ thunder by printing a Q&A with Zelman in this past weekend’s print edition (available, of course, online, too.) Surely, Zelman knew Barron’s would appear before her Strategas conference call so the presumption is she’s saved quite a bit for the latter event. In fact, there was almost nothing said in Barron’s about the suppliers or realtors, at all, leaving some topics wide open for Strategas.

Last, I messed up last week when I forgot to mention some exciting ESPN scheduling, proving how starved the Walt Disney Company was for video most had never seen previously. So what did you miss last week? The Stone Skipping Championship and the Cherry Pitt Spitting Contest. No wonder the Tennis Channel and CW showed the UTR Round Robin from Ibis Country Club in West Palm Beach. What the heck is UTR, you might rightly ask? It’s the Universal Tennis Rating—a mash up of tennis stats that pretty much ignores tournament results to rank players by the kind of stats fantasy team owners use to formulate a team. Exciting? Maybe for Reilly Opelka who fired off his usual fuselage of aces but, otherwise, a name I had to explain to otherwise faithful watchers of major tennis tournaments. (He’s the Andy Roddick of this generation—a really tall great server whose all round game comes up short, otherwise.) But the point is, if you’re sick of watching stocks go up because Amazon, Apple. Google, Facebook & Microsoft are rising, then be sure to check out ESPN’s channel guide. You never know what it might be broadcasting, until live sports returns.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 Nothing contained 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 04—08, 2020   MORE EARNINGS, MEAN LESS    Let’s cut to the chase—Friday’s Unemployment Report for April. Of course, you’d think there would be nothing in it to surprise us, given the weekly Unemployment Applications announced Thursday mornings but, consider, for a moment, if some of the slowest state Unemployment offices, like Florida’s, finally catch up in time for this Friday’s report. Over two million have applied for benefits but only 40K checks have gone out to claimants, as of May 1st. DeSantis, a disciple of Trump’s, decided to solve the woeful DEO—Dept of Employment Opportunity, a misnomer, if there ever was one—by ordering 100 new servers. Now, a smart governor would have called in Microsoft’s Azure, or Amazon’s AWS but not a Trump disciple, who’s sure everyone is a crook—the reason Trump is against mail-in ballots for November’s election. So, I can assure you, Florida won’t get caught up for weeks, if not months, since all those servers have to be programmed and integrated but, perhaps, there’s another state that was equally behind and handled it more smartly, and got caught up in time for Friday’s report. What we think we know could be far worse than what we do, indeed, know.

As for other items on the Economic Calendar, note the newly obese amounts on offer, Monday, in Treasury’s 3-, & 6-month Bill auctions. Record high amounts. And if that wasn’t enough, the Treasury is reopening past offerings so that there’ll be 105-day Bills Monday afternoon, 119-day & 42-day Bills on Tuesday morning, all before the Treasury Refunding Announcement, Wednesday, which should be a doozy!

The Reserve Bank of Australia will announce its Rate & QE decision in the wee hours of our Tuesday, while the Bk of England will weigh in early Thursday morning, ushering in the very early pre-market hours with new Chief Bailey’s post-Meeting Press Conference. Also Thursday, April Chain Store Sales from those who still report such data, CostCo Warehouse Stores out Wednesday, after hours. Starting Thursday, through a week from Tuesday, many retail chains will announced their Q1 Sales, in advance of the May earnings reports the majority file, that month. Hardly scintilating data, given most retailers have been open for online orders, only, and essentials have been far more popular than apparel, shoes, or heaven forbid, jewelry. As an industry, non-food retail is close behind airlines & hoteliers, on the edge of bankruptcy filings though, honestly, it makes sense to expect chains to shrink, considerably, before they take the bankruptcy route, if they can hold on.

Which brings us to the week’s buffet of earnings reports expected, heavy with property owners, restaurant chains, hotels, and a bevy of energy names. Whether the property owners are landlords to retailers, apartment dwellers, or businesses, the number who skipped April rent and, possibly, May, too, will say volumes about what’s going on behind the scenes. Kelly Services also reports Monday, and is likely to provide an outlook for Friday’s Unemployment Report, which it does monthly, even when it’s not reporting results. Other notable Monday reports include AIG, Loew’s, whose Diamond Offshore declared bankruptcy, its hotels not doing much better. Also Monday, Shake Shack, Skyworks, Starwood Capital, Texas Roadhouse Grill, Tyson, Williams, and Wyndham Hotels, each of them of interest for different reasons.

Tuesday, Activision Blizzard & Electronic Arts—EA if you prefer—both report what should be good results, given all the people stuck at home, connected to networks most phone & cable companies have promised not to disconnect. Also reporting Tuesday, Allstate, AMC Networks, Asbury Auto, Cheesecake Factory, Carter’s, Chemours, Expeditor’s International, Fiat Chrysler, Group 1 automotive, ITW, Ingredion, KLAC Tencor, Lancaster Colony, Martin Marietta, Mattel, Newmont Mining, Perkin Elmer, Pinterest, Prudential Financial, Regeneron, Republic Services, SBA Communications, Sealed Air, Sprout’s Farmer’s Market, Store Capital, Sysco, TopBuild, Total Oil, US Food Service, The Walt Disney Company, Wayfair, and so much more.

Wednesday there’s more of the same, most notably Avalon Bay Communities, Apache, BioRad, CDW, Discovery Communications, Equinix, Etsy, Everett Reinsurance, General Motors, IAC Interactive, Jacobs Engineering, MetLife, Mid American Apartments, New York Times, Nexstar Media, Papa John’s, PayPal, Penske Automotive, Scotts-Miracle Gro Square, Sturm Ruger, T-Mobile, Waste Management, Wendy’s, Wingstop, and much more.

We could go through the same exercise for Thursday and Friday, too but you can scan the tickers highlighted, and choose your own representative ones, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out Amerisource Bergen Brunswick, a pharma distributor, in the midst of a pandemic, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gannett, Danaher (acquirer of a GE division), Hilton & Host Hotels, plus JetBlue, News Corp, Post Holdings (in light of how well the cereal space has done on lockdown), Uber (which I couldn’t give a hoot about but the Street does), and ViacomCBS. Thursday is the heaviest day of Earnings season, by far, topping last week’s Thursday by dozens of listings.

Then, we arrive at the Event Calendar, filled with mostly canceled events, and the I-bank conferences being held virtually. Many of the postponed events are already off the list, and inserted where they whenever they were rescheduled for. Some of the virtual conferences, like one from Stephens, dropped one of the originally scheduled companies leaving only 3 to soldier on.

Japan and China are celebrating Golden Week, which means Taiwan, Hong Kong, and to a lesser extent, Singapore will be closed more than they’ll be open, too. But with so many earnings reports scheduled, two central banks meeting, and Friday’s coming April Unemployment Report, they’ll hardly be missed. The question is whether the onslaught of so many reports from so many deeply damaged companies finally brings the bulls to their senses? It would be about time.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 27—May 01, 2020  
ALL ABOUT EARNINGS     While Thursday’s Weekly Unemployment Applications will be closely watched, the market didn’t really react to the last 2 reports. The April Monthly Employment Situation won’t be out until May 8th, which leaves Earnings as the headline Calendar of the week.

And what a Calendar it is! Let’s focus, for a moment, on Wednesday, with American Tower, ADM, CME, Deutsche Bank, DinEquity, eBay, Enterprise Product Pipeline, Facebook, FICO, General Dynamics, GE, The Harftford, Hasbro, Humana, MasterCard, Microsoft, Norfolk Southern, Northrup Grumman, Pilgrim’s Pride, Qualcomm, Ryder, ServiceNow, Sherwin-Williams, Teledoc, Tesla, United Rentals, Valero, and Yum Brfands, just to name some of the tickers embolodened. Also reporting, Wednesday, Boeing, which backed out of the deal for Embraer, over the weekend, devastating the latter, for sure, but probably something Boeing shareholders will celebrate.

We could have just as well picked Tuesday, with 3M, AMD, Akamai, and Alphabet (Google), just to name the most high profile "A" names, while further down the line that day is Merck, Mondelez, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Starbucks, and more. Likewise, I could have focused on Thursday, with Amazon, Amgen, Apple, Comcast, Dow Chemical, Eaton, Gilead, Ilumina, Intercontinental Exchange, Kraft Heinz (rescued by shelter-in-place orders), McDonald’s, Twitter, United Airlines, U.S. Steel Visa, Western digital, Whirlpool, and more. As the title says, to us, the week is all about Earnings.

Most of the Events scheduled for this week were either converted to Virtual events, or already rescheduled for either later this year, or combined with next year’s event. RBC’s Fixed Income Financial Services Investor Symposium, originally scheduled to travel from NY, to Boston, to Chicago, has gone Virtual, and is still listed on RBC’s Institutional site by city, so perhaps the FinServices companies participating in the virtual conference will be from NY on Day #1, Boston, on Day #2, then Chicago on Day #3.

IAB—Interactive Ad Bureau--sponsors the NewFronts scheduled this week. While many of the UpFronts were rescheduled, the NewFronts, which are for digital companies, are largely expected to go forward as VIRTUAL (digital) events, After Thursday, they skip into the first full week in May.

The Event likely to have drawn the most viewers is EA & ESPN2’s broadcast of the "Road to Madden Bowl," and "Madden NF: 20Celebrity Tournament" which ran all weekend, live. eSports doesn’t, yet, draw the way the NFL does but Madden NFL is one of the longest-running video games, with tremendous participation, especially from those who formulate "fantasy teams." And online gambling has been one of the more successful shelter-in-place activities, even with the majority of sports a no-show.

The FOMC meets this week but it’s hard to imagine them saying anything that could surprise, now. The voting Fed Reserve members have been busily meeting in advance and between regularly scheduled meetings, announcing the first alphabet soup of programs to save the economy since 2008/09. So what could that group do, now, or Powell possibly say, during his post-meeting press conference to surprise the Street? Short of launching a program to buy equities—which economists & traders don’t see coming—there’s nothing, for now. In fact, as often as I get the FOMC wrong, I think the message repeated from here on in is going to be patience to see how the programs already initiated play out.

Short of moving Mother’s Day, later this month, the biggest surprise for the coming month of May is Churchill Downs moving the Kentucky Derby to September, from the first Saturday in May. Warren Buffet & Berkshire Vice Chairman Greg Abel are planning an audience-free Annual Meeting for Berkshire Hathaway shareholders next Saturday, the Q&A the only surviving portion of the meeting. Berkshire Hathaway said, on 04/27, Charlie Munger will not be participating, confirming Buffett & Abel are the only 2 directors expected to partake of the annual meeting.

The only other notable item on the schedule is the size of the Treasury Auctions, which have been ballooning steadily but still seem far short of the amount of funds Congress has been authorizing to support the economy, and the Federal Reserve’s enlarging balance sheet, now at $6.6 trillion. But we’ve been noting Treasury Auctions for years, and $57B in 3-month ^ $48B in 6-month Bills are both far larger than they were as few as 6 months ago. Then, again, the BoJ has been betting the farm since 2008, and won’t surprise when it announces its latest decision, in the week hours of East Coast Tuesday morning, because most of its debt is bought by Japanese. The ECB weighs in with its April Rate & QE decision, in the early morning of Thursday and might pull a rabbit out of its hat, because the EU countries have repeatedly failed to agree on an EU rescue plan—so-called COVID Bonds.

So, with 3 Central Banks meeting this week, we still think the focus will remain on Earnings—the repetitive withdrawal of full year forecasts and failure to guesstimate the current Quarter’s results will get old very fast. On the other hand, you might not want to hear realistic assessments of the current quarter’s results, which may very well arrive, later in May, when retailers start offering their best guess of how bad the losses will become. Given that stocks often slump in this week of the Earnings Season, and don’t recover until this week and next are completed. The bulls will have to pull in their horns, temporarily, at least. Are the lows in? Probably. The March 23rd margin clerk liquidations probably set a low we may not repeat but the bulls are far ahead of the economy, in an unsustainable optimism that will be dashed in the coming weeks, despite all the Fed and Congress are doing to keep the economy afloat.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 20—24, 2020  THE COMING 3 WEEKS USUALLY TOUGH for EARNINGS, EVEN WITHOUT CORONAVIRUS       We’ll get a mix of pre- and post-COVID-19 data, this week, which will demonstrate how strong the economy was, in February, as well as how 1—2 weeks of business closures (depending on the state) managed to destroy March, before the April near-total cessation demolished this month, completely. For instance, Wednesday, FHFA’s February Home Price Index will demonstrate moderate gains in home prices, in places where snow didn’t shut down activity—and even then, some of the most snow-bound states do best in ski season. Tuesday, the Nat’l Ass’n of Realtors release March Existing Home Sales. Those are recorded on closing—unlike New Home Sales, to be released on Thursday, are counted when a contract is signed. Coronavirus probably didn’t do as much to destroy Existing Hone Sale closings, in March, since those were for contracts signed from 30—90 days earlier. COVID-19, however, might not have done much damage to New Home Sales either, since those are not just counted when the contract is first signed—usually before the house is finished, sometimes before ground has even been broken—the first half point rate cut in March, likely triggering a spike in sales, before shelter-in-place and other lock-downs were ordered, to offset those that weren’t signed once those state and county orders were announced.

Come Thursday, the weekly Initial Unemployment Claims data, and continuing claims data, will clarify how many more people were let go after it became clear business shutdowns were not going to be a simple couple of week affair. Then, Friday, Mar Durable & Capital Goods Orders & Shipments might have seen a spike, as the Federal Government started mobilizing the National guard to aid the states, though all those all those tests needed to seek COVID-19 positive people are not either Durable or Capital Goods, so won’t show up in the data. Refrigerated trucks to house the dead, unfortunately, might.

The Earnings Calendar is a bit of an off week, after last week’s bit money center bank reports, with companies like Amazon & Microsoft not scheduled until the end of the month. Still IBM Monday, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chubb, Coca-Cola, Emerson, HCA, Lockheed Martin, Manpower, Netflix, Prologis, SAP, Texas Instruments, & Traveletrs, all Tuesday, will set the tone fofr the week.

Examine those tickers emboldened, especially compared to the number or reports expected, and concede the number of market-moving names are somewhat slim. Still, I’ll point out CSX, Delta Airlines, Discovery Financial Services, Kimberbly-Clark, Kinder Morgan, Lam Research, Las Vegas Sands, Nasdaq (perhaps the pick of the week!), NextEra (owns FPL), O’Reilly Auto Parts, Quest Diagnostics (DGX), Seagate Technology, S L Green, TD Ameritrade, Teledyne, Thermo Fisher, Wolverine Worldwide, and Xilinx are Wednesday’s stand-outs. NDAQ stands out most because volatility is great for business, and tech stocks have been the stars on the way down, and on the way back up. If you glanced at any of the money center bank reports, you might have noticed that trading ticked up. No one likely benefited more than NDAQ, even IPO’s dried up.

Thursday, Air Products stands out because it has often benefited from higher hospital utilization, which COVID-19 has provided in spades—globally. Alliance Data and Capital One could be teeing up big loss reserves but, then, that’s to be expected as unemployment soars. Banks already made that clear. And Capital One is very cautious with new cards, often restricting credit limits to customers with short credit histories to no more than $500 in credit. Citrix Systems is one of the forgotten remote working beneficiaries, perhaps around too long for most to notice, now. Crocs and Skechers just happen to report on the same day. Whatever they report, their prospects are bright in periods of high unemployment—cheaper footwear is more affordable, and that’s a winning formula in a recession. E-Trade Financial, of course, is being purchased by Morgan Stanley, so it’s latest report is less of a factor than it otherwise would be. Pulte Homes, Pool Corp, and TriPoint are all variations on similar themes. Housing in Q1 was strong, thanks to a mild winter, and mostly pre-COVID-19. Edwards LifeSciences may take down numbers. You might think of aortic and other heart valves as crucial surgeries that people don’t put off but you’d be wrong. In fact, doctors often watch a weakened valve for a few years before deciding it needs replacement—and certainly can put off that kind of surgery another few weeks, in a situation where hospitals are overrun with highly transmissible viral disease. The big report of Thursday, and one of the biggest for the week is, clearly, Intel’s, Thursday afternoon. The issue is, while business people may have gone out and bought new laptops or home PCs to work remotely, the vast majority of educational units sold to, or handed out to public school kids were Chromebooks, with little memory, and far from the best central processing chips. In fact, Chromebooks, for those big wigs who don’t know much about them, are little more than server connecting appliances, that store little to nothing locally, and run without most programs people use for documents or computing. Everything is done on the remote Google server, including document handling apps.

Friday, American Express, AutoLiv and Verizon will be the headliners, AXP more vulnerable to unemployment than it’s ever been. A proliferation of new cards that aim for the masses may, yet, be the undoing of its once pristine reputation for being choosy about whom it lets carry its cards. Furthermore, for now, the travel business has been replaced by videoconferencing, and it may be a very long time before people travel as freely as they once did. Does anyone need to spend $250 on a gold card, if they’re not going to travel much? Does anyone need to spend $150 on a green card, if they don’t plan on traveling much, at all—and that’s before we even discuss Amex’s offers of business card payments over time, at 24.97% interest rates, in a ZIRP world?

Which brings us to Events, most of which have been Canceled, Postponed, or will be offered virtually. Those that were truly postponed, and rescheduled, are no longer listed on this week’s calendar. In fact, one of the surprises of our week has been the large number of events already rescheduled for August through November. Many are merely postponing this year’s events to next year. I’ve long been particularly partial to mentioning Albert Hoffman’s discovery of LSD, because the mega-pharmaceutical company we know as Roche grew out of that discovery. We’ll give a nod to Timothy Leary, who made sure every college kid in the 60’s knew of the discovery.

Some of the canceled events were replaced with something worth noting. For example, the
Adam Smith Annual Workshop on Asset Pricing & Corporate Finance, planned to take place at the EDHEC Business School in Nice, France, was canceled but the accepted papers are available
online, here. The TriBeCa Film Festival was likewise canceled but many of the short films submitted are available to stream, free, on the festival website. If you’ve been watching HBO’s offerings free, in April, note that CBS (VIAC) has, now, made its CBS All Access free for a month.

"Sports" of a sort remains on the schedule. FIFA and EA are showing their Stay & Play Cup on Amazon’s Twitch, while Variety plans to stream its Silicon Valleywood Summit. The National Football League Draft will start Thursday. While players will be at home, when they get the news, there’ll be a lot of zooming going on, which ESPN, ABC TV & NFL Network will be bringing live, to viewers at home. I think we can consider the Saturday night Global Citizen event Stay at Home Together a Zoom & Skype success, even if some of the artists seemed to have lost their voices, without the big productions backing them up. Mendes & Cabello were, arguably, the best part of the show, with kudos to the Rolling Stones who also pulled off their bit. But others who’ll remain unnamed sounded, simply, awful—unnamed because they let their segments be broadcast, anyway, for the cause.

Last week, I ended by saying "Curb Your Enthusiasm," even though I knew about Gilead’s remdesivir’s success treating critical COVID-19 patients, because I felt the bulls were too optimistic about what the economy will look like in the near future. I still feel that way—even more so now, after last week’s big gains. And even if GILD’s drug does wind up a "cure," its ability to scale up production is limited. It has said, itself, that it could make one million doses by next May—because it’s a biologic, which is a lot harder to make than a pill that merely compounds a few off the shelf chemicals. Plus, it’s an infusion, which must be administered by trained nurses. But even suppose the Federal Gov’t would write Gilead a check for $483m, as it did Moderna’s unproven vaccine effort, it’s simply not that easy to make remsdisivir, and it’s not without its detractors. Thousands of small businesses have already past the point of no return, even as big hotel companies and hedge funds have tapped into what was supposed to be hundreds of millions for small businesses. Granted, Congress is supposedly on the verge of passing a new authorization for hundreds of millions more but, again, it’s the larger businesses that have the banking relationships and the army of accountants to fill out the paperwork the banks are requiring. Once again, it seems, it’s the 1.0% that are benefiting most from rescue funds, and that’s really bad news for the unemployed. Once again, I’m simply not as bullish as the markets seem to be. Perhaps that’s because I once owned a 3-store chain of stores in NYC & on Long Island, and I know what being closed for a month or 6—7 weeks would have cost my business, and done to the merchandise I’d either just unpacked before the shutdown, or ordered to be delivered during that time. Please take profits when given the chance—or at least write call options against stock, then use the premium to protect the downside with some puts.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 13—18, 2020  
  BEYOND WEEKLY UNEMPLOYMENT? BANK EARNINGS   Easter is the celebration of the resurrection, which must be why Trump is assembling a new task force to pitch the reopening of America. Granted, that will happen someday, and probably in places other than New York, first but Trump has been in a rush to "flip the light switch," originally hoping it would be today, Easter Sunday. This is the week of G7, the IMF/World Bank Group Joint Spring Meeting and a G20 Meeting, all scheduled for teleconferences. The Bk of Canada meets, Wednesday, and usually releases its post-meeting statement a little after 10am. March Retail Sales will likely be a disaster, except for business at food stores. The Fed’s Beige Book is out Wednesday, at 2pm. Can you imagine what the regional Federal Reserve Banks’ business "contacts" had to say? Even as we should bear in mind what’s said depends on what day of the month the survey was taken. If most were taking the pulse of business contacts during the last week of the month, we can all imagine how bad business was feeling. If the pulse was taken any time in April, many "business contacts" may not have been, even, reachable. Don’t expect much optimism from the NAHB April Housing Market Index, Wednesday, hours prior to the release of Beige Book.

The EARNINGS Calendar will be a highlight of the week, more than most of the Economic Data. Major financials are the focus this week (JPM, WFC, BAC, C, GS, SCHW, BK, BLK, STT, as well as some major regionals, like PNC, KEY, CFG, and RF. Major healthcare companies, JNJ, UNH & ABT report. There’s PGR, which hasn’t had to pay out many accident claims, since few are driving more than a mile or less to grocery stores. There’s also ISRG, whose seen the volume of surgeries collapse, as coronavirus patients consume all the beds and hospital resources. Tech names ASML and TSM will instruct on how many 5G smartphones are being built, not to mention a boost from laptop & tablet sales for remote working and learning, from home—albeit, most of the laptops Chromebooks, which are very low end and lack much memory. FAST? Without planes or vehicles being built, a nice portion of screw sales dried up, even as MUSA suffers from the same thing making PGR more profitable—lack of drivers. UAL? Frequent updates let the world know how bad things are- -really awful, which is why the government crafted a special section of the bail-out CARES Act for airlines. CONN? It specializes in selling products to weak credits who couldn’t buy a bigger flat screen TV, new dishwasher, or laptop without its payment terms. In the 2008—09 financial crisis, non-payers almost put it out of business. Hopefully, it will be more careful granting terms this recession. Turned out, during the last recession, 24—28% interest rates didn’t’ provide enough payers to offset the deadbeats. KSU? Among other things, railroads carry coal, oil, and vehicles. Not many of those in March, in particular, draining Q1, since final month in the quarter is when fixed costs are cleared and profits, usually, kick in. Not this time, we fear. Outlooks? No one knows—no one, though BlackRock, a conduit for the Fed Reserve’s bond activities, should help offset the losses that customer withdrawals, and lower stock values will do to fees that are based on a percentage of assets—though not completely, given that most of the activities started in April—if at all, by now, and government work is more charitable than institutional fees usually are.

There are no Events to speak of. Most Western Markets will be closed Monday, turning this past weekend into a 4-day Easter weekend. Those that are taking place will be virtual, whether Needham & Co’s Annual Healthcare Conference, Tuesday, or the NACFS (Convenience Stores) State of the Industry Summit. Most events are postponed or canceled.

So we all await the major banks’ Earnings releases, their outlooks likely MIA, or worse than most expect so they can surprise to the upside. Even United Health, reporting Wednesday, probably won’t have an upbeat story to tell. You’d think, with hospitals packed with patients, and the Federal government picking up most of the coronavirus tab, UNH would be swimming in profits but, truth be known, every worker who lost their job is a potential lost subscriber to a UNH health plan. In short, there’s no company reporting this week that can escape getting hurt by coronavirus, even as their outlooks will be non-existent.

Last week’s big rally? Too optimistic for me. Analysts who believe consumers can’t wait to shop know far too little about mental health. The pandemic has changed people and their thinking. Those who retained their jobs won’t be out buying 9 pairs of shoes or multiple handbags. I’d bet most would rather sit down for a meal at a restaurant than spend money on things—things have become a lot less important to anyone quarantined at home 24/7. And it will be a long time before people are greeting friends and relatives with hugs, or business associates with handshakes. The economy will be on life support a lot longer than the pandemic will be around—assuming a vaccine and cure are found this year, which is no sure thing. Even China—a command economy—hasn’t figured out how to get people back to work at full speed. What makes anyone think the U.S. will be more enthusiastic? And that’s coming from someone who predicted massive consumer spending after 9/11, foreseeing how much people would want to celebrate survival by shopping. That’s not the case after this pandemic, so with all respect to Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 06—10, 2020   NO LASTING BOTTOM UNTIL TRADERS LOSE HOPE for a RECOVERY   First thing to watch, this week, is the $201B in debt the US Treasury is issuing, after a couple of weeks of laying off heavy issuance for a couple of weeks. Does the world have an appetite for that much US debt, at what’s now, incredibly low yields? We shall see.

OPEC+ meets via teleconference, Monday, though even another 10m barrels cut won’t make much difference, given the collapse in demand, with most of the world still on lock down, and something like 15m barrels of excess supply, per day. Still, dragging Russia back into the program would be an accomplishment, and signal the joint OPEC 7 non-OPEC cartel is getting more serious. Meanwhile, in the US, Whiting was the first, though surely not the last to declare bankruptcy, while the US rig count has fallen 3 weeks in a row, and sure to fall some more.

Tuesday, February Consumer Credit will be released at 3pm, February data the last hoorah for an economy gone into the tank. Wednesday, the IMF & World Bank plan on holding their annual Spring meeting virtually, while all the other events usually held simultaneously are MIA, during the coronavirus pandemic. Later Wednesday, the FOMC will release the Minutes of its extraordinary Sunday intermeeting rate cut, though it will be 5 years before we read the real minutes of that meeting, rather than just the highlights. Of course, the shocker of the week will be the weekly claims for unemployment, Thursday, even as hundreds of newly unemployed across the country are complaining that they can’t get through to their state unemployment office. The Reserve Bank of Australia is scheduled to meet, Thursday, Australia time, Wednesday night for US traders, the night Passover starts—not that families can get together to read the prayers. Any family, like mine, dispersed from Florida, to New York, to California, that had to cancel plans to gather, and, like mine, have a 93 year old matriarch, are simply not gathering this holiday but still will observe some traditions, individually.

The Earnings Calendar is slim, a couple of names highlighted though without enthusiasm.

As for Events, here’s what’s amazing; the vast majority of Events planned for this week were not simply canceled or "postponed" but, rather, were already REscheduled for August through October. That’s why the Events Calendar, below, has thinned so dramatically. Meantime, many events were kept on the calendar as "digital" or "virtual" events, which isn’t futile. For years, portfolio managers (PMs) have been dialing into conference sessions over the web, tuning in only for those companies they want to hear. The switch to Virtual Events, now, is almost the natural progression of the ‘live streamed’ events PMs have been cherry picking for years.

Not, Friday,, Good Friday, markets are closed, while the Treasury markets closes early Thursday, to stretch a three day weekend into a 3.5 day weekend. I don’t expect any PMs to initiate positions of risk, before a holiday weekend, and feel badly about the stores advertising Friends & Family sales of Spring clothes for Easter that no one needs. I know a few people who haven’t been out of their housecoats and/or sweats since March 12th, and have no plans to change that anytime soon. This pandemic will only accelerate the number of retailers forced out of business sooner rather than later. JCPenney, in particular, comes to mind, though it paid its rent April 1st, when other retailers said they wouldn’t . A last hoorah of its own?

Please distrust rallies. The economy will get worse before it gets better. Possibly, a whole lot worse, as the hop for a rainbow at the end of the pandemic, ultimately, fades. Bear markets rarely bottom until few believe in the future.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 30—April 03, 2020   CENTRAL BANKS ARE ALL IN; PMS WILL ALSO BE SOON   Here’s what all you need to know: Earnings Season is all but over; Central Bankers are not going to mingle, so will be speaking at video press conferences, like the one FOMC Chief Powell held two Sundays ago (March 15th); and the Economic data will be ugly—uglier than anyone alive today has ever seen first hand.

Let’s start with the Economic Calendar, where Friday’s March Unemployment Report will tell only half the story—since many states force those laid off or fired to endure a waiting period, prior to be eligible for unemployment benefits. And there’s no reason to wait for Friday, since Wards will announce US March Vehicle sales before stocks open Tuesday. "Collapse is a word you’ll hear applied to much of the data arriving this week, and for the foreseeable future. Note, also, Monday’s 3-, & 6-month Treasury Bill auctions. I can’t say I can remember quantities that large in the past—though I’ll also admit to following the Economic Calendar less closely, in decades pre-2000. What will also shock is the contrast between data from January & Feb, like S&P Case Shiller Jan. House Price Index, compared to March, even though coronavirus didn’t really hit hard until half the month was over. Watch the dollar, as well, since Japan’s new Fiscal Year begins on Wednesday, which is often when repatriated yen converts back out. Thursday, of course, Challenger Gray & Christmas’ March Job-cuts announcement may be a preview of what’s coming in April—especially since most unions and many states require a notice period prior to when the lay-offs are official.

The Earnings Calendar includes some items to note, that may seem curious. Top of that list is Verint, highlighted on Tuesday, because it announced plans to separate into 2 public companies, the split to occur ‘soon after its FY ended on 01/31/2020.’ Therefore, there could be more news on that split when it reports. TGI, the same day, is aerospace supplier, Triumph Group, the only business, right now, kept off the bottom of the barrel by oil production. If you want to know how poorly take-out and delivery, only, are working for fast food chains, perhaps there’s no better tell than Wednesday’s Lamb Weston Holdings, the French fry king. Likewise, McCormick could be hurt badly by the drop in restaurant sales, even if it didn’t feel the pinch in the quarter being reported. But even Pres. Trump admits there’s not going to be a "beautiful Easter" or "beautiful packed churches for Easter," social distancing extended to April 30th, which means more pain for restaurants & catering. CarMax reports Thursday, perhaps in coming quarters a beneficiary of stocks taking a wild ride, since car shoppers often switch to used cars when payments on new ones become a deterrent. Chewy, on the other hand, is a big beneficiary of pet owners resisting a trip to the pet store for pet food or kitty litter. Walgreens Boots Alliance, the same day, is a beneficiary of hoarding and hyperchondria, even prior to discussing the need for medicines, for those diagnosed with any virus or bacterial infection. Unlike CVS, however, Walgreen has shortened its store hours significantly, yet may not be giving up as much business to its 24-hour competitor as you might suppose; Health plans with prescription drug coverage—including Medicare Part D—usually designates one or the other the preferred retail provider, so they’re not as interchangeable as you’d think.

Which brings us to the Event Calendar, packed with scheduled events postponed, canceled, or virtualized, our listings using the language the organizer did, to describe the situation. Unlike the early days of social distancing, back around the 12th of March, many of the events postponed already offer the dates arranged for later in the year—sometimes as early as September. Those listed as "Virtual" or "digital" shouldn’t surprise. For years, traders and portfolio managers (PMs) have been attending conferences by dialing into conference calls or, more recently, watching streamed presentations in real time. That they’d be forced to switch to that method now, as the sole method to host a conference, makes perfect sense. And they might be well attended, during the stream, or in replays available later—just as TV shows can be watched as they’re broadcast, or later, replayed by a DVR or on demand from a cable provider. COVID-19 only accelerated the switch, whether that’s temporary or permanent, to be seen. For some of the smaller, boutique I-banks, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to run an event virtually, than it is at a hotel or other rented venue. And no I-bank Sr V.P. has to buy the drinks or food for clients.

Which brings us back to where I started. Central Banks are all in on stimulus—though that’s not the best word for the financial support being provided, since social distancing all but obviates stimulative spending, when restaurants and retail stores outside groceries and drug stores are closed. What the Central Banks and, now, governments are providing is monetary support—building a bridge of money to assure that businesses get the rent they expect, or the cash flow they need to pay employees they have no need for, as long as their businesses are closed. The 21.0% rally off the 9-day dive stocks took is not the best time to load the boat. There’s more selling and plenty of back filling to be done before stocks stabilize. But pick your vehicles and your price level because it’s never been wrong to start buying when Central Bankers & government purses are all in, as long as you have at least a 6 month horizon.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 23—27, 2020 UNSURE OF EVERYTHING     Last week, we were pretty sure about what we didn’t know, and could say with some certainty what was canceled and what was going on as scheduled. Surprisingly, less is known this week, since some firms just removed prior information, without a word of cancellations or postponements. This week, we’re less sure of what’s postponed and what’s canceled, since some firms have done little to clarify. In most cases, we’re assuming that events that weren’t removed from the schedule will be held digitally, or "virtually," as some companies prefer it. In other cases, events that were changed to virtual may well be posted after the dates provided.

Stephens, for instance, hasn’t said a word about its Field Trips but we know that the governors or mayors of certain states or cities have banned meetings, so virtual is the only way they can, conceivably, be held. All things considered, however, none of it much matters but the efforts by the FDA’s clinically trials on coronvairus vaccines, or antivirals being tested from Bayer & Gildead Sciences. Lagarde’s speech to the ECB Watchers Conference remains on that central bank’s website though, surely, that’s not taking place, except virtually. Though that would likely be mentioned, wouldn’t you think? And again, probably not as important as Thursday’s weekly Unemployment Claims.

Thursday’s weekly applications raise a question for me. IF Congress is working on a bail-out program that’s meant to encourage companies to keep paying their employees, who then is getting the $1 payment planned to all adults April 6th and, again May 6th. If employees are being kept on the payroll, thanks to the largesse of Congress, why do those paid workers—perhaps not working—need an extra $1k check from the government? Just wondering.

The rest of the Economic Calendar, outside weekly unemployment claims, will be either backward looking data, or really backward looking data, like FHFA’s Jan House Price Index, Wednesday. I wouldn’t count on Wednesday’s weekly Mortgage & Refinance Applications being as robust as they were the week earlier only because banks pushed back on refinance apps, as they waited to see what the Fed Reserve would do next. Furthermore, I doubt planned house purchases are going ahead as originally scheduled, either. People afraid of losing their jobs don’t finish major purchases like new homes, as we saw in 2008—no matter how much better capitalized the banks are today than they were, then. And someone doesn’t have to lose their job to pullback from a major purchase, like a home—they just need to know some people who are losing their jobs, to worry they may be next.

Which brings us to the Earnings Calendar, where Nike is a feature on Tuesday, Synnex the same day, who can speak to consumer & business activity, respectively. Think 5G is coming either way? Micron Technology, Wednesday, may provide insight on that, while Oxford Industries, Signet, Lululemon, and K B Home, Thursday, may provide all the granuality we need to see how harsh and immediate the hit to consumers has become. Wouldn’t you want to know how well the very strongest retailers—Nike and Lululemon—are weathering the coronavirus storm? Both have very strong online sales but with gyms and schools closed, how’s demand? I’m quite sure well off prior highs. Consumers are as scared as they’ve ever been. And those who aren’t are simply annoyed, because they’re not smart enough to know when they should be scared.

Expect recent volatility to continue unabated, even if the range from high to low narrows somewhat. Whether Thursday’s release of 4Q19’s final look at GDP could be worthless, if you believe the recession that’s probably already started is going to last at least 2 quarters, and probably 3. The meek 2.1% GDP previously reported for Q4, wasn’t sufficient momentum for 1Q 20, to offset a slowdown that started in late February, or event early March. The world that was has been turned upside down, with little reason to expect a reversal in coming weeks. Even Easter will look a whole lot different, this year. And it will be a long time before markets return to bull market status, in the interim.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 16—20, 2020  NO FIXED SCHEDULE –EVERYTHHING IN FLUX   You know we’re in extraordinary times when even the FOMC cancels a meeting, and moves 3 days earlier, on a Sunday, to slash rates to zero.

Here are the 3 bulletins the FOMC released, in the order in which they were released.



While the Licensing Leadership Summit scheduled for the 16th—17th, in NY was postponed, the organizers are determined to reschedule it, in NYC, for later in the year. While I doubt that happens it is reasonable to suspect it will be held May 19—21st, in Las Vegas, when the Licensing Expo is still scheduled to go forward but, of course, subject to cancellation at a later date.

The only scheduled event we have reason to believe will proceed as planned is the Midwest Poulty Federation starting Tuesday, because their website said that’s what they were determined to do, in the face of any disruption, no matter what. Morgan Stanley and some other I-banks are going to do their best to hold their conferences virtually--teleconferences. MS is singled out particularly, because McCaul remains on the central bank calendar speaking at the event. Transworld insists its event will proceed as planned on the 19th. On the other hand, Variety has 'postponed' its Entertainment Marketing Summit. 

Other than that, when even FOMC meetings are cancelled, and spring loaded, instead, by 3 days, you know we’re living in unusual times. To say the least. Be careful out there. Trump can try and bully stocks up all he wants but most will prefer, instead, to conserve cash.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 09—13, 2020  
WHAT ISN’T CANCELED????   Excuse me if I feel like months of tracking events up to a year in advance was for naught. But I don’t want to personalize the event cancellations given that everyone I know, for now, is just peachy, coronavirus not yet hitting close to home. For that I’m thankful. And, I sure hope they don’t cancel the CROI 2020 Conference on Retroviruses & Opportunistic Infections (Boston MA thru 11th) scheduled to start Sunday, the 8th. Because that’s the one group of researchers working on antivirals against coronaviruses, but the current one and past ones, in addition to those yet to arrive.

But first, there’s a fairly quiet Economic Calendar, filled with more Treasury Auctions than there were, last week but not tons else, domestically, until Wednesday. Wednesday, we’ll learn results of the primaries the day prior, as well as February CPI, and that month’s Treasury Budget Statement (Don’t ask! No one in D.C. seems troubled by the rising deficit and why would they? Rates have never been lower and, for now, no shortage of willing buyers.) Thursday promises weekly Unemployment Claims and continuing claims, PPI—Final Demand, plus the 4Q19 Change in Household Wealth. That’s rubbing salt into investors’ wounds, donchya think? Let’s hope futures recover, some, before the morning’s bell, though that seems unlikely.* The number of global cases of coronavirus is over 105k, globally, with no end in sight, and Saudi Arabia has decided to teach Russia a lesson in failure to cooperate. Word over the weekend is that the Sauds slashed the price of its crude supplies, and are pumping like mad, to draw sales away from Russia, ‘until Russia falls in line with additional production cuts, we presume.’

Oh to be a fly on the wall of the FIA—the Futures Industry’s 45th Annual Meeting, assuming it’s going ahead as planned. Of course, we can’t swear to that without driving about 7 miles east to where the event is supposed to take place, and counting how many people have shown up. Showing up was the problem that caused SXSW—South by Southwest—to cancel. With more than a handful of major sponsors pulling out, and a slug of speakers, artists, and musicians sending their regrets, there really was no choice. The ECB is holding a 2-day meeting, Christine Lagarde’s press conference after the meeting set to be streamed in the wee hours prior to our markets opening. With rates already below zero, and Italy hit hard by the virus, and German still too worried about out of control inflation to institute fiscal policies to spur the Eurozone’s most important economic country. What can she possibly say? China data out this week, incluing PPI & CPI, Monday night, will have an asterisk alongside it. Coronavirus shutting down entire provinces and the attendant manufacturing for an extended Luna New Year that's run into a month or more, now, in some places, just can't be considered relevant for more than a quarter.

Which brings us to the Earnings Calendar, again, featuring many consumer related companies, and a few high profile tech companies. There aren’t many emboldened tickers, this week because there aren’t that many reports scheduled that can seriously impact equities. Vail Resorts Monday, Dicks Sporting Goods Tuesday, Wednesday, United Natural Foods and ZAGG caught my eye, along with Peuoduo, the so-called Chinese Netflix. Adobe and Broadcom Thursday, along with Calares (shoes), Dollar General, Genesco (Journeys, Lids, Johston & Murphy), Gaps Stores, Ulta Beauty, and Zumiez all Thursday, along with Oracle, just a week prior to its leader’s Indian Wells Tennis Tournament, a player favorite. I emboldened Saga Communications & Salem Communications, 2 radio broadcasters who might have been positively impacted by Mike Bloomberg’s half a billion dollars investment in defeating Trump. If nothing else, he sucked the air out of the Democratic field, which narrowed it quickly prior to Super Tuesday, and even more afterwards. Of course, if Joe Biden keeps flubbing his statements, Mike might regret having exited the race.

For now, assuming they go forward, Deutsche Bank’s Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference starting Monday, and JPMorgan’s Industrials, starting Tuesday, could be 50/50 events. Some of the presenters at the event, others streaming their presentations from elsewhere—whether a local DB or JPM office, of from their own headquarters. Likewise, I’d bet Bank of America would be very disappointed to have to cancel Consumer & Retail Technology, starting Tuesday, the same day Barclays Global Healthcare, & STRH’s (SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, a Truist Company, now), Technology, Internet & Services Conference are sxupposed to start. Likewise, I’d bet RBC sees little reason to cancel Global Financial Institutions, but, again, the situation is so fluid, it could change in an hour, or 8 hours, or a day. This had been scheduled to be the first really big I-bank week after Earnings Season was almost wrapped up but now has become nothing but a big question mark. Friday, AAAAI, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Annual is schedule to open in Philadelphia but many of those scheduled to attend might find themselves urgently needed back home to deal with the spreading virus.

There is a surfeit of fear, more than anything—fear of the spreading virus becoming more pervasive, at a time when our country of 340 million people has confirmed under 500 cases, total—and I think that includes those infected on cruise ships allowed to disembark onto land. And while many are digging up the Hollywood film, "Contagion," to scare themselves even more, I’m more fascinated by the fact that kids seem to escape the virus’ grip. Wonder if we’ll learn, in a few years, or a decade that the younger folk were immune because of some vaccination they’ve had in their short lives that had the added benefit of reducing the impact of coronavirus. The elderly seem most susceptible, perhaps because the immunizations protecting the young were given to them 60, 70, or 80 years ago. If nothing else, it would seem, Trump has learned that increasing funding to the military, and nothing else, is not going to provide the protection and treatment the country needs most, right now. I’m rooting for Gilead Science’s anti-viral, for the hope it might provide to those already exposed or stricken. And should that work out to be the case, dya think Trump will still want to severely restrict what Gilead and other can charge, in order to recover their costs of development?

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 02—06, 2020  
  WHAT’S BEEN CANCELED?      After spending some 45 years tracking scheduled events, the job now involves keeping track of which events have not been canceled. Events out to May have been canceled. Google canceled an event planned for the 3rd week in April, while sticking to plans for an event at the end of the first week of April. Makes no sense, at all.

Thursday evening, NY Fed's Williams is delivering a "MAjor Policy Address" @ the Foreign Policy Association dinner in NY. Who says it's a "MAjor Policy Address?"
That's how the NY Fed described it on its weekly scheduled. Another Item that makes no sense, this week, is the 'Shadow Open Market Spring Meeting,' on Friday. Is it still the 'Shadow Fed' if 6 of the speakers are members of the current Federal Reserve, each of them the Pres./ CEO of a regional Fed Reserve Bank? Don’t believe me, scoot down to Friday on the Economic Calendar, use the link, and see for yourself. And that may be the most interesting item, of all, on the Economic Calendar, considering the data coming our way will be delivered with an asterisk, given that we’re still finding out how many companies still heavily rely on Chinese factories for their supply chain, almost 3 years into tariffs that were supposed to end all of that. It might be the ISM that gets the most attention, since it is more closely followed than the PMI, and Employment intentions will be considered a forward-looking indicator.

Speaking of Friday, the week will end with the February Unemployment Report, probably too soon to expect to see the impact of the supply chain seizing. And to its credit, as much as China locked down 2 major areas of the country, last month, it is also urging workers and companies to get back to business, now. Reportedly, only 60—70% of workers were responding, last week but that could improve as the coming week progresses.

Then, again, Tuesday is the so-called Super Tuesday in an election year. That’s when 14 states and at least 1 territory go to the polls to choose the Democratic candidate who hopes to run for the US Presidency. In a most unlikely turn of events, Bernie Sanders was leading going into South Carolina, where Joe Biden probably won a larger percentage of votes than most thought he’d manage. Mike Bloomberg, former Mayor of NYC will, finally, be on some primary ballots, Tuesday, when we’ll learn how many votes half a billion dollars can buy. Don’t get me wrong, given a choice of Bloomberg or Trump, many will vote for Bloomberg but he’s a long way from the nomination, and the stigma of sitting out Iowa & New Hampshire will follow him the rest of the year, into the elections, should he be on the ticket. And I will say Bloomberg came off much better in Sunday night’s "60 Minutes" on CBS than he might have, if someone wanted to edit him to look like a jerk.

MBA Mortgage & Refinance Applications will be of interest, also. While mortgage rates are scraping lows near the ones seen after the Brexit vote in 2016, some believe major purchases, like those for homes, will be put off while the equity markets are taking a deep dive. The worst is probably behind stocks, though, with a tradable bottom very nearby. I say that because a few indicators I rely on were flashing the bottom is imminent, by Friday. Those include VIX soaring; stocks that escaped the carnage all week being taken out to the woodshed, Friday (i.e. JNJ & Nasdaq), shorts covering positions in stocks like Macy*s, and words from the chief of the FOMC, Jerome Powell, meant to soothe, failed to hit the mark—any mark.

Earnings, this week, are heavily dominated by retailers. In honor of that, and temps in the 40’s in Southern Florida, I went to the mall to see if sweaters & outerwear were selling. Nearly every store was hosting a 29% off sale, on Saturday, in honor of Leap Day. Those that weren’t, like the Gap chains, were offering 40—50% off, and an extra 30—50% off clearance racks. Meantime, it struck me, TJ Maxx was busier late Friday afternoon into evening, then any store in the mall—perhaps hosted more shoppers than all of the mall, combined. And, yes, even T J Maxx offered some racks of clearance merchandise, while the Runway featured Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Escada, Emilio Pucci, and other 'designer' name brands regular shoppers hope to find at T J Maxx, but don’t often. Also of note, at the mall, the 2nd floor of Forever 21 was nearly empty, as if that level was heading towards closure. While it remains open, menwear has been moved up, taking up about 20% of the total floor space. 4ever 21 & Express for women seemed to have trimmed their inventory most severely, while 21 now offers Amazon lockers, which it didn’t on January 20th, when I was last in there. Also missing, prom gowns & dresses which, entering March, should be on the racks. Lego opened a store in the mall, which acts as a magnet to every kid who walks by. Parents who don’t pop in suffer screams, crying, and temper tantrums. And for the record, I disagree with the newspapers claiming that hand sanitizer is sold out everywhere. Bath & Body Works & White Barn had all one could want, as of my Saturday scoot around the mall. And I bought a box of facial masks in 2017, when my community spread down 7 different fertilizers and other chemicals in a week, and I found it hard to walk outside without protection. When a friend asked if she could have some for her very ill mother, I immediately offered half the box, without hesitation. It was the humane thing to do, even though I’ll need some for the next chemical overload by the HOA.

Notable retailers reporting this week include Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Ross Dress for Less, Target & Urban Outfitters, on Tuesday. Wednesday brings Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, and Dollar Tree. Thursday, BJ Warehouse Clubs, Burlington Stores, CostCo, and Kroger report.

Ironically, Investment Bank Conferences were slated to ramp up, big time, this week but many have become question marks. Like Mobile World Congress, which was canceled for February 24th—27th, The Geneva Int’l Motor Show was canceled, this week. Slated to start on Wednesday, it’s the show at which luxury marques prefer to introduce their newest vehicles. And it’s not that Switzerland has suffered a high count of COVID-19 cases. On the contrary, it doesn’t appear any have been reported there but canceling that show was a way to keep foreigners who might be infected but not showing symptoms out of the neutral state. BMW (Tues. 2:15am et), Porsche (Tues., time unknown, to debut new 911 series), & Bentley (day & time not yet set) are debuting the vehicles they won’t show in Geneva, with online press conferences, instead. Audi & Mercedes-Benz are still firming up their online press conference plans, Sunday evening. Fiat Chrysler is also evaluating how to unveil its new all-electric Fiat. There were 67
press conferences originally scheduled in Geneva. Other events canceled 03/02, after this was posted on Sunday, is CERAweek in a week, while FFIV closed its headquarters and postponed a planned analyst meeting, and Target changed its 4Q19 and FY19 Investor Community Meeting into an online, only, meeting.

As far as we know, most of the other I-bank conferences slated for this week, in the US, are going ahead as planned. The biggest of them is probably Morgan Stanley’s TMT, in San Francisco, starting Monday. About all the Liberty divisions planning on speaking at MS TMT, it’s CEO Greg Maffei making the presentations for one and all. Meanwhile, many of the companies presenting at MS are, also, presenting at either Raymond James’ Institutional Investor Conference or KeyBanc’s Emerging Technologies, or both. The overlap is strong.
Morgan Stanley, last week, asked any attendees at its San Francisco Conference, this week, to report visits to coronavirus countries,. TMT CTL, IPG, SNAP, NFLX, LYV, T, FB, Uniti Grp, YEXT ZBRA, Lamar Advertising, SNPS, Z (ZG), PROS. BOX, Clarivate Analytics (CCC), VEEV, UBER, AMT, IIVI, EQNX, RAMP, ZNGA, QRTEA, COMM, MCHP, LBXMA, LBXMB, LSXMK, FWONK, LBRDA, CMCSA, EVBG, MSTR, CSCO, NTNX, DEAC (DraftKings CEO presenting), OUT, GLIBA, CASA, EGHT, VSAT, POLY, REAL, TDOC, JNPR, DOMO, TDS, USM, GLUU, VIAC, RPD, INOV, VG, PSTG, BAND, MOBL, OPRA, LPSN, DDOG, DELL, IHRT, AMBA, QLYS, NEWR,m PFPT, TXN, FOXA, ZEN, BL, APPN, AXON, WK, NOW, TEAM, CYBR, FEYE, AVLR, PANW, NVDA, PLAN, LVGO, ETSY, WW, CDK, ATVI, VMW, TRMB, ANET, DOX, AMAT, GDDY, SIMO, AKAM, VZ, CRNC, Scribed, Lumentum, OTEX, TA, FB, TVGO, CHGG, NUAN, PYPL, DocuSign, Atice USA, SWI, TWTR, CHTR, RING, COUP, SailPoint Technologies, HPE, WDC, FTNT, MSFT, GOOG, NLSN, RDFN, BCE, AEIS, ZS, NYT, MU, and many more than we could list here. ZenFi Networks is broadcasting the event, its co-founder Ray LaChance featured in a fireside chat.

Raymond James (Orlando, started Sunday) is not just tech, and will be a large conference, too, as will be Cowen’s Annual Health Care Conference, in Boston, starting Monday, like Morgan Stanley’s.. Meanwhile, honorable mention to Credit Suisse’s Energy Summit, in Colorado (started Sunday), Citi Global Property, in Hollywood FL, and CBOE Risk Management, in Bonita Springs, FL (that’s on the West Coast of the state, for those who don’t know.) Tuesday, honorable mention goes to KBW’s Cards, Payments & Financial Technology, which saw need to list FinTech separately, for those who didn’t get it. Bank of America is hosting Power, Gas & Solar Leaders in Boston, starting Monday, also, while Arlington Virginia will host the 29th National HIPAA Summit. Credit Suisse is slated to host Healthcare in London, starting Tuesday, while I’ll take a wild guess that Citi’s Asia Tech Tour to Taiwan, Korea & Japan, won’t got forward. For that matter, JPMorgan is supposed to host an ASEAN TMT 1x1 in Singapore, starting Tuesday, and separately, Macau Gaming & Hengqin Development Tour, that I’m guessing is in doubt, too.

Wednesday, UBS is hosting Global Consumer & Retail Conference, in Boston. Deutsche Bank is hosting Global Bank Capital, in London, where Jefferies is hosting Paper & Packaging. That’s ironic, given PackExpo East is starting in Philadelphia, the day before. Citi’s Korea Investor Conference, starting Wednesday? Probably as thinly attended as an event can be, if it even goes on. And we checked these I-banks’ websites and, if events were canceled, that was done more quietly, to registered attendees, rather than with a widely distributed notice. Thursday’s SCP—Society for Consumer Psychology--couldn’t be more perfectly timed but, no doubt, papers on the impact of stocks swooning, suddenly, for a week after making new all time highs, probably won’t be presented. It was looking like stocks were never, again, going to fall, and the 15% cash I’d been holding since December looked like the most foolish, conscious decision, in history.

Please Note, Target Tues.), ExxonMobil (Thurs.), & Chevron (Tues.) all plan Investor meetings, this week, along with Centene, which will release its first outlook taking into consideration its recent acquisition of WellCare. Lam Research (Tues.) meets with analysts. Target starts after it reports earnings, this week. Last time Target reported, its stock was crushed because comps missed. This time, I expect TGT to spend a lot of time on store renovations, since the one my local store is undergoing is dramatic, and so thorough, that even the bathrooms were closed for two weeks, then reopened in a trailer outside. The beauty aisles look like LeDrugstore in Paris France, with line of sight across the entire department. Gone are all the sky-high shelves and backboards.

All of which means nothing if stocks continue to sell off hard. As I said, Friday I saw the first 3 signals I look for when deciding how close we are to a bottom. Given how extreme the selling became, I am not looking for an immediate big "V" recovery. Rather, I expect some fits and starts, and backtracking, as those who looked at their month-end statements over the weekend, use the first bounce to get out,. But I do think stocks are set up to start recovering, as soon as Monday, tentative as that recovery might be. With coronavirus cases now confirmed on both coasts, I simply would not be in too big a rush to buy.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 24—28, 2020   CONSUMER FACING COMPANIES DOMINATE EARNINGS   NABE—The National Association of Business Economists which opened the year with a big conference hosts its 36th Economic Policy Conference, "20/;20 Vision: Examining Prescriptions in an Election Year," starting Monday, an event well populated by members of the Federal Reserve, and more. Loretta Mester is first up, Monday, at 3pm, discussing the US Outlook & Monetary Policy. She’s one of the more bearish Fedheads, who didn’t believe 3 rate cuts were necessary. Tuesday, World Bank President, David Malpass provides the "View from the World Bank," at 8am, and then is followed by Charlie Cook (a political commentator), and economics Mark Zandi and Diane Swonk of Moody’s & Grant Thorton, respectively. We’ll get a peek at the FHFA Dec House Price Index & the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city Dec House Price Index, with Fed Vice Chair for Supervision, Clarida, providing the "View from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors" at NABE (3pm et). Tuesday is also Fat Tuesday, the last day of Mardi Gras/Carnival, depending on where you’re celebrating.

That previews some of the highlights of the NABE Business Economists 36th Economic Policy Conference but the entire agenda includes a more comprehensive group of top drawer economists from Harvard’s Kennedy School (Jason Furman), American Action Forum, Penn Wharton, FHFA Director Mark Calabria, Urban Institute, CoreLogic (CLGX), American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, IHS Markit, Freddie Mac, Robert Half International (RHI), Peterson Institute for International Economics, Oxford Economics, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, BlackRock (BLK), Charge Point, ThirdWay, a former Ass’t Sec’y of US Dept of Energy, and more, in addition to those featured on the Eco Calendar.

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, when the EIA will return to its regular schedule to report Petroleum, et al, while January New Home Sales is also expected, even as Janet Yellen, former chief of the Fed Reserve Board will be speaking at the Brookings Institution. The title of the event is, If the Economy is doing so well, why are so many struggling?" She’s going to cover wage stagnation & income inequality, which is a bit of a scream, donchya think? Once in a position to do something about it, now all she can do is dissect the problem without providing a solution. Thursday, we’ll get preliminary January Durable & Capital Goods Orders & Shipments, as well as the 2nd guesstimate of 4Q19 GDP, in which its many components include not just business investment & both government & consumer spending but, also, PCE, the measure of inflation the FOMC prefers. A day later, will get a monthly version of PCE, on Friday, when January Personal Income and Spending are released, along with the savings rate, and PCE.

I’m not going to point out either the Conference Board’s or U. Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Survey because those are often impacted by weather, sometimes an unexpected school holiday due to snow, and rarely match spending with any reliable correlation. Some of those surveyed, in fact, may be upbeat because Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucuses, while others might be depressed for the same reason. I rarely believe what consumers report, unless they report being in a deep depression, in which case I call someone to offer them assistance.

Which brings us to the Earnings Calendar, on which appear many companies that deal directly with consumers, or supply those that do, especially restaurants, retailers, and housing, with a few tech companies thrown in for good measure. Most notable, Monday, are DinEquity, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ which XRX is pursing), Intuit, and Shake Shack. Tuesday, Caezers Entertainment Group, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Home Depot & Macy’s, and the RealReal, which analysts like a lot better than sellers do.

Wednesday, Apache stands out, along with Lowe’s, Marriot, NetEase, Papa John’s Int’l, Sea World, Square, Weibo, and Wendy’s. Thursday, AMC Entertainment Hldgs, Baidu, Beyond Meat, Big Lots, Discovery Communications, J C Penney, Keurig Dr. Pepper, Live Nation, and Steve Madden. Friday, FootLocker & Wayfair stand out but I don’t do the Earnings Calendar justice with these highlights. Please see all the tickers emboldened for a more complete picture.

Which brings us to other events, beyond NABE, and the canceled MWC—Mobile World Congress, the biggest smartphone/cellular event of the year, unfortunately, a victim of Coronavirus fears or caution, depending on how you view it. Note, Mid-America Restaurant Expo (Sunday)used to be known as the Pizza and Ice Cream Show but has morphed in the past two years. .The bulk of the New York International Toy Fair is ongoing, the character parade—sort of a toy, game, and hobby/craft mascot parade, is the kick off, as I write. Of course, Mattel & Hasbro met with analysts on Friday, Hasbro able to announce an extended contract with Disney for Star Wars & Marvel-related toys and games. Combined with winning the Princess license a couple of years ago, the extension of these licenses means Disney is please with Hasbro’s results, as are shareholders, evidently.

The biggest event of the week is actually two JPMorgan events held simultaneously, at the same hotel in Miami Beach, FL. First up is the Global High Yield & Leveraged Finance Conference held with the Global Emerging Markets Corporate Conference, which other firms refer to as GEMS. JPMorgan, obviously, is striving to make the trip worthwhile, and not wasting an opportunity to maximize the location. They start Monday, as does JMP Securities’ Tech Research Conference participants can be viewed at
https://jmptech.ljfevents-rsvp.com/participating-companies, including both public and private companies. Close to Wall Street, BTIG’s Targeted Therapeutics is likely to be well attended, Monday, as might be the NBAA (Business Aircraft Ass’n) Leadership Conference in Orlando, FL. Consumer Brands was formerly called GMA—Grocery Manufacturers of America—host their Legal Conference, also starting Monday, in California.

The Wells Fargo Pop-up Conference on Transforming Banking promises a bunch of private companies, plus Bk of America. (Yeah, surprised us too! BAC sticks out like a sore thumb.). Private companies involved include Afiniti, Flybits Inc, Greenlight Financial Technology Inc, H20.zi, J.D. Power & Associates, McKinsey & Co, Selby Jennings, and lawyers Sullivan & Cromwell. Not who we expected, either! The Payments Summit in Utah should be fertile ground for analysts who want to know more about Ally Financial’s purchase of CardWorks, which hit ALLY hard, last week. (Don’t look at me—the seller is a friend’s former husband. He can thank the Federal Reserve for repeatedly refusing to allow him to transfer Merrick Bank’s Industrial Banking License several times, beginning in 2010, for bringing him a more than 6x as better deal this year. You think only equity investors are grateful to the Fed?)

Speaking of the Fed, Treas. Sec’y Mnuchin, evidently, was the US representative to the G20 FinMin & Central Bankers meeting in Saudi Arabia, last week. No word on who’s going to Prague, in the Czech Republic, for the off the beaten path World Banknote Summit, taking place there, starting Monday, with large representative groups from all the central banks around the world attending, including Fed Reserve economists, BoE, SNB, and reps from Norway, Colombia, Namibia, EUROPOL, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Canada, and so many more. Who knew? Though, if you think about it, you can make copies at Kinko’s so true in color, that paper and hidden threads and laser treatments used for banknotes aren’t guaranteed to deter forgeries. That, also starts Monday.

Sadly, the memorial celebration for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, plus the 7 others lost when his helicopter crashed will take place at Staples Arena, in Los Angeles, also Monday. There are few companies who’ve named an arena or stadium that’s garnered as much free publicity as Staples, and despite the sad event from which all those mentions arose, come out smelling like a rose, as Staples has.

Tuesday, SVB Leerink hosts its Global Healthcare Conference in NY, Citi hosts Asset Managers, Broker Dealers & Exchanges—Insurance Conference, also in NY, and Wells Fargo its 3rd Real Estate Securities Conference, also in NY. As must seem obvious, the I-bank conference season is back in full swing, despite winter weather that occasionally grounds flights. And for some, the highlight of the week will be JPMorgan Chase’s Investor Day starts Tuesday, at 8am, also in NY.

But JPM won’t have the spotlight to itself, this week. Wednesday, Credit Suisse hosts its 21st Annual Financial Services Forum, in Miami. Bank of America (they’re dropping the Merrill Lynch name) hosts its 2020 Global Agriculture & Materials Conference, in Ft Lauderdale FL. IQPC is hosting Autonomous Cars, in Silicon Valley, while ICSC—the Shopping Center Organization, is hosting OAC for Open Air Centers in Nashville TN.

The Int’l FCStone Vision 20/20: Global Markets Outlook (starts Thursday, the 27th, in Orlando) will cover financial & commodity markets, including Fx Rates, Interest Rates, may Commodities, as well as Global Securities. Offers Tracks in Ag, Correspondent Clearing, Dairy, and SA Stone Wealth Management. That’s even as the Commodity Classic meets in San Antonio TX, and G.research (formerly Gabelli) hosts its 30th Annual Pump, Valve & Water Systems Conference, in NY. Medicaid & Managed Care meet in Alexandria VA, also starts Thursday, as does ACTRIMS—the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, meeting in W. Palm Beach FL. Friday, as incredible as it sounds, we found no event starting that day or the next. South Carolina, though, will hold a primary on Saturday, as the pace picks up leading into Super Tuesday, March 3rd, when 14 states hold primaries that could seal the democrats fate.

All of which brings us to last week’s minor losses, in the face of a disease that Evercore ISI, at least, believes is much worse in China than the Chinese are letting on. They ask why China has locked down so many cities, and so many factories, if the numbers, as announced, as a fraction of the illnesses and deaths that occur from influenza, any given year. I’m not a conspiracist, yet don’t have a good answer to that question. It got me thinking, anyway, as I sit in a bigger cash hoard than usual, waiting for the pullback that will be worth buying. Meantime, I’m nibbling on June 19th Chevron calls, as the stock gets creamed, cause I can’t remember a year in which oil didn’t rise into the summer driving season. The lower the price goes, the better the recovery should be, as the Memorial Day weekend approaches.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 17—21, 2020   RETAIL & RESTAURANTS START DOMINATING EARNINGS  With FOMC Chief Powell's testimony out of the way, Fedheads are out in force, ,speaking, especially towards the latter half of the week. IF you habitually seek out word on what Fed Governors or the chief are doing,, on the Fed Board Calendar, be aware that calendar does not include what’s called "external" events. Therefore, we know the ECB chief Lagarde and her lieutenant, Panetta, are both appearing at the G20 FinMins & Central Bank Governors in Saudi Arabia, of all places, next Saturday. We have no idea whether Powell is attending, and the FRB calendar won’t give us a clue because it’s an external event. The FRB monthly calendar only discloses external events if a speech will be streamed by the FRB. We can assume the BoE’s Carney is not attending because it’s not on their weekly calendar. And why should he? He’s gone next month, his new gov’t position already announced.

On the flip side, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business’ Annual "US Monetary Policy Forum," in New York is filled with Fedheads speaking. And not just speaking but Mester is moderating a panel populated by Fed Gov Clarida, BlackRock’s Rick Reider, and BoE’s Teneyro—the latter noted on the BoE weekly calendar. .ECB’s Lane is the keynote, while Fed Gov Brainard & Atlanta Fed’s Bostic are panelists at the same forum, earlier in the day, addressing "Monetary Policy for the Next Recession," a topic most FedHeads, generally, want to avoid, so consumers don’t talk themselves into an "upcoming recession." If all that wasn’t enough for a Friday, when markets have, recently and regularly, given up some of the week’s gains, Dallas Fed’s Kaplan is opening the Dallas FRB/ Texas A&M Real Estate Center’s "Room to Grow: New Economy Conference," just as long-term rates are scraping the bottom of the barrel,

And why not? Half of China is all but at a standstill, which means the tech supply chain is largely at a standstill, even as about a third of the apparel industry’s factories are at a near standstill, too. As luck would have it, the apparel & shoe industry was forced to seek out alternate factories to the ones they’d been using in China, thanks to Trump’s tariff, so a good portion of that supply chain was already moved to Vietnam, Cambodia, and other 3rd-world countries, saving that sector from total devastation. It really seems as if the Street is ignoring the real risks COVID-19 presents to the supply chain, under the assumption that disruption will mimic the SARS crisis, even though SARS infections never approached the number of coronavirus infections in China, alone. My Fx consultant, Barbara Rockefeller of Rockefeller Treasury Services wrote, Monday that China is now quarantining money, and attempting to disinfect it before locking it away for 2 weeks, to make sure money isn’t transmitting new infections.

How badly is COVD-19 hurting China’s economy? Since we don’t know if the perpetual 6.1% growth the country regularly reports for GDP, it’s impossible to know how badly shutting entire cities and provinces will hurt but, a month in, we have to assume it’s going to hurt, and some economists have ventured to guess a half a point cut to GDP to 5.6—5.5%. Believe that if you wish but it doesn’t appear the crisis is over, yet.

And, before we jump to another Calendar, note the EIA Petroelum, et al data won’t be out until Thursday, half an hour after the usual Natural Gas Report is released. Tuesday, we’ll get the NY Fed/Empire State Manufacturing Survey which should be a shrug. Manufacturing mostly left NY decades ago. NAHB’s Housing Market Index is a sentiment index that means little beyond optimism if traffic is strong at new communities, dour if it’s not. Wednesday, US Jan. Housing Starts & Building Permits, which should be strong, given the mortgage apps already reported, and warm weather for the time of year. More important, Wed., is the Jan Producer Price Index, FOMC Minutes of the Jan. 28—29th meeting, as well as a surfeit of Fedheads speaking, starting with Bostic, moving to Minneapolis’ Kashkari, before Fed’s Barkin weighs in at Duke University, half an hour after the market closes.

Thursday, we’ll get the Philly Fed Manufacturing Index, both EIA announcements, and Ag Secretary Sonny Purdue speaking at the 96th USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum—an event at which Trump has been known to decide to attend and speak at, at the last minute. Friday, Markit offers up the preliminary Feb Manufacturing, Services & Composite PMI (Purchasing Managers Index), while the Nat’l Ass’n of Realtors will offer up Jan Existing Home Sales, a series for which a lack of inventory is an issue.

Which brings us to the Earnings Calendar, where the highlight of the week, undoubtedly, will be Walmart’s report and Meeting with the Investment Community, Tuesday. Recall, Target disappointed with weaker than expected same store sales in Q4. That may or may not happen at WMT but the law of large numbers surely will soon catch up to it. Plus. I know more and more people who are ordering online and picking up in the parking lot, where a WMT employee will place their order in the truck of their car. As convenient as that is for customers, it kills impulse sales, which is why vendors pay to get a display right inside the doorway, and candy vendors have boxes of single servings lining the aisles of check-out counters. But here’s another problem to keep an eye on. My local Target, which is NOT a super store, has a major renovation underway. (I previously mentioned the fact that the bathrooms were closed off, and a week later, restrooms in trailers added outside.) Well, the look for the new Target floored me. The cosmetic department has ditched all the tall, metal displays, replacing them with shoulder height free-standing shelving that’s lit up like Christmas, and reminds me of Le Drugstore, in Paris, France. An associate manning the electronics department did near cartwheels to find the security software I was looking for, and was equally as energetic looking for an Apple watch III for another customer, finally reserving her one at a store 8 miles away, and encouraging her to use pick-up in the parking lot, so she won’t be inconvenience. I have never before encountered that kind of service in electronics, at Target. Furthermore, when I marveled at the 32" brand name HD TV’s marked down to $129 each, as part of the clearance sale in advance of that department being renovated, she told me they were only $20, or so, less than what was available, elsewhere, so really no reason to buy now, and think of who needs one in their kitchen, afterwards. Walmart, on the other hand, is still a very dirty and yellow-lit place to visit.

Beyond Walmart, I’ve highlighted any number of stocks set to report, restaurant chains, hotels, the sleep industry, homebuilders and their suppliers, along with a number of COVID-19 hit stocks, electricity generators, auto-suppliers—also China supply chain handicapped—and Viacom, the latter Thursday. One of the saddest reports may, well, be IMAX, Wednesday, given most of its theaters forced to close for Lunar New Year in China & Taiwan. Other thoughts on Earnings include wondering whether SCI—Service Corp (Mon), hopes COVID-19 kills a lot of people in its service areas? Also, considering TIVO (Tues), contrasted with ROKU, which is everything TIVO ever hoped to be. How did ROKU accomplish everything TIVO didn't?

Which brings us to Events, NADA—National Auto Dealers Association Convention and Expo, at which ATD—American Truck Dealers—will exhibit, this year, too. Given Monday’s holiday closures, it’s a bit odd that CAGNY, the Consumer Goods Analysts of NY scheduled their week to start Monday. Perhaps it was a way to provide a discount hotel rate to attendees, the weekend prior, providing another excuse to attend, if they didn’t have sufficient ones, already.

I don’t know how Barclays scheduled its Industrial Select Conference to start Wednesday, when Citi is offering up its Global Industrials Conference Tuesday, but given they’re both in the Miami area, it’s mighty convenient for the presenters, to shuttle from one event to the other. Jefferies is hosting a Dental Summit, in Chicago, Thursday, while those who aren’t turned off by travel by air, can attend the Capital Link 11th Annual Greek Shipping Forum, in Athens, Thursday, if they can’t wait for the NY version. Meanwhile, the entire toy and game industry is assembling in NY for the International Toy Fair, Mattel & Hasbro hosting walk-throughs of their exhibits to analysts, on Friday, before the event officially opens, on Saturday. I included the JPMorgan Taiwan Tech Tour on the schedule, originally planned to start Thursday but wouldn’t be surprised to learn that event was canceled, due to coronavirus. I don’t even know if planes are flying into Taiwan, now.

And that tour is just one example of the issues the Wuhan virus has created, the Mobile World Congress is the biggest of the events forced to cancel, and that was the biggest GSM show of the year, and in Spain, never mind Taiwan. And, still, the market seems to be operating with blinders on, refusing to see the degree of risk COVID-19 represents, just because SARS was a minor event, over before it exerted a huge impact. I am not that cavalier. Even factories that have reopened are reporting widespread employee outages because they’re afraid to show up and mingle with fellow workers. With at least a 14 day incubation period, this new virus is no SARS—its impact already multiples more damaging than the SARS outbreak was. Be careful out there—VERY careful about your long positions.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 10—14, 2020  POWELL TESTIMONY + I-BANK EVENTS RETURN    Let’s be honest, especially after Friday’s gangbuster January 225k jobs added, Powell’s Semi-Annual Testimony to Congress (Tuesday House & Wednesday Senate) trumps (if you’ll pardon the expression) another Earnings Calendar filled with more reports than seem justified, by now. Sure, markets were due for some profit-taking, after last week’s big gains, Monday thru Thursday but, surely, there was some trepidation about such a strong employment report, when the FOMC is supposed to be on hold for the year—or at least through the November elections. Not that anyone should expect a shock, when Jan. CPI is released, Thursday, especially when the price of crude has been collapsing (update to last week’s comment on prices at the pump: the price for Supreme did, indeed, fall by (-34c) p/gallon on Monday, right after the Super Bowl cleared out of town.)

Let’s swoosh past other Fed speakers, this week, for the moment, Fed Governor for Supervision, Quarles, speaking on Bank Supervision, @Yale Law School, delivering the Dean’s Lecture, just past noon Tuesday. However, unless something changed since Thursday, it’s not a speech that will be steamed. Maybe there’s a rule against streaming supporting Fedheads when the major domo (Powell) is speaking, live, on TV. Also Thursday, it might be interesting to see where William Dudley, former CEO of the NY Fed, goes in his discussion with current NY Fed CEO John Williams. Last we heard from Dudley, you might recall, he wanted to see the FOMC use its rate setting power to help push Trump out of office.

And, as Friday’s Jan Retail Sales are rolling off the presses, along with Dec Business & Retail Inventories, and as Jan Industrial & Manufacturing Production & Capacity Utilization arrive, half of Wall Street will be clearing out for the Washington’s Birthday/President’s Day holiday, come Monday, Feb 17th. While we’re on Friday, and the long weekend, note NADA’s (Automobile Dealers) Convention/Expo starts that day in Vegas, accompanied by Connect, for IoT vehicles, while ATD for Truck Dealers is being held concurrently, in Las Vegas, kicked off by J.D. Power’s Auto Summit.

Now, about the volumes of Earnings Reports expected, the crescendo on Wednesday & Thursday, there are some tech leaders like Akamai, Cisco, Alibaba, NetApp & nVidia, and pardon me, if I say so, tech companies not considered that way, like CME. Entire industries report this week, like the waste hauling & recycling industry, including Waste Connection Wednesday, Republic Services & Waste Management on Thursday. Toymaker Hasbro reports Tuesday and Mattel on Thursday, even as both prison operators, CXW & GEO report Wednesday. Hilton reports Tuesday, and Wyndham Hotels on Thursday. Check out other highlighted tickers, on the
Earnings Calendar, to see more names you might want to watch, including PepsiCo, Thursday, when an authority on employment, Kelly Services is also due to weigh in.

Which brings us to the Events Calendar, which includes the New York Designer Runway Shows, along with Ready-to-Wear shows, making for NYC gridlock. It makes sense for WWD to host its Beauty Forum in NYC, Wednesday, where the Fashion World will be assembling. Out in Palm Desert, CA, IAB—the Internet Ad Bureau Annual Leadership Meeting gets underway, in a week OmniCom is expected to report, Tuesday.

BIO CEO & Investor Conference starts Monday, in NY, which is why it’s a little odd that Stifel hosts Biopharma as a Ski Summit, in Park city UT, while the 17th ImmunoLBX Summit will be held starting the same day, in San Diego. Enercom, in Dallas, is a big energy conference,

One of the headline events of the week is sure to be Goldman Sachs’ 2020 Technology & Internet Conference, out in San Francisco. There’s, also, Cowen’s 41st Aerospace/Defense & Industrials Conference, in NY, while KBW hosts its winter Financial Services Conference, in Boca Raton, FL, and Guggenheim hosts Healthcare Talks Oncology, Day, in NY

Bill Gates is one of the AAAS Plenary Speakers, starting Thursday, as is WIRED journalist Maryn McKenna, and MSFT’ GM of Quantum Systems Krysta Svore. It’s worth noting that Orthopaedic Research has been meeting and will continue into Tuesday. MD&M—Medical Device & Manufacturing Conference/Expo meets concurrent with Electronics West/Advanced Manufacturing Expo/Conference, though Additive Manufacturing Strategies meets in Boston, starting Tuesday, too.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention United Technologies 2-day Analyst Meeting for its spin-off companies, Carrier (HVAC) on Monday and Otis (Elevator) on Tuesday, when Visa will, also, host an Investor Day. Emerson, Johnson Controls, Enova Int’l, & Penske Automotive will all be meeting with investors, on Thursday.

But for all that, it’s really Powell, and the Goldman Sachs & Cowen Conferences that will rule trade, until the great exit before the 3-day weekend gets underway. Of course, that’s barring anything unexpected out of China and the coronavirus, which seemed to be slowing its spread rate over the weekend. Calm before the storm? Evidently. The death toll has reached 908, growing by 97, while the confirmed China mainland total cases rose to 40,171, even as new cases were reported in Spain, and at a French ski resort, where 5 British visitors were diagnosed but the cruise ship quarantined in Japan has been released., desepite a significant number of new cases on the ship

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 03—07, 2020 
  ANOTHER EARNINGS SLAM, IMPEACHMENT TRIAL TO END + SOTU ---IS THAT ALL?  In covering Economic Events on the highlights calendar, below, beyond domestic data, I concentrate on International "hotspots," if Aussies will excuse the reference. So, the UK thanks to Brexit, which finally happened at 2100 gmt, Friday, 01/31, Hong Kong because of protests (how long will China remain hands off?), China, always, because it’s the 2nd biggest global economy, and was heading towards first, until coronavirus, and Australia, because of the beastly bushfires that, thankfully, didn’t derail the Australian Open Tennis Championship, and the impact of China’s coronavirus stoppages (New Year extended another week, to keep travel and mingling to a minimum), and the impact on the Aussies’ natural resources exports, get the focus for now. Truth be known, while everyone’s been speculating on how Brexit will impact the UK, there’s been much less talk of how Brexit will impact the EU but that’s probably an oversight corrected as issues arise in coming days, weeks, and months. And while no one I’m aware of has put the two together, the EU’s main engine, Germany, barely grew, in recent quarters, it’s economic health now in question.

The Economic Calendar, overnight Sunday, promises China December & FY19 Industrial Profits, pus Caixin’s version of Manufacturing PMI. While local Sunday news claimed the actual number of Chinese coronavirus cases was up to 75K, prior to China admitting to an issue, there’s not much corroboration. And while the sight of deserted Chinese cities & highways is eerily spooky, the truth is China’s Lunar New Year causes atypical behavior, anyway, so the closure of "infected" cities to stop the spread of the virus seemed extreme, when first announced, the truth is, workers leave the cities in droves to return to their rural homes for the New Year, anyway. What really struck the most resounding chord, however, was the (-80.0)% drop in visits to Macau over the New Year holiday. Of note, too, Sunday night, is Hong Kong Q4 GDP, likely to have been seriously impacted by protests, curbing sales of luxury goods, to which HK is usually a large contributor. We’ll, also, hear Markit & partners’ Jan Manufacturing PMI for the Eurozone, France, Germany, Italy, & Spain. Also expected, Wards January US Vehicle Sales. With Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and GM reporting earnings this week, well hear a lot more granularity than usual.

Monday, Iowa caucuses will provide the first concrete numbers on the democratic candidates. And I’m partial to the ISM Manufacturing Index, over the PMI’s, ‘cause ISM seems to match up better with actual activity. The Treasury will Auction 3-, & 6-month Bills, Monday, and yet to be announced 4-week & 8-week bills, Thursday, but otherwise is out of the issuance market. Honestly, I could not find info on Atlanta Fed’s Bostic speech on Big Data, AI & Machine Learning but one of my most reliable sources says it’s a go. I can, on the other hand, confirm Fed Gov Brainard speaking on Payment Innovation, at a Stanford, CA, Symposium on Future Payments. Also Monday, the Fed’s Senior Loan Officer Survey. Monday night, Overnight, (the 4th, in local time), the RBA MPC will announce its Feb Target Cash Interest Rate. Given brushfires disrupting a good portion of the country, a rate hike is out of the question. On the other hand, given that the Australian Open Tennis Championship was able to proceed, as scheduled, suggests little need for a rate cut. But as mentioned, above, Australia is a big exporter to China, so that country all but closed down is bound to impact Aussie activity. Also overnight, Monday, Hong Kong Dec Retail Sales, business district protests likely to impact the luxury market especially hard.

Tuesday, revised Dec Durable & Capital Goods Orders & Shipments. Then, in the evening, Pres. Trump’s State of the Union Address, touted as extremely upbeat. Overnight, into Wednesday in the US, Caixin’s January Services & Composite PMI, and the same data for the Eurozone, France, Italy, & Germany from Markit and partners. ECB Vice President de Guindos will open the ECB conference on "Macroprudential stress testing & financial stability." Former Fed Gov Kohn is one of the more high profile speakers. Also overnight Tuesday an ECB Economic Bulletin, "Breaking the ‘chain effect’ of tariffs—foreign trade zones in a time of protectionism." Also, UK Jan New Car Registrations, and Markit/CIPS Services/Composite PMI, as well as Eurozone Dec Retail Sales.

Wednesday, the US Senate will likely vote to dismiss the Articles of Impeachment passed by the US House, ending the impeachment saga that mostly disrupted life for those still addicted to soap operas. Also Wednesday, the weekly MBA Mortgage & Refinance Applications, US Jan non-Manufacturing ISM Index, EIA weekly Petroleum/Gasoline/Distillates/Refinery Report, and Brazil’s Central Bank Interest Rate Decision. Overnight, into Thursday, China’s Jan. Trade Balance, possibly impacted only slightly by coronavirus shut-downs though New Year would have had a similar effect, falling in January, as it did, as opposed to February last year, and most years. ECB VP de Guindos is the opener at Santander's XXV1th Iberian Conference in Madrid, while ECB Chief Lagarde opens the Quarterly ECON hearing before the EU Parliament.

On Thursday, Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision, Randall Quarles, speas on Monetary Policy & the Economic Outlook at the NYU Money Marketeers meeting—a dinner meeting. All of the above is a long way of getting to Friday’s big data—not just the January US Unemployment Report but BLS’ Benchmark Revisions, as well. While the Street is expecting 180K, or so, jobs to have been added, any number above 150K probably will suffice. The Fed Board will submit to the Senate Cmte on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs, and to the US House Financial Services Cmte its July 2019 Monetary Policy Report, which the Fed Chairman testified to back in July 2019.

That brings us to Earnings, Alphabet (better known as Google, still) reports Monday evening, along with Check Point Software, The Hartford, Leggett & Platt. NXP Semiconductor, & Sysco—the other one, that delivers food to groceries. No doubt Alphabet’s report will set the tone for the week of Earnings, though there’ll be plenty more ahead. Tuesday, BP & ConcoPhillips report, along with Allstate Insurance, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chubb, Clorox, Cummins, Eaton, Emerison, Ethan Allen, Gilead Sciences, L3Harris Technologies, Lancaster Colony, Match.com, McKesson Corp, Microchip Technology, Pandora Jewelers, Prudential Financial, Ralph Lauren, Royal Caribbean, Seagate Technology, Simon Property, Sony, Walt Disney, Waters Corp, and Zimmer Biomet. That’s a collection that nicely encapsulates a cross section of American industry.

Wednesday, highlights include Avalon Bay, Cabot Microelectronics, Capri Holdings (formerly Michael Kors), Coty, Energizer, Fox Corp, GM, Group 1 Automotive, Humana, IAC, M/I Homes, Merck, Met Life, Penske Automotive, Qualcomm, Spirit Airlines, Taylor Morrison Homes, and Yum China. Thursday, reports are expected from AGCO, Arrow Electronics, Baidu, Becton Dickson, Bristol-Myers Sdquibb, Cardinal Health, CDW, Columbia Sportswear, Estee Lauder, Fiat Chrysler, Intercontinental Exchange, Kellogg, Merdith Corp, Mettler-Toledo, Motorola Solutions, New York Times, News Corp, Penn National Gaming, Philip Morris, Pinterest, Post Holdings, Regeneron Pharma, S&P Global Intelligence, Skeckers, Spirit Aerosystems, Synaptics, T-Mobile, Take-Two, Tapestry (formerly Coach), Twitter, Tyson, Verison, Willis Towers Watson, Wynn Resorts, and Yum Brands.

Friday, the schedule lightens up, with notable reports from AbbVie, ASE Technology, Canada Goose, Chicago Board of Trade, and Hanes Brands. If Equities can get through the Earnings dump, this week, and coronavirus isn’t cited as a reason to lower Q2 estimates, it’s altogether possible the worst of the virus sell-off will have ended by week’s end. Of course, passive investors of all stripes will have to get over the fact that their stocks probably didn’t rise despite what sounded like relentless gains in stocks, most of the month, until late in the month. Surely, Trump will talk up stocks Tuesday, during his SOTU, and probably blamed last year’s Fed rate hikes for the fact that stocks weren’t higher, still, to end the year.

Which brings us to events, InterSolar North America, starting Tuesday, one big event, MAGIC—the enormous apparel, footwear & accessories market an even bigger event, in San Diego & Las Vegas, respectively. Both draw a number of sub-events, yet oddly, FFNY—fancy footwear--is in NY, while most of the shmata industry will be in Vegas. And even stranger, the New York Fashion Week, the one known for designer runway shows, starts for Men, Monday, and for Women, Friday. EEI—the Edison Electric Institute holds a one-day Wall Street Briefing, Wednesday, when the Cattlemen’s Beef Association will meet in San Antonio TX. Why, then, does Feed & Grain meet in Iowa? Beats us! ORS for the Orthopaedic Research Society, starts next Saturday, the aforementioned ZBH earnings report, mentioned above, more than a hint about how that group is faring.

Because of the crush of Earnings reports scheduled, I-banks are mostly AWOL this week. An exception is Stephens, starting on the 3rd, when it kicks off its Regional Banks Investor Trip to visit these tickers: ABTX, BSX, BSVN, BOKF, CBTX, CMA, CFB, FFIN, GNTY, HTH, IBTX, PB, STX B, TBK, VBTX (Dallas TX thru 5th) Otherwise, UBS is partying at NAPE, Thursday, though the Wildcatter’s Ball Friday is the better known evening entertainment. Those larger I-banks that were engaged, probably were at SPIE Photonics West, continuing through the 6th, in San Francisco, or at APEX Expo/PC Printed Circuit Expo, in San Diego, both of which started on the 1st. and runs through the 6th. New York won’t be home to just fashion, this week but will also host New York NOW, formerly the NY International Gift & Housewares Show.

All in, a busy Economic & Earnings Calendar will define the week, the number of cases of coronavirus in the U.S., to date, still quite small. And, if you think about it, even 75K cases in China—a country with 1 billion people—doesn’t sound terrifying, in perspective, though no doubt it is for the relatives of those 75K. Put the 220, or so who died, in perspective, in relation to 1 billion total citizens, and that doesn’t sound so scary, either. And in a control economy, it’s not hard to imagine those infect, first, avoiding medical help, initially. China has already started larg injections of cash into the economy, to steady things. Clearly, US stocks were aching for an excuse for profit taking—and found one in coronavirus. But having raised cash, in early January, I’m not sorry to see a sell-off. I just hope I know when to capitalize on the carnage with some buys. And in the meantime, I'd love to see the price of gas at the pump come down, like crude has. So far, not but, perhaps, a Super Bowl just 36 miles away has helped keep prices elevated, through this weekend.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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.  
January 27—31, 2020   WHAT FOMC MEETING?    While some are anticipating a potential tweak to what the Fed pays on reserves left with it, that really would defeat the purpose of all its injections in the REPO market. You don’t get banks to step in they way they used to in the REPO market by paying them more on the dead money they’re forced to deposit at the Fed as a capital buffer. Why would the
Fed do that? Beyond that, everyone and his uncle expects the FOMC to be on hold until after the November elections, at the least, so this is one Fed meeting that might be forgotten in a blink. Or as I said in the title, "What Meeting?"

Because of the FOMC meeting, Fedheads aren’t speakers of note this week. Yes, NY Fed’s Williams keynotes a NY Fed Pitch Event but that has to do with Puerto Rico, so won’t be a US Policy statement. The Bank of England meets this week, too, with Gov Carney’s last post-meeting Press Conference early Thursday morning, before US markets open. Set for his term to expire on March 31st, his replacement has already been named, so no reason to dally. There’s no reason to expect the BoE to act, given that Brexit is supposed to take place on Friday, Jan 31st, and if anything, a rate cut could make more sense than a hike, while it doesn’t appear that England has suffered, terribly, as a result of Brexit, or even the delay. If anything, Prime Minister’s Boris Johnson won an even bigger mandate in December, so the country is behind Brexit, even if all the t’s aren’t crossed, nor I’s dotted. The whole "Brexit" doomsday scenario reminds of Ed Yardeni predicting planes dropping out of the sky, when the calendar turned 2000 from 1999. It didn't happen, nothing even close happened. Even Florida, of hanging chad fame, managed to keep electricity pumping through the wires to homes and businesses. Brexit doom? Too much ado about nothing.

China, because of the coronavirus, by the way is on lock down for the New Year, which is a crying shame. First, the tradition is to pass around money in red envelopes, that then get spent, and second and more important, New Year is when workers squeeze onto a train to leave the city and go back home to their rural families. Lock down cities, airports, trains and other forms of transportation, and it’s possible some workers won’t see their families for another full year. Of course, a country that can build 2 new hospitals in a week can manage to declare a 2nd holiday to duplicate the period denied during the Chinese New Year. Meantime, But the economic injection from red envelopes may be MIA this year, too. Donchya think shopping centers, clubs, and other places where people mingle and hang out will be locked down, next, if not already?

Don’t look know but the Treasury is in a sudden rush to issue a ton of debt--$243B, in the 3-days, Monday through Wednesday, if my calculations are correct. Anyone remember when the Republicans were the standard bearers of lowering US Federal debt? Ahh, the good old days. We need a Great Thunberg to get on Congress, and Republicans, in particular, to stop the spending. If they can’t see climate change as a risk, perhaps debt will wake them instead.

The rest of the Economic Calendar promises Dec New Home Sales on Monday, the S&P Case/Shiller Nov 20-city US Home Proce Index on Tuesday, plus Realtors’ Dec Pending Home Sales on Wednesday. Away from housing, the IRS will start accepting personal, Federal Tax Returns on Monday, while Tuesday promises US Dec Durable Goods & Capital Goods Orders & Shipments. SONT—State of the Net is an annual meeting organized by Congressional workers. At one time, the biggest clash was over the US turning management of the internet over to ICANN but that’s come and past without much notice. Also Wednesday, Dec. advance Trade Balance, Wholesale Inventories, and Retail Inventories, plus EIA’s weekly Petroleum, Gasoline, Distillates, and Refineries status. OPEC is expected to release its monthly member production report a day later, before US markets open. Thursday, Advance Q4 GDP is expected, and with it, Business Investment, Consumer Savings & PCE, the latter the Fed’s choice of inflation measurement. Friday, Dec Personal Income & Spending includes a monthly look at PCE.

Which brings us to Earnings, a calendar as plump as any, in any week of the reporting season. One Street wag claims 30% of the S&P will report this week. Who am I to argue? What I do know is that AMD & Apple report Tuesday, Facebook, MasterCard, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Tesla on Wednesday, Amazon on Thursday, and both Chevron & ExxonMobil on Friday. We’ll also hear from a large portion of the megacap defense companies (Tues.: LMT & United Technologies; Wed. Boeing, General Dynamics, GE, then Thursday Oshkosk, Northrup Grumman, leading to Friday’s Honeywell.) Homebuilders are well represented this week, with D I Horton Monday, Pulte Homes Tuesday, Meritage Wednesday, and Beazer on Thursday but let’s not overlook suppliers like Whirlpool Monday, Scotts Miragle-Gro and Stanley Black & Decker on Wednesday, or Sherwin Williams on Thursday. And then there’s are a handful of rails, including 2 from north of the border, plus megacap healthcare companies like Pfizer on Tuesday, Alexion, Amgen & Biogen on Thursday, along with AT&T on Wednesday, plus Verizon on Thursday, when Visa also reports. But trust me, that only scratches the surface of coming earnings reports. The Earnings Calendar is worth a close look not for the sheer number of companies reporting but because the middle weeks of Earnings Season is when stocks, typically, pull back, until the deluge weeks are complete, and PM’s decide the reports were not as bad as they could have been. And even if they are this week, which banking behemoths gave us no reason to believe is likely, it can all be blamed on the trade war, which entered truce this month, when Lui He and Trump signed the phase 1 agreement, mostly about agriculture. Let’s not forget, Huawei’s CFO is sitting in a Canadian prison, at the US’s request, and demands for extradiction could be the subject of a court case this week, even as Trump’s Impeachment Trial proceeds.

And make no mistake, the NY Time’s bombshell from John Bolton’s book, that Trump directly tied the withheld $400B in aid to Ukraine to that country’s announcement of an investigation into the Bidens could, potentially, sway some Republicans who decided to leave Congress, after this year, or some moderates who really could put country before politics. Had the whisttleblower’s report not been made known, Ukraine could still be waiting for that aid, or would have already announced the investigation Trump wanted, just to get the aid. Brain injuries suffered by US service people in Iraq, when Iran revenge bombed US bases, were referenced dismissively, by Trump, as "little headaches." That may have gone too far for some Republicans in Congress. You can mess with anyone but never veterans or service people who were injured on duty.

Which brings us to Events, where investment bank hosted conferences are slim, due to Earnings Season, even as one of its own, Goldman Sachs, plans an investor day, Wednesday—its first in 5 years or more, and surely the first without Blankfein. The Event Calendar is heavy with healthcare-related events, Food Marketing Executives & Organic Food, .FIG Partners, now owned by Janney, hosts West Coast CEO in Phoenix, starting Wednesday, timed to follow Bank Director Acquire of Be Acquired, an annual conference, in that city, starting Sunday, as I write. Other notable events include Philly National Candy, Gift, & Gourmet Show and Inside ETFs, and IEEE Radio & Wireless Week, all starting Sunday. Monday, Tour d’Alis is the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), a group hard hit by coronavirus, in the few days the presence of that virus has been disseminated. For many tech investors, DesignCon, Where the Chip Meets the Board, is a big event but with Sanmina, Lam Research, and other Semi Equip names reporting results, there’ll be a surfeit of information, including at SAW Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, which starts Tuesday.

Speaking of Tuesday, in a case of perfect timing, ASM--the American Society for Microbiology meeting starts that day, Biothreats the original topic, coronavirus, surely, a prime topic of conversation, if not abstracts and/or poster sessions. The first person diagnosed in Chicago was said to be doing well in a hospital. Evidently, her case was mild or the antivirals they’ve given her are working. That’s the first we’re getting word of a person stricken recovering. Also Wednesday, CIBC hosts its 23rd Annual Western Institutional Investor Conference, in Banff AB, Canada. Besides GS’ Investor Day, Kinder Morgan hosts its own in Houston, while TD Ameritrade hosts its National LNC Conference, in Orlando, starting the same day.

Otherwise, End of Month, 2 major Central Bank Meetings, plus a slug of Earnings Reports will occupy Street interest, a pullback continuation of last week’s action quite typical of this stage of Earnings Season, so get ready for talking heads to urge one and all to use the pullback as an opportunity to scoop of fallen shares. It’s what they’re paid to do. Normally, as we enter February, I’d been looking for June call options to buy on energy stocks. Typically, the oils bottom in February, and rise into Memorial Day. Given how beaten up the oils are, it’s something to keep in the back of your mind, if the coronavirus doesn’t become more significantly widespread outside China.

R.I.P. Kobe Bryant and all those who died with him.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 20—24, 2020   NOW the EARNINGS RUBBER REALLY MEETS THE ROAD    Now that all the big money center banks have reported, hundreds of smaller banks are slated to weigh in, along with major regionals like Zions Bancorp, major credit card & auto loan lenders American Express, Ally Financial, Capital One Financial, Discover Financial Services, & Synchrony, smaller brokers like Interactive Brokers & E Trade Financial, and a large international bank, UBS Group. Additionally, heavy hitters like Intel & IBM, Abbot Labs, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, United Airlines, Netflix, American Airlines, Comcast, ST Microelectronics, Travelers, & Union Pacific, though you’d be well-served to, instead of stopping here, checking out all the emboldened tickers on the Earnings Calendar which is, admittedly, missing at least 50 smaller banks that aren’t within our coverage universe.

Pres. Trump was scheduled to speak at the 101st American Farm Bureau Federation Convention and IDEAg Expo but given Monday’s holiday, and Tuesday’s start of the Impeachment trial in the Senate, it’s difficult to believe there’ll be much interest in a 48-hour old speech, by the time markets reconvene. He’ll speak again at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland but given the time lag, and the Impeachment trial, the only thing the media will be interested in, from Switzlerand, is catching other foreign leaders making fun of Trump, or Trump managing to embarrass himself, as he has at other global gatherings, when he’s tried to muscle into the middle of a line of world leaders, standing shoulder to shoulder without him. Trump will not be the only famous American speaking at Davos, as the Economic Calendar bravely details. Those sessions that are streamed will be streamed from WEForum.org, only, as far as we know.

The Bk of Japan has a Monetary Policy Meeting that ends on Japan’s Tuesday, overnight, Monday, for us. The Bk of Canada MPC also meets, its statement expected on Wednesday. Early Thursday morning the ECB MPC will weigh in, too, Lagarde’s press conference not so early in the a.m., that many traders won’t catch it live, before some traders make it into their offices. The BoJ weighs in, again, overnight Thursday, releasing minutes of its December 18—19, 2019 MPC Meeting. The Chinese New Year celebration kicks off Friday, which pretty much puts China out for 12 days, the actual New Year on the 28th, early this year. Many years, the Chinese New Year is closer to my birthday, which means just a couple of days prior to Valentine’s Day. That, so it’s said, occurs on a Friday, which is really good for restaurants.

Other items on the Economic Calendar, of note, include housing data Wednesday, from FHFA & Nat’l Ass’n of Realtors. Petroleum stats won’t arrive until Thursday, because of the MLK Hoiliday, Monday. Otherwise, the Events Calendar is a little all over the place. In addition to the Farm Bureau previously mentioned, there’s Retina & ACC’s Cardiovascular Conference, a Veterinary Conference, then imprinted Sportswear, Halloween, Costume, Party & Special Occasion Show, and Men’s Haute Couture shows in Paris. Retail Leaders moved from Northern Florida, and the ICRConference, south to Palm Beach for RILA—the Retail Leaders CEO Forum. While the press will heavily cover what’s going on in Paris, France, New York will be home to the Men’s Contemporary Fashion Market, while San Francisco will host Winter Fancy Foods.

Women’s Haute Courture (Designer Runway) Shows start in Paris Monday, when Bloomberg—the TV channel, not the candidate, will move to Switzerland for single-day events concurrent with WEF. But note, too, the CEO’s of Goldman Sachs, IBM, Bk of America, and Salesforce.com, are speaking in Davos, too, so some left shortly after they reported earnings last week, while Ginni Rometty will, perhaps, phone it in for her company’s Tuesday earnings report. Note Trump will not be without friends in Switzerland, his Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin is a speaker overnight Thursday into Friday, a panelist with ECB Chief Christine Lagarde.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) hosts a big show in Las Vegas, starting Tuesday, which also happens to be the first trading day after January options expired. I mention that because some of those options that expired, could have begun as LEAPS as much as 2 years 3 months ago. There’s no other month in which that can happen, except with custom designed options that the wirehouses arrange for big clients. Because it’s a big week for earnings, after a 3-day weekend, not many I-banks have events scheduled in the US but Jefferies does, starting Tuesday, in Beavercreek Colorado. Meeting in the same city, Beyond A Million Genomes: From Discovery to Precision Health. Also starting meetings that day, NATPE (TV Program Execs), World Stem Cell Summit (Miami), the PGA (Professional Golf Association) Merchandise Show, and MPMC Media Trade Council Conference—from SEMA, Wheel & Tire Council.

Wednesday, Barclays breaks the earnings week ban with an Insurance CIO Conference & Roundtable., also in Palm Beach. Somewhat ironically, CFANY hosts its 5th Insurance Company CIO Roundtable in NY. The ICSC (Shopping Centers) meet in Miami for Nexus Conference, which has a LatAm flair. Los Angeles hosts CannaWest, a Cannabis Conference, while TD Securities is hosting Mining, in Toronto Canada. I Imagine the Iowa Pork Congress, in Des Moines, starting Wednesday, will be jolly affair, given China has had to slaughter pigs to stop swine flu, and had to buy heavily to satisfy demand for the New Year. ASHA, the American Senior Housing Ass’n meeting that starts Wednesday, contrasts with NMHC—Multifamily Housing Council’s Strategies Outlook & Annual Meeting, starting Sunday, as I wrote, since ASHA manages to extract $3,500--$8,500 per suite at Assisted Living Centers. Some, like country clubs, even demand hundreds of thousands in upfront "membership fees."

Friday, AFIB (Atrial Fibrillation) is the subject of a Symposium, in D.C., despite the ACC Cardiovascular Conference which ran through the 22nd, in Snowmass, and next Saturday, the Society of Cario-Thoracic Surgeons Annual Meeting & AATS Tech-Con get underway in New Orleans. Evidently, you can pick music, or sun & surf, or skiing, if you’re a heart doctor. ASCO’s Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium starts Thursday, when Renewables & Wholesale Electricity Markets meets in Houston, & CoalTrans in Miami. Also next Saturday, Winter Clinical Dermatology Conference for Dermatologists (as opposed to GP’s), in Maui, Hawaii, despite their constant warnings about skin cancer. Also next Saturday, Winter Rheumatology in Snowmass Village, Midwinter Conference of Immunologists, and SLAS2020., the Society for Laboratory Automation Science, all very big conferences in terms of volume of attendees, for some, because of the setting, in particular.

All in, it’ll be one heck of a busy week, for a 4-day week, with the potential for Earnings to weigh on the bulls’ party. That’s not to say stocks have to collapse, from here. On the contrary, with the Trade War in a truce period, and many Republicans too sure of Trump’s innocence to worry about the impeachment trial—if Senate leader Mitch McConnell even allows anything approaching that term, and the bulls impassable, to date, there’s no collapse coming but a softer market is not beyond the realm.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 13—17, 2020 
IT’S ALL UP to the FINANCIALS    When JPM surpassed $140 and started taking the rest of the major banks with it, I started trimming my stakes in some names. The Fed had cut rates 3x, which isn’t good for banks, I thought, when I noticed something others, surely, notice too. Quick to raise rates in lock-step with rising Fed rates, they are very slow to lower rates. That means the banks are making a fortune on credit cards, whose rates rose for a couple of years, and may not come down one bit, now.

And it is all up to the banks, who dominate the Earnings Calendar, this week. And not just any banks but Citi, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Bk of America, BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, PNC, US Bank, Bk of NY Mellon, Morgan Stanley, Charles Schwab, Citizens Financial, Regions Financial, and State Street—a collection without peer. Yes, Delta Airlines, United Healthcare, CSX & Kansas City Southern, plus Taiwan Semiconductor report as well but the spotlight will on the financials, especially.

There are a few Fed speakers, this week, including NY’s Williams, Bistib;s Rosengren, K.C.’s George, Philly Fed’s Harker mostly Tuesday, the last on Wednesday, though that’s the day Liu and Lighthizer, at the least, will be signing the first phase of the US-China Trade Deal. Mind you, it’s a deal whose terms are unknown, except to those most directly involved, beyond $50B worth of Ag products China is supposed to buy from the US, over 2 years. During any other given week, the Fed’s Beige Book would be the highlight of Wednesday’s schedule, outside of earnings but that isn’t likely the case this week. Anecdotal comments from various Fed districts? Give me a break!

The other interesting facet of the weekly Economic Calendar, as presented, is Friday’s expiration of what were formerly LEAPS—long term Options that could have been contracted as long as two years and 7 months ago, if not more. One of the hardest things to do under Trump has been to hold on for dear life and not trade away winners that because even bigger winners, as time went by—markets hitting new ALL TIME HIGHS Last Week. But that’s really about a small handful of large cap names, rather than the run of the mill stock but still, stocks have hit new highs, so someone who’s held became a winner. While all that expiration machinations will be Friday’s business, it also pays to notice that the markets are closed on the 20th, to celebrate Martin Lither King Jr.

As for Events, the big kahuna is JPMorgan’s 38th Annual Healthcare Conference, in San Francisco. That, and the ICR Conference (for retailers, apparel manufacturers & restaurants) draw the most concurrent Investment bank events—some tied to the JPMorgan Conference, merely identified by their city, San Francisco. ICR, however, draws any number of events scheduled to coincide, suggesting that interest in consumer-facing names is undiminished, no matter how poorly most of retail has been doing. ICR is in Orlando FL while, ironically, the NRF Vision Show, aka the BIG SHO)W, will be in NY, as per usual.

Peters & Company hosts its Winter Energy Conference in Canada, starting Wednesday, when US events start winding down, due to the King holiday, that will be stretched into a 3—5 day weekend. And note, the upcoming holiday didn’t deter the 101st American Farm Bureau Federation Convention & IDEAg Trade Show, starting Friday, in Austin TX, a city I don’t believe has hosted it before. Perhaps the 2020 election campaigns diverted the event from Iowa, and other more typical farm states that have hosted it in the past.Also notable, but on Thursday, Raymond James’10th Home Building & Wood Products Forum, ESG Edition, also in Canada. And the coming Monday Holiday, in a week, didn’t deter ACC, Retina, or Veterinarians from hosting conferences that start on Saturday, each in a city favorable to long weekends, respectively, Snowmass CO, Hawaii, & Orlando.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the meeting of the FDA’s Anesthetic & Analgesic Advisory Committee’s 3-day meeting to discuss and evaluate not one, not two or even 3 but 4 opioid drugs from Tuesday through Thursday. What’s wrong with that picture, when opioids are, supposedly, the scourge of our society?

Whether it’s time to start getting more serious about profit-taking, will depend on what the major, money-center banks report. But even then, if they deliver, markets won’t be in the clear. Stocks usually suffer in the 3 weeks after the banks report, until the market, collectively, decides Earnings reported could have been a whole lot worse than those delivered. Buying some protection may be a waste of money, given how the market refuses to go down and stay down but, then, what a way to waste a little money, if you’re protecting a long portfolio.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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 part of more complete due diligence.

January 6—10, 2020  FIRST REAL WEEK of the NEW YEAR   It’s the first full week of the New Year, and it’ll start with a bit of a bang. Central bankers are speakers, and the first of December sales news will be released Wednesday, the 8th, at 4:15pm et, by Costco, more on the 9th, as those retailers who still report sales monthly release Dec sales, too. Also, Wednesday, Bed Bath & Beyond reports its quarter, comments on December sales sure to arrive, then, too. Also Wednesday, Constellation Brands reports its quarter, comments on December sales sure to accompany the release, even as Walgreens Boots Alliance reports, Wednesday, as well, Barron’s particularly negative on its results, which surprises me a little. CVS gave up selling cigarettes a few years ago, leaving that kind of walk-in business to WBA, alone, in most of the drugstore world. Yes, supermarkets & Walmart, for one, still peddles cigarettes but for parking convenience, few offer the close-in spots available at drug stores.

Now, to those Central Bankers mentioned, we start with NY FRB Pres/CEO John Williams, a panelist, as I type, at the AEA/ASSA Annual Winter Meeting in San Diego. AEA is the Association Economists, ASSA the Association of all Economic/Social Societies, of which there are 11, if I recall, off hand. Other panelists appearing wit him include the BoE’s Broadbent, the ECB’s Lane, the BoJ’s Wakatabe, and the Bk of Canada’s Dpty Gov, Wilkins. Their topic is "Monetary Policy Frameworks in a World of Low Interest Rates." Earlier in the day, at the same meeting, a panel of past Central Bankers that includes Janet Yellen, Olivier Blanchard, Lawrence Summers (technically, a Treasury official, not a central banker), and Adam Posen dicusses "Japanification, Secular Stagnation & Fiscal & Monetary Policy Challenges,: also at AEA/ASSA Annual. At 10:15am pst, there’s a 3-session discussion of FOMC transcripts, and what can be learned from them—whether Central Bankers can be taken at their word. While the vast majority of speakers are academics, in addition to the Central Bankers, there’s a smattering of corporate economists, not just from the obvious, financials, but from corporates like Microsoft & Caterpillar, all of whom have to form an economic forecast to direct their companies’ future.

As is typical of the first full week of a month, the week will be full of all kinds of data, Treasury Auctions, and culminate in Friday’s December Unemployment Report.. While much of the rest of the week’s data is for November, it might be more instructive than usual, if the end of the GM strike caused a surge in orders, not just at US factories but Mexico’s too. And we haven’t heard the last of the Central Bankers, either, once AEA/ASSA ends. On Wednesday, Fed Gov. Lael Brainard will discuss "Modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act," at the Urban Institute, while in the early hours of Thursday, BoE’s soon to be leaving Governor, Carney, will open "The Future of Inflation Targeting," a conference at the BoE whose URL was not to be found but which will host NY FRB Pres./CEO Williams, on Inflation Targeting. Also Thursday, Fed V. Chair Clarida will discuss "U.S. Economic Outlook & Monetary Policy," at the Council of Foreign Relations’ C. Peter McColough Series on International Economics, in NY, even as the Bk of Canada will wrap its first monetary policy meeting of the year, with release of a statement and Poloz’s press conference. Later on the same day, St Louis Fed’s Bullard speaks to the Wisconsin Bankers Association Economic Forecast Luncheon, an event he attends almost every year.

Of course, the December Unemployment Report will decide the fate of the markets, for Friday, at the least. Of course, results from Lennar on Wednesday, and KB Homes on Thursday, will also trigger pencil sharpening by economics, with rates, again, scrapping very attractive lows. The last Earnings Reporter who should pay attention to is Synnex, because it’s one of the largest VARs—Value-Added-Reseller, whose business is a good read on corporate spending on technology.

If you follow consumer tech stocks, it’s the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, opening the 7th, that makes you week. Samsung’s keynote at CES, on the 6th, will delivered by H.S Kim, who’ll discuss where consumers are headed, and the blending of physical and digital worlds---what Kim refers to in a blog as the "Age of Experience." Time was, Microsoft was the annual keynote but, now, like Apple, it doesn’t even purchase exhibit space, which is not to say it will be completely absent. On the contrary, it will have hotel suites to receive analysts, who’ll be at CES in droves, as the Events Calendar makes clear. The number of events listed "@CES" are numerous, and include not just consumer technology but autos, too, JPMorgan hosting an Auto/Tech Forum @CES, and Citi a Global TMT West Conference, at CES. Likewise, the SAE—Society of Automotive Engineers—are hosting Connect2Car at CES. Facebook & Instagram plan a briefing at CES, while Intel is one of the other keynotes, and is holding a press conference, at CES, while its Mobileye division is, also, hosting a CES press Conference, both of them on Tuesday. Other concurrent events, at CES, beyond the many I-bank "hosted meetings" and exhibition tours, include Kids @Play, and IDC’s very odd, "Building Next Generation Tech on a Foundation of Consumer Trust." Excuse me!!!! Where, exactly, does IDC see consumer trust?

If all that wasn’t enough, the TV Critics Spring Press Tour starts this week, on Tuesday, at FOX, now a Walt Disney Company. As the week progresses, the TV Critics Spring Press Tour will look like a nearly all Walt Disney event, thanks to the many Fox division it picked up with its recent purchase, not to mention its own ABC on Wednesday. Not until Friday does someone other than Disney entertain the TV Critics, and that day its PBS—or Public Broadcasting Services, which Trump had, at one time, threatened to stop funding with government money. Debuting Friday, when "Like a Boss," opens in movie theaters, the first film to sport the new, combined ViacomCBS logo.

Other big events, otherwise, include Goldman Sach’s Global Energy Conference, starting Tuesday, and the Credit Suisse 2020 Aircraft Leasing Conference, both starting Tuesday. Wednesday, CJS Securities’ 20th Annual New Ideas for the New Year Conference, and ICSC (Shopping Centers) Red River States Conference & Dealmaking event, in Ft Worth TX. Can’t say I ever knew Texas was a Red River State. I have a very off color joke about that which I’ll refrain from noting, in deference to good taste. There’s a Commercial Real Estate Forecast Conference, starting Thursday, when Raymond James hosts a Deer Valley Telecom Summit, and the Correctional Association hosts its annual event. For whatever reason, London is where the Beef Industry is hosting its 21st Annual Convention—London Ontario, Canada, I should specify, as opposed to the London UK, where Citi is hosting European Insurance, and TD Securities an Energy Conference, even as Credit Suisse is in Hong Kong for a Greater China Technology & Internet Conference, wile Jefferies is in the same city for a Consumer Corporate Day 1x1, and Citi a Hong Kong & China Corporate Day with a Healthcare Theme.

Friday, the Annual ASH (Hematology) Review hits both NYC & Seattle Washington, just 2 out of 10 stops early in the New Year. The American Bus Association Marketplace & BusWorld Academy take place in Berkshire country—Omaha Nebraska, while Brussels hosts the European Auto Salon, where overseas automakers are more likely to introduce new models than they are at any US based auto event. Saturday, East/West Biotech CEO opens in NY, while Plant & Animal Genome opens in San Diego, and Color Management 20, a PIA/GATF Conference & Expo opens in San Diego too.

All in, it’s an incredible busy week with the potential for Friday’s Employment Report to be a landmine for market bulls. Let’s not overlook the fact that retailers start laying off seasonal help after Christmas, even though physical stores are often busier with bargain hunters & people toting returns after Christmas, into January. And it’s only a mere 2 weeks until the next market holiday arrives—the Martin Luther King Jr holiday, an event the NYSE celebrates by closing while still staying open for Veteran’s Day—something I have, simply, never understood.

I’ll give full credit to the bulls for shaving Friday’s losses despite Trump’s bombing Iran, taking out a revered general there, and escalating the temperature of the US enmity with Arab countries who Trump threw over the side as soon as he was inaugurated--withdrawing from the nuclear disarmament deal signed by a predecessor. How long can the bulls pretend there’s nothing to fear from either Iran or Iraq, or a rogue Muslim zealot? We probably won’t find out until we see retaliation—and where that occurs. The closer to home, the more unsettling it will be.

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

Sandi Lynne 2020 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.  EARLIER, 2019 EXCERPTS HERE

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