For the week ending October 17, 2014, no CI Market Dashboard indicators were bullish, six were bearish and three were neutral. There were no new signals this week, nor did any indicators generate any new confirming signals.
Week in Review
Earnings season offered a welcome distraction from slowing global growth, Fed watching and the growing Ebola scare. As we enter the heart of earnings season, investors should get a clearer picture of the overall economic picture here in the U.S. Undoubtedly, it will also add to the growing volatility in the market over the next week or two as both positive and negative earnings surprise will, more than likely, add to the market’s recent gyrations. Compared to week’s past, however, the downside volatility hit large-cap stocks especially hard compared to small- and mod-cap issues.
Monday, pessimism over upcoming corporate earnings announcements dragged the broad U.S. market indexes sharply lower after posting gains early in the session. The Wall Street Journal pointed out the developing trend of investors and traders selling into the close to avoid holding stocks overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 1.4%, marking the blue-chip index’s fifth consecutive triple-digit day and its ninth losing session in 11 trading days. The S&P 500 lost 1.7%, violating its 200-day moving average; and the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.5%.The Russell 2000 Index of smaller stocks ended the day down only 0.4%. However, the CBOE Volatility Index ended the day at a session high, adding 16%. This was its highest level in two years. Energy companies continued their slump amidst fears of a softening global economy. Brent oil futures dropped to their lowest levels in nearly four years after OPEC members signaled they would not cut production to stabilize oil prices. The energy component of the S&P 500 fell 2.9%. Also hit during Monday’s session were airlines stocks, due in part to speculation about Ebola spreading and negatively affecting the demand for travel-related services.
Tuesday’s session mimicked that of Monday’s, with the broad market indexes posting early gains that evaporated by the losing bell. This activity took place as investor and traders alike had very little in the way of news to digest, but the markets followed the afternoon drop crude-oil prices. U.S. oil futures continued to plunge after the International Energy Agency cut its forecast for oil-demand growth for this year and next year. Oil prices posted their biggest single-day decline since November 21012. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was up nearly 1% earlier in the day, closed down 0.04%; the S&P 500 fared a bit better, gaining 0.2%; and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.3% on Tuesday. Small-cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 rebounded sharply, jumping 1.2%. The CBOE Volatility Index dipped 7.5%, but still posted its second-highest close of the past year.
Wednesday could have been much worse that it might otherwise have been, had it not been for a last-session buying binge that pull the market out of a nosedive. The result was the heaviest trading volume in nearly three years. Another wave of weak economic data and growing fears of a global Ebola outbreak sent investors heading for the exits. Very few corners of the market were safe, as airlines, financials and energy stocks all were battered. The only thing that was up for the day was volatility, which rocketed to multi-year highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was down nearly 3% during the session, ending the day down 1.1%, its lowest level since April 11. The S&P 500 was down 0.8% for the way and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.3%, buoyed by results from tech bellwether Intel Corp. The Russell 2000 also bucked the broader trend, jumping 1.0%. The CBOE Volatility Index soared 15.2% to close at its highest level since mid-2012.
Investors still did not have strong conviction one way or the other on Thursday, as the broad market indexes bumped between positive and negative territory. Like Wednesday, however, a late-session rally erased some of the day’s earlier losses, as positive economic data and reassuring comments from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard encouraged investors and traders. Initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level in more than 14 years and Fed hawk James Bullard suggested the central bank extend its asset-buying program beyond October. Overseas, data out of Europe showed eurozone inflation at a five-year low. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.2%, posting its sixth consecutive loss. The S&P 500 ended the day up 0.3 points (0.01%) while the Nasdaq Composite ticked upward 2.1 points (0.05%). The Russell 2000 small-cap index continued its strong move this week, adding 1.3%. The CBOE Volatility Index dropped 4% but, again, posted its second-highest close in the last two years.
U.S. stocks came roaring back on Friday, fueled by a rally in Europe and strong earnings from General Electric (GE) and American Express (AXP). A European Central Bank official said the bank would start more stimulus efforts “within days,” and a Bank of England official said rates could stay “lower for longer.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its first gain in seven trading sessions, jumping 1.6%, its second-strongest session of 2014. The S&P 500 gained 1.3% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1%. The Russell 2000 pared some of this week’s gains, dipping 0.3%. The rebound in energy stocks continued, as the S&P 500 energy sector gained 0.9% on Friday and is up 3.1% since Tuesday. The CBOE Volatility Index dropped 12%.
Weekly Market Summary
Looking at the U.S. equity markets, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 1% this week to close at 16,380.41. On an intraday level, the DJIA violated the 16,100 level, but based on closing prices this looks to offer near-term support. Otherwise, round-number support exists at 16,000.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX) posted its fourth weekly loss in a row, dropping 1.0% this week to close at 1,886.76. This is its longest weekly losing streak since 2011. On Monday, the large-cap index violated its 200-day moving average, a significant technical event, and fell through key round-number support at 1,900. The 1,860 level looks like near-term support, with more significant support at the 1,840 level.
Only three of the nine S&P Select Sector SPDR ETFs were up this week, with industrials (XLI) outpacing all others with a 2.3% gain. For once, the energy sector (XLE) (down 1.0%) was not the weakest sector; it was supplanted by health care (XLV), which dropped 2.9%. The technology sector (XLK) lost 1.1% this week.
The broad market Wilshire 5000 (W5000) index lost 0.4% this week to close at 19,900.42. We now look to the 19,600 level as meaningful near-term support.
The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) lost 0.4% this week and closed at 4,258.44. We still see the 4,200 level as offering near-term support.
The Russell 2000 (RUT) rallied 2.8% this week and closed at 1,082.33. We continue to look to the 1,050 level as offering near-term support.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) closed the week at 21.99 after rising 3.5% for the week. This is above its long-term average of 20.
Tech Sector Earnings & News
This week’s earnings announcements from key tech firms (consensus estimates from I/B/E/S):
- ADTRAN, Inc. (ADTN): Reported earnings per share of $0.25 versus the consensus estimate of $0.197 per share; +26.9% surprise
- Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD): Reported earnings per share of $(0.03) versus the consensus estimate of $0.042 per share; -171.4% surprise
- Badger Meter, Inc. (BMI): Reported earnings per share of $0.74 versus the consensus estimate of $0.702 per share; +5.4% surprise
- CEPHEID (CPHD): Reported earnings per share of $0.06 versus the consensus estimate of $0.037 per share; +116.2% surprise
- Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (CY): Reported earnings per share of $0.16 versus the consensus estimate of $(0.156) per share; +202.6% surprise
- Danaher Corporation (DHR): Reported earnings per share of $0.90 versus the consensus estimate of $0.886 per share; +1.6% surprise
- eBay Inc. (EBAY): Reported earnings per share of $0.68 versus the consensus estimate of $0.669 per share; +1.6% surprise
- Fabrinet (FN): Reported earnings per share of $0.34 versus the consensus estimate of $0.348 per share; -2.3% surprise
- Fairchild Semiconductor Intl I (FCS): Reported earnings per share of $0.28 versus the consensus estimate of $0.213 per share; +31.5% surprise
- Google Inc. (GOOGL): Reported earnings per share of $6.35 versus the consensus estimate of $6.54 per share; -2.9% surprise
- iGATE Corporation (IGTE): Reported earnings per share of $0.52 versus the consensus estimate of $0.517 per share; +0.6% surprise
- Honeywell International Inc. (HON): Reported earnings per share of $1.47 versus the consensus estimate of $1.412 per share; +4.1% surprise
- Intel Corporation (INTC): Reported earnings per share of $0.66 versus the consensus estimate of $0.644 per share; +2.5% surprise
- Linear Technology Corporation (LLTC): Reported earnings per share of $0.53 versus the consensus estimate of $0.536; -1.1% surprise
- Netflix, Inc. (NFLX): Reported earnings per share of $0.96 versus the consensus estimate of $0.928 per share; +3.4% surprise
- NetScout Systems, Inc. (NTCT): Reported earnings per share of $0.40 versus the consensus estimate of $0.34 per share; +17.6% surprise
- SanDisk Corporation (SNDK): Reported earnings per share of $1.45 versus the consensus estimate of $1.377 per share; +5.3% surprise
- Syntel, Inc. (SYNT): Reported earnings per share of $1.47 versus the consensus estimate of $1.391 per share; +5.7% surprise
- Xilinx, Inc. (XLNX): Reported earnings per share of $0.62 versus the consensus estimate of $0.556 per share; +11.5% surprise
Shares of Netflix (NFLX) plummeted nearly 19% on Thursday following the release of the company’s third-quarter results that showed that subscriber growth grew at a pace well below management forecasts. Chief executive Reed Hastings blamed the shortfall on the $1-per-month price increase the company imposed in May. In an interview with The Associated Press, Hastings said, “There is slightly more (pricing) sensitivity than we thought.” The company added three million subscribers in the three-month period ended in September, but they missed management’s projections of an additional 3.7 million subscribers for the period. According to the AP, slowing subscriber growth could eventually affect Netflix’s ability to pay for exclusive content. For the week, NFLX shares dropped 20.0%.
The subscriber data came on the heels of the announcement by HBO—a wholly-owned subsidiary of Time Warner (TWX)—that it would be rolling out a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the U.S. beginning next year that would not require a subscription to a cable provider or traditional television service. The service aims at “cord cutters,” viewers who pay only for Internet access to watch television shows and movies via streaming options such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and, now, potentially HBO. TWX shares added 5.0% for the week.
CBS Corporation (CBS) piled onto Netflix week by announcing its own subscription Internet streaming service that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand with paying for a traditional television subscription. The CBS All Access service costs $5.99 a month and marks the first time a traditional broadcaster will make a bear-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the Internet to non-pay-TV subscribers, according to The New York Times. To start, the live stream will be available in 14 market in the U.S. CBS shares rose 2.5% for the week.
In a rare public relations blunder, Apple Inc. (AAPL) scooped its own product launch, publishing details of its latest iPads a day ahead of its media event. Pictures and details about the new iPad Air and iPad mini showed up after Apple updated its iOS 8 iPad user guide online. The images confirmed what many analysts were anticipating: the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 are nearly identical to their predecessors, but will come equipped with Touch ID technology. For the week, AAPL shares lost 4.4%
Google Inc. (GOOGL) reported an earnings miss this week due to slower growth in advertising and increased spending, as well as a higher tax bill. Google said third-quarter revenue totaled $16.52 billion, up 20% from a year earlier, but shy of the $16.58 billion expected by analysts, according to S&P Capital IQ. Net income fell 5.3%, to $2.81 billion, or $4.09 a share, from $2.97 billion, or $4.38 a share, in the same period of 2013. Those results include Google’s Motorola Mobility unit, which it is selling to China’s Lenovo Group Ltd., and classifies as a discontinued operation. Excluding Motorola and certain other expenses, Google reported earnings per share of $6.35. Analysts had expected $6.54 on that basis, according to I/B/E/S. While Google is the leading online advertising company because its dominant search engine gives marketers valuable clues on what people want, it is spending heavily to invest in new businesses that it hopes will maintain its growth. While revenue increased 20% in the latest quarter, expenses climbed 28%. Among expenses, research and development costs soared 46%. Google is also spending to build additional data centers to deliver more Internet content. Capital expenditures totaled $7.4 billion through the first nine months of the year, up 45% from $5.1 billion in the same period last year. Furthermore, the company added 2,980 employees in the third quarter, to 51,564. For the week, GOOGL shares dropped 3.3%.
Intel Corp (INTC) reported strong third-quarter earnings, stemming from stronger volumes, operating cost control and a lower share count. Intel’s earnings of $0.66 cents a share were up 17.9% sequentially and 13.8% year over year and better than the I/B/E/S consensus estimate of $0.644. Reported revenue was $14.55 billion, better than the guidance range of $14.4 billion (+/-$500 million) and was up 5.2% sequentially and 7.9% from the year-ago quarter. The company’s closely watched Mobile & Communications Group generated less than 1% of revenue, but management remains optimistic about its 40 million-tablet unit target for the year. So far, five million units shipped in the first quarter, 10 million in the second and 15 million units in the third. Segment revenue was down substantially from both the previous and year-ago quarters. Management said that the importance of the LTE technology developed for phones is growing in importance because of its application in tablets. Management estimates that by 2015, baseband attach rates on tablets will double and PC attach rates will be around 15% by then (due to increasing WLAN connectivity). The gross margin for the quarter was 65.0%, up 51 basis points (bps) sequentially and up 258 bps year over year, lower than the guidance of 66% at the mid-point. Net income was $3.34 billion, or 22.9% of sales, compared to $2.88 billion, or 20.8% in the previous quarter and $2.95 billion or 21.9% in the comparable prior-year quarter. INTC shares lost 3.3% this week.
Economic Data & News
Here is a recap of this week’s key economic data and news:
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) cut its global oil-demand growth by roughly 22%. It is now forecasting demand will climb 700,000 barrels a day this year, about 200,000 barrels a day lower than previously forecast.
- Adding to the downward pressure on oil prices were signs that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was unlikely to cut production in response to the lower forecasted demand. OPEC, which controls about one-third of global oil supplies, has responded to low prices in the past with production cuts to support prices. However, OPEC members appear to be split: Saudi Arabia has been lowering prices to undercut other OPEC members while boosting production. The lack of a united front among OPEC members sent crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange to their lowest settle since June 2012.
- Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans said that the Fed should err on the side of caution in its coming decision about to when to raise interest rates for fear of derailing the U.S. economy in the midst of a weak world economy. “The biggest and costliest downside risk is that in our haste to get back to ‘business as usual’ monetary policy, we could stall progress and backtrack to the economic circumstances of recent years,” Evans said in a speech. Evans repeated his belief the Fed should not raise interest rates before the start of 2016. Evans does not currently have a vote on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), but will join it in January.
- John Williams, president of the San Francisco Fed, downplayed concerns about weakness in the global economy, saying that the Fed should only delay an interest rate hike next year if inflation or wages fail to increase. Many Fed watchers consider Williams a barometer of the views of Fed Chair Janet Yellen and his statements suggest the central bank has been little moved by growing concerns over weakness in Europe and China and remains on track to life rates next year. In an interview with Reuters, Williams said he is still comfortable with his call for a rate increase about nine months from now.
- The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, a summary of economic activity in all 12 Fed districts, showed a moderate to modestly growing economy with little sign of inflation. Commercial construction grew in most districts, but in areas such as Chicago and Dallas, projects were delayed because of shortage of skilled construction workers. In addition, demand for transportation—trucking, rail etc.—was generally growing and that insufficient capacity was a problem in some districts. Districts reported few or modest prices increases.
- Charles Plosser, president of the Philadelphia Fed, said the Fed must prepare investors for an earlier interest rate increase than many now think. In a speech Plosser said rates may begin to rise “sooner than previously anticipated” and called on the Fed to adjust its formal policy guidance to acknowledge “significant progress” in both U.S. inflation and employment. Plosser is concerned a hawk among Fed policy makers and wants the central bank to end its easy monetary policy sooner than mid-2015. “I’m not suggesting a rate increase now, but changing the forward guidance would at least afford us the flexibility to gradually raise rates beginning earlier than currently anticipated,” Plosser said.
- St. Louis Fed president James Bullard surprised investors by saying the Fed should consider extending its bond-buying program beyond October due to the recent market selloff in order to see how the U.S. economy “evolves.” The Fed has said it expects to end its quantitative easing at the end of this month, but Bullard, considered a hawk on the Fed, said the timing was always data-dependent. In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Bullard said the Fed cannot “abide” the recent drop in inflation expectations. “We have to make sure inflation and inflation expectations remain near our target. And for that reason, a reasonable response of the Fed in this situation … we go on pause on the taper at this juncture and wait to see how the data shakes out in December,” Bullard added.
- Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart said the share of part-time workers in the U.S. labor force is likely to remain high, meaning the labor market is still “far from normal.” He added that, while it is likely that the use of part-time labor will decline as the economy continues to strengthen, it probably will not decline to levels seen before the Great Recession. “In other words, preference for part-time workers is likely to persist,” Lockhart said in remarks prepared for delivery to a conference on workforce development.
- Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren told CNBC he does not expect the U.S. economy to need another round of quantitative easing, but cautioned that he could not rule out the option. “I don’t expect that we need to,” Rosengren said. “If the economy got weak enough that it was required, we should do it. I certainly hope and I don’t expect that will be the case, but I can’t rule anything out at this time,” he added.
- Retail sales fell more than forecast in September, the Commerce Department reported. This indicates that consumers provided less of a boost to the U.S. economy in the third quarter. Sales dropped 0.3%, following a 0.6% gain in August. The median forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg was a 0.1% decline. Analysts say that the absence of real wage and salary growth has dampened the acceleration in spending.
- The retail sales figure used to calculate gross domestic product (GDP), which excludes categories such as food services, auto dealers, home-improvement stores and service stations, fell 0.2% in September. This was the first decline since January and followed a 0.4% increase in August.
- The Labor Department reported that the producer-price index for final demand, which measures changes in the prices firms receive when they sell goods and services, decreased a seasonally adjusted 0.1% last month from August. It was the first decline in the measure in more than a year. Excluding the more volatile food and energy categories, producer prices were unchanged. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast prices would rise 0.1% in September. Producer prices rose 1.6% in September from a year earlier. Prices rose 1.8% for the 12-month period through August and 1.7% in July.
- Germany’s ZEW institute sentiment survey saw a sharp decline and ZEW President Clemens Fuest said he could not rule out an economic contraction in the third quarter. The ZEW survey of financial analysts measuring sentiment fell to minus 3.6 from September’s 6.9 figure and well below the average forecast of 0.8 in a poll by The Wall Street Journal. This is the first time the reading has fallen below zero since November 2012.
- U.S. industrial production rose 1% in September, the biggest gain in nearly two years, the Federal Reserve reported. Expectations were for a 0.4% increase. This follows a 0.2% decline in August. The amount of productive capacity in use rose to 79.3%, the highest level since June 2008, but still 0.8-percentage point below its long-run average. Manufacturing production, which dropped 0.5% percent in August, rose 0.5% in September. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a gain of 0.3%.
- The U.S. Labor Department reported that the number of people who applied for U.S. jobless benefits dropped by 23,000 to 264,000 in the week that ended October 11. This was the lowest reading in more than 14 years. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast an increase in initial claims for state unemployment benefits to increase to 289,000 from 287,000 in the prior week. The four-week average of new claims, a smoother gauge of labor market trends, fell by 4,250 to 283,500. This was also the lowest level since 2000, according to the Labor Department.
- The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire State Index fell to 6.2 from 27.5 in September. Readings above zero indicate growth, but the decrease from September was the biggest drop since November 2010.
- The EU’s statistics agency reported that consumer prices rose by just 0.3% in the 12 months to September, the lowest annual rate of inflation since October 2009, and down from 0.4% in August. A more comprehensive set of figures showed consumer prices across the 28-member European Union rose by 0.4% from September 2013, slowing from a 0.5% increase in the previous 12-month period. This is the lowest rate of inflation since September 2009. Eight of the EU’s members saw a decline in consumer prices over the 12 months. These figures will undoubtedly boost fears about the growing threat of deflation in Europe.
- The Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary October sentiment index unexpectedly increased to 86.4 from the final September reading of 84.6. The early October reading is above the 84.0 reading forecasted by economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal. This month’s preliminary current conditions index was unchanged from 98.9 at the end of September. The expectations index increased to 78.4 from 75.4. In addition, the survey’s early October one-year inflation expectations fell to 2.8% from the final September reading of 3.0%. Inflation expectations covering the next five to 10 years remained at 2.8%.
Computerized Investing Market Dashboard Indicators
Turning our attention to the CI Market Dashboard, the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Index Fund (IYY) lost 2.2% this week to close at $94.90. This week the ETF violated key support in the form of its 200-day moving average. The $92.50 to $93 level, which served as support earlier this year, is now our near-term support level.
To read about what happened with the individual CI Market Dashboard indicators, visit the Dashboard website.