Friday, December 28, 2012

Markets lose ground as politicos meet in the White House

Dow fell 158 closing at the lows & going below 13K, decliners ahead of advancers 2-1 & NAZ was off 25.  The Financial Index fell 1+ to the  218s.  The MLP index was flattish in the 378s & the REIT index lost 2 to the 264s.  Junk bond funds were mixed & Treasuries didn't do much.  After going over $90, oil was flat & gold lost a tad in the mid 1600s.

AMJ (Alerian MLP Index tracking fund)

stock chart

CLG13.NYM...Crude Oil Feb 13...90.85 ...Down 0.02  (0.0%)

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

Port Shutdown Averted as Dockworkers Reach Tentative Agreement

Photo:   Bloomberg

Dockworkers & their employers reached a tentative agreement on royalty payments, averting a strike that would have shut down US ports from Maine to Texas for the first time in 35 years.  The Intl Longshoremen's Assoc & the US Maritime Alliance will continue negotiations for another 30 days, according to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which was working with the 2 groups.  A strike would have closed ports that handle about 45% of US commerce. The deal relieves pressure on retailers & manufacturers that had braced for interruptions of shipments from frozen foods to clothing & car parts.  Talks between the dockworkers union & the Maritime Alliance, whose members include container- carriers,collapsed last week amid a dispute over container royalty fees, or levies on shipments that supplement wages.  “The agreement on this important subject represents a major positive step toward achieving an overall collective bargaining agreement,” George Cohen, director of the mediation service, said.  “While some significant issues remain in contention, I am cautiously optimistic that they can be resolved in the upcoming 30-day extension period.”

Port Shutdown Averted as Dockworkers Reach Tentative Deal

Obama to Offer 'Mini Deal' on Fiscal Cliff: What's at Stake for Today's Meeting?

Photo:   Yahoo

After conflicting reports on whether a new offer was coming & in advance of a White House summit Fri PM, Obama has reportedly crafted a "scaled back" proposal that would, temporarily (at least) avoid next week's fiscal cliff.  The new "mini-deal" offer would delay or replace the vast majority of spending cuts called for in the automatic sequester, most likely focusing on the sharp cuts in military spending.  It would also seek to settle the planned hike in the Alternative Minimum Tax, extend unemployment benefits & stop planned cuts to Medicare reimbursements.  One final bonus, the latest proposal reportedly includes a "milk fix" that will avoid a dairy market catastrophe created by the failure to renew the farm bill.  On the key plank of taxes, the pres will continue to demand that Bush-era cuts be extended at all income levels, except for those making more than $250K a year. All of this is subject to negotiation.

Obama to Offer Scaled-Down 'Cliff' Deal: What's at Stake for Today's Meeting? 

The Atlantic Wire

¿Cuáles fueron los autos más vendidos del año?

Photo:   Yahoo

Auto sales are expected to show a rise of 9% for Dec, capping off the best year for the industry since 2007, fueled by easier access to credit, rising home prices & pent-up demand.  But when major automakers report Decsales next Thurs, a strong end to the year could be overshadowed by concerns that consumers will curb spending in Jan due to gong over the fiscal cliff.  Consumer confidence fell to a 4-month low in Dec on worries over the $600B in automatic spending cuts & tax increases that take effect unless Congress acts to stop them.  Overall 2012 sales are expected to finish at 14.5M vehicles, more than 13% higher than the previous year.  This marks the 3rd straight year that the industry has posted a double-digit sales gain.  Gains in 2013 are expected to slow to single-digit growth, with several forecasting only modest improvements in consumer confidence & employment.  Kelley Blue Book said a tax increase for middle-income households could hold back sales growth thru 2013 & beyond. 

Auto Sales to End Year Strong, 'Cliff' May Weigh Reuters

This is what happens when you postpone an important deadline until AFTER the election & then wait to the last minute hoping that manna will fall from heaven to solve problems.  Dems are zeroing in on cutting tax rates for the wealthy while Reps are focusing in on cutting spending (beyond shaving growth rates a little which can sound like cutting spending).  The big meeting in the White House is going on & the markets are sinking.  Vibrations from the meeting are bad & that should be expected.  Chances are enormous that nothing will be decided.  Then it will be up to the Sun evening meeting by the House.  It's hard to image that it will come up with a Scotch Tape approach that will make everybody happy.  Mon will be a shortened day for the markets & it could get ugly.

Dow Jones Industrials

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