Stock Market Today: This Stock Wins With or Without QE3
The major headlines in the stock market today include the Fed's decision to implement QE3, increased producer prices, and higher jobless claims.
- QE3 a 99% certainty?... Not quite- When the Federal Open Market Committee makes its statement at 12:30 p.m. EDT every investor will be waiting to hear if QE3 has finally arrived. After what seems like two years of speculation since QE2 was announced will we finally get QE3? According to Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) a gauge of indicators of market expectations for additional central bank stimulus rose to a record 99% in August. Yet many economists do not expect QE3 to be announced today for many reasons. If the Fed takes action it will be viewed as highly political coming just months before Election 2012. Even if the Fed announces QE3 but says it will delay QE3 purchases until after the election as it did with QE2, the political implications will still be there. Other reasons are the lack of progress the previous rounds of QE have had in turning around the economy - and not just the stock market. "The Fed continues to want the economy to grow faster and specifically, to grow more jobs, but the ability of QE to do that is extraordinarily limited," Catherine Mann, a finance professor at Brandeis and former Federal Reserve economist told CNN. "We know that QE reduced interest rates, but we also know that has not led to more construction, more mortgages, more business investment, or more lending. Since it hasn't done any of that, it probably hasn't created jobs either."
- Producer prices rise most in three years- Wholesale prices, measured by the producer price index, climbed 1.7% in August - the most since June 2009 - due to higher gasoline and natural gas prices. This was a faster increase than the 0.3% reported in July and ahead of the median forecast for a gain of 1.3%. Food prices rose 0.9% due to a rise in dairy and egg prices. The core producer price index which excludes food and energy rose 0.2%, which was in line with expectations. Tomorrow's consumer price index will be a good indicator if higher wholesale prices have translated into increased consumer prices.
One Reason the Fed Meeting Today Might Not End in QE3
Dismal economic reports for the United States have recently made the stock market rise - not the expected reaction.
That is due to traders anticipating that a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) or a similar measure will be coming to stimulate the American economy.
Yet, despite unemployment rising in the United States and growth falling, no major economic stimulus programs along the lines of QE3 have yet been announced by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at any Fed meeting.
The timing of QE2 explains why.
QE2 was a program where the Federal Reserve inflated its balance sheet to purchase about $700 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds to finance the federal budget deficit. This unprecedented act was required as few other investors, either foreign or domestic, were buying U.S. Treasury bonds at the prevailing interest rates.
Without this action, the low interest rate environment promised by Bernanke until at least 2014 and imperative for the recovery of the United States economy, particularly the real estate sector, would have been untenable.
The Federal Reserve as a result became the "buyer of last resort" for U.S. Treasury bonds.
QE2 was announced by Bernanke at the Jackson Hole economic policy summit in August 2010. However, the Fed's bond buying did not start until after the mid-term elections in November 2010. QE2 ended in June 2011.
That is why QE3 has neither been announced nor initiated.
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Fed Meeting Today: Are You Ready for QE3?
Investors have prepared for the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting today and tomorrow to end with the announcement of a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) - and that's a good bet to make.
Today's Fed meeting will likely end with more of the same information we've been hearing for months from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. It's been a year and a half since Bernanke first announced that short-term interest rates would remain near zero "for an extended period." That language will likely stay the same tomorrow, and the policy timelines could be drawn out even longer.
There is also no doubt that QE3 or some other meaningful economic stimulus measure is on its way.
Maury Harris, an analyst with UBS, declared in a recent note to clients that, "We now anticipate an announcement of another round of quantitative easing at the FOMC meeting on September 13th. We expect the easing will take the form of a six-month program of at least $500 billion, primarily focused on Treasuries."
Harris also added that, "We also expect the FOMC extends their rate guidance into 2015."
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Could QE3 Really Do Less for the Economy Than the iPhone 5?
Investors are eagerly waiting to hear if U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will announce QE3 this week. Bernanke speaks Thursday at the conclusion of the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and many expect him to announce some form of stimulus to revive the struggling U.S. economy.
But there's another huge event scheduled this week, one that could provide a tool other than printing money for boosting U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).
Believe it or not, analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NSYE: JPM) estimate that the Apple iPhone 5, expected to be unveiled tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon and on sale by the end of this month, will raise GDP by 0.5% in the fourth quarter of this year.
Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald appeared on Fox Business' "Varney & Co." program Tuesday morning to discuss the possibility of this iPhone effect and what it implies.
QE3: Get Ahead of the Fed
The U.S. Federal Reserve has consistently pointed to high unemployment as a reason to deliver more stimulus, which makes this week a perfect time to announce quantitative easing, or QE3.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting this week is fresh off Friday's Labor Department report that nonfarm payrolls increased by 96,000 jobs last month. Economists were hoping to see an increase of 125,000 jobs.
Unemployment fell to 8.1% from 8.3% as 368,000 people dropped out of the labor force.
The employment numbers were depressing - but for investors this was always a win-win situation.
If the jobs number had blown past 125,000 that would have been good for the markets - but so is a number that missed the mark.
That's because from whichever angle the Fed and Chairman Ben Bernanke look at this, the report is more fuel for the QE3 fire.
"This weak employment report, in jobs, wages, hours worked and participation is probably the last piece the Fed needs before launching another round of quantitative easing next week," Joseph Trevisani, chief market strategist at Worldwide Markets in Woodcliff Lake, NJ told Reuters last week.
Unemployment fell even though fewer jobs were added because the labor participation rate dropped to 63.5%, its lowest level in 30 years. The amount of underemployed and unemployed people is now above 25 million and the U-6 rate, the broad total unemployment rate which many consider to be a more accurate gauge of unemployment, stands at 14.7%.
With the rally the markets had last Thursday after the European Central Bank announced its new bond-buying plan, expect the markets to continue their bullish trend when Bernanke takes action.
That means now's the time for investors to prepare to profit from QE3.
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QE3 Risks: Why this Harvard Economist Fears More Stimulus
High U.S. unemployment and slowing economic growth have stoked hopes of a third round of quantitative easing, or QE3, from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that more was on the way - although failed to indicate when - in a speech Friday at the Jackson Hole, WY, economic symposium.
Bernanke repeated the Fed's recent stance that current economic conditions are still "obviously far from satisfactory" and more help would be coming "as needed."
Interest rates remain near zero, but the Fed maintains that it still has plenty of ammo in its arsenal to boost the economy. The Fed apparently doesn't want to do too little now while the economy faces high unemployment and some inflationary pressure.
On the other hand, doing too much could - if Fed policies interfere with Congress' ability to act down the road -lead to a backlash against the Fed's power.
And the farther the Fed goes with monetary stimulus measures, the deeper that problem becomes.
That's why Harvard economist Martin Feldstein is afraid of QE3. He thinks adding to the billions of dollars already committed to quantitative easing programs will hurt us more than it helps.
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QE3 Still on Table, Bernanke Says in Jackson Hole Speech
The Federal Reserve is looking at more action to prop up the lagging U.S. economy, including a third round of quantitative easing (QE3), Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a speech today (Friday).
Much of the speech, delivered at the Fed's annual retreat at Jackson Hole, WY, made a case for the effectiveness of the central bank's easy-money policies since 2007, including "nontraditional" actions such as QE1, QE2, and Operation Twist.
The Fed chairman said that the stimulus purchases "have provided meaningful support to the economic recovery while mitigating deflationary risks."
And in a hint to expect more of the same -- namely, QE3 -- Bernanke said that the costs of such policies, "appear manageable, implying that we should not rule out the further use of such policies if economic conditions warrant."
Bernanke also voiced concern over the sluggish economic recovery, and in particular the "painfully slow" improvement of the U.S. unemployment rate, which has changed little in 2012.
That's the sort of bad economic news that has pushed the Fed to take action in the past.
Stock Market Today: Markets See-Saw on Bernanke Speech
Here are the major headlines in the stock market today.
Bernanke makes case for QE3- In his much awaited speech at Jackson Hole, WY Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke did not signal any new monetary easing was coming but took the Fed's well-used approach of leaving the door open if conditions worsen. He called the constant high-unemployment a "grave concern" and stated the current economy is "far from satisfactory." Bernanke did bring up concerns associated with unconventional monetary policy... Read More...
Why the Jackson Hole Fed Meeting Will Look Familiar
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will take the podium this Friday at the economic policy summit in Jackson Hole, WY, as traders hang on every word hoping he'll deliver a clear signal of central bank action in 2012.
They have good reason to think the Jackson Hole Fed meeting can move markets. It was at this summit two years ago in August 2010 that Bernanke announced an economic stimulus program that came to be known as Quantitative Easing 2.
QE2 consisted of the Federal Reserve inflating its balance sheet to purchase $700 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds from November 2010 to June 2011. This was necessitated as no investors, either foreign or domestic, could be found to purchase U.S. Treasury bonds at such low interest rates.
Now, two years later, the U.S. economy has economic growth falling with unemployment rising. Consumer confidence is at record low levels. Lending institutions are processing millions of properties through various stages of foreclosure. Businesses are sitting on record levels of cash, preparing for the worst, rather than investing in job-creating plants, equipment and machinery.
Oil prices are also rising, which will have a negative impact on the U.S. economy. The more money sent overseas to pay for imported oil, the less there is to buy the goods and services that raise the level of employment in the United States.
This was how things were in 2010. Actually, things seem worse now since Standard & Poor's in August 2011 downgraded the credit rating of the United States.
In an attempt to change this gloomy outlook, the Federal Reserve is letting it be known that it will act again in a major way, like in did in August 2010.
But, like that year, no new policies will officially start until after Election 2012.
The Federal Reserve cannot be seen as doing anything that might influence voting when Americans go to the polls the first Tuesday in November. That is the way it was in 2010, and that is the way it will be this year.
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How to Profit from QE3 When the Fed Pulls the Trigger
In one form or another, the U.S. Federal Reserve soon will introduce a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) or a related major economic stimulus program.
A statement from the most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of the Federal Reserve reported that, "Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery."
President of the Boston Federal Reserve, Eric Rosengren, called for an open-ended program to allow for the Federal Reserve to buy bonds like it did during Quantitative Easing 2. He pointed to the high unemployment rate as the main reason more stimulus is necessary.
"That calls for a more substantive action than we've taken to date," he said. "We need a pro-growth monetary policy," adding that the current state of the economy is "not sufficient."
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced Quantitative Easing 2 at the August 2010 Jackson Hole economic policy summit. It consisted of the central bank buying $700 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds to finance the U.S. budget deficit.
Rosengren now wants the Federal Reserve to have an unlimited authority in that area, held in check only by the reaction of market forces.
Those market forces reacted very strongly to QE2, forcing the U.S. dollar down in value while prices for commodities such as oil, grains, gold and silver soared.
In addition to the commodities price rise, select stocks performed well during QE2 as consumers spent more and emerging markets enjoyed a heavy growth period. These are the companies investors should buy ahead of QE3, which is on its way.
How to Profit from QE3
The most important factor to consider when hunting for stocks to buy ahead of QE3 is a robust dividend framework.
With the Fed keeping interest rates low as it tries to repair the U.S. economy, dividend yield is crucial.
Or, as Money Morning Global Investing Strategist Martin Hutchinson put it, "In Ben Bernanke's rotten world, a few select high-yield investments are practically a necessity these days."
According to investing legend Jack Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group of mutual funds and creator of the first mutual fund, dividend income has provided more than 40% of the historic total return of a stock.
Besides money in your pocket, dividends represent a commitment of the management to return capital to investors. Dividend income also proves that the company is sound enough to reward its shareholders without hindering the future growth prospects of the business operations.
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Gold Prices Rise as All Signs Point to More Stimulus
Gold prices were on the rise again today (Wednesday) as the market digests the recent spate of global economic data that could warrant more stimulus measures - and send metals prices soaring.
China reported last Friday that its July consumer price index (CPI) rose to 1.8% from the previous year, representing its lowest jump since January 2010. Industrial production declined to 9.2% from June's 9.5% thanks to slowing growth in heavy industrial production. Retail sales fell to 13.1% from June's 13.7%.
There's more: July exports increased 1% from the previous year, while imports rose 4.7%, exemplifying a weak external demand, but also a slowdown in Chinese investment.
As if this wasn't enough news to fuel a little action in the gold markets, Japan continued the trend on Monday with news that its economic growth in the second quarter had slowed down more than anticipated.
Also triggering stimulus speculation was news out of Europe that the Eurozone's economies contracted in the second quarter. The European Union's statistics office said yesterday (Tuesday) that six countries were in recessions.
"It looks like the gold market will continue to be held up by the sentiment of expected central-bank stimulation," Marex Spectron Group said in a report Tuesday. "The downside risk is limited."
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Summer Slump in Silver Prices Closer to an End
Silver prices have suffered this year as the white metal has lost its luster as a safe haven investment, but the pullback has slowed and may be bottoming out.
Cash has gained some allure over metals, but according to FX Empire, as bullion prices near support levels buying interest has been on the rise.
In July, silver prices broke out from a three-month price slump and closed up 1.1% to $0.302.This came after fourth months of consecutive losses: 0.5% (June), 10.5% (May), 4.5% (April) and 6.2% (March).
Silver prices ended last week on a positive note, up $0.54 to $27.69. Futures and options players made bullish bets at the end of last week on the commodity based on speculation for additional stimulus from the Federal Reserve.
This week, silver prices have continued their rise. The metal's up 0.3% to $27.84 an ounce.
Can this uptrend continue? Here's what to expect from silver prices in the near term.
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No Need for Vacation When You Can Fight Over the Fiscal Cliff
Republicans are not willing to let Democrats go over the fiscal cliff and take all of us with them - at least, not without a good fight.
Just the sound of it - going off the cliff - echoes disaster. But that is where we're heading if Congress doesn't act to extend the Bush tax cuts or avoid the automatic spending cuts that will go into effect Jan. 1.
Little can be expected to be resolved over the next month as Congress takes off for its annual five-week August recess.
However, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed Wednesday to call the House back into session to cement approval if Senate takes action to prevent fiscal cliff. The GOP has made its commitment to averting the fiscal cliff crystal clear and is encouraging the Democrats to work out some kind of agreement.
"If the Senate follows the House in passing legislation to stop the entire tax hike-including the small business tax hike-in a manner that requires House approval before it can be sent to the president, it is our commitment that the House will reconvene immediately to ensure the measure is enacted at the earliest opportunity. But, in order to avert the threat to our economy, the Senate must join the House in acting to stop the entire tax increase," Boehner and three other House GOP leaders wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
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Today's FOMC Meeting: We Could Wait Four More Months for Action
The U.S. Federal Reserve continued its wait-and-see stance today (Wednesday) and remained in idle mode when it said and did little at the conclusion of its two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.
The central bank decided to leave rates unchanged, reiterated it would leave rates low through at least 2014 (not extending them to 2015 as expected) and did not announce a third round of quantitative easing.
The Fed chiefs did, however, voice that should conditions warrant, they are ready to step in and take aggressive steps to bolster the U.S. economy.
PIMCO's leader Bill Gross told CNBC that "a changing in policy landscape can be expected in a month or so."
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Today's FOMC Meeting Too Early for Action
There is little doubt that the struggling U.S. economy could use some goosing, and the U.S. Federal Reserve is in a position to deliver a good boost.
But, a move isn't likely at the conclusion of today's (Wednesday) Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.
While a fresh spate of data suggests new steps from the central bank are warranted, many economists warn that the economy doesn't need immediate action - especially since the prior moves from the Fed haven't been very effective.
Growth has clearly slowed and unemployment remains elevated, but the sluggish pace of the U.S. economy may not be slow enough to compel the Fed to make an impactful move today, and any Fed decisions will be pushed to later in the year.
Today's FOMC Meeting: Not Ready for QE3The U.S. Commerce Department last week reported that the U.S. economy grew at a paltry 1.5% annual rate in the second quarter, down from 2% in the first. Plus, the Labor Department reported initial jobless claims ticked up in the latest week while the unemployment level remains at a sickly 8.2%.
Fed chief Ben Bernanke maintains that his team is prepared to take further action if unemployment stays high, but he remains vague on what action might be taken.
With the reeling recession in Europe and a slowdown in stalwart China, global growth has been severely dented and is weighing on the U.S. economy. Those factors increase the odds of a third round of quantitative easing (QE3), but the Fed may not pull the trigger Wednesday.
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