Options Trader: Friday Outlook

by: Philip Davis

Yay, oil is back at $130!

If the market is determined to be happy about this, I guess I can be too.  No, who am I kidding - I can’t.  This is insane and it’s not going to last.  Oil costs money, people don’t have money and that’s why they ran in droves to Wal-mart (NYSE:WMT) and other discounters last month.  What we are seeing here is the result of a very short-term boost to the economy as our government dumps another $160Bn that they had to borrow in order to shore up the economy for yet another quarter, refusing to take their medicine while the disease progresses further.

So happy Friday to ya!  I did try really hard to come up with a bullish premise based on no recession (likely) and better jobs growth (iffy) and controlled inflation [ROFL] but the dollar is a mess, we have no coherant policy on energy, housing or the broader economy and, with the election coming up and the track record of this administration, we are very unlikely to get one before next year.  How is this a recipe for success?

 No matter what BS numbers we get for the month, the reality of the situation, as Barry Ritholz points out, is that long-term jobs are being destroyed at an alarming pace and we were just speaking about looking for "W" or "M" formations in charts and what you can see on this one is a broken W, that didn’t make it back up to the high of the mid-point set in 2000 (Clinton) and we are now much more likely to complete the final leg of the M, that will take us back to the lows we hit in 1992 (Bush I).  The lower leg of this pattern is perhaps 61 (hopefully not 60!) and that is about a 3% rise in unemployment, possibly to 8 or 9%.

8:30 Update:  Ouch!  Jobs numbers were almost the exact opposite of the ADP numbers that gave us this rally, we could be looking at a very hard reversal of fortune here as 49,000 jobs were lost and unemployment shot up to 5.5% (up half a point), the biggest single-month jump since 1986 (Reagan).  That makes 5 straight declines in non-farm payrolls with about 250,000 jobs lost so far this year. 

Average hourly earnings increased $0.05, or 0.3%, to $17.94. That was up just 3.5% from a year earlier, suggesting wage costs remain under wraps. Fed officials are counting on the disinflationary slack that comes from a slowing economy to offset higher energy, food and commodity prices and the weak dollar and keep inflation in check.  In other words, the bad news is you’re not getting a raise but the good news is that it offsets the 11% inflation of food and energy prices to the government can continue to claim overall inflation is under control.

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 The worst thing is this takes a Fed rate hike off the table and Trichet took the gloves off yesterday and indicated that the EU will break with the US and start tightening without them.  I had mentioned back at the last G7 that the administration would be given a small grace period to get their act together but I think Bernanke’s comments this week were the last straw for the ECB, who see no progress being made on our end to improve the dollar and Trichet is letting us know, in no uncertain terms, that Europe is not going to bail us out of this one.

Can Europe fight inflation without us?  Sure they can.  They don’t care what the price of oil is in dollars if it takes 3 of them to buy a euro and that’s where we’re heading if this administration doesn’t get real and do something to address the oil situation as well as the housing situation.  Why are we surprised that 50,000 people lost their jobs in a month where 210,000 people lost their homes

Asia was up this morning with the Hang Seng gaining 148 points and the Nikkei adding 146 points ,but they didn’t see this jobs report so the FXI should plunge this morning.  Asia also had a commodity rally and the Shanghai did not participate as rising oil prices are beginning to grind the Chinese consumers to a halt as well. 

The IEA released a study saying the world needs to invest $45Tn in energy in the next 30 years, including building 1,400 nuclear power plants and "vastly expanded wind energy" in order to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  "Meeting this target of 50% cut in emissions represents a formidable challenge, and we would require immediate policy action and technological transition on an unprecedented scale," IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said.  Global temperatures are expected to rise over 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by then and UN scientists say temperature increases beyond that could trigger devastating effects, such as widespread loss of species, famines and droughts, and swamping of heavily populated coastal areas by rising oceans.  Oh yes, happy Friday!