Yellen, Putin, Economic Freeze, Quadruple Witching Friday

George Brooks |


 The market was  up sharply yesterday, reversing the hit it took Wednesday during  Fed chief Janet Yellen’s  press  conference.

   Yellen  said the Fed’s  stimulus program could end this fall and benchmark interest rates could rise six months later, which places a rise in rates in the spring of 2015 rather than the second half of 2015.

   She also said the Fed was abandoning its threshold target of an unemployment rate of 6.5% for  qualitative analysis of a broad range of data, including labor market conditions, inflation expectations and financial markets.

   The Fed’s new target interest rate would be 1% at year-end 2015 and 2.25% at year-end 2016.

    Additionally, she announced another $10 billion taper to$55 billion.

    The only thing new here is the timing of a rise in interest rates, several months ahead of expectations.

    At first the market plunged, then it rallied, and stands to rally further today. There is a chance today’s rally could be robust, an endorsement to the Fed’s policies.

     A word of caution. Institutional investors tend to crunch numbers in response to important changes in conditions. It is possible, they may consider an earlier change in interest rates as a negative and sell down to a level they think discounts the timing of the rise.


     The Fed can’t keep up a zero interest rate policy indefinitely.  The Street should know that.  Rising stock prices should be able to co-exist with rising interest rates to a point.

   I don’t see an end to this bull market yet.  Corrections, yes, but   not s top.

A correction would occur if the economy does not bounce back when this spring when the winter weather lifts. Obviously, if the Russian/Ukraine situation worsens  significantly, the market would take a hit. 

   Near-term risk is now DJIA 16,225(S&P 500: 1,858)

Resistance starts DJIA: 16,406(S&P 500: 1,882)

.Investor’s first reada daily edge before the open

DJIA:  16,331

S&P 500:  1,872

Nasdaq  Comp.: 4,319

Russell 2000: 1,198

Friday, March 21, 2014,    9:14 a.m.


   Manufacturing output , new orders and exports are  up for the eighth consecutive month, suggesting its recovery is real, though not yet robust. Our economy has

scratched and clawed its way out of  a horrendous recession without help from Europe.  Obviously, a recovery there stands to  accelerate our recovery here.


   Russian lawmakers will consider legislation today allowing it to  incorporate areas in other countries where  residents want to secede in face of  a dysfunctional central government.

   Russian nationalism is running high in Crimea and it can spread to other parts of Ukraine even countries that were once satellites to Russian control.

   This suggest to me a risk of civil wars breaking out in countries where the Russian language is spoken.

   For now this represents an uncertainty for investors, but that could change for the worse, and there is little the West can do about it.  No one wants to fight a land war next door to Russia, and Mr. Putin knows it.

    Sanctions are about the only deterrent the West has, but Russia has cards to play other than military, since it has economic ties to Europe, especially Germany.

    This is not over, be forewarned.


   At key junctures, I technically analyze each of the 30 Dow Jones industrials for a reasonable near-term  downside and a more extreme downside, as well as a near-term upside potential. I note the price for each, add them up and divide by the DJIA divisor (0.1557159) and arrive what the DJIA would be if each of the 30 stocks hit my targets.

   As of  Thursday’s close I concluded a reasonable near-term downside  for the DJIA was 15,900, a more severe near-term  downside would be 15,625. The near-term upside would be 16,511.  That’s all assuming the overall news environment doesn’t change.


HOUSING STOCKS – Sell off but high volume spikes at the close.

   As spring approaches, the Street will be dissecting every morsel of  economic data in search of how much of the recent slowdown in the economy is attributable to severe weather.

   A logical place to snoop is the housing industry and stocks since they should firm up before the industry stats confirm expectations.However the industry stats aren’t showing a rebound, though more homes are coming on the market (2.00 million in March vs. 1.88 million in February.

   On February 17, I began tracking the following housing industry  stocks  reasoning that buying by pros more in-the-know than I would give a heads-up on a general rebound in the economy when a break in the weather prompts consumers to emerge from the warmth of their homes.

   If these stocks  rose  in face of bad news, it stands to reason the severe weather  was masking underlying strength. If the stocks plunged it would be confirmation the weakness was real.

   The group got its first piece of good news on February 26  when January New  Home Sales were reported to have jumped 9.0%. Housing stocks rallied sharply for eight days then  gave it all back when the market sold off sharply,

   Housing stock prices stabilized last week then jumped sharply Wednesday  after February Starts rose 7.7% vs. a decline of  4.6% when   KB Homes earnings beat projections for Q1 coming in At $0.12 vs.  a loss of $0.16 a share.

Selected Stocks:

Beazer Homes(BZH: Friday, Feb. 14 - $21.26): Thursday’s close: $20.50

PulteCorp(PHM: Friday, Feb 14: -$20.02): Thursday’s  close: $19.40

Toll Brothers (TOL: Friday, Feb. 14 - $37.79): Thursday’s close: $35.95

KB Homes(KBH: Friday Feb.  - $19.03):Thursday’s  close: $18.21

DR Horton(DHI: Friday, Feb. 14- $23.62):  Thursday’s  close: $21.87

CONCLUSION: Strength in  the above housing stocks, the second time in a month suggests the Street wants to pounce, it just needs an opening.

  All five were down yesterday, all except KBH  had ultra high volume spikes on the upside at the close – short covering, or  investment buying ?

   Their rally Wednesday was cut short by Fed chief Janet Yellen’s comments in her 2:30 press conference that interest rates can be expected to rise when  the Fed’s taper ends in the fall.  Another jump in housing stock prices would indicate confidence that this crucial sector will continue to benefit, even, lead the economic recovery.




The economic calendar  features important reports reflecting trends in manufacturing and housing, as well as the big picture, the Leading Indicators.

These reports may still be adversely impacted by severe weather conditions.

For detailed analysis of both the U.S. and Foreign economies along with charts, go Also included is an explanation of each indicator. If you want to know when the next Employment report or any other key report will be released that info is also there under “event release date.”


Empire State Mfg Ix. (8:30): Up slightly in Feb. to 5.61 from 4.48; New Orders  were 3.13 vs. minus 0.21 in Jan.

Industrial Production (9:15): Rebounded sharply 0.8 pct. in Feb. after a 0.2 pct decline in Jan.  Manufacturing led the charge with a 0.8 pct. gain after a 0.9 pct. loss in January.

Housing Market Ix. 10:00): Failed to rebound significantly, the index advanced one-point to 47 vs. 46 in  Feb..


FOMC meeting begins, ends  Wednesday

ICSC Goldman Store Sales (7:45):Same store sales at major retail chains rose 0.7 pct. in the Mar. 15 week.  Y/Y is 1.5 pct.

Consumer Price Ix. (8:30): Prices rose 0.1 pct. in Feb. vs. a gain of 0.1 pct. in Jan.

Housing Starts (8:30): Feb. Housing Starts were up  down 0.2 pct. in Feb. vs. an 11.2 pct. drop in January. However, Permits were up 7.7 pct. vs. a drop of 4.6 pct. in Jan..


MBA Purchase Apps (7:00): Mortgage app. Activity continues soft down 0.1 pct fro both mortgages and refis for the week ended Mar. 14.

FOMC announcements (2:00 p.m.):

Pres Conf. Fed chair Yellen: (2:30 p.m.):


Jobless Claims (8:30): Rose 5,000 to 320,000 for Mar.15 week.

Philly Fed Svy. (10:00): Rose in Mar. to plus 9.o from minus 6.3 in Feb. New Orders plus 5.7 vs. minus 5.2 in Feb.

Existing Home Sales (10:00): Declined 0.4 pct. in Feb. after a drop of5.1 pct. in Jan..  Year over year down 7.1 pct., sharpest in 3 years. More homes on the market – 2.00 million vs. 1.88 million in Jan..

Leading Indicators (10:00): Rose 0.5 pct. in Feb..


Quadruple Witching Day



Feb 28  DJIA 16,272 March Setting Stage for Spring Rally.

Mar 3   DJIA  16,321 Russian Bear Providing American Bull an Opportunity

Mar 4   DJIA 16,168  Crisis Almost Over – Easy Does it on Opening Prices

Mar 5   DJIA 16, 395 Street Reaching for Risk – Sneaky Strong

Mar 6   DJIA 16, 360 Selective – Stock Pickers’ Market

Mar 7   DJIA 16,421  Pivotal Day in the Market

Mar 10 DJIA 16,452  Important Test for the Bulls Today

Mar 11 DJIA 16,418 Gold Due For a Play ?

Mar 12 DJIA 16,351  Crimea – How Big A Negative for Stocks ?

Mar 13 DJIA 16,340  Correction to Set Up An Opportunity

Mar 14 DJIA 16,108  Selling Climax Next Week ?

Mar 17 DJIA  16,065 Rally Failure Risk, But Trader’s Buy Looms

Mar 18 DJIA 16,247  Market Vigil – Economy and Russian Nationalism

Mar 19 DJIA 16,338  A Spring Break for the Economy ?

Mar 20 DJIA 16,222  Fed Reality – Market Up, or Down ?

  George  Brooks

“Investor’s first read – an edge before the open”

*InvesTech Research  - 406-862-7777 ( Truly one of the finest monthly market letters with a host of accurate economic and stock market indicators.

The writer of  Investor’s first read, George Brooks,  is not registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed as particularized investment advice or as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment decisions in keeping with their tolerance for risk. Brooks may buy or sell stocks referred to herein.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:


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