Looking for the Next Catalysts

As the
markets are digesting their most recent gains off of the April lows, we are
looking at potential catalysts – some obvious, some less so – which will allow
the markets to break out of their recent trading ranges.

A few items
come to mind. While some are impossible to time – a Hedge fund blow up,
terrorist activity, Avian flu outbreak outside of Asia, significant Iraqi
developments – others are potentially more “game-able.” We’ll
concentrate on those catalysts where we at least have a fair chance of
potentially forecasting market-moving outcomes:

· Non-Farm
Payrolls
: The most significant
economic report of the week, if not month. While most investors took solace in
April’s NFP Report, we are in a distinct minority who view April data as an
outlier. This is primarily due to the BLS’ Birth/Death adjustment. April 2004
saw a similarly disproportionate impact. As such, a weaker than expected
release may force investors to reconsider their expectations of an ongoing Goldilocks
economy
; A sell off may test resolve and help form the next substantial
bottom;

· Oil
relief?
: Last year, we noted
that our upside target for Oil was $57-59; After reaching that level, Oil
pulled back towards $47, where support was plentiful. We now expect a move back to the old highs – and beyond – towards
$60-62; We do not believe that rising stocks of sour crude with its lower
gasoline yields and environmental issues will provide much in the way of relief
to Summer drivers;

· Housing
bubble bursting
: We remain in
the distinct minority in believing that housing is not a bubble – at least, not
yet, anyway, by a technical definition of what a bubble actually is. That
doesn’t mean a bubble can’t or won’t form, it simply suggests that this is not
an immediate danger to the market anytime soon. (More on this issue tomorrow).

· Microsoft
EU problem
: While the DoJ has let Microsoft off the hook, their
European equivalent never seems to let an opportunity go by to administer a spanking
to Gates & Co. Given the company’s weighting in SPX, Dow and NDX, a
severe punishment, while a low probability event, could have a significant
impact;

· Euro
Weakness
: The French “Non” vote will pressure the Euro versus the
Dollar. Given that the weak dollar hasn’t done diddley for US exports, we are
clueless as to the impact that this development will have. Color us confused at
best.

Our
expectations remain for a tradable low in June.

We advise using pullbacks
to s l o w l y build long positions in higher Beta sectors:
Tech, Energy, Semis.

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UPDATE: May 31, 2005 9:31pm
On the way home tonite, I got to thinking about the next Fed meeting at the end of June . . .  Any signal from the Central Bank that the tightening cycle is about to pause potentially launches a moonshot.   
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Category: Markets, Trading

Chart of the Week: A/D with Volume 2 x 21-day MA

Category: Markets

Don’t Buy Housing Bubble Propaganda

UPDATE: The original version of this is still available on Real Money (subscription only). The 2005 article details was a pushback against the gloomers predicting a Nasdaq like collapse in RE prices. Instead, we detailed why this was a CREDIT (not a HOUSING) Bubble, and that while we should expect a 25-35% peak to trough drop in prices, it would not be a Nasdaq like 80% debacle. (35% was bad enough). We also noted that an extended period of high unemployment might make those numbers even worse.

~~~

The latest subscription only Real Money column, Don’t Buy Housing Bubble Propaganda, is now available on Yahoo (no subscription required).

In writing it, I decided to forget everything I thought I knew, and look at housing from scratch.  Consider the factors that make Real Estate very different than stocks. Lose the assumptions, check out the numbers driving Real Estate, and see if Housing is truly the bubble everyone claims it to be.

Turns out there’s much less of a bubble than commonly believed by many people believe. While anecdotal evidence of regional excesses are interesting,
they doesn’t mean we are about to see home prices get cut in half (or worse) over the next few years.

There are three key drivers hardly discussed by pundits opining on the U.S. housing market “bubble”:

1)  Purchase prices don’t matter to buyers — monthly payments do;
2)  US has the fastest growing population of industrialized nations;
3)  “Only 3% of all buyers sell their home in a year or less,” a survey found.

These issues, taken together, suggest that while Real Estate may be an extended asset class (i.e., two  standard price deviations above historical trend) that doesn’t maeke it a bubble.

Of course, its interesting to note that a Playboy bunny gave up her modeling career to go into real estate speculation (mentioned previously here), it doesn’t mean the end is nigh.

Now if I can only figure out how these columns end up at Yahoo . . .

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Source:
Don’t Buy Housing Bubble Propaganda
Barry Ritholtz
RealMoney by TheStreet.com, Thursday May 26, 2:04 pm ET

http://biz.yahoo.com/ts/050526/10225437.html?.v=3

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UPDATE June 12, 2006 9:39am

I just noticed that the Yahoo page expired; The full RM article is after the jump . . .

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