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Friday December 1, 2006 - 12:59:50 GMT
Black Swan Capital -

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A bit on housing...

Key News
• Japanese consumer prices rose less than expected in October. (Reuters)
• Parity between the Hong Kong dollar and the yuan will not affect the SAR's monetary policy, Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam Chi-kwong said, adding there is no logical reason why the yuan's appreciation should lead to any change in Hong Kong's currency. (The Standard)
• The euro-zone economy is continuing to grow solidly and show signs of becoming less dependent on exports, though rising inflation makes an interest-rate increase a near certainty. (WSJ)

Euro-zone Q3 GDP growth was confirmed at 0.5% on the quarter and 2.7% on the year. Household consumption was the main driver, along with investment and government spending. Growth slowed somewhat from the pace seen in Q2 (0.9% and 2.9%, respectively), but all indicators point to a renewed upturn in Q4 and continued strong growth in Q1 2007. Indeed, the European Commission today raised its Q1 growth forecast to a range of 0.3-0.8% (previously 0.0-0.5%). (Northern Trust)
• Key Reports:
10:00a.m. Oct Construction Spending. Expected: -0.3%. Previous: -0.3%.
10:00a.m. Nov ISM Manufacturing Business Index. Expected: 52.0. Previous: 51.2.
N/A Nov Auto Sales. Expected: 16.4M. Previous: 16.1M.


“To fully appreciate the benefits of liquid futures (and forward) markets, it's easiest to first imagine an economy without them. For example, suppose that the owner of an oil field is trying to decide how many barrels to produce this year. Being a good capitalist, he wants to maximize the present discounted value of his operation throughout its lifetime. If he sells more barrels this year, he naturally earns more revenues now, but at the cost of fewer barrels that he can sell in the future. In order to rationally approach this problem, therefore, the oil tycoon needs to compare the spot price of oil today with the expected price he can fetch in the future.

“Even at this stage we can see the fallacy in typical environmentalist condemnations of ‘shortsighted’ big business. It would be sheer lunacy for the Big Oil companies to exhaust their reserves in a few years. Better than anyone else (for it's their money on the line), the people running the oil companies would have expert forecasts of available supplies and world prices at various points in the future.

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Robert Murphy, The Social Function of Futures Markets

FX Trading
It’s either we continue to miss something—which is always a strong possibility, or the “smart money” crowd is trying to feed out a short line in housing stocks after the nice “bounce” we’ve witnessed lately…first a look at the chart, then the latest tout…then a more somber view…

Philly Housing Stock Index has staged a very strong move from its low—suggesting that all the bad news is “already priced in” to the market…

Is it a sign housing stock bad news is behind us, or is it a reflection of a very nice move in the market for stocks i.e. a rising tide lifts all boats, even leaky rafts?

The tout yesterday after an approximate 23% rally off the low in the Housing Stock Index made back in July:

“A once-fierce bear on the home-building industry has softened his stance, saying the battered housing market is showing signs of improvement.

“Banc of America Securities analyst Daniel Oppenheim said in a report Thursday he is shifting his stance to ‘neutral’ from ‘cautious’ on the home builders after observing improved housing affordability and increasing traffic of buyers,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Hmmm…but of course, later in the story, we see Mr. Oppenheim leaves himself some wiggle room: “Mr. Oppenheim cautioned the inventory level is a ‘wild card’ in the housing market, as many builders continue trying to sell off the overhang of homes on the market.”

You bet inventory is the wildcard!

The more somber view [Our emphasis]:

“Anecdotal reports and the large inventory of unsold homes in the market place are indicative of further declines in prices of new homes. There was a 7-month inventory of unsold new homes in the market, up from a 6.7-month mark in September. Also noteworthy is the fact that cancellations of existing contracts are not reflected in the inventory data. In other words, actual inventories may be larger than reported,” says Northern Trust’s Asha Bangalore.

Source: Northern Trust
It would seem if Mr. Oppenheimer is right that we’ve seen the worst in housing, then those thinking the next move by the Fed is down could be in for a surprise. For now, we’re running with the somber side of this debate.
Jack Crooks, Black Swan Capital


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