By Greg Peel
The Dow closed down 20 points, or 0.2%, while the S&P lost 0.2% to 1456 and the Nasdaq fell 0.6%.
Another Monday, another down-day on Wall Street, taking us to about umpteen in a row. There is no particular reason. Regardless of Mondays nevertheless, Wall Street currently won't go down and nor will it go up. There's a big safety net on the downside and too many factors to keep the buyers at bay on the upside, including Chinese weakness, the US fiscal cliff, and plenty of talk but, but as usual, no action yet in Europe. We're also about to enter the September quarter reporting season in the US and expectations are to the weak side.
We are awaiting the announcement of the new Spanish budget on Thursday night and the results of the Spanish bank assessment on Friday night to determine just what amount of the pledged E100bn the banks will need in rescue funds. The budget will either lead into or postpone a Spanish bail-out request, so like everything to do with Europe over these past four years, the Spanish saga could go on, and on and on.
On the subject of budgets, it is suggested Greece still has an E20bn budget gap to close before it satisfies the conditions for the next tranche of its ongoing bail-out, although this has been denied by Athens. France has suggested Greece may be granted more time ? just so we string this one along too. Realistically, one assumes European leaders and officials would rather sort out Spain right now before returning to the sideshow troubles of pesky Greece.
Meanwhile, it is reported that the German chancellor and French president have failed to agree on a time frame for commencing joint oversight of Europe's banking system. Shock, horror.
And all the while German confidence continues to wane. Last night's unexpected drop in the German IFO business confidence index marked the fifth consecutive month of falls. It was this more concrete bit of news that sent the euro lower on the session and thus the US dollar index up 0.2% to 79.54.
The US economy is continuing to wallow as well, if the Chicago Fed national activity index is a reliable gauge, as it fell to minus 0.87 in August from minus 0.12 in July and is running at a three month average of minus 0.47.
Apple sold five million iPhone5s on day one ? or one every 19 seconds ? which apparently was a disappointing result. Analysts were expecting six million plus. Sounds a little nit-picky to me in the current climate, but it was enough to send Apple shares southward, thus impacting on the Nasdaq (which might as well be renamed "the Apple") and also, although less so, on the S&P 500.
US economic data releases pick up steam from tonight with housing in particular in the frame.
The stronger US dollar (which as we recall is meant to be weaker given unlimited printing) allowed for near uniform falls across commodity market last night. Base metals were all down around 1.5%, Brent crude fell US$1.78 to US$109.81/bbl, West Texas slipped US85c to US$92.04/bbl and gold pulled back US$8.50 to 1764.50/oz.
The Aussie is 0.3% lower at US$1.0427 and the SPI Overnight fell two points.
The RBA will release a Financial Stability Report today. This will not in itself move markets, but the great debate continues as to whether the central bank should or shouldn't, will or won't cut rates next week. If we do see a cut one presumes the Aussie dollar would be the reason, in which case the RBA would simply be joining the "beggar thy neighbour" race to the bottom among export economies ? a race which ultimately results in no change to relative exchange rates. I don't understand why we don't start by ditching the reserve currency, which is supported by unlimited QE3, for all international trade bar that with the US directly.
But what do I know?