These two words were supposed to put the intended victim in a hypnotic trance in an old 60 or 70 comedy movie. For Barak Obama the two key words don’t rhyme – Afghanistan Iraq .

In the last few days a US predator drone killed @20 al Qaeda or civilians at the Afghan/Pakistan boarder (depends on which news account you believe in) and there is a promised surge of another 30,000 troops in the face of diminishing foreign support.

It is heartening to see increased diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However even US military commanders say Afghanistan "cannot be won on the battlefield" AP report .

Afghan/Pakistan/India is the center of Sunni terrorism. However, If like Iraq the focus is on guns and bullets instead of hearts and minds we’ll get the same results. We may be able to eliminate some despicable people like Saddam but the end result is worse. The level of violence that we created by "unjustly" invading has diminished but -

* 3 to 5 million refugees (mostly Sunni’s) displaced or killed
* a corrupt religious Shia government replacing a corrupt secular government
* Militia’s that rule throughout Iraq an infiltrate the army.
* Radial leaders like Sadr who hold sway over the Shia majority (60+% of pop.)
* a new pro instead of anti Iranian government – making Iran more powerful to export terrorism
* loss of our positive image throughout the world Abu Ghraib and Gitmo.
* a war simmering between Turkey and the 20% Kurdish minority
* cost of $3 trillion dollars to American economy
* deaths and long term wounds of American soldiers.
* an economic disaster in Iraq.
* a inspiration or factory for producing terrorists
* a deeply divided America on Iraq

Yes there is a quazi elected government in Iraq, but the terrorists of Hamas were also elected.

Geithner Genuflects

Yesterday Wall Street favorite Tim Geithner was appointed Obama’s Treasury secretary. In his acceptance he payed homage or genuflected to Larry Summers, Obama’s chief economic advisor. Geithner is a Summers protegee. Larry Summers, as reported several times before, was instrumental in deregulating the banking industry in 1998 under Clinton. The guys who played a role in digging this economic hole should not be the major players in leading us out.

Far preferable to this dynamic duo would be Nobel prize winning economists like Stiglets and Krugman. Hero’s like Former Fed Paul Volker does have a more minor role in the Obama administration.

Lifting Global Gag

One of Obama’s first act was lifting the Global Gag on giving funds to any organization that in any way supported abortion. Bravo. Several of you emailed me on this. Thanks. Story at LINK

Stocks.

AS ALWAYS DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH BEFORE INVESTING

Headline – Treading Water/Drifting Higher

Index % Change Volume

Dow -0.48% down
NASDQ +0.82% down
S&P500 +0.56% down
Russell2000 +1.28% –

Brown = same comments as yesterday.

US Market & Foreign Markets

Technicals – Major US indexes are treading water and foreign indexes are doing the same. Even though we are treading water major indexes are drifting in the right direction. The Dow closed at 8116 and is now 150+ points above its strong support level at 7950. We are a long ways from the 9088 Dow resistance level (see chart) established in early January.

Volume did NOT confirm the drift higher.

XLF is the financial sector ETF Chart here. Financials declined – 1.78 yesterday. A relatively minor move considering some of the wild swings. Financials are the major reason stocks are in trouble. This is the index to watch.

The area around DOW 7950 to 8000 is turning into a strong support level. The more times its tested and holds the stronger it becomes. Of course, this also means if it breaks down we should have a major fall.

Stocks are down 8% in January. Old Wall Street saying – "as January goes do goes the year."

Chart of the benchmark S&P 500

Chart of the Russell 2000

Chart of the NASDQ

Chart of the Dow

Fundamentals-

7 Major Companies announced 56,000 more layoffs yesterday, Earnings news continues to disappoint, and we have a huge expected-5.2 to-5.5% GDP loss expected to be announced on Friday. Despite this chorus of bad news major indexes managed to tread water and drift ahead. What do investors see that they remain slightly bullish in the face of a pie of bad news?

A stock market is after all just a market of stocks. If major companies like Caterpillar (builds major construction equipment) (chart link ) falls over 8% after a dismal earning report yesterday and is perilously close to breaking through its low (support level) are in trouble be very cautious. CAT stands to to be one of the companies that gains from Obama’s stimulus plan.

If Financials are the index to watch, then CAT is the stock to watch. If CAT can keep treading water and drift ahead there is hope.

Forecasting Future Trends

LIBORLIBOR is the rate banks charge each other. It price has fallen from 3.4% three months ago to about 1.18% Its held steady in this area for about a week. (good news for stocks)

LIBOR chart (3 month)

Treasuries T Bills yields show how fearful investors are. The lower the rate the more the fear. Short term yields – 3 month T bill flat at 0.07% yesterday and the longer term rates again rose a bit. The ten year rose 2.64% (low yields show fearfull investors flooding to Treasuries instead of stocks)

Treasury Bonds chart

Baltic Dry IndexMeasures flow of goods between countries. Yesterday ir rose again almost 1.5% . Almost 85% drop since June. (We’ve had a solid steady gain since the early December lows of around 660 to 995, but we fell from pre recession figures of around 12,000 – That’s along way to go)

BDI chart

Short Term Outlook/Strategy

Reading the Tea LeavesStrategy – Shorting rallies to protect gains is working. (see below) Until we see some light at the end of the recession tunnel VOLATILITY continues to be the most predictable major stock market trend. Obama rally (stimulus package) is holding up equities right now.

Technically, markets are consolidating despite some horrible economic news. That’s bullish news. Volume is not confirming or denying the bulls or bears right now. Secondary indicators (LIBOR Treasuries and BDI) are improving. The area around Dow 7950 has turned into one strong support level . It has bent but it has nor really been broken.

Therefore, Some sort of short term rally seems probable. Buying/nibbling close on dips at Dow 8,000 is much better than doing the same at 9,000. Protecting any purchased position as stocks rally (get closer to 9,000) seems to be working.

AS ALWAYS DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE INVESTING

Long Term Outlook – BEARS RULE

This Section Rarely Changes
Changes to Bottom Line Section Bolded and in Plum or crossed out

Technicals – Series of Lower Lows and Lower Highs = Bears Rule.. Technical Range for 2009 – 7449 (low) and 9654.- This is a wild guess. Any sustained move above Dow 9650 is bullish.

Fundamentals – Financial transparency/accountability problem is far far far far far far far far far bigger than anyone thought. Cleaning up this mess is going to take years and growth will suffer.

Asset Allocation/Recommended Sectors (long term)

50% to 90% Cash – Long Term Investors (up to 15 to 25+% stocks – only buy big dips) Wait for the next big dip to add 5 to 10%
Be Cautious and PROTECT YOUR MONEY (use ETF’s that short major indexes) when stocks have a big rally

*5+% US Index Funds
UWM (ETF that does 2x what Russell 2000 does) & QLD (ETF that does 2X the NASDQ ) DDM (ETF that does 2X the Dow ) SSO (ETF does 2X the S&P 500)

*5%+ Emerging Markets
EWZ (Brazil) should out perform other emerging markets in a rally and under perform in a fall – highest risk and dependent on oil prices
FXI (China ETF) should outperform USA

*5%+ Alternative Energy
GEX(Alternative energy ETF) Obama administration will focus on this area

*5+% Gold
GLD is the ETF for gold-

Chief Strategy – Buy the DIPS of trending sector – This is not your father’s buy and hold market – over the 8 Bush years the Dow has gone from 11,000 to 8000 and huge uncertainty clouds the future.

The major trend now is volatility.

Traders who have a strong tolerance for risk jump in on dips and invest more. Sell and/or go short into major rallies. Long term Investors who can tolerate risk and are 100% in cash nibble just a little on big dips. (5% on each big dip) Do not buy into rallies.

Shorting – Three ETF that short 2x what the major indexes do.

SDS – ultra short S&P 500
DXD – ultra short Dow – (Both small caps and tech stocks are outperforming the DOW and S&P)
SKF – ultra short Financials (this is the sector that’s most broken)

As Always Do Your Own Research Before Investing

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