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“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” – Tom Clancy

Morning stock market summary

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Another earnings season has arrived as the big banks kicked off the reporting period this morning, and the results have been stronger across the board. All six companies reporting beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines. While JP Morgan (JPM) is down nearly 3% and Wells Fargo is down fractionally, the other four stocks are all up by at least 1%.

Despite what have been positive results, futures are lower this morning as the market digests yesterday’s gains and headlines that Israel is gearing up for an imminent direct strike from Iran. That would have major implications in the energy space, but there have been similar Friday headlines in recent weeks that never amounted to anything.

As for the economic calendar, Import Prices were just released, and they increased by 0.4% m/m which was higher than the 0.3% forecast. Ex petroleum, though, they were unchanged which was less than the 0.1% forecast. The only other report on the calendar for the week is Michigan Confidence, and the specific area of focus will be inflation expectations. For the next year, economists are expecting one-year expectations to remain unchanged at 2.9%.

Gold prices have continued their blistering rally this morning, notching their eighth consecutive daily gain in the past ten days. The yellow metal has surged 17% since the start of March, pushing it more than 20% above its 200-day moving average (DMA) and 12% above its 50-DMA. Both spreads rank in the top 3% historically, a clear signal of gold’s recent strength.

This surge in gold has fueled a similar rally in gold mining stocks. The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index (GDX) has spiked 30% since late February, even outpacing gold itself. However, unlike the commodity, the miners remain in negative territory year-over-year. That being said, the GDX did experience a bullish “golden cross” yesterday, where the 50-DMA crossed above the rising 200-DMA. While technicians often view these patterns as a positive sign, they have a mixed historical record.

In the case of the GDX, not only have golden crosses had a mixed historical record, they’ve been more of a bearish indicator than anything else.  Since the inception of the index back in 1994, there have been 13 prior golden crosses, and in the table below we summarize the median performance of the index following each one along with the frequency of positive returns. While the GDX’s median performance over the following week was a gain of 1.7% which is well above the average 0.2% gain for all periods since 1994, median performance over the following one, three, six, and twelve months was not only weaker than the average for all periods, it was flat out negative! One year later, for example, the GDX’s median performance was a decline of 12.3% with positive returns less than 40% of the time.

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