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Friday, December 10, 2010

The Market's Up. Why?

There's green in them thar hills. The three major indices are, at the moment, up. Why should this be?
First off, there's the good news about our narrowing trade deficit in October. Domestic traders love that sort of thing[1]. But on top of that, China announced that it saw a 16% decrease in it's November trade surplus (down to $22.9 billion).as their imports jumped 37.7%. Domestic traders also love that sort of thing[2], because it means we can sell more of our stuff to them. And because it could point another trade deficit improvement in November.
Speaking of China, they have increased their reserve requirements again. For the third time. In the past month. The 50 basis point increase takes effect on December 20, and brings the requirement to 16.5%.[3]. Even more interesting, analysts that follow China are expecting to see that requirement continue to go up - possibly as high as 23%. The end result of this is to reduce China's money supply, which could be a signal that Chinese interest rates won't be going up.
Beyond that? Well, the tax cut "compromise" deal still looks dead in the water. The Senate will vote on it on Monday but, with Capitol Hill Democrats chanting "Just say no!" in closed-door meetings intended to rally the troops, that vote looks like a failure waiting to happen. President Obama remains confident that it will pass, because he feels that nobody on either side of the isle wants to look responsible for making "people's paychecks smaller on January 1st because Congress didn't act."
And finally, we have Consumer Sentiment. November came in nicely improved at 71.6%, and analysts are looking for a further (mild) increase to 72.0%. The actual results indicate a 74.2%, which is almost breathtakingly better than expected. The official press release is not out yet, but can be read here when it is.
[1] Unless they've bet hard against the US economy and invested heavily in the EU and the BRIC. But we care nothing for those unpatriotic fools! Nothing!
[2] See [1] above.
[3] In other words, if a Chinese bank wants to loan out 100,000 yuan it must have 16,500 yuan in cash on hand. For comparison the United States has a reserve requirement of 0% on loans under $10.7 million, 3% on loans from $10.7 to $58.8 million, and 10% on loans over $58.8 million.

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