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April 3, 2019 | In the Category ‘Spurious Rallies,’ the Winner Is…

Rick Ackerman

Rick Ackerman is the editor of Rick’s Picks, an online service geared to traders of stocks, options, index futures and commodities. His detailed trading strategies have appeared since the early 1990s in Black Box Forecasts, a newsletter he founded that originally was geared to professional option traders. Barron’s once labeled him an “intrepid trader” in a headline that alluded to his key role in solving a notorious pill-tampering case. He received a $200,000 reward when a conviction resulted, and the story was retold on TV’s FBI: The Untold Story. His professional background includes 12 years as a market maker in the pits of the Pacific Coast Exchange, three as an investigator with renowned San Francisco private eye Hal Lipset, seven as a reporter and newspaper editor, three as a columnist for the Sunday San Francisco Examiner, and two decades as a contributor to publications ranging from Barron’s to The Antiquarian Bookman to Fleet Street Letter and Utne Reader.

The most interesting trait on display in securities markets these days is what might be called the artful levitation. Apple shares, for one, have been strongly on the rise even though iPhone sales are weakening, particularly in China, the company’s second-biggest market. A further discouragement is Apple’s bland strategy for the future, competing against streaming-content giants already well established in a business where profit margins fall well short of iPhone’s. And there is Facebook, which has become a pariah in the eyes of all who value privacy. Incredibly, its shares continue to move higher despite the rising tide of censure.  As for Tesla, a company that could conceivably face bankruptcy, its shares have risen 15% in just the last two weeks.

But of all the markets being magically levitated, crude oil is the most impressive. Spot futures have rallied almost 50% since December, from from $43 to $63, even as the economies of China and Europe weakened dramatically. Chalk it up to Russia’s guiding influence on OPEC.  The cartel’s Arab producers had long been unable to stick to quotas until  Russia came along to enforce them with a firm hand. Putin continues to demonstrate that he is the most capable tactician in the geopolitical world. We eagerly await Trump’s response to the Russian’s deployment of 100 troops to Venezuela.  This is not mere mischief, and unless the U.S. confronts him firmly, Venezuela could turn into another Cuba. Dealing with Russia’s now militarized support of Maduro could prove to be the most serious challenge Trump has faced to date. It will be interesting to see how stridently those with Trump Derangement Syndrome resist supporting him. In so doing, they will only deepen the Democratic Party’s estrangement from the American mainstream.

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April 3rd, 2019

Posted In: Rick's Picks

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