The month of August proved to be the most challenging for the bulls in over a year. For the month, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed down 4.45%, the tech-heavy Nasdaq (chart) -1.01%, the S&P 500 (chart) -3.13%, and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished the month lower by 3.29%. There are many factors that one can point the finger to as to why equities retraced last month, however, let’s keep in mind that on the year, these key indices are still up double digits with the Nasdaq (chart) and Russell 2000 (chart) leading the way up nearly 20%.
In my last blog, I questioned whether or not the weakness in August was a mere pause in this incessant bull run, or a preview of things to come? I think we will most certainly get this answer here in September and as early as this upcoming week. Between the crisis in Syria and what the ramifications could be after the possible airstrikes, to a slew of economic reports which culminates on Friday with the August employment report. Friday’s jobs report is expected to be the determining factor as to if and how much the Fed will begin to reduce its bond purchases. The Fed taper seemingly is all we have heard about since the beginning of summer and is part of the reason for the recent increase in volatility. Traders really don’t know what to expect once quantitative easing begins. For years the markets have had the back stop of the Federal Reserve and from central banks around the world. Personally, I think that once the Fed begins to pullback its bond purchases, we will then begin to see a more realistic market environment. This would be an environment that investors and traders can finally gauge their actions from true economic and corporate earnings performances, rather than what the Fed will or will not do. With that said, I expect volatility to continue to increase with a more normal ebb and flow of asset prices.
Technically speaking, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the S&P 500 (chart) and the Russell 2000 (chart) are all now trading below their 50-day moving averages which is something I am paying close attention to now. In the coming days if the Nasdaq (chart) joins in and begins trading below its 50-day, we could be in for very choppy trading and another leg down in September. Good luck to all.
Happy Labor Day 🙂