Q1 proved to be a mixed bag for the major averages. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed out the first quarter up almost 1.5%, the S&P 500 (chart) finished up 0.77%, however, both the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished out the first quarter of the year lower by 2.75% and 1.78% respectively. Not too shabby considering these key indices were down over 10% earlier in the quarter. This morning stocks are lower despite a stronger than expected jobs report. In March, the economy added 215,000 jobs with the unemployment rate now at 5%.
With Q1 in the rear view mirror all attention will now be focused on first quarter earnings reporting season. The Commerce Department recently issued a report indicating that corporate profits were down 15% year-over-year. This does not bode well for stocks when the current p/e ratio’s of the major averages are well above their historic averages. With earnings reporting season just ahead, we will not have to wait too much longer to see how well corporate America is doing.
Let’s take a quick look at the technical shape of the markets. Most of the key indices are at or near overbought conditions, which has been the case for pretty much most of March. In my previous blog I eluded to what most market technicians look at when gauging overbought or oversold conditions. Furthermore and technically speaking, the major averages are all trading at or above their 20, 50 and 200-day moving averages with only the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) chasing its 200-day. If you are bullish on the market, these moving average patterns are typically a good thing. That said, I do expect volatility to pick up a bit which is usually the case ahead of earnings reporting season. I will check back in mid-month or so to see how earnings growth actually appears.
Good luck to all 🙂