Dow 24,000 – Bitcoin $10,000 – Why Not?

Is this really happening? Stocks exploded to the upside on the last trading day of November. For the first time in its history, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart below) traded, blew through and closed above the 24,000 mark. The Dow started the year just under 20,000 and no one and I mean no one in the who’s who of finance, analysis, technical analysis, hedge funds, institutional investors and the like, ever predicted this type of performance for stocks and the key indices on the year. I cannot even count the number of record highs that have occurred this year not only in the Dow Jones Industrials, but also the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq composite (chart), and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart). Let’s throw in Bitcoin and its year to date 10X performance and we are truly in party mode.

I am not even sure what to think? This eerily feels like the irrational exuberance environment that occurred in the mid to late 90’s and before the internet bubble imploded. However the bullish pundits are quick to point out that this time is different. Back then, whoever came out with an announcement that they just launched a website saw their stock go up. Now the pundits are pointing out that it is earnings and growth that are responsible for this torrid record setting pace we have been on all year long. This is true to some degree. But what about the euphoria in Bitcoin? What is the catalyst that has propelled this so call asset to fly up over 10 times this year? This is why the other side of the camp thinks we are approaching a bubble or at the very least nose bleed territory. Without question I feel that something is going on that makes one have to pause and take a breather here. But as we have seen all year long, don’t underestimate the power of momentum, a low interest rate environment and the Trump trade. Is it possible that the Dow Jones Industrials actually could close above 25,000 by year end? As much as I want to say and think “no way”, way! Not saying the Dow will go up another 800 points by year end, but if we do, I would not be at the very least surprised.

Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

Dow Jones Industrial Average - George Mahfouz Jr

First Half Of The Year In The Books, And The Bull Keeps Running…

After gaining 30% or so in 2013, the markets continue to be on one of the most impressive bull runs in modern history. Here is how the four key indices closed out the first half of 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) finished up 1.5%, the Nasdaq (chart) gained 5.5%, the S&P 500 (chart) advanced 6.1% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed out the first half of 2014 up 2.6%. Looking back to the market lows of early 2009, these aforementioned indices have tripled or better in price, which is simply stunning.

I think now is as good a time than any to¬†begin to take a look at how the major averages can continue to rise in spite of almost tripling over the past 5 1/2 years. What could¬†be the catalyst(s) going forward? It’s no secret that the Federal Reserve is scaling back¬†its asset purchases and are scheduled to be finished by year-end, so no surprise there. This in fact is where the bear camp is growling that the end of the Fed stimulus¬†program could¬†be the catalyst to end this historic bull run. What about corporate earnings?¬†In my humble opinion, herein lies the single most important catalyst that will either add fuel to this incessant bull run or put the brakes on it. If it’s the latter, this could also create¬†the first real correction in stocks, something that hasn’t occurred in years.

Investors will not have to wait too much longer for Q2 earnings reporting season is upon us. The first key earnings release that has economic implications will be Alcoa (NYSE: AA) which is due to report next Tuesday after the close. I will be very interested to see the top-line growth of Alcoa which will certainly shed some light as to the health of the global economy. Investors have been bidding up Alcoa most of the year in anticipation of an expanding global backdrop. Another economically sensitive stock at least as it pertains to the consumer is Family Dollar Stores (NSYE: FDO). Family Dollar is scheduled to report their quarterly results next Thursday before the market opens. Then by mid-July we will be in high gear to hear how corporate america fared in Q2. The week of July 14th, earnings are scheduled to come out of American Airlines (NYSE: AAL), American Express (NYSE: AXP), Blackrock ( NYSE: BLK), Citigroup (NYSE: C), Whirlpool Corp (NYSE: WHR), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Intel (NasdaqGS: INTC), Yahoo (NasdaqGS: YHOO), Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC), Ebay (NasdaqGS: EBAY), U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), Yum Brands (NYSE: YUM), Baker Hughes Inc (NYSE: BHI), UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH),  Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX), International Business Machine (NYSE: IBM), Google (NasdaqGS: GOOGL), Bank of New York Mellon Corp (NYSE: BK) and General Electric (NYSE: GE) just to name a few. As you can see, I think it is safe to say that by the middle of July or so we will have a pretty good idea of how corporate America is faring.

Please note that in recognition of¬†the 4th of July holiday, the markets will be closing at 1pm E.S.T.¬†on Thursday and is closed on¬†Friday the 4th. Both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and happy 4th of July ūüôā

~George

 

Pullback #1

I have been blogging for while now that a pullback at some point is inevitable and would even be healthy considering the parabolic move most of the key indexes and many stocks have had so far this year. However, there seemingly has not been a meaningful catalyst to trigger a noticeable pullback or better yet a healthy 10% correction, until maybe now? Taper talk is back on the table at the highest level since late May thanks to the continuing flow of recent positive economic data. In fact, some pundits predict that the Federal Reserve will begin reducing its asset purchases as early as this upcoming week. This chatter has been enough for the markets to take notice with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) falling 264 points this week or 1.7%, the Nasdaq (chart) retreated by 1.5%, the S&P 500 (chart) gave back 1.6% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed the week lower by 2.2%. Now let’s keep this into perspective, these benchmark indices on the year are still up a whopping 20%, 35.5%, 24.5% and 30% respectively.

What everyone has been accustom to for the past couple of years is that the protractive accommodative policies of the central banks from around the world would keep a floor under the markets, which most certainly has been the case. However, in late May of this year there had been widespread speculation that the Fed would indeed begin to reduce its bond buying and mortgage backed security purchases which sent the markets lower by over 5% by late June. The tapering fear at that point became unfounded as the economic data back then was still coming in too skittish in the Fed’s eyes.

Fast forward to today and there may now be enough positive economic data such as Q3¬†GDP coming in at 3.6%, the labor market showing signs of strength, personal spending rising and overall business confidence improving. These signs could be enough for the Fed to slowly reduce its asset purchases. So now the question on all minds is “how will stocks react once the Fed begins to taper?” This subject is currently being highly debated in most circles of the financial world and quite frankly no one knows. I suspect that the Fed will start to taper sooner than later but that they would be very conscious and conservative with their approach and how they signal their future actions. That said, once the central bank removes itself from the limelight and allow the markets to trade in a normal environment and on their own merits, I would expect volatility to get back to normal levels, hence, healthy pullbacks and even corrections should be back on the table. With this type of market environment, both long and short traders would be able to compose strategies based off of fundamentals and have the confidence to act accordingly.

Both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe, healthy and happy holiday season ūüôā

~George