Once Again, All Eyes On The Fed…

Stocks closed lower last week for the first weekly decline of the broad indices in over a month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed the week down 1%, the Nasdaq (chart) -0.3%, the S&P 500 (chart) closed lower by 1.1% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) also finished the week lower by almost 1%. I suppose a bit of a pullback was overdue considering how much the market has gained over the past five weeks or so. Some of the chatter is that this most recent weakness is due in part to the upcoming Fed policy meeting next week, and the expectation that the Fed is on the brink of changing its language pertaining to interest rates. Between strong economic growth and healthy corporate balance sheets, it’s no wonder analysts are expecting a shift in demeanor over at the Fed. Furthermore, oil has dropped significantly since late June which is finally beginning to show up at the pump. Lower gas prices is a positive for the consumer which could add more fuel to the economy, no pun intended. But wait a minute, the job market recently has done an about face with less hirings occurring in the month of August, which could give the Federal Reserve a reason not to put the brakes on so quickly. Personally, I think the Fed will become a bit more vocal   regarding rising rates over the coming months.

So what could this mean for stocks in the near term? For one, I expect more volatility between now and year end. Especially as it pertains to the upcoming third quarter earnings reporting season. We all know that the Fed will end its asset purchase program in October, and then next logical step for them is to begin to raise interest rates at some point in time. So corporate America sooner than later will have to stand on its own two feet and show top-line growth in order to appease investors and maintain their valuations. See, the accommodative policies over the past five years or so has in part given companies a pass so to speak if they weren’t growing their top-lines. What a lot of companies have done over the past few years is clean up their balance sheets by becoming more efficient by way of trimming expenses and implementing stock buyback programs. This of course in many instances improved their earnings and bottom lines, while not really growing their top-lines. Which is why I view the upcoming Q3 earnings reporting season as potentially one of the defining moments in this historic bull run we have enjoyed over the past five years. This could also be a “Goldilocks” moment where the Fed ends its asset purchase programs, begins to gently raise rates with minimal inflation in sight, and corporate America demonstrates top-line growth. This is what Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve would call the perfect set-up. I, like most investors would love to see this theme play-out. However, let’s not forget the multi-trillion dollar balance sheet that the Fed has incurred during this unprecedented time of monetary accommodation, and as of now, no one really knows what type of impact this will ultimately have on our economy and our markets. Good luck to all and have a great week 🙂




Nasdaq at 12 year highs, up over 20% year to date…

Now who said we are in the dog days of summer? Stocks once again took off this week after the European Central Bank promised to buy the debt of struggling countries in the eurozone. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed up 1.65%, the S&P 500 (chart) +2.23%, the Russell 2000 (chart) +3.72% and the tech heavy Nasdaq (chart) closed the week at fresh 12 year highs finishing up 2.26%. What a run this has been so far this year with staggering double digit gains for most of the major averages. Congratulations to all of the bulls out there!

The million dollar question now is; “is it time for some profit taking?” The short answer, yes! Always make sure to consult with your professional financial advisor when considering taking action, but I would think he or she would agree that it would be a good idea to take some off the table. The bulls case is that as long as the governments from around the world continue to expand their balance sheets, the markets should continue to go higher. All you have to do is look at the performance of the key indices so far this year and it’s easy to see the power of the central banks. The bears case is stocks are trading at multiples not seen in years and that earnings estimates are way too high and need to come down. No matter what the case is, and in my humble opinion, taking some profits after such an unprecedented run would be the responsible thing to do. Good luck to all.

Have a great weekend 🙂