Risk On Remains On!

Risk on in the markets remains on as we approach the second half of the year! It’s truly remarkable to me how stocks, crypto, real estate and other asset classes are still trading at or near all time highs. I do get that the ongoing accommodative policies provided by our Federal Reserve and from central banks across the globe is the main reason why asset prices continue their bullish ways.

That said, I do think it is time to start considering how things could look once the Federal Reserve in our country starts backing away from its accommodative monetary policies and as interest rates begin to normalize. This is not a question of if, it’s a question of when. Tell tale signs of inflation are now seemingly everywhere which is what the Federal Reserve is paying close attention to and could be the catalyst for the Fed to act. It is at this point our markets could be adjusting to align with real interest rates and normalized price to earning multiples. To that end, we have and continue to witness the most unique market conditions ever seen. So I am not calling a top here and I do respect the power of the Federal Reserve, however, I am just suggesting that we may see a healthy and overdue adjustment in asset prices which may not be such a bad thing. There are many investors that are on the sidelines and would be more than happy to step in should we see asset prices adjust to a lower entry point.

Let’s take a quick look at the technical shape of the major averages. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here), the S&P 500 (see chart here), the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the Small Cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) all are trading above their 20, 100 and 200 day moving averages. This alone is a strong technical backdrop and what’s more is none of the aforementioned indexes are currently overbought according to the relative strength index aka the RSI. So technically speaking things look pretty good right now.

Good luck to all 🙂


Risk On Remains On - Paula Mahfouz


A pause or a preview?

The key indices had one of their worst performing weeks of the year. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) fell 2.23%, the Nasdaq (chart) pulled back 1.57%, the S&P 500 (chart) -2.1% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed the week down 2.3%. It’s important to note that other than the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the aforementioned other key indexes remained at or above their 50-day moving averages. Stocks reacted to rising interest rates and weak retail sales reported by several retailers including Walmart (NYSE: WMT) which missed on thier earnings as well as providing a somber outlook. Furthermore, bellwether Cisco Systems (NasdaqGS: CSCO) also issued cautious forward guidance during their post earnings release conference call on Wednesday.

So the question now becomes is this a blip on the radar, or a preview of things to come? All year long stocks have been propped up by the most accommodative Fed in history. I also have been writing about the need for top-line growth out of corporate America in order for this bull market to continue. To that point, I have been simply wrong from the standpoint that central banks from around the world continue to pour liquidity into the system and continue to keep interest at or near zero. This policy has taken the emphasis off of how well corporate earnings are actually doing. As Q2 earnings reporting season begins to wind down, there is growing evidence of tepid growth at best, especially in the retail space. Furthermore, the companies that have beat estimates have done so by running a tighter ship and getting more productivity from their current workforce.

Personally, I would like to see how this corrective action plays out over the next few weeks before I am comfortable deploying any long or short strategies in the marketplace. To that end, let’s not forget we are smack in the middle of the dog days of summer, and with most money managers at the beach, volume tends to be very light. Good luck to all.

Have a great weekend 🙂


Unconditional support continues…

The Federal Reserve’s incessant support of asset prices continues to propel stocks to all time highs. The S&P 500 (chart) closed out the month of April at a record high of 1597.57. For the month, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed up 1.79%, the Nasdaq (chart) +1.88% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished the month gaining about 1%. Records are being broken despite the lackluster job growth in our country, a weaker than expected GDP report issued last Friday, and a mixed bag of Q1 corporate earnings reports.

Not to sound like a broken record, but as long as the economy stays stuck in neutral, QE3 should remain in full effect, which is what I expect to hear when the Federal Reserve concludes their two day meeting this afternoon. This mantra should also continue to be bullish for stocks and act as a catalyst for support should we get the pullback or market correction that the bears have been chatting up all year long. To add even more fuel to the fire, you now have central banks from around the world opening up their balance sheets in further support of their own economies. I am not so sure that the old adage of “sell in May and go away” will apply this year just from the mere power and seemingly collaborative efforts of the world wide central bankers. Logically, this cannot continue to be the case, but for now it is super charging the markets.

Technically speaking and from a relative strength perspective, the four key indices are below the 70 value level of the RSI which is considered overbought territory, and therefore could very well be consolidating for the next leg up. Of course, the market is way overdue for some type of pullback. I have been expecting this for months now and whenever there is any type of selling pressure, it has been met with undeniable support. Best of luck in the month of May and remember it is typically a good idea to use protective stops in any position you enter into especially with the amazing double digit run stocks have had so far this year.

Have a great May 🙂




Impressive resilience…

Despite the incessant flow of “fiscal cliff” news from all of the media outlets, stocks continue to hold their own. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed up 1%, the S&P 500 (chart) + 0.13%, the Nasdaq (chart) -1.07% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished the week flat. Not too shabby considering all of the fear and uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff and that Washington has not really progressed towards a deal.

With only a few weeks left in trading year and the fiscal cliff deadline, what is an investor or trader to do? Well if you are a trader you should love this type of environment. I am expecting volatility to pick up steam between now an year end. This should present larger market swings and provide excellent trading opportunities both on the long and short side. If you are an investor you may want to sit it out until we get a deal out of Washington. I remember the days when you would make investment or trading decisions based on fundamentals and technical analysis. Now seemingly the biggest factors are whether or not the central banks will continue to support the markets and whether or not Washington can get along. Needless to say, this dynamic has placed additional uncertainty on the markets and investors or traders now have to add this in the mix of their decision making processes. Good luck to all.

Have a great weekend 🙂


A bull breather…

After such a torrid bull run this summer and with most major averages posting double digit gains, stocks finished lower this week, albeit modestly. For the week the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed down 0.10%, the Nasdaq (chart) -0.13%, the S&P 500 (chart) -0.13% and the Russell 2000 (chart) finished the week off 1.06%. This minor pullback is nothing compared to the rare and impressive September monthly gains with all of the above key indices advancing well over 3% so far this month.

As equities continue to remain strong after the Fed announced their latest stimulus package last week, I continue to monitor the underlying technicals of the markets and from what I see, the coast continues to remain clear. The one exception to how the big four is looking technically is that these key averages are at or near the 70 value level on the Relative Strength Index (RSI).  The RSI is a technical analysis indicator which measures gain and losses over a given period of time to identify whether or not stocks or indexes are currently oversold or in this case overbought.

That said, with central banks from around the world ready to flood the markets and economies with liquitidy if needed, I am now of the belief that stocks and certain commodities should remain overbought for the foreseeable future with the occasional pullbacks along the way. Good luck to all.

Have a great weekend 🙂


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 🙂


Flat week…

Despite Thursday’s 250 point Dow drubbing, the key indices closed mixed on the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) finished the week down 126.39 points, the Nasdaq (chart) finished up 19.62, the S&P 500 (chart) closed lower by 7.82 points and the Russell 2000 (chart) closed the week out gaining 3.84 points. Equities digested a lot of news this week including the Federal Reserve indicating they are ready to step in should the economy continue to falter. However, certain traders were disappointed the Fed did not provide another round of quantitative easing, hence a significant sell-off ensued on Thursday.

Personally, I think the markets need to quit relying so much on central bank stimulus and begin to focus on corporate earnings, which have been overall quite impressive. We are entering the last trading week of the second quarter which could prompt end of quarter window dressing. Window dressing is a strategy used by certain mutual funds and institutions near the end of the quarter to improve the appearance of their fund(s), this could bode well for the markets. Another potential positive for equities is Q2 earnings reporting season which begins in July. In my opinion, this is a key catalyst in whether or not stocks will stabilize over the summer and hopefully de-emphasize what the central banks may or may not do. Good luck to all.

Have a great weekend 🙂


Central banks boost stocks…

After China announced a surprise rate cut last week, central bankers from Japan to Britain went on the record this week indicating they are ready to flood the system with liquidity if need be. This was enough to continue to fuel the key indices to one month highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed the week up 1.70%, the Nasdaq (chart) +0.50%, the S&P 500 (chart) +1.30% and the Russell 2000 (chart) +0.28%.

I thought you were supposed to sell in May and go away? Apparently not this year. The concern I have here is that the markets are rallying on stimulus hopes and not fundamentals. In looking at the most recent economic data released this week, manufacturing activity is falling sharply, consumer sentiment is at its lowest level in months and unemployment is still a big threat.

Looking ahead to next week, obviously the outcome of the Greek elections will be the highlight for the markets on Monday. One thing is for sure, no matter the what the results are, central banks from around the world are ready to do what it takes to stabilize the financial markets and financial system. This stance taken by the global bankers should continue to bode well for not only equities, but in particular gold. Good luck to all.

Have a great weekend 🙂


Best week of the year…

Stocks posted their best weekly showing of the year erasing almost half of the losses that occurred in May. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) soared 3.59%, the Nasdaq (chart) +4.04%, the S&P 500 (chart) +3.72% and the Russell 2000 (chart) finished the week up 4.30%. This snapback rally was on the heels of China making a surprise interest rate cut on Thursday.

Up until this week, equites had been under immense pressure due to the European debt crisis and more recently our own country’s weakening economic picture. In last week’s blog I eluded to the potential of the global central banks stepping in and placing a floor under the markets with additional liquidity measures, and sure enough China was the first country to act. This was followed up by our own Federal Reserve reiterating to Congress thier commitment to intervene should the economy here continue to falter.

To sum up the latest actions by the global central bankers and it relates to equities, at the very least stability should come into the marketplace with the potential to recharge the bull run we had been on. In addition, I would expect that gold becomes a huge beneficiary from the heightened debt levels that are on the balance sheets of central banks around the world.

That said, at some point and time and probably sooner than later, the economies from around the globe will have to be able to stand on their own two feet. Central bankers can only do so much before the stimulus programs begin to have an overall negative effective on the economy and markets. Good luck to all.

Have a great weekend 🙂


Unemployment report send equities spiraling!

As if the European crisis wasn’t enough. Yesterday’s unemployment report was a stark reminder that our own economy is by no means out of the woods yet. U.S. employers added only 69,000 jobs to their payrolls, far less than the 150,000 that most economists projected. The unemployment rate also ticked up to 8.2%. This sent the markets into a tailspin with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) losing 274.88 points, the Nasdaq (chart) -79.86, the S&P 500 (chart) -32.29 and the Russell 2000 (chart) -24.40 points. Couple yesterday’s tape with the 6%+ decline for the key indices in May, and you have almost a 10% correction in a month and a day!

Too far too fast? Not so sure? Unless the governments and central banks unite over this weekend and come up with some sort of an additional stimulus plan, we could be in for further downward pressure on Monday and the rest of next week. I am not suggesting that the central banks should step in every time we have a market meltdown, but with the incessant debt crisis in Europe and now our own economy faltering, there may not be another alternative.

As an investor/trader in this type of market environment, one must exercise extreme caution. For me it would be easy to say “well the markets have now officially broken down and broke through key technical support levels, let’s go short” and probably that strategy would work. However, I have seen this movie before in whereas technically and fundamentally speaking equities appear to heading a lot lower. Then you wake up one morning and indeed the governments from around the world come up with a blanket plan to place a floor under the markets and then the massive rally begins.

Point being this, we live in a very different world today and what appears to be undervalued or for that matter overvalued in the marketplace, it really doesn’t matter. So long as you have accommodative Fed policies, the markets will trade according to the central bank(s) guidelines, not on fundamentals. Good luck to all.

Have a great weekend 🙂