Interest Rate Hike Fears Spook Stocks…

Since the release of the February labor market report, which was much stronger than the street expected, stocks have been on a wild ride. Triple digits gains and losses have occurred this past week with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) In addition, the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) have all pulled back noticeably since the February jobs report was issued. So wait a minute, a strong labor market is good for the economy, hence, good for stocks too right? Logically speaking yes, but as it pertains to the Federal Reserve, a stronger labor market and a stronger economy gives them the green light to begin to raise interest rates.

This is what is now permeating through the stock market. The concern is that the Federal Reserve has enough data to begin to change their stance on their multi-year accommodative financial policies, policies that have benefited equities since 2009. We may not have to wait too much longer to gauge the Fed’s stance as it prepares for next week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting. I think the anxiety we are witnessing may be a little exaggerated. It’s normal to have emotions play out and even take control over investors, however, people seem to forget that the Fed has been extremely cautious as to even eking out the wrong language in their official policy statements. I would not expect the Fed to shock the markets by raising rates too early or too aggressively. That said, I do expect volatility to continue and for markets to get “emotionally” charged. We could very well be in the midst of yet another dip back to the 200-day moving averages of the aforementioned key indices and should that occur, I would expect that buyers would come in bargain hunting. Over the past few years, the 200-day moving average has acted as significant support for these key indexes. The only difference and question now would be, is if the Federal Reserve indeed changes their position on interest rates, how well would this favorite technical indicator fare? Good luck to all and have a great week 🙂



As Expected, New Market Highs Continue…

In my previous blog, I eluded to the notion that the bulls would remain in charge for the foreseeable future and sure enough, in charge they are. Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the S&P 500 (chart), and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) all hit record highs while the Nasdaq (chart) continues to gravitate toward the 5000 level. This market has no quit. With the majority of the S&P 500 companies reporting their Q1 earnings, overall earnings growth was relatively good, topping expectations. Meanwhile, Fed Chair Janet Yellen stated at her biannual meeting with the Senate Banking Committee that the Fed will be patient before any change in interest rate policies and that guidance would be given prior to any such action. This, along with the no real surprises coming out of earnings reporting season and the U.S. labor market showing a continuation of job growth, without question has played a role in the continuing strength of the U.S. stock market.  

Okay, all clear right? Well, we all know there is always the other side to the story and markets do not go up in a straight line forever. Without many upcoming catalysts in March, or in any given time period where catalysts are few, I always refer to the technical shape up of the markets to see if overbought or oversold conditions exist. As you all know by now, one of my favorite technical indicators to gauge whether or not the markets are in extreme conditions, is the Relative Strength Index. If you go back historically and look at the RSI indicator of any given stock or index, you too can see the reliability of this particular indicator when it reaches overbought or oversold conditions. Click on this link to get the definition of the RSINow I am not saying to completely base trading or investment decisions off of this technical indicator or any other technical indicator for that matter. However, for me personally this has proven to be a trusted guide and I do include this analysis when viewing the current market environment. That said, we are beginning to look a little overbought and I am going to look for pullbacks before I entertain any new positions in equities. Good luck to all and I wish all a very prosperous month 🙂


Where are they now?

Just a mere 2 weeks ago the pundits came out in full force declaring the end of the bull market or at the very least a 10-20% correction for stocks. Fast forward to today and we find ourselves yet again in record breaking territory. For the month of May, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed up 0.82% at a new record closing high of 16,717.17, the Nasdaq (chart) closed the month up 3.11% at 4242.61, the S&P 500 (chart) closed at an all time record high of 1923.57 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed out May up 0.68% at 1134.50.

In my previous blog I wrote about certain experts calling for an imminent correction in which I thought was a bit pre-mature considering how the Federal Reserve continues to accommodate the economy and the markets. I understand where the bear camp is coming from, as soon as the Fed begins to hike interest rates, we should indeed see the markets react accordingly. The problem with the sell-side thesis is this just isn’t happening now. Policymakers continue to reiterate their stance on interest rates which are to remain low for the foreseeable future as the bond tapering program continues and ultimately exhausts itself, which could be by year-end. Then I think bear growl may have a lot more punch to it.

So how do we continue to make money in an environment that continues to make record highs seemingly with no end in sight? In addition to honoring the power of the Fed, I will continue to refer to the technical shape of the key indices to spot opportunities as we wait for the second quarter to wind down. With the incessant “melt-up” of the markets, one may think that stocks maybe overbought a bit. This most certainly is the case with select individual stocks, however, as I look at the closely followed Dow (chart), Nasdaq (chart), S&P 500 (chart) and the Russell 2000 (chart), none of these indexes are in overbought territory at least according to their respective Relative Strength Indexes. Remember, the Relative Strength Index (RSI) is a technical indicator which signifies whether or not a stock or index is overbought or oversold, with the 70 plus value level indicating an overbought condition, and the 30 minus level indicating an oversold condition. Click here for the expanded definition of the RSI. In addition, all of the moving averages are intact for the aforementioned indexes. Click here for the moving averages definition.

So as we enter the month of June, I am expecting the continuation of the “melt up” that has occurred so far this year with modest pullbacks. Of course as we witnessed in mid-May, sentiment can change quickly and the pundits and press for that matter can spread fear like wild fire, and should this be the case, I will prepare myself to add to certain long positions to take advantage of any potential weakness. As always, it is best practice to consult with a trusted financial advisor(s) before making any investment decisions. Good luck to all 🙂