As stocks and key indices continue to break records, the four major averages are now approaching 20% gains year to date. So far this year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) is up a whopping 15.37%, the Nasdaq (chart) +13.81%, the S&P 500 (chart) +14.55% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) is up year-to-date 14.81%. But hold the phone! A report issued after the close on Friday just might be what the bears have been looking for and what could be a catalyst to a pause or pullback to these red hot markets.
On Friday after the close, an article came out in the Wall Street Journal citing that the Federal Reserve has begun to map out a strategy for winding down its $85 billion-a-month bond buying program. This super aggressive part of the ongoing stimulus program has played an enormous role in the lift in equities and the economy over the past year or so. Although the article cited a variety of options that the Fed is outlining, there are some Fed officials calling for the wind-down to begin as early as this summer. I will be very interested to see how the markets react to the report this upcoming trading week. I do not think anyone expects that the Fed will be overly aggressive with any adjustment it makes, but nonetheless, stocks have been a huge beneficiary of this extraordinary component of the stimulus program. I wouldn’t be surprised if the markets will take this latest cue and begin to exhibit an increase in volatiltiy. Besides, and as everybody knows, equities have been long overdue for a pause at the very least, and even more so a healthy pullback.
As I look to the internals of the market, this unprecedented run stocks have had so far this year has been on lighter volume, but this also has been the case since the bull market began back in 2009. Whatever the case is, without question these markets have been and are over extended to say the least. Let’s see if the Fed’s latest statement shakes the trees out a bit. I am considering initiating a short bias theme in certain indexes but will have the utmost discipline in protecting any positions by have very tight stops. Seemingly, almost everyone who has attempted a short strategy this year most likely endured a great amount of grief, however, at some point and time the bears should have their day in the sun. I am not suggesting that anyone should short this market or any market for that matter, short selling markets of any kind involves a significant degree of risk and is not for the feint of heart. That said, and as always, make sure to consult with a certified financial advisor of your choice when considering any investment strategy. Have a great week 🙂