The Fed Versus Inflation…

The market environment we find ourselves in is a clear dynamic of the Federal Reserve taking on inflation. The question now is will the Federal Reserve overreach with its interest rate war on inflation? One thing I have learned as it pertains to the markets is not to go against the power of the Fed and to trust they will ultimately steer the ship right.

That being said, what a month to forget for stocks! In the month of September alone the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) lost almost 9%, the S&P 500 (see chart here) fell over 9% while the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) both gave up over 10% in September. I think we are all ready to turn the page on the markets summer performance. In fact, the year to date performance of the major averages are well into bear market territory.

In hindsight it was plain as day how unsustainable asset prices were across the board. From the stock market to the real estate market to the crazy land of cryptos. The excesses that the markets enjoyed while they were hot was a direct reflection of the Fed’s easy monetary policies. From essentially zero percent interest rates, to buying up treasuries and other asset classes to keep the economy strong during Covid, now the markets are paying that price. The head scratcher for me is how long it took the Fed to reverse its course but at least now we can begin to get to normalized rates which is a net positive for all markets.

As I look at the current technical shape of the aforementioned indexes, it’s not a pretty sight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here), the S&P 500 (see chart here) and the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) are at or below their 52-week lows with no technical support yet in sight. The small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) is near its 52-week low but does have a bit of support right here. I think we could continue to see some more selling pressure before it’s all said and done but if you are a long-term holder of equities these type of market conditions can create some great opportunities too.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

No Surprise Here…

It’s no surprise here that the month of August was weak for the overall stock market. Despite the current economic backdrop historically August tends to underperform compared to the rest of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) last month closed down over 1000 points and the S&P 500 (see chart here) closed below the 4000 mark. The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) gave up over 500 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) pulled back slightly. That being said and considering the current headwinds we are facing I believe stocks held up pretty well.

Now that we are in September and from a seasonal perspective especially with mid-terms approaching, I anticipate volatility to continue. There is also a possibility that vol will accelerate. Looking at the current backdrop, we have a Federal Reserve that continues to raise interest rates, corporate earnings are stagnating and the political situation in our country is nothing to be proud of now. Taking all of these factors into consideration, plus the constant flow of negative news, August could off sold off a lot more. Out of all these dynamics I prefer to tune out most all of the noise and really study how the Federal Reserve is navigating itself through this cycle. To me it is this entity that swings the biggest bat on how the markets move. As you know by now, I also pay attention to the technical shape of the key indexes.

Speaking of the technical shape of the market, let’s take a look. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is trading below its 20 day, 100 and 200 day moving averages. The S&P 500 (see chart here) is also experiencing a technically weak pattern as is the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the Russell 2000 (see chart here). Again, no surprise here but I did notice the markets today appeared to find some support. For the markets the dog days of summer are almost over, but I think we all need to buckle up between now and the mid-terms because I do expect volatility to continue.

Good luck to all and have a great and safe Labor Day Holiday!

~George

What A Month For Stocks!

What a month for stocks as the major averages rebounded sharply in July. After witnessing an incessant selloff over the past few months, July turned out to be the best month for stocks in years. After falling into bear market territory, the S&P 500 (see chart here) gained almost 10% last month cutting its year to date losses in dramatic fashion. As I look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) a thousand-point gain in the last week or so is not too shabby either. Last but not least, both the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) also has enjoyed a strong recovery from their recent lows.

So why was there such a strong performance in the month of July? Q2 earnings reporting season is in full swing and at best this Q2 earnings so far have been a mixed bag. The Fed last week also raised interest rates another 0.75%. Inflation remains at or near 40-year highs. So, if you solely look at these metrics one would think the recent selloff would be accelerating. Clearly this is not the case, yet! The bears would argue that this is an “oversold” bounce and part of me agrees with that. However, I think it is too early to say that we are back to a full-fledged bull market. I do think if the markets remain stable over the next couple of months this could be a sign of a bottoming process. Let’s see how the rest of the summer plays out.

Now let’s move over to the technical shape of the aforementioned indexes. What has caught my eye is how the major averages are either at or have recaptured their 100-day moving average. This important support and/or resistance line is key as to whether stocks will pause into the resistance that moving averages experience, or if the momentum continues, then this could mean that this latest bull run will continue.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

A First Half To Forget…

Needless to say, the first half of the year needs to be forgotten. Stocks took it on the chin as the major averages have lost meaningful ground so far in 2022. Year to date, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is down over 14%, the S&P 500 (see chart here) is off by almost 20%, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is down almost 30% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) year to date is down 23%. As mentioned above, a first half to forget.

As I spoke to in my last blog, I believe we are in a “new norm” pertaining to the stock market. For years stocks have traded at a premium due to the accommodative policies implemented by the Federal Reserve banks from around the globe. Fast forward to today and we are now in a much different environment. Fed banks across the globe are now raising rates to stem off inflationary pressures. I think this policy shift is long overdue and actually very healthy for the stock market. Sure the pain is real from this correction and current bear market, but now that rates are starting to normalize, keyword “starting”, investors can have more confidence in how to gauge and measure value in stocks. Before, it was virtually impossible to properly analyze stocksΒ  due to the the accommodative fed policies which included years of zero percent interest rates and government stimulus programs. This backdrop added higher multiples to most asset classes which simply was not sustainable. Now that we are heading back to an even playing field, we can all have more confidence that stocks will begin to trade at their true value and if they are not trading at their real value, we can now identify more accurately undervalued or overvalued stocks and act accordingly.

Wishing everyone a very safe and Happy 4th of July weekend!

~George

The New Norm…

I think it is becoming safe to say that we are now in the new norm! The stock market for over a decade has feasted on the Federal Reserve’s accommodative policies and most recently the stimulus provided by governments from around the world during the pandemic. Under normal market conditions, stocks trade on their own merits and prospects. This has simply not been the case in years. Fast forward to today and we now have a Federal Reserve raising interest rates, reducing their own stimulus programs to stave off inflation and get back to more normalized Fed policies and procedures. Now the markets are taking notice. Volatility in the markets continue as has been the case for months now. Year to date, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is down 10 percent, the S&P 500 (see chart here) is lower by 15%, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) on the year is down almost 25% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) is down about 18%.

Yes, I believe we have entered a new norm. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing from the standpoint of properly evaluating companies. What’s been very difficult during the past decade or so is how to evaluate public companies. The Federal Reserve and its unprecedented accommodative monetary policies was a huge driver of how companies were valued. Meaning this, when there are hardly any choices of attaining yield whether it is from stocks or bonds, this forces capital into the stock market or other higher risk assets. This has been one of the primary drivers of the incessant bull market investors have enjoyed over the years. Now, companies are going to have to perform to maintain their position in the marketplace. The ones that do, will be rewarded, the ones that don’t will experience adjustments in their valuations.

With all the above being said, I am confident that once the stock market bottoms out, there will be great opportunities to consider and act on. Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

Technically Speaking…

The sell-off in the markets accelerated in the month of April and technically speaking it appears there could be more selling pressure ahead. On the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is down nearly 10 percent, the S&P 500 (see chart here) is off over 13%, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is down over 21% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here ) year to date is down 17%.

I am not surprised of the market weakness due to all the factors at play right now. From the war in Ukraine, to the highest inflation rates we have seen in over 40 years, the ongoing Covid backdrop albeit this dynamic appears to be improving and finally, interest rates. The Federal Reserve now has woken up to the fact that this low interest rate environment that we have lived in for over a decade is over. Runaway inflation has now become a major concern for the Fed, and they are now being beyond vocal of their intentions. A 50-basis point increase appears to be the hike here in May and hikes throughout the year are in play. In my view, this is the top catalyst as to the sell-off but let’s keep things in perspective. Last year and previous years for that matter have been a boon for stocks and pretty much every other asset class out there. Record after record have been set for years on asset classes and this is simply not sustainable. A healthy correction is beyond needed and it seems like we are in that mode now!

Now let’s look at the technical shape of the aforementioned key indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here), the S&P 500 (see chart here), the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the Russell 2000 (see chart here) all closed the month of April out below their key moving averages. The 20-day, 50-day, 100 and 200-day have all been breached while the Relative Strength Index aka the RSI have not yet breached an “oversold” condition. The RSI is a technical “momentum indicator” that has two values of importance. The 70-value level for potential “overbought” conditions and the 30-value level and below is a level that is considered “oversold. All the above indexes are currently hovering around the 35 level. Please remember “technical indicators” are there as a guide and a tool when assessing the technical backdrop of any given stock or index and is not 100 percent perfect.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

 

 

 

A Tough Quarter For Stocks…

It was a tough quarter for stocks as the markets dealt with and continues to deal with the war in Ukraine, runaway inflation, rising interest rates and the seemingly never ending Covid dynamic. For Q1, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) and the S&P 500 (see chart here) lost nearly 5%. The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) lost more ground closing out the quarter down 9%. Last but not least, the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here )Β  also closed Q1 down 9 %.

As mentioned above, it was a tough quarter for stocks and indexes but with the current state of global backdrop my feelings are we are quite lucky to not of experienced more of a drawdown. In fact, I am very surprised if not shocked that we did not see a 20 percent sell-off or more due to these major headwinds. So, this begs the question as to why there was not more of a correction? Could it be corporate earnings will surprise the street once Q1 earnings reporting season kicks off here in April? Or could it be that while interest rates are going up and will continue to do so, that rates are still relatively low, and money continues to get put to work in the overall markets? I do think that this upcoming earnings reporting season will be one of the most important metrics in years pertaining to whether stocks find their footing or continue to be under pressure. The one other metric I will be paying close attention to is yield curve inversion. For the first time in years the 2-year Treasury yield surpassed the 10-year and historically when that happens the chances for a recession increase. So, as you see there is much to learn over the coming weeks and throughout the summer.

Last but not least, when I look at the current technical shape of the aforementioned key indexes, all of them are trading right around their respective 20-day, 100-day and 200-day moving averages. Based on this action it is possible that we see a breakout above and/or a breakdown below these historic support and resistance lines.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

 

 

Volatility Hits The Markets…

Volatility has hit the markets to the point that the VIX (see chart here) aka the fear gage has broken out. Stocks have been on a tear as of late but unfortunately to the downside. No one is surprised that the markets have become extremely volatile due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) fell over 10% since the crisis began as has the S&P 500 (see chart here). Both the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here and below) have sold off closer to 15% before bouncing off of their sell-off lows. Again, no surprise that vol has spiked to almost a double over the past few weeks as tensions increased.

Before we get into the technical shape of the markets it’s hard for me to even talk stocks and indexes due to the atrocities happening abroad. Our prayers go out to everyone in the Ukraine that is being affected by this invasion and for the people of Russia who wants no part of this. Hopefully very soon a cease fire will happen and happen for good!

Now let’s look at the technical set-up that has occurred since the buildup and invasion with the aforementioned key indexes. Starting with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here). The Dow a few days ago hit a low of 32272 and has bounced to the 34,000 zone. There is much more work here to be done before the Dow can recapture its 100 and 200-day moving averages. The same can be said for the S&P 500 (see chart here) although with the S&P, it is closer to its 20-day M/A than the Dow Jones Industrials Average. Interestingly both the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) have bounced off of their recent lows stronger with the Russell 2000 recapturing its 20-day M/A. Despite the recent bounces off of their sell-off lows I think it is fair to say that we are not out of the woods yet in the volatility we have seen as of late. If you are a long-term investor, this will pass at some point in time. For experienced traders this is an environment where money can be made both on the long and short side of the markets. That said, I always recommend consulting your certified professional financial advisor(s) before making any moves in the backdrop we currently find ourselves.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

Volatility Hits The Markets - Paula Mahfouz

The 200-Day Recaptured!

On the last trading day of January, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) and the S&P 500 (see chart here) recaptured and closed above their 200-day moving averages. Why is this important to note? The 200-day moving average of any index or stock for historically acts as significant support in an uptrend and in a downtrend can act resistance. Since the first half of the new year both of these indexes have sold off to the extent of breaching their 200-day moving averages. This can also be said for the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here). What’s different right now amongst these key indexes is that the Nasdaq and Russell (see chart below) remain below their respective 200-day with some work to do. Let’s see if these two bellwethers can catch up to the Dow and S&P 500.

Headwinds do remain in the economy including inflation and now the backdrop of an upcoming rising interest rate environment. I think if the Federal Reserve manages their interest rate hikes in a methodical manner and communicates effectively to the street of their intentions, I don’t think the markets will be disrupted too much. Of course, geopolitical events such as the potential of Russia invading Ukraine and North Korea engaging once again in missile tests, these dynamics depending how they play out could impact the markets in the near term and the downtrend we witnessed last month could resume. Hopefully both geopolitical events turn out to be no more than a threat vs a reality.

Notwithstanding the above, I do see some hope with the pandemic numbers as of late. It does appear the spike in infections due to the omicron variant seem to have peaked which is great news for our country and the world for that matter. Hopefully soon there could be some semblance of normality which could be the catalyst for the recent downtrend in the markets to reverse its course as well.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

The 200-Day Recaptured! - Paula Mahfouz

 

 

 

 

Record After Record!

The U.S. stock market notched record after record in 2021! What a year for all asset classes from stocks, to real estate, to the crypto markets!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) finished 2021 up 18.7%. The S&P 500 (see chart here) closed the year out up a whopping 27%. The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) closed up 21.5% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) closed 2021 up 13.7%. How counterintuitive are these results as our country and the world for that matter continues to face and deal with Covid-19. Covid is now entering its 3rd year with the latest variant taking the world by storm. The omicron variant are causing infection rates to soar. However, scientists are hopeful that this variant could be the catalyst to ending this pandemic due to how less virulent this variant is at least to the fully vaccinated. It’s still early but the way omicron has now seemingly and abruptly reversed its course in South Africa, there is hope that this will be the case everywhere else.

Back to the markets. As we enter 2022 the big question and maybe the only question the markets have is how aggressive will the Federal Reserve be in hiking interest rates. No question in the new year interest rates will begin to head north. Inflation is soaring and impacting almost everything, which is part of the reason why we are seeing all-time highs across the board. This is not sustainable and with interest rates on the verge of increasing, stocks will face their first true test as the tightening rolls out. That said and because the pandemic is still wreaking havoc, I do not expect the Fed will be too aggressive out of the gate.

Let’s look at the technical shape of the aforementioned indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is comfortably trading above its 100 and 200-day moving averages as is the S&P 500 (see chart here) and the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here). The small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) is trading at it 100 and 200 day MA so let’s see if these support lines hold for the Russell. The other technical indicator that I prefer is the relative strength index aka the RSI and none of the aforementioned indexes are in overbought territory according to the RSI. The 70 value level of the RSI is considered overbought and the 30 value level is considered oversold and each index is trading right around the middle of that range.

Happy New Year!

~George

Record After Record! - Paula Mahfouz