Is More Volatility Ahead?

The month of August proved to be one of the more volatile months so far this year. The question now is will this volatility continue here in September? As long as the turbulent tweets continue out of Washington, I bet the vol we witnessed in August will indeed continue this month. Markets hate uncertainty and as long as our President continues to flip flop seemingly daily and then tweet about it, we could very well be in for more vol. It’s not rocket science, when the tweets are positive and have consistency, stocks go green. Then when the flip flopping occurs they go red. It is amazing to me how stocks react to every single tweet or flip out of Washington. Sure there are algorithms that are programmed to react to headlines, but because of the constant noise out of Washington it’s no wonder we have been whipsawing around.

I always try to tune out the noise and focus on the fundamentals and technical shape of the markets. Let’s take a look at the current price to earnings ratio (click here) of the S&P 500. The S&P 500 (see chart here) price to earnings ratio continues to trade above historic norms. Despite all of the current uncertainties especially with the trade war, stocks on average are still trading above the 20 PE ratio level. The historic price to earnings average for the S&P 500 is somewhere in the mid-teens. So from a fundamental valuation standpoint the markets remain at the upper end of the channel. There are many other valuation metrics and government policies that play into the valuation analysis mix, but purely from a price to earnings ratio, one can ascertain that we remain a bit overpriced.

That said, companies can certainly grow into their current valuations but we definitely need to get the trade war with China resolved so that companies know where they stand. Both Paula and I wish everyone a very happy and safe Labor Day weekend 🙂

~George

 

Trading Between The Lines…

Trading between the lines is how this August is playing out so far. In what is supposed to be a seasonal volatile period, August seemingly has been playing right to the tune of this almost decade long bull market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq Composite (see chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) to my surprise have all traded in a tight range this month. Furthermore, the 20-day moving average and even more so the 50-day moving average have played a major role in supporting the indexes whenever any selling does come in. Now we have had a couple days here in August where it looked like these support lines would be breached and in fact in some instances they were. However, whenever these support lines were touched or breached, buying came right in and placed a floor beneath the selling pressure.

I am not sure how the rest of the month will play out but August at least from a seasonality perspective still has the potential to demonstrate volatility and experience meaningful selling pressure. I really do believe that the bear camp expected to see August as their month, but from the looks of things the bears may have to wait until September or beyond. Corporate earnings for the most part have been topping expectations, the economy is seemingly firing on all cylinders and rising interest rates are not that big of a factor yet to be weighing heavily on stocks.

My plan for the rest of the month is simple. Pay attention to the support and resistance zones of the aforementioned indexes and for that matter any stock that I am considering to trade. Secondly, I need to see the trading volume pick up before any definitive trend can be trusted. The market volume just has not been here this month which is also typical of the dog days of summer. Patience is the keyword between now and month end. That said, I expect after the labor day holiday we will be having a much different conversation. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Russell 2000 - Paula Mahfouz

Did Apple Just Save Tech?

Tech stocks have been battered lately but as in the past Apple just might of saved tech stocks, at least for the time being. After the close, Apple reported an astonishing $53 billion in revenues growing at a 17% clip. What’s more is Apple’s profits rose more than 30% coming in at a whopping $11.5 billion in profits. I thought there is a thing called the law of large numbers? Apparently not at Apple! People don’t realize how hard it is to grow a company of this size in the way Apple continues to grow. Year after year, quarter after quarter, simply amazing. The question now becomes is yesterday’s earnings beat by Apple enough to put a floor in tech stocks. Technology stocks have been taken out to the woodshed as of late with seemingly no end in sight, until yesterday. What I will be looking for today and for the rest of the week is whether or not companies continue get sold off after their earnings release which has been the trend this particular earnings reporting season.

In my last blog I eluded to the possibility of a breakout of the S&P 500 (chart) or a triple top fade in the index.  Quite honestly neither really happened, at least not yet. The S&P 500 (see chart below) essentially has been trading in a range between 2800 and 2850. Earnings reporting season has yet to be the catalyst for such a breakout or breakdown for that matter. Triple tops are very powerful to the technical set-up on any given index or stock for that matter. Apple’s earnings could very well be the catalyst for the markets to once again challenge the current triple top formation. Now that we are in August I do think we will get that answer soon enough. I do expect volatility to pick up a bit here in August which is not uncommon for this time of year. The SPY’s (chart) which tracks the S&P 500 (chart) has demonstrated support at its 20-day moving average which is essentially $279.50 and the overhead resistance is essentially the $285.00 zone. Let’s see if the S&P can break away from either line. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

S&P 500 - George Mahfouz Jr.

Dow 22,000 In Sight…

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed the month of July at a record high and came within 70 points of the 22,000 mark. Just a few short months ago that the Dow surpassed the 21,000 milestone. What an incredible run in such a short period of time! Not only is the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) notching new record highs almost daily, the Nasdaq (chart) last Thursday posted a new record at 6460, as did the S&P 500 (chart) setting a new record of 2484. Last but not least, the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) also set a new record last week of 1452. However, both the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) have reversed their upward trajectory over the last few trading sessions in a noticeable manner. Let’s keep an eye on this development.

I think it is safe to say that Q2 earnings reporting season has helped fuel the Dow Jones to new record highs as well as the S&P 500. Tech stocks have been reporting a mixed bag so far this earnings reporting season which is why that index has started to abate a bit. All eyes today are on Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL) which report their earnings results after the close. This could be the one stock that either reverses the latest mini-downward trend in the Nasdaq or for that matter, accelerate it. As I look to the technical shape of the the aforementioned indexes, only the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) is on overbought territory, while the S&P 500 (chart), Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) have begun their reversion to the mean and are all approaching the 50 value level of the relative strength index.

Game plan for August? Personally, I think it is time to reduce long exposure to equities due in part to this startling run stocks have had all year long. This coupled with the month of August being an historically weak month for equities could create the perfect set up for the much anticipated market correction that the bears have been waiting on. That said, I have to remind myself that there has been no such thing as typical in these markets for we have been in unchartered territory for a long period of time. One final note, it is always recommended to consult with a certified financial planner before making any adjustments to your portfolio.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George