Dow, Nasdaq And S&P All At Record Highs!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here), the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the S&P 500 (see chart here) are all at record highs. Stocks continue to be on a tear with 3 of the 4 major indexes closing at all time highs on Friday. What’s more the S&P 500 (see chart here) closed above the 3000 mark for the first time ever. The one index that still has work to do before making a new high is the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below). I am not exactly sure why the Russell is lagging behind the big boys but if the Russell 2000 gets going then who knows how many more records will fall.

That said, for the first time in a while the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 have both entered into overbought territory which is above the 70 value level of relative strength index also know as the RSI. The Nasdaq Composite is fast approaching overbought conditions as well. The Russell 2000 is no where near overbought. I do expect a bit of a pullback in the coming weeks which would be rather healthy for stocks after such a strong performance. I have never been a fan of buying into record highs although momentum traders would disagree. Another factor to consider is we are heading right into second quarter earnings reporting season. Earnings reporting season could be a catalyst to pause the summer rally especially with the percentage of companies issuing warnings so far (click here)

The tariffs that our administration have imposed is expected to have a negative effect on the top and bottom lines of many U.S. companies. What I will be looking for is how much of an affect these tariffs are having on corporate America. The other side of the coin is if tariffs weigh heavier than what is anticipated, this could be yet another reason for the Federal Reserve to move to cutting interest rates which is the real reason I think we are hitting all time highs. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Russell 2000 - Paula Mahfouz

 

 

Strong Economy Equals A Strong Stock Market!

The economy posted a 3.2% gain in the first quarter and as the saying goes, a strong economy equals a strong stock market! Is it any wonder as to why the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) hit an all-time high on Monday! The same rings true with the S&P 500 (see chart below). The S&P 500 hit an all-time high on Monday as well. Now the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) has a bit more work to do in order to tap its own record as does the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here). However, I am sure the bulls will take 2 out of the 4 major averages setting all time highs. What is also helping the stock market is how the Federal Reserve has taken a cautious approach to raising rates any further. In fact, there are calls out of Washington DC asking the Fed to start lowering rates to stimulate the economy even further. Now I am not so sure that the Fed will accommodate Washington’s request, but I do think it is safe to say that we should not see a rate hike in the near future or maybe not at all for the rest of this year.

One note of caution to me is that with nearly half of corporate America reporting their Q1 earnings so far, we are seeing on average a year over year decline in earnings. There are still 100’s of companies set to report over the coming weeks but if this trend continues, this will be the first year over year decline in corporate earnings in years. I will be keeping an eye on this development.

The technical shape of the aforementioned indexes remain intact. The Dow, Nasdaq, S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 all are trading above their respective key moving averages. However, both the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the S&P 500 (see chart here) have entered into overbought territory according to the relative strength index also know as the RSI. That said, I would not be surprised to see at the very least some consolidation or an outright healthy pullback. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

S&P 500 - Paula Mahfouz

Earnings And The Fed!

Stocks took off this week and we can blame earnings and the Fed! Now that we are fully into earnings reporting season the investors so far have liked what they see. Couple that with the Federal Reserve coming out on Wednesday stating that the central bank is “changing its tune” on interest rates, and you have a one-two bull market punch. Also on Wednesday, Fed Chairman Powell stated “the case for raising rates has weakened somewhat” and that the Federal Reserve will be more patient toward further rate hikes. Stocks rallied hard on the Fed’s new position along with stronger than expected earnings reports that are coming in from corporate America. For the month of January, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is up over 2000 points, the S&P 500 (see chart below) is also up over 200 points, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is up 800 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) closed out the month of January up 175 points. January 2019 has been one of the best performing months in years.

Let’s take a look at the technical shape of the markets from a moving averages perspective. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) has just broken through its 200-day moving average, while the S&P 500 (chart) and the Nasdaq Composite (chart) are both sitting on its 100-day moving average and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart)is not too far behind. There are still plenty of earnings reports that will be released over the next few weeks and to me this is the remaining catalyst that could drive stocks higher here in the short term. Let’s keep in mind there are still other catalysts on the horizon that could put the brakes on this most recent rally with the government having yet another deadline to reach a deal on border security and of course the looming tariff deal with China. If one or both of these deals do not get done, I think we will be having a different conversation in March. Until then, let’s enjoy the current wave of positive news and market action and then see what kind of adjustments that would possibly need to be made. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

S & P 500 - Paula Mahfouz

 

What Bear Market?

The major averages in December entered into bear market territory and seemingly was heading even lower. But lo and behold and fast forward to today and we see that the key indices have all come roaring back.  The definition of a “bear market” is when a stock or an index goes down 20% or more from its highs and that was definitely the case in the second half of 2018. The Dow Jones Industrial (see chart here) is now back over 24,000 after dropping below 22,000 in December, the S&P 500 (see chart here) is back over 2,600 after dropping below 2,400, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is now over 7,100 after hitting a low of 6,190 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) it trading above 1,400 after hitting a low in December of 1,267.

The sharp V shaped bounce back in such a short period of time is very impressive. I do not think anyone expected such a sharp rebound in just a month. This surprise move is also happening despite the ever increasing chaos and turmoil out of Washington DC. Is it me or has it gotten to the point of utter disgust with what is happening to our country. I am not much of a political advocate in either direction but the narcissism and antics coming out of DC is unbelievable. What’s more is that they are using the government shutdown as the pawn to get their way, again unbelievable.

Ok enough of that and back to the markets. We are now heading straight into earnings reporting season and to me this without a doubt will be a significant catalyst as to whether or not stocks will continue to rise or pause. Of course any type of meaningful progress with the trade war and China could also play a major role. The Federal Reserve has been more vocal with interest rates and indicating that they are more apt to more of a wait and see approach as to any additional rate hikes in near term. There is a lot at hand here which should determine whether or not this bounce back rally will continue. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Tech Stocks Under Fire!

Despite a modest rebound on Friday tech stocks remain under fire. From Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) to Tesla (NasdaqGS: TSLA) and now even Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN) are all under pressure for a variety of reasons. This is spilling over into the overall tech sector (see chart below) and even into the overall marketplace. Facebook is facing significant scrutiny regarding user privacy while Tesla continues to trip up with deliveries and debt issues and now even Amazon is under pressure due to President Trump’s direct attack on the online retailer’s sales tax structure. This was enough to send the major averages down to close out the quarter at or in negative territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) finished Q1at 24103, the S&P 500 (chart) closed the quarter at 2640, the Nasdaq Composite (chart) closed at 7063 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished the first quarter of the year at 1529.

What was also obvious in Q1 was how volatility came back to life. For years the market was in a lullaby state melting up and setting record after record. Well the first quarter has swiftly reminded us on how markets can and should behave. Investors that placed money into mutual funds or passive funds over the past several years made out like a bandit with not a worry in the world. Abnormal stock market gains were in vogue especially after the election. Now with rising interest rates, the Federal Reserve reducing its debt load and the daily drama out of Washington DC, I think it is safe to say the melt up mode and daily records being set are in the rear view mirror. That said, market corrections are very normal and healthy and so is volatility at least for traders that is 🙂

Looking ahead and with earnings reporting season right around the corner, let’s see how corporate America fared in the first quarter of the year. This could be the catalyst that calms things down a bit but in the same breath should there be any slippage in earnings growth, we could be in for more even more volatility. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Nasdaq - george mahfouz jr

Dow 24,000 – Bitcoin $10,000 – Why Not?

Is this really happening? Stocks exploded to the upside on the last trading day of November. For the first time in its history, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart below) traded, blew through and closed above the 24,000 mark. The Dow started the year just under 20,000 and no one and I mean no one in the who’s who of finance, analysis, technical analysis, hedge funds, institutional investors and the like, ever predicted this type of performance for stocks and the key indices on the year. I cannot even count the number of record highs that have occurred this year not only in the Dow Jones Industrials, but also the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq composite (chart), and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart). Let’s throw in Bitcoin and its year to date 10X performance and we are truly in party mode.

I am not even sure what to think? This eerily feels like the irrational exuberance environment that occurred in the mid to late 90’s and before the internet bubble imploded. However the bullish pundits are quick to point out that this time is different. Back then, whoever came out with an announcement that they just launched a website saw their stock go up. Now the pundits are pointing out that it is earnings and growth that are responsible for this torrid record setting pace we have been on all year long. This is true to some degree. But what about the euphoria in Bitcoin? What is the catalyst that has propelled this so call asset to fly up over 10 times this year? This is why the other side of the camp thinks we are approaching a bubble or at the very least nose bleed territory. Without question I feel that something is going on that makes one have to pause and take a breather here. But as we have seen all year long, don’t underestimate the power of momentum, a low interest rate environment and the Trump trade. Is it possible that the Dow Jones Industrials actually could close above 25,000 by year end? As much as I want to say and think “no way”, way! Not saying the Dow will go up another 800 points by year end, but if we do, I would not be at the very least surprised.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Dow Jones Industrial Average - George Mahfouz Jr

Big Time For Big Tech!

Large cap tech stocks have taken center stage this earnings reporting season big time! Absolute blowout earnings reports came in from Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN), the parent company of Google, Alphabet (NasdaqGS: GOOGL) and the elders of the group Intel Corp (NasdaqGS: INTC) and Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT). These tech titans are the latest reason for the Nasdaq (chart) and S&P 500 (chart) to reach and close at record highs yet again. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) are also within striking distance of their all times highs. Market observers have attributed the strength in stocks this year to a continuing low interest rate environment and the upcoming new tax policy from the Trump administration. This I get, however, no one can deny the growth that is happening in the tech world as well as other sectors of the economy.

The one note of caution I have here is the exuberant environment we find ourselves in with record highs happening weekly and in some instances daily. Yes earnings reporting season so far has been stellar but let’s not forget that we have not seen price to earnings ratios this elevated in quite some time. The question that now comes to mind are the markets and the aforementioned stocks finally at fair value? Especially as the p/e’s increase and as we approach a much higher interest rate environment over the next two years. We have been in such an accommodative monetary state for almost a decade which without a doubt has been the catalyst for equities and indexes and now the federal reserve here in the U.S. is reversing course. One of the groups that get the most affected in a higher interest rate environment are growths stocks like the aforementioned tech titans.

I am not suggesting that these stocks will not continue their upward trajectory, but I am making note and will be paying closer attention to the overall price to earnings ratios of the indexes and of high growth stocks in general as p/e’s continue to elevate. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

No Fear Here…

Despite North Korea launching its seventh missile test of the year on Sunday and the White House seemingly in an upheaval, stocks continue to demonstrate no fear and continue their record setting ways. Today the S&P 500 (chart) and the Nasdaq (chart) hit all time highs. Without question this bull market is now even catching wall street veterans off guard. Q1 earnings reporting season is close to wrapping up and other than retail, most companies have reported in-line or outright beats in their earnings results, especially the tech sector. Tech has been on fire lately and this is due in large part of mega-cap tech smashing analysts expectations. Earnings results from companies such as Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL), Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN), Alphabet (NasdaqGS: GOOGL) and Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) has propelled the Nasdaq (chart) and these particular issues to all-time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) and the Russell 2000 (chart) remain in striking distance of setting new records as well. It is truly remarkable how the markets have been able to weather the current political environment here in the U.S. and the geopolitical risks abroad.

From a technical perspective, the aforementioned key indices are in pretty good shape. The Nasdaq (chart) is the only one of the four that remains in overbought territory according to the relative strength index. All of these averages also remain above their respective 50-day and 200-day moving averages, yet another bullish sign. Volatility also remains at historic lows. So one may ask what about the “sell in May and go away” adage? From a technical standpoint, I do not see any reason why these markets won’t continue to melt up from here. Of course there is always the risk of a geopolitical event or the actual seasonal risk of assets taking a pause or retracing a bit. That said and whatever the case may be, it is undeniable that the markets have been the most resilient in years, if ever.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Markets Cheer Fed Rate Hike!

As expected, the Federal Reserve raised short term interest rates by one quarter point and indicated that they will keep raising rates throughout the year albeit gradually. I do think what helped the markets yesterday was the language of only two more rate hikes this year. The economic data coming out so far is stronger than expected including the February jobs report which confirmed how the job market is continuing to expand and this had some pundits thinking three more rate hikes were in the cards for 2017, not just two. Markets rallied once again on the news and quite frankly the market is seemingly rallying on anything that hits the tape. That said, the Federal Reserve is doing a masterful job with how it is handling the change of guard so to speak from accommodation to raising rates and how they are communicating each message.

So what does this mean to the markets going forward? I gotta tell you as much as I have been expecting volatility to increase, my expectations now are as long as the Fed remains in its current position, volatility may just stay in hibernation until further notice. I have not seen a market to where vol has been and remains this low. As I write this blog the CBOE Market Volatility Index also know as the VIX remains historically low and even when there is pressure on stocks, the VIX does not move very much, just look at the chart below.

Taking a look at the four major indices, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) all are within striking distance of their record highs. The question now becomes will valuations be able to support the continuation of this bull market or will this be the catalyst to bring pause into this historic bull run. We won’t have to wait too much longer as the first quarter of 2017 winds down and companies prepare to report their earnings results beginning in April. Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and Happy St. Patrick’s Day 🙂

~George

VIX chart - Paula Mahfouz