Happy New Year And New Decade!

Happy New Year and New Decade! However, I am not so sure investors want to say goodbye to 2019. What a year for stocks and the major averages. In 2019 the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) gained 22%, the S&P 500 (see chart here) soared almost 30% on the year, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) was the best performing major average up 35% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) closed 2019 up almost 24%. This is the best annual performance for these key indexes in years. As far as the decade goes, the major averages also soared gaining almost 300%. Not a typo folks the markets almost tripled in value over the past decade.

So as we enter the new year the question now becomes what now? Well it is hard to imagine that we will see a similar result in 2020. Not that I am bearish at all but I do expect some higher than normal volatility throughout 2020. Geopolitic tensions have started to ramp up a bit and in Washington the focus and attention will be on the Senate impeachment trial. As much as the Republicans control the Senate, there is no guarantee that bombshells won’t come out of the trial. This especially rings true if the House Democrats gets witnesses to the stand. We cannot predict what may come out of this trial and I got to believe at times it won’t be pretty. Also, the month of January can be volatile just from the standpoint of how much the markets gained in 2019. I am pretty confident that we will see some institutional and other managed funds book gains here in January.

One other consideration is how the markets as a whole became overbought as 2019 came to an end. All of the aforementioned indexes went into overbought conditions in December according to the relative strength index (RSI). Although there was a brief retreat from the overbought 80 value levels of the RSI, we still remain near the upper end of the charts and I would not be surprised to see some selling pressure here in the month of January.

Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Well if you have been long the markets and with the way stocks closed out 2018, it wasn’t so happy for the bull camp. However, a new year means new beginnings :-). Let’s do take a gander to see how the major averages fared in 2018. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ( click here or see chart below) finished the year down 5.6%, the S&P 500 (chart) closed the year down 6.2%, the Nasdaq Composite (chart) closed down 4% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed 2018 down 12%. This is the worst performing year for stocks in a decade.

So what happened? In my view and simply put how can stocks go up in a straight line for over a decade without a correction? That’s right, stocks essentially have gone up for over 10 years’ without a healthy 20% correction. So when the markets finally had a real correction which is what occurred in the 4th quarter, it felt like the sky was falling. No question the Federal Reserve and rising interest rates have played a role in the market correction, however, let’s keep this in mind a 2-2.5% Fed funds rate is still historically low. What wasn’t normal over the past decade was a 0 percent interest rate policy and no market volatility. Everyone got spoiled with such an accommodative policy and market environment.

Another factor playing into the mix of the Q4 market correction is without question the trade war and tariffs that our President has ignited. This to me is even more of an issue to our economy than rising interest rates lifting to a normalized level. Not only is the trade war and its ramifications playing a role, but the inconsistency and chaos out of Washington are wreaking havoc on the markets.¬† No doubt in my mind that investors and Wall street are falling out of love with how our country is being governed, especially over Twitter. This is all fixable, we will just have to wait and see if the ego’s and the political agendas on both sides of the aisle can get the confidence back in our marketplace. Paula and I wish everyone the happiest and most prosperous 2019.¬† Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

Dow Jones Industrial Average - George Mahfouz Jr

New Year, New Records?

Happy New Year! Will 2018 be a new year of new records? Nothing would surprise me. Especially as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) shattered record after record after record in 2017. In fact the Dow Jones Industrial Average set 70 record closing highs in 2017. That’s not a typo folks, 70 record closing highs. The other aforementioned key indices also set multiple record highs throughout last year. So could we see a repeat performance in 2018? I don’t know about another 70 record highs this year but I would not be surprised to see continuing strength in the markets in 2018. Yes the Federal Reserve is now in a rate hike mode which typically does not bode well for stocks, but this Fed and central banks from around the world understand the need to go about their new rate hike policies in a gradual manner. Raising rates too aggressively could be the exact catalyst to put the brakes on this almost decade long bull market. I don’t think this will be the case at least with our own Federal Reserve. Jerome Powell will be replacing Janet Yellen in early February as our new Federal Reserve Chairman. Mr. Powell who has been a member of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors since 2012 has voted for keeping interest rates at bay while the economy continues to recover.

Speaking of the economy, expansion continues to occur and we will soon find out how our economy is¬† trickling down into corporate America. Fourth quarter earnings reporting season will begin here in January and this could very well serve as a key catalyst for the continuation of the bull market. That said, I think most investors and traders are looking for the markets to pause and pullback from this historic run we continue to be on. It is truly breathtaking to witness the record pace that stocks have enjoyed for years now. Personally, I hope and some point in time we do get a meaningful pullback so we can have the opportunity to step in at lower prices. Good luck to all and Paula and I wish everyone the healthiest and happiest new year! ūüôā

~George

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all and what a year of celebration for the bulls in 2016. The major averages last year notched very impressive gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart below) finished the year up 2,337 points or 13.42%, the tech focused Nasdaq (click here for chart) closed up on the year 376 points or 7.5%, the S&P 500 (click here for chart) closed up 194 points or 9.54% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) finished out 2016 up a whopping 221 points or almost a 20% gain outperforming most benchmarks. This eye-popping rally really¬†kicked into high gear after the stunning upset victory Donald Trump pulled off over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. So that¬†was last year, now let’s take a look at 2017 and what lies ahead.

I begin with the obvious. Markets are certainly overbought and have been since the November 8th election results. Then in December, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time in a year and then added language for an additional rate hike in 2017¬†to bring the total projected rate hikes this year¬†to at least three. Historically a rising interest rate environment puts pressure on equities and in particular the high beta names. Consensus has it that the Fed will move slowly to avoid any¬†shocks to the economy or the markets. However, with Donald Trump’s proposed economic pro-growth policies, debt and inflation should rise. So I am sure the Federal Reserve will be keeping a close eye on how inflation ticks up as 2017 unfolds. Should inflation rise faster than anticipated this too could¬†be a challenge for the Fed and our stock market.

So based on our current market environment it is my view that volatility will not only pick up in January but the recipe described above signals potential elevated volatility¬†throughout the year. We also will begin to hear from corporate America this month¬†as we head into earnings reporting season. I would¬†expect earnings from multi-national companies to be a bit challenged due to the continuing and significant strength that the U.S.¬†dollar has been exhibiting. That said, there will be opportunities abound in this new year but I am preparing to embrace volatility and hedge my positions going forward. In my next blog I will talk about hedging strategies in order to offset the impact of potential increased vol. Until then, both Paula and I wish everyone the happiest and healthiest new year to all. ūüôā

~George

Dow Jones chart Paula MahfouzRussell 2000 post george mahfouz jr

 

Happy New Year!

If 2014 comes anywhere near the performance the overall markets experienced last year, once again the bulls will be popping champagne. For the year 2013, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed up a breathtaking 26.5%, the Nasdaq¬†(chart)¬†finished the year up a staggering 38%, the S&P 500 (chart) booked a spectacular gain of almost 30% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) soared 37%. I think it’s safe to say that an exact repeat of 2013’s performance is highly unlikely, but there is seemingly no reason to believe that this momentum won’t continue into the new year. Even the key indices in Europe had very impressive double digit gains in 2013 with the German DAX index leading the way surging 26% on the year.

With that said, the first thing that pops out to me is that the aforementioned key indices are all now near or completely in overbought territory according to the Relative Strength Index (RSI) technical indicator. We have been monitoring these indexes since October of 2013 to see when they may go into extreme overbought conditions and with the powerful year end close, we now have 3 of the 4 key indexes officially in overbought territory with the Russell 2000 (chart) only a few value points to go. So what does this all mean for the investor or even more so, to the trader? By now all of you know that I personally view the RSI as a reliable technical indicator distinguishing whether an index or stock for that matter is overbought or oversold. In fact, certain computer algorithmic trading models are designed to act whenever extreme conditions occur in a given market or stock. Let’s recap the definition of the Relative Strength Index or the RSI. In the most simplest terms, the¬†RSI¬†is designed to demonstrate whether or not an index or equity is overbought or oversold, depending on certain value levels. According to the¬†RSI¬†principle, the 70 value level or greater, is an overbought condition and the 30 value and below is an oversold condition. And as mentioned the majority of the key indices along with dozens of stocks are now in overbought territory. This doesn’t mean that we will all of a sudden see a dramatic turn in the opposite direction, however, typically when stocks or indexes are in overbought or oversold conditions such as they are now, at some point in time, a change of direction ensues.

The wild card that will most certainly continue to play out is of course the Federal Reserve and what course of action they will take and uphold in 2014. Especially now that the Fed has started to reduce its asset purchases. We all know that the accommodative policies of the Fed over the past few years has placed a floor under these markets and whenever any attempt of a pullback or mini-correction has occurred, that condition has been met with unprecedented support, hence new market highs followed. I would expect as long as the Fed continues to support the bond and mortgage backed securities markets, even at a reduced rate, whatever pullbacks or retracements that do occur, buyers will be anxiously awaiting to add to their positions or open new ones.

I do expect a healthy 5%, 10% or even 15% correction in 2014 and if you have the gumption to go short, this could serve you well. Of course no one knows if or when this correction may take place, however, as highlighted, we are now in overbought territory which could be one of the catalysts to prompt a pullback or even a subtle correction. Should we get this healthy correction, we will be looking into the financial and technology sectors to identify opportunities to capitalize on. Please note this is not a recommendation to go short or long any asset or index, and it is prudent to consult with a certified financial planner(s) before making any investment decisions.

Good luck to all and both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe, prosperous and Happy New Year ūüôā

~George