One Hot June!

One hot June indeed and I do not mean the weather folks! Stocks and commodities went on a tear in the month of June logging the best June in decades for some of the indexes and other asset classes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) soared over seven percent last month. The S&P 500 (see chart below) hit an all time high in the month of June while both the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) notched impressive gains as well. What’s more is both oil and gold surged right along side of the key indexes.

So why the rally? I think the answer is simply an easier monetary posture by the Federal Reserve. It is no secret that inflation is well in check and it is also becoming apparent that the U.S. job market is cooling off. Another factor for the Fed to consider is what impact would a full blown trade war with China do to the U.S. economy? This is why in my opinion we are seeing a continuing upward trend in our markets and that is a dovish Fed is usually very good for stocks. One other factor that will certainly weigh in is the upcoming earnings reporting season. Now that the second quarter of the year is in the books we will see how well corporate America did in Q2 as earnings reporting season gets underway this month. I will continue to look to monitor how “top-line” growth is faring.

Let’s take a quick look at the technical shape of the key indexes. After surging over 7% in June, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) remains clearly above its 20-day, 100-day and 200-day moving averages as does the S&P 500 (see chart here). The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is in a healthy technical condition and last but not least, the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) has broken above its key moving averages. This is a very good sign for stocks and furthermore none of indices are in overbought territory according to the principles of the RSI also known as the relative strength index.

Both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and Happy 4th of July holiday 🙂

~George

S&P 500 - Paula Mahfouz

 

 

 

 

A Market Selloff That Just Did Not Happen…

As summer ended where was the market selloff? Instead of conforming to what historically are the weaker months of the year whereas stocks at the very least should of paused with lighter volumes, the major averages hit all time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq Composite (chart), the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) and even the Dow Jones Transportation Average (see chart below) all hit record highs in the third quarter. In fact the broad based S&P 500 (chart) turned in its best quarterly performance in five years. In my previous blog, I spoke to how traders and investors alike are awaiting a September selloff but seemingly nothing can stop this perma-bull market! Not trade wars, not interest rates, not the threat of inflation, not the daily chaos out of Washington, not historic seasonality, I mean nothing has stopped this bull market. Without a doubt this has been a close your eyes and a “go long” market. If you just did that over the past decade, you would of been part of 100% plus gains and whoever did do that, congratulations!

So now begs the question of what now? What now is fourth quarter earnings reporting season and oh yes the mid-term elections! October will not only be loaded with corporate earnings reports but there is also this little event call mid-term elections. I think it is safe to say that at the very least volatility should  rear its head up. As the summer trading months were unfolding vol went back to its “low vol” standard as we have witnessed for past decade. There is just no fear in the markets. The volatility index aka the VIX (chart) is a measure of investor fear and in this case, lack thereof. I have got to believe that volatility will increase as we head into earnings reporting season and especially as we approach mid-term elections. Good luck to all! 🙂

~George

Dow Jones Transports - George Mahfouz Jr

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. 🙂

~George

Dow Jones chart Paula MahfouzRussell 2000 post george mahfouz jr