Record Highs Again!

Record highs were hit again this week as both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) and the S&P 500 (see chart here) continue to plow ahead. However, not the same can be said for the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here). Both of these indexes have lagged behind the Dow and S&P torrid pace.

As with technology and small-cap stocks, when interest rates begin to move up these sectors begin to take notice. The 10-year treasury yield is one of the go to benchmarks that professional money managers key in on. This week the 10-year yield touched a one year high of 1.77% (see chart here). It’s easy to look at that yield and think that this yield is not that high at all. However, when you realize that just last summer the yield on these bills were at 1/2 of 1 percent, the move up to 1.77% does stand out. This sharp move from off the lows of 2020 is what has caught the eye of professional money managers that value high growth companies. It is clear that a full rotation out of high multiple stocks has not occurred yet, but higher interest rates and the threat of the continuation of higher interest rates seem to be the reason why the Nasdaq Composite (see chart below) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) have lagged.

Now that the first quarter of 2021 has ended, Q1 earnings reporting season is on the horizon. I am not sure what to expect out of corporate America pertaining to top or bottom line growth. We find ourselves at what appears to be the start of coming out of the pandemic with some degree of normalcy. I would not be surprised if corporate America is bullish on their quarterly conference calls and speak directly to the early results of the vaccine deployment and the change that they are seeing in their customers behavior and spirits.

Good luck to all -)

~George

Record Highs Again! - Paula Mahfouz

 

 

 

 

 

Does It Feel A Bit Bubbly?

Do the markets feel a bit bubbly to you? This question is beginning to surface more frequently lately and I think it’s a great question to be asking. The majority of asset classes seemingly have gone straight up without pause over the past several months. Whether it’s the stock market as a whole, the crypto space or one of the hottest trends lately are SPAC’s. What is a SPAC? A SPAC is a special purpose acquisition vehicle that is publicly traded but has no assets other than cash. These vehicles are specifically designed to form as a public company, raise capital and then seek out companies to acquire. For example the electric vehicle space has been one of the favorite sectors for SPAC’s to target over the past year. This is a much easier pathway for private companies to go public without having to go through the time and expense of a traditional IPO.

One of the problems that is happening with the SPAC trade is once they identify a target and move to acquire it, the valuations of these SPAC’s begin to rise steadily into the nosebleed section of the markets. So much speculation is occurring with these SPAC’s institutional and retail investors are willing to pay essentially any price to get on board. Let’s not forget about the day traders that add fuel to the rise in these SPAC’s. So between all of the above and now with interest rates starting to tick up, it’s now wonder we have witnessed over a 1000 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) to close out last week. Now let’s look at the technical shape of the major averages.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart below), the S&P 500 (see chart here), the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) over the past few trading sessions have all dropped below their respective 20-day moving averages and are finding support at their 50-day. Let’s see if these key indices can hold their 50-day moving average support zone this week. If they can the uptrend could very well remain intact, if not, we could see late last weeks selling pressure continue.

Good luck to all ๐Ÿ™‚

~George

Does It Feel Bubbly? - Paula Mahfouz

Stocks Have Gone Wild!

Stocks have gone wild since the election with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) breaking the 30000 level for the first time ever last week! This morning the S&P 500 (see chart here) hit its all time high trading above 3660. The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is also trading at its all time high and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) has also recently hit an all time high.

So why all of this love for stocks while we are in such a tumultuous time? I think it is safe to say that the Federal Reserve continues to play a major role in this never ending rally. Essentially zero percent interest rates, massive stimulus packages along with asset purchases remains the top catalysts for these record setting ways. The ironic part of disasters and catastrophes is the willingness and capabilities of central banks to step in to offset the negative economic impact of such catastrophes. COVID-19 has shocked the world and has lead to widespread unemployment, while devastating businesses and industries alike. Never before have we seen such widespread effects on life as we know it. The good news now is there is light at the end of the tunnel. The recent news on the advancements with vaccines and their effectiveness is very encouraging. Some pundits are now saying we could be at herd immunity by the summer of 2021. Let’s hope this is the case.

Now this is where things can get tricky for the markets. As the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter, what happens when the Federal Reserve begins to change its stance on accommodative policies? The Fed backstop will not last forever. The risk here is that when the Federal Reserve signals a change in direction, it is then that the markets will become more tethered to actual corporate earnings power. So if you stay long this market or if you are adding on new positions, it would be a good idea to make sure you are invested in companies and sectors that have earnings power and continuing growth prospects.

Good luck to all ๐Ÿ™‚

~George

The 200-Day Moving Average Holds!

The 200-day moving average held its ground despite the constant tape bombs and tweets that continues to come out of Washington. It is no secret that stocks have been on a wild ride over the past few weeks from making all-time highs to rip roaring selloffs. The continuation of tariff threats out of Washington has been a huge catalyst for the increase in volatility in stocks. That said, with all of the madness that is swirling around the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here), the S&P 500 (see chart here) and the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) have all managed to stay above their respective 200-day moving averages. This key technical support line has held true to form during these market selloffs. The small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) has not been as fortunate and could not hold its 200-day.

So in addition to the Washington D.C. threats of additional tariffs, the markets also had to deal with the dreaded 10-year and 2-year yield curve inverting. Whenever longer term interest rates fall below shorter term interest rates in the bond market that historically is a signal that a recession might be looming. Now there is a meaningful lag here whenever we see the yield curve inverting, so as long as the curve flattens out and returns to a normalized dynamic, we should escape the threat. However, if the yield curve remains inverted for an extended period of time then we could be in for something else.

Let’s get back to the technical shape of the markets. As mentioned, three of the four major averages held above their respective 200-day moving average support line which is a good thing technically. What also helped is during these meaningful selloffs is that the markets did go into oversold territory and technically bounced. Let’s see how the next couple of weeks shape up as we wind down the dog days of summer.

Good luck to all ๐Ÿ™‚

~George

Fed Rate Cuts Back In Play?

The question over the past week or so is whether or not Fed rate cuts are back in play? The May jobs numbers were way below expectations with the economy only adding 75,000 jobs. This is a far cry from the 180,000 that economists were expecting in the month of May. As intuitive as it seems a weak jobs report should equal a continuing sell-off in the markets. Not the case in the first half of the month for stocks. In fact the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here), the S&P 500 (see chart here), the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) all have rallied sharply so far this month. So how is it that stocks are rallying with a slowing job market? Two out of the past four months the jobs number has come in below 100,000. This is giving hope to the markets that the Federal Reserve may actually start cutting interest rates as opposed to raising them and this is why the markets are rallying. Lower interest rates has been a boon for stocks for the past decade and if the Fed starts lowering rates again, we could see all-time highs again.

What’s more is the technical shape of the aforementioned key indexes. As stocks have rallied this month, 3 out of the 4 major averages have blown through their moving averages which can provide resistance point if a stock or index is trading below their respective averages. Since the June rally began, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (click here for chart) recaptured it’s 200-day, 100-day and 20-day moving averages as did the S&P 500 ( click here for chart) and the Nasdaq Composite (click here for chart). However the small-cap Russell 2000 (click here for chart) has run into its 100 and 200 day moving averages and has found resistance at these key pivot points.

Let’s see how the rest of June goes and see if this past weeks consolidation will offer yet another leg up in the markets. Good luck to all ๐Ÿ™‚

~George

Russell 2000 - George Mahfouz Jr

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.ย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

~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.ย  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.ย  Good luck to all ๐Ÿ™‚

~George

Dow Jones Industrial Average - George Mahfouz Jr

Historically A Strong Month For Stocks…

December is historically a strong month for the stock market. Many factors play into the last month of the year being a positive one including holiday bonuses, the general overall feeling of optimism and typically lighter volumes due to the holiday season. How we finish out this year will largely hinge on the results of this weekend’s G20 summit. Early indications are that the trade talks and other collaborative measures are going well. As the major averages enter into the last month of the year, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (click here for chart) finds itself at 25,538, the S&P 500 (chart) closed out the month of November at the 2,760 level, the Nasdaq Composite (chart) finished at 7,330 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished November at 1,533. On the year, the major averages are barely in the green with the small-cap Russell 2000 actually a tad in the red.

Stocks this past week did get a boost from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell when Chairman Powell spoke at the Economic Club of New York. Chairman Powell stated that the Fed’s benchmark interest rate was now “just below” the neutral level. This sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart below) soaring over 600 points on Wednesday. Chairman Powell’s comments are being viewed by the street that the Federal Reserve just might be done raising interest rates for the foreseeable future. Now if we can get some concrete positive news and developments out of the G20 summit which is being held in Buenos Aires, then indeed we could be setting up for a year-end rally.

Let’s take a look at the moving averages technical set-up of the aforementioned key indexes starting with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart). At Friday’s close, the Dow is trading above its 200-day moving average by about 400 points while the S&P 500 (chart) closed right at its 200-day. Both the Nasdaq Composite (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) are trading below their respective 200-day moving averages but they have recently cleared and are trading above their 20-day moving averages.ย So technically speaking things do not look too shabby. Let’s see if we can have a rally into year-end.

Good luck to all ๐Ÿ™‚

~George

Dow Jones Industrial Average - George Mahfouz Jr

Tariffs and Interest Rates…

Tariffs and interest rates are at front and center. Now that Q3 earnings reporting season is winding down, without question the two remaining catalysts for these markets between now and year-end areย  tariffs and interest rates. It’s been a long time since we have seen the swings that are going on right now in the stock market. Investor’s and trader’s alike are attached to every headline or tweet pertaining to the current trade war between China and the U.S. and whether or not the Federal Reserve will take its foot off of the pedal. The growing tensions between China and the U.S. regarding tariffs did abate late Friday when President Trump tweeted that China does want to make a deal. This was enough to rally the markets on Friday afternoon, but not enough to get the the key indexes out of the red on the week. On the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed at 25,413, the S&P 500 (chart) closed at 2,736, the Nasdaq Composite (chart) closed at 7,248 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) finished the week out at 1,527.

With the aforementioned looming catalysts on the horizon the big question is will we get a year end rally? My feelings are we may only need one of these catalysts to come through for a potential year-end rally. If China and the U.S. can agree upon more favorable terms to the imposed existing tariffs and/or actually withdraw some of the existing tariffs, we may have a shot. Not to say interest rates aren’t important, but relatively speaking interest rates still remain historically low. Even if the Federal Reserve raises rates in December, I still think that a China U.S. deal would be enough for a rally as we close out 2018. The G20 summit is just two weeks away and let’s hope some sort of deal can come forward out of the summit. Good luck to all ๐Ÿ™‚

~George

Russell 2000 - 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 Averageย (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 shouldย  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! ๐Ÿ™‚

~George

Dow Jones Transports - George Mahfouz Jr