The Best Quarter For The Major Averages In Decades!

We just witnessed the best quarter in the major averages in decades. Yes folks it is hard to believe that stocks are performing the in way that they are with all things considered. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is trading near the 26,000 level, the S&P 500 (see chart here) is trading this morning at the 3,120 level, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is back over the 10,000 mark and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) is trading in the 1,450 zone.

The strength of stocks in general is one for the ages. I don’t think anyone would of thought that the markets would continue to show this type of resilience especially with the backdrop of our current unemployment picture and with Covid continuing to run rampant. The only logical reason as to why the Dow Jones Industrial average is not sub 20,000, has to be the continuing liquidity that is coming into the markets provided by Federal Reserve and the government stimulus packages that have launched since the crisis began. Of course there are select tech and pharmaceutical companies that are directly benefiting from the new world we find ourselves but I didn’t expect to see such a wide swath of stocks doing well in this current environment.

Now that the 3rd quarter of the year has begun I think all eyes will begin to focus on second quarter earnings results which kicks off next week. What’s even more important in my eyes is the energy, spirit and guidance that comes out of companies during their earnings conference calls. I am expecting companies to either pull their future guidance or lower earnings expectations, we shall see. Another catalyst that I expect to play a role in how the markets will fare here in Q3 is how the Presidential polls continue to unfold. Currently Joe Biden has a double digit lead over Donald Trump. Some pundits are saying that the markets are beginning to price in a Biden win. Candidate Biden has already stated that he will raise the capital gains and corporate taxes should he become President. If this is the case, higher taxes would negatively affect net earnings but this scenario could be offset by other positive geo-political factors should Biden win.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

A Breakout Or A Fake-out?

The major averages seemingly are on the verge of a breakout, or could it be a fake-out? The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) has recaptured the 25000 level. The S&P 500 (see chart here) has recaptured the 3000 level. The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) believe it or not is in striking distance of its all-time high and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) is also setting up for a breakout on its own. It is beyond impressive how the markets have come roaring back since late February. There are certain pundits out there that believe that this is a classic bear market rally however to me it feels like more than that. I have to believe that one of the main reasons why stocks have come roaring back in such a short period of time is the $ trillions of dollars in liquidity that the Federal Reserve and our government has injected into the markets and the economy. In fact, the Federal Reserve has quietly indicated that it is possible that they themselves would buy stocks if needed. Talk about establishing a floor in the stock market!

Another key development in the markets is how strong the technicals look right now. Without a doubt the leadership group of this recent rally is the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here). Tech stocks have benefited the most due to the lockdown. There are more people online than ever before, hence more sales accordingly. Since mid-April, not only has the Nasdaq cleared its 200-day moving average, it also has cleared its 50, 100 and 20-day moving averages. So now the Nasdaq is trading above all of its key moving averages which is bullish. Furthermore, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) the S&P 500 (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 have also broken above some key technical resistance levels. Another technical indicator I look at the relative strength index also known as the RSI. At this point in time the aforementioned indexes are not in overbought territory. The RSI is a momentum indicator and when the value level of the RSI goes above 70 stocks or indexes begin to become overbought. This is currently not the case.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

A Breakout Or A Fake-out - Paula Mahfouz

 

Now Mexico Too?

If it wasn’t enough to hit China harder, now Mexico too? Look by no means am I an expert on trade, tariffs or politics, but one thing I do know the stock market doesn’t like what has been going on with all three! The stock market also dislikes uncertainty and curve balls and this administration is certainly throwing a lot of both out there lately. Stocks have taken it on the chin with yet another wave of selling this week. For the first time since January the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) has fallen below the 25,000 mark. The S&P 500 (see chart here) closed in the 2,750 zone, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) closed near the 7,450 level and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) closed at 1,465.

What’s more eye catching to me is that all of the major averages have now fallen below their respective 200-day moving averages. Let’s do take a look at the technical shape of the market to see how much damage has been done. Now that the 200-day moving averages have been breached lets look at the RSI of each index. The relative strength index is a technical indicator that expresses whether or not a stock or index is overbought or oversold (click here for RSI). The Dow Jones Industrials (chart), the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq Composite (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) all are racing toward the oversold level of 30. In fact, the Dow Jones breached the 30 level of the RSI yesterday.

Historically when stocks or indexes break their key support levels and head down towards the 30 level of the RSI, there is usually a continuation through that metric as well. That said, history does not always repeat itself but I would also not be surprised to see more selling pressure in the near future. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Russell 2000 - Paula Mahfouz

 

Red Week For Stocks, Technicals In Play…

Stocks had a tough week pressured by the prospects of rising interest rates and political turmoil out of Washington D.C. On the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart below) closed lower by 1.5%, the S&P 500 (chart) closed the week down 1.2%, the Nasdaq Composite (chart) finished lower by 1% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) ended the week down around 1% as well. Despite a choppy and red trading week, all of the aforementioned indexes are still up on the year.

As we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day we find ourselves in a period of no real short term catalysts to steer the market in either direction other than the FOMC meeting next week. I don’t expect the Federal Reserve to surprise the markets with a larger than expected interest rate hike or change their view on interest rate policy this year. The inflation data continues to remain tame although the labor market is heating up. So what is going to drive stocks between now and Q1 earnings reporting season in April?

When we find ourselves in a period such as the one we are in, I focus in on the technical shape of the markets. And as you can see in the charts of the major averages, all of them are at their moving averages support. Whether it’s the 9 day, 20 day, 50 day, 100 or 200 day moving average, stocks and indexes typically respect and is supported by moving average support lines with the 200 day moving average being the most reliable out of all of them. This doesn’t mean that this favorite technical indicator of most market technicians is infallible, but it sure has a history of being an effective tool when navigating the markets. All things considered, including the seasonality of the markets, I do expect that these support levels should hold at least until Q1 earnings reporting season. If the moving averages don’t hold, then I would not be surprised if we revisit the early February market correction lows. Good luck to all and Paula and I wish everyone a safe and Happy St. Patricks Day 🙂

~George

Dow Jones Industrial Average - Paula Mahfouz

Russell 2000 – All Time High!

So now the small-caps join in! The Russell 2000 (chart) closed the week at an all time record high of 1490. For most of the year the widely followed small-cap Russell 2000 has lagged the other major averages. Now it has broken out, see (chart). In fact, when you look at the chart of the Russell, one can say this index has gone parabolic. The Nasdaq (chart) and the S&P 500 (chart) also closed at their all time highs on Friday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) posted yet another positive week. What’s more is the month of September is typically one of the weakest months of the year for equities losing on average of 1.5% happening 70% of the time since the 1970’s. Not this year, in fact there have been so many record-breaking closes on all of the aforementioned indices it’s hard to keep track.

Question is, now what? With the third quarter of the year now in the books, Q3 earnings reporting season is right around the corner. I have got to believe with the Federal Reserve closing the chapter on their quantitative easing policy and now taking those assets off of their books, plus interest rates scheduled to rise, investors should pay closer attention to the health and growth of corporate earnings. Do you remember the days when earnings and earnings growth actually mattered? Well those days may be back upon us. Hence, the report cards that come in from corporate America may actually move the markets in a fundamental way. This we have not seen in almost a decade. However, if the market momentum that we have experienced since the election continues, and investors ignore the fundamentals, then why couldn’t we end the year at even higher highs?

One thing for sure is October will be filled with many catalysts that should bring in some volatility and a lot of opportunity.  Between now and year end may be the time to implement a hedged strategy where one can potentially profit regardless of how the indexes or individual stocks react to what’s ahead. I’ll cover this in my next blog. Good luck to all. 🙂

~George

2 Percent – That’s It?

What should of been at least a 5-10% correction last week, the major averages barely flinched. This despite North Korea incessant threats of a nuclear attack against the U.S. and President Trump’s response that “fire and fury” will be unleashed by the U.S. in such an event. I am truly in disbelief that the markets did not take this geopolitical risk to correct in a more meaningful manner. In fact stocks yesterday had their best single day of the summer. Now we find ourselves yet again near all time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed just shy of 22,000, the S&P 500 (chart) is just under its all-time high of 2490, the Nasdaq (chart) closed at 6430 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed Monday’s session at the 1395 level.

Talk about passive, machine driving algorithmic trading. One thing that really stands out to me is how the S&P 500 (chart), Nasdaq (chart) and the Russell 2000 (chart) all held their major moving average support lines. In particular the S&P and Nasdaq’s 50-day MA and take a look how powerful the Russell 2000’s 200-day moving average held and bounced (chart). It is clear that program trading models worked to perfection on this recent market pullback at least pertaining to key technical support levels.

So are we out of the woods pertaining to the risk trade? I am not so sure. But my goodness how can anyone have any kind of short thesis on these markets. Not even the heightened and continuing threat of a nuclear attack can rattle these markets more than 2 percent. Now that the rhetoric coming out of North Korea has abated for now, it could be business as usual as traders and investors get back to focusing on corporate earnings and fed policy. Whatever the case is I continue to be baffled by the strength of the U.S. stock market and without a doubt the old adage “don’t fight the tape” couldn’t be more true this year.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Solid Gains In Q1!

The major averages closed out the first quarter of the year posting solid results. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed up 4.6%, the S&P 500 (chart) closed up 5.5%, the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) gained 2.1% and the technology focused Nasdaq (chart) finished out the first quarter of the year up an eye-popping 10%. It’s no surprise how well tech did in Q1 considering how much this sector sold off after Trump won the election.

Although stocks continue to outperform, there has been some uncertainty coming into backdrop. The GOP’s inability to pass Trumpcare was the first sign of the potential breakdown of the new administration’s policies. Investors are beginning to wonder whether or not there will be more divide amongst republicans and how that could affect the upcoming tax reform bill. If there are any snags there or if that reform does not pass, some market pundits believe a 10-20% correction could occur.

Here are my thoughts about that. I do agree that if the proposed Trump tax reform does not go through, there indeed could be an immediate market reaction to the downside. How much, who knows? The markets are seemingly priced to perfection and then some. So if corporate tax rates are not reduced as Trump and his administration has outlined, why wouldn’t stocks be affected? Of course we will not know until late summer how the administration’s new tax policy will look like in its final state or whether or not it will even pass.

That said, there is plenty of runway between now and then for stocks and this starts with first quarter earnings reporting season. April is the month in which companies begin to report their earnings results to their shareholders. Corporate profits appear to be growing along with the economy. This my friends is where investors should be valuing stocks. So much emphasis has been put on the new administration’s economic and tax reform policies that we need not to forget about what really matters and that is corporate profits. That is not to say that government polices including the Federal Reserve don’t matter, but at the end of the day and when all the votes are in, growth and profits to me is what truly matters when valuing and investing in stocks.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

 

Strong Week For Stocks!

The major averages continue to show strength upon the launch of first quarter earnings reporting season. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed the week up 1.8%, the Nasdaq (chart) also closed up 1.8%, the S&P 500 (chart) added 1.6% and the small-cap Russell (chart) 2000 led the charge by closing the week up a whopping 3.1%. The money center banks such as JPMorgan Chase NYSE: JPM (chart), Bank of America NYSE: BAC (chart) and Citigroup NYSE: C (chart) which reported their earnings late in the week did help continue the momentum we have recently seen in the markets.

The question now is can earnings reporting season which begin in earnest next week breakout this market to new highs? Companies that are scheduled to report next week are International Business Machines Corp. NYSE: IBM (chart), Morgan Stanley NYSE: MS (chart), Netflix NasdaqGS: NFLX (chart), Goldman Sachs NYSE: GS (chart), Discover Financial Services NYSE: DFS (chart), Intel Corp. NasdaqGS: INTC (chart), Intuitive Surgical NasdaqGS: ISRG (chart), Johnson & Johnson NYSE: JNJ (chart), TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. NasdaqGS: AMTD (chart), Yahoo! Inc. NasdaqGS: YHOO (chart), American Express NYSE: AXP (chart), Coca-Cola NYSE: KO (chart), Qualcomm NasdaqGS: QCOM (chart), Biogen NasdaqGS: BIIB (chart), E*Trade Financial Corp. NasdaqGS: ETFC (chart), General Motors NYSE: GM (chart), Microsoft Corp. NasdaqGS: MSFT (chart), Southwest Airlines NYSE: LUV (chart), Starbucks NasdaqGS: SBUX (chart), Visa Inc. NYSE: V (chart), American Airlines Group NasdaqGS: AAL (chart), Caterpillar NYSE: CAT (chart) and General Electric NYSE: GE (chart) just to name a few.

Without question the aforementioned earnings reports will play a significant role in whether the key indices will breakout to new highs or struggle at their current resistance levels. One other historic factor that can play into the mix is April tends to be one of the top performing months of the year. Whatever the case is, I think it’s safe to assume a breakout or possibly a breakdown is on the horizon. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

First Quarter In The Books…

Q1 proved to be a mixed bag for the major averages. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed out the first quarter up almost 1.5%, the S&P 500 (chart) finished up 0.77%, however, both the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished out the first quarter of the year lower by 2.75% and 1.78% respectively. Not too shabby considering these key indices were down over 10% earlier in the quarter. This morning stocks are lower despite a stronger than expected  jobs report. In March, the economy added 215,000 jobs with the unemployment rate now at 5%.

With Q1 in the rear view mirror all attention will now be focused on first quarter earnings reporting season. The Commerce Department recently issued a report indicating that corporate profits were down 15% year-over-year. This does not bode well for stocks when the current p/e ratio’s of the major averages are well above their historic averages. With earnings reporting season just ahead, we will not have to wait too much longer to see how well corporate America is doing.

Let’s take a quick look at the technical shape of the markets. Most of the key indices are at or near overbought conditions, which has been the case for pretty much most of March. In my previous blog I eluded to what most market technicians look at when gauging overbought or oversold conditions. Furthermore and technically speaking, the major averages are all trading at or above their 20, 50 and 200-day moving averages with only the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) chasing its 200-day. If you are bullish on the market, these moving average patterns are typically a good thing. That said, I do expect volatility to pick up a bit which is usually the case ahead of earnings reporting season. I will check back in mid-month or so to see how earnings growth actually appears.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Finally The Fed Raises Rates!

After 9 years of essentiality zero percent interest rates, the Federal Reserve today raised its benchmark interest rate one quarter of one point. Investor’s embraced the Fed’s action lifting all of the key major averages. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed up 224 points, the Nasdaq (chart) up 76 points, the S&P 500 (chart) up 29 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed out the session up 17 points. The street gained confidence when Fed officials also provided clarity as to their upcoming intentions regarding further rate hikes. Such hikes would only move up between 0.25% and 0.5% and would be subject to future economic activity and data. Another takeaway today is that the Federal Reserve has enough confidence in the current economy to raise rates and confidence in future growth in the foreseeable future. If you are bullish on the markets it doesn’t get better than this. Which is a tepid Federal Reserve while considering raising rates and an economic backdrop that seemingly is demonstrating growth albeit in a moderate manner.

So which sectors could benefit the most from a rising interest rate environment? One sector I will turn my attention to is the banking sector. Banks tend to earn more when rates move up simply because they can charge more interest on the loans they make. There are individual bank names that one can consider but for me personally I would rather position myself in the largest banking exchange traded fund (ETF) Symbol: XLF. The XLF’s top holdings include the likes of Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) Citigroup (NYSE: C) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) just to name a few. So you get the diversity of multiple money center banks and other banking related institutions which spreads out some risk. That said, it is best practice to consult with your financial advisor(s) before making any investment decisions.

I do think that investors and traders alike can now breathe a sigh of relief now that the Fed has made its first move and the markets cheered that with enthusiasm. Good luck to all!

Both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday season 🙂

~George