New Variant Spooks Markets…

A new Covid variant has spooked the markets enough to spike the VIX almost 50% (see chart here). The VIX aka the fear index took off on Friday after news out of South Africa that a new variant has emerged. The CBOE volatility index is a measure of price action in the S&P 500 options chain over the next 30 days. Investors and institutional investors alike pay attention to how investor sentiment is going at any point in time through the CBOE vol index. Historically when the markets are at work with no real headwinds or threats, the VIX in the 10-15 value range. Yesterday the VIX closed north of 27. No question over the past few days the VIX is revealing a bit of investor anxiety.

So now the question becomes is this a short-lived dynamic or is there more selling pressure in the offing? My feelings are this is a normal knee jerk reaction to yet another potential obstacle our economy and markets face. From what I have read we are weeks away to understanding the severity of this new variant or lack thereof. In the meantime, I think patience is key and to not act in haste. For all we know the vaccines could protect the population from this latest variant and if so, the markets could snap right back. However, if this becomes as severe and contagious as the Delta variant, then there is a strong chance the markets would continue to adjust accordingly.

Let’s look at the technical backdrop of the major averages starting with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here). The Dow sold off over 650 points yesterday to close just above its 200-day moving average. The S&P 500 (see chart here) closed lower by 88 points approaching its 100-day moving average. The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) closed the month of November down 245 points while breaching its 20-day moving average. Last but not least, the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) closed down sharply as well yesterday, however, technically the Russell broke its 100 and 200-day moving averages in a meaningful way which does not bode well for this particular index as we enter the last month of the year.

One final note, no matter what happens in the market here in the short term, please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We are approaching the two-year mark of this pandemic and everyone should take this serious, put the politics and conspiracy theories away and come together once and for all.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy holiday season πŸ™‚

~George

New Variant Spooks Markets - Paula Mahfouz

Strong Earnings – Record Highs!

Last month I asked “Is this a healthy correction or something more?” and based on how strong earnings have been along with record highs, I think it is fair to say last months action was more of a healthy pullback than anything else. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is at an all-time high trading above the 36000 mark, the S&P 500 (see chart here) has also hit an all time high today, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) has also joined the all-time high club and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) is within striking distance of its all-time high.

The most recent catalyst for stocks and indexes hitting their all-time highs are earnings. 80 percent of the companies on the S&P 500 that have reported their Q3 earnings so far have beat Wall Street expectations. There are still 1000’s of companies set to report over the coming weeks but if trend continues we could very well be seeing more records set. Along with a strong earnings reporting season no question the Fed continues to encourage all investors to participate due to how low interest rates remain. For most investors there are not many options right now to generate meaningful returns other than the stock market or the high flying crypto space which remains incredibly volatile and extremely risky.

Now let’s take a look at the technical backdrop of the aforementioned indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is trading comfortably above its key moving averages and not quite overbought according to the relative strength index (RSI) and the same can be said for the S&P 500 (see chart here) and the Russell 2000 (see chart below). However, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) has just breached the 70 value level of the RSI which is the pure definition of a stock or index becoming overbought. Note, stocks and/or indexes can remain overbought for extended periods of time before a turn.

One of the oldest adages on Wall Street is the trend is your friend and it is clear where the trend has been and where it will most likely go. That said, it is always best to consult with your certified financial planner/advisor if you are considering any portfolio additions, deletions or adjustments.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

Strong Earnings - Record Highs - Paula Mahfouz

Nowhere Near Raising Rates…

In the words of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell “the Fed is nowhere near considering raising rates”! Last Wednesday the Federal Reserve held its FOMC meeting where it kept interest rates essentially at zero. This despite inflation seemingly everywhere along with a strengthening economy. So, what gives? Without question the most recent spike in Covid cases across our country continues to keep the Fed at bay pertaining to rates. I do get the thinking and strategy; however, I am a bit concerned of inflation overheating and the continuation of record setting asset prices.

Last week three of the four major averages hit all-time record highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) hit an all-time high of 35171. On Thursday the S&P 500 (see chart here) notched a record high of 4429 and the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) booked a record high of 14863. The small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) is the one index that is lagging a bit but the uptrend there remains intact.

As mentioned above, I am a bit concerned as to the non-stop record setting ways with asset prices. There seems to be a growing concern on the street about the potential ramifications of easy monetary policies that have been in place for over a decade and counting. There is no question interest rates need to go up and the money printing needs to abate. Yes, we are in a once in a century pandemic and there has been no choice other than to flood the markets with stimulus and support. However, this cannot go on forever.

That said, as I look at the technical shape of the aforementioned key indexes, there are currently no problems there. Three of the four indices that just set records last week all remain above their respective 20-day, 100 and 200-day moving averages. Also, these indexes are not yet overbought according to the relative strength index aka the RSI. So, folks it appears the record setting ways of our markets should continue in the near term. Make sure to always consult with a certified financial advisor(s) before making any decisions and/or adjustments to your investment strategies.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

Nowhere Near Raising Rates - Paula Mahfouz

Risk On Remains On!

Risk on in the markets remains on as we approach the second half of the year! It’s truly remarkable to me how stocks, crypto, real estate and other asset classes are still trading at or near all time highs. I do get that the ongoing accommodative policies provided by our Federal Reserve and from central banks across the globe is the main reason why asset prices continue their bullish ways.

That said, I do think it is time to start considering how things could look once the Federal Reserve in our country starts backing away from its accommodative monetary policies and as interest rates begin to normalize. This is not a question of if, it’s a question of when. Tell tale signs of inflation are now seemingly everywhere which is what the Federal Reserve is paying close attention to and could be the catalyst for the Fed to act. It is at this point our markets could be adjusting to align with real interest rates and normalized price to earning multiples. To that end, we have and continue to witness the most unique market conditions ever seen. So I am not calling a top here and I do respect the power of the Federal Reserve, however, I am just suggesting that we may see a healthy and overdue adjustment in asset prices which may not be such a bad thing. There are many investors that are on the sidelines and would be more than happy to step in should we see asset prices adjust to a lower entry point.

Let’s take a quick look at the technical shape of the major averages. 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 are trading above their 20, 100 and 200 day moving averages. This alone is a strong technical backdrop and what’s more is none of the aforementioned indexes are currently overbought according to the relative strength index aka the RSI. So technically speaking things look pretty good right now.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

Risk On Remains On - Paula Mahfouz

 

Big Tech Blowout!

Big tech absolutely blew out their earnings in their most recent quarter. Let’s start with Apple; Apple (NasdaqGS:AAPL) experienced growth in each of its product categories. What’s truly unbelievable is Apple generated about a $billion dollars a day in revenue. Yes, no typo folks, a billion a day in revs in their most recent quarter. Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) also crushed their quarter generating over $26 billion in revenues easily beating analysts expectations of $23 billion and Facebook’s earnings per share exceeded analysts’ expectations by 40%. Alphabet’s (NasdaqGS: GOOGL) quarter was also quite stellar posting revenues of $55 billion which is up over 30% from the same period a year ago and last but not least Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT) posted revenue of over $41 Billion up almost 20% over for the same period last year. To me this is breathtaking on how these mega-cap companies continue to grow at such a high clip completely ignoring the “law of large numbers”Β .

So off to the races for the aforementioned stocks right? Not so fast. Despite popping after releasing their earnings, these stocks have started to trade lower. This could be a sign that these earnings reports were already baked into the price already. Of course, it is not uncommon for stocks to become a bit exhausted especially after the tear that the markets have been on so far this year. Let’s see how next week fares in whether or not the lack of follow through to the upside now that earnings are out.

As I look at the overall technical shape of the markets the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here), the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here), the S&P 500 (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) are not currently overbought according to the relative strength index. What’s more is these indexes also remain comfortably above their respective 100 and 200 day moving averages and are finding current support at their 20-day MA.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

 

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 πŸ™‚

~George

Does It Feel Bubbly? - Paula Mahfouz

2021 Is Here…

2021 is here and it could not of come fast enough. Happy New Year and I think we can all use a fresh start! The year 2020 was one of the most challenging years our country and the world has faced. One of the only exceptions that did not face many challenges is the stock market. Despite the global pandemic we remain in and the non-stop chaos out of Washington DC, the major averages set record highs throughout the year. Who would of thought that stocks and market speculation would be at such a fever pitch considering the backdrop of 2020. During this latest bull market surge one thing that stands out to me is how margin debt has hit all time highs. Investors have borrowed over $700 billion dollars against their portfolios which is also a new record. This is somewhat alarming because when the market experiences a correction, margin debt can accelerate any meaningful selloff. Some investors could be forced to sell if their margin debt becomes disproportionate to their overall account value. That said, when record highs continue to be set the risk of margin debt tends to be overlooked.

Speaking of record highs, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) and the S&P 500 (see chart here) set new records on the last trading day of the year. The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the Russell 2000 (see chart below) also set records earlier in the week. Although stocks and indexes feel overbought, we are not seeing extreme overbought conditions according the the relative strength index also know as the RSI. There is also support in place at the 20-day, 50-day, 100 and 200-day moving averages. So technically speaking the key indices appear to be in good shape. This set-up bodes well for the continuation of the market rally that we are in.

Of course there are risks out there that could temper the record setting enthusiasm. One risk in particular is the upcoming runoff election in Georgia next week. If the democrats take control of the Senate, this could be viewed as a negative for stocks. The markets historically have liked when there is a split majority between the House and Senate. Pundits argue that a Democratic President and a Democrat controlled Congress could affect income and capital gains taxes that would negatively impact stocks. I am not sure if this will play out but nonetheless as we continue down this bull market path we should not be lullabied to sleep with the risks out there. Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

2021 Is Here - Paula Mahfouz

Fear Of A Global Pandemic Grips Markets!

Stocks went into a tailspin as fear of a global pandemic grips the markets! New outbreak clusters of the highly contagious coronavirus are beginning to surface which is pressuring leaders from around the world to act and act more aggressively. Stocks have also entered correction territory as companies and analysts begin to ratchet down their revenue and earning forecasts. Over the past week or so the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) has lost over 10% in the past week alone, the S&P 500 (see chart here) has also entered into correction mode, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) has been hit hard and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) is also witnessing a sharp sell-off.

Personally I believe a correction was needed because of how robotic the markets have acted. Stocks no matter what risks were out there behaved in a way never before seen. We have been in the strongest bull market ever and nothing over the past 12 years could slow this bull market down. Now I am not happy that it is a global health risk that’s the catalyst to put stocks in correction mode, but nonetheless this is where we find ourselves. Of course when fear is rampant in any market this is where opportunity can be found. I am not suggesting to jump in here because as we all know fear and/or greed can be excessive and markets tend to over do it when emotions take the lead over rational thinking. So when we get overextended to the upside or downside the first thing I look at is how the technicals look during extreme market moves.

When I now look at the technical shape of the markets at least at it pertains to the moving averages things do not look so good. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here), the S&P 500 (see chart here) and the Russell 2000 (see chart here) have all breached their 20-day, 100-day and 200-day moving averages which are all seen as major support zones especially the 200-day. The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is the only major index that has yet to close below its 200-day. That said, all of the aforementioned indexes are oversold according to the relative strength index (RSI) which when we see the 20 value level hit on any stock or index, snap back rallies can and do occur. This type of market is great for traders if you are experienced enough to trade off of technicals, however for investors that have a long term view these type of market environments requires a lot of patience and keeping the emotions at bay. Let’s all hope that the spread of the coronavirus abates and that a vaccine becomes available as quickly as possible.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~ George

It’s A Broken Record!

It’s a broken record indeed! That is the continuing record breaking run on Wall Street. On Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here), the S&P 500 (see chart here), the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) set new all time highs. Seemingly, there is no stopping this record setting run that the markets have been on, at least for now. The latest catalyst was news out of Washington that the U.S. and China are close to coming to a “Phase 1” agreement on a trade deal. As I eluded to in my November 15th blog, new record highs could come into play by year-end if we see a trade deal happen. The caveat here is the deal is being titled as a “Phase 1” agreement and there is much more to agree upon to finish the deal out. That said, this is a definite step in the right direction and the markets seem to agree. I do want to keep my enthusiasm in check because of the volatility that continues to come out of Washington on this subject. We have all seen over the past several months tweets and statements out of Washington that we are close to a deal with China to only then wake up the next day to get the opposite statement either out of Washington or China. Phase 1 is a great step, but I am looking forward to the complete deal getting done and most likely that will yield to the first quarter of 2020.

In the meantime, investors are continuing to enjoy record highs and there doesn’t seem too much ahead between now and year-end that will change the course. The technical shape of the bellwether indexes remain intact. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart below), the S&P 500 (chart) and the Nasdaq Composite (chart) are all trading below the 70 value level of the relative strength index (RSI). Also, each of these indexes are trading healthily above their 20, 50, 100 and 200 day moving averages.Β Β 

Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday season.

~George

It's A Broken Record! - Paula Mahfouz

 

Third Rate Cut Of The Year…

The Federal Reserve provided its third rate cut of the year on Wednesday. Although this was very much expected, until it happens you don’t know. Without question the Fed’s actions this year has helped the markets hit new highs throughout the year. This week has been no different. Despite pulling back a bit yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) remains above 27000, the S&P 500 (see chart here) hit a fresh all-time high on Wednesday, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is within 50 points of its all time high and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) is trading above its 20, 50, 100 and 200-day moving averages. A technically healthy sign.

What has allowed the Federal Reserve to be proactive in cutting rates is the fact that inflation is pretty much non-existent. If inflation was present in a meaningful way I am not sure the Fed would be cutting rates at all. A huge side effect to lower rates is a strong stock market. So it’s no wonder we continue to trade at new highs and at the very bare minimum hold strong near the upper bands of the trading range. A couple of other factors that are supporting the markets are the latest round of corporate earnings reports which are coming in a bit better than expected along with some positive news flow out of the China trade negotiations.

With this latest rate cut I would not be surprised to see a continuation of the current upward trend and also potentially see new all-time highs before year-end. As I look at the technical shape of the aforementioned indexes pertaining to the relative strength index and the moving averages, I don’t see any issues there either. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq Composite (chart) and the Russell 2000 (chart) are all above their respective moving averages which historically provides support on pullbacks and none of these indexes are in overbought territoryΒ  according to the relative strength index (RSI) principles.

Good luck to all πŸ™‚

~George

Third Rate Cut Of The Year - Paula Mahfouz