New Week, New Record Highs?

New week, new record highs? The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) and the S&P 500 (see chart here) are fast approaching all-time highs. Both of these major indexes have been on a tear of late and could see new record highs this upcoming week. However, breaking news came out yesterday that Saudi Arabia has shut down half of its oil production after drones attacked the world’s largest oil processing facility. This attack will impact 5 million barrels of daily oil production. One sector that will certainly be affected is the energy space. The price of oil is now expected to skyrocket at least here in the short term. I am not sure if the markets will shrug this dynamic off, but I do expect energy stocks to outperform.

As I take a look at the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) both of these indexes appear to be ready to breakout and join the Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500 most recent performances. If the news out of the middle east has a negative impact on stocks, there are plenty of technical support levels that would come into play. All of the aforementioned key indexes are trading comfortably above their 20-day, 100-day and 200 day moving averages. During the month of August the 200-day moving average provided major support multiple times. As I look at the relative strength index to see how close we are to overbought conditions, there is still plenty of real estate before we see the 70 level of the RSI. So technically speaking the indexes appear to be in relatively good shape.

Without question the oil markets and the energy sector will be the focus this week. I am also curious to see how the overall markets react to this latest development out of the middle east. Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

 

 

Are Energy Stocks And Banks Cracking?

As technology stocks continue to tick up to new record highs, banks and even more so energy stocks are showing signs of weakness. Yesterday, the Nasdaq (chart) hit an all time high of 6221.99 and the S&P 500 (chart) also notched a record recently at 2418.71. That said, the energy sector has lost almost 10 percent in the last month or so and the banking sector is beginning to technically breakdown. A very noticeable divergence is happening here and I think it is time to pay attention to this recent dynamic. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) remains above 21000 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) is seeking direction.

I am not surprised that certain sectors of the market are showing weakness which is only normal with the tremendous run the markets have had since the election, however, it is the sectors that are breaking down that is a bit alarming to me. One has to ask is the price action in oil and energy stocks indicative of weakening demand hence a weakening economy? Or is this just a matter of too much supply in oil regardless of the O.P.E.C. commitment to its production cuts. As far as the banks are concerned, one would also think with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates at their upcoming meeting in June and committing to additional rate hikes this year. that this would be bullish for bank stocks. Not the case recently. I am a little perplexed to the way the tape has been acting as of late especially pertaining to the aforementioned sectors.

The technical shape of the key indices appear to be intact with the exception of the small-cap Russell 2000. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) is trading well above its 50-day moving average,¬†along with the S&P 500 (chart)¬† trading near all-time highs and the Nasdaq (chart) as mentioned above hit an all-time high yesterday. However, the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) is trading below its 50-day moving average and has been challenging certain support zones lately. This is yet another potential alarm along¬†with the energy and banking sector weakness lately. So I would not be surprised to see the selling pressure in these particular sectors continue in the month of June which is historically one of the weakest month of the year for stocks. Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

OPEC Adds Fuel To The Rally!

For the first time since 2008 the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to cut output sending oil prices and oil stocks soaring. Oil (see chart below) had one of its best days in years soaring over 10% which helped propel the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) and the S&P 500 (chart) to set yet another record high yesterday before a late day sell-off. Nonetheless, stocks have been on fire since Donald Trump won the election. Seemingly every sector other than the gold sector is overbought. All you have to do is look at the financial sector Symbol: XLF (chart), the materials sector Symbol: XLB (chart), the industrials sector Symbol: XLI (chart) and the energy sector Symbol: XLE (chart) to see how overbought this market is. That said, stocks¬†and or indexes can remain overbought or oversold for that matter for extended periods of time. Add into the mix Trump’s pledge to spend over $1 trillion on infrastructure here in the U.S. and the pledge to cut corporate and capital gains taxes and why would anyone think this rally could not¬†continue?

It is easy to get caught up in the current euphoria of this breathtaking rally in the stock market and the promises of the incoming administration. However, let’s not forget what has been promised has to actually occur and if there is any¬†back peddling by the new administration, the markets could react just as aggressively to the downside as they have to the upside. I am not suggesting that this will happen but we have all seen politicians make promises before they are elected only to change their tune after they take their respective seats. Which is why I do my best to tune out the noise and focus on overbought and oversold conditions. And this is where we find ourselves today. A very overbought market that I would expect will revert to the mean at some point in time.

Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

oil chart George Mahfouz Jr

A Respite From The Sell-Off!

Stocks snapped back sharply on Friday after a week of relentless selling pressure. On Friday¬†the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), surged 313.66 points, the Nasdaq (chart) popped 70.67 points, the S&P 500 (chart) notched a gain of 35.70 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed Friday out up 18.27 points. For most of last week the markets were under tremendous pressure as oil continued to plummet along with bank stocks. On Thursday U.S. crude oil closed at a 13-year low only to snap back on Friday gaining over 12%. One of the reasons why oil has bounced off of multi-year lows is a rumor was floating around that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries aka O.P.E.C. was prepared to cut production. We will see if this becomes the case.¬†Furthermore, the European banks have been sold off ruthlessly all year long which has indeed carried over to our banks here at home. So when you have both oil and banks selling off the way that they have, it’s no wonder why there has been a global sell-off sending markets into correction territory.

As the global sell-off continues and as the chatter of doomsday gets louder and louder, I think it is important to remember that we have been in one of the strongest and longest bull markets of all time. Let’s not forget it is not only normal but quite healthy that stocks, bonds and commodities correct and balance out. It amazes me that when sell-offs occur that lead to corrections in the marketplace how the pundits¬†come out of the woodwork and speak to how the world is¬†coming to an end. My friends, what hasn’t been normal is for over six years how we have not¬†had a market correction of over 10% that has stuck. Well here we are today and this is where we find ourselves.

Yes, equities can go lower and yes it can get more painful. But once valuations become attractive again and this is what market corrections provide, you better believe at some point in time buyers will resurface and take advantage of the what goes on sale. The markets are closed on Monday due to Presidents’ Day. Both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday ūüôā

~George

 

Despite A Month End Rally, Stocks Took It On The Chin!

January proved to be one of the toughest months for stocks in years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed the month down 5.5%, the Nasdaq (chart) closed down 8%, the S&P 500 (chart) fell 5.1% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished the month out down almost 9%. If it wasn’t for the strong month end rally, both the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) would of closed out in correction territory. Clearly China and Oil continue to grab the headlines and continue to make investors very nervous. However, on Friday the Bank of Japan in a surprise move implemented negative interest rates for the first time ever in an attempt to aggressively stimulate their struggling¬†economy. So once again a central bank acts and the markets respond. Even our own Federal Reserve stated last¬†Wednesday¬†that they are on high alert pertaining to the global markets and the affects¬†that are being felt here at home. In other words, there may be a pause in¬†raising interest rates here in the U.S.?

That said, what never ceases¬†to amaze me is how technically disciplined the markets can be. If you look at the major averages over the past two weeks you will see that all of these key indices held their August 2015 lows. Especially the Dow (chart) and the Nasdaq (chart) which traded down almost to the nickel to their respective August lows. In my previous blog I cited the Federal Reserve and their policy shift to raising interest rates and the fact that now markets and equities can be assessed on their own merits versus what the central banks may or may not do. Well Friday’s Bank of Japan’s move is a reminder that central banks around the world are ready and capable of intervening at any point in time. Which brings me back to this, how in the world can you confidently have a short thesis in these markets? In my opinion, this model is simply too risky when you have monetary policies that can turn¬†on a dime.

So what’s an investor or trader to do? One thing that stands out to me is throughout all of the noise and chatter is that the technicals continue to perform with the utmost efficiency. Whether markets or equities are overbought or oversold vis-√†-vis the relative strength index (RSI) , or support lines are met and hold. No one can deny how disciplined and efficient technical analysis can be.

Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

Stocks Are In A Tailspin!

After starting the year off in sell mode, stocks are accelerating their declines and are¬†now in correction territory. Yesterday’s rally sparked hope that a short term bottom was put in, however, this is¬†not the case as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) plunged 400 points at today’s open, the Nasdaq (chart) opened lower by over 100 points, the S&P 500 (chart) opened down over 2% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart)¬†is now trading below 1000. What gives?¬†First and foremost, China’s Shanghai Composite Index has lost over 20% of its value since late December and is¬†now in¬†a bear market. China’s market fall has indeed spilled over into the global markets.¬†Secondly, crude oil (chart) has continued to decline¬†and is now trading below $30 per bbl spreading fears of widespread bankruptcies in the oil and gas space. These two factors alone have been enough to send our markets into correction mode.

That said, what I try to do in this type of market environment is to place emotions in check and to keep things into perspective. Since this bull market began in 2009, we have not really experienced a market correction. Yes, it has been over six years since we have had a meaningful market decline that has stuck. People tend to forget that market corrections can be a very healthy thing for an overextended market. Investors and traders alike have been spoiled over the past six years by essentially taking their positions and switching on auto-pilot. I believe those days are gone and they should be. When the Federal Reserve took action and began their aggressive monetary policies i.e. buying bonds and placing interest rates at or near zero, stocks took off and did not look back. We have not been in a normalized market environment since then.

Fast forward to today and with essentially no Fed intervention and with a change in interest rate policy, we now have markets trading off of economic and corporate merits. This to me is not a bad thing because now investors can assess the value of the markets as well as individual stocks more accurately and more confidently. This is a concept that most traders and investors have been waiting on and that is to make their investment decisions based off of facts and not what the Federal Reserve will or will not do.

Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

Q1 Ends With A Bang!

Stocks closed out the first quarter of the year down impressively. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed down 200.19 points, the Nasdaq (chart) -46.55, the S&P 500 (chart) -18.35 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished the day down 5.03 points. The Dow Jones Industrials (chart) also finished the quarter slightly in the red, while the other aforementioned indices eked out modest gains.

Looking ahead to Q2, I suspect that we will be in for a very volatile and choppy market. As the first quarter was winding down we were experiencing triple digit swings on the Dow, as well as spikes in volatility across the board. Now I am beginning to think we will even see more volatility come into the market. April historically is a strong month for stocks, but we find ourselves entering into Q1 earnings reporting season in which I think corporate America may see widespread earnings declines. This is due in large part to how strong the U.S. dollar (chart) has been and how this will affect a wide array of multi-national companies who generate meaningful revenues overseas. A strong dollar does not bode well for U.S. companies with this type of earnings profile. Of course not all U.S. companies rely on overseas revenue and I would also think that certain technology and healthcare companies will do just fine.

The one sector¬†I will be paying the closest attention to this upcoming earnings reporting season is the energy sector. Oil (chart) has been taken out to the woodshed since last fall¬†as well as the majority of oil related stocks. So with the price of oil plunging as it has, earnings out of this sector should be horrific. However, these are the times when rare¬†opportunities can and do present themselves. I will look for “washout” moments with certain oil related stocks after they report their earnings to step in and start building positions. I would expect most of the bad news in this sector is about to be released, hence, a set-up for the right buying opportunity. Of course, I will be looking for companies with pristine balances sheets, with minimal to no debt and have those companies at the top of my list. That said, before you make any investments in any sectors, make sure that you consult with a trusted and certified financial advisor(s) to understand the risks associated with stocks, commodities and the like. Also note, this is a holiday shortened trading week due to Good Friday and both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday weekend ūüôā

~George

OPEC Doesn’t Budge, Oil And The Energy Sector Tumble!

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided on Thursday not to cut production as many had hoped. This decision sent crude oil and energy stocks tumbling. The overall energy sector fell over six percent on Friday while U.S. crude fell to $66.36 per barrel, a level not seen in over four¬†years. On the bright side however, lower oil prices will ultimately¬†pass through to the consumer, which should¬†be¬†a positive for the overall economy. This¬†may be the reason why the markets in general didn’t see too much pressure last week. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the S&P 500 (chart), and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed¬†essentially unchanged,¬†while the Nasdaq (chart) posted a strong weekly gain of 1.7%.

Friday’s trading session closed early due to the Thanksgiving holiday, so I will be very interested to see how crude oil and the energy sector trades this week as market participants get back to work and normal volumes resume. That said, I am¬†expecting more downward pressure on oil and energy stocks in the near term. Without question¬†the smaller, leveraged and debt-ridden oil and gas companies are¬†in a precarious position, especially those in the exploration stages. These companies¬†may be forced into consolidation or have no choice but to¬†fire-sale¬†part of¬†their asset base in order to reduce debt levels. What I will be looking for in the coming weeks are large and mega-cap energy companies that have had their stock hit, and that have rock solid balance sheets that can weather the storm in this environment.

Despite the volatility the markets have experienced here in the fourth quarter and with crude oil falling sharply, three of the four major averages are still up impressively¬†on the year, with the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) basically flat. Now that we are in the month of December, I do not see any real headwinds as we close out 2014. In fact, with lower oil, the consumer may be a bit more cheerful as the Christmas holiday season fast approaches. If this is the case, stocks as a whole could end the year on their highs. Have a great week ūüôā

~George