Tech Stocks Hit The Brakes!

After going up in a straight line for months, the technology sector (see chart below) has reversed its upward course. After hitting an all-time high of 6341.70 on June 9th, the Nasdaq (chart) has given back 190 points or three percent while approaching its 50-day moving average. Nowadays it’s pretty rare to see a one percent pullback in tech stocks let alone a three percent retracement in a week. The media is now all over how tech stocks today are beginning to resemble the internet bubble. The difference between today and yesteryear is that the top five tech stocks – Amazon (NasdaqGC: AMZN), Apple (NasdaqGC: AAPL), Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) Google’s parent company Alphabet (NasdaqGC: GOOGL) and Microsoft (NasdaqGC: MSFT) have been responsible for a big chunk of the Nasdaq and S&P 500 (chart) recent gains. The problem with comparing today’s market with the internet bubble is that the aforementioned tech leaders all have incredible balance sheets while continuing to grow at a pace that supports their relative stock prices. One may argue that Amazon remains overpriced especially with its lofty P/E ratio.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone would be concerned about a three percent pullback in any stock or index, but because of how strong stocks have been since the election, anything other than a flat to up day will get noticed. That said, without question all eyes will be on whether or not the Nasdaq’s 50-day moving average will get tested. The last time the Nasdaq (chart) did not hold its 50-day support line was last October. Since then tech stocks have tested and moved off of its 50-day average multiple times. 6085 is the current the 50-day moving average of the Nasdaq which is about 65 points away. I am not suggesting it will go there, but if it does and according to the way tech stocks have reacted to that particular support line, a bounce could be in the cards. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Nasdaq chart - George Mahfouz Jr

Pullback #1

I have been blogging for while now that a pullback at some point is inevitable and would even be healthy considering the parabolic move most of the key indexes and many stocks have had so far this year. However, there seemingly has not been a meaningful catalyst to trigger a noticeable pullback or better yet a healthy 10% correction, until maybe now? Taper talk is back on the table at the highest level since late May thanks to the continuing flow of recent positive economic data. In fact, some pundits predict that the Federal Reserve will begin reducing its asset purchases as early as this upcoming week. This chatter has been enough for the markets to take notice with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) falling 264 points this week or 1.7%, the Nasdaq (chart) retreated by 1.5%, the S&P 500 (chart) gave back 1.6% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed the week lower by 2.2%. Now let’s keep this into perspective, these benchmark indices on the year are still up a whopping 20%, 35.5%, 24.5% and 30% respectively.

What everyone has been accustom to for the past couple of years is that the protractive accommodative policies of the central banks from around the world would keep a floor under the markets, which most certainly has been the case. However, in late May of this year there had been widespread speculation that the Fed would indeed begin to reduce its bond buying and mortgage backed security purchases which sent the markets lower by over 5% by late June. The tapering fear at that point became unfounded as the economic data back then was still coming in too skittish in the Fed’s eyes.

Fast forward to today and there may now be enough positive economic data such as Q3 GDP coming in at 3.6%, the labor market showing signs of strength, personal spending rising and overall business confidence improving. These signs could be enough for the Fed to slowly reduce its asset purchases. So now the question on all minds is “how will stocks react once the Fed begins to taper?” This subject is currently being highly debated in most circles of the financial world and quite frankly no one knows. I suspect that the Fed will start to taper sooner than later but that they would be very conscious and conservative with their approach and how they signal their future actions. That said, once the central bank removes itself from the limelight and allow the markets to trade in a normal environment and on their own merits, I would expect volatility to get back to normal levels, hence, healthy pullbacks and even corrections should be back on the table. With this type of market environment, both long and short traders would be able to compose strategies based off of fundamentals and have the confidence to act accordingly.

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

~George