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 🙂

~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 🙂

~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 🙂

~George

Nowhere Near Raising Rates - Paula Mahfouz

No June Swoon This Year…

No June swoon this year, these markets are simply not having it. June historically can be either a slow month or a month of selling pressure. Neither really happened this year. Despite a brief dip in the major averages a couple of weeks back due to inflation concerns, stocks and indexes held their own last month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) closed out the month at 34502, the S&P 500 (see chart here) finished the month just shy of 4400, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) closed out the month in record territory at 14503 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) finished the month and first half of the year at 2310.

I remain in awe of the resiliency of stocks and most every other asset class out there. I read the other day that Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) has become the fifth company in the United States to surpass the $1 trillion value mark. We now have in our country five companies that are valued at over $1 trillion dollars. Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL), Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN), Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT) and Alphabet aka Google (NasdaqGS: GOOGL) round out the top five trillion-dollar companies. When I see this type of action it makes me wonder how much earnings power do these companies need to continue to exhibit in order to keep their eye-popping valuations going? One other obvious similarity is the companies are all tech stocks and that is where the real growth has been. If you go back 20 years, I don’t think anyone would of expected five companies in our markets all reaching and boasting trillion dollar plus valuations. Heck, Microsoft’s market cap just surpassed $2 trillion dollars to join Apple as the only companies with more than a $2 trillion dollar valuation. Folks I am not a forensic analyst, but my goodness how is the law of large numbers playing a role here?

As I look at the technical shape of the major averages nothing really stands out to me with the exception of the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here). The Nasdaq has just entered overbought territory according to the relative strength index aka the RSI. The Nasdaq also just hit an all-time high so I think some sort of pullback could potentially be in the offing.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend 🙂

~George

No June Swoon This Year - 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 🙂

~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 🙂

~George

2021 Is Here - 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 🙂

~George

Stimulus Package Chatter Buoys Markets…

Yesterday, the lastest round of stimulus package chatter came out of Washington which helped buoy our markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) closed the month of September out at 27781, the S&P 500 (see chart here) finished the month at 3363, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart below) closed at 11167 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) finished at 1507. Although stocks had a strong close to end September, the month of September was a net negative for the markets. No question the uptick in COVID both here and abroad has put some pause to this bull market rally. Quite honestly, I think stocks have held up pretty well despite the ongoing pandemic and the constant tape bombs coming out of Washington.

Fast forward to today and we are now a month away from our Presidential election. I have got to believe that we are heading into more volatility than what we experienced in September. I think whoever watched the first Presidential debate would agree. In addition to the upcoming election, we are also heading right into Q3 earnings reporting season. Corporate America will be releasing their third quarter financial results over the next 45 days or so and that alone can create higher volatility. I am not sure what to expect when companies report their numbers and even more so how companies provide their forward looking guidance on their conference calls. Whatever the case is, I think it’s fair to say we will not be trading sideways here in the month of October.

Let’s take a gander at the technical shape of the aforementioned indexes. What has impressed me lately is how the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) found support near its 200-day moving average and more recently its 50-day moving average. The same can be said for the other major averages in how they too have found support at their respective moving averages. What’s more is these key indices are no where near overbought territory according to the relative strength index aka the RSI. So from a technical analysis standpoint, the markets look to be on solid footing.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Stimulus Package Chatter Buoy Markets - Paula Mahfouz

A Week To Forget…

Certainly, a week to forget! Not since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis have we seen volatility so high (see chart here) as stocks and indexes react to the spread of the coronavirus. Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) saw multi-thousand point swings. The S&P 500 (see chart here) was not spared from the highest volatility in a decade. The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) both experienced eye-popping swings as well. However, on Friday the President declared a national emergency and he announced a $50B relief package to combat the coronavirus. Stocks took that cue and had one of their best day’s ever with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) soaring almost 2000 points, the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq Composite (chart) and the Russell 2000 (chart) all gaining almost 10% on the day.

Now we find ourselves in a highly volatile environment that in my opinion won’t abate until more metrics come forward pertaining to the spread here in the U.S. and the plans to contain it. The administration took a huge step yesterday by declaring a national emergency and to promise the full resources of the government to combat and control this virus. Furthermore, the government is waiving interest rates on student loans and committed to buying oil from U.S. companies to “fill up our strategic reserves”. It’s no wonder stocks had one of their best days in history.

I always like to conclude my blogs with a take on the technical shape of the key indexes. Needless to say there was a lot of technical damage done last week pertaining to technical makeup over the markets and in particular the moving averages. All of the major indices broke their respective 20-day, 100 and 200-day moving averages. These are all significant support zones that have been broken through. The one bright spot in this dynamic is the selling was so severe that after the dust settles strong rallies can and do typically occur as we witnessed on Friday. We are also now way below the key moving averages that often times the markets go back to retest those averages. If this does occur the set-up is very promising for bargain hunters. That said, I am not suggesting that the markets will rip roar back anytime soon, but historically strong rallies do occur after panic selloffs.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

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 🙂

~ George