Is More Volatility Ahead?

The month of August proved to be one of the more volatile months so far this year. The question now is will this volatility continue here in September? As long as the turbulent tweets continue out of Washington, I bet the vol we witnessed in August will indeed continue this month. Markets hate uncertainty and as long as our President continues to flip flop seemingly daily and then tweet about it, we could very well be in for more vol. It’s not rocket science, when the tweets are positive and have consistency, stocks go green. Then when the flip flopping occurs they go red. It is amazing to me how stocks react to every single tweet or flip out of Washington. Sure there are algorithms that are programmed to react to headlines, but because of the constant noise out of Washington it’s no wonder we have been whipsawing around.

I always try to tune out the noise and focus on the fundamentals and technical shape of the markets. Let’s take a look at the current price to earnings ratio (click here) of the S&P 500. The S&P 500 (see chart here) price to earnings ratio continues to trade above historic norms. Despite all of the current uncertainties especially with the trade war, stocks on average are still trading above the 20 PE ratio level. The historic price to earnings average for the S&P 500 is somewhere in the mid-teens. So from a fundamental valuation standpoint the markets remain at the upper end of the channel. There are many other valuation metrics and government policies that play into the valuation analysis mix, but purely from a price to earnings ratio, one can ascertain that we remain a bit overpriced.

That said, companies can certainly grow into their current valuations but we definitely need to get the trade war with China resolved so that companies know where they stand. Both Paula and I wish everyone a very happy and safe Labor Day weekend 🙂

~George

 

The 200-Day Moving Average Holds!

The 200-day moving average held its ground despite the constant tape bombs and tweets that continues to come out of Washington. It is no secret that stocks have been on a wild ride over the past few weeks from making all-time highs to rip roaring selloffs. The continuation of tariff threats out of Washington has been a huge catalyst for the increase in volatility in stocks. That said, with all of the madness that is swirling around the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here), the S&P 500 (see chart here) and the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) have all managed to stay above their respective 200-day moving averages. This key technical support line has held true to form during these market selloffs. The small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) has not been as fortunate and could not hold its 200-day.

So in addition to the Washington D.C. threats of additional tariffs, the markets also had to deal with the dreaded 10-year and 2-year yield curve inverting. Whenever longer term interest rates fall below shorter term interest rates in the bond market that historically is a signal that a recession might be looming. Now there is a meaningful lag here whenever we see the yield curve inverting, so as long as the curve flattens out and returns to a normalized dynamic, we should escape the threat. However, if the yield curve remains inverted for an extended period of time then we could be in for something else.

Let’s get back to the technical shape of the markets. As mentioned, three of the four major averages held above their respective 200-day moving average support line which is a good thing technically. What also helped is during these meaningful selloffs is that the markets did go into oversold territory and technically bounced. Let’s see how the next couple of weeks shape up as we wind down the dog days of summer.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

First Rate Cut In Over A Decade!

Yesterday the Federal Reserve conducted its first rate cut in over a decade! Although widely expected, the markets were disappointed as to how Fed Chairman Jerome Powell signaled that this is does not necessarily mean more rate cuts are forthcoming. Chairman Powell’s statement sent stocks down sharply. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) closed down over 330 points, the S&P 500 (see chart here) closed lower by 32.80, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) finished down almost 100 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) finished the day down 11 points. The markets were hoping that Mr. Powell would remain dovish and it was clear he was the opposite. That said, a rate cut is a rate cut and the intention is to keep the economy moving. Despite the rate cut move, The White House came out and complained about how Chairman Powell handled his statement and it is no secret that administration wants further rate cuts. I do think additional rate cuts may not be needed due to how Q2 earnings reporting season is going so far. The street was expecting an “earnings recession” at least in the last quarter. But as we are now half way through earnings reporting season, so far so good. There are not many earnings surprises to the downside and future guidance is not too shabby so far.

Let’s take a look at the current technical shape of the markets. The indexes have been going sideways as of late with the exception of yesterday’s selloff. That said, yesterday’s selloff did break the 20-day moving averages of the Dow Jones Industrials, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite, however, the small-cap Russell 2000 closed above its 20 day and actually demonstrated more relative strength than the other averages. A one day selloff does not necessarily mean the beginning of a new downward trend so let’s wait and see how the rest of earning reporting season goes and then we can assess how the back half of the year shapes up.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Russell 2000 - Paula Mahfouz

 

 

One Hot June!

One hot June indeed and I do not mean the weather folks! Stocks and commodities went on a tear in the month of June logging the best June in decades for some of the indexes and other asset classes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) soared over seven percent last month. The S&P 500 (see chart below) hit an all time high in the month of June while both the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) notched impressive gains as well. What’s more is both oil and gold surged right along side of the key indexes.

So why the rally? I think the answer is simply an easier monetary posture by the Federal Reserve. It is no secret that inflation is well in check and it is also becoming apparent that the U.S. job market is cooling off. Another factor for the Fed to consider is what impact would a full blown trade war with China do to the U.S. economy? This is why in my opinion we are seeing a continuing upward trend in our markets and that is a dovish Fed is usually very good for stocks. One other factor that will certainly weigh in is the upcoming earnings reporting season. Now that the second quarter of the year is in the books we will see how well corporate America did in Q2 as earnings reporting season gets underway this month. I will continue to look to monitor how “top-line” growth is faring.

Let’s take a quick look at the technical shape of the key indexes. After surging over 7% in June, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) remains clearly above its 20-day, 100-day and 200-day moving averages as does the S&P 500 (see chart here). The Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is in a healthy technical condition and last but not least, the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) has broken above its key moving averages. This is a very good sign for stocks and furthermore none of indices are in overbought territory according to the principles of the RSI also known as the relative strength index.

Both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and Happy 4th of July holiday 🙂

~George

S&P 500 - Paula Mahfouz

 

 

 

 

Will Earnings Take The S&P To All Time Highs?

Now that earnings reporting season is upon us, will Q1 corporate earnings take the S&P 500 (see chart here) to all time highs? We are about to find out. For the first time in months the S&P 500 (see chart here) closed above the 2900 mark and is now within striking distance of its record close of 2940 set back in September. Once again the markets feel like they are in melt up mode. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart below) closed on Friday at 26412 just 500 points away from its record high, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is approaching the 8000 level a level it hasn’t seen in months, and last but not least the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) is approaching the 1600 level and trading above its 200-day moving average.

The technical shape of the markets also appear to be healthy heading into Q1 earnings reporting season. All of the aforementioned indexes are trading above their 20-day, 100-day and 200-day moving averages. A good sign. Furthermore, none of these averages are in overbought territory this according the the relative strength index. Yet, another good sign.

Back to Q1 earnings reporting season. Although analysts and market pundits expect corporate earnings to have declined this quarter, I will be paying attention to the guidance that companies give. It’s no secret there has bee a global slowdown lately due to a variety of factors. However, if companies give better than expected guidance, then most likely we should indeed see new record highs.

Companies to look out for this week that are reporting are, Citigroup (NYSE: C), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Netflix (NasdaqGS: NFLX), United Continental Holdings (NasdaqGS: UAL), Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT), Alcoa (NYSE:AA), Las Vegas Sands, Corp. (NYSE: LVS), PepsiCo, Inc. (NasdaqGS: PEP), American Express (NYSE: AXP) and Honeywell International (NYSE: HON) just to name a few. Let’s see if Q1 earnings reporting season becomes the catalyst for new record highs. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Dow Jones Industrial Average - Paula Mahfouz

 

 

 

 

Stocks End Q1 On Fire!

Stocks ended the first quarter of the year on fire! The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) closed Q1 up over 11%, the S&P 500 (see chart here) closed the first quarter up over 12% which is the best performing quarter in years for this bellwether, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) closed up more than 17% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart below) closed out the first quarter of the year up over 14%. Yes folks these gains are incredibly impressive especially considering how global growth is slowing. That said, these eye-popping market gains are not too surprising considering the sharp sell-off that stocks experienced in that latter part of 2018. Without a doubt the aforementioned indexes were way oversold in late December and an oversold bounce of some sort was definitely in the cards. As we know, market swings can and do overshoot to downside such as what we saw in late 2018 and now the question is, will we overshoot to the upside?

It sure does not appear that way at least from a technical perspective and according to the Relative Strength Index (RSI). 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 here) are no where near overbought conditions yet. This despite all of these key indices rallying double digits in Q1. What’s more, all but one of these indices are also trading above their key moving averages including their 20-day, 100-day and 200-day with the lone exception being the small-cap Russell 2000. Now there could be some consolidation going on here over the next few weeks and up until first quarter earnings reporting season begins which would actually be healthy for the markets.

Speaking of the upcoming earnings reporting season, this could be the one catalyst that sheds the most light for the rest of the year on how stocks will fare. It is no secret global growth has slowed and I think corporate America will speak to whether this current global slowdown is just a blip on the radar or something much more meaningful.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Russell 2000 - Paula Mahfouz

 

Earnings And The Fed!

Stocks took off this week and we can blame earnings and the Fed! Now that we are fully into earnings reporting season the investors so far have liked what they see. Couple that with the Federal Reserve coming out on Wednesday stating that the central bank is “changing its tune” on interest rates, and you have a one-two bull market punch. Also on Wednesday, Fed Chairman Powell stated “the case for raising rates has weakened somewhat” and that the Federal Reserve will be more patient toward further rate hikes. Stocks rallied hard on the Fed’s new position along with stronger than expected earnings reports that are coming in from corporate America. For the month of January, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is up over 2000 points, the S&P 500 (see chart below) is also up over 200 points, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is up 800 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) closed out the month of January up 175 points. January 2019 has been one of the best performing months in years.

Let’s take a look at the technical shape of the markets from a moving averages perspective. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) has just broken through its 200-day moving average, while the S&P 500 (chart) and the Nasdaq Composite (chart) are both sitting on its 100-day moving average and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart)is not too far behind. There are still plenty of earnings reports that will be released over the next few weeks and to me this is the remaining catalyst that could drive stocks higher here in the short term. Let’s keep in mind there are still other catalysts on the horizon that could put the brakes on this most recent rally with the government having yet another deadline to reach a deal on border security and of course the looming tariff deal with China. If one or both of these deals do not get done, I think we will be having a different conversation in March. Until then, let’s enjoy the current wave of positive news and market action and then see what kind of adjustments that would possibly need to be made. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

S & P 500 - Paula Mahfouz

 

Traders And Investors Are Awaiting A September Selloff…

Traders and investors are awaiting a September selloff that actually may not come. Stocks continue to demonstrate strength and resiliency despite the political turmoil in Washington DC, rising interest rates and a seasonality headwind that just isn’t happening. August and September are typically weaker months for the stock market, instead the S&P 500 (see chart below), the Nasdaq Composite (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) hit all-time record highs and the end of August and despite a mini pullback shortly thereafter, the markets appear to have stabilized near all time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) did not make an all-time high in August, however, this index remains within striking distance of its all time high. The pundits are speaking to the strength of corporate America where earnings and profits are at their highest levels in decades as to the reason why the markets are not selling off. What is undeniable is that any time stocks have experienced a pull back it has been met with support from institutional investors and retail investors alike.

Speaking of support, let’s take a closer look at the technical shape of the aforementioned key indexes. Let’s start with the S&P 500 (chart). After pulling back to its 20-day moving average the S&P is right back at a breakout point. Next week we should see if the S&P can indeed breakout or fail and head back to its 20-day. The Nasdaq Composite index (chart) has similar chart pattern although it traded a bit below its 20-day support line for a few days before recapturing its 20-day and is now trading above it. A look at the Russell 2000 (chart), it too closed above its 20-day moving average and last but not least the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) also closed above its 20-day and this index is also right at a breakout or breakdown point. These bellwether indexes are also not in an extreme overbought condition according to the Relative Strength Index. The RSI tracks overbought or oversold conditions and is a momentum indicator that measures the degree and velocity of recent price changes to determine what is overbought and what may be oversold. We are simply not in any extreme condition according to the RSI principle.

Let’s see how the back half of September plays out and we will revisit the technical set-up of the markets in October. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

S&P 500 - George Mahfouz Jr

 

 

 

Finally A Tradable Market!

After years of essentially low to no volatility, traders finally get what they have been wishing for and that is a tradable market! In 2017 the markets witnessed the longest stretch of low vol in recent memory. In fact the VIX (see chart below) which is the ticker symbol for the Chicago Board Options Exchange volatility index traded in the 10 zone for most of 2017. The 10 level on the VIX (chart) is beyond abnormally low especially lasting for the better part of a year. Fast forward to today and the VIX is hovering around 20 after spiking to over 50 over the past two weeks. We haven’t seen the VIX (chart) at the 50 level in years. Call it long overdue, call it the market needed to correct, call it higher interest rates, call it what you want but finally we seemingly have more of a normal market environment. Not to say it wasn’t gut wrenching watching 1000 point Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) intra-day swings over the past couple of weeks compared to the slow melt-up investors have enjoyed for years. Traders on the other hand have underperformed the markets during the melt-up because there simply was not enough or no volatility to be able to trade.

Stocks have indeed bounced sharply from the early February market correction. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed the day up 307 points, the tech focused Nasdaq Composite (chart) closed up on the day 113 points, the S&P 500 (chart) closed up 32.5 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished the trading session up 15 points. Going forward I am certainly going to respect the technical make up of the aforementioned indexes and select stocks. Moving averages such as the 20-day, 50-day and 200-day tend to provide reliable support and resistance marks and now that we are out of the no vol environment, these moving averages tend to be more accurate and can be used to determined entries and exits in positions you hold and or trade. As I write this blog the key indexes have now rebounded to their 50-day moving averages so we will see if this technical indicator will act as resistance or if the markets can hold, breakthrough and proceed higher. Of course there is much more to consider when entering or exiting any position or strategy but when volatility comes back into the markets, most professional traders key in on the moving averages. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

VIX - Paula Mahfouz

Dow 22,000 In Sight…

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed the month of July at a record high and came within 70 points of the 22,000 mark. Just a few short months ago that the Dow surpassed the 21,000 milestone. What an incredible run in such a short period of time! Not only is the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) notching new record highs almost daily, the Nasdaq (chart) last Thursday posted a new record at 6460, as did the S&P 500 (chart) setting a new record of 2484. Last but not least, the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) also set a new record last week of 1452. However, both the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) have reversed their upward trajectory over the last few trading sessions in a noticeable manner. Let’s keep an eye on this development.

I think it is safe to say that Q2 earnings reporting season has helped fuel the Dow Jones to new record highs as well as the S&P 500. Tech stocks have been reporting a mixed bag so far this earnings reporting season which is why that index has started to abate a bit. All eyes today are on Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL) which report their earnings results after the close. This could be the one stock that either reverses the latest mini-downward trend in the Nasdaq or for that matter, accelerate it. As I look to the technical shape of the the aforementioned indexes, only the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) is on overbought territory, while the S&P 500 (chart), Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) have begun their reversion to the mean and are all approaching the 50 value level of the relative strength index.

Game plan for August? Personally, I think it is time to reduce long exposure to equities due in part to this startling run stocks have had all year long. This coupled with the month of August being an historically weak month for equities could create the perfect set up for the much anticipated market correction that the bears have been waiting on. That said, I have to remind myself that there has been no such thing as typical in these markets for we have been in unchartered territory for a long period of time. One final note, it is always recommended to consult with a certified financial planner before making any adjustments to your portfolio.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George