October 30, 2018

The major stock market averages opened sharply higher this morning (Dow +220 pts; SPX .8%). Ten of eleven sectors are in the green, led by real estate (+2%) and communications (+1.8%). In addition, semiconductors, transports, retailers, oil producers and biotechs are up nicely. Foreign stock markets are mixed today, with European indexes down about .3% but Japan’s Nikkei was up 1.4% and China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 1%. The US dollar continues to strengthen (up 2% this month and 5% on the year) and that is putting some pressure on commodities. WTI crude oil is down slightly to trade around $66.60/barrel. Copper is still down over 20% this year. Gold is down .4% today and about 6% on the year. Bonds are trading a bit lower as yields tick upward again. The 5-year Treasury yield is back up to 2.94% and the 10-year is up around 3.10%.

All the heavy hitters are weighing in on this stock market correction. Bob Doll, Nuveen’s Chief Equity Strategist, doesn’t see the correction leading to a bear market. “It would be unlikely to have a bear market while the economy is doing well. Corrections, they can happen anytime unannounced. Bear markets are usually associated with an economic problem, i.e. recession.” Rich Bernstein is “quite shocked” that investors are so worried about peak earnings. “Peak earnings leads one to believe that a profits recession is imminent, that within a quarter or two we’re going to have negative earnings growth.” That is not a realistic expectation. He does concede that we are seeing peak earnings growth of about 24%. That rate of growth is unsustainably high and will be decelerating to about 15% next year. But that is still very good earnings growth and can help sustain further upside in the stock market.

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