Jerome Powell

FED TO THE RESCUE

The major stock market averages opened a bit higher this morning (Dow +50 pts; SPX +.25%). This week has been one of recovery, especially after a couple of Federal Reserve officials hinted that they’d loosen monetary if necessary to keep the business cycle alive. Energy is the best performing sector in early trading, up 1.2% despite the fact that oil prices are down again. Some kind of bounce is to expected since energy has absolutely cratered over the past six weeks on oversupply concerns. Today, WTI crude oil is down .6% to trade around $51.44/barrel. Gold is now up 4% on the year as a safe-haven trade. Bonds are trading higher this morning as yields dip again. The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) shot up 1% today as the 10-year Treasury bond yield fell back to 2.09%. The reason for continued bond market gains is also the Fed (see below).


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

RELIEF RALLY

Stocks opened higher today on some ever-so-slightly encouraging trade headlines. The Dow is currently up 390 points and the SPX is up 1.5%. The best performing sectors—financials and tech—are up over 2% in early trading. Real estate and utilities are in the red. The VIX Index sank back to 17 and somehow traders are in the mood to buy stocks, saying we’re “oversold.” European markets closed up by about .5% to 1%. Commodities are mostly trading higher, save gold. WTI crude oil fell at the open but recovered to $53.30/barrel. The bond market is broadly lower today. The 10-year Treasury note yield rebounded to 2.14% this morning after falling to a 20-month low. By the way, 2019’s downshift in bond rates and inflation have stoked speculation that the Federal Reserve will be cutting its policy short-term interest rate before long. Fed officials are obviously noncommittal but Chair Jerome Powell said in a speech today that the Fed will “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.” That’s exactly what investors want to hear.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

POST FED MEETING HANGOVER

Stocks opened lower this morning (Dow -104 pts; SPX -.58%). There is a bit of pouting among traders in the wake of yesterday’s Fed meeting (see below). Interest rates are rising, and that means bank stocks are up and utilities & real estate are down. Commodities are mostly lower in early trading. Copper has lost about 5% over the last two days. WTI crude oil tumbled more than 3% today to trade around $61.30/barrel. US oil stockpiles are at a two-year high while the volume of US production is at record levels. Bonds are falling in price as a result of the Fed meeting. The 10-year Treasury yield snapped back to 2.55%. Apparently, some traders had positioned with the expectation that the Fed would discuss cutting interest rates in the near future. That seems terribly misguided but appears to have been the case.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE FED

Stocks opened sharply higher today (Dow +161 pts; SPX +.67%). Interest-rate sensitive sectors are moving in response to yesterday’s Fed meeting (see below). Homebuilders, REITs, and utilities are up nicely, while banks are down on the day. Commodities are mixed (gold down, copper and iron ore up). WTI crude oil is flat, hovering around $60/barrel. Bonds are sharply higher as well. The 10-year Treasury yield slipped to 2.52% after the Fed announcement. That’s a 14-month low. The yield curve flattened again; the difference between the 2-year and 10-year Treasury yields is down to 11 basis points (.11%).


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

DOUBLING DOWN ON A DOVISH FED

The major stock market averages are mixed in early trading (Dow -70 pts; SPX +.5%; Nasdaq +.6%). Gold miners, healthcare, and energy exploration stocks are all up about .7% to 1.2%%. On the other hand, airline and aerospace names are trading lower, paced by Boeing (BA) down 6.7% after the Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed. Retailers and consumer staples names are flat to down at the moment. The US dollar is weaker today after a softer inflation report (see below), and not surprisingly, commodities are trading higher. WTI crude oil is back up around $57.22/barrel. Copper is up .5% today and 12% on the year, reflecting optimism over a potential trade deal. Copper is sort of a commodity trader’s referendum on the Chinese economy, since China accounts for half of global copper demand. Bonds are mostly higher today as yields tick lower. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.63%, the lowest in the past 6 weeks.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

CROSSCURRENTS GIVE THE FED PAUSE

CROSSCURRENTS GIVE THE FED PAUSE

Stocks opened lower today, but quickly recovered. The Dow and SPX are currently flat. Financials, energy and tech sectors are in the green but most everything else is slightly lower. Copper, iron ore and oil are strong today. WTI crude oil is back up around $55.75/barrel. Copper is now up something like 13% on the year, and that’s usually a sign of economic strength overseas. Strangely, bonds are trading mostly higher as well. Long-term Treasury bonds are up about .2% and junk bonds are up nearly that much. The 10-year Treasury yield fell back to 2.65%. Since the beginning of February, interest rates have been treading water with very little volatility.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

EARNINGS TO THE RESCUE

EARNINGS TO THE RESCUE

EARNINGS TO THE RESCUE

Stocks opened higher today after Apple’s (AAPL) earnings announcement (see below). The Dow is currently up 369 pts and the SPX is up 1%. Tech, industrials and consumer discretionary sectors are leading the way, up over 1% in early trading. In particular, AAPL is up 4.7% and Amazon (AMZN) is up 3.4%. The VIX Index—a common fear gauge among traders—is still hovering around 19 where it has been for the past couple of weeks. With every passing day it seems more likely that Christmas Eve was the correction bottom. Commodities are trading mostly higher today. WTI crude oil is back up around $54.70/barrel and you can expect it to keep going in the near term. Bonds are mixed; Treasuries are down but junk bonds are higher on the day. The 10-year Treasury yield is hovering around 2.73% and has been pretty tight to that level over the last two weeks. The yield curve is still flattish but hasn’t inverted yet. By the way, Fed Chair Powell is scheduled to hold a press conference today discussing the FOMC’s monthly policy meeting.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

January 4, 2019

January 4, 2019

The stock market gapped up at the open after an encouraging jobs report (see below). The Dow and SPX are currently up 650 pts and 3%, respectively. Tech—hated by traders yesterday—is the best-performing sector, up over 3.5%. The materials sector is up 3% in early trading. Transports—again, hated yesterday—are up over 3% as well. The VIX Index is back down to 22.7, exactly even with VIX January futures. Traders are wondering why, when the market is now routinely moving more than 2% per day, the VIX isn’t well into the 30s. It may no longer be an accurate reflection of market volatility. European markets will close up over 2% in today’s session. The Chinese stock market has stabilized over the last several days, so that’s good news. After the release of the jobs report this morning, the dollar strengthened and bonds sold off. Opposite of the recent trend, Treasury bonds fell in price but junk bonds rose. The 10-year Treasury Note yield climbed back to 2.66%, surging 10 basis points from yesterday’s level. Bond yields provide different signals depending on the economic & market situation. At this moment, rising yields will signal some relief that perhaps the economic outlook isn’t as dire as the bears think.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

December 27, 2018

December 27, 2018

The major stock market averages lurched lower in early trading. The Dow is currently down 359 pts and the SPX is about 1.7% lower. The energy sector—down 2%--is the worst-performing. Most sectors are down more than 1% in early trading. The VIX Index—a common gauge of fear among traders—is back up around 33. European stock markets fell between 1.5% and 3% today. Asian markets were mixed overnight. The dollar is weaker today (and so far this month). WTI crude is trading back down around $45/barrel.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

December 20, 2018

December 20, 2018

Stocks sagged at the open again today following another interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve (see below). The Dow is currently down 367 pts and the SPX is down 1.5%. This looks like another risk-off day, with cyclical sectors like tech, energy, and consumer discretionary sectors down the most. The utilities sector is up 1% as retail investors look for safety. European markets are down more than 1% and Asian markets were down at least that much overnight. The dollar is weaker today after the Federal Reserve downgraded its outlook for US economic growth (see below). Copper and gold are trading higher, but WTI crude oil fell back to $46.20/barrel. Believe it or not, most of the bond market is trading lower as well. High-grade corporates and junk bonds resumed their slide. Long-term Treasury bonds, however, are moving higher in response to the Fed meeting. The 10-year Treasury note yield is hovering around 2.77%, the lowest level since April.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

December 4, 2018

Stocks fell at the open, giving up yesterday’s post-G20 meeting rally. The Dow is currently down 587 pts and the SPX is down 2.3%. A number of sectors are down more than 2% in early trading: consumer discretionary, financials, industrials, tech, materials. Only utilities are catching a bid. This is clearly a risk-off trade. Foreign markets closed mostly lower last night and early this morning. The VIX Index is back up to 19., but it should be higher if traders were really frightened. Today’s selloff is mostly due to program trading (i.e. “the machines”). The dollar is flat and commodities are trading higher. WTI crude oil, which was crushed in October & November, is edging back up toward $53/barrel. Bonds are faring well today as yields tick lower. In fact, over the last few days, Treasury bond prices have skyrocketed. And remember, bond prices run inverse to yields. So the 10-year Treasury yield is all the way back down to 2.92% for the first time in 2 ½ months. And all of the sudden, investors are again concerned about the yield curve. The difference between the 10-year and 2-year Treasury yields is down to just 10 basis points, or .10%. At the same time, junk bond prices continue to glide lower. The SPDR High Yield Bond ETF (JNK) is now off 6.4% from its January peak. So we’re seeing a risk-off trade in the bond market today as well.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

November 29, 2018

November 29, 2018

The major stock market indices opened lower this morning following yesterday’s relief rally. At the moment, the Dow is down 62 points, and the SPX is down .2%. Energy, healthcare and materials are up about .5%, but most other sectors are falling back, led by the cyclicals (tech, financials, consumer discretionary). WTI crude oil is bouncing a bit; now trading up around $52/barrel. Gold is up slightly today, but most other commodities are trading lower. Treasury bonds are trading up as yields tick lower. But corporates are falling, perhaps due to the Federal Reserve’s financial stability report (see yesterday’s market update). Remember how spiking rates and the threat of inflation was the talk of the town in August and September? Well, since then inflation has moderated and rates have fallen. The five-year Treasury note yield is all the way back down to 2.83%, and the 10-year Treasury yield collapsed back to 3.02%.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

November 28, 2018

November 28, 2018

Stocks opened higher again this morning (Dow +433 pts; SPX +1.46%), soothing the frayed nerves of panicky traders. All eleven major market sectors are in the green, led by tech (+2.2%) and consumer discretionary (+1.9%) sectors. The VIX Index is nearly unmoved at about 19. We’re seeing a relief rally, especially in riskier assets. The dollar fell on Fed comments (see below) and commodities are getting some relief. WTI crude oil bounced back to nearly $52/barrel. Bonds are up in price, down in yield, also responding to the Fed. The 5-year and 10-year Treasury yields ticked down to 2.86% and 3.04%, respectively.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

November 26, 2018

November 26, 2018

The major stock market averages jumped at the open (Dow +300 pts; SPX +1.25%). In an 180-degree turn from last week’s action, the market’s tenor is clearly risk-on today. Utilities, real estate and consumer staples are in the red, whereas financials and consumer discretionary sectors are all up over 2%. The VIX Index fell back under 20. European stock markets are poised to close about 1% higher. And China is one of the only markets to have declined overnight. WTI crude oil is trading up 2.5% to $51.70/barrel. Bonds are mixed in today’s session. Treasury yields ticked up, causing modest price declines. But junk bonds are moving slightly higher.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

October 11, 2018

October 11, 2018

The major stock market averages opened higher but quickly gave way. The Dow is now down 230 pts and the S&P 500 Index (SPX) is down 1% on the session. This is follow-through from yesterday’s rout, when the SPX gave up about 3%. Unlike yesterday, however, the tech sector is actually up slightly, whereas utilities and real estate sectors are down well over 1%. The energy sector is down 1.6% in early trading as oil prices retreat. The SPX is now about 6.6% off of its all-time high of about 2940. This morning, the index pulled back to a long-term support level of about 2,745. If today’s low holds, this will be viewed as a very orderly mini-correction.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

October 4, 2018

October 4, 2018

Stocks sank at the open on Fed/interest rate fears. The Dow is currently down 255 pts and the SPX is down .9%. Bank—and strangely enough utilities—are just about the only groups posing gains in early trading. Consumer discretionary, healthcare, technology and telecommunications sectors are all down more than 1%. The VIX Index is back up around 13.3, as you might expect. European stock markets are down between .8% and 1.2% in today’s session. Most of Asia was down overnight with the notable exception of China, which saw gains of about 1%. The dollar is flat on the day and commodities are mostly lower. Bonds are also selling off as yields rise. The 10-year Treasury yield just climbed to 3.20% for the first time in seven years. And since short-term yields aren’t up as much, the yield curve is the steepest it has been in two months.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

August 24, 2018

August 24, 2018

Stocks gapped higher this morning (Dow +154 pts; SPX +.6%). Flip-flopping from yesterday’s session, cyclical sectors like materials, energy and tech are leading the way. Utilities and consumer staples sectors are flat. This comes despite impeachment talk in Washington, no apparent progress in trade talks with China, and Fed Chair Powell’s comment that our economic expansion supports the case for further gradual interest rate hikes. The reason for today’s rally appears to be the durable goods report (see below). The VIX Index fell back toward 12 this morning, indicating very little expected volatility over the next 30 days. European stock markets are poised to close about .3% higher but Asia was mixed overnight. The Chinese stock market can’t get out of its own way. The Shanghai Composite Index is down 21% this year. Today, the dollar is weaker and not surprisingly commodities are higher. WTI crude oil is trading up around $69.50/barrel. Copper is up over 2% after having fallen more than 20% this year. Bonds aren’t moving much. The 2-year Treasury yield, which tends to reflect Fed rate hike expectations, has gone nowhere for the last month. In other words, investors don’t believe the Fed will more aggressive with rate hikes. And yet, the difference between the 2-year and 10-year yields has fallen to just 19 basis points (.19%).


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

June 14, 2018

The major stock market averages gapped up at the open, but quickly faded. The Dow is currently flat and the SPX is up .25%. The Nasdaq is up .7%. The financial sector is down nearly 1% despite the Federal Reserve’s rate hike yesterday (see below). That’s quite a surprise. Utilities, telecom and real estate sectors, on the other hand, are up about 1% in early trading despite better economic data. European stock markets are surging today after the European Central Bank’s policy meeting (see below). The dollar is stronger today against a basket of foreign currencies and not surprisingly, commodities are mostly trading lower. WTI crude oil is down modestly to $66.50/barrel. Bonds are trading up modestly. The 5-year Treasury yield is pretty much unchanged at 2.82% but the 10-year Treasury yield ticked down to 2.95%. So the yield curve is flatter today. This is not at all what I expected to see this morning. What we have today is a tug-of-war between various powerful forces in the market. CNBC’s Rick Santelli characterized this market action as “incongruent.”


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

April 9, 2018 Special Update

Up One Day, Down The Next

Last Friday’s jobs report was supposed to be the big event of the week. It was supposed to either send the all clear signal or upset the apple cart; to confirm or deny a spike in wage inflation; to let us rest easy about labor market strength or perhaps reveal a slowdown in hiring momentum. Alas, it never delivered the excitement traders were looking for. 

Not that Friday’s trading session lacked excitement. The Dow fell 572 points and the S&P 500 fell 2.2%, capping a week of extraordinarily large rollercoaster swings. In fact, Vanguard’s Jack Bogle said that with the possible exception of the 1987 crash, he’s never seen such volatility as characterizes this stock market. 

The jobs report and its standard set of figures on payrolls, unemployment, and wage growth turned out OK. Inflation isn’t spiking. The labor market isn’t over-heating. New payroll growth decelerated, but that was largely due to weather-related issues. Other metrics like average workweek were on track. Just as with other recent economic data, there’s nothing in the report to cause an unhinging of the stock market. Nothing to explain the spike in volatility. 

What hit the market on Friday was the perfect storm of words, not data. President Trump is again engaged in a war of words with the Chinese. Thursday evening, Mr. Trump asked the US Trade Representative to consider additional trade tariffs on $100bil worth of Chinese imports. In response, China’s Commerce Ministry issued a statement that it is ready to fight a trade war. “The Chinese side will follow suit to the end and at any cost, and will firmly attack, using new comprehensive countermeasures, to firmly defend the interest of the nation and its people.” On Friday morning, Mr. Trump Tweeted that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is giving an unfair trade advantage to China due to its classification of that country as “developing.” But while the war of words progressed, neither side moved closer to face-to-face negotiations. 

And there are signals that this issue isn’t going away soon. US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview that while the Trump Administration doesn’t want a trade war, “there is the potential” for one. He is “cautiously optimistic” that both sides will reach a solution. In a radio interview, the president said, “I’m not saying there won’t be a little pain, but the market has gone up 40%, 42% so we might lose a little bit of it. But we’re going to have a much stronger country when we’re finished.” 

Also thrown into the mix on Friday was congressional testimony by the new Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. He noted strong economic momentum in the US. “Given that the current pace of growth is above trend, my view is that we need to continue on the path of raising interest rates.” Mr. Powell’s message was a positive one, as expected. But considering the day’s events, investors were not in the mood to hear about further monetary tightening. The Dow took another leg down as he spoke. Mr. Powell tried to steer clear of trade tariff concerns, but when asked he said it’s “really too early” to estimate any economic impact. 

In that reply, Mr. Powell showed wisdom. We don’t yet know whether Mr. Trump’s sound bites constitute a new durable policy or simple rhetoric used as a negotiating tactic. We also don’t have a clue about the timeline for tariffs. Mr. Mnuchin said they “will take some period of time to go into effect. There will be public comment, while we’re in the period before the tariffs go on. We’ll continue to have discussions.” Besides, words change from day to day. Over the weekend, Mr. Trump eased his tone, Tweeting “President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade.” Hence, the stock market bump this morning. 

The culprit for market volatility is clear. Words, in speeches, interviews and Tweets, made traders shoot first and ask questions later. That immediate re-pricing of investment risk may prove to be unwarranted, however. Aside of positive economic momentum, corporate earnings are expected to be very strong this year. Core business trends are largely positive and by one estimate $800bil in economic benefit will come from tax reform. US companies will begin reporting first quarter results this week, and we very much hope that investors and traders pay more attention to those reports than to presidential Tweets. As Bloomberg posits, “Markets Want to Rally—If Politicians Will Let Them.”
 


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

March 22, 2018

Stocks opened sharply lower this morning (Dow -366 pts; SPX -1.3%) on trade war fears. It looks like the SPX wants to re-test its recent correction low. The tech sector is under pressure again today (-2%) as a result of Facebook’s (FB) user account data leak incident, which made its way back into headlines on Monday. Traders are using this as an excuse to take profits across the entire sector. Make no mistake, fundamentals are in the back seat today and traders are taking the lead. That’s why volatility is exploding so quickly. Everything could turn on a dime, however, so don’t be surprised if stocks end the session in the green. Most sectors are down over 1% in early trading. Only consumer staples, real estate and utilities are in the green. European markets are poised to close down about 2% and Asia was mostly lower overnight. Emerging markets stocks are getting hammered (-3%). WTI crude oil is down 1% to $64.50/barrel. Bonds are performing well as yields plunge. The 5-year and 10-year Treasury note yields are hovering around 2.61% and 2.81%, respectively.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.