The stock markets have been enjoying several weeks of continued gains after a market correction that ended around mid-February. Corporate earnings have been stellar, mostly on a net income basis, but many have also enjoyed sales growth as well, albeit from a low (2009) base.
We’ve had stock market indices that have run up to 18 month highs and we came within 100 points of 11,000 on the Dow Jones Industrial Average this week. Down days in the market have been only very mildly down as investors enjoy more confidence that the economy is slowly improving and that the possibility of a double-dip recession this year is nil. This has all happened despite bad news from Europe relating to Greece’s possible default on their sovereign debt, Fitch’s downgrade of Portugal’s sovereign debt, passage of “Obama Care”, poor sales of U.S. Treasury bills, record federal deficits, and still dismal (though improving) unemployment figures. The news that a South Korean Navy ship experienced an explosion yesterday barely made the markets blink. High inflation is currently nowhere in sight, though it’s a certainty that it will be here before we know it.
With any long string of stock market gains (with only minor down days) comes the inevitable correction in the market. During the latter part of this week, days that were up for the most part suffered downside reversals and profit-taking towards the end of the day. This could be a sign of another correction coming (perhaps in the range of 5-10%), portfolio managers adjusting their quarter-end books, or just traders preparing for a week or so off for the Easter holiday. Dwindling stock market volume certainly would indicate that many are planning some time off. A correction would be healthy for the market, and would give those still sitting on the sidelines or mostly invested in bonds an opportunity to jump back into the stock market at a lower price. Stories are abound about $3 trillion still on the sidelines in money market accounts earning less than 1-2% interest or invested in low-risk short-term bond funds. I personally still believe that we will enjoy returns this year in the low to mid-teens while gross domestic product (GDP) growth will be in the 3-4% range, which is historically low.
Next Friday April 2nd, while the stock markets are closed (the bond markets are open), unemployment figures for March 2010 will be reported and they’re expected to show actual job growth for the first time since early to mid-2008. The boost will be partially attributable to the hiring of census workers, though employers, who are enjoying record productivity levels, have been increasingly hiring temporary workers and will have no choice but to make permanent hires soon, as the existing workforce grows exhausted from one person doing the work previously done by two people. Even General Motors announced this week that it is recalling 700 workers to its plant in Ontario Canada and plans to hire 60-70 new workers. The employment trend is definitely in the up direction, but the speed is still at a snail’s pace. For the unemployed, the pace is understandably far too slow.
For those taking some time off for spring break and the Easter holiday week (post or pre), I hope you enjoy your time off and have good weather wherever you go. To all who have to work, enjoy a great holiday nonetheless.
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A summary of the week’s market results :
Market Update For Week Ending 3/26/2010
International index is MSCI EAFE index. Bond data reflect net change in yield, not price. Indices are unmanaged and you cannot directly invest in an index.
Sam H. Fawaz CFP®, CPA is president of YDream Financial Services, Inc., a registered investment advisor. Sam is a Certified Financial Planner ( CFP ), Certified Public Accountant and registered member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) fee-only financial planner group. Sam has expertise in many areas of personal finance and wealth management and has always been fascinated with the role of money in society. Helping others prosper and succeed has been Sam’s mission since he decided to dedicate his life to financial planning. He specializes in entrepreneurs, professionals, company executives and their families.
All material presented herein is believed to be reliable, but we cannot attest to its accuracy. Investment recommendations may change and readers are urged to check with their investment advisors before making any investment decisions. Opinions expressed in this writing by Sam H. Fawaz are his own, may change without prior notice and should not be relied upon as a basis for making investment or planning decisions. No person can accurately forecast or call a market top or bottom, so forward looking statements should be discounted and not relied upon as a basis for investing or trading decisions. This message was authored by Sam H. Fawaz CPA, CFP and is provided by YDream Financial Services, Inc.