What’s Going On With The Markets?

Well that was quick!

I’m referring of course to the short uptrend from the stock market correction that had seen a bottom on June 8. As of today, the S&P 500 index undercut the lows of the last correction and has put us back into another market correction. With all the overhang from worldwide events and mounting evidence of a slowing recovery, investor, consumer and institutional sentiment are at their lows.

In last week’s statement from the Federal Reserve, where it continued to hold interest rates at 0-0.25% for an extended period, the “Fed” acknowledged a softening recovery and lackluster employment growth. Hints of another fiscal stimulus or monetary easing emanated from Washington to help avoid a possible double-dip recession. Now you may have heard about the G-20 Summit meeting this past weekend in Toronto where the United States was the lone voice in encouraging a coordinated effort of more fiscal stimulus to heed off a global recession; instead, most European nations were insistent that austerity measures and tax increases were the way to go to bring their fiscal houses in order. While I’m totally in favor of balanced budgets and fiscal conservatism, simultaneously cutting spending and raising taxes are the surest way to plunge your country into recession or worse, depression (history has demonstrated this time and time again.) At a time when the recovery is so fragile, doing one of the two is risky; doing both is simply economic suicide.

The Conference Board reported a sharp drop in Consumer Confidence today which caught Wall Street completely off guard. However, today’s figures are in sharp contrast to last Friday when the University of Michigan reported its Consumer Sentiment gauge at the highest level in two years. Although the 9.8 point drop in the Conference Board numbers was higher than expected, keep in mind that Consumer Confidence fell over 10 points in February just before the last stock market rally. These numbers really don’t mean a whole lot to the markets, so I’d caution against reading too much into today’s report or market reaction.

As I’ve written before, the stock markets hate uncertainty. With the BP Gulf disaster getting worse, the European Union is still arguing who should pay for whom and how much, financial regulation passage still uncertain, new job creation largely absent, and slowing growth in China, we have the makings of a “bad news salad.” Even though yields on money markets and Treasuries are at their lows, it seems that there is no appetite for risk or conviction in the markets by both the bulls and the bears. With poor May retail sales, jobs, and housing numbers, the bulls haven’t had much to hang their hat on lately. But keep in mind that one month does not make a trend.

So we find ourselves once again at a critical level in the markets today. At a closing level of 1,041 in the S&P 500, the bulls must come in and rescue this uptrend or risk dropping another 6% from here to about 980. I must admit that I believe that our only short-term hope of averting this drop is a very favorable June jobs number on Friday (on the order of 100,000 new jobs created.) Tomorrow (Wednesday), ADP will release their preliminary estimate of the jobs number (of mostly private employment; it does not include government jobs) and it is widely expected to show 60,000 new jobs created. The ADP report is widely anticipated as an indicator of the main jobs report, but it has been known to be way off. However, many institutions and traders treat it as a preview of Friday’s number. Let’s hope that the Labor Department has a nice 4th of July weekend send-off for us.

So much bad news, negative sentiment and consecutive down days are built into the market that a bounce is overdue and may come tomorrow (Wednesday) if the ADP jobs report is favorable. For our portfolios, I will be closely watching the 1,041 level on the S&P 500 index for support. If that support line is definitively broken, I will look to reinstate the portfolio hedges that have served us well in the past. Even at these market levels, we are still considered to be in a correction, not another bear market. By technical definition, a bear market is a 20% decline from a market high, which was 1,220 in the S&P 500 index. That gives us running room to 976 to avoid descending into another bear market.

I personally believe that with an undoubtedly positive 2nd quarter earnings season coming up and a good jobs report, we can avert the drop to bear market levels. I am not in the camp that believes that a double-dip recession or depression is in our near-term future. Short-term, a negative jobs report and poor earnings guidance combined with severe austerity measures around Europe will likely mean bad news for stocks. My broken crystal ball predicts however that we will pull out of this malaise and that the recovery, albeit tepid, will carry the markets upward through the rest of the year. However, if the markets insist on going lower into bear market territory, I will look to liquidate a portion of equity portfolios and increase our hedges. Recall that earlier in the spring I mentioned that the summer months would be both volatile and bumpy…and here we are.

I am working on my 2nd half 2010 market and economic outlook and will send it out to everyone later this week. I wish I had better news for you right now. Nonetheless, I hope this update helps you understand a little more of what’s going on with the markets. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who might benefit from reading it. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you or someone in your family or circle of friends is considering hiring a financial planner, please visit our website or consider a complimentary financial roadmap via the link below. Your first consultation with us is complimentary and there is no pressure to make any decisions.

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.

Market Update for May 20 2010

Today marked the 9th day out of the last twelve where the market sold off in a clear message that world governments need to get their acts together and control their fiscal, spending and regulatory policies.  With the Euro currency at historic lows, demonstrations in Greece, an environmental offshore oil catastrophe, German bans on naked short selling, higher than expected weekly job claims, and financial regulatory reform debates going on, we’ve had the perfect storm to extend this market correction.  Stock markets don’t like uncertainty and wishy-washy policy making, so they express their dismay by selling off risky assets.  As of today, the major indices have given back all their 2010 year-to-date gains and then some.  Nonetheless, the long term stock market uptrend remains intact, though as I’ve indicated before (May 6), we’re in for some bumpy times in the market for the summer.

I wish I could say that my crystal ball knew when this short-term pain to the downside would be over.  However, all technical indications is that this move downward is a bit overdone, though admittedly the move to the upside was also overdone in the short-term.  I believe that we’ll see a short or intermediate-term bounce in the next couple of days as value investors and bargain hunters swarm the markets.   We will do the same as the waters calm down.

Indications from Washington are that we may get a vote on the financial reform bill (being debated) tonight and perhaps remove some of the uncertainty in the markets.  I’m not sure what the Obama Administration will tackle next (immigration reform, tax reform, ban on sovereign bailouts, take your pick), but you can bet that it will also rattle the markets when it gets underway.  The European Union appears to be working on a few measures to further restore confidence to the markets and those measures may come to light over the weekend or early next week.  Longer term, we will have to contend with overseas currency and economic weakness, further sovereign debt issues, huge budget deficits, and a stubbornly high unemployment rate.  For the time being though, we have an improving fundamental economic picture, ultra low interest rates, excellent corporate earnings, and plenty of unspent stimulus to keep the market uptrend going for awhile.

Because I felt that it was more likely than not that the majority of the short-term move downward was over today, I decided to lift about 50% of the contra-position hedge that I held on client accounts.  This will allow portfolios to more fully benefit when the uptrend resumes. Leaving 50% of the position “on” allows me to be at least half-right in case there is more downside to come.  This is just prudent hedging.  Should the markets show signs of continuing their downward trend, then it’s just as easy to put the position back on and perhaps add to it.  As of this moment, I see no negative longer term indicators in the markets that tell me that I should be liquidating equity positions and moving to a higher cash position.

Please check out my January-February 2010 Money Magazine Portfolio Makeover-Can I retire Early? http://bit.ly/5aGwIO

Have a small business?  Don’t miss out on these business tax deductions http://bit.ly/a49I1K

Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TheMoneyGeek for relevant personal finance advice and tips on great deals.

Read our blog: http://themoneygeek.com

Reach Your Goals with a Complimentary Financial Roadmap: http://www.boulevardr.com/welcome/SamFawaz

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.

My no-nonsense no-spam policy: If you’d prefer not to receive future updates, just reply and let me know by typing “unsubscribe” in the subject (please don’t hit the spam button-it just puts me on a universal spammer’s list which is tough to get off of.)I’ll take you off my list immediately and permanently.  I will never sell, share, rent or give away your e-mail address to anyone.  Period.

%d bloggers like this: