Bounce to Continue. Yellen, Draghi & Harvey

We have several crosscurrents to end the week. Before I get to them, while I believe that stocks remain in pullback mode, I do not think that the bounce I wrote about on Tuesday is over just yet. There should be some more upside left. I am slightly encouraged by the very short-term strength in the Russell 2000 although it is about to test the underside of its long-term trend, also known as the 200 day moving average. That could cap the rally. Semis continue to hang in and refuse to tip their hand. On the other hand, transports broke down yet again this week and that’s a drag.

This is all within the context of the slowest activity of the year next week. “Slow” does not mean quiet nor lack of action. There have been many market events when participants have been on vacation. Russia’s debt default in 1998 is among the worst. It pays to stay vigilant.

The Fed’s annual retreat in Jackson Hole Wyoming is happening now. Chair Janet Yellen and ECB Chair Mario Draghi are both set to speak today. If any major policy moves lie ahead, I would expect a little hint in their speeches. Additionally, Yellen could/should offer some clues on the expected tapering of the Fed’s $4+ trillion balance sheet.

On the weather front, Hurricane Harvey is set to hit the Texas coast shortly. The worst forecasts have it making landfall and then pulling back offshore for another assault on land. Weather events are very short-term and quickly reversed market events. The energy sector is where we typically see the highest impact. I wrote about energy yesterday and I still feel the same way, storm or not. Thoughts and prayers are with all those in harm’s way! Stay safe!!

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Draghi & ECB Deliver

It’s a very busy week for the markets and economy coming off the ECB’s long anticipated announcement of Euro QE last week. On the one hand I thought it was smart to leak the $50B euros per month plan so that markets could digest it ahead of the official statement. It was also a great move to then exceed the number that was leaked by $10B euros.

On the other hand, I am not in favor of this piecemeal approach when everyone already knows that $60B euros per month won’t be enough. If Mario Draghi was truly committed to QE and saving the euro “at any cost”, they would have pulled all stops and done the shock and awe of AT LEAST $100B euros per month right away. It would caught everyone off guard in a positive way except for those who are positioned against QE, exactly the folks the ECB is trying to combat. It would have sent such a powerful message to the markets.

Yes, I know. The Germans are ardently opposed to QE. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That may be their public stance with Merkel pounding the table in opposition, but in reality with their export economy on the verge of recession, a weaker euro is precisely what the doctor ordered. As I have long discussed, this is just another currency battle in what some have termed, “a race to the bottom”, meaning that countries are devaluing their way to prosperity. (Insert incredulous look, head scratch and head shake)

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Draghi Delivers… Bears Lie in Wait

In one of the better telegraphed moves out of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi & Company gave the market what it had been expecting, using some fairly heavy ammunition to provide stimulus to Europe’s struggling economy. He may not have gone to Hank Paulson’s bazooka just yet, but they are getting close!

Thursday was a solid win for the bulls as the Dow, S&P 500, S&P 400 and Nasdaq 100 all scored new highs for 2014 with the lagging Russell 2000 leading the day in terms of price gains. A sore spot for the  bears to focus on has been the lack of confirmation by most of the major indices, but that has all but been eliminated with just the small caps needing to catch up.

Sector action was impressive across the board and the bulls continue to stampede each and every short-term opportunity, like the one I wrote about just two days ago. Some of the short-term concern remains with today’s employment report many times acting as a fulcrum for short-term move in the opposite direction.

I may sound like a broken record, but until proven otherwise, all short-term pullbacks are buying opportunities. The bull market may be old and wrinkly, but very much alive. Unless 2014 is a precedent setter, the usual pieces for a bear market are simply not in place and even 10%+ corrections should lead to more all time highs.

For today, a celebratory opening will offer the bulls a good spot to take some chips off the table, something I will consider for the first time in a long, long while. This bull market continues to be one of the most disavowed in my 25 year career. Investors seem to have this strong bearish anchor but temporarily get excited at new highs on news. That’s not a successful long-term strategy.

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Obama Victory, Market Sell Off

Congratulations to President Barack Obama and all of the politicians who were elected by the American people last night. In the end, although my candidate did not win, Democracy was and is always the big winner. As you know, I hardly ever use the word “hope” when discussing investing, but in this case, I do hope we somehow see congress and the president at least genuinely attempt to work together on a bipartisan basis. I don’t know a single person who wants four more years like the last two in DC.

I am going to be on FOX Business’ Markets Now at 1:30pm est today discussing the election results and its impact on the stock market and economy.

In yesterday’s Street$marts, (http://www.investfortomorrow.com/newsletter/CurrentStreet$marts20121106.pdf) I made the case that an Obama victory would see market upside and a Romney victory would see weakness. And that whatever the move was, it should continue into next week. So what’s going on today and why the sea of red in the stock market and the Dow now under 13,000?

Stocks traded higher on Monday and Tuesday. Some say it was Romney, while others say it was Obama. To me, it’s irrelevant. You can see that last night from 5pm to 10pm, the S&P 500 futures (an indicator of the overall stock market) traded lower as the results were announced. After Obama achieved 270 electoral votes for reelection, the S&P 500 futures turned around and headed higher until almost 6am. So when I woke up and saw the green, I thought the market would open to the upside.

That was until the European Central Bank’s Mario Draghi made negative comments about Germany’s economy weakening. From there, the futures fell sharply straight to the U.S. open at 9:30am and have continued lower ever since. Was Obama’s reelection the cause of today’s carnage or was it the ECB? In the grand scheme, it doesn’t really matter, but given the weakness in the financials and materials and relative strength in consumer discretionary stocks, it certainly looks like Europe is the bigger driver than the election.

stock market reaction to election

I would look for the weakness in stocks, on balance, to continue into next week before another attempt at a meaningful bottom begins for a year-end rally.