Chicken Little is Alive and Well

In Friday morning’s piece, The “All-Important” Jobs Report, I discussed that it’s much more important to watch how the markets react to the news rather than what the actual news is. The jobs report was abysmal and the media reacted in kind by rolling out every bearish economist to let us know that the economy was as weak as anytime since 2009. Market strategists also responded as expected with the same wrong calls for a major correction and new bear market.

How many times have we heard these Chicken Littles calling for the end of the world over the past 7 years? It’s such a joke than anyone listens anymore to people who have been continuously misguided for that long. Don’t get me wrong. I make more than my fair share of mistakes. It’s always okay to be wrong; it’s just not okay to stay wrong.

Anyway, after some weakness early Friday morning, stocks slowly and surely rallied throughout the day into the close. That continued on Monday and Tuesday with the S&P 500, S&P 400 and Russell 2000 closing at new highs for 2016. Since I turned positive again on stocks on May 23, the major indices have rocketed higher and are still moving higher today. The peak is not close at hand although some short-term pause to refresh may be closer on the horizon. That could mean 1-3% on the downside. Buying weakness remains the correct strategy until proven otherwise as has been the case since early February.

Interesting to note that almost no one is talking about the fact that both stocks and bonds are rallying sharply together…

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The “All-Important” Jobs Report

Another new month, another employment report. As usual, the media is hyping this to the Nth degree as a clue to what the Fed is going to do with interest rates later this month. I learned very early on that economic reports and earnings and geopolitical news don’t really matter. It’s how the markets REACT to the news that’s really important. In October 2000, companies started reporting very solid earnings, but stocks fell sharply day after day in what became a multi-year bear market. Even in January 2008, GDP was reported to be be on the strong side, just as stocks were collapsing into the first 20% decline of the bear market.

Don’t get hung up on what is released today.

Stocks closed Thursday at their highest levels of the year, something I have been discussing here after turning positive on the market almost two weeks ago. History says there is a 75% chance that stocks close higher on Friday. Then, yet another short-term, routine and healthy pullback should ensue. If stocks gap up at least moderately after the employment report, that would be a good selling opportunity for very short-term oriented people with the idea to buy them back into the first bout of weakness from the typical post-jobs hangover.

Intermediate and long-term, the stock market remains constructive with all-time highs on the way.

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April Employment Report Turns the Tide

One of my long held beliefs is that it really doesn’t matter what the news is, only how the markets react. In almost 27 years of trading, investing and watching, I have seen it too many where the news is so powerful in one direction, yet the market reaction is the exact opposite. Hence, the terms “buy the rumor, sell the news” or “sell the rumor, buy the news”. And sometimes, the news is as expected, yet markets see a more violent reaction. That was the case on Friday with the April employment report.

Since the economic recovery began in 2009, my thesis has been that the U.S. will have your typical post financial crisis recovery, seen many times previous after the Great Depression part I, South America, Latin America and Japan. Growth teases and tantalizes on the upsides, yet ever fully reaches escape velocity where GDP feeds on itself. Historically, it takes two full recessions to return the economy to its previous “normal” state. After six years, that’s where our economy remains.

After another brutal winter in the eastern half of the country first quarter GDP growth was borderline recessionary, just like we saw in 2011. We have now seen the “seasonally adjusted GDP” show some odd negative seasonal tendencies in Q1 that are not being adequately adjusted since the recovery began. Since I remain sanguine on the economy and bullish on the stock market, that leads me to believe that our economy will bounce back strongly in Q2 and Q3, just as it’s done over the past few years.

Getting back to Friday’s jobs report, non-farm payrolls grew by 223,000, equaling expectations while the unemployment rate came in at 5.4%, the lowest since May 2008. The U6 unemployment rate, which measures the unemployed and underemployed came down to 10.4% from 11% in March. Keenly watched hourly earnings only increased by 0.1%, keeping any wage inflation concerns solidly under wraps.

The best description I can give of this report is Goldilocks, not too hot and not too cold although some in the perma-bear (continually wrong) camp are hanging their hats on the older ages of those filling new jobs rather than how well dispersed the new jobs were across sectors. Stocks soared and bonds bounced back. Anyone left hanging on to a June interest rate hike by the Fed has to be convinced that is has barely a puncher’s chance of occurring and that while September may be on the table, it’s looking less than 50-50. The jobs market is solid and stable, but far from overheating. I think the Fed needs to see a very good Q2 GDP print in a few months coupled with at least two or three straight employment reports showing a minimum of 250,000 new jobs created.

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