Archive for the ‘S&P 500’ Category

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Friday, March 15th, 2013

“In your life expect some trouble 
But when you worry
You make it double
Don’t worry, be happy…”

                                              Bobby McFerrin

Higher and higher.  The stock market has gone in only one direction since our last post and that’s been up.

As of yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had risen for 10 straight days for its best performance since 1996.  The S&P 500, likewise, surged past 1,560 having gained 3.05% in the past month.

Don’t worry, be happy

And, so what if the world is going broke, if that genius Ben Bernanke continues printing money, the Dow could rise from its current 14,500 range all the way up to 18,000 by the end of the year, according to Wharton School Professor Jeremy Siegel.

Don’t worry, be happy


What Recovery?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Maybe we should be used to high unemployment … but now the bad news on jobs is coupled with queasiness about corporate earnings.

The latest earnings season began with the S&P 500 dropping 1% yesterday.  It has dropped 2.5% over the past four trading days.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.8%

Based on estimates compiled by Bloomberg analysts, profits for S&P 500 companies fell 1.8 percent in the second quarter, marking the first decline since 2009.  More troubling, though, is that the drop is likely part of a trend.  What can we expect in the third and fourth quarters?

The S&P 500 Comes Up Short

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

The S&P 500 fell more than 2% yesterday, recording its worst one-day drop since December.  Was it disappointment with The Fed?  A sudden realization that the market shouldn’t rise when the economy is sinking?  A “fat finger” computer glitch?

There were plenty of reasons for the fall – and collectively they do not bode well for the U.S. economy:

  •  The Philadelphia Fed Survey fell unexpectedly to -16.6 for June, registering its worst reading since August 2011.  New orders, shipments and average work hours were negative this month, suggesting an overall decline in manufacturing business.  The decline was the second in a row, as the reading was -5.8 in May.

  • The HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 48.1 in June, down from 48.4 in May.  It was the eighth consecutive reading below 50.  A reading below 50 indicates contraction.  A continuing economic slowdown in China would slow orders from china’s trading partners.
  • Moody’s Investors Services downgraded 15 global investment banks after the market’s close.  Dick Bove, Vice President of Equity Research at Rochdale Securities called the downgrade “absurd,” arguing that the American banking industry’s balance sheets have improved “dramatically” over the past four years.  He noted that liquidity as a percentage of assets is at a 30-year high, bad loans are down and reserves against them are up.
  • Goldman Sachs recommended shorting the S&P 500, with a price target of 1285, which is about 5% below where it was when Goldman Sachs made the recommendation.
  • The S&P GSCI, a commodities index dropped to its lowest level since 2010.  It’s down 22 percent from a February peak.
  • The U.S. Labor Department reported that the four-week average of applications for unemployment benefits was at its highest level since September.

That’s a lot of bad news for one day.  No wonder traders followed Goldman Sachs’ advice.

Bad News Boosts the Market

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

In the strange world of investment management, bad news is often good news.

That was the case last week, as the S&P 500 gained a hefty 3.7%, more than reversing its 3% loss from the previous week.

The market rose 2.3% on Wednesday alone – its largest single-session percentage gain so far this year – amid signs that the already tepid economic recovery is slowing further.

So why did the market rally?  Because traders speculated that the Federal Reserve will react to the slowing economy with additional stimulus.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke didn’t even hint at any immediate plans for a third round of quantitative easing or any other steps to stimulate the economy.  The European Central Bank (ECB), likewise, left its benchmark interest rate at 1.00%.  However, ECB President Mario Draghi said that actions would be taken if needed.

So the chance that another round of stimulus may take place is enough to boost the market 3%.

S&P 500 Chart

Given that economic growth remains anemic and the unemployment rate is at 8.3% and is generally creeping up, not down, previous rounds of stimulus have had virtually no long-term impact.

Short-term, though, markets love quantitative easing, which makes investments in stocks appear desirable by making investments in other assets undesirable.

So if quantitative easing doesn’t help the economy and provides only a short-term boost to stock prices, maybe the Fed should just float a few rumors … plan a faux round of quantitative easing to give the markets a boost without any cost or harm to the economy.

The Pain in Spain, Part 2

 Spain added to the good-bad news last week, as Fitch downgraded Spain’s debt rating from A to BBB after the country held a successful debt auction.

A teleconference last week between G-7 finance ministers to discuss Spain’s banking system, along with other Eurozone problems, failed to yield any specific plan for addressing the crises, and Fitch followed up yesterday by dropping ratings on two major Spanish banks, Banco Santander S.A. (STD, SAN.MC) and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A. (BBVA, BBVA.MC).

The downgrades, from A to BBB, came in spite of a weekend agreement by the Spanish government to a European Union bailout of up to EUR100 billion, or about $125 billion.

Spain joins Greece, Portugal and Ireland in the growing list of bailees.  Soccer anyone?

Compared To What?

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

The U.S. dollar is the strongest it’s been in a year-and-a-half.  Is this renewed strength a sign of American economic strength?

In a way – but it’s all relative.  The euro broke to a new low recently, and the dollar and the Japanese yen were both stronger, because of a flight to quality.

Japan, which is still recovering from last year’s earthquake and tsunami, has enormous debt, as does the U.S.  So if the dollar and yen are strengthening, it’s a sign that the euro is in deep, deep trouble.

The yield on 10-year U.S. treasury bonds hit a new low recently, at 1.45%, as did the 10-year German bund (1.18%) and the 10-year British gilt (1.53%).

 Is Europe Burning?

Even the ever-bullish MarketWatch was noting a swoon in global markets, due to “fresh concerns that the European currency union is nearer to dissolution.”

As MarketWatch’s David Callaway noted, “Investors are rushing to safe havens in preparation for financial Armageddon, the long-feared run on European bank deposits that is expected to develop once Greeks awake some Monday morning this summer to find out the euros in their bank accounts have turned into devalued drachmas.”

 The Pain in Spain

In addition to growing conjecture that Greece is going to exit the euro, there is growing conjecture that Spain’s banks will need to be bailed out.

Recently, the S&P 500 broke below 1300.  Not coincidentally, at pretty much the same time, the yield on Spanish bonds went much higher.  Shortly afterward, the International Monetary Fund made a statement that it is considering bailing out Spain.  Shortly thereafter, the IMF made a statement denying any potential bailout.

So what’s really happening in Spain?  The answer is anyone’s guess, but if you’re considering investing your life savings in Spanish bonds, you may want to reconsider.

At least the price of oil is dropping.


Key Indexes

YTD (As of 5/30)

S &P
500 (SPX)


Composite (COMP)


Crude oil (NMN: CLN2)


Spain Ibex 35 (XX:IBEX)


Japan Nikkei 225 (JP:100000018)


Hong Kong


Russia RTS


Euro vs. dollar (EURUSD)


Treasurys (return) (10_YEAR)


index (DXY)


CBOE Market
Volatility Index (VIX)