Was That It?

William Ehart  |  Feb 7, 2023

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL for mega-cap tech, meme stocks and cryptocurrencies. And the bond market is starting to party again, too. True, the financial markets have pulled back in the two trading days since Friday morning’s strong jobs report. Still, year-to-date performance has been startling.
Investor’s Business Daily reported recently that just 10 stocks, including Apple, Amazon, Tesla, Alphabet (parent of Google), Nvidia, Microsoft and Meta (parent of Facebook), have accounted for half of the S&P 500’s 7% year-to-date rally.

Read More

Sticking the Landing

Mike Zaccardi  |  Feb 6, 2023

WALL STREET WAS stunned Friday morning by the strength of the jobs market. While technology company layoffs have lately hijacked the fear-mongering media’s narrative, the truth is that the employment picture is quite strong.
With a 517,000 gain in net employment last month, along with ebbing wage growth, the “soft landing” crowd is one big step closer to winning the battle against the recession prognosticators. True, January’s jobs jolt is merely one data point.

Read More

Back From the Dead

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 30, 2023

JUST LIKE THAT, growth stocks are back in vogue. Vanguard Growth ETF (symbol: VUG) has outpaced Vanguard Value ETF (VTV) by more than nine percentage points over the past three weeks. That gap in favor of “risk-on,” meaning mainly technology shares, is the biggest since those two exchange-traded funds were created some 19 years ago.
What gives? Weren’t all the strategists proclaiming a new era of value investing? It still seems that way based on what you hear on financial TV and read in investment magazines.

Read More

Silver Linings

James McGlynn  |  Jan 27, 2023

THE FEDERAL RESERVE raised the federal funds rate in 2022 from zero to more than 4% to combat high inflation. While those rate increases severely damaged the stock and bond markets, they made some financial products more attractive. In particular, there are three products that are more appealing now than they were a year ago: income annuities, long-term-care insurance and various interest-paying investments.
Like many people, to take advantage of low loan rates, I refinanced my home mortgage before 2022’s rising interest rates.

Read More

Calm Before the Rally?

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 23, 2023

THE MARKET IS NOW in the heart of the corporate-earnings reporting season. Traders will soon be digesting big tech’s fourth-quarter profits, as well as a Federal Reserve meeting and monthly jobs data. That’s a lot to take in. Volatility must be high with so much hanging on the line, right? Wrong.
The Volatility Index, or VIX, has dropped significantly, nearing levels last seen during 2021’s bull market. At less than 20, the VIX—known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge”—implies a somewhat tame 30-day S&P 500 price change of less than 6%.

Read More

Not So Gloomy

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jan 22, 2023

IS THE STOCK MARKET headed for a sea change? That’s the argument money manager and author Howard Marks makes in his most recent memo.
The sea change Marks is referring to: For four decades, the federal funds rate declined steadily—from a peak of 20% in 1980 to 0% in 2020. The result, Marks argues, was a steady tailwind for the stock market.
In January 1980, the S&P 500 index stood at 108. At its peak early last year,

Read More

Guess Again

Sonja Haggert  |  Jan 21, 2023

DON’T LET PREDICTIONS cloud your thinking. When my husband and I first started investing, that was the wisest advice we received. You know the sort of predictions I’m talking about: “It’ll be a bad year for the stock market, so you should pull all your money out,” or “bitcoin is going through the roof, so stock up now.”
Last year, I decided to make a note of some of the predictions I read, and put them in my followup file for the beginning of this year.

Read More

Tune Out the Noise

John Yeigh  |  Jan 10, 2023

AS IF WE DIDN’T already have enough evidence, here’s further proof that stock market predictions have little value: A year ago, 24 highly regarded stock market pundits forecasted that the S&P 500 would close out 2022 at 4,904, according to data posted by CNBC’s Brian Sullivan. That 4,904 was the average, with their predictions ranging from a low of 4,400 to a high of 5,330. The S&P 500’s actual 2022 close was 3,840.

Read More

Cooling Off

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 9, 2023

LAST FRIDAY’S U.S. JOBS report was just what the doctor ordered. While much attention gets paid to the headline change in employment—which was a solid 223,000 gain in December—the bullish news was in the report’s details.
Average hourly earnings, a key measure of wage growth, were up 4.6% from a year ago, significantly less than the 5% consensus expectation. Weekly hours worked were also a smidgen less than forecasted—another “cool” reading on the inflation front.

Read More

My 2023 Forecast

Greg Spears  |  Jan 8, 2023

AROUND THE TURN of the year, investment experts issue their forecasts for the next 12 months. Bloomberg says it has gathered more than 500 market predictions for 2023, with many forecasting a rough year for the financial markets.
I’ve done my research as well, and I’m now prepared to offer my forecast: There’s an 80% chance that the S&P 500 will return between -10% and 30% in 2023.
I can’t claim this as original work.

Read More

After the Swan Dive

Bill Kosar  |  Jan 2, 2023

I’VE BEEN RETIRED for six years and—like many retirees—I rely on my portfolio’s appreciation, interest and dividends for most of my retirement income. The high inflation of 2022, coupled with poor stock and bond market returns, have me pondering what history would predict for 2023’s performance.
I decided to look at how frequently both the stock and bond markets have performed poorly in the same year, and what subsequent returns have typically been. Simultaneous declines in both the U.S.

Read More

Yardsticks for Stocks

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 2, 2023

THERE ARE MANY WAYS to gauge whether individual stocks and the overall market are expensive. But which valuation metric should you rely on?
The fact is, you can find metrics to buttress any market narrative you want to believe. Such confirmation bias can prompt investors to make big changes to their mix of stocks and more conservative investments—sometimes with disastrous results.
As a market analyst, writer and former university finance instructor, I’m familiar with a host of valuation tools.

Read More

It Could Be Worse

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 26, 2022

FEELING DESPONDENT about your 2022 investment returns? Yes, it’s been a grueling year for almost all stock and bond investors. But some folks have been hit far harder than others.
In the bounce back from 2020’s coronavirus market crash, near-zero-percent interest rates, coupled with consumers flush with cash, made for pockets of irrational exuberance. High-risk growth stocks—like those owned by Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation ETF (symbol: ARKK)—captured the imaginations of Wall Street and Main Street alike.

Read More

New Year New Worries

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 19, 2022

LAST WEEK MIGHT HAVE been the moment we flipped from inflation worries to recession risks. On Tuesday, November’s inflation report turned out to be cooler than economists expected. Stocks initially soared, only to sell off toward the end of the day in anticipation of Wednesday’s news. Sure enough, the next day, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell delivered not only a 0.5-percentage-point interest rate increase, but also a stern message in his press conference afterward.

Read More

Slowdown Ahead

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 12, 2022

ARE YOU TRAVELING for the holidays? There’s good news for drivers. Average retail pump prices have dropped below $3.30 a gallon, with many states seeing prices under $3. This positive development for consumers—including those off to grandma’s house this season—comes as wholesale gasoline futures fall to their lowest level in a year.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, and just in time for the busy U.S. summer driving season, gas prices notched all-time highs near $5 per gallon.

Read More