Thursday, September 25, 2014

So what the heck's going on this morning??

So what's on the market's mind this morning, as it sells off like it hasn't since July 31st? Well... being that the mind of the market is the collective mind of thousands upon thousands of investors, any commentary that might offer up an answer is pure speculation. So with that out of the way, here's my pure speculation:

In my early morning audio, which I'm sure you listened to first thing this morning, I suggested that the headlines suggested that the then 120 Dow drop was in reaction to weak durable goods orders and woes at Apple. If indeed the durable goods number is a contributing factor, I don't believe it's due to the dramatic drop---in that that was all about Boeing. I'm guessing it was the good news in the report that would inspire angst in traders---particularly when you add in this morning's prediction by Dallas Fed President Fisher that the first increase in the fed funds rate will come as soon as next March. Remember, a large contingent of traders are trading on the Fed. In terms of Apple, sure, it's a factor---in that it is no small component in the major averages (responsible for 20% of this morning's NASDAQ pullback)---ex the Dow. Should you worry about Apple? At 14 times this year's estimated earnings, with the immediate success of the iPhone 6 (yes, I know you can bend the 6+), with the payment system, the coming watch and its partnership with IBM (finally going after the business market), I don't think so.

So what else? Well... there's Putin threatening to seize foreign assets in reaction to heightened sanctions. As I've suggested throughout the Ukraine experience, Russia has become too dependent on cross-border trade to go too deep into this conflict without doing serious harm to its economy. If Putin indeed seizes foreign assets, which he may very well do, he runs the risk of setting a modern-day precedent that could cause his country major long-term economic pain. European stocks seemed to sell off on that news.

Then there's the strong U.S. dollar. While one shouldn't gripe about his currency gaining strength, commodity related sectors (they tend to correlate negatively with the dollar) which, alas, are some of my current favorites, have been taking a real hit---and they are no small component in the major averages. Plus, a stronger dollar makes U.S. exports more expensive for our overseas customers. So, make no mistake, there is dollar-related pressure on the multinationals that comprise the major U.S. stock averages. Of course, longer-term, there's a huge silver lining to a stronger dollar. For one, lower oil prices are huge for car-driving consumers, whose lifestyles improve as their gas bills decline. For another, while exporters may prefer a weaker dollar, a stronger dollar makes the inputs they import from abroad (which is a big deal) become less expensive and can serve as an important offset to the negatives.

I could easily come up with a few more potential factors, but I'll leave off with the above. And leave you with a calming (hopefully) reminder: While---as you know (right?)---a constantly rising stock market is not only not normal (impossible even), it's not healthy. And while we'll never successfully time the corrections (hopefully because we'll never try), we know they'll come and, if we're thinking straight, we'll welcome them as healthy breathers that purge a few excesses in the process.

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