Finally, a relative calm day---and this following the Greek elections. The indices (DJIA 17678, S&P 2057) closed within uptrends across all timeframes: short term (16457-19229, 1911-2892), intermediate term (16493-21648, 1737-2451) and long term (5369-18860, 783-2083).
Volume was fell; breadth improved. The VIX declined 7%, finishing within a short term trading range, an intermediate term downtrend and below its 50 day moving average.
The long Treasury dropped, closing back below the lower boundary of its very short term uptrend (a finish below this boundary today will confirm the break), above the upper boundary of its short term uptrend, within its intermediate term uptrend and above its 50 day moving average.
GLD was lower, but is still in a very short term uptrend, above the upper boundary its short term uptrend, within an intermediate term trading range and above its 50 day moving average. It appears GLD is now in a consolidation. I am watching where it finds support.
Bottom line: there was enough bad news (see below) to push stocks down yesterday, but they managed to advance. And they did so with considerably less volatility than we have become accustomed to of late. I would score that a positive. On the other hand, the Averages have still made two lower highs and that is not so good. My focus is on the uptrends as well as the most recent discernable support (the mid December lows) and resistance (the former all-time closing highs) levels.
GLD is now in the consolidation that I have been awaiting. If it holds trend, then our Portfolios will likely start to nibble.
Seventh and pre-election year seasonal charts (short):
One datapoint was reported yesterday: the January Dallas Fed manufacturing index was negative versus an anticipated increase. Not good; but this is a secondary indicator. So nothing upsetting.
The disappointing trend in earnings reports/guidance continues with MCD and UTX coming up short of investor expectations.
***overnight, there was a bevy of poor reports (see below).
Overseas, S&P lowered Russia’s credit rating to junk and the fighting continued in Ukraine. The latter we already knew and the former was not a particular surprise. However, as I am sure you know, the focus was on the Greek election results and the somewhat larger block of seats gained by the anti-austerity party. The rhetoric immediately following was surprisingly calm both from the leadership of the new government and the powers that be in the EU. I am sure that had a settling effect on investor emotion. To be sure, there is a considerable distance between the stated positions of the two parties and that is not likely to be closed absent a game of high stakes poker. On the other hand, the EU politicians always seem to come up with a ‘muddle through’ solution. I will continue to plead ignorance on how this situation resolves itself; but until we know who blinks and what the consequences are, there remains the risk of significant disruptions in the financial markets.
How much success will Greece have in ending austerity? (medium):
Or is it a disaster? (medium)
***overnight, Chinese industrial profits fell 8% year over year.
Bottom line: between the residual giddiness over the new ECB (Canadian, Danish and Turkish) QE and the fact that the winning party in the Greek elections didn’t start out with guns a’blazing, investors seemed relatively sanguine yesterday. Nevertheless, the list of potential risks to US economic progress and by extension the growth in corporate profits is extensive. And the ongoing trend in earnings/guidance disappointments speaks directly to that risk. So if the upbeat scenario that is seemingly priced into stocks are current levels were to begin to unravel, the risk on the downside to prices is significant if our Valuation Model is even remotely close to being accurate.
I can’t emphasize strongly enough that I believe that the key investment strategy today is to take advantage of the current high prices to sell any stock that has been a disappointment or no longer fits your investment criteria and to trim the holding of any stock that has doubled or more in price.
Bear in mind, this is not a recommendation to run for the hills. Our Portfolios are still 55-60% invested and their cash position is a function of individual stocks either hitting their Sell Half Prices or their underlying company failing to meet the requisite minimum financial criteria needed for inclusion in our Universe.
Stephen Roach on ECB QE (medium):
Investing for Survival
Ease into retirement (short):
Van Kampen Municipal Opportunity Trust is a closed-end management investment company. Its investment objective is to provide a high level of current income exempt from federal income tax, consistent with the preservation of capital.
The fund invests approximately 98% of its assets in bonds and may be considered for investors seeking a Municipal - National strategy. The Invesco Municipal Opportunity has returned an annual rate of 6.26% since inception. More recently, the fund has generated a total return of 5.69% in the last five years, 2.40% in the last three years, and 17.79% in the last year. On a year to date basis, VMO has returned 13.54%. Downside risk has been below average, has a three year standard deviation of 11.8% and fund has had moderate volatility in its monthly performance over the last 36 months. As VMO is a closed end fund, it has no front end or back end load. The ETF Portfolio owns a full position in VMO.
News on Stocks in Our Portfolios
Note the increasing amount of red in these reports
This Week’s Data
The January Dallas Fed manufacturing index fell to -4.4 versus expectations of +4.0.
December durable goods orders fell 3.4% versus estimates of +0.7%; ex transportation, they dropped 0.8% versus forecasts of an increase of 0.8%.
Real median household income rose in December (short):
Quote of the day (short):
International War Against Radical Islam