With European markets closed for Easter on Monday and Asia soured by poor economic reports from both China and Japan, it was up to the domestic ISM report and the Construction Spending reports to give the market a boost. Construction Spending delivered a beat over last month's -2.1% reading and the consensus estimate of +0.9% with a 1.2% solid increase for February. Unfortunately, at about the same time, the ISM report--expected to handily beat last month's down 2.0% result with a +2.6% gain--reported only a 1.2% gain.
Apparently the market had a bias towards going down from the Asian reports and with nothing from Europe, the S&P 500 fluttered to close 0.5% down. Not good, but perhaps not so bad either. Tomorrow we get Factory Orders as well as Motor Vehicle Sales. If those are good and there's nothing significant from Europe or Asia, and the market still goes down, then that will be a fairly good sign that last week's high was at least a short-term peak and the probability of at least a modest downturn will be in play.
Last week's market performance was also flight-to-safety, yet record-setting as well for the S&P 500. Utilities, the best performing sector, were up 2%; Healthcare, coming in second, was up almost 2%; and Consumer Non-Cyclicals, the third best sector, was up 1%.
Today was quite similar with Healthcare coming in as the only positive sector (barely) with Utilities and Consumer Non-Cyclicals near the zero line, Industrials - not surprisingly - and the rest of the sectors were in the red.
It's worth noting that the SPDR S&P Homebuilding ETF, XHB, fell much more than the market, off -1.7%. Volume was on the weak side, so we need to be very cautious going into tomorrow. Focus on bargains. And hedge.
3 Stock Ideas for this Market
This week we selected three stocks from the top of our rankings, with special consideration given to Healthcare, today's only positive sector.
Apollo Global Management LLC (APO)-Financials
19.4% dividend yield
Trading for 10.8x current earnings, 7x forward earnings
Projected EPS growth: 17% 5-year
Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ)-Healthcare
Trading for11.5x current earnings and 7.75x forward earnings
Projected EPS growth: 27% 5-year, 20.7% in 2013, 48.8% current quarter
Santarus Inc. (SNTS)-Healthcare
Recent upward analyst revisions to EPS estimates
Trading for 66x current earnings and 15x forward earnings
Projected EPS growth: 20% 5-year, 163% in 2013, 1300% current quarter ($0.01-0.14)