With Ben Bernanke's official confirmation as chairman of the Federal Reserve, the bulls on Wall Street can gore and tear to pieces that red flag for stocks waved by recent uncertainty about his reappointment.
Attention now turns to this week's labor market data. Thursday morning will yield the weekly report on Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, an important Leading Indicator of economic activity, while Friday, February 5 brings us the Employment figures for the month of January. After two years of dismal reports, the labor market finally is on the verge of showing an increase in jobs - if not this Friday, then a month from now.
In recent months, economic data has gotten "less worse." The stock market will welcome increases in workers on the job as confirmation that Bernanke's "green shoots' of last Spring are morphing into tangible signs of economic growth. We have seen good news recently on GDP, the ISM survey and corporate earnings. Even formerly depressed industries, like media/advertising are springing back to life. But expanding employment will be the key to a sustained economic recovery and news of job creation, likely this month or next, will give a strong boost to stock prices.
Accordingly, Landy Investment Management has moved solidly back into stocks, after a brief hiatus occasioned by the recent uncertainty on Bernanke's confirmation. We had been heavily invested in stocks nearly the entire time since mid-October, 2008. We hold important sector positions in (1) large-cap computer industry stocks, including Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), and Google (GOOG); and (2) pharmaceuticals, including AMAG Pharmaceuticals (AMAG), Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS), Suremodics (SRDX), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ); and (3) the oil industry, including Oceaneering (OII) and Occidental Petroleum (OXY).