Market Turbulence Ahead: Time to Rebalance

by: Libby Mihalka, CFA

At the end of last week, the indices were all moving towards new highs. Despite slowing earnings growth the market just keeps heading up. While the long term trend is healthy, I think we are in for some turbulence. Usually when the market moves aggressively ahead, pushing toward new highs, after a while it takes very little news to derail the train. It seems inevitable as we head into the summer that the market will consolidate its gains by pulling back a little. The market will then take the summer off to digest the latest gains.

While the majority of the economic news remains positive there are negatives looming out there. For instance, there is slower U.S. employment growth, tightening credit, higher gas prices, slowing corporate earnings growth, and falling housing prices). Despite the negatives, the current situation does not warrant selling and walking away. Corporate earnings are still strong and P/E ratios are still reasonable.

lm 1

The current market conditions do warrant implementing a strategy of rebalancing and trimming. Increasing cash holdings over the next few weeks will enable an investor to take advantage of any pull backs. The catalyst(s) that could spark a correction is (are) unknown, but it could finally be the U.S. consumer cutting back or disappointing economic data.

It is likely that turbulence will be minor should it happen at all. The new global economy will continue to perform well pulling the U.S. market along with it. The story here is really the global economy and not just us anymore.

For right now, the market is still hot because of accelerating merger-and-acquisition activity. As of the end of last week the mid cap market has been blazing hot since the start of the year. In the last few weeks large cap domestic stocks have picked up the pace. It is very unclear whether large caps will finally outperform small and mid caps this year. It is inevitable that large caps will at some point outperform its small cap brethren in the future due to valuation metrics (see past blog postings for more information). International stocks are still chugging along with the MSCI EAFE (NYSEARCA:EFA) up approximately 8% for the year. Bonds are showing some life with the Lehman Bros Aggregate index up almost 2% year-to-date.