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David Moenning is a the Chief Investment Officer at Heritage Capital, which focuses on active risk management of the U.S. stock market. Dave is also the proprietor of StateoftheMarkets.com, which provides free and subscription-based portfolio services. Dave began his investment career in 1980... More
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Daily State of the Markets
  • Will The Market Be Bullied By The Fed? 0 comments
    Jun 27, 2014 9:18 AM

    Daily State of the Markets
    Friday, June 27, 2014

    While the vast majority of investors probably don't have the time nor the interest in watching the stock market on a minute-by-minute basis, one can learn an awful lot about what is actually driving prices by doing so.

    Granted, it isn't important to watch every tick, every moment of every day. However, when something happens and the market makes a big move, watching the action closely - meaning on a one-minute chart - can really help one understand why Ms. Market may be doing what she is doing.

    For example, stock futures had been modestly lower before the open on Thursday morning. The spread between where futures were trading and fair value suggested that the S&P 500 might open down between 2 and 4 points. Yet, 5 minutes after the opening bell, the S&P was down 8 and dropping like a rock. And after 22 minutes, the S&P had lost nearly 15 points.

    To be sure, a 15 point drop isn't anything to write home about these days - especially with the market having defied the majority of analysts by continuing to trudge higher since the middle of April. However, it was the manner in which the 15 S&P points came off that was the key.

    In short, anyone expecting to see another sleepy summer morning in stocks was surely surprised by the sudden dance to the downside.

    Take a peek at the 1-minute chart of the S&P shown below and you'll see what we're talking about.

    S&P 500 1-Minute

    So, given that the futures had been down between 2 and 4 points most of the morning, the quick decline meant that something was up.

    Why The Dive? (Thursday Edition)

    It turns out that something indeed had happened to cause the boys and their fancy computer toys to flood the market with sell orders. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, who normally falls into the "dove" camp (i.e. the opposite of an inflation hawk), was talking about the Fed needing to raise interest rates sooner than expected.

    Below is the tweet I sent out in an effort to provide followers with an explanation of the rapid, unexpected dive in stocks:

    Bullard says markets don't appreciate how close Fed is to goals (and thus, tightening). Algos noticed.

    - StateOfTheMarkets (@StateDave) June 26, 2014

    In essence, Bullard told reporters after a speech Thursday that an improving economy and rising price pressures (Fed-speak for inflation) means that the Fed is getting closer to the time when it will need to normalize monetary policy (Fed-speak for hiking short-term interest rates back to "normal" levels) - and that the markets may not be prepared for such a move.

    "The Markets Aren't Ready"

    Bullard's exact words were, "I don't think financial markets have internalized how close we are to our ultimate goals."

    Bullard added that after a miserable showing by the economy during the first quarter, he sees the economy moving back to a 3% growth rate and inflation rising back towards the Fed's target of 2%.

    On the somewhat forgotten topic of the unemployment rate, Bullard said he sees the current 6.3% unemployment rate heading to 5.8% by year end. And if this happens, the St. Louis Fed President said the economy would be set up for the Fed to start normalizing their monetary policy.

    When Will Rates Rise?

    With regard to the idea of the Fed raising rates, Bullard added, "I'm starting to think the economy could tolerate at least a little bit of the central bank getting back to a more normal stance."

    Then came the punchline. In terms of WHEN the Fed might take action, Mr. Bullard said that he believes the most likely timing for the Fed's first rate hike would be near the end of the first quarter of 2015.

    Although the timing mentioned did not represent a departure from Bullard's public stance, the key point was he said the Fed needs to begin the conversation about when exactly to raise rates. "I predict the conversation about monetary policy will change," Bullard said.

    All's Well That Ends Well

    So, there you have it. Bullard says the markets don't appreciate how close the Fed might be to raising rates and wham, the algos started selling.

    However, stocks then spent the rest of the day slowing recovering from the algo-induced dive and the S&P finished down just -0.14%. Thus, the dip buyers didn't appear to be too concerned about Bullard's comments. And, of course, the seemingly contradictory action in the market left questions about what the market's focus is at the present time.

    So which is it? Will worries about the Fed raising rates sooner than expected cause more folks to start heading to the sidelines? Or... Is the REASON behind the Fed's potential move (i.e. recognition of the improvement in the economy) the key to the stock market's future?

    We shall see. But the key is this is about to get interesting.

    Looking For Investment Management Help?

    If you are looking for help with money management, check out Heritage Capital Management's Active Risk Manager Service - or call Heritage for more information at (630) 250-4700.

    ALL NEW: The Next Generation of the Daily Decision system is now available to clients of Heritage Capital. The upgraded system utilizes swing trading and mean reversion strategies during neutral market environments, multiple indices for long positions, incremental moves in and out of the market, multiple managers and multiple strategies - with the overall goal being reduced volatility, fewer and less impactful whipsaws, and a "smoother ride." To learn more about the "Next Generation" system, Read the Research Report

    Turning to This Morning...

    The sellers appear to be back this morning as traders don't appear to be happy about the action in the yen and the Japanese stock market. There also appears to be some ongoing concern about what the Fed might do and when. In addition, we will note that this is the Friday before the upcoming holiday week, which is traditionally a vacation week for Wall Street. Thus, traders may want to square positions before heading to the beach and avoid the potential for weekend headline risk out of Iraq. Currently futures are pointing to a lower open on Wall Street.

    Pre-Game Indicators

    Here are the Pre-Market indicators we review each morning before the opening bell...

    Major Foreign Markets:
    - Japan: -1.39%
    - Hong Kong: +0.10%
    - Shanghai: -0.08%
    - London: +0.22%
    - Germany: +0.14%
    - France: +0.10%
    - Italy: -0.16%
    - Spain: -0.13%

    Crude Oil Futures: +$0.24 to $106.08

    Gold: +$0.90 at $1317.90

    Dollar: higher against the yen and pound, lower vs. euro.

    10-Year Bond Yield: Currently trading at 2.516%

    Stock Futures Ahead of Open in U.S. (relative to fair value):
    - S&P 500: -5.12
    - Dow Jones Industrial Average: -33
    - NASDAQ Composite: -6.14

    Thought For The Day...

    Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States. -Ronald Reagan

    Positions in stocks mentioned: none

    Follow Me on Twitter: @StateDave


    The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are those of Mr. David Moenning and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Moenning's opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations. The analysis and information in this report and on our website is for informational purposes only. No part of the material presented in this report or on our websites is intended as an investment recommendation or investment advice. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed nor any Portfolio constitutes a solicitation to purchase or sell securities or any investment program. The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the editors of StateoftheMarkets.com and may not actually come to pass. The opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations of any specific security nor specific investment advice. One should always consult an investment professional before making any investment.

    Any investment decisions must in all cases be made by the reader or by his or her investment adviser. Do NOT ever purchase any security without doing sufficient research. There is no guarantee that the investment objectives outlined will actually come to pass. All opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Neither the editor, employees, nor any of their affiliates shall have any liability for any loss sustained by anyone who has relied on the information provided.

    The analysis provided is based on both technical and fundamental research and is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Although the information contained is derived from sources which are believed to be reliable, they cannot be guaranteed.

    The information contained in this report is provided by Ridge Publishing Co. Inc. (Ridge). One of the principals of Ridge, Mr. David Moenning, is also President and majority shareholder of Heritage Capital Management, Inc. (HCM) a Chicago-based money management firm. HCM is registered as an investment adviser. HCM also serves as a sub-advisor to other investment advisory firms. Ridge is a publisher and has not registered as an investment adviser. Neither HCM nor Ridge is registered as a broker-dealer.

    Employees and affiliates of HCM and Ridge may at times have positions in the securities referred to and may make purchases or sales of these securities while publications are in circulation. Editors will indicate whether they or HCM has a position in stocks or other securities mentioned in any publication. The disclosures will be accurate as of the time of publication and may change thereafter without notice.

    Investments in equities carry an inherent element of risk including the potential for significant loss of principal. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

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