Gearing Up for Greater Volatility 04-21-15

After a long absence, it looks like volatility has begun to creep back into the stock market, albeit modestly so. Shares came under pressure on Friday on concerns that China’s stock market may be coming off the rails and Greece could be headed for bankruptcy. Weakness in Shanghai and Hong Kong spilled over into other exchanges, including our own, where blue chip shares declined by more than a full percentage point. Yesterday, stocks recouped much of their prior trading session losses. 

Positive News and Prospects 04-14-15

Last week we discussed how the U.S. economy, though weak, was not running out of gas. Today we had encouraging news in the form of a 0.9 percent increase in March retail sales. Though that was slightly below expectations, it was the first increase in the past four months and the biggest gain in a year, suggesting that consumers may finally be spending rather than saving the extra cash lining their pockets stemming from cheaper fuel prices. Encouragingly, autos, which are a big-ticket item, were particularly strong and also point to increased consumer confidence. Read more about Positive News and Prospects 04-14-15

Slower, But Not Yet Out of Gas 04-07-15

U.S. employment, previously a bright shining light on the domestic economic landscape, slowed dramatically last month. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at a low 5.5 percent, and the U6 measure, which includes those working part-time solely for the lack of available full-time opportunities, dipped below 11 percent for the first time since 2008. However, the economy only added 126,000 non-farm jobs in March, the lowest number in more than a year and far less than analysts had expected. Read more about Slower, But Not Yet Out of Gas 04-07-15

No Help From Window Dressing 03-31-15

Today marks the end of the year’s first quarter, and while such days are often characterized by up-moves in share prices as many professional money managers dump losing positions and scoop up recent top-performing shares to gussy up their portfolios, we do not see any really visible new window dressing today.

The lack of a positive action is due at least in part to the U.S. dollar, which has strengthened in the past few sessions, not so much as a result of improved U.S. fundamentals but instead from the weight that traders give to events abroad. Read more about No Help From Window Dressing 03-31-15

Inflation Remains Notably Absent 03-24-15

Stocks have managed to climb slightly since the Federal Reserve’s latest policy statement was released last Wednesday. But the gains have been less than what we should expect in light of the central bank’s surprisingly dovish comments.

The Fed dropped the word “patience” from its statement, yet offered a more pessimistic view of where the economy is headed. It lowered its GDP forecast for 2015 to 2.3 percent to 2.7 percent. It also lowered its estimate of the benchmark Fed Funds rate for the end of this year, to 0.625 percent, from a previous forecast of 1.125 percent. Read more about Inflation Remains Notably Absent 03-24-15

More Red Than Green This St. Patrick's Day

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and we hear the cheerful sounds of the parade marching up Fifth Avenue outside of our midtown New York office. The mood on Wall Street in lower Manhattan is decidedly more downbeat, however, with red the dominant color on trading screens today. Read more about More Red Than Green This St. Patrick's Day