Risks Are Starting to Outweigh Rewards

stock market riskThe S&P 500 Index has broken solidly below 1,200, and the trading action is the correction that the market’s required. I’d like the trading action to spread to commodities so investors could have another entry point. I think 1,150 seems likely on the S&P 500 index and an even 1,000 is a near-term possibility.

The broader market’s been in a big trading range all year, with no defined trend. Stocks started the year quite favorably, then investor sentiment got sapped. A similar situation is playing out now where stock prices accelerated nicely over the last three months, only to see prices begin to decline on waning investor sentiment. It’s still a fragile market for equities and investment risk remains high.

This just isn’t the kind of market where one can make any bold calls. There is no defined trend to point to in terms of the price action. Trading volume is lackluster, but that’s to be expected considering all that’s happened. The stock market and the economy are still very much in a consolidation phase, trying to recover from the excesses of the past. As we all know, the business cycle in real estate takes a longer time to play out. I just can’t see a robust domestic economy without real price strength in housing and a return to more normal levels of foreclosures.

So, there’s no real rush to do much from an investing standpoint. Speculative investors should already have a meaningful position in precious metals. The attractive area now for individual stock speculation is the value present in some U.S.-listed Chinese shares. But investors will have to wait for these opportunities to get recognized in the marketplace. This will take a new catalyst and a change in investor sentiment to get these shares to really accelerate.

I feel very reticent about the current state of things. The risks in the global marketplace seem to be outweighing the rewards of taking on speculative positions. The sovereign debt issue is something that isn’t going away anytime soon. I also feel that there isn’t a lot of action to take in the equity market at this particular point in time. Stock prices could go either way; what I’d really like to see is an attractive new entry point presenting itself in precious metals. This might not happen. Instead, metal spot prices may just trade around current levels for a while longer.

Regardless, going forward, I think investors need to overweight assets that are “real” like real estate, resources and agriculture. These are the assets that will benefit in an age of slow growth and rising prices.