It’s a very difficult environment in which to predict how the stock market will turn out over the coming quarters. We’ve got a lot of stimuli out there now, including a massive reduction in interest rates and a fiscal stimulus package that’s quite generous.
I guess I’m not too happy with how the Federal Reserve is operating right now. After global equity turmoil, the Fed lowers rates three quarters of a point. Then, just about a week later, they lower it again another quarter point. I’m left with the question: what was the point? Why not lower rates a full point the first time? Are they worried about the market’s reaction? It’s just plain weird if you ask me.
Anyway, it seems that all this monetary and fiscal stimulation has at least calmed global equity markets for the time being. The stock market seems to be in a period of consolidation around current levels. This may change depending on further economic data.
It’s earnings season right now and a lot of investors aren’t paying too much attention. In fact, a lot of investors aren’t participating at all. This makes for an opportune time to be considering new positions.
So far, my view is that fourth-quarter earnings haven’t been too bad. There have been some disappointments, but there always are.
What the Street calls corporate visibility is going to be key for investor sentiment over the near term. We know pretty much what the economy is doing by the data. What we need to hear about is what corporations are saying about their businesses, both at an industrial level and on an individual level.
So, we’re left to roll with the punches the market dishes out. My favorite investment analyst, Jim Rogers, isn’t very enthusiastic about the Fed or the U.S. economy’s prospects. I hope he is wrong, but history has shown that he is usually a little early in his predictions, but almost always right.