Review Your Portfolio

I still remember Black Monday on October 19, 1987 as if it was yesterday when the DOW crashed. I had just graduated from business school and was training at my first job in the credit department of a large financial institution. The world of finance was exciting and I was ready.

 It started like any other Monday, downing my third cup of coffee before the opening of the markets. But, as I looked at the screens and wires prior to the open, I noticed the futures markets were way down and pointing to a disastrous opening. The order books showed an imbalance of sell orders and at that time there was no structure to prevent the kind of day we would see.

 In fact, it soon became apparent that this would not be an ordinary day as sell orders accelerated throughout the day, driving the DOW down 22.6% by the close. And, by the end of October, the selling in the global markets had sliced as much as 50% off some world markets.

 My saving grace at that time was my absence of any investable capital as I only had student loans on the books to pay back. It was probably the only time in my life that I was glad I was broke! While colleagues of mind were in despair for months following the crash, I was relieved.

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 So now it is on this 20th anniversary of the infamous crash, that my memories of 1987 are still fresh. The difference is now I have investable capital and a stake in stocks so what happens in the markets is important. The student loans have long been paid off, but the stakes are higher.

 October has since become a period of increased volatility that we have become accustomed to. So, as we approach October, markets are rallying, but with the third quarter ending in a few weeks, all eyes will focus on earnings, which are expected to fall from the second quarter. Also watch for spending after Thanksgiving to give us an indication on what we could expect during the holiday spending season and the fourth quarter.

 Technically, market sentiment has vastly improved, especially on the NYSE, which has reported a bullish 70% reading in 12 of the last 14 sessions including the last three at over 90%. The tech- laden NASDAQ is weaker with only three straight sessions at above 70%. Positive news combined with these improved sentiment readings could drive a fall rally.

 It is also approaching the time of year when you should review your portfolio and begin to formulate a plan of action for 2007. Sell some of the losers and take some profits on the winners.