Stock picking at this particular point in time is more difficult than it was at the beginning of the year. The tone of the marketplace is different and expectations have mostly been met. As companies reported first-quarter earnings that met or slightly exceeded consensus, the stocks sold off. This is representative of a market that wanted to complete the trade. Now investors are looking for a new trade, but nothing big stands out. A new catalyst has yet to be discovered.
Large-caps are holding up particularly well as the broader market churns. I still think that large-cap companies will be the biggest beneficiaries of the choppy economic recovery we’re currently experiencing. If it wasn’t for global operations, then the performance of many big companies would be a lot more reserved.
I don’t see the need for taking on new positions at this particular point in time. There are always stock trades around and the broader market could keep ticking higher, but I think we’ll be in a consolidation period for a quite a while longer. I don’t expect oil prices to stay below $100.00 a barrel and I’d like to see the price of gold pull back further so as to create a more attractive new entry point. While recent consumer price data showed that headline inflation shouldn’t be a problem for the Federal Reserve, the bigger driver of gold prices is the action in the U.S. dollar. That’s what gold is basically trading on.
While investing in gold is a core part of my investing philosophy during these times, I would say that silver is beginning to stand out as a better trade for a new entrant. Silver pulled back in price much more so than gold and, really, not that much has changed fundamentally for the story. The only thing that has changed is that some speculative fervor has been taken out of the market for silver prices. Demand for the commodity is still on the rise.
I’ve actually been hoping for a correction in commodity prices and I think we should let the trading action within the sector play out a little while longer. It’s probably a bit too early for new positions in silver or gold, but they are definitely worth following.
In non-resource sectors like technology, for example, both top- and bottom-line growth in many companies haven’t been very robust. This makes the trading action in these stocks much less opportune. Recently, I came across a very well valued semiconductor company that reported great financial results in the first quarter…and the market just yawned. This reflects a marketplace that was so enthralled with commodity-related assets that it ignored all others. Over the very near term, equity trading action is likely to be mediocre.