Stock Picking on Hold Due to Market Consolidation: Is Current Action Healthy?

Everything is pulling back in this market, and it’s not a surprise—the equity and commodity markets have been due for a correction/consolidation for quite some time. It’s never any fun seeing share prices retreat, and it isn’t any fun watching the broader market do the same. But, it’s been a good ride up to now, and securities prices can never go up forever.

Once we get into June, some corporations will begin to issue new earnings forecasts or revisions. My bet is that corporate earnings, particularly among most large-cap companies, will be solid in the second quarter. Over the coming weeks, more consolidations in equity and commodity prices are likely. Investor sentiment seems bent on it.

Accordingly, long investors have to take it on the chin and watch the market for new opportunities. Oil prices are in a near-term downtrend, and it’s arguable that oil prices were overpriced. But, for quite a few quarters now, the price of oil has been the global barometer on the health of the global economy. Even if economic growth in the U.S. wasn’t as strong as in Asia, oil traders still bid up the shares in anticipation of future strength. Now, we’re in a commodity price consolidation, and that’s healthy. The commodity market needs to digest its recent run-up. Longer-term, however, I still don’t see the price of oil retreating that much. I could be wrong, but with so many new middle-class car buyers in “BRIC” countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), there isn’t much of an argument to be made for lower oil prices, especially considering that global oil production is relatively stagnant.

Frankly, in this market, as an investor with new money to spend, I’d focus on U.S. large-caps and gold producers. Both of these asset classes have the pricing power to accelerate their earnings over the coming quarters. No industry is expecting a major ramp up of earnings growth over the next two quarters, so investors have to stick with those sectors with the rosiest fundamentals. Gold miners remain a standout.

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With all this in mind, we still have to remind ourselves that stock prices have already moved significantly higher over the last several quarters. Investors and traders are always looking for the next easy buck, but fortune-making opportunities take time—and patience. With equity and commodity markets in consolidation phase, time horizons for new fortune-making opportunities have just been expanded. Trading action isn’t that strong, as investors don’t quite know what to expect about the future. Like I’ve been writing, stock picking in this market is just plain difficult. It always is when the broader market action is consolidating.