The Fed action seems done for a while, so all we’ll have to go on over the next several months are the normal economic data and corporate earnings. Hopefully, third-quarter earnings can reenergize this lackluster stock market and bring back some more confidence to investors.
Periods like we’re currently going through are actually quite rare in my experience. Normally, the broader market has some defined trend, either up or down. Often, the market’s in a period of consolidation from either a previous uptrend or a previous downtrend, but market participants usually agree that a consolidation period is appropriate.
The market trend we’re currently experiencing is one devoid of enthusiasm. It is a state of uneasiness without anticipation. Even though the central bank cut rates a significant half-percentage point, investment risk for equity investors remains high.
The year was going along just fine until credit worries got the better of the stock market in August. There was a definite feeling in the investment community at the time that a small correction was imminent, but it was the credit crisis that was the catalyst for the event. Even the price of oil doesn’t seem to be as important to the investment community as it once was. It seems to me that most investors have just resigned themselves to the fact that oil prices are going to keep on appreciating in price.
I’m actually confident that the stock market will work itself out over the coming months and that there will be some sort of return to equilibrium in the capital markets. Clearly, we need a solid performance from corporations in the third quarter if this is going to happen. Investor sentiment has to improve if we’re going to get any sustained period of rising stock prices. Fortunately, the second half of the calendar year is usually the strongest for businesses.