Just in case anybody's keeping score, Monday marked the eighth straight day of losses for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Only the buoyant NASDAQ finished with gains, a sign that there are still plenty of speculative players plying "animal spirits" despite evidence to the contrary, i.e., the VIX spiked above 13, stocks cannot maintain momentum. The eight straight losing sessions is the longest for the Dow since August 2011.
Primary drivers for the recent about face from all-time highs are politicians in Washington, now about to erupt into all-out war between the two parties over everything from the fake "Russians hacked the election" story, to blocking the confirmation of Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, to walking back and away from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R). Claiming he is unfit for the job, Democrats are calling for him to step down, amid accusations that he met secretly with President Trump over concerns that the incoming president was bugged by outgoing president Barack Obama's administration in November, December and January.
The Kafkaesque nature of recent developments in congress can only help make Wall Street even more jittery than it already is. Democrats have been bolstered by the stumbling attempt by Republicans in the House to overturn Obamacare, as Speak of the House, Paul Ryan, cancelled a vote on the proposed measure, which was hastily prepared and loaded with amendments and proposals that left the bill dead on arrival.
It has become crystal clear that Democrats in congress are still upset of losing the presidential election last November and trying to obstruct and delay any attempts by the current administration to fix what is wrong with the country. The new delaying tactics are designed to extend to the next recess, on April 7, at which point the Democrats can return to their districts and/or devise new tactics to thwart the smooth operation of government over a two-week span. Congress won't reconvene until the 25th of April once the recess is called.
The obvious battle being waged in Washington is not good for anyone investing in anything (except safe havens: bonds silver, gold), until one side emerges victorious and a path forward can be envisioned. Since there's little to no chance of either side claiming a decisive victory, investors should be aware and prepared for a long period of indecision and therefore, wild swings in markets and individual stocks. Nothing is safe within an environment of stealth, obfuscation, denial, lies, and feigned surprise as exists in the halls of congress leading the political sphere.
A well-defined move of funds to cash, bonds, and precious metals will offer a signal that a bear market is dead ahead, something which should be expected to occur in any case, as the current bull run is overextended and built upon mountains of debt and stock buybacks.
Developments to come - both from Washington and Wall Street - may prove deadly to bullish sentiment and frightening to anyone who still has a memory of what "normal" should look like.
At The Close 3.27.17:
Dow: 20,550.98, -45.74 (-0.22%)
NASDAQ: 5,840.37, +11.64 (0.20%)
S&P 500: 2,341.59, -2.39 (-0.10%)
NYSE Composite: 11,414.33, -4.56 (-0.04%)