Sunday, February 25, 2018

Stocks Stage Strong Rebound To Finish Week Green

While volatility has subsided for the time being, so also has volume, down significantly since the crash-like VIX episode at the beginning of the month. Some may be taking the view that gains on the Dow and other indices are positive, regardless of volume, but the number of shares bought since the early February wash-out are far below those sold during that earlier episode.

Market breadth - gainers versus losers - along with a track of new highs and lows - will continue to help determine short-term direction in the market. Friday's positive close brought the Dow back beyond the 50% Fibonacci retracement though gains for the week were rather modest.

Interest rates remain elevated as compared to a month ago and a year ago, and bond yields will also go a long way toward determining trader conviction. The Dow is the index to watch most closely, because all of the stocks comprising the industrial average pay dividends, some of them at or better than current 10-year treasury yields.

The confounding factor of rising rates and falling stock prices is that dividend yields actually rise in the short term, but that may be seen as a false hope indicator. If companies are not only losing value to stockholders, the real possibility of declining earnings could also erupt into slashing of dividends as companies scramble to horde or save cash.

Considering the massive size of stock repurchases in recent years, the scenario exists that companies could find themselves in a real bind, forced to sell shares back to the public at lower prices than at which they were repurchased, causing an erosion in earnings and a potentially vicious negative feedback loop.

The most savvy investors will be looking for companies which have repurchased inordinate amounts of their own shares and are therefore exposed to a wicked downward price spiral.

If bond yields stabilize at or near current levels (below three percent on the 10-year-note) such a condition will not appear, but stabilizing yields in an environment in which the Fed has telegraphed its intention to raise the federal funds rate and sell (form $20 to $60 billion a month this year) into the market at the same time should - in an ideal, actual free market - cause yields to continue climbing.

Stocks may be nearing a dangerous Rubicon, whereas buyers of bonds should experience bargain prices and healthier yields going forward.

Dow Jones Industrial Average February Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
2/1/18 26,186.71 +37.32 +37.32
2/2/18 25,520.96 -665.75 -628.43
2/5/18 24,345.75 -1,175.21 -1,803.64
2/6/18 24,912.77 +567.02 -1,236.62
2/7/18 24,893.35 -19.42 -1,256.04
2/8/18 23,860.46 -1,032.89 -2288.93
2/9/18 24,190.90 +330.44 -1958.49
2/12/18 24,601.27 +410.37 -1548.12
2/13/18 24,640.45 +39.18 -1508.94
2/14/18 24,893.49 +253.04 -1255.90
2/15/18 25,200.37 +306.88 -949.02
2/16/18 25,219.38 +19.01 -930.01
2/20/18 24,964.75 -254.63 -1184.64
2/21/18 24,797.78 -166.97 -1351.61
2/22/18 24,962.48 +164.70 -1186.91
2/23/18 25,309.99 +347.51 -839.40

At the Close, Friday, February 23, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,309.99, +347.51 (+1.39%)
NASDAQ: 7,337.39, +127.31, (+1.77%)
S&P 500: 2,747.30, +43.34 (+1.60%)
NYSE Composite: 12,884.11, +172.36 (+1.36%)

For the Week:
Dow: +90.61 (+0.36%)
NASDAQ: +97.93 (+1.35%)
S&P 500: +15.08 (+0.55%)
NYSE Composite: +9.75 (+0.08%)
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