Showing posts with label Charles Schwab. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charles Schwab. Show all posts

Friday, November 9, 2018

Fed Signals More Rate Increases; Market Dynamics Favor Investment Diversity

In what can be characterized as more of a sigh than a panicked scream, stocks sold off Thursday afternoon when the Fed wrapped up its November FOMC meeting, announcing that they had no intention of changing plans for a fourth federal funds rate increase this year and at least three more in 2019.

Of the four major insides, only the Dow managed to post a gain, though it was minuscule, at a mere 10 points.

Fears that the Fed might put some kind of kibosh on the Trump expansion have been stocked by the president himself, who would prefer lower interest rates in order to keep the punch bowl of cheap money full. It's unlikely President Trump will get his wish, because the Fed plan has been in place for years, is currently being executed and seems - despite pullbacks in stocks in February and again in October - to be working as well as can be expected.

The US economy has roared back to life over the past year, thanks in part to Trump's individual and corporate tax cuts, repatriation of foreign funds by companies, and still fairly easy policy by the Fed.

While the stock market does not provide complete portfolio of the US economy, it does act as a kind of proxy. Stocks generally gain when the economy is doing well, and falls when recessions hit or external events cause disruptions to the usual flow of funds into equities.

Buybacks have been providing an inordinate amount of upside for the general markets. 2018 is on pace to set a record for corporate stock buybacks, which has an immediate effect on valuations by reducing the number of shares outstanding. To the general public, stock buybacks look like regular buying, as they operate in the background and the actual buyers are not disclosed. It's assumed that as companies buy their own stock rather than reinvest in equipment, facilities, workers, or expansion of their businesses, the sellers are funds and/or large stakeholders, reaping profits and moving on to the next apple ripe for picking.

Generally seen as good practice, stock buybacks don't actually add value, though in terms of shareholder value, they do return more profits in higher share price and, often, increased dividends. It's a great panacea for stockholders, who merely have to hold shares and profit. This scenario has been unprecedented, but has lasted since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09 and continues to provide a backstop to stocks. When the buybacks stop, so will the easy money for shareholders, but, the practice still appears to have more to run, though the pace has slowed over the past three to six months.

All of this has created a very dynamic and fluid market, in which all manner of investment strategies can produce solid results. With wild swings on nearly a daily basis, individual stocks or sectors (via ETFs) can be either held, sold short or bought. The current environment is likely a major boon to brokers such as Merrill Lynch, Schwab, eTrade and others in the game, who undoubtably will be seeing increased trading in an active, unbridled market.

Thus, the answer to the age-old question, "Buy, sell, or hold?" might today be answered correctly by responding, "all of the above."

Dow Jones Industrial Average November Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
11/1/18 25,380.74 +264.98 +264.98
11/2/18 25,270.83 -109.91 +155.07
11/5/18 25,461.70 +190.87 +345.94
11/6/18 25,635.01 +173.31 +519.25
11/7/18 26,180.30 +545.29 +1064.54
11/8/18 26,191.22 +10.92 +1075.46

At the Close, Thursday, November 8, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,191.22, +10.92 (+0.04%)
NASDAQ: 7,530.88, -39.87 (-0.53%)
S&P 500: 2,806.83, -7.06 (-0.25%)
NYSE Composite: 12,622.04, -57.06 (-0.45%)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Stocks Close Lower On Retail Sales Disappointment

Despite a sharp bounce-back rally on Friday, US stocks resumed their declines on Monday as disappointing retail sales and in-line earnings reports kept investors' animal spirits in check.

Retail sales for September were up just 0.1% on expectations of a rise of 0.6%, putting a damper on the market at the open and throughout the session.

Financial stocks were in focus as Bank of America (BAC) and Charles Schwab (SCHW) reported third quarter earnings on Monday. Bank of America said its earnings per share came in at 0.67 cents, above expectations of 0.62. Schwab's earnings were in line at 0.65 cents per share.

Globally, stocks in Europe were flat to slightly higher, as were Pacific Rim bourses. Japan's NIKKEI was down significantly, while the Hang Seng - Honk Kong's market - suffered a marginal loss.

Nothing new here. Significant developments may come later in the week as more companies report third quarter earnings.

Dow Jones Industrial Average October Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
10/1/18 26,651.21 +192.90 +192.90
10/2/18 26,773.94 +122.73 +315.63
10/3/18 26,828.39 +54.45 +370.08
10/4/18 26,627.48 -200.91 +169.17
10/5/18 26,447.05 -180.43 -11.26
10/8/18 26,486.78 +39.73 +28.47
10/9/18 26,430.57 -56.21 -27.74
10/10/18 25,598.74 -831.83 -859.57
10/11/18 25,052.83 -545.91 -1405.48
10/12/18 25,339.99 +287.16 -1118.32
10/15/18 25,250.55 -89.44 -1207.76

At the Close, Monday, October 15, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,250.55, -89.44 (-0.35%)
NASDAQ: 7,430.74, -66.15 (-0.88%)
S&P 500: 2,750.79, -16.34 (-0.59%)
NYSE Composite: 12,425.68, -13.74 (-0.11%)