Category Archives: Markets & Investing

IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO SUBSCRIBERS

 

Dear Subscriber:

I’m sorry to inform you that after around four years in business, GoldenEgg Investing® will cease publication at the end of the year.

I’ve very much enjoyed helping subscribers navigate these sometimes turbulent markets with a prudent game plan that protects your retirement money from the worst damage corrections and bear markets can bring. I hope you all have learned from the weekly commentaries and have found our suggestions helpful in making investment decisions for your future.

Lately, however, I have found other demands and professional commitments have taken more of my time and in the future will make it very difficult to devote the full attention GoldenEgg subscribers deserve. That is why I’ve decided to stop publication.

Although GoldenEgg has a stated “no-refund” policy, I will offer full refunds to people who have signed up or renewed since October 1st and half-refunds to new subscribers or renewers since July 1st. That means anyone who signed up or renewed since October 1st will get refunds of $29 or $39, and those who just started or renewed between July 1st and September 30th will get refunds of $15 or $20. The refunds should go into your accounts over the next week or so.

Thank you all for your support over the years and I hope you have a joyous holiday season and a happy, healthy new year.

Best wishes

Howard R. Gold

 

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Stock Selloff Puts Heat on the Fed

 

Stocks ended the week in a free fall.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 550 points Friday and 1,100 points on the week. The S&P 500, the Dow, and the Nasdaq Composite index all plunged by more than 4% in the market’s worst weekly performance since March. December’s start has been the worst since 2008. Uh-oh.

At Friday’s close, the S&P had slipped into correction territory—a decline of 10% from its high—for the second time this year, a rare event. The Nasdaq was also in the correction zone, 14% off from its August all-time high, while the Dow wasn’t quite there.

The only good news: oil prices firmed on a new deal to cut production between Russia and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the ten-year U.S. Treasury note’s yield fell to 2.85%.

Oh, yes, and stocks haven’t re-tested their February-April lows. Yet.

That’s little comfort to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome “Jay” Powell, whose pathway towards “gradually” higher interest rates suddenly has become more treacherous.

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The Market Waits for Buenos Aires

 

Stocks have rallied since Thanksgiving, making normally ungrateful traders count their blessings.

They’re most thankful for Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, who brought Santa Claus early to Wall Street Wednesday with a highly anticipated appearance before the Economic Club of New York.

The previous month, Powell had said the current federal funds rate (now between 1.75% and 2%) was “a long way” from neutral, meaning investors should count on several rate hikes ahead. Wall Street freaked out and stocks tanked, also buffeted by fears over the midterm elections and continued trade battles with China.

But when on Wednesday Powell walked back that remark (or, by some interpretations, “cleaned up” his previous language) and said fed funds was “just below” the neutral level, stocks soared. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 600 points Wednesday and is up almost 1,250 points since last Friday’s close, while the S&P has risen nearly 5% and the Nasdaq has done even better.

But whether this lasts and becomes a true Santa Claus rally depends on what happens in Buenos Aires, Argentina this weekend.

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Powell Stands Firm–for Now

 

As stocks fell for a fifth consecutive day Wednesday, investors thought they’d hear words of encouragement from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome “Jay” Powell.

After all, one of his predecessors, Alan Greenspan, was behind “the Greenspan put”—the message (nod, nod, wink, wink) that if market conditions got rough, the Fed would stay steady or cut rates to put a floor under the market.

That policy mostly continued under Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen. Bernanke, having barely survived the financial crisis and Great Recession, was understandably cautious. So, when his hint that the Fed might stop buying securities triggered a “taper tantrum,” Bernanke held off. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) didn’t raise rates once during his tenure.

Yellen was only slightly less cautious: She waited until December 2015 to raise fed funds above zero for the first time in seven years, and raised it only five times during her tenure, despite an economy that was growing nicely.

Jay Powell, however, is taking a different  path.

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The Fed Takes the Punch Bowl Away

 

Few Americans today remember William McChesney Martin, Jr., the longest-serving chairman of the Federal Reserve in history, having held the post from 1951 to 1970 under five presidents.

But it was Martin who, in a 1955 speech, said the Fed “is  in  the  position   of  the  chaperone  who  has  ordered  the  punch  bowl  removed  just  when  the  party  was  really  warming  up.”

The current Fed chairman, Jerome Powell, seems to have taken those words to heart. The statement following Thursday’s meeting of the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC), the Fed’s rate-setting body, used some variation of the word “strong” four times in its first paragraph. It went on to say that “further gradual increases in the…federal funds rate will be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity…”

There has been talk of “gradual” rate hikes since Janet Yellen was Fed chair.  But after an eight-session-long rally that drove the Dow Jones Industrial Average up around 1,850 points and the S&P 500 up 170, oints, the FOMC’s statement—plus more uncertainty on trade–triggered profit taking on Friday.

Apparently Wall Street believes Powell is serious. Is he?

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Stocks Bounce Back–for a While

 

This week started off with doom and gloom.

At Monday’s close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down around 9% from its all-time closing high in October, while the S&P 500 had fallen 9.9% from its peak, just shy of the 10.2% February-April correction. That would have been the second official 10% correction within nine months, a rare occurrence.

But instead, stocks rallied big for three straight days. The Dow tacked on almost 1,000 points from Tuesday through Thursday’s close, and the S&P gained 100. The Nasdaq Composite index, which already was in an official correction (off 13.1% from its all-time high), advanced more than 5%.

The rally’s causes ranged from an oversold market through President Trump’s positive comments on a potential trade deal with China’s President Xie Jinping (though these were vague enough to be chalked up to pre-election posturing).

On Friday, there was more  good news as the economy added 250,000 jobs in October, while the official unemployment rate remained at a decades-low 3.7%.

Yet by mid-afternoon, stocks were selling off again on Apple’s disappointing sales and earnings forecast and as investors realized a strong job market with 3.1% annual wage growth was likely to produce more rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

So, is the three-day party over?
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The Roller Coaster Ride Continues

 

It seemed inevitable that after six consecutive days of declines, stocks would bounce back strongly. And they did.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared more than 400 points, or 1.6%. The S&P 500 index rallied almost 50 points, and the Nasdaq Composite skyrocketed 200 points or almost 3%.

Alas, it didn’t last. Late Thursday afternoon, Amazon reported record third-quarter profits, but slowing revenue growth and holiday-season sales projections that were much, much lower than Wall Street had projected.

Down, down went the stock, plunging 8% in after-hours trading. Alphabet, parent company of Google, followed suit, losing 4% of its value after it reported strong earnings but slower sales growth.

Asian markets sold off Friday, followed by Europe and the Nasdaq Composite opened sharply lower—and why wouldn’t it, as two of its great bellwethers reeled. The Nasdaq, Dow and S&P 500 closed down sharply Friday.

So, how low can we go?
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The Market Struggles to Find Direction

 

Since last week’s big sell-off, stocks have been almost literally up one day, down the next, and so on and so on.

As of last Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 had both lost more than 6% from their early October all-time highs, while the Nasdaq Composite index had slid nearly 10% from its late August record peak—almost in correction territory.

Stocks bounced back Friday, sold off again Monday, rallied big time on Tuesday, and stayed there Wednesday before plunging again Thursday and closing mixed on Friday, with the Dow up and the S&P closing lower for the tenth time in the last 12 trading days. After all the ups and downs and to-ing and fro-ing, all three indexes are slightly above last Thursday’s lows.

The putative cause for last week’s selloff: rising ten-year Treasury yields, which topped out at 3.23% on October 8th. (The closing yield Friday was back to 3.20%.) This week, well, just blame the Fed.

The Fed?
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Is the Damage Done?

 

Over the past week, the stock market has been hit by a hurricane.

Since reaching their all-time highs October 3rd, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up nearly 1800 points (or 6.6%) and the S&P 500 lost 200, for a 6.9% decline at Thursday’s close. The Nasdaq Composite index was off 175 points, or 9.6%, from its August 31st peak.

On Friday all three indices rallied nicely into the close as investors picked through the rubble for bargains. Clearly the Dow around 25,000, the S&P near 2,700 and the Nasdaq in shouting distance of 7,000 again were too tempting for bottom fishers to resist.

The selloff began with some remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome “Jay” Powell suggesting the economy was very strong and the central bank would keep raising short-term rates at a steady clip. It was a restatement of what’s been Fed policy for the past couple of years, but traders professed to be surprised. They sold off the ten-year Treasury note big time, sending its yield soaring to 3.23%, its highest in 7 ½ years.

The sudden jump in yield—it had settled back to 3.14% Friday—led to a mini-panic among investors who dumped both stock and bond ETFs. The Nasdaq lost almost enough to be in official correction territory (down 10%), while the Dow and S&P are well on their way.

So, is the worst over?
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Powell and the Bond Market Hit Stocks

 

As of mid-week, the stock market was cruising along, with the S&P 500 poised to top its September 20th all-time high of 2930.

Then along came bonds—and Federal Reserve chairman Jerome “Jay” Powell.

At the Atlantic Forum, Powell told interviewer Judy Woodruff of the PBS News Hour, “The really extraordinarily accommodative low interest rates that we needed when the economy was quite weak, we don’t need those anymore…We need interest rates to be gradually, very gradually moving back towards normal.”

This was really nothing new—Powell and his predecessor Janet Yellen had said the same thing many times. But immediately, bond traders went into a selling frenzy, and the yield on the ten-year Treasury note, which had hovered above the magic 3% threshold, soared: As of Friday, the ten year yielded near 3.25%, its highest since June 2011. (Yields move in the opposite direction of bond prices.)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 200 points Thursday and closed down another 180 points Friday. The S&P was off by almost 50 points, and the Nasdaq Composite index had plunged over 250 points in the week’s trading.

Is this a real danger for stocks?

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