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Now that the dust has settled after the Fed's much-bruited big move, it's time to take a step back and see what, exactly, happened.
Spoiler alert: We haven't yet reached the breaking point, and we're still in a bubble. Markets shrugged off the second consecutive quarterly interest rate hike by the Fed last week while signs of excess abounded in the markets.
And that means individual stock and bond investors would do well to be wary.
Stock Investors: Stay Out of These Sectors, And Keep An Eye on Healthcare
One reason we know stocks are in a bubble is because investors are paying no attention to valuations. How do we know that? Because they poured another $131 billion into ETFs in the first two months of the year. Throwing that much money into these park-your-brain-at-the-door vehicles that don't require any knowledge of the underlying investments is a sure sign that investors are chasing the rally rather than paying attention to fundamentals. That is the very definition of the bubble. All bubbles pop and this one will be no exception.
Markets appear confident that President Trump and the Republican Congress will be successful in replacing Obamacare with a more workable healthcare system. Such an outcome is essential to the outlook to the big enchilada on which investors are placing all of their hopes and dreams – tax reform. Without Obamacare reform, tax reform is not going to happen. While any new healthcare plan is going to be imperfect, it is essential to setting the table for tax reform. The post-election rally was based on expectations that lower taxes and less regulation would stimulate the economy; any setback on tax reform would deal a hard blow to those hopes and likely push stock prices lower. Whatever their views on Obamacare (which either needs to be fixed to survive or replaced with something that works), investors should keep a close eye on the healthcare debate because it likely holds the future of the stock market rally in its hands.
Despite a big rally after the Fed announced its rate hike last Wednesday, stocks ended flat on the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added just 0.1% to close at 20,914.62 while the S&P 500 rose 0.2% to 2378.25. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.7% to 5901. Small stocks continued to lag with the Russell 2000 underperforming large cap indices. Tech stocks continue to lead the market with a 12% rise year-to-date as the FANG stocks (i.e. large cap tech stocks) continue to attract huge amounts of investor capital to build epic valuations. In sharp contrast, the retail and energy sectors (both stocks and bonds) continue to show serious weakness.
A quick glance at the list of new 52-week lows shows a large number of retail names sinking into the mud including Ascena Retail (parent of Ann Taylor stores), BonTon Stores, FinishLine, Fossil, GoPro, Fitbit, Perfumania, SearsCanada, SteinMart, GNC Holdings, Guess, JC Penney, Smart & Final Stores, Targe…
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Prominent money manager. Has built top-ranked credit and hedge funds, managed billions for institutional and high-net-worth clients. 29-year career.