Friday, March 16, 2012
Stock Market Commentary:
Monday-Wednesday’s Action: Fed Stays The Course, Stocks Rally, Led By Financials
Before Monday’s open, China said its trade balance unexpectedly slowed last month. China said its trade balance slid $31.5 billion into the red in February as imports trumped exports. This was the country’s largest trade deficit in at least a decade and cast doubts regarding the ongoing global recovery. Import growth surged +39.6% on the year in February which easily topped the Street’s +27% forecast. Meanwhile, exports grew by +18.4% which was just more than half of the Street’s expectation and hit a six month high.
Before Tuesday’s open, Germany said its ZEW survey for March, which measures economic expectations, surged to 22.3 which easily topped the Street’s estimate for 10. The U.K.’s trade deficit widened slightly but still came in short of estimates for January. The real surprise was that exports to non-European Union countries rose to the highest level in history! On average economic data in the U.S. was also stronger than expected. The warmer weather across the nation helped retail sales jump to the fastest rate in five months in February. Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Business’ small-business optimism index increased for the sixth consecutive month to the highest level since December 2007! A separate report showed that business inventories rose by 0.7% which was the largest increase since October. Finally, the Fed concluded its latest meeting, held rates steady and largely reiterated their recently stated cautious but optimistic stance regarding the economy. The Fed’s stress tests were leaked early which helped send a slew of bank stocks soaring before Tuesday’s close.
Stocks were quiet on Wednesday as investors digested Tuesday’s strong move. Before Wednesday’s open, the government said import prices fell short of the Street’s estimate, rising +0.4% in February thanks to a large drop in food prices. Meanwhile, the U.S. current account deficit, jumped to a three-year high of $124.1 billion. A separate report showed that the Mortgage Bankers Association said demand for home loans slid by -2.4% but actually rose 4.4% excluding a drop in refinancing requests last week.
Thursday-Friday’s Action: Bulls Remain In Control
Investors digested a slew of economic data on Thursday. The Labor Department said weekly jobless claims fell to a fresh 4-year low which bodes well for the jobs market and the broader economy. Jobless claims fell by 14,000 to 351,000 last week. Meanwhile, the PPI rose +0.4%, largely due to a jump in energy prices. New York manufacturing rose and topped estimates but showed inflationary pressures are rising. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank’s business activity index rose for a fifth consecutive month to 12.5 from 10.2 in February. The report topped the Street’s estimate of 12.0. Stocks were quiet on Friday after consumer confidence slid last month due to rising energy prices.
Market Outlook- Confirmed Rally
After a very shallow pullback the majority of risk assets (Stocks, FX, and commodities) have began to rally. So far this action is considered healthy for the risk on trade. However, if sellers show up and support is breached then the bears will have regained control of this market (still a long ways off). As always, keep your losses small and never argue with the tape. If you are looking for specific help navigating this market, feel free to contact us for more information. That’s what we are here for!