Last Week in Brief: January 24

January 27, 2014

Stocks behaved last week like the Denver Bronco's Super Bowl offense. Frenetic with activity, little to show for it.
Does this country love football or what?
I would posit that, to the occasional detriment of our families, jobs, literary accomplishments, yards, spiritual lives, friendships, financial resources, nutritional habits, exercise regimens, household projects, Sudoku, tennis games, running mileage, sleeping routines, livers, skin tone, blood pressure, cholesterol counts, self esteem and mental acuity, there is nothing we love more collectively than watching the National Football League.
Need proof? Here you go...
The most watched event in television history (112 million views) provided quite the anti-climax. Probably a positive that football season is over. Consider the time and energy that can now be redirected towards more productive activities. Like NCAA hoops brackets. And The Masters.
Among an array of aggressive attempts at advertising humor, there was one commercial that pulled at our heartstrings. That reminds you of the service, commitment and kindness of which we're capable. View the ad here.
Then, suddenly, football was finished. Adding to the horror, it was Monday morning. Why do they do that to us? Terminate football AND force at to awake to Monday -- all at once?!

The horror!
Next, we received weaker than expected manufacturing data, contributing yesterday's biggest one-day stock market drop of the last year. Was it the ISM number, or the idea of seven months without football? Perhaps we'll never know.
Granted, some of the poor ISM news can likely be blamed on the continuing Polar Vortex. Who wants to shop when it's ten below? Still, not a good start to the week.
The Good
Bullish market sentiment declined again. Always a welcome contrarian indicator. The market rarely falls apart when everyone expects it to do so. With this being the fourth consecutive decline in sentiment, we're optimistic.
The Keystone pipeline passed another environmental test, which could help the economy is multiple ways.
Rail traffic remains positive. As does truck traffic, for that matter. Lots of stuff being moved around is always a positive economic indicator.
Earnings season continues to be positive. 66 percent of companies have beat EPS expectations.
The Bad
The GOP remains split on immigration reform. Muddles the water, and makes any action this year less likely.
Gallup reports that economic confidence declined last month. Oh, and real personal income contracted, as well.
Pending home sales fell 8.7 percent. Could be the weather. But, might just be weak demand.
Durable goods orders dropped nearly 5 percent. Ouch.
The Ugly
Emerging markets continue to look wild and untamed. EM currencies are dropping. Stocks are declining. And this seems to be feeding a vicious cycle. More pessimism leads to more capital leaving EM's which weakens EM currencies and equities and leads to more pessimism.
If you still own EM stocks, time to check your premises.
The Bottom Line
We believe that we'll likely test the 200-day moving average on the S&P 500, which currently sits around 1706. That should scare most investors into capitulation, and set a bottom. If we get to that level, time to begin scooping up attractive equities with both hands.
That said, if we fall below the 200-day moving average, then lookout below. Keep your stops tight. Have your buy list ready. Like Woody Allen's family tree, this could get interesting.
Weekly Results
Major markets finished lower last week. The DJIA fell 1.14%, the S&P 500 dropped 0.43%, and the Nasdaq declined 0.59%. Small cap stocks lost 1.16%. And the 10-year Treasury bond yield fell 7 basis points to 2.65%. Gold fell $25.84 per ounce, or 2.03%.

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