S&P 500

HFG Perspective: May

May 3, 2014

So far, the stock market in 2014 has been one with a lot of churn and not a lot of return. On the bright side, there hasn’t been much in the way of loss either.

What do we mean by, “a lot of churn and not a lot of return?” Specifically, there are a lot of individual stocks that have either gone way up or way down this year. The major stock indexes like the S&P 500, however, have been bouncing around between slightly up and slightly down all year, but for the most part, have remained in virtually unchanged territory for much of the year. (more…)

Happy Birthday to You

March 11, 2014

March 9, 2009 was a rough day for most of us.  U.S. markets had fallen by over half in the preceding year, and bad news was hitting the airwaves daily.  Bankruptcies, mass-layoffs, rising homelessness and foreclosures were commonplace month after agonizing month.  In a way it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse, yet at the same time, it also felt like it just might get a lot worse.  That was five years ago Sunday (3/9/14), and it was also the bottom of the last bear market.  It’s been going up since. (more…)

Earnings Update

February 25, 2014

Between the Winter Olympics and the constant cold weather that most of the country has been subjected to for about two months now, one pretty important topic has flown under the radar, earnings. With the closing ceremonies on our doorstep, it seems like a good time for an update on this very important topic.

About 90% of S&P 500 constituents have reported results, so barring any big surprises from major companies, we can pretty much put Q4 2014 in the history books. Standard & Poor’s shows that about 65% of the companies that have reported results have beaten Wall Street’s estimates. (more…)

Earnings Season Preview

January 14, 2014

While 2013 is over, a lot of data for the past year is still flowing in. Last Friday, investors were fairly surprised by a jobs report that showed the unemployment rate drop handily from 7% to 6.7%. Yet monthly job gains were only 74,000, the weakest of 2013. On the surface, this makes little sense. Digging deeper, we find that the big drop in the unemployment rate was mostly due to people dropping out of the labor force. As a reminder, if you are not in the labor force—students, retirees, etc.—you are not considered unemployed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a lot of people dropped out in December. (more…)

Too Much Improvement?

November 11, 2013

Markets were mostly up last week, but the pace of the advance slowed somewhat. Both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week near all-time highs, while the Russell 2000 and NASDAQ lagged a bit. Even so, all four of these major averages remain very near cycle highs.

The only real fly in the ointment for markets last week was Thursday’s GDP report which sent most major averages down more than 1 percent. It must have been a bad report, right? Wrong. While the 2.8% preliminary estimate of GDP is not exactly exciting, it was quite a bit higher than the 2% that most economists had expected. The improvement continues. (more…)

Anatomy of Bears and Bulls

October 29, 2013

Bull markets are all unique in their own way. In the late 1990’s, companies didn’t necessarily need to earn money or have actual plants and equipment. They needed to have a webpage and rapidly growing sales. It was truly a bull market made of dreams. When it ended, those stocks that rose fastest crashed the hardest.

The boom that took hold after the tech bubble burst was the polar opposite. It was led by highly capital intensive businesses like oil and gas drillers, miners, homebuilders, engineering firms and others. No one wanted technology companies any more, as the pain from the last bust still lingered. (more…)