Bring on the year end!
That's the view from the markets now that the spooky month of October is behind us and the Fed has done its work.
November will be no slouch. It starts off with a big dose of economic news Thursday and Friday, and some key earnings reports, including Exxon Mobil Thursday morning. The dual trend of a shrinking dollar and rising commodities prices continues, with the dollar hitting another new low and oil hitting a high - as much as $95.80 per barrel in electronic trading Thursday. Gold soared above $800 an ounce, a 28-year high.
"We still have another week or two of earnings, and everybody's going to digest what's been happening," says Bill Nichols, senior managing director in equities trading at Bear Stearns. "You then have end-of-year gymnastics," Nichols said.
Smith Breeden's John Sprow, who follows the credit markets, told us the same thing earlier this week. November will be a month to sort out year end positions and is usually seasonally slow. But this year, with a still somewhat crunched credit market and high fear level, it could be "volatile," he says.
Don't Get Trampled!
But listen to this. If legendary market strategist Barton Biggs is right, that fear factor may have laid the ground work for a big year-end bull run in stocks.
"Because everybody going into year-end has been cautious and or running their portfolio like their businesses rather than their portfolio, and has put on protection, has bought out of the money puts ... I am told that the prime brokers say that the hedge fund universe has the lowest net long its had in four years, and I think as we go into the end of the year here, we are going to get a stampede," he said on "Fast Money."
"We are going to get a stampede both in the U.S. -- in big caps, big cap tech, but just big cap, multinational growth companies in general -- and we're going to get a continuing stampede in Asia and the emerging markets. And I think we're going to get a big run in the year end," Biggs said.
Other companies reporting Thursday include CBS, Eastman Kodak, Marathon Oil, AstraZeneca, PG&E and Blockbuster. Auto makers report October sales figures throughout the day. Economic data includes jobless claims, personal income and outlays, ISM manufacturing data, and pending home sales. Natural gas storage data is also reported. Friday is the release of the highly anticipated October employment report.
Fed the Markets
The Fed gave the markets just what they were waiting for - a quarter point cut in both the Fed funds rate and the discount rate. It also signalled another rate cut is not definitely in the cards, as some market players had hoped. But the market rallied anyway, with the Dow ending the day up 137 points or 1%. That gives the Dow a 34 point or 0.2% gain in the rocky month of October, but leaves it with a 12% move up year-to-date.
Tech was the day's and the month's standout. A big 1.76% move in Google pushed it to a close above $700 for the first time on Wednesday. The S&P technology sector is up 7% for the month and was up 1.7% on Wednesday alone.
The tech-happy Nasdaq was the best performer of the major indices in October, with a 5.8% rise. It is up 18% year-to-date. The S&P 500, meanwhile, was up 1.5% for October and 9.2% for the year so far.
The Fed, meanwhile, did say the pace of economic expansion would likely slow "partly reflecting the intensification of the housing correction." But the Fed also indicated it is ready to fight inflation, which reduces chances that it would cut rates to help the economy.
It said the risks to the economy from inflation "roughly balance" or are equal to risks of a seiorus downturn in growth.
The Fed's decision came just hours after a surprisingly strong report of third quarter GDP, which showed economic growth up 3.9%. Most economists expected about 3%.
"It's siilly to say today's number doesn't mean anything," said CNBC's Larry Kudlow. "What you see in the numbers today is that the exports rise canceled out the housing drop ... That's huge. We don't have to grow at 4% every quarter but you have to mark up your expectations for the economy." Exports were up 16.2% in the third quarter, driven higher as the dollar weakened.
"With rates low, inflation is contained, you've got to love stocks," Kudlow said. Kudlow said aside from financials and the "consumer/home builders," profits are up 15%. "It's an amazing story," he said.
CNBC's Rick Santelli said the market took away just the message the Fed intended. "They're a bunch of bright guys. They're probably behind closed doors right now high fiving each other," he said of the Fed.
Santelli also said the current Goldilocks scenario -- just right growth, low inflation -- could be at risk. "The only problem is there mgiht be three bears on the way," he said.
Here are some statistics for stocks for October.
Dow Top 10 Performers in October:
Microsoft Corp (MSFT) Up 7.35 or 24.95%
Merck & Co Inc (MRK) Up 6.57 or 12.71%
McDonalds Corp (MCD) Up 5.28 or 9.69%
Coca Cola Co (KO) Up 4.29 or 7.46%
General Motors Corp (GM) Up 2.49 or 6.78%
Altria Group Inc (MO) Up 3.4 or 4.89%
Verizon Communications (VZ) Up 1.79 or 4.04%
Intel Corp (INTC) Up 1.04 or 4.02%
Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ) Up 1.89 or 3.80%
Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT) Up 1.56 or 3.57%
Dow 10 Worst Performers in October:
Citigroup Inc (C) Down -4.77 or -10.22%
3M Company (MMM) Down -7.22 or -7.72%
American International Group Inc (AIG) Down -4.53 or -6.70%
Boeing Co (BA) Down -6.4 or -6.10%
Caterpillar Inc (CAT) Down -3.82 or -4.87%
United Technologies Corp (UTX) Down -3.89 or -4.83%
Home Depot Inc (HD) Down -0.93 or -2.87%
International Business Machines Corp (IBM) Down -1.68 or -1.43%
AT&T INC (T) Down -0.52 or -1.23%
Procter & Gamble Co (PG) Down -0.82 or -1.17%
S&P Top 10 Performers in October:
Tektronix Inc (TEK) Up 10.11 or 36.45%
Akamai Technologies Inc (AKAM) Up 10.46 or 36.41%
Apollo Group Inc (APOL) Up 19.11 or 31.77%
Tesoro Corp (TSO) Up 14.51 or 31.53%
Ciena Corp (CIEN) Up 9.78 or 25.68%
Microsoft Corp (MSFT) Up 7.35 or 24.95%
Compuware Corp (CPWR) Up 1.98 or 24.69%
Google Inc (GOOG) Up 139.73 or 24.63%
MEMC Electronic Materials Inc (WFR) Up 14.36 or 24.40%
Apple Inc (AAPL) Up 36.48 or 23.77%
S&P 10 Worst Performers in October:
Ambac Financial Group Inc (ABK) Down -26.08 or -41.46%
MGIC Investment Corp (MTG) Down -12.95 or -40.08%
MBIA Inc (MBI) Down -18.01 or -29.50%
Coach Inc (COH) Down -10.71 or -22.66%
Qwest Communications Intl Inc (Q) Down -1.98 or -21.62%
Washington Mutual Inc (WM ) Down -7.43 or -21.04%
Big Lots Inc (BIG) Down -5.86 or -19.64%
SanDisk Corp (SNDK) Down -10.70 or -19.42%
Altera Corp (ALTR) Down -4.46 or -18.52%
Countrywide Financial Corp (CFC) Down -3.49 or -18.36%
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