Volatility returned to the market this week as nervous investors struggled to understand how overseas events may affect stocks in days to come.
"I think the NYSE might as well relocate to Kiev or Beijing," said Jim Cramer. That is, the "Mad Money" host believes investors are so intently focused on tensions between Ukraine and Russia, as well as a slowdown in China, that little else matters.
Therefore, investors have been selling, sometimes with abandon.
And it's just this kind of widespread selling that Cramer thinks could present opportunity.
"I believe a healthy cohort of domestic stocks are in a position to roar after this pullback," he said, especially if tensions ease in Russia. "Of course, if we see fighting in the Ukraine, then all bets are off."
Looking at the market through this prism, here are the events Jim Cramer will be watching in the week ahead:
MON., MARCH 17
St. Patrick's Day may be an Irish tradition but on Monday Cramer will be squarely focused on Russia. Despite growing tensions, "I think the market's beginning to discount most scenarios, making it so we might actually rally no matter what happens in ," he said. However, if Russia moves to take over all or part of Ukraine, beyond just Crimea, then we're dealing with something that's not yet baked into the market and prices could fall further."
If the market does fall on Monday, Cramer suggests looking at the decline strategically. "I would be prepared to buy stocks that are domestic secular growers, like restaurants and retailers, as well as the big biotechs that have nothing to do with geopolitical issues, but have just been hammered anyway."
If the Russia crisis slogs on, Cramer believes pros will start to parse through stocks and reward those that won't be harmed by a protracted geopolitical event.
But he added don't get too aggressive. "As nasty as the Russian issue might be, it's China that's driving a lot of the recent weakness. And on Monday, China releases February Property Prices. If they're up too much, chatter will circulate that Chinese banks need to be reined in. In turn, that kind of negative ripple could be rather serious.
TUES., MARCH 18
On Tuesday, Cramer will turn his attention to technology. "We get reports from Adobe and Oracle, and I expect them both to be excellent," Cramer said. "I don't know if results will generate a virtuous ripple but it's the best chance we get next week as they're the two most high profile tech companies reporting."
WED., MARCH 19
Cramer said Wednesday will be huge for a wide range of reasons. "First there's Federal Express earnings. I like to listen to FedEx's state of the state conference call. It tells me how all the regions FedEx services are doing. FedEx will be up too much if it reports a good number, so I'd look to UPS as a way to play any global strength."
Also Cramer will be watching First Solar."Remember how I told you not to freak out about First Solar after it reported a few weeks ago because everything depends on the analyst meeting? Guess what? That analyst meet is scheduled for Wednesday. I think it will be huge, and I'd buy the stock ahead of the meeting."
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As powerful as both those events may be, they pale when compared to the catalyst that hits Wednesday afternoon. "At 2 p.m. we get the Federal Reserve Open Market committee's statement about interest rates and then a press conference hosted by new Fed Chair Janet Yellen," Cramer said. "So far her tenure's been pretty flawless, and I expect that to continue. If we get a strong showing by Yellen and we're further along toward some sort of clarity in Ukraine, then we could be ready to rally."
THURS., MARCH 20
Cramer calls Thursday 'housing day' because Lennar reports and existing home sales data will be released. "Lennar's Stuart Miller likes to start his conference call with a housing overview. It's the most informed look at this key industry out there. And I think existing home sales are truly important because when you buy a used home you're bound to fix it up. I regard this stat, which also gives you a sense of how much inventory is available, as the most significant housing data point, and I'll make a quick assessment of it for you when it comes out."
FRI., MARCH 21
Cramer is looking for two reports on Friday that could spark fireworks. "First, Darden will announce its number,s and I think many people, including two different activists, want to see a new CEO named. If that happens, the stock could give you a 10% move."
"We also hear from Tiffany's, which I think is going to report a terrific number. But don't get carried away. What happens at Tiffany's stays at Tiffany's, meaning a good number here won't impact any other retailer as long as the Russo-Ukrainian tensions and the Chinese slowdown dominate the news flow."
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