Stocks: It's not just the Fed's smoke and mirrors

Too many people think the stock market moves only on the Fed, but we have:

  1. a 5.8-percent unemployment rate;
  2. near-historic low interest rates;
  3. stock markets at record highs;
  4. record earnings;
  5. low oil prices.

And this with a government that can't get anything done!

As for the markets at new highs, that's good news, but there are signs that we have moved from bargains to "Not much is cheap" really fast. Like, in less than a month.

What's cheap? Not much. Gold miners are absurdly oversold. They bounced yesterday, and that's a good sign.

But much of the rest of the market has bounced back, in some cases dramatically.

Take consumer staples: The XLP is at an historic high. Big names like Whole Foods, Walgreen, Kroger, and CVS are all up double digits in the last five weeks or so.

Look at banks. The SPDR S&P Bank ETF, a basket of the biggest banks, has executed a perfect "V" in the past month. SunTrust, US Bancorp, and Wells Fargo are all up 5 to 8 percent in the last month. US Bancorp and Wells Fargo are at historic highs.


1) More food inflation: Late Thursday, El Pollo Loco became the latest company in the food business to cite higher commodity costs as an issue. "Costs for chicken remain high, and we expect food costs to be higher in 2015," CEO Stephen Sather said. He said the company has the "ability" to raise prices if necessary.

Sprouts Farmers Market reported earnings in line with expectations but also said margins were compressed by higher inflation. The company did raise 2014 guidance slightly.

Chipotle has already raised prices.

Also on Thursday, Wendy's reported earnings below expectations, hurt in part by a bigger-than-expected increase in beef costs.

On Wednesday, Noodle's reported that restaurant margins decreased due to an increase in food costs.

Red Robin this week said operating profit margins decreased due to higher food costs.

Papa John's this week said the market price for cheese averaged $2.14 per pound for the third quarter of 2014, compared to $1.74 per pound in the prior year.

On Monday, food distributor Sysco also cited "acute inflationary pressures" as an issue.

2) Tough week for IPOs. Three IPOs open for trading today, all on the Nasdaq, including Freshpet, which provides fresh food for dogs and cats and biopharma firm INC Research Holdings.

There were 14 IPOs scheduled to price this week, but only eight got done. Yesterday's debut of Upland Software priced at $12 Wednesday night and closed at $9.75 on its first day of trading yesterday. Ouch! This is a cloud-based work management system. Wasn't that a hot space?

Seems like a large number of IPOs are being rejected by investors. It says IPO investors are not going for every deal. They do seem to love biotechs, though.

  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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