Staying Ready for the Challenges Ahead
April 6, 2018
Well, it didn’t happen at all in the month of March, but after ushering in April with a shower of losses, the market rallied yesterday for its third consecutive session, led by the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
The blue-chip index, which rebounded on the coattails of Boeing (BA), is the would-be poster child of U.S.-China trade. On that note, nothing has changed. We are in a trade war, and China has a multitude of unfair advantages that mock the notion of fairness and the abuse of trust that is supposed to accompany an honest exchange of goods and services.
Still, I think America is going to win this battle.
As impressive as the week has been for the market, the chart underscores that there are additional challenges for the rally to get back on track. The Dow has rallied to a series of lower high points and needs to close about 25,000 in order to reverse that trend.
Getting through that level would be something, especially considering the recent volatility makes it more likely that some traders will want to go home flat.
Trade tensions are getting a lot of attention right now, I don’t think the Street is being somewhat measured in reacting to the back and forth between China and President Trump on trade. When the final bell rings today, it will be comments from Fed Chair Jerome “Jay” Powell that will be more important. If he hints at just three rate hikes for this year, we could rally into the close.
As you know the Fed looks very closely at jobs in determining interest rate policy, and we got the latest monthly employment report this morning. I was looking for an increase of 200,000 jobs and 2.7% wage growth year-over-year. Well, we hit on one of those. Wages did increase 2.7% in the month of March, but only 103,000 new jobs were added. The unemployment rate was flat at 4.1% for the sixth straight month.
January’s number was revised down to 176,000 while February’s data was boosted to 326,000. That puts the average gain so far this year at 202,000.
The report was largely a dud, although there were a couple of bright spots. More curious is that Wall Street built in a narrative that good news would be bad news and a disappointing number has thus far been greeted with slightly more selling.
The bottom line is that there remains no reason to panic. We’ll let Wall Street continue to do that, and in the meantime we’ll be ready to pick up the bargains that result. I must admit, I’m very excited about the values in the market right now. At the same time, I am worried that so many investors are going to panic and sell at the very moments they could be making moves that could have a major impact on their financial situation down the road.
That’s not us, as we plan to take advantage of this period.