U.S. Stocks Rally From 3-Month Lows as Energy, Health-Care Lead
Comment of the Day

January 14 2016

Commentary by David Fuller

U.S. Stocks Rally From 3-Month Lows as Energy, Health-Care Lead

Here are a few highlights from this topical report from Bloomberg:

U.S. stocks surged from three-month lows as energy and health-care shares paced a rebound, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index recovering after the steepest selloff since September.

Equities spiked higher, reversing an early drop that sent the Nasdaq Composite Index toward a 14-month low. Energy companies jumped as crude rallied, with Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. gaining more than 3.4 percent. JPMorgan Chase & Co. added 1.7 percent after its quarterly profit beat estimates amid lower expenses. Merck & Co. and Pfizer Inc. increased at least 2.2 percent to pace health-care’s rise.

“This is the relief rally we’ve been waiting for,” said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird, which oversees $110 billion. “Pessimism had grown to such a level that enough cash had been raised on the sidelines to sport at least a short-term rally. Better-than-expected earnings could be something for the bulls to grasp and provide this rebound some sustainability.”

“We’ll have to digest all these earnings numbers and then we’ll have a clearer picture, but if you look around the world, there’s not many positive drivers,” said Benno Galliker, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG. “Play it safe, that’s the message at the moment.”

The recent equity selloff is an “emotional response,” obscuring expansion in both the American economy and corporate profits, Abby Joseph Cohen, president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Global Markets Institute, said today. The fair value for Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is 2,100, she said.

The main U.S. equity index has declined more than 10 percent from its record set in May, and is 2 percent above the bottom of an August swoon, which was also triggered by anxiety over the impact of China’s weakness on worldwide growth. The gauge has slumped 8.1 percent since the Federal Reserve raised interest rates last month for the first time since 2006.

David Fuller's view

The comment, “… there’s not many positive drivers”, has certainly been true.  For that to change, I maintain, we need to see China steady and the price of crude oil move higher on short covering and supply reductions.  The same can be said for industrial metals.

My instinct in the current environment for stock markets is to be wary of extreme forecasts, which are mostly to the downside, unless you regards Abby Joseph Cohen’s comment -“the fair value for Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is 2,100” – as extreme.  Bullish expectations for 2016 were hammered from the opening day and most of the remaining uptrends have been broken. 

Bears have certainly dominated the first two weeks of January and we are now short-term oversold.  Some buying has returned near the August lows for the S&P but it would take a big, persistent rally to calm nerves and repair some of the technical damage.   

(See also: Goldman Sees 11% Upside in S&P 500 After an ‘Emotional’ Selloff)

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