In my Saturday Night quarterback post of July 9 on my subscription site JubakAM.com I wrote that the big question for the upcoming week was whether or not the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index would this week take out the all-time high near 2135 set in May 2015.
Well, cross that off the list of investing questions. Today the index closed at a new all-time closing high of 2137.16 and scored a new all-time intraday high of 2143.16.
So now the question Is where we go from here?
The momentum clearly points to a continued move higher. Today the rally expanded from the defensive sectors, such as utilities, to recently relatively underperforming sectors such as technology. Intel (INTC) and Microsoft (MSFT), for example, were up 1.12% and 0.55% today; and Apple supplier Skyworks Solutions (SWKS) climbed 2.75%. Put that together with the 4.02% gain in shares of copper miner Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) and the 3.13% climb in shares of Chinese Internet retailer Alibaba Group (BABA) and it looks like the market today is counting on a strong economy to drive stock prices higher.
Which leaves the market at somewhat of a crossroads.
Because Wall Street analysts, looking at the second quarter earnings season that started today when Alcoa (AA) reported after the close, are expecting another year over year drop in earnings for the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500. That drop for the index companies as a whole was pegged at 5.4% as of last week but the projected decline is worse for technology companies at 7% or so.
In other words exactly the stocks and optimism that drove the market higher today is the focus of the earnings challenge over the next month.
Is that fear of a bad earnings season enough to stall the market’s momentum? My best guess is that the fear of being left behind by this rally is going to be strong motivation for money still on the sidelines to join in the move. Individual stocks that report bad results or that, more importantly, lower guidance, could well get savaged in the short-run. But if market momentum holds, any drop in an individual name is likely to be seen as a buying opportunity.
A bad earnings season could stagger this rally but stopping it will take some change in the underlying faith in low interest rates and central bank stimulus