It's impossible to look ahead to the second-half of the year unless you know what you're trying to see. There's an overwhelming number of data points, stories and scenarios coming out everyday, swamping your senses and making it all but impossible to judge anything for yourself.
To help narrow down to the news that really matters to your portfolio, Breakout welcomed Jeff Kleintop, Chief Market Strategist at LPL Financial to lay out the roadmap of what will impact the markets most through year-end.
Second-Quarter Earnings Season
First up, earnings. The first Dow component Alcoa (AA) is expected to report results after-the-bell on July 9th, unofficially kicking off the Q2 earnings season. "A lot of people think the S&P 500 is GDP and if GDP is slowing sharply then earnings are slowing sharply as well; probably not true," says Kleintop. In fact a degree of weakness can support earnings in some cases. For example Kleintop believes a lack of hiring will support strong margins as the cost of hiring and training will be lower.
Further, Kleintop says the impact of Europe will be less than expected and something the market could "look through" regardless.
November Elections Impact on Market
The election will come to the fore after Labor Day by American tradition. Kleintop says the State polls are more important than the Presidential race. "The Senate actually holds more impact on what's going to happen than any of the other elections," he says.
Two thirds of the Senate elections involve Democrat incumbents. A swing of three will shift power to the Republicans, a prospect Kleintop says has "profound implications" for heavily regulated and legislated sectors. If it looks like there's going to be a shift in power, traders will start positioning themselves accordingly.
The Looming Fiscal Cliff
Already a subject of discussion and concern, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, payroll tax cuts, and spending cuts all loom. By Kleintop's math it amounts to about 3.5% of GDP, more than America has ever cut since 1947.
If Republicans take Congress he believes they'll buy themselves time and "kick the can down the road 3 to 6 months to give them the opportunity to really address these budget issues and mitigate some of the more negative and onerous consequences."
Let's face it, the Democrats will kick the can as well. It's what Americans do.
He's a sunny optimist in terms of how these things play out but Kleintop still has a hard time getting too excited about stocks here. Calling this a "base building year" he's looking for the S&P500 to be around 1,375 by year end. One can only imagine what his target would be if he thought these factors weren't going to play out so well.