November 8, 2012
(Note: This is Mark Vickery, substituting for Sheraz Mian while he is away.)
Wednesday's sell-off -- a fall of around 2.5% in the equities markets -- following President Obama's successful bid to win a second term on Tuesday may have some investors spooked, but there is plenty of data this morning that may be instructional to investment strategies moving forward. Yes, the Dow Jones sold off 313 points yesterday, but this is coming off multi-year highs from October. A little perspective is in order.
First of all, the U.S. Trade Deficit has fallen to "just" $41.55 billion in September, the lowest it has been in nearly 2 years. The August total was revised downward from $44.2 billion to $43.8 billion. Our reliance on foreign oil has been a major thorn in our side regarding the trade deficit; if what we're seeing is a trend, and that trend has something significant to do with U.S. energy independence, then look at this as a potential long-term positive as well as a near-term one.
Jobless Claims in the U.S. fell again, too: 355,000 jobless claims fell 8000 from the previous month's unchanged 363,000. One important caveat here -- this is an incomplete total, relating to difficulties with Hurricane Sandy, and now the region's Nor'easter winter storm. Thus Jobless Claims data should rightly take a back seat to its normal weekly importance until these discrepancies are sorted out in the weeks to come. That said, it still appears we are on the improving trajectory we have seen not just over the last four weeks, but the last couple months as well.
In the Eurozone, ECB President Mario Draghi has announced the main interest rate remains at .75%. Draghi was quoted this morning thusly: "We are ready to undertake OMTs [Outright Monetary Transactions] which will help to avoid extreme scenarios, thereby clearly reducing concerns about the materialization of destructive forces." Meaning, basically, the ECB will do what it can when it's absolutely necessary. Which in turn means the ECB remains less demonstrative than the U.S. Fed has been since the onset of QE-infinity, but not changing policy in any drastic way is helping keep Eurozone uncertainty at low levels.
If there is still a sticking point that may keep bearish momentum in the U.S. markets, it is the issue of the Fiscal Cliff looming at the end of 2012. President Obama remains the president, but Republicans remain in charge of the House and Democrats do not have a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate. Thus, we are still in the same boat in terms of major economic uncertainty. Going over the Fiscal Cliff would settle a lot of our concerns about our deficit but likely send us back into a painful recession. Trust in Congress' ability to do the right thing is hard to come by, and for good reason. So let's stay tuned.
In short, investors should not be spooked about Wednesday's big sell-off. Yes, we've likely seen a depletion in industries such as Coal, which were hoping dearly for a Romney victory, but being in the situation we've been in for the past few years, while not ideal, is far from devastating. Stay the course with companies generating earnings and dividend yields, and you should do fine over the medium-term.
November 8, 2012