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Stocks Advance in July Despite Rate Cut Selloff

Jim Giaquinto

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The market got the 25 basis-point cut that was widely expected on Wednesday, but the major indices still plunged on the uncertainty of future easing.

The problem really started at Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference, when he said that today’s action was more like a “mid-cycle” policy adjustment.

In other words, further rate cuts are possible but far from guaranteed.

That’s not what the market wanted to hear, sending the major indices sharply lower before paring some of the losses by the closing bell.

The Dow still slumped by 1.23% (or about 333 points) to 26,864.27. The NASDAQ slipped 1.19% (or around 98 points) to 8175.42, while the S&P dipped 1.09% to 2980.38.

With the rate cut being so widely expected, the market wanted more. It would’ve loved to hear that we were at the beginning of an easing cycle. And we know how the market can throw a tantrum when it doesn’t get what it wants.

Even with today’s selloff though, the major indices were up for July. The NASDAQ increased more than 2%, while the S&P gained 1.3% and the Dow advanced 1%.

That’s a second consecutive month of gains for stocks.

In other news, this was Apple’s first session since reporting a positive earnings surprise and encouraging outlook after the close yesterday. Shares of the iPhone maker were up a little more than 2% today despite the lower market.

If you thought that all the drama was done for this week… think again. On Friday, we’re getting the government’s jobs report for July. It blew past expectations in June by adding 224,000, which had people nervous at the time that the Fed wouldn’t cut rates at the July meeting.

Though not a harbinger of what’s coming on Friday, the ADP jobs report today showed 156,000 jobs added in July, which was inline with expectations.

Well, here we go into August. Let’s hope for THREE straight months of gains!

Today's Portfolio Highlights:

Large-Cap Trader: The portfolio put the rest of its set-aside cash equally into the following three stocks with 5% allocations each:

• Biogen (BIIB) – a leading biopharma company
• CACI International (CACI) – a provider of IT and network solutions for defense
• Logitech Int’l (LOGI) -- a maker of innovative peripherals for the digital world

All three of these companies are Zacks Rank #2s (Buys) in highly-ranked industries. They’ve also suffered through pullbacks and have a lot of upside ground to recover. Read John’s specifics on all of these new buys in the complete commentary.

Technology Innovators: You want to know why Brian likes the solar space right now? Take a look at portfolio position Enphase Energy (ENPH), which soared 30% on Wednesday after reporting a strong quarter. The company beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by more than 38%, while revenues of a little over $134 million topped our expectations by more than 10%. Needless to say, ENPH was easily the top performer of the day among all ZU portfolios. 

Surprise Trader: In the past couple of quarters, WillScot (WSC) has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate with triple-digit surprises. Now, on the eve of its next report, this provider of modular space and portable storage solutions has a positive Earnings ESP of 11.7%. This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) reports after the bell tomorrow. Dave sees another low bar for its release, so he added WSC on Wednesday with a 12.5% allocation. To make room, the editor sold Skechers (SKX) for a nice 13.2% return in approximately three weeks. See the full write-up for more on today’s moves. 

Insider Trader: When Tracey bought railroad components maker Wabtec (WAB) back in late May, the company had been down more than 30% year to date. And then it suffered a panic sell-off stemming from a downgrade. However, the editor remained patient… and today it paid off. The market liked its recent quarterly report, so the editor felt this was a great time to sell WAB and secure a 21.3% return in two months.  

Healthcare Innovators: Short sellers have begun to attack medical instruments company Penumbra (PEN) after a brokerage saw the potential for a big downside. Kevin was holding onto this name on the possibility of some M&A activity. But today’s pullback convinced the editor to just sell PEN and bank a nearly 25% return in about 10 months. He’ll look to get back into the name once it has moved lower.

Until Tomorrow,
Jim Giaquinto

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