The Independent Market Observer

The Market’s April Fools’ Day Jokes

March 31, 2017

What will we look back on, six or twelve months from now, and not be able to believe we didn’t see? This is always a good question to ask, but looking at the calendar, it’s particularly apropos.

What April Fools' pranks might the market be playing on us right now?

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Today's GDP Report (and What to Expect in Q2)

March 30, 2017

As we close out the first quarter of 2017, all I can say is that it’s been a great one, economically and financially. Despite all of the worry and turmoil—in Washington, DC, and elsewhere in the world—markets have risen substantially and the economy has continued to grow.

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Brexit Begins: Should U.S. Investors Care?

March 29, 2017

The big news of the day is that the United Kingdom has finally pulled the trigger on its exit from the European Union. The letter initiating Brexit was delivered this morning, and the parties now begin the two-year process of negotiating the exit terms and subsequent relationship.

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Congress, the Debt Ceiling, and the Stock Market

March 28, 2017

The health care bill was pulled from the House last week before a vote was taken, a sure sign that the support wasn't there. Speaker Paul Ryan has admitted that Obamacare will remain the law of the land for some time. President Trump has, as expected, already started to move on. The papers are trumpeting what a big blow this is to the administration and the Republican Party. 

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Monday Update: Housing Market Keeps Tightening, Business Orders Still Growing

March 27, 2017

Last week’s data was generally positive. Housing continues to strengthen; although strong demand has reduced inventories of existing homes, new home sales have started to pick up the slack. On the business front, capital spending continues to improve, although not as quickly as had been hoped.

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The Health Care Vote and the Stock Market

March 24, 2017

Today, the Republicans are set to make a high-stakes gamble on one of their signature issues, repealing the Affordable Care Act. They don’t know whether the bill will pass, but at President Trump’s behest, they are bringing it to the floor. Trump framed it this way: If the bill fails, then Obamacare survives. Given the energy the Republican Party has invested in repeal, this is certainly a moment of high political drama.

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Investors Feeling More Greedy Than Fearful

March 23, 2017

Today, I’m at the Barron’s Top Independent Advisors Summit, where I will be moderating a discussion titled “Fear and Greed” with two impressive panelists, Brian Wesbury and David Iben. I am very interested to hear what they have to say, and as moderator, I’ll be doing much more listening than speaking (no doubt to the benefit of the audience).

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What About Yesterday’s Stock Market Pullback?

March 22, 2017

Yesterday, we finally saw a market decline of more than 1 percent, after a very long time without one. Is this the end of the rally?

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Is Spring on the Way for the Economy?

March 21, 2017

As the end of the first quarter approaches, expectations are high for a new burst of economic growth. With consumer confidence at the highest point since before the financial crisis, business confidence rising to very healthy levels, and job and wage growth continuing to move in the right direction, spring seems just around the corner.

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Monday Update: Mixed Data, But Continued Growth Likely

March 20, 2017

Last week’s economic data was all over the place, but despite some significant disappointments, the overall tone was positive. With the Federal Reserve raising rates but declining to speed up the process, the most likely path looks to be continued growth at about the same pace we’ve seen recently.

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Three Steps and a Stumble

March 17, 2017

St. Patrick’s Day, at least here in the U.S., is all about the wearing of the green. Everyone is Irish today, the green beer flows, and we have a great time—until waking up the next day with a hangover. Living in Boston, with the surname McMillan, I certainly get it.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: March 2017

March 16, 2017

Just as I do with the economy, I review the market each month for warning signs of trouble in the near future. Although valuations are now high—a noted risk factor in past bear markets—markets can stay expensive (or get much more expensive) for years and years, which doesn’t give us much to go on timing-wise.

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Market Valuations and Future Returns

March 15, 2017

Yesterday’s post ended with the idea that, if interest rates go up, market valuations will have to rise for many investors to meet their return goals. Based on the example we used, market valuations would have to increase by 3 percent per year for investors to see their required returns.

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How Can We Tell If the Market Is Overvalued?

March 14, 2017

I’m at the Commonwealth Chairman’s Retreat this week, which, as usual, is a real treat. The conference is always held in a wonderful location, with great speakers and content—not to mention the chance to connect with some of the best financial advisors in the world.

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Monday Update: Strong Jobs Report Paves Way for Rate Hike

March 13, 2017

Last week was all about the February employment report, which surprised to the upside for the second month in a row. This was the last remaining hurdle the economy needed to clear before a Federal Reserve interest rate hike, and the positive results essentially ensured that the hike will happen as expected this week. 

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Economic Risk Factor Update: March 2017

March 10, 2017

The data for February was positive across the board, recovering from some slight pullbacks the previous month. The indicators we track here continue to point toward economic expansion, which is encouraging following the downtrend established in 2016. This marks the fourth straight month of positive data, indicating that the current uptrend may be here to stay.

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February Jobs Report Preview

March 9, 2017

The employment report is probably the most important economic report of them all. Jobs drive everything about the economy, and they serve as the single best window into how things are really going.

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The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

March 8, 2017

After the market's record-setting run, we’re now seeing a small pullback. This seems an appropriate time to take a look back at history and evaluate where we stand—not so much on the valuation and risk front, but with a general eye to how the market behaves over time and how we should react.

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Earnings Update: As Expected, Companies Beat Expectations

March 7, 2017

Will the stock market rally continue? That’s a big question right now, and the answer will depend on two things:

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Monday Update: More Surprising Gains in Confidence

March 6, 2017

Last week’s data extends the string of surprisingly strong sentiment and headline news, and even the weaker reports were better than they looked on the surface. With both consumer and business confidence rising, and the Federal Reserve feeling more upbeat as well, the recovery appears to be continuing.

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It’s Not All About US

March 3, 2017

Most of my posts and media interviews lately have revolved around one country: the U.S. Today, we'll take a break from the “all U.S., all the time" show to look up at the rest of the world. It’s a big planet, with a lot going on.

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Dow 21K: How Far Can the Rally Run?

March 2, 2017

With the Dow cracking 21,000 yesterday, just over a month after breaking 20,000—and other indices setting records as well—there are a few questions we need to ask.

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Market Thoughts for March 2017 [Video]

March 1, 2017

February was another "wow" month for markets. All three major U.S. indices rose substantially, and markets around the world also did quite well.

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