Friday, March 7, 2014

For Investors Only

This is an interesting "moment in time" for investors. There are three major events that are affecting the market in the short term:
  • the Ukranian event
  • the ObamaCare delay
  • the Fed's dual mandate
  • First, the Fed's dual mandate: jobs and inflation. Inflation is not an issue at the moment. The strong jobs report today should have brought the market down. It didn't. This suggests to me, investors have factored in continued gradual tapering.
  • Second, the Ukranian event: short term, it's a diplomatic event.
  • Third, the ObamaCare delay: this is a "positive" for the market. The perception that the entire program is now on hold through 2017 can only be viewed as a huge "plus" for investors.
With regard to the jobs report, Reuters is reporting:
U.S. stocks finished mostly higher on Friday, with the S&P 500 closing at a record after more jobs than expected were created in February and January's figure was revised higher.
The S&P 500 ended at a record closing high for the second day in a row. Friday's milestone also was the S&P 500's fifth record closing high in the past seven sessions.
But the overall sentiment was cautious and trading was volatile throughout the session as investors adjusted their positions ahead of the weekend and kept a close eye on the simmering crisis in Ukraine.
The S&P 500 had climbed to an intraday record of 1,883.57 shortly after the opening bell, lifted by the Labor Department's report showing that U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls in February. Economists had expected a gain of 149,000 jobs, according to a Reuters poll.
This tug-of-war on "good" employment numbers vs "bad" employment numbers is perhaps coming to an end where "bad" numbers meant more stimulus, contributing to a rising market. If investors have baked in cautious, continued tapering, then "good" numbers are important right now for investors. The next debate will be whether "better" job numbers are a reflection of a better economy, or the "discontinuation" of 99+ weeks of unemployment benefits.

The Crimean Event

This Crimean thing is very interesting on so many levels. I don't watch television as a rule, and traveling the last two days, I haven't kept up at all. But it certainly looks like the Ukraine could have been headed for a civil war with two "weak" participants (the Crimean Russian civilians with no army and the Ukrainians with a bullet-less army) fighting it out for bragging rights.

Right, wrong, or indifferent, it almost appears that Putin could be recognized for stepping in and restoring a bit of "adult" leadership. If Putin had not stepped in, I think one could argue that we would now be seeing a lot of physical fighting between the Ukrainians and the Crimeans. Putin stopped that potential fighting and has moved it into the diplomatic arena per this story by Reuters:
In a signal to Moscow, Obama announced plans to punish Russians and Ukrainians involved in what he called “threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” A U.S. official said Russian President Vladimir Putin was not on the list of those to be sanctioned.
I have no idea what it means to "punish the Russians" but not include Putin on that list of those to be sanctioned. I assume I am missing something, but exactly what would "we" be doing if "we" sanctioned Putin? Not let him speak to the US Congress? LOL.

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