U.S. Stocks: All Better Now?

After having drifted lower since the beginning of the month, the U.S. stock market as measured by the S&P 500 Index suddenly exploded higher on Tuesday. And the key index tacked on a few additional points on Wednesday. In the process, the S&P 500 not only broke decisively above its recent downward trading channel but also nearly set a new all-time intraday high. Such a decisive reversal might understandably lead one to conclude that all is once again right with the U.S. stock market. But one does not have to look far under the surface to find evidence to the contrary.

Please click on the link to read more of my article on Seeking Alpha.

Are You Positioned For ECB Stimulus?

The European Central Bank (ECB) brought fireworks to their latest press conference this past Thursday. Not only did ECB President Mario Draghi announce a cut of its main lending rate to the “lower bound” of 0.05%, he also revealed that the central bank’s intent to enter into its own form of quantitative easing (QE) by purchasing asset backed securities (ABS) and covered bonds at totals estimated between $500 billion to $1.3 trillion as early as October. This targeted long-term refinancing operation (TLTRO) is being done with the stated objective of trying to more directly promote lending activity to small and mid-sized businesses across the euro zone. Given that we have seen so many of these monetary stimulus programs initiated by global central banks over the past few years, it is reasonable to consider whether a portfolio strategy is well positioned for this latest ECB stimulus plan.

Please click on the link to read more of my article on Seeking Alpha.

A Surprising New Portfolio Diversifier

Portfolio diversification is a primary objective for most investors in any market environment. And it is a particular priority today for many that wish to participate in any further upside the aging bull market may provide in the coming months while also seeking to protect against downside risk. Normally for stock investors, true portfolio diversification is achieved through allocating to other vastly different and generally uncorrelated asset classes such as long-term Treasuries and gold. But in 2014, a surprising new category has emerged from within the stock market itself to become an effective portfolio diversifier in the current environment. This category is the utilities sector, and it may now be worth another look following a recent pullback.

Please click on the link to read more of my article on Seeking Alpha.

3 Keys To Watch In The Week Ahead

Stocks took their first tumble in nearly four months late last week. While the magnitude of the pullback has thus far been modest at just over -3%, some investors are left wondering given already high valuations and a slowly retreating Fed at this advanced stage of the third longest bull market in history whether last week’s decline might be the start of something more severe. With this in mind, three key leading indicators are worth watching in the coming week, for they may foretell whether far greater declines may soon be in offing even if the broader market manages to find its footing.

Please click on the link to read more of my article on Seeking Alpha.

The Good News From A Bad Friday

Friday was another down day for stocks following the notable -2% decline on Thursday. After a few feeble pushes to the upside in the early morning trade, stocks rolled over and were solidly down once again by midday before battling back into the close. But despite the generally poor performance of stocks for a second consecutive day on Friday, several important points of good news accompanied the bad. Overall, investors could find reassurance at least as we head into the weekend that the latest stock market correction is taking on a more orderly behavior.

Please click on the link to read more of my article on Seeking Alpha.

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