2015 Outlook: Pain

The U.S. stock market has provided a blissful time for investors over the last several years. It has been almost six years now since the turmoil of the financial crisis dissipated. And with each passing year, U.S. stock market volatility has become less and less as the financial crisis starts to become an increasingly distant memory. But that may all be about to change as we enter into 2015. In fact, the change may already be underway. After so many comfortable years, a new challenge has finally arrived for the U.S. stock market. Thus, my market prediction for 2015: Pain.

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The Best Offense Is A Good Defense

What a difference a few weeks make. Stocks are once again in rally mode and bullishness is back on the street. After bottoming back on October 15, stocks as measured by the S&P 500 Index have rallied an impressive +11.6% to advance to fresh new all-time highs. All must be well in the world once again, right? Perhaps, but the details behind this rally suggest that all may not be entirely copasetic with the markets as we move toward the end of the year. As a result, the best offense for your stock portfolio may continue to be a good defense.

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The Stock Sectors Set To Streak Into 2015

The Fed’s QE3 stimulus program is scheduled to finally come to an end in November 2014 after an extended period of tapering. Recent history suggests that this does not bode well for the U.S. stock market, which has struggled when standing naked without the crutch of Fed stimulus in the post crisis period. But not all stocks are created equally. For while many stock sectors certainly trailed along with the broader market without the steady flood of liquidity from the Fed, a select few demonstrated the ability to hold up well. Some even showed the ability to achieve solid gains. And while history may not necessarily repeat itself the next time around, these previously winning sectors may warrant some extra attention as QE3 draws to a close and we streak toward 2015.

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Where The Bear Market Is Already Underway

The U.S. stock market remains incredibly resilient. The S&P 500 Index continues in a sustained uptrend despite an extended period of consolidation since the beginning of March and is currently just 1% below its all-time high. But despite this headline strength, all is not necessarily well with the stock market, as some disconcerting signs of weakness have emerged including notable declines in the Nasdaq, U.S. small caps and biotechs in recent months. Perhaps even more importantly, one market segment in particular that resides near the very heart of the U.S. stock market is dealing with a mauling bear market that has already been unleashed.

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As QE Ends: The Stock Sectors Most At Risk

The U.S. Federal Reserve is getting out of the asset purchase game. The Fed’s QE3 stimulus program is gradually winding down and is projected to draw to a close by November. Given how dependent stocks have been on Fed stimulus in the post crisis period and knowing that the stock market is a predictive arena, it is worthwhile to begin exploring now where the impact is likely to be most heavily felt as the Fed increasingly withdraws daily asset purchase support.

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