Random Thoughts: Measuring Market Metrics Into Year-End

By Todd Harrison  DEC 19, 2012 12:20 PM

Taking stock of the drivers of stocks.



Editor's Note: Todd posts his vibes in real time each day on our Buzz & Banter.

It's been a long time since I put some real elbow grease into a column, or at least one that's not nuts and guts financial stuff. 

That's what I did for the better part of yesterday, and the result was The Devolution of Social Mood.  I, like every other human being, was profoundly impacted by the events of last Friday, and I thank you—and Minyanville—for the opportunity to share those feelings.

In terms of the stock market, our twin levels S&P (INDEXSP:.INX) 1435 and NDX (INDEXNASDAQ:NDX) 2700 remain the levels of lore for investors galore.  We've been talking about them for a while as they matter in a big way (for the "why," click here).  While those emerging patterns look pretty snazzy, I will again remind you to respect -- but never defer to -- the price action.

That's the pure technical lens; in terms of fundamentals, we've got bullish balance sheets (credit) in corporate America squared off against the headwind of higher taxes and austerity measures, neither of which is pro-growth.  The bulls will argue that fiscal cliff concerns have stemmed business activity, but that’s conjecture until proved otherwise.

Structurally, Europe seems to be kicking the can up the hill (read: it'll be “fine" until it's not) and currency markets warrant attention (there are only so many "release valves" for the cumulative compression in the marketplace; one of them is social mood, another is the currency construct). We broached this topic in 2009 when we asked, How Realistic Is a North American Currency?

Through a psychological lens, you know the deal: performance anxiety galore with seven days left in the year; the buyers are higher and the sellers are lower.  Losing money as a fund manager on Wall Street is acceptable, as long as others lose more.  Making money? That's fine, but not good enough if others—particularly the benchmark—made more. 

It's a relative dynamic in an absolute world, but as we know, perception is reality in the marketplace.

Random Thoughts:


Twitter: @todd_harrison

No positions in stocks mentioned.