What I’m Watching This Week – 22 October 2012

Expectation and interpretation

The U.S. market began the week with better than expected economic data and by the end of the week, earnings results actually had beaten expectations (true, the bar had been lowered) but the revenue beat rate and outlook have been disappointing.  Approximately 20% of the S&P 500 companies have reported thus far, only 42.3% of them have beat Q3 revenue expectations and 57.7% have missed.  However, 64.9% have beat earnings per share (EPS) estimates.   As I’ve mentioned before, this market is all about expectation and interpretation.  To close the week off, the S&P and Dow finished the week with minuscule gains, the Russell 2000 with a small loss, and the NASDAQ proved to be the worst performer with a 1.26% drop.  There is a noticeable change in sentiment, again with little response to good news. Stocks had the worst week in a few months all the while the data has actually been somewhat positive.  On the global perspective things were considerably better, with eleven of twelve major foreign indexes posting gains.  The under performer was Brazil and they missed by .41%.

Overall it was a quiet but positive week for economic data.  Retail sales, industrial production, housing starts and building permits all beat expectations right on up until Thursday’s employment numbers.  First time unemployment claims took the wind right out of the swelling sails and then Friday’s sell off, which just by coincidence happened on the 25th anniversary of the Crash of 1987, capped off a surprisingly vexing week.  Uncertain outcomes remain and the market’s fluid reaction bears caution.

I remain optimistic.  I won’t be making any predictions when the overall earnings story is this mixed, the Doom and Gloom crowd will be providing more than enough downbeat outlook commentary.  Adding to the neurosis of the market, the last Presidential debate happens Monday evening.  I am curious which candidate (the fake Mitt or fake Barack) will play to undecided voters via their foreign policy positions.  The last two events were certainly eyebrow arching to say the least.  My short-term outlook predominately screams for caution and risk control due to market psychology and sentiment.  Mid to long-term, I remain optimistic as there are many immediate opportunities for long-term growth potential; once the equilibrium shifts and the fundamentals are once again recognized by a sane market place.