It was a strong September, the best in seventy years, with the Dow up more than 8% for the month while the other averages were not far behind. As the third quarter closes, however, the clear winners were precious metals. But it appears that both commodities and stocks have more to run in the weeks ahead.
At the close of the week we had a bit of profit taking in stocks as well as commodities, but that was to be expected. As long as the economic numbers continue to come in better than expected, the data will provide support for further upside in these markets.
This week most of that date surprised analysts. Second quarter GDP growth rate came in at 1.7% versus an expected 1.6% and was 3.7% in the first quarter. The core PCE price index gained 1% versus 1.2% expected. Consumer spending gained 2.2% versus a prior gain of 1.9%. The New York “ISM” Index of business was 58.3% while analysts expected 55.6% and the initial jobless claims were down by 16,000 to 453,000 which were also better than expected.
Numbers like these cheer investors and help justify why the stock markets are climbing after four months of range-bound trading. I believe that markets can correct in two ways: a sharp, painful decline or a period of consolidation where stocks trade in a range until all the sellers have sold. Given the historical run-up in stocks from March, 2009 through April, 2010, I had warned investors that a correction was due and a period of marking time should also occur while the economy played catch-up with the gains in the markets. I believe that is exactly what has happened over the last five months.
The 1,150 level on the S& P 500 Index has proven stubborn resistance this week. Every time the bulls assaulted that line in the sand, the bears fought back, driving stocks lower again, but not by much and that is what gives me confidence that the bulls will break through that level at some point.
Over in the commodity corner, gold has powered higher hitting its 11th record high in a month, trading at $1,316/ounce before falling back to regroup. Silver has had an even more spectacular run and traded above $22/ounce before also falling back. Clearly investors are “buying the dips” in those markets. I agree with that strategy. Buyers beware, however, because all that ‘feel good’ emotion as precious metals hit new highs can quickly turn to fear and panic when (not if) commodities correct. These puppies have had quite a run, so new buyers would be advised to wait for the inevitable sharp but short pullback before buying.
As for the stock market, if we punch through1,150, the next resistance area for the S&P 500 is around 1,180. Notice, too, that at that level we will have almost re-traced all the losses incurred since the market’s April high.
One final note, I won’t be writing a column next week since I’m going to Maine for a week of kayaking and hiking with my wife and our dog Titus. I’ll miss you.