Category Archives: Economy

As Economic Data Grows Anemic, Have Markets Reached a True Bottom?

Economic data releases of late have been sluggish, at best, signifying that the bull market rally that began last September may have lost its strength.  Most all markets crested back in March and have lately been in a ranging sideways mode, trying to assess the present landscape and make a major step in one direction or another.  For all businessmen, small and large enterprise alike, attempting to commit capital, whether internal or borrowed, is a decision fraught with peril under current conditions.

During the recent run up, market sentiment was strong that a recovery was finally stabilizing.  Survey data from several research firms suggested that banks had begun loaning again to small and medium size businesses, the stimulus necessary to ignite the nation’s hiring engine once more.  Of the more than eight million jobs lost during the “Great Recession”, as it has been so named, efforts to stimulate hiring have merely resulted in a recovery of two million positions, far below expectations.

Domestic growth in abundance would be the cure for present ills, but hints of slowdowns in Asia are beginning to ripple through the global marketplace, making the task of obtaining a small business loan just that much more difficult than before.  Global markets tend to correlate well with the popular S&P 500 Index.  What are these charts portending for the immediate future of commerce?

Our markets, whether we like it or not, are “social” sentiment indexes.  The psychology of the moment influences both traders and long-term investors to establish new temporary equilibriums as each new piece of fundamental economic data hits the radar screens across the planet.  Many stock pickers have been fooled by the recent expansion rally.  Picking a bottom in a market can be a daunting task, but GDP growth for the first quarter of the year did decline to a 1.8% annualized rate, somewhat down from the 3.1% figure posted for the previous quarter.

The lack of strong growth has brought about the apparent “triple-top” pattern in the above chart, one signal that we are headed downward to a new level of support.  For true technical enthusiasts, however, the chart pattern displayed above is a classic impulse wave, as defined by Elliot Wave Theory.  The first leg of the formation began in September with the next four legs forming in quick succession.  A classic impulse wave is typically followed by an “A-B-C” reversal, once again, evident from pricing behavior of the S&P 500 Index fund.

All that is missing from this “snapshot” analysis is the actual placement of the final “C” position.  Are we in for another 10% drop or more in the near-term?  When will the new upward trend begin?  Academicians would claim that these interpretations are self-fulfilling prophecies as traders react in mass with obvious pricing behavior to match their expectations.  If current market psychology is mirroring what has gone down before, is there a higher probability for history to repeat itself?

The Slow Stochastics indicator, a good gauge for estimating market bottoms, is definitely signaling an oversold condition, comparable to the similar reading that occurred last September.  Speculators could easily play for a bounce in values off nearby support levels, but caution is the watchword since more pain may be in store.

For the businessman or banker in the midst of a small business loan application process, the uncertainty of future economic health is an undesired dampening influence.  A wave of additional market deterioration will only delay loan approval.  If second quarter GDP data is also tepid, then “double-dip” talk will ensue.  Caution is advised.