Daily Update: “Bear Market Rally”

I just saw mighty Morgan Stanley proclaim that the last three weeks were just a fleeting upswing in a more profound bear market . . . and that the rally is over now. I’m not convinced.

Yes, the combination of persistent inflation and rising interest rates is going to be a drag in the foreseeable future. It’s going to get harder and harder for stocks to keep breaking historical records.

Sooner or later, the 2020 bull market will grind to a halt like every bull market before it. That’s obvious to anyone who’s been investing any length of time.

Wall Street spends about a fifth of its life in the bear market zone, which translates into about one 20% dip every three years. We’re actually almost due another.

And formally speaking, the NASDAQ has already spent the last five months in a bear market cycle. If statistics are any guide, the bull has a very good chance of coming back before August . . . not that long at all.

August is far from forever if you have a sensible investment horizon. We’ll know when the tech stock bear market ends when the NASDAQ convincingly breaks above 14,750 and stays there.

That’s too close for Morgan Stanley to confidently call right now. At least, I wouldn’t make that call when all it takes is another 2% surge to break the technical ceiling.

(Right now, you can tell the bear has a grip on technology because the 200-day trend is functioning as resistance . . . a maximum level weighing on how high these stocks can easily go. But when that line breaks, it becomes a new floor holding us up.)

It’s interesting that so many mid-tier tech stocks have already recovered support and are ready to help lift the NASDAQ back into bull market mode.

Names like WDAY and SQ are back. As of today, PYPL and FB are where they need to be to join them.

As for the S&P 500, it’s going to take a lurch on the consumer economy to break what’s now comfortable support. Tech stocks are holding up well. Unless the banks crumble, the rest of the market is unlikely to become much of a drag.

I’m not convinced the banks are going to buckle in a world where the Fed is aggressively raising interest rates. Higher rates mean higher profits, as long as credit quality holds up.

A true bear market move would push the S&P 500 back to 3,850, smashing all support and rewinding a full year of post-COVID progress. Is that likely?

Right now this is just another correction. When things get serious, we’ll know. Until then, it’s all just another wall of worry . . . and you know Wall Street loves to climb those.