Daily Update: Support Holds (Even For Big Tech)

A week after the most dreaded Fed announcement in years, stocks have exhausted their initial relief rally and gone back to what superficially resembles a random walk. But under the noise, the signal gets stronger with time.

The Fed is no longer a potentially apocalyptic shadow hanging over markets that had forgotten how to live in a world of positive interest rates. And as investors recover their confidence, every day without a fresh shock strengthens the floor under Wall Street’s feet.

Take this morning, for example. After rebounding as much as 8% from the bottom, the S&P 500 was ready to take a break. We made money buying short-term puts.

But we were careful to take our profit early . . . because the bears are no longer in control of the market’s mood. The “fiercest” of this morning’s selling wasn’t enough to crack short-term support before the buyers came back in.

That support line has held since Friday. And as of yesterday, even the battered NASDAQ has support of its own to work with.

AAPL is back. AMZN is back. GOOG and TSLA and NVDA are back. When you’re dealing with such gigantic companies, it takes enormous shifts in sentiment to push the stocks far off their statistical trends.

Like we say, you don’t turn a battleship on a dime and that applies to trillion-dollar stocks as well. Day by day, the trend lines on all these charts now point up. And with the stocks trading above their trends, inertia does all the work.

News now needs to be actively bad to knock these giants off course. That’s part of what “support” means.

And with the Fed no longer credible as a near-term fear factor, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in the next month where the tech giants hit a collective wall.

Regulation is not an immediate threat or even a credible long-term shadow. These are the kinds of companies that pivot around local challenges like war in Europe or oil shocks.

As long as the coming earnings cycle is decent and the outlook remains relatively robust, the trend is our friend. And I’m looking for MSFT to join the pack soon.

PYPL and FB have a lot more heavy lifting to do before they regain the market’s confidence and get support back on their side. We’re still in the early stages here.

But they’re also relatively small companies, without a lot of pull on the NASDAQ or the market as a whole. They can remain volatile . . . creating great trading opportunities along the way.

Will earnings season bend the trend? Like always, there will be disappointments and unexpected triumphs, but I think expectations now are low enough that Big Tech can keep rallying.

The sector as a whole currently trades at roughly 25X earnings, which might look a little scary unless you adjust for anticipated growth.

These are still dynamic companies. I think they’ll be able to expand their earnings by around 12% in the coming year . . . easily 3 percentage points ahead of the market as a whole.

Maybe the stocks go nowhere in the coming year, which would take their aggregate valuation down to around 20X earnings based on their current growth rate. That’s not expensive at all.

And valuations aren’t extreme enough on this end of Silicon Valley to scare investors. We know this because the stocks aren’t crashing in the Fed’s wake.

On a sector level, I’d rather be here than just about anywhere else on Wall Street. While it’s going to be hard to resist Big Oil, those stocks will remain relatively small and volatile for the foreseeable future.

And while the industrials look interesting as a group, it’s a mixed bag. Stocks like BA, HON and UPS are a drag. Why not just buy UNP and RTX if you want momentum?

Considerations like this are why I tend to focus on individual stocks with the power to make their own trends. But it’s nice to see the overall environment reflect the fact that the economy remains biased toward strength.

The future doesn’t look uniformly bright in the long term . . . but the immediate future looks pretty good.