December 19 Update–Markets rally Strongly

Hello Everybody

The markets had been in a nerve wracking decline since December 8, however found “a bottom” at the 1972 area on the SP-500 on December 16, then resumed upward rather strongly after that.  I did not get overly concerned (but yes, somewhat concerned) because my other indicators were not flashing red flags.    Various opinions exist on the cause of the decline, mostly this was attributed to Russian economic problems and President Putin.   Apparently cheap oil is not good for Russia’s primarily oil based economy (they don’t produce much of anything else) and fears of a Russian economic collapse sent global markets down.   We also had folks in financial press discussing why “cheap oil” is bad for the US economy.    Which of course I can’t agree with, as cheap oil means people will take road trips, airlines will report higher profits, FedEx pays less to fuel their trucks, and oil based products such as vehicle tires arguably will not be priced as high.  I wonder how the economy would do if gasoline was $8 a gallon instead of $3.   

Fast forward a few days after Dec-8 to the FOMC meeting and there is no indication that the expected Summer/Fall 2015 interest rate hikes will be accelerated, a worry in some circles.   This, combined with the abatement of Russian fears, sent markets soaring.    This is also why I analyze things based on numerous indicators and not just what happened on one day.

It is important to note that the S-Fund is the top performer so far this month, however C-Fund is very closely next in line.   My TSP allocation remains 100% S-Fund.

Some trivia regarding this past week’s events are that our two consecutive 200+ point gains in the Dow Jones Index, which occurred this past week, occurred previously the only other time was six years ago.   So the market is displaying “positive behavior” not typically seen.  The SP-500 had the best two day gain since 2011.   And on December 18, the Dow Jones Index had its biggest one day gain in three years.

The new “overhead resistance level” on the SP 500 is 2080.  Any penetration of this level is an All Time High and a good thing.   Crude Oil is at not-seen-since 2009 lows of $55.   I attribute this to our fracking oil exploration (I have friends in this sector) which is partially derivative of President Bush’s desire to not rely on OPEC.    Like all supply and demand equations, a Catch-22 exists, you can produce yourself (provide supply) out of business via cheaper and cheaper prices and soon it costs more money to drill the oil, and extract it, than it is worth.    That is beyond the scope of this site but you get the idea.

See some charts below regarding Crude Oil and SP 500 Index

SP 500 12.19.14 comments thumb December 19 Update–Markets rally Strongly

CRUDE OIL.12.19.14 comments thumb December 19 Update–Markets rally Strongly

In summary, it appears the recent speed bumps are behind us and the market has found a new uptrend.  I remain 100% S-Fund.     Note that Dec-22 week trading will be light, anything that happens that week can be basically discarded as unreliable action.   Ideally we do exit 2014 on an uptrend, as this “sets the tone” for the New Year.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, as I will not likely be reporting much during the next two weeks.   I hope over this year, this site has generated thought, increased awareness of the markets, protected your balance from some damage, helped your balance realize gains, and provided some entertainment.   If the above have occurred, then 2014 was a good year for this site.  Please continue to share this site with your friends and colleagues and encourage them to sign up for free e-mail updates.

Thank You !

- Bill Pritchard

Dec 16 AM Update

Putin is killing me.   I am not pleased with December market’s performance so far.  Those in international stocks, especially emerging markets, are seeing extensive pain.  Plan on a more extensive update and discussion this week.

- Bill Pritchard

Dec 10 Update – Markets recover / other Items

Hello Everybody

Not saying that I predicted this or anything, but I am not completely shocked that after the AM sell off yesterday Dec 9, the markets spent the rest of the day basically regaining ground.   The NASDAQ (the location of almost all small caps and thus S-Fund holdings) actually closed 25 points to the positive, the SP 500 (large caps and thus C-Fund) closed almost positive, and the Dow Jones Index (large caps and thus C-Fund) didn’t quite do as well, it attempted to go positive but did not make it.   However, I am much more at ease now that the markets displayed a desire to regain lost ground.    Night-time SP 500 futures reflect a continued desire to seek higher territory.   I am TDY with my MacBook so my charts and graphics are a little different.  See chart:

SP 500 FUTURES 12.10.14 300x294 Dec 10 Update   Markets recover / other ItemsThe green circle shows night-time action, which is higher than the prior red bar, displaying daytime 12-09 action.

I remain 100% S-Fund.    This leads to a very common question I am getting from my great readers via email, which is “When you say you are 100% S-Fund, what does that mean.”    To that, I request folks please take a look at the FAQ, especially FAQ #10, at http://www.thefedtrader.com/qa/     That is my most common question via email.

Some other items, I am posting this “value added material” as it has some nexus to TSP and retirement.  I am cut and pasting a portion of the text as some subscriber’s work email do not allow for clicking on external links.

– Roth IRA’s require new election in 2015, per Military.Com website.    See link.  Cut and pasted from the site is:

In the past (and through 31 January 2014), contributions to Roth TSP accounts were made by designating a dollar amount that you wanted contributed.  Beginning 1 January 2015, those same Roth TSP contributions have to be made as a percentage of each of your pays, including basic pay, incentive pay, and special pay.  You can still make a dollar amount election for bonuses.

The important part is that you have to make the changes in January 2015, or Roth contributions will stop effective 1 February 2015.

– 2015 TSP Contribution limit is $18,000 and it is being advocated on other sites that TSP members go to Employee Express and elect $693 TSP contribution per pay period, by Dec-13.

See this USGS bulletin directed towards USGS employees (but useful to read for all federal employees) for further info.

– Don’t forget your FLEOA, PLI Insurance premiums for the new year ahead.

– As we approach the end of the year, it might be time to assess health/age related issues and look at Long Term Care Insurance.  Many government retirements occur at end of year, so this is a time to give this topic some thought. Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey tend to recommend LTC if age 55 or older.   BUT, each situation is different.   The federally endorsed program, is at https://www.ltcfeds.com/

** This site is dedicated to my personal opinion and observations regarding the TSP funds and the stock market.   The above information is “FYI” stuff.  I am not fluent (nor try to be, that is why a your heart doctor does not perform LASIK eye surgery on the side) in every topic, such as Roth IRA’s, tax planning, etc.   For specific questions on that, the best resource I recommend is Dan Jamison, CPA and retired Special Agent, whom I correspond with frequently regarding topics of common interest as they relate to retirement.   His email is dan@fersguide.com

“How do I log into Employee Express” or “Should I choose this option” type of questions are “not my lane” please contact your Help Desk, Payroll Office, HR, Benefits Specialist, etc.

Lets see how the week plays out….hopefully the markets will resume their uptrend as the week continues.  I remain 100% S-Fund.

Please continue to recommend this site to friends and coworkers.   For those who receive updates via email, please forward the update to those who may benefit from the information.

Thanks for reading

– Bill Pritchard

 

Dec 9 early AM Update – Dow Futures down 150+ Points

Good Morning

I typically do not post morning updates, however somewhat unanticipated news out of China has caused global markets to “sell off” overnight, resulting in Dow Jones Futures (trade 24 hours) to be trading down 150+ points as of 7:45 AM Central Time on today.   The US stock markets will open in approx 30 minutes from this post, or 8:30 AM Central Time.   See chart below:

E MINI DOW 12.9.14 300x143 Dec 9 early AM Update   Dow Futures down 150+ Points

This chart is available at this link, which will of course change its content during the trading day:

http://www.cmegroup.com/trading/equity-index/us-index/e-mini-dow.html

While I try not to crystal-ball the “why” or the “what will it do tomorrow” questions, and instead prefer to react to the market itself, I will state that the financial news sites are all pointing the finger towards China for this sell-off.   Apparently China is tightening up their own lending and monetary policies at their banks, and as we know, when lending is reduced or restricted, this can affect growth and future business activity.   The Shanghai Index is reportedly suffering its greatest one-day sell off in five years as we speak.    Concerns over slowing Chinese GDP growth, along with some speculation that China’s recent prior growth is a carbon copy of the easy-mortgage/lending-fueled boom of USA, (which crashed hard in 2007 to 2009), resulting in Chinese lenders trying to avoid a similar USA situation.   Expect numerous opinions and speculation to explain China’s problems in today’s financial media.   Expect statements that the world is ending (and statements that the world is just beginning), another reason it is important to react to the market itself and not the confusing signals that exist in the media.  China being China, one can never be 100 percent certain that their data and reporting is fully accurate, FYI.

We also know that markets tend to over react to things, so a one day event of a down day is by itself, nothing to overly be concerned with, BUT we do need to monitor things over the next few days/weeks.   Note that December is typically a very good month, historically, for the US markets.

I would not be surprised to see International stocks / I-Fund get hit pretty hard today, I have expressed my opinion numerous times on this site as to why I am not in the I-Fund and its increased risk, in light of the “current climate” the world is in right now (war, global economic issues, etc).   Actually that was stated far too pleasantly.   I expect International stocks, especially those with Asia exposure, to be creamed today.  Again, those are my opinions.

I am happy that this is happening on a Tuesday morning, as this allows the markets to assess things and possibly bounce back at the end of the week.   Typically if this happened on a Thursday or Friday, the markets would sell off even harder as folks don’t want to be “holding anything” over the weekend, and a minor panic attack on a Thursday or Friday can result in a huge over reaction and sell off.   I am optimistic we don’t see that happen.

I am currently 100% S-Fund.

Thank You

– Bill Pritchard

 

Nov 26 Update / 100% S-Fund / Other stuff

Hello Folks

Well this month has been somewhat quiet as far as updates are concerned, however “no news is good news” and there is nothing really negative to report this month.   My choice to re-enter S-Fund on November 2 has been very rewarding, as the markets continue to climb upward, with the SP 500 Index making a new 52 week high of 2074.21 on November 25.

The top performing fund remains S-Fund, based on my analysis, with C-Fund close behind.   My personal TSP Allocation remains 100% S-Fund however 50%/50% C-Fund and S-Fund would be fine also. 

Lets take a look at some charts, without comments, then with comments:

NASDAQ 11 25 thumb Nov 26 Update / 100% S Fund  / Other stuffNASDAQ 11 25 comments thumb Nov 26 Update / 100% S Fund  / Other stuff

SP 500 11 25 thumb Nov 26 Update / 100% S Fund  / Other stuffSP 500 11 25 comments thumb Nov 26 Update / 100% S Fund  / Other stuff

As can be seen on the charts, the SP 500 and NASDAQ indexes “found a bottom” in mid-October then began an uptrend.   Initial volume after mid-October was very strong, then volume dried up somewhat.   With that said, the number of above-average volume “up days” is twice the amount of “down days”, Six up days versus three down days on the NASDAQ.   This placates my concerns over low volume, however I do wish for higher volumes as volume is what sustains trends.  To keep a rocket going, it needs thrust and horsepower to drive it upward, and that is the role of volume in the markets.   The same rocket can run out of fuel and fall to earth all by itself.   The same thing occurs in the markets.   Volume is not needed to drive a market downward, but it is needed to keep it going up.  In my typical fashion I over articulated what I could have said in simple terms, so in summary, I would like to see more volume.

While we are on the topic of volume, this week (Nov 24-Nov 28) will be a reduced volume week, as many market participants are sitting out due to the Thanksgiving holiday on November 27, a date in which the markets are closed.  So don’t expect to see huge volumes in the indexes nor in individual stocks. 

It should be noted that historically November, December, and January are the best performing months out of the calendar year, with December being the best month of all.   So if history repeats itself (as it usually does…), those in the stock funds should do well over the next few months.   Observe that the behavior of the markets in January almost always “sets the tone”for the rest of the year, so we should keep an eye on January.    I think this year will close out really well, we have had plenty of good economic news, oil prices are at 4 year lows, and the mood in American is generally positive.  

This site is about the TSP plan, and not stock picking (plenty of sites out there for that), however due to constant arm twisting I am going to touch very generally on some stocks I either have now or am “looking at”.    Recall that I primarily am a technical investor (charts) BUT need a “story” to back up the chart.   These are NOT investment recommendations.   These could all roll over and go to zero (0) tomorrow.

AAPL:  I think this company has a great future and the top selling “cell phone cases” on Amazon is IPhone 6, IPhone 6, and IPhone 6.    Take a guess how well the IPhone 6 is selling…

GPRO:   While the stock is volatile, GoPro cameras are a very “hot” item and I think the future is bright.

AAL:  The largest airline in the world, post-merger with US Airways, will likely dominate all others, especially as business travel (the economy) continues to rebound.   If it can get thru some hiccups associated to the merger and different labor groups, I see AAL with blue skies ahead.

In the “other news” category, and since the majority of my audience is “6(c)” community (if you have to ask, you aren’t in that community), I wanted to share some news out of Austin, Texas.    You may recall prior discussion on this site regarding the San Angelo City Park project, regarding Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron, who was killed on duty in 2012.   Jaime was a fellow college alumni of mine, also a close friend, and I along with others, worked to get the aforementioned park, now called Jaime Padron Memorial Park, built and finished.   Jaime was a USMC veteran and graduate of Angelo State University.

Flash forward to November 9, 2014, which was the dedication ceremony for Jaime Padron Elementary School, in Austin, Texas.   This new school is Austin ISD’s largest elementary school and is staffed by some really great teachers and folks.   I was honored to be invited to speak at this dedication, to a very large crowd, consisting of students, teachers, community leaders, area law enforcement, Austin ISD Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz and Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo.

It is important that our fallen officers never be forgotten, and equally important that we appreciate and recognize the challenges and dangers law enforcement face every day.   My speech at the dedication was entirely dedicated to that very topic.   Here are some pics from the event:

PIC A thumb Nov 26 Update / 100% S Fund  / Other stuff

Standing next to Jaime’s brother Johnny (black jacket) along with law enforcement friends and Austin Chief Art Acevedo

PIC7 thumb Nov 26 Update / 100% S Fund  / Other stuff

Chief Acevedo speaking to audience.  I have not met anyone who can speak with such ease and ability as Chief Acevedo.

PIC2 thumb Nov 26 Update / 100% S Fund  / Other stuff

Speaking regarding the meaning of the word “hero”

PIC E thumb Nov 26 Update / 100% S Fund  / Other stuff

Participants in construction, completed in 2014

PIC B thumb Nov 26 Update / 100% S Fund  / Other stuff

We must not forget why we do what we do

 

That’s it for this update.   To repeat, I remain 100% S-Fund and I see no red flags ahead.    

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and talk to you soon

- Bill Pritchard

Nov 2 PM Update / 100% S-Fund

Good Evening Folks

A review of the previous two weeks action was conducted over the weekend, with special attention on last week.  Long story short, I am changing my TSP Allocation to 100% S-Fund.

Bottom line, is volumes have indeed returned to the point where I am  confident to return to stocks.   In addition, because of the price action last week, we have three “Gap Up” days in the NASDAQ index, which means the next day’s low price was physically above the prior day’s high price, causing a “gap” to appear on the chart.  Gap’s, whether in an uptrend or downtrend, are typically a reliable signal in respect to the particular direction the index is already going.   Gaps are more common in stand alone stocks, such as AAPL (Apple).   AAPL may report great earnings, and because everyone jumps into AAPL the next day, the stock “gaps up.”   On an index, which represents ALL the stocks, it is harder to obtain a gap up.   The NASDAQ displayed three (3) Gap Up Days since October 20, until present, which is only ten or so trading days worth of time.  In addition, the NASDAQ has made an All Time High, another bullish (good) signal.

Small cap stocks (S-Fund) are outperforming all other stocks, to include large caps and international.   Small cap stocks almost always are NASDAQ stocks, which also happens to be the best performing index at the present time, versus SP 500 and Dow Jones Index.  There is no indication that small-cap stocks will suddenly stop their current performance, however we must monitor things (as always) and be flexible.

It is not known how long this uptrend will last however historically the worst months of the year, August, September, October, are now confirmed behind us.  This historical fact, combined with documented questionable behavior by the markets, all discussed in past posts here, was largely the decisional factor in my prior since-August G-Fund position.  However November, December, and January, are the best months of the calendar, and here we are, November.  The very first November trading day is Monday Nov-3. 

I may post an more in-depth update later this week, however again, I am 100% S-Fund as of November 2, 2014 (date of TSP Allocation change request into TSP site).

Thank You everyone

- Bill Pritchard

Oct 29, 2014 PM Update

Good Evening Folks

Been out TDY so wasn’t able to update until tonight.   No cool charts but long story short I want this week to come to a close before making any decisions on leaving G-Fund, where I am now.   As many know, the markets sold off and crashed pretty hard a few weeks ago.   Soon after that, likely (however I own no crystal ball…) “bargain hunters” stepped into the game and bought “cheap” stocks and thus pushed the indexes back up.  We had some decent high volume days, with a close price higher than the open price, indicating accumulation.   There is a difference between a “bargain hunter” who is a large fund or institutional investor buying “bargains” (cheap stocks, TSLA was $250, now it is $220, a “bargain”) and the investor who is basically voting on the economy via huge buying power and vacuuming up everything in sight because he thinks in 1, 2, 3, years, the economy is going to be booming and therefore his investment will pay off.   My opinion is the latter example sold-off in early October, and the bargain hunter came in last week and did some buying, bringing his metal detector to the beach and picking up hidden coins and gems amongst the sand.   I don’t think the bargain hunter group can overpower the earlier sell-off group but I have been wrong before…

With that said, recent volumes have started to dry up, and it is looking like the same behavior from August, when the index went up, but on low volume.

In addition, market reaction to today’s FOMC statement was muted at best, also what I call “less than enthusiastic.”  The statement discussed the end of QE (Quantitative Easing) which most feel has already been “priced into” the market, but I guess that is my point.  If indeed priced in, what triggered the recent sell-off in first week of October ?  It is not known (and only via watching the indexes) if enough buying power exists to truly reverse the bearish signals from a few weeks ago.    The markets could have said “ok, cool, that’s what we expected [QE Ending], no changes, lets rally today”, or could have said “wow, yes, it is confirmed, QE is over, the world is ending, time to go down” but they just didn’t do anything.   I am intrigued by this reaction (or lack of reaction).

In my opinion the bulls (believe the market will go up) will wrestle with the bears (believe market will go down) for a few weeks and THEN a solid direction up or down will be determined.   Also note my “mid-November” hypothesis posted prior to today.

I think that while this wrestling match is underway, we need to stay out of the ring.  I remain 100% G-Fund (yes, possibly overly conservative, but remember, none of my subscribers who were in G-Fund lost any money August-Present).

Lets allow the the week to close out and take another look at it.   Remember a past example of dying dogs and one last strong kick:    A strong up day (or two) does not mean we immediately dive back into the sometimes dangerous stock market waters.    I prefer to see an overall behavior change and sentiment shift before I take action.   The neighborhood bully who is on his best behavior for two days at Grandma’s does not then make him an angel.

Enough goofy examples….you get the idea….

Happy Halloween and talk to everyone soon…

- Bill Pritchard

Oct 21 PM Update / Markets rally strongly

Today October 21, all indexes rallied strongly, in one of the strongest one-day performances I have ever personally seen in many years of trading.  NOTE:   Some of this “rally” was largely due to one stock, Apple (AAPL), which is NASDAQ’s largest stock, and is found as a holding in just about every mutual fund known to man.   The positive mood surrounding Apple trickled into other NASDAQ stocks, thus lifting the index, which is largely tech-company weighted.  While AAPL was the main reason the markets went up, I will take rays of sunshine whenever they shine.  Airline stocks also rebounded strongly, as the 21-day incubation period of Ebola has passed and nobody else is apparently infected, and the world (for now) is not ending.  The ISIS news also seems to have subsided, either due to reduced reporting and/or reduced ISIS activity.   Due note that my opinion is the planned interest rate hikes for summer/fall 2015 have not changed, and this may throw some logs into the path of the market as we approach that time frame.   However, if we can grab some gains for a few months before then, that would be great.  

My desire is to let the week finish out before making new allocation decisions, however those who have been in G-Fund since August (like me), have a full bag of cash, undamaged from recent turmoil, to use in the event we jump back into stock funds.  The last few weeks have witnessed multiple, damaging, triple digit down days, and one-day’s performance will not necessarily change the direction of the ocean liner called the stock market, so let’s see how the week plays out- but the markets may be turning upward.   I don’t base decisions on one day alone, but make no doubt about it, today was indeed a great day.

Standby to standby for a weekend update.

I remain 100% G-Fund for now.

Thanks everyone – talk to you soon !

- Bill Pritchard

Oct 16 AM Update–Dow futures down 100+ points

Good Morning

In my second AM update in two days, required due to the recent market turmoil, the Dow Jones futures are trading 100+ points (125-150, variable) lower this morning.  See image:

http://www.cmegroup.com/trading/equity-index/us-index/e-mini-dow.html

DOW FUTURES 10 16 14 thumb Oct 16 AM Update–Dow futures down 100+ points

What this means is basically we have another rough day in store for us in the regular stock markets, today October 16.  Note that I made the same assessment, yesterday 10-15, pre-market, and this assessment was proven correct with the Dow Jones dropping at one point 350+ points.

To reiterate earlier statements, I remain in G-Fund, and have been in G-Fund since August, due to my observations and signals of market weakness.   This signals have clearly proven correct as all of 2014’s gains are wiped clean, gone, in recent days.   The other site’s claims of “we performed great in 2014” can be ignored, and sadly the “other sites” have done nothing, zero, to protect your current balance from damage.  Most other TSP sites are currently frozen in gridlock, gripped by panic due to the recent turmoil.   The world is great until it is not great.   Meanwhile, this site seeks to get folks “off the X.”  This is the difference between this site and other sites, who are chasing gains and pat themselves on the back when their broken clocks happen to have the correct time twice a day.

Those in G-Fund have seen no damage to their accounts, and remain safe from this violent and damaging storm. 

I remain 100% G-Fund.   Thanks everybody and have a good day !

- Bill Pritchard

Oct 15 AM Update – Going to be a rough day….

Good Morning

As I head out the door, I took a look at the Dow Jones futures market, which trades overnight.  Dow Jones futures are down 130 points.   Current time is approx 7:55 AM Central, the regular stock markets open in 35 minutes.

DOW FUTURES 10 15 14 thumb Oct 15 AM Update – Going to be a rough day….

Futures almost always reflect the “mood” of traders going into the regular stock markets, so today may be a rough day.

Keep those seatbelts on…

- Bill Pritchard