The Markets This Week

June 27th, 2012


Stock
prices finished mixed last week, with small issues outperforming large-caps,
which dropped about 1%. That, and a 2.2% drubbing Thursday—the market’s
second-worst one-day decline this year—likely made things seem worse than the
numbers suggest.

A
mini-recovery Friday helped take the edge off what might have been a nastier
week, though troubled sentiment continues to cast a pall.

The
selloff’s proximate cause was disappointment in the Federal Reserve’s extension
to the end of 2012 of its so-called Operation Twist monetary stimulus. Some
expected more aggressive action. In the Twist, the central bank buys
longer-dated Treasuries and sells short-term bills to try to push down
long-term rates.

More generally, however, worries about a
global economic slowdown and Armageddon-level fears about European sovereign
debt hang like double anchors on equity prices. The HSBC China-manufacturing
purchasing managers’ index, reported last week, fell to 48.1 in June from 48.4
in May; a euro-zone purchasing managers’ index was flat at 46. PMIs above 50
typically indicate expansionary activity.

The
Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 126.39 points, or 0.99%, to 12,640.78 last
week, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 7.82 points, ending at 1335.02.
Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained almost 20 points, or 0.68%,
to 2892.42, and the Russell 2000 small-cap index added 3.84 points, or 0.50%,
to 775.16.

Stocks were probably overbought going
into the Fed meeting. “Too high” expectations for a stronger move by
the Fed were baked in by Wednesday’s Federal Open Market session, and when they
weren’t met, the market sold off, says Michael Mullaney, chief investment
officer at Fiduciary Trust. Mullaney looks for choppy and volatile action with
a downward bias the rest of the summer. The worldwide news being what it is,
it’s hard to get excited about stocks, he adds.

This
week could see a news crescendo before the summer doldrums start. The European
Union summit is scheduled for June 28-29, and the U.S. Supreme Court is
expected to rule on Obamacare, which could affect health-care stocks.

“It could be a make-or-break week
for the euro,” says Bill Jenkins, chief investment officer at Mainstream
Investment Advisers. There’s going to be tremendous pressure on EU officials
“to step up….They know they will not be able to refinance their paper
[later this year} unless they do something now.” (Source:  Barrons Online).

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