The Markets This Week

May 20th, 2013

Another week, another record high. The stock market continues to party like it was 1999, and last week equities soared 2% on mostly good economic news and a strong dose of reviving animal spirits.

Not even chatter that the Federal Reserve might tap the brakes on its easy money policy this year was enough to spoil the festivities. Friday’s release of stronger-than-expected U.S. leading economic indicators and consumer-sentiment data helped bring the week to a strong finish.

On the week, the Dow closed at 15,354.40, up 236 points, or 1.6%, while the S&P 500 rose 34 to end at 1667.47. Both indexes closed at all-time highs—again. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite index gained 62 points, or 1.8%, to 3498.97.

The parade of new highs is a nice rush for investors, but when things start to look euphoric, it should awaken a bit of caution, at least for the short term, and the upcoming traditionally weak summer season. “At this point, the market looks like a giant momentum machine,” says Steve Sosnick, a senior trader at Timber Hill. Selloffs have been minor, even in reaction to negative Fed news.

The market fell on Thursday after John Williams, head of the Federal Reserve’s San Francisco branch, said the central bank could end its bond-buying program later this year if the jobs market continues to improve. The Fed’s monthly purchases of some $85 billion in bonds has kept interest rates low and stock prices high.

Investors should note, adds Sosnick, that some of the best-performing stocks have been those with the highest concentrations of short interest, like Tesla Motors (ticker: TSLA), the maker of upscale electric cars. The stock is up 140% since March, to $91.50 on Friday.

Such moves, he adds, suggests the fear of being left out is now bigger than the fear of a market drop, and that investors are chasing performance. The bears are throwing in the towel, he says.

Still, a little bit of caution doesn’t hurt. “It’s increasingly hard to come up with the next worry that could derail the market,” Sosnick says. “Ironically, that’s my worry.”( Source: Barrons Online).

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