[dropcap]S[/dropcap]tocks rallied a second straight week, with the S&P 500 up close to 6%. Confidence rose regarding Europe’s ability to stem its sovereign debt crisis and US economic indicators continued to surprise to the upside. A less bleak economic outlook reduced demand for US government bonds and helped push commodity prices up.
- Monday – S&P 500 jumps 3.4% on joint German and French announcement that they will release a plan to deal with Greece, despite offering almost no specific details.
- Tuesday – Slovakia rejected ratification of Europe’s retooled bailout fund, but said it expects to be able to approve it within the week.
- Thursday – Google announces a 26% increase in Q3 earnings, exceeding expectations.
- Thursday – Former billionaire hedge fund manager Rajarantam is sentenced to 11 years for insider trading.
- Friday – US retail sales results for September show a 1.1% gain – beating expectations.
- All Week – “Occupy Wall Street” protests continued nationwide, but move no closer to formalizing an agenda.
As we expected, markets cheered a move toward real resolution in the Greek situation. What makes the talk of the last two weeks different than previous rhetoric is that it is finally based on reality. Reality in this case being Greece will have to default and private investors will have to take losses. It is telling that reports on Friday of haircuts up to 50% for Greek debt holders failed to dampen the rally in stocks and may have actually fueled it.
Meanwhile, in the US, consensus view is rapidly shifting from certain double-dip recession to moderate growth. September retail sales and early earnings reports have been generally positive.
While it is way too early to be certain of a rosy outcome for Europe or the US, the level of fear embedded in asset values (other than bonds) has left significant upside potential should we simply avert disaster.
Craig Birk, CFP®
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