Monday, June 15, 2009
With about a half hour left to go until markets close, today could be the first day the Dow Jones Industrial Average loses 200 points or more since April 20th - almost two months ago. During that time, the Dow has risen some 12 percent which, actually, pales in comparison to the 24+ percent gain over the prior five weeks.
Bloomberg reports that the VIX, the well-known volatility index, jumped the most in - no coincidence here - two months, up almost 10 percent on the day, back over the 30 mark.
If this does mark a top, something that is anything but certain given the strength of the recent rally in stocks - a rally that just entered its fourth month - the first story($) in the Money & Investing Section of the Wall Street Journal may get some of the blame.
They ask the simple question of whether this is the beginning of a new secular bear market (in which case, much higher prices will follow over the next few years) or if this is a cyclical bull market within a secular bear market (in which case, much higher prices will not follow until much later).
It's an important question, one they don't ask very often (if at all) on CNBC.
Many investors are now calling the rebound in stocks since early March the start of a new bull market. But it could be only a temporary respite from a longer-term bear market dating back to the beginning of this decade.One of the interview subjects recommends investors go to where there is no doubt about whether the bull market is long-term - commodities.
If the market is poised for a multiyear run, investors can be more aggressive about diving into stocks. If the bear market will regain its grip on stocks and send prices lower again, investors need to be cautious.
Historical data and the still struggling economy seem to point to the latter case, called a cyclical bull market in a secular bear market.
For now, stocks are fully in bull-market territory, even if it doesn't feel that way given the losses that many investors are still nursing.
Tim Hayes, chief investment strategist at Ned Davis, notes, "We're recommending having some exposure to commodities and gold".