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So while the Academy was busy giving out Oscars Sunday night, I thought it would have been appropriate to give out our own “market awards.” This market continues to defy its naysayers and melt higher, despite all of the “worries” that are out there.
Certainty, an Award for “the best performing asset class,” would be appropriate.
There are many times when I have been on CNBC and there is invariably another guest that is talking about the “sky falling,” and that there will be a market crash in the “not too distant future.” To be fair, these self-proclaimed bears were right in 2008. However, they have been on the wrong side of the market ever since.
Stocks rallied on the news that Greece reached a new deal with its creditors, sending the Dow and the S&P 500 to new record closes and bringing the Nasdaq close to its own record set in March 2000.1 For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.63%, the Dow rose 0.67%, and the NASDAQ grew 1.27%.2
Greek leaders, who have been in talks with EU creditors for several weeks, were able to reach an 11th-hour deal on Friday to extend the Greek bailout for an extra four months. Though the agreement just kicks the can down the road until the next major deadline, it avoids (or at least postpones) a debt default and fresh economic crisis and keeps Greece in the Eurozone for now. The delay also gives leaders breathing room to negotiate further economic reforms that will likely be unpopular with Greek voters.3 Investors reacted positively to the news and sent the major indexes to record highs.
In other geopolitical news, one of NATO’s highest-ranking generals warned that alliance members should prepare for a Russian assault on an Eastern European member state. Though the current ceasefire between Russian and Ukrainian forces continues, the remarks highlight a serious decline in trust between Europe and Russia.4 How real is the threat of all-out war? It’s impossible to know at this juncture, but it’s clear that European military commanders are taking Russia’s territorial ambitions seriously.
The week ahead is filled with important economic events. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will speak before the House and Senate about monetary policy, putting future rate changes in focus. If the Fed holds to a mid-year interest hike, it would signal the bank’s confidence in the economy’s resilience; holding off might indicate concern about how the global picture might affect domestic growth.5 Investors will also get their second look at fourth quarter 2014 Gross Domestic Product, giving us a clearer look at how the economy performed in the last three months of the year.
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