If you look at the last month or so, you might want to quit the market entirely. However, it’s always a good idea to put things in perspective. An easy way to do that is to take a longer term view and see where we’ve come from in order to gauge how bad a pullback really has been.
Here is a three-year chart of the S&P 500. As you can see, the uptrend has not yet been broken, even though we are pretty darn close. I don’t know if we’ll hold and make a bottom around this level or not (by me putting this chart up, it could jinx that scenario a little bit), but it is an interesting chart, especially for any of you that like technical analysis.
As far as what could help us in the quest for a near-term bottom, I really think it is in the hands of Bernanke at the upcoming Fed meeting. My thesis for why the market made new highs in April, despite many apparent headwinds (soaring commodity prices and rising interest rates), was that equities were pricing in an end to the rate rising cycle.
As soon as it became clear that 5% might not be the top in Fed Funds, we lost nearly 100 points on the S&P 500. As you know, the market hates uncertainty, which is what we have right now. Some are predicting a Fed pause in late June, whereas others are calling for 5.5% or even 6% Fed Funds this year.
If Bernanke would just quit it already, we could very well hold the trend line in the above chart and make our way back to where we were the last time investors thought rates were finished going up. Conversely, if we get another rate increase and more uncertain talk from the Fed in a couple of weeks, it’s unlikely we’ll see better times on Wall Street anytime soon.