Market Wrap-Up for Sept.19 (AAPL, NSC, AMZN, MON, GIS,CBRL, more)

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As the markets were once again digesting the latest economic data, the indices made an attempt to shoot higher, but couldn't maintain much of the momentum, as the averages closed off earlier highs.

A couple of earnings plays received some investor praise as shares of General Mills ( GIS ) and Cracker Barrel ( CBRL ) had solid buying action for much of the session. Cracker Barrel was up strongly on news the company raised its dividend payout by 25%, continuing the recent string of generous payout hikes. A cautious Wall Street analyst call had shares of railroad plays like Norfolk Southern ( NSC ) and Union Pacific ( UNP ) lower (timely call for a change as we just got a profit warning from Norfolk Southern after the bell). On the flip side, shares of Monsanto ( MON ) and Corning ( GLW ) gained on more upbeat comments.

What Gives?
It has been amazing to watch the global markets operate over the last couple of years as the effects of Fed/ECB bailouts reverberate through all sorts of asset prices. I have never seen such an environment of treating bad news with market rallies as we have seen. It's almost becoming a disappointment when the economic data is actually better than expected. If you remember I recently quoted a tweet from legendary money/bond fund manager Bill Gross pointing out when all asset prices rise, money is being printed. He urged to take caution. Now we bundle Mr. Gross's market commentary with plenty of other research notes we examine to help us come up with our own take on the markets of course. But, we do see and hear the frustration felt by many investors.

The whole thing is taking on quite a picture of not even complacency, but bewilderment in how little has been correlating when it comes to asset values. Oil prices spike, but yet the transport sector is doing amazingly well (up to the recent FedEx warning that most analysts showed little concern for). Gold prices are shooting back up, but so is the rest of the market. Apple ( AAPL ) shares continue to rise, yet anything remotely tied to Apple products (let alone most of the entire stock market) rise as well. I get the "coattail" effect, but haven't we all learned what is good for one company almost always tends to eventually be good just for one company. Apple isn't in business to help numerous other companies ride on their coattails and they not react to that in some fashion (vendors can expect to see how little value a company like Apple or any other large company for that matter, places on items that may be considered a commodity, and where they may be able to fill their need cheaper elsewhere).

I understand there are money managers just chasing performance and being reckless with other people's money, but at some point things will make sense and the investing game will separate the winners and losers as should be the case. It is easy to get lost in the current investing moment, believing everything will win, since the media's message is interest rates will stay low, real estate prices will rebound to the old highs, gold hitting $2500 an ounce, Apple going to $1000 a share. All this, with global tensions reaching dangerous levels (China and Japan feuding, U.S. embassies the target of protests worldwide, Iran/Israel in a potential showdown, religious tensions the highest I can ever remember, etc.). Now we get the market has a tendency to climb a wall of worry, but one would think there would be a better correlation to the current events we are seeing. It's as if the venture capital approach (throw millions of dollars at a set of companies going after the same market, since they all win right?) is becoming the mantra in the public markets. The reality is not every company can thrive and make real profits, yet in the private sector venture capitalists take a bow for being a part of a company's funding and companies receiving funding also take a bow, all without proving the business model they are building even works. Heck, you can't even find an analyst question the valuations of companies like Amazon.com ( AMZN ) and Salesforce.com ( CRM ), which trade at over 100 times next year's earnings!

Maybe this time is truly different and we will have a financial backstop for every potential high-profile business failure and you can pay any price for any stock because prices can only go up. It's certainly possible when it appears the answer to everything is printing more money.

Our job certainly isn't to panic or scare anyone out of the markets, but just to give a bit more clarity on what we are actually seeing when we examine the overall state of the markets and what it means to investors looking to put money to work. Stay tuned!

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Thanks for reading everybody. I'll see you tomorrow!

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , AMZN , CBRL , CRM , GIS

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