New record for the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI), new record for the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX), and the Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) cracks 4,000 for the first time in years -- and this time it's going up, not down. What is going down is the Wall of Worry as it drops again, leaving us with only 15 concerns to keep us up at night. In the Post-Financial Crisis World this is a low level for the Wall, but in the 20-year history of this Wall, it's still on the high side. Meaning, we could continue to see the Wall decline and the equity markets rise. We'll see.
One concern that has yet to reach our threshold for worry is the lack of a full 10% correction in the US equity markets in the last couple of years. In light of the gains we have seen, this is worth noting. As a lad I was taught that markets don't go straight up. Why? No single reason was ever given, but I suppose the answer lies somewhere in the workings of economics and human nature. I'm not gonna get all metaphysical on you so let's just say the only real certainty in the markets is that there will always be uncertainty. Sometimes the markets take a long nap.
Speaking of naps, get a good one in post-Thanksgiving feast and pre-Black Friday/Jobs Friday/Cyber Monday as the uncertainty the market is looking for may be just a few thousand calories away.
But most of all, have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Here's a quick look at the worries facing stock market investors. Because of technical issues, this week's column features only the text-version of the column. (Come back next week for the intereactive Wall itself.) Scroll down for an explanation of how the Wall works.
QE: Does a 200,000-plus jobs number mean the Fed's tapering starts in December? " Ah, you might Rabbit, you might. "
UNEMPLOYMENT: What's the difference what the rate is? No one believes the government numbers anyway.
US ECONOMY: We have seen the light! And it is a consistent 55-plus PMI. Have mercy!
INVESTOR SENTIMENT: Gimme a "G"... Gimme an "R"... Gimme an "E"... Gimme another "E"... Gimme a "D"... What's that spell? Greed! Say it again! Greed!!
EUROPEAN ECONOMY: Germany still singing the same reassuring tune to its euro neighbors, " Lean on me, when you're not strongÃ¢Â€Â¦ "
HIGH FREQUENCY TRADING:
Lloyd: Thanksgiving plans?
HAL: Food, football, fan the flames for a weak Black Friday that freaks out the markets.
Lloyd: Same 'ol?
HAL: Same 'ol.
CHINA: Need more consumer spending? Make more consumers. See ya, one-baby-per-couple rule.
GLOBAL ECONOMY: It's still a US, China dependent world. Ergo, we continue to worry about it.
BONDS: Preparing for another round of Taper Terror.
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE: " There's no job too immense when you've got confidence! "
RETAIL SPENDING: This is the week we find out if Americans get out and shop for the holidays or just buy some wrapping paper and re-gift last year's haul.
CONGRESS: Noise level rising that it will come up with a smallish, micro, nano, itty-bitty, baby-toe budget deal. To be followed by humongous and deafening victory-declaring press conference speeches.
SEQUESTER II: Now don't go getting Little Timmy's hopes up just yet, but the second round of blind-as-a-bat spending cuts might not happen after all.
EMERGING MARKETS: The good news is that expectations are low. The bad news is that they could go lower.
ECB: Taking suggestions for next year's bank stress test. Might I suggest making the ECB spend a few days with my extended family in Boca Raton during the holidays?
What Is Lloyd's Wall of Worry?
by Lloyd Khaner
Welcome to my at-a-glance guide to the issues facing investors this week -- a unique tool for traders and money managers.
Typically the term "wall of worry" refers to the entire body of concerns influencing stock market action. When the wall is high, meaning the market is nervous, stocks tend to get cheaper.
This wall of worry is even more specific. Every week I list the exact concerns in the marketplace and use the list to help me make buying and selling decisions. As I like to say, "Buy fear, sell cheer."
In other words, once the the wall rises above 15 blocks, start looking for deals. If the worry count sinks below 10, consider selling; prices have likely peaked.