It’s a story of close, but not quite enough : trading across the major indices was mostly flat throughout the week, with the benchmark S&P 500 in particular failing to build convincingly off of last week’s record breaking highs. Are institutional players leaving the markets or does this bull still have legs to run?
The markets had a relatively slow performance on Thursday, with the NASDAQ Composite index leading the way, finishing the session 26 points up to make 4,318. Statistically speaking, the tech-centered index is within 15% of its all-time record close. On the other hand, the S&P 500, although closing today at another record, has done so at a very small margin, raising questions about whether a correction is looming.
On paper, the S&P is 170% above its 2009 bottom and Charles Schwab Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders believes that the bull run is not yet over. As evidence, stocks largely have shrugged off disappointing economic news, including weak job creation, slower manufacturing and slumping consumer confidence. However, CNBC reported a change in professional investment behavior this year, where more traders are selling out of positions during the final hours of trading, favoring safety over speculation.
View Bull Run isn’t Done… Yet Video & Article
The dollar index started the week off in a subdued manner as traders digested reports of tentative negotiations in Ukraine. However, rates shot up quickly by mid-week as a result of weakness in several global currencies.
The dollar-yen gyrated through a particularly choppy week as disappointing U.S. economic reports combined with growing disillusionment regarding Abenomics kept a lid on momentum.
The Euro took a heavy decline late Wednesday following very tight trading earlier in the week. As expected, growing concerns regarding the financial stability of Ukraine weighed heavily on investor sentiment.
Winners & Losers
The winner for this week is ExamWorks Group, ticker symbol EXAM :
- Shares jumped 17% mid-week, hitting an all-time high of $36.84 after the independent medical examiner announced fourth-quarter results that surpassed analysts’ expectations.
- The company said its fourth-quarter loss narrowed year over year to $1.59 million, or 4 cents a share, while revenue increased 13.8% year over year to $158.8 million from $139.6 million. The main concern moving forward is its gross profit margin, which is currently lower than desirable at 33.82%.
The loser for this week is JP Morgan, ticker symbol JPM :
- Embattled chairman and CEO Jaime Dimon took another setback to his reputation when the bank announced massive layoffs on Tuesday following a less than stellar performance by its mortgage lending business.
- In total, 8,000 jobs would get the axe, with 75% of the cuts coming from the mortgage division, with the remaining pink slips being distributed to the branch and credit card networks. Shares on Thursday were down 2.4% for the week.