17 September, 2009

Technology leading market's rally, a pause ahead?

The 52 week high list looks like a who's who of dynamic companies, with the list being dominated by some of the best and brightest in Technology. The Nasdaq has outperformed its peers on a year to date basis and as several analysts predicted, it is the tech sector that is leading the rally.

The Nasdaq's Year to Date performance gains of 34% dwarfs the gains put up by the S&P (18%) and the Dow Jones (11%). Even looking at the gains since the lows of March, the Nasdaq and technology is still the driving story for the market. Nasdaq at 68% leads the gains of the S&P at 60% and the Dow Jones at 51%. Either way, the bull market rally since March, on the back of the idea of recovery, and finally improving GDP numbers has been broad and long. The Bulls have been on a 6 month celebratory train, but will it last and is Tech's run over?

Not quite, the road to recovery, while already swift due to massive government intervention, still has to play its course and incite a recovery in the job market. Unemployment in America is still rising, though not as quickly, towards the psychological 10% mark. If job creation instead of job losses show up in the remaining quarter of the year, market bulls will have more reason to bang their chests, and more importantly, put their wallet where their mouth is.

Secondly, the housing sector still needs to improve. Articles on the Huffington Post and other sources, are already touting that banks are going back to packaging risky loans, and many analysts are waiting for the other shoe to drop when it comes to commercial real estate. While some may scoff at the success rate of the White House loan modification program, the last estimates put the percentage of home owners helped with refinancing at 13-15%, the fact is there are some getting help. Housing starts were lower than expected most recently but this has been a metric that has consistently come in higher than expectations.

Now, about those 52 week high names. Well technology giants Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) dominate the list, while other techs such as Ebay (EBAY) show up, and even others such as IBM (IBM) and INTC (INTC) are just off those levels.

The prudent thing for the market to do and investors to do would be to take a breather after such a scorching rally of late, however, as market participants are keen to know, markets stay irrational for longer than expected.

Disclosure: Author owns AAPL, GOOG

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