Nick McDonald: Markets continue aiming high with little to stop them

Some will try to dispute it but there is no argument - we are in a bull market by every possible definition of the term.

The New Zealand stock market bull run shows no sign of abating. Photo / Bloomberg
The New Zealand stock market bull run shows no sign of abating. Photo / Bloomberg

If there is big news coming in 2013 to stop the present bull run on stock markets - it wasn't the debt ceiling ... nor will it be Greece, Italy, Portugal or Spain that cause stocks much more trouble than a few down days, maybe a few down weeks.

Why not? Because that news is all known by the market and the market does not care, it has completely disregarded it.

The markets are going upwards - the same direction they have been heading since April 2009 and they are showing no signs of slowing.

The media and general public are finally catching on that we are in a multi-year bull market and the economy is starting to show some signs of positivity - all of this combined means more "mums and dads" entering the market to buy stocks.

In New Zealand with local stock market successes receiving a fair bit of publicity lately, things are looking brighter for Kiwi stock market traders and investors than they have since 2007 and the pre-global financial crisis days.

Speaking of the GFC and credit crunch events of 2008, there was bad news in the press and the market was responding - badly.

Stocks were falling with global indices in an obvious bear market since the start of 2008. The really bad news started hitting the wires when Lehman Brothers collapsed on September 15, 2008.

Then in October and November, amid speculation of more major banks failing, the Dow Jones fell up to 1000 points in a day. These moves were unprecedented and we had to go back to 1987 to find comparable downward shifts.

The news was bad, there was a genuine prospect of more banks failing if Governments did not step in to assist, and the market responded as such to this evidence.

To clarify my point - the market, not an economist, will confirm if the news is bad or not. There will always be speculation that the news "could be" or "is" much worse than it really is but we have to look at facts to make logical and informed decisions.

Fact: There were a few sell-offs in 2012 on European news but they were all normal pullbacks in the context of an up-trending market. The trend remained intact at all times and the bulls remained in charge.

Fact: The debt ceiling caused a few uncertain days for stocks in late 2012 but not much more than that. A few down days in late December followed by the market hitting five-year highs in the first half of January hardly shows reason for concern.

Fact: The bulls remain in charge today. Some will try to dispute it but there is no argument - we are in a bull market by every possible definition of the term. Anything to the contrary is an opinion, not a fact.

Opinion and Prediction: Based on these facts, Europe and the debt ceiling are not going to cause the market any major trouble this year. We will push on and we will see the world's leading market barometer, the Dow Jones, hit all-time highs in 2013.

The Dow's high was at 14,198 on October 11, 2007. Watch out for the magic 14,199 level to be hit and the corresponding headlines that follow, bringing the bull run to the attention of yet again more people and bringing more buying volume into the markets.

What could stop the bull market?

If not the debt ceiling or Europe then what might it be?

If, and it's a big if, the markets change direction it will most likely be some piece of fundamental news that we don't know about yet, or at least it's is not in the press yet. Because we don't know about it, my view is that we should not try to predict it, especially not for the sake of reporting bad news, even when times are good, and chances are that it will not actually occur.

If a big fundamental switch occurs then we will hear about it and if the markets are responding negatively to the news in a big way as and when it is released then we will know it is significant news.

If the market ignores it then we should.

If the unknown does not happen, which is the most probable scenario, then the good times will continue and the economy will start to follow suit slowly but surely. Happy trading and investing in 2013.

Nick McDonald is chief executive of Trade With Precision

- NZ Herald

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