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Bulls & Bears
This past week’s "Bulls & Bears":
• Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com director of stock research
• Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor
• Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president
• Charles Payne, Wall Street Strategies CEO
• Joe Battipaglia, Ryan Beck & Company chief investment officer
Trading Pit: Wall Street Fights Back!
Last week Al Qaeda suicide bombers hit three hotels, killing dozens in Jordan. The next day, Muslims took to the streets condemning the terrorists’ attacks. And stocks joined in, with the Dow gaining almost 150 points since last Wednesday's bombings. Is it good news for stocks as more and more join the fight against Al Qaeda?
Charles Payne: This is absolutely good news for stocks. We’ve been winning the war on terror, but losing the public relations war. You can feel this in the stock market. The market is cheap right now and will definitely head higher. There’s been a lot of apathy out there, but some of that is beginning to fade.
Joe Battipaglia: Investors are very discriminating about where these attacks occur. If it happens to one of our allies, the impact will be greater. However, when these attacks happen in the Muslim world, people are watching to see if it could tip public opinion against terrorists. That extremism is a positive, not a negative. The overall economy has been impressive. Consumer spending is strong and consumers are out shopping.
Tobin Smith: This was the first time that an attack did not affect the price of oil. This means the terrorists are losing their impact. The only way they're going to have an impact on the market is if they attack our energy infrastructure, which is well protected. It's going to be a lot more difficult for the terrorist to have an impact on the stock market.
Pat Dorsey: We may have a slight "terror premium" built into the stock market. Terrorism has become a background noise, like it or not. The fact is there’s more of a chance of being struck by lightning than by being killed in a terrorist attack. It is just part of the world environment now. By and large, the market is used to these attacks, which are not affecting stocks a whole lot one way or another.
Scott Bleier: Jordan has been on our side, so I’m sure Al Qaeda was just waiting to attack them. I agree with Joe in that the market discriminates depending on where the attack occurs. It’s happening over there and not here. The market continues to focus on what is going on in the U.S., like oil and gas prices. The demand for oil is down and the market has gone up. We’re probably done going up for now, and I see a pullback coming.
France has been rioting for the better part of two weeks. The riots have been destructive and dangerous. But could this actually be good for America and our stock market?
Joe Battipaglia: I don’t see the riots as a big positive for U.S. stocks, because social unrest is bad for business. France, Germany, and Italy make up about 70 percent of the European economy. If there’s this kind of unrest, it’s going to affect those economies. However, if the dollar is better than the Euro, U.S. stocks could be more attractive to an international investor.
Charles Payne: The situation in France doesn't help or hurt our stock market, but it does remind the rest of the world that the United States is still the safest place on the planet to invest their money.
Tobin Smith: The European perspective is being seen for what it is: elitist. About half of the French population works for the government, so there’s no upward social mobility.
Scott Bleier: The problem is not just France. It’s all of Western Europe. The Muslim population there has exploded over the last 20 years. Western European countries can’t create jobs and are raising taxes. Western Europe is a huge trading partner with us, so this will not be good for exporters.