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Bulls & Bears
This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital managing partner; Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; Gary Kaltbaum, Kaltbaum & Associates president, and Adam Lashinsky , Fortune magazine senior writer.
Trading Pit: Buy or Sell After Last Week's Sell-Off
Wall Street hit with a stunning sell-off on Tuesday. The Dow plunged over 500 points and would down 416 points on the day. That was just the first of wild swings for stocks. The fallout? By Friday, the blue chips had lost 533 points or 4 percent on the week. So what do you do now? Is Monday morning the time to buy or sell?
Tobin: I've got a list and I'm buying! This is just like May and June of last year when the fighting in Israel and Lebanon surprised everyone. When oil prices shoot up—stocks tank! Get out the list of stocks you want to buy and if you get your price, you need to buy now.
Gary B: I think Toby's right, Brenda. This is like May and June of last year…but the time to buy then was July! The Dow has been in a serious uptrend since we broke Dow 12,000 in late 2006. But that uptrend was broken this past week. Since 2004 there has been a much more steady and sustainable rate of growth, which would put us around Dow 11,000. I think stocks are going to drop more, so I'd wait to buy.
Adam: Last week's sell-off has echoes of 1998 when events in Russia and Thailand spooked stocks. The question now, as it was then: Is the economy in good shape? The good news for us in 2007 is that economy is in good shape. That's why I think stocks are going up from here, even if it's not right away.
Gary K.: Sell! I don't know what the market will be like a year or two from now. But, the complexion of the market changed this week in a big way. And it's not just our market, but the world's markets, and that just doesn't change very quickly. I think there's at least as much downside as what happened last May, when the Dow and S&P lost about 9 percent and Nasdaq dropped 18 percent. We haven't had a bear market in four years. Bear markets do occur, and I think that could be where we're headed.
Scott: You have to sell here. I don't think we're going to have a bear market just because we haven't had one in four years. However, I also don't think you buy just because the market began its dip last week. Like Gary K. said, the complexion of the market has changed and it's going to take some time to work out. We need to find a bottom, which is probably about half of the gains we have made since July. Then we'll bounce around and establish a trading range. And that's when you'll find the opportunity to buy the stocks you want.
Deadly tornadoes rip through the Southeast. But this wicked weather is not the only thing hitting us hard. Add 'em up: the economy is weathering a war on terror, a manic market, a crazy guy in Iran, and the threat of tax hikes. Is our economy up to it?
Gary B: We have made it through two World Wars, double-digit inflation, and 9/11. It's going to take a lot more than this to really damage the economy! The only caveat is if a nuclear or biological weapon goes off in a major city. That could be the "straw that breaks the camel's back."
Gary K: If you had told me that all of these things were going to happen, I would have thought we would have been in a recession. The economy has been phenomenal, but I think there could be some issues within the next year.
Tobin: There is a reason why we are not in a recession. We have the world's most spread out economy, with many diversified sectors. The proof is that we've been hit with so much in the past ten years, and still haven't been knocked out. We're a service economy, not a manufacturing one. We're not an economy that needs to export as much as we need to consume. That is the inherit strength of our diversity.
Adam: In the last few years, there has been a lot of capital available at very attractive credit rates. No matter what happens to credit over the next few years, all the projects that have begun are going to filter out into the economy. Every time you see a hole being dug, or a crane in the air constructing a building, that's providing jobs and creating opportunity throughout the country. This is not ending anytime soon.
Scott: We are the most resourceful and richest nation in the world. Since 2002-2003 we have had a very powerful business cycle. People forget that cycles do wind down. That may be what's happening now. And that means the stock market will pull back and create a buying opportunity.
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