Stocks Hold Midterm Gains After Fed Statement

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• John and David Agree to Disagree on whether the midterm elections turn around the October 2018 market correction
• Kevin Matras answers your questions in Zacks Mailbag
• Sheraz and Kevin Cook choose one portfolio to give feedback for improvement
• And much more

Simply log on to Zacks.com and view the November episode here. And please let us know what you think of this format. Email all feedback to mailbag@zacks.com.

For the second time this week, a potentially huge market-moving event played out as planned. Generally-speaking, there were no big surprises in the midterm elections, and nor were there any bombshells in today’s Fed statement. Stocks were a bit listless on Thursday with two of the major indices in the red for the session, but overall most of yesterday’s sharp rally was maintained.

The Dow soared nearly 550 points on Wednesday after it became clear that the new Congress would be split between the parties. The index held onto all of that today with a rise of 0.04% to 26,191.22, though it had been higher by more than 100 points earlier in the day.

The other major indices didn’t come along for the ride. Though off their lows of the session, the NASDAQ declined 0.53% to 7530.88 and the S&P slipped 0.25% to 2806.83. It was another rough session for the FANGs with all of them moving lower.

The Fed kept interest rates unchanged today, as was widely expected. However, the fourth hike of the year is almost definitely coming next month. And looking even further out, Powell & Friends plan to continue with “gradual” hikes in 2019.

With the market protecting much of the midterm rally, stocks go into Friday’s session solidly in the green for the week. Absent any sharp downturns, the major indices have a good chance to match or even beat last week’s impressive returns that saw the NASDAQ climb 2.7% and the Dow and S&P each rise 2.4%. Fingers crossed that we have another session with no surprises tomorrow.

Today's Portfolio Highlights:

Surprise Trader: The market may have let its attention on earnings season waver a bit in the face of midterms and the Fed meeting, but Dave never did.  On Thursday, the editor made his third buy of the week with a 12.5% allocation in cloud-computing company NetApp (NTAP). The company has a positive Earnings ESP for the quarter coming after the bell on Wednesday, November 14. Furthermore, analysts are expecting earnings to grow more than 22% from last year. Dave also sold Amgen (AMGN) and Archer-Daniels Midland (ADM) for profits of 3.7% and 2.5%, respectively. Read the full write-up for more.

Income Investor: "The central bank unsurprisingly held rates steady, setting us up for a fourth and final rate hike of 2018 next month.

"Investors were hoping that the Fed might take notice of recent volatility in financial markets and walk back its hawkish tone slightly, but the new policy statement made no mention of the selling.

"The only noticeable tweaks to the Fed’s policy statement were a mention that unemployment had declined since its last meeting, and a note acknowledging that the 'growth of business fixed investment has moderated from its rapid pace earlier in the year.'

"Slowing business investment could be a concerning sign for investors, but no changes to the planned rate hike schedule and acknowledgment of our historic labor market balanced that out, and Wall Street effectively shrugged at the statement." — Ryan McQueeney

Counterstrike: "Markets were quiet after a couple wild days. Nothing wrong with a break in the action and I think that’s what we saw today and will see tomorrow as we head into the weekend.

"We have gotten past a lot of potential risk and the market will now digest what has happened. Most of the big earnings, the election and the Fed are all past us, so now we let the market show us the appropriate direction. I still think the highs are in for the year, but a strong Santa Claus rally fueled by positive China trade deal news is always possible." — Jeremy Mullin 

All the Best,
Jim Giaquinto

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