For my own personal portfolio, I am setting a 950 price target for the S&P 500 within the next two to five months. Looking at the money flow data, investors are getting out of money market funds and returning to the stock market. The "herd" mentality will probably convince more financial "lurkers" to re-enter equities soon.
In addition, if the White House ushers GM and Chrysler into an orderly re-organization, foreign investors will be soothed. They will continue to buy our Treasuries, bolstering the U.S. dollar, hurting gold prices, and steadying commodity prices. Also, in three to five months, AIG should be able to sell off more assets, which will allow it to repay the government some portion of our money. If all goes well with GM, Chrysler, and AIG--and yes, that's a big "if"--I predict a short-term psychological "high."
Right now, uncertainty and indecision are killing the market. That's to be expected--we have a new administration, and it's been in office fewer than 100 days. As time moves forward, having the Obama administration more settled and more comfortable with the G-20 will calm investors' nerves. The stimulus packages will also impact sentiment, as people either access or see the effects of the increased money supply.
I realize I am focusing on psychological rather than fundamental factors. This is intentional. The market is currently so volatile, sentiment will lead the way in the short-term. Bears can talk about earnings per share, historical price/earnings ratios, and other technical factors all they want, it won't matter--at least not yet. Seeing a decisive end to the constant printing of money is paramount, and the Obama administration, by using the "bankruptcy" word, is signaling to the world that it will not print an endless supply of money to prop up institutions. That is a welcome development--it's the first time in months we've seen decisive action.
Again, I am hoping for an S&P target of 950 within the next two to five months, and I feel confident. After that, I have no set target. The April earnings reports won't be great, but they won't be dismal, either. The market is still priced for dismal numbers, and anything above abject collapse will increase positive sentiment. Good luck out there.
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Update on July 20, 2009: today, July 20, 2009, the S&P 500 rose above 950; however, the rise may be short-lived--Bernanke speaks tomorrow.