Eq: Total Market

(New York)

So headline economic data has been good lately. Yet the markets are leaning towards a bearish view on the economy and a dovish view on the Fed. With such confusion, it is hard to figure out what might happen. Therefore, we are going to focus on some alternative economic indicators and today we found an interesting one: lumber prices are slumping badly at the time of year they are supposed to be rising. Lumber prices usually rise in the spring as builders stock up for construction. However, poor weather and a lack of construction is badly hurting prices. In May 2018 prices were at $639 per thousand board feet, now they are just $334, or down about 50%! Mills are cutting back production as a response.

FINSUM: That is a pretty alarming price drop and another sign that the underlying health of the real estate market is not good.

(New York)

One of the old adages of the market is to “sell in May and go away”, or get out of stocks in the summer and come back in the fall when everyone gets back to work. That axiom holds water when you look over many decades, but its record in recent years has been spotty, with summer returns over the last five years being quite solid (though still less than November-April). Over the last five years, the average return from May-October has been 4.31% while in November-April is has been 5.53%.

FINSUM: Anyone’s guess what will happen this year, but the last few summers have been more positive. 5 years is a pretty short sample size though.

(New York)

The market is right around all time highs and economic and earnings figures are healthy, all signs that the market is headed higher. That said, prices could take a dip at any time and many are worried about a reversal. Some are particularly worried about funds having to sell stocks to rebalance their holdings of equities versus bonds (which have performed poorly of late). So how can one profit from a market fall? Here is a good options strategy for doing so: buy S&P 500 put options at $287 and simultaneously sell $285 put options, both of which expire May 3rd. The market volatility has been low, so the options are cheap, and the spread strategy limits losses.

FINSUM: If you are just playing for volatility based on a likely rough month-end rebalancing, then this could be a good strategy.

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