Party Time Ahead of the Fed Movement

Another rah-rah rally Tuesday on Wall Street.  The Dow jumped 95 points, for its highest close since May 10.  More significantly, perhaps, the broader S&P 500 index hurdled some very significant resistance at 1348—the halfway point between this year’s April high and June low.

Before we get too excited about these developments, though, let’s remember what it is the bulls are celebrating.  The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee wraps up its latest policy meeting today, and speculation is rampant that Bernanke & Co. will announce new measures to boost the economy.

In other words, traders have been bidding up stocks for the past two weeks in anticipation of a fresh round of Fed “stimulus.”  Now the central bank will have to produce something really grand — or the market will backpedal as quickly as it advanced (maybe even faster).

One rumor has it the Fed will buy another truckload of mortgages.  Perhaps so.  With mortgage rates already scraping record lows, however, it seems unlikely that another small decrease will prompt many more homeowners to refinance, or potential home buyers to take out a new loan.

So any further run-up in stocks after the Fed meeting may prove short lived.  Hedgers, you bought ProShares UltraShort S&P 500 Fund (NYSE:SDS) this morning when our price limit was touched at the market open.

For the rest of the audience, my counsel is to let up on the gas pedal and coast a bit.  Stocks have bounced a fair distance since the beginning of the month.  At this point, it would be natural for the market to pull back and digest its gains.

If the dip turns out to be shallow and orderly, we’ll step up our buying (and remove our trading hedges).  But not yet.  There’s still plenty of potential for mischief out of Europe, with Spanish 10-year government bonds quoted today at an excruciatingly high, and dangerous, 7.04%.

In company news, we had a strong earnings report from Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL).  The world leader in enterprise software logged profits of 79 cents per share for the final quarter of the fiscal year, easily topping analyst estimates.

However, I’m leery of the fact that ORCL changed the date of its earnings release.  (Originally, the numbers were supposed to come out Thursday.)  It appears the company wanted to drown out any negative buzz over the departure of ORCL’s top North American sales executive, Keith Block.

I don’t like it when companies try to “hide the ball” from investors.  Why is Block leaving?  Are there unresolved problems in Oracle’s North American operations?

We’ll find out eventually.

Better buy than most stocks right now:  “junk” bonds, with their whopping yield advantage over Treasuries.  See the July issue of Profitable Investing for a detailed discussion.

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