Why is the U.S. stock market still edging higher? Economic news and corporate earnings have largely been disappointing. Financial journalists who not too long ago proclaimed that falling oil prices would be a boon to the economy, as consumers had more money in their pockets to spend, have lately been writing articles about how the first quarter was disappointing, due to a strong U.S. dollar and those very same falling oil prices. As for me I still stick by my initial analysis that falling oil prices are a negative, due to their deleterious impact on a U.S. energy sector that was previously caring more than it’s weight, when it comes to creating good paying jobs and generating capex spending. What is more, many investors in 2015 reduced their exposure to U.S. stocks. So, how could stocks possibly seesaw their way, admittedly with more volatility and less upward price momentum, to new record highs? The answer appears to be a corporate buyback bonanza.
As the stock market struggles to make new highs, investors are increasingly complacent despite worrisome developments. Yet, the U.S. stock market itself is looking increasingly shaky. Worrisome signs are also growing around the U.S. housing sector critical to America’s economy and China’s economy, which has been an engine of growth for the global economy. Although the price action of this stock market remains healthy enough to justify holding a substantial amount of stocks in a long-term portfolio, this does not justify complacency or in my view significant stock exposure for investors with shorter-term time horizons, particularly in light of growing bearish signs.