Saturday, 27 May 2017

US stocks at record high as markets turn deaf ear to bad news

Markets were mixed on Friday.

US stocks were marginally higher, with the S&P 500 closing at a record high after a gain of just 0.75 point. The Nasdaq rose 0.1 percent to also close at a record high.

However, the STOXX Europe 600 declined 0.2 percent and most Asian markets fell.

Oil prices rose after Thursday's plunge. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1.8 percent while Brent rose 1.3 percent.

The S&P 500's gain on Friday was its seventh consecutive advance and enabled it to end the week up 1.4 percent, continuing a turnaround from the middle of last week, when the S&P 500 had plunged 1.8 percent.

The rapid rebound had Bob Pisani at CNBC writing that markets are turning a deaf ear to any bad news.

Meanwhile, Victor Reklaitis at MarketWatch noted that the index's year-to-date rally has been built on five big tech stocks, but also cited Mark Arbeter, president of Arbeter Investments, in saying that breadth is still better than at the end of 2015.

Indeed, Wharton School finance professor Jeremy Siegel told CNBC on Friday that the valuations for the tech sector remains well below the levels seen in the late 1990s and that stocks “are still the place to be for investors”.

Doug Kass, president of Seabreeze Partners, disagrees. “I don't like stocks or bonds,” he was quoted by MarketWatch as saying.

MarketWatch also said that total margin debt in the US stock market hit a record high in April and hedge fund leverage reached its highest level since the financial crisis, possible signs of complacency among investors.

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