Ho, Hum–Another Day, Another All Time High Driven By FOMO

Today, Monday November 4, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its first new all-time high since July. The Standard & Poor’s 500 and the NASDAQ Composite also saw new highs.

Stocks gave up some of their gains into the close but the Dow still finished up 0.39% for the day and the S&P 500 closed higher by 0.44%.The NASDAQ Composite was ahead by 0.67% at the close and the Russell 2000 small cap index gained 0.58%.

Some of this was on momentum left over from last week’s events–another interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve, a better than expected jobs report, and optimism about technology stocks after Apple’s (APPL) guidance for the holiday quarter and some whopping good news from several Apple suppliers. (Cirrus Logic (CRUS) soared almost 17% on the day after announcing quarterly earnings. The shares gave back 6.01% today but other tech stocks picked up the baton with Xilinx (XNLX) gaining 3.95% and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM) ahead 2.63%.)

One explanation I’m hearing today from Wall Street attributes the day’s gains to optimism about a U.S.-China trade agreement. An actual set of signatures on an agreement, even if it is only on the very limited Part 1 deal, would be a big plus for world trade, the thinking goes today. I’ve got to say I’m a skeptic about the real world effect of the deal was now outlined, but I don’t doubt the positive effect on sentiment from any deal. And I don’t think  standing in front of this locomotive is conducive to health and safety.

But the biggest reason for the market to hit new highs is that the market hit new highs the week before and money managers don’t want to be left behind by this rally. Do you want to explain to clients why you trailed the market gains this year–18% so far for 2019 and counting. I think you can see the effects of this “fear of missing out” (FOMO) investing strategy if you look at what is strikingly higher on a record setting day like today. With the S&P 500 closing ahead 0.44%, stocks such as Alphabet (up 1.31%), Microsoft (up 0.81%), Apple (up 1.83%), and Xilinx (up 3.95%) that have been leading the advance drew more cash today.

How long does this go on?

I would note that the December quarter is especially strong for retailers (and especially on-line retailers) and technology companies. So there is a case to be made on seasonal earnings patterns for holding through the January earnings reports. And for not selling in the short-term even as the market hits new highs.