Goldman Sachs under pressure
A decline in the shares of Wall Street's golden boy suggests trouble for us all
While market sectors remain in healthy up-trends for now, the action in bank stocks continues to worry me: They've rolled over and skittered sideways since summer. This is strange since investment banks should be generating healthy trading revenue and money-center banks should be making huge profits thanks to ultra-low interest rates.
Firms like Goldman Sachs (GS) -- which are intricately tied to the global financial system and depend on rising stock and bond markets -- led the broad market's initial rebound as traders sniffed out the beginning of a new bull cycle early this year. Goldman bottomed in November before rising sentiment and cheap money powered shares to a gain of 310%. Morgan Stanley (MS) rose 450%.
But all that changed in October when the big Wall Street banks failed to follow the broad market to new highs. Last week, golden boy Goldman Sachs fell under its intermediate-term trend line on possible worries over trading revenues should the market succumb to a meaningful correction as well as the potential for new profit-sapping regulation from the government. Commercial banks are being frowned upon as investors worry about the likelihood of higher interest rates next year.
In other words, it looks like the party might be over for the bailed out bankers.
GS shares have slipped under the 18-week average that has supported them since the March rebound. Bulls still have a shot at rescuing them from a steeper decline here -- and were able to push shares up more than 3% in trading today. But the longer they wait the harder the task will get. Banks, like tech stocks, tend to lead markets on the way up and on the way down. The fact that GS and its peers are faltering here is just not a good sign for the broad market's medium-term up trend.
This also underlines my research showing that the market's breadth is narrowing dramatically, as fewer and fewer stocks participated in last week's rise to new highs -- which suggests the market is preparing for a decline.
My position in the Direxion 3x Daily Financial Bear (FAZ), a leveraged ETF that returns three times the inverse return of the Russell 1000 Financial Services Index, is up 4.1% since I added it to my portfolio at Wall Street Survivor last Monday.
Disclosure: The author does not own or control a position in any of the funds or companies mentioned.
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