Markets Soar Despite Headwinds. What Gives?

Remember that "sell in May and go away" nonsense you heard about a few months ago? In their best Italian accent, investors have simply decided to "fuggedaboutit." At least, that's what the numbers tell us, with the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) sitting at levels not seen since early May and approaching heights last realized in mid-2008. It's been an amazing past year for the major U.S. equity indexes, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) up 17% and 15% over the past 12 months, respectively. What's more astonishing is how they've pulled this off in the face an extremely volatile and uncertain period for the global economy.

While annual performance has been solid, today looks like it will start off on the wrong foot following discouraging trade data out of China. Here's a snapshot of where futures markets stood as of this writing.

Futures Index

Gain/Loss

Gain/Loss %

Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (53) (0.4%) 13,085
S&P 500 (6.4) (0.4%) 1,394
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC  ) (8.5) (0.3%) 2,709

Change of plans
You know the saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"? Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) shareholders have been waiting for an ostrich-sized handout from the company in the form of a dividend or a massive share repurchase following an expected $7 billion-plus sale of the company's Alibaba stake. But that no longer appears to be the plan for fledgling CEO Marissa Mayer. According to an SEC filing yesterday, a review of the company's strategy could "lead to a reevaluation" of that plan to return capital to shareholders. Perhaps Mayer has acquisition targets in mind; we'll have to wait and see. Regardless, shareholders seem a bit uneasy, and shares are down a few percentage points in premarket trading.

Coke shares get sliced
Don't panic, but Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) shareholders are about see their stock cut in half! That's because the company's two-for-one stock split goes into effect today, which effectively means investors will trade in a 20-ounce plastic bottle for two of those folksy glass 10-ouncers. At the end of the day, you're still holding the same amount of Coke -- but with twice the containers. If you're a longtime shareholder, you're used to this. In fact, if you're lucky enough to have owned shares since 1919, you'd now have 9,216 shares. I won't even try to apply the prior analogy to that.

Be a Fool
Here's a question for you: When was the last time everything was hunky-dory in the headlines? Answer: Probably the last time anyone used the term "hunky-dory." The current rally in stocks shows just how irrationally markets can seem to behave, which is why investors can't let headline-driven fear take them out of the market entirely. Instead, a methodical, long-term approach to investing works best.

"But you would have to be a fool to buy stocks in this market," some might say. I'd say you're right, but you forgot to capitalize the "F" in Fool. You see, here at The Motley Fool, we like to think a bit differently from the short-term-focused Wall Street crowd. I invite you to learn more about our approach in this special free report, entitled "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich." Inside, you'll learn more about the way we do things at the Fool, as well as three companies we think are perfect for the long-term investor. Claim your copy of this exclusive report, absolutely free of charge, by clicking here.

Brenton Flynn owns no shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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