So there's this horrible, strange color in my portfolio today. It's not red, but it burns! It burns. Could it be? Wait, it is! Green?
After a week-long opportunity for freakout over the agonizingly slow progress of Hurricane Rita, stocks are up all over the place today. Should we be at all surprised?
Big oil, like Chevron
But the real winners seem to be in retail. Target
Does any of this make sense? Oil companies go up on the fear that the hurricane will squeeze supply, then they go up more when we find out they haven't lost a lot in the way of plant and equipment?
Regarding retail, is the market breathing a sigh of relief, as some headlines would have you believe, because oil prices aren't through the roof?
I have a hard time buying that, since gasoline prices are still in the stratosphere, and the squeeze from these, as well as the winter's fuel pinch, are, supposedly, the reason that consumers are allegedly going to finally shut their wallets for good and stop spending. Of course, consumers never were going to stop buying completely, but that didn't stop everyone from behaving like they would, at least last week, and engaging in some of that occasional panic selling that gives us all hives.
So why do markets gyrate like this? Who knows? The dudes in the suits are always trying to outmaneuver one another. Sell now because the other guy might sell first! We'll be able to buy in lower later! Or, if we have to buy back higher, no one will notice. Or something. Honestly, as an individual Fool, you need not really care. The short term never makes much sense.
When the meteors strike, the dust clouds rise, and the dinosaurs fight, we are those little mammals running around in search of a hidden nut, a small fast-growing plant that's defying the odds, or maybe an underappreciated carcass. It doesn't mean we're insulated from the bigger picture, or that things are easy. But it does mean that, if we are careful, we don't have to suffer the fate of the overall market, or the lumbering dinosaurs. Do your research, outmaneuver the giants, and you'll be able to rest easily, despite the storms.
Related Foolish commentary:
- Rita spared energy the worst.
- Though Katrina brought some hurt to refiners.
- Take a broader view of Katrina's wake.