Here's the stock-shaking news for the first week of October, brought to you Fool style.
1. Blue chips bull their way to a record
What happened? Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the record books. On Tuesday, the Dow closed at a level not seen since 2000. The blue chips roared to peak highs throughout the week and have settled comfortably above their prior records.
What does it mean for your portfolio? America's heavy hitters were vaulted to this revered status on depressed prices for energy and impressive consumer-spending numbers for September. Can we expect more of the same for October? Sorry to say it, but I really don't think so. Based on data ranging from economic forecasts to the inverted bond yield curve, and a general sense of impending doom, I think it is safe to say that the market will head back down to more ordinary numbers. This recent positive reaction to more agreeable oil prices is temporary and unjustified, and soon enough, I expect the Dow and related indices to compensate for the reaction.
2. Toyota takes charge on the home front
What happened? Toyota Motors
What does it mean for your portfolio? Clearly, the demand for large gas guzzlers isn't completely over. And strangely, the once solidly American SUV/truck component of the auto industry has a much more international flavor to it. Ford and GM must permanently welcome Honda and Toyota into this segment. However, it also seems evident that Toyota is much better positioned to handle the turbulent nature of the international gas market than the oft-criticized Big Three are. Attempts to satisfy pollutant-phobic drivers with cars like the Chevy Cobalt are just not going to cut the mustard in the future.
3. Value or growth: a new tide coming in?
What happened? According to Bloomberg, the trend of the past half decade, which saw positive earnings for value stocks as compared with growth stocks, might be in for a change. In the past quarter, the iShares S&P Growth Index outpaced its value counterpart by nearly 1%, and other comparable indices displayed a similar result. While not a huge gain, this change is a first since 2000. In a slowing economy, many suggest that the biggest gains will be made by companies that provide innovative products and create lasting bottom-line growth.
What does it mean for your portfolio? As a whole, value stocks are a better bang for you buck, since as they are theoretically discounted vis-a-vis their intrinsic price. Conversely, when you buy a growth stock, you are often buying into a stock that has growth expectations baked into its price. A quick examination of price multiples can be a good indicator of the relative buying opportunity. But should analysts be right, I would take an outperforming, pricier growth stock over a cheaper, underperforming value stock any day. Take the time to check out great growth opportunities, such as three-time Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation Ctrip
4. OPEC just doesn't like happy drivers
What happened? Just as consumers were beginning to get used to cheaper oil prices, OPEC officials determined that it may be in their interest to cut output by 1 million barrels per day and rain on their parade. The price of crude hit an eight-month low on trading in the U.S. this past Wednesday, and current speculation is that the price should hold steady at the $60 range until further notice.
What does it mean for your portfolio? For the time being, all aspects of the consumer economy and other sectors using cheap energy will benefit from the discounted price. But since OPEC is unsatisfied with the current glut of oil inventories and a recent 23% drop in prices since the highs of $78.40 in July, it seems reasonable to suspect that the powers-that-be will not let their breadwinner fall too much. Perhaps the falling price will finally cut into profits for mega-oil companies like Exxon
5. Bernanke brings mixed news to the table
What happened? Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke on a wide swath of issues this past week, two of which are of great significance to investors everywhere. First was his acknowledgement of a "substantial correction" in the housing industry. Second, he addressed his fears over the long-term effects of retiring boomers and the strain it would put on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
What does it mean for your portfolio? Both are complex issues fit for a longer discussion. But in the short term, Bernanke seems to believe that the adjustment in the housing sector will rein in concerns over inflation. The housing market may get pummeled, and companies like Centex
6. More evidence of the slowing market
What happened? According to the Institute for Supply Management, the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the month of September was 52.9%. In general, a rating of 50% or higher indicates a growing domestic manufacturing sector, while anything less than that suggests overall contraction. September's number indicates that the manufacturing segment of the American economy has grown for the 40th consecutive month, mostly on industries such as petroleum and coal products and apparel. Big picture: 52.9% represents a 16-month low for the PMI, and it has been on a downward slide since July.
What does it mean for your portfolio? The PMI can be a good indicator for the economy as a whole. The index still shows modest, but steady expansion for September. I would surmise that this negatively sloped trend may be indicative of some bad news ahead for the manufacturing sector, as well as the market as a whole.
7. Instant Messenger cleans House
What happened? Forgive me, for I digress, but this story was just too juicy to ignore. Shamed U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., resigned from Congress after allegations surfaced of inappropriate contact with underage pages. Records of the indecent contact surfaced via AOL Instant Messenger, proving to people once again that this isn't the innocuous medium of communication that everyone likes to think it is.
What does it mean for your portfolio? Well, come on. This isn't going to shatter your 401(k) or send your Starbucks
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Nick Kapur does not own shares of any company mentioned above. Ctrip is a three-time Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.