Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
Today is light on economic data, so it's perhaps no surprise that U.S. stocks opened essentially unchanged this morning, with the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) and the narrower, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) up 0.17% and 14%, respectively, at 10 a.m. EDT.
Looking ahead this week, there are at least a couple of events that have the potential to inject a little volatility into these lazy August days. And what is the market fixated on right now? The same thing that has held investors' attention since the end of May: the possibility that the Fed will begin to wind down its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, with a goal of ending its "quantitative easing" program next year.
This week's calendar contains two events that relate to the Fed:
- On Wednesday, the central bank will release the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee's July meeting. The FOMC is the group that sets interest rate policy -- including the when and how of quantitative easing.
- The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City hosts its annual retreat from Aug. 22 through Aug. 24. This has become a highly anticipated event since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke pre-announced the second round of quantitative easing at the 2011 conference. However, Bernanke will not be attending this year -- it's the first time he won't be attending since he became head honcho at the central bank. Instead, vice-chairman Janet Yellen, who is thought to be one of the two candidates most likely to succeed him, will be making a speech.
Traders will be intensely focused on both of these events, but I'm not anticipating any surprises here.
What about long-term investors? Should they be concerned about the Fed this week? The short answer is no. Neither of these two events is likely to have any impact on long-term business values, and so long as you are inoculated against a little short-term volatility, they should have no impact on your behavior (except inasmuch as volatility produces opportunity for attractive purchases). If you're a genuine investor, business values should be your primary focus when you're analyzing the common stocks you own -- and those you wish to own.