Sometimes the market sees a glass half full. Other times, a glass half empty. It's a very rare market, though, that sees a half-full glass and judges it to be brimming. This is that kind of market.
In the past 72 hours, we have seen a whole slew of events that could normally give investors a pause to think and reflect. This one, instead, gives buyers an opportunity to get in while the getting's still good. Another group of upcoming events would usually cause buyers to be wary. Instead, they are enthusiastically embracing the future with relish.
Let's go over them so you know exactly what I am talking about, as their mosaic has created the very tapestry of a snorting bull market.
First, it's a very rare moment when the absence of negatives, however fleeting or relative, creates a stampede of buying.
But the fact that North Korea did not test a missile on Saturday -- the Day of the Foundation of the Republic, as that country's holiday is known -- came as a bit of a shock, and a harbinger of a less warrior-like Dear Leader Kim Jong-un. The fact that hope can spring eternal where there's little basis in fact is a sign of blind faith that's integral to a bull market's character.
I heard today that the People's Republic may be putting pressure on North Korea to behave. That would be antithetical to anything in the history between these two best friends, but rationality isn't necessarily a hallmark of stampedes. As has been the case for quite a while, our market took its cue from positive European bourse action, a still little-noticed fact that has become a ritual for the first days since the Great Recession struck 10 years ago. That's a key driver behind moves in the big-capitalization stocks in the averages -- think IBM (IBM) , 3M (MMM) , McDonald's (MCD) , United Health (UNH) and Honeywell (HON) .
Second, while the loss of life cannot be underestimated, and the sheer destruction not overlooked, the fact that Irma behaved better than expected was enough to trigger a relief rally. It doesn't matter that there were perhaps tens of billions of dollars in damages, Irma didn't live up to the scary hype, so to speak, so that too boosted the futures markets.
We had seen a mad rush into Treasuries last week, sending interest rates lower, something that in more normal times would be a good thing, but buyers' biggest worries are fears of a slowdown and a less aggressive Fed, which could hurt bank earnings. With no disasters occurring, we got a reversal that cheered the fretful and gave birth to a more positive state of mind.
Of course, there were a host of stocks that had run in anticipation of a massive rebuild in the wake of Irma -- just think of Lowe's (LOW) and Home Depot (HD) and what's sold in those endless aisles -- and they took a header. But I have no doubt that they can reverse as the insurance checks come in from the incredible wind damage visited upon the Southeast. Remember, wind damage, unlike flooding, produces checks from the insurance companies, and their coffers are filled from years without natural disasters. These stocks, which had been in a relentless downturn, can, I believe, shake off the selling and rally anew.
That's not unlike what I expect to happen not to homeowners but car owners in the Houston area after Hurricane Harvey's destruction. Very few have flood insurance, but there are hundreds of thousands of car owners with coverage, and the ruined autos are so massive that they represent a break in the inexorable decline in the auto cycle.
So, two big bearish theories, peak housing and peak autos, could be challenged here at the exact same time that the redoubtable insurance complex, led by Dow stock Travelers (TRV) , can restart its engines, and the damage could be strong enough to raise rates, but not powerful enough to dent balance sheets.
As full as the glass about the past may be, the future's cup totally runneth over today.
First, tomorrow is the launch of the new Apple (AAPL) iPhone and we are hearing about a $1,000 price tag for it. In a more skeptical time, that would be a non-starter. Who's going to spend that kind of money? But this is not a skeptical time. In this country, we know the phone companies will subsidize the purchase. In other countries, the status of the phone could increase sales.
So we have a wholesale rush not only into the stock of Apple but into all of the parts makers, from Universal Display -- with the apt symbol OLED, for the organic light emitting diode that we hear could be a crucial component of the phone -- to Skyworks Solutions (SWKS) , Broadcom (AVGO) , Micron (MU) -- 52-week high there --and Texas Instruments (TXN) .
When the animal spirits are running, you know what's got to partake: FANG. While we may tire of the acronym for Facebook (FB) , Amazon (AMZN) , Netflix (NFLX) and Google (GOOGL) , now Alphabet, as is often the case there are reasons for the run. Facebook's talking about spending $1 billion for original television. Given that right now you provide the entertainment, that's a small price to pay. We hear that Amazon's price cuts at Whole Foods (WFM) have already brought a considerable boost in sales. Amazon's power is so great that it's going to be a topic of conversation when we speak to David Taylor, CEO of Procter & Gamble (PG) , in tonight's show. (Apple, Broadcom, Facebook and Alphabet are part of TheStreet's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.)
Netflix always does well when people are shut in. It's as much of a storm play as Amazon, which gets new Prime members when local stores are closed for inclement weather. Alphabet's lagging again, but I saw some chatter about how YouTube's starting to pick up some advertising with its programming.
Finally, when we hear that business is better, whether it be from the checks in the mail from the storms, or a weaker dollar or an overall acceleration of worldwide growth, the transports always run. That's a terrific measure of commerce and one that always gets the bulls running.
Once again, I am not minimizing the tragedy of national disasters, no more than I would be remiss in talking about the sad 16th anniversary of 9/11, but there's something to be said about a market that views things positively even as it's no time to celebrate in the real world that is oh so different from stocks and bonds.