The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- On May 26, 2011, U.S. stocks rose for a second consecutive day with the S&P 500 closing less than 3% away from multi-year highs. That's not just a resilient -- that's downright defiant!
Consider the macroeconomic realities. Japan is fighting its way out of a recession. Europe is contending with stagflation as well as debt downgrades. The U.S. is facing a double-dip in housing and the deceleration of GDP. And the emerging markets? They are deliberately curtailing growth to ward off inflation. Any way you slice it, the global train may be grinding to a halt.
Still, many in the mainstream financial media would have you believe that the macroeconomic picture is merely "noise." They explain that investors are shrewdly focused on the micro-economic picture, where cash-rich corporations continue to provide shares at reasonably attractive prices.Unfortunately, there may be a few problems with the "handsome share price" theory. First, 60% of corporations beat their earnings estimates in the recent reporting period. That is lower than at any time in the current bull market run-up. Second, quarter-over-quarter, corporate profits contracted in the first three months of the year. That had not happened since the fourth quarter of 2008. So, if the micro-economic picture for corporations is a little less rosy, and if the macroeconomic picture is downright gloomy, how are U.S. stocks fending off a bearish attack? The U.S. stock market smells additional quantitative easing from Bernanke's Federal Reserve. Granted, it won't be as straightforward as a Treasury bond purchasing program with imaginary "greenies." More likely, the Fed will sell some of its existing assets (previously acquired with imaginary dollars) and then reinvest the proceeds. This may have the effect of putting a floor underneath equities during a "soft patch" period. Simultaneously, it may quiet those who abhor the electronic printing of money. The rumors swirling about a Fed intervention dubbed QE2 Lite or QE2 1/2? Those are the rumors that investors are buying and they may just keep the S&P 500 out of the bear's claws. That said, there's plenty of uncertainty about the Fed's intentions, the domestic economy and companies operating in the global economy. It is going to cause volatile moments, if not a significant corrective phase. Think 8% to 10%... or 1230 to 1250 on the heralded S&P 500 benchmark.