NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Swiss National Bank shocked global investors on Thursday when it decided that it would no longer try to peg its currency, the Swiss franc, at 1.20 euro per franc. Instead, the bank decided that its currency can now float against the euro.
As a result, the euro/Swiss franc trade plunged over 30% before recovering half those losses. This could have seriously negative implications for Swiss exporters, such as Nestle (NSRGF) .
Perhaps the Swiss National Bank is looking over at the European Central Bank and expects it to use the "big bazooka" of quantitative easing, Stephanie Link, chief investment officer of TheStreet and co-manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, said on CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime" show.
The ECB is expected to announce some form of stimulus at its Jan. 22 meeting. If it does the Swiss would be unlikely to keep the euro/Swiss franc pegged at 1.20 euro anyway, which is why it made the decision to let it go on Thursday, she reasoned.
The increase in volatility has created buying opportunities, especially for companies with great balance sheets and strong brands such as Unilever (UL) - Get Report , Link added. Investors can look to certain international markets with low valuations too.
The volatility "makes me want to do less, not more," said Joseph Terranova, chief market strategist for Virtus Investment Partners. The large changes in oil prices and currencies have forced investors to flee for safety, evident by the increased buying of bonds. The 10-year Treasury yield fell below 1.8%.
Gold is acting as another safe haven, pointed out Pete Najarian, co-founder of optionmonster.com and trademonster.com. The yellow metal is higher by over 2% to $1,260 per ounce, while the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) - Get Report is up over 6%.
It would be nice if central bankers provided more clarity and cooperation, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said of the Swiss currency decision. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is among those who keep a very clear line of communication with investors and the rest of the world.
The Fed has a lot of metrics to consider when deciding when to raise interest rates, but "I think they will do a fine job at really looking into all of those [metrics] and making the right decision at the right time," she said. Lagarde says she feels as though the U.S. could see interest rates move higher this year, as the economy remains a "big engine of growth."
As for Europe, her outlook was more bleak. With the exception of the U.K., which is recovering nicely, the rest of Europe is not doing too well and structural reform is "absolutely necessary," she said. A Greek exit from the European Union seems like a very unlikely event, Lagarde added. Overall, lower oil prices should benefit the global economy.
The traders looked at financial stocks after Wells Fargo (WFC) - Get Report , JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get Report , Citigroup (C) - Get Report and Bank of America (BAC) - Get Report reported fourth-quarter results.
With the exception of Wells Fargo, all the other banks missed on revenue expectations in what has so far been a disappointing quarter. Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report and Morgan Stanley (MS) - Get Report report earnings on Friday and Tuesday, respectively, and Link likes both stocks. Morgan Stanley is an AAP holding.
Najarian also likes Goldman Sachs, which could surprise investors with better-than-expected investment banking revenue. He is also a buyer of JPMorgan.
The bonds for these banks look more attractive than the stocks, Terranova said. Also, consumer financial stocks including American Express (AXP) - Get Report , Discover Financial (DFS) - Get Report and Capital One Financial (COF) - Get Report , all look attractive on the long side as well.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell