Updated from 4:01 p.m. EDTWith the appointment of Ben Bernanke to replace Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, the outlook for the economy appears to be one of higher inflation and rising commodity prices, Aaron Task told
Also, if higher inflation and commodity prices are in store, Task said the much anticipated real estate bust isn't going to happen. That would be good for homebuilding stocks, he said, citing St. Joe ( JOE) as a favorite. In response to a question about retail stocks, Task said retailers' stocks are seeing a bounce on hopes the Fed, with Bernanke as chairman, may halt interest rate increases. Task likes the retailers for a trade, but would look to sell the stocks into the holiday season. In response to other callers, Task was bullish on Southwestern Energy ( SWN) and Conoco ( COP), but expressed caution about LSI Logic ( LSI) ahead of its earnings report and Lucent ( LU) in the aftermath of its results. John Rutledge, RealMoney.com contributor and chairman of Rutledge Capital, joined Task by telephone. Rutledge said he believes that incoming Fed Chairman Bernanke understands the Federal Reserve's role to manage demand and prices in the economy. He said prices ought to be going up for energy and natural resources because it is the market's way of signaling scarcity. When resources become more scarce, we're poorer than we were, he said. The Fed can't print more oil to make up for it. On China, Rutledge said corporate profits in China were up 21% in the first nine months of 2005, twice the growth rate of corporate profits in the U.S., he said. He believes that China needs to maintain 9% to 10% growth rates for the populace there to remain content with the current Chinese government. Rutledge said with that kind of growth in China, we're looking at "stiff prices for a long time" for oil and gas. He said the best way to play China is not to invest directly in Chinese companies because Chinese laws and accounting standards make it too risky. He would recommend investing in funds of countries that sell resources to China such as the iShares MSCI Australia Index Fund ( EWA) or the iShares MSCI Pacific ex-Japan Index Fund ( EPP). Task added the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund ( EEM) would be another fund to consider.