The markets struggled to the finish line but ended up on a positive note Friday for its best weekly performance in five months.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 36.16, or 0.50%, to 7,206.22, while the S&P 500 was up 3.29, or 0.44, to 754.03. The Nasdaq nudged down 0.45, or 0.03%, to 1,425.65. Tim Seymour said on CNBC's "Fast Money" TV show that he still thinks there is a lot of short covering to this rally. "I don't know whether the market is ready to say 'Off we go.' " But Joe Terranova said he was "absolutely encouraged" by today's gains. "Any good bull market needs to consolidate and that is what we're doing now," he said. "I still there's room to go on the upside." Zachary Karabell saying trying to call a bottom to this market is a fool's errand. He said it's more important to pay attention to the fundamental realities of what is working, whether it's the commodities, industrials, health care or some tech. "Bull, bear. Who cares?" replied Pete Najarian. "It's been a traders' market." Najarian said he's been particularly impressed with the bullish sentiment expressed in the Financial SPDR ( XLF), up 34% for the week, and the Industrial SPDR ( XLI), up 11%. Seymour said more news could drive the markets next week with the upcoming G-20 Meeting, OPEC meeting and Fed meeting. Najarian noted the VIX is still high, channeling between 40 and 50. Melissa Lee, the moderator of the show, noted that bank stocks were up 36% this week, influenced in large part by encouraging comments from some high-profile bank CEOs that they are see profits in the first quarter.
Seymour was skeptical of the CEO comments, saying they didn't take into consideration loan loss provisions that will drag down their quarterly reports. Najarian told Lee that any action taken by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to ease mark-to-market accounting rules will add to the bottom line of the banks and act as a catalyst for the financial stocks. Crude oil fell $1.47, settling at $46.25 after the recent run-up. Going forward, Terranova expects investors to move out of oil futures and back into such integrated names as Exxon Mobil ( XOM), ConocoPhillips ( COP) and Chevron ( CVX). "Energy still will be an investable theme throughout this year," he said. Is this week's rally a bear bounce or the start of bull rally? Jeffrey Saut, chief investment strategist for Raymond James, said this could more than a bear market rally. He said when greed overtakes fear, money will come off the sidelines and into the markets. The sector with the most upside? He said the energy names, with their cheap valuations and decent dividends. Steve Liesman, CNBC economics reporter, said Fed chairman Ben Bernanke will have a big week next week, highlighted by his appearance on "60 Minutes" on Sunday. He said Bernanke is using the interview to get the Fed to be more transparent and communicate with a wider audience. Liesman doubts whether Bernanke will say anything new. Instead, the Fed chairman will be trying to sell what his agency has done for the American public, he said. Lee brought on Daniel Clifton, head of policy research for Strategas Research, to reflect on President Obama's comments this week about a possible lowering of corporate tax rate.
Clifton was wary of the comment, saying the $30 billion taken off the table from the corporate tax cut would be offset by $100 billion to be taken by taxing the offshore profits of U.S. international companies. "It's a net tax increase," he said. He said he expects the administration to take up the bad asset problems of banks after the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) is launched. The panel asked Clifton about the push back on both aisles of Congress on the administration's proposals on capital gains, dividends and income tax. Clifton said the income tax proposal may be thrown out, but that it will be replaced by $300 billion in revenue from somewhere else. One place might be capping employers' health care deductions, an option being considered by the Senate Finance Committee, he said. Lee shifted the discussion to comments by China Premier Wen Jibao about the safety of his country's $1 trillion investment in Treasurys. Seymour didn't put a lot of stock in the comments, saying China realizes there's not going to be a better place to put their money than in the dollar. The dollar, he said, is still "the tallest midget in the room." Karabell also weighed in, saying the economies of the U.S. and China are linked. He said it's not so much a nuclear option as it's a mutually assured destruction option. "They could pull their money but where would they put it," he said, "It's in their self-interest to provide liquidity to the U.S. recovery."
Lee said Intel was a "hidden winner" this week and brought in Glen Yeung, a Citigroup semiconductor analyst, who has a buy on the stock. His reasoning: The chip sector has bottomed, with chip estimates so low that there's not really much of a downside risk. As a result, the chipmaker's gross margins have a upside. He agreed with Karabell that the sector is "very economically sensitive." But he doesn't expect the estimates to go down much further even if business slows because semiconductor revenue growth is already down 23% for the year and earnings are down 90%. In the final trades, Terranova was for ConocoPhillips, Karabell for Hologic ( HOLX), Seymour for Baidu ( BIDU) and Najarian for Palm ( PALM). "Check out "'Fast Money' Portfolios of the Week" on Stockpickr every Thursday.